Albert Benjamin Simpson


Born: December 15, 1843, Bayview, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Died: October 29, 1919, Nyack, New York.

Buried: Nyack College, New York.

Albert Simpson was the third son and fourth child of James Simpson, Jr., and Janet Clark. His family’s strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan background formed Albert’s view of his spir­it­u­al stand­ing. It sent him search­ing un­til he ap­par­ent­ly had to seek his doctor’s advice as a youth. Albert was also un­doubt­ed­ly ex­posed to sol­id Christian class­ics, as were many in the spir­it­u­al tra­di­tions of the time. It is known that he read Marshall’s Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (1692), which brought the 15-year-old youth to a ba­lanced un­der­stand­ing of sal­va­tion and Christ­ian ho­li­ness.

One influence on Simpson’s missionary fer­vor may have been Rev. John Ged­die. In 1847, Ged­die went to the New He­bri­des in the South Pa­cif­ic as a mis­sion­ary; re­port­ed­ly a whole isl­and turned to Christ un­der his min­is­try. The Ged­die me­mor­ial in Prince Ed­ward Isl­and says, “When he ar­rived in 1848, there were no Christ­ians; when he left in 1872, there were no hea­then.”

After fin­ish­ing high school, Al­bert taught for a while to earn mon­ey to en­ter Knox Col­lege at the Un­i­ver­si­ty of To­ron­to. At age 21, he grad­u­at­ed and re­ceived calls to two church­es. One was a small rur­al con­gre­ga­tion, the other the large Knox Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Hamil­ton, On­tar­io. He wrest­led be­tween these calls, fin­al­ly choos­ing Knox Pres­by­ter­ian so God could use him as wide­ly as pos­si­ble. After eight years of high­ly suc­cess­ful min­is­try and the ad­di­tion of 750 new church mem­bers, it was said “He was se­cond to none in el­o­quence and abil­i­ty and suc­cess in his min­is­try” (A. E. Thompson, A. B. Simpson, His Life and Work, Christ­ian Pub­li­ca­tions).

In December 1873, Simpson was called to the pul­pit of the larg­est Pres­by­ter­i­an church in Louis­ville, Ken­tucky, the Chest­nut Street Pres­by­ter­i­an Church. There he joined ci­ty wide evan­gel­is­tic en­dea­vors which opened his eyes to a more ac­tive evan­gel­is­tic min­is­try of his own. A let­ter writ­ten by Simpson’s father in 1877 to a ne­phew speaks of his two sons, Howard and Albert:

In response to your request I will give you a brief account of our family. My two oldest sons as you are aware are Ministers of the Gospel. How­ard is in the City of Ma­di­son, In­di­ana and Al­bert is in Louis­ville, Ken­tucky. Both are well pro­vid­ed for with re­gard to the things of this world…I trust they are both la­bor­ing faith­ful­ly and suc­cess­ful­ly. Albert in­deed is kill­ing him­self with hard la­bor have es­tabl­ished mis­sion sta­tions through the whole Ci­ty which has a pop­u­la­tion of 150,000 and 30,000 of who go to no place of wor­ship. His own Con­gre­ga­tion has dou­bled since he went to it three years ago.

After five years and reach­ing a pla­teau of min­i­stry in Louis­ville, Al­bert was called to New York Ci­ty to pas­tor the Thir­teenth Street Pres­by­ter­i­an Church. There he was drawn to the mass­es of im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion; in­deed, he found a miss­ion field at his door. Af­ter lead­ing 100 or so Ital­i­an im­mi­grants to Christ, his con­gre­ga­tion sug­gest­ed that they might find ano­ther church to at­tend. Simp­son de­cid­ed then that God was call­ing him “to a diff­er­ent work” and he left to b­egin his min­is­try to the mass­es in New York.

God’s call on Simpson’s life re­sult­ed in a two­fold vision. First, the mes­sage of the full­ness of Christ and its cen­tral­i­ty of Christ in doc­trine was his Bib­li­cal mes­sage. This be­came what he called the Four­fold Gos­pel: Je­sus Christ our Sav­ior, Sanc­ti­fied, Heal­er, and Com­ing King. Simp­son at­trib­ut­ed the term, Four­fold Gos­pel, to a sug­gest­ion of the Ho­ly Spir­it at the open­ing of the 1890 con­ven­tion at the New York Gos­pel Tab­er­nacle. This formulation has been used by the As­sem­blies of God as well as the Four Square churches. Second, a vi­sion of a lost and per­ish­ing world com­pelled Simp­son to send his first mis­sion­ary evan­gel­is­tic teams to the Con­go. Simp­son’s be­lief and stra­te­gy were that Spir­it filled peo­ple liv­ing a Christ like life become ac­tive ser­vants. The out­come of these twin vi­sions was the de­vel­op­ment his Christ cen­tered mes­sage and the ex­ten­sion of his lo­cal church’s min­is­try in­to what has be­come to­day the Christ­ian and Mis­sion­ary Al­li­ance (CAMA).

For Simpson, the min­is­try was all en­com­pass­ing. He wrote once about how he was being di­vin­ely led in de­vel­op­ment of his lo­cal church min­is­try:

He is show­ing us the plan for a Christ­ian church that is much more than an as­so­ci­a­tion of con­gen­i­al friends to lis­ten once a week to an in­tel­lect­u­al dis­course and mus­ic­al en­ter­tain­ment and car­ry on by proxy a mech­a­nism of Christ­ian work; but ra­ther a church that can be at once the mo­ther and home of every form of help and bless­ing which Je­sus came to give to lost and suf­fer­ing men, the birth­place and the home of souls, the foun­tain of heal­ing and cleans­ing, the shel­ter­ing home for the or­phan and dis­tressed, the school for the cul­ture and train­ing of God’s child­ren, the ar­mory where they are equipped for the bat­tle of the Lord and the ar­my which fights those bat­tles in His name. Such a cen­ter of pop­u­la­tion in this sad and sin­ful world!

A Larger Christian Life, Albert Simpson

On another occasion, in a quite sim­i­lar tone, Simpson wrote,

We should aim to bring all the work of God with­in the sphere of the church of Christ. There is room not on­ly for the wor­ship of God, the teach­ing of sa­cred truth and the evan­gel­iz­a­tion of the lost, but al­so for eve­ry phase of prac­ti­cal phi­lan­thro­py and use­ful­ness. There may be, in per­fect keep­ing with the sim­ple or­der and dig­ni­ty of the church of God, the most ag­gres­sive work for the mass­es and the wid­est we­lcome for ev­ery class of sin­ful men; the min­is­try of heal­ing for the sick and suf­fer­ing ad­min­is­tered in the name of Je­sus; the most com­plete pro­vi­sion for char­i­ta­ble re­lief; in­dus­tri­al train­ing and so­cial el­e­va­tion for the de­grad­ed class­es; work­shops for the un­em­ployed; homes for the or­phaned; shel­ter for the home­less; mis­sions for the hea­then; and ev­ery agen­cy need­ed to make the church of God the light of the world and mo­ther of the suf­fer­ing and lost. And there is no work that will be more glor­i­fy­ing to God than a church that will em­brace just such fea­tures and com­plete­ness. May the Lord help us yet to real­ize the vi­sion, and pre­sent at His own bles­sed com­ing His own fair bride and her mul­ti­tudes of children.

But as so­cial­ly mind­ed as these state­ments sound, Simp­son nur­tured a deep pas­sion for the evan­gel­iz­a­tion of earth in his ear­ly fol­low­ers. He said,

living men; so that ev­ery­one may have the op­por­tun­i­ty of sal­va­tion, and the Bride of Christ may be ga­thered in from all na­tions, tribes and tongues, the ful­ness of the Gen­tiles brought in, and the way ful­ly pre­pared for the Lord’s re­turn.

In his powerful hymn, “The Missionary Cry,” he wrote,

The Master’s coming draweth near.
The Son of Man will soon appear,
His Kingdom is at hand.
But ere that glorious day can be,
The Gospel of the Kingdom, we
Must preach in every land.



  1. Burn On! (© 1936)
  2. I Will Say Yes to Jesus
  3. Jesus Only Is Our Message
  4. Mercy of God Is an Ocean Divine, The
  5. Missionary Cry, A
  6. O Comforter, Gentle and Tender
  7. Oh, It Is So Sweet to Die with Christ
  8. Once It Was the Blessing
  9. Regions Beyond, The
  10. Some Sweet Morn
  11. Yesterday, Today, Forever
  12. What Will You Do with Jesus?