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Young A.B. Simpson Boldly Took on a Big Work

Simpson founded the Christian & Missionary Alliance.

ALBERT BENJAMIN SIMPSON, better known as A.B. Simpson, was born 15 December 1843 on beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada. His parents raised him Presbyterian. But Simpson felt that before he could guide others to Christ, he had to know him. He was fifteen when he found peace with his Savior during a revival in 1858. In 1861 he dedicated himself solemnly to God in a covenant: “I feel, O Lord, my own weakness and do not make this in my own strength, else I must fail.” 

These were not idle words. He determined to enter the ministry. Working to earn the needed funds, he attended Knox College. Following his graduation, two churches offered him positions: one a small country church, the other a large city congregation. After earnest prayer, he accepted the larger, convinced God wanted him to have a wide scope for work. On this day, 12 September 1865, Simpson was ordained in Knox Church at Hamilton, Ontario. The next day he traveled to Toronto to marry his sweetheart, Margaret Henry. 

The pair ministered in Ontario for over eight years (1865–1874) and saw seven hundred souls added to the church. However, Simpson’s weak health was aggravated by the Canadian cold, and at the same time, he sensed God wanted more from him. When a large church in Louisville, Kentucky, asked him to become their pastor, he accepted this as God’s leading. The Lord used him in Louisville to bring peace between bitter factions left by the Civil War. Prayer and revival followed, Simpson was healed from his weakness, and his ministry became even more successful. 

The Lord next guided Simpson to New York where he began work among immigrants and the city’s poor. Presbyterian church leaders, afraid the church would be overwhelmed by the lower class, refused them membership. Simpson withdrew and formed two organizations: The Christian Alliance to encourage people to live holy lives, and the Evangelical Missionary Alliance to foster Christian missions overseas. Later these merged as The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Simpson edited its mission magazine, said to be the first such magazine to include photographs. 

God used Simpson to bring thousands to Christ. His booklet The Fourfold Gospel taught that Christ had four major relationships to humanity: Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. These ideas became key to the theology of the Foursquare churches and Assemblies of God. He wrote about the life of discipleship: “Regeneration is like building a house and having the work done well. Sanctification is having the owner come and dwell in it and fill it with gladness and life and beauty. Many Christians are converted and stop there. They do not go on to the fullness of their life in Christ, and so are in danger of losing what they already possess.” 

Simpson died in 1919. His last audible words before slipping into a coma were a prayer for the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in the United States and abroad.

Dan Graves

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Read A. B. Simpson's 1861 "Self-Dedication

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