The great abolitionist William Wilberforce knew Simeon through what came to be known as the Clapham Sect. Wilberforce said of Simeon that his heart was ‘glowing with love of Christ. How full he is of love, and of desire to promote the spiritual benefit of others. Oh! That I might copy him, as he Christ.’ Simeon showed his love through charitable works, locally and globally, and through advice to students.
During the 1788 corn famine Simeon supported a University subscription programme that enabled bread to be sold at half-price in Cambridge and 24 neighbouring villages, and rode round the town each Monday to make sure the bakers were doing it. In 1795 King’s College Fellows were again occupied with poor relief, at Simeon’s discretion.
Simeon and other members of the Clapham Sect began a missionary group for converted Jews, in 1809, now called the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People. Though an 1813-15 project to build a Chapel for converted Jews in London failed, Simeon continued for the rest of his life to establish churches for converted Jews throughout Europe and Russia.
Simeon’s was a muscular Christianity. He encouraged his students to study hard and to exercise. He exhorted them to ‘see daily that no one had taken away the third milestone on the Trumpington Road, checking its far side for damage’.