Logos is proud to present Charles Simeon’s classic commentary, Horae Homileticae. These 21 volumes, featuring Simeon’s collected sermons, represent the fruit of his fifty-four years of preaching. Published originally in 1832 for the benefit of younger pastors seeking practical improvement at the task of sermon creation, Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of its author, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.
These expository outlines (or “skeletons”) are not a verse-by-verse explanation of the English Bible. Rather, they are a chapter-by-chapter study with explanations of the most important and instructive verses in each chapter. Simeon’s aim with this commentary is “Instruction relative to the Composition of Sermons.” To this end, his exposition of the Scriptures is designed to maintain a focus on the more general aspects of a passage over and above possible treatments of particulars. His test for a sermon, as he teaches in Horae Homileticae, is threefold: does it humble the sinner, exalt the Saviour and promote holiness?
Opposing all human systems of divinity, Simeon’s commentary is also marked by an avoidance of any possible systemization of God’s Word and entanglement with theological controversies. A self-described “moderate Calvinist” or, more plainly, a “Biblical Christian,” Simeon believed that the Bible should speak for itself. “Be Bible Christians, not systems Christians” was his maxim; "My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding." With Horae Homileticae this conviction is soundly applied.
[Horae Homileticae] is the best place to go for researching Simeon's theology. You can find his views on almost every key text in the Bible. . . . What Simeon experienced in the word was remarkable. It is so utterly different from the counsel that we receive today that it is worth looking at carefully.
One can easily find suggestive and practical helps in the preparation of sermons, devotional talks, young people’s messages, prayer meeting talks, Sunday School lessons and personal Bible study. The study of these outlines will contribute greatly to expository preaching.
—B. B. Siegel, Bibliotheca Sacra
If Wilberforce is the most famous evangelical layman in the Church of England, then Simeon is the most famous evangelical clergyman.
Hours and hours of toil and labour have produced this veritable treasure, full of scholarship and intellectual endeavour.
—Paul Mizzi, Truth for Today
[The volumes of Horae Homileticae] have been called 'a valley of dry bones': be a prophet and they will live.
Charles Simeon (1759–1836), Anglican clergyman and evangelical leader, was born in Reading and educated at Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, the benefice of Holy Trinity Church became vacant and Simeon petitioned for and was appointed to the position. There, Simeon influenced thirteen to fourteen generations of students over the course of his fifty-four year ministry.
During the late 1700s and early 1800s, at a time when there was no formal ordination training, Simeon began teaching a fortnightly sermon class for those intending to be ordained and started hosting a weekly conversation party open to all undergraduates. Also during this time, Simeon began outlining his convictions in a series of university sermons. In 1792 he read An Essay on the Composition of a Sermon by the French Reformed minister Jean Claude. Simeon found that their principles were identical and used the essay as the basis for his lectures on sermon composition. Claude’s essay also inspired Simeon to make clear his own theological position, the result being Horae Homileticae.
Never marrying, Simeon instead concentrated his entire efforts into his ministry, which included preaching across England as well as abroad; acting as adviser to the British East India Company in the choice of chaplains for India; and founding the Church Missionary Society. His life is the inspiration behind the Simeon Trust. For more on Charles Simeon's role as a mentor and model, see his entry from the book 131 Christians Everyone Should Know from Christian History.