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Past and Present
“Father” Youmans

Or, as lie was wont tov style himself sometimes, among his friends, “The Old Hammer” was one of the preachers whom I used most frequently to hear in the days of my boyhood, in the “Old Framed Meeting-house.” He was then, perhaps, fifty years of age—possibly not so much; but as he was plain and old-fashioned in his dress, and manners, he really appeared older, and was generally known by the name of “Father Youmans;” or more familiarly still, as a term of endearment, “Daddy Youmans.” He was of Dutch descent, and originally a blacksmith by trade, which latter fact, with a certain hammering method in the pulpit, may have suggested the use of the sobriquet above mentioned—“The Old Hammer.”

He was not a “star of the first magnitude,” nor, perhaps, of the second either; but he wa3 a man of strong sense, which, with the divine teaching of which he was the subject, made him a sound divine. He had also a warm heart, which imparted great fervency to his preaching, His exuberance of good temper prevented all severity in his most earnest addresses, and gave them a genial character, He was beloved of all, and the writer well remembers the smile of affectionate regard that was won| to light up the faces of the congregation when he fn^de h£s appearance in the meeting-house, and passed down {he aisle attired in his “Quaker Snuff,” or “Parson’s Grey,” and well-worn broach-leafed wool }iat in hand. He loved, and was the favourite of children. It was not uncommon to se6 "a dozen little ones around him, pulling and tugging at his hands and coat-skirts, out of sheer fondness for him, and all emulous to

“Share the good man’s smile.”

The old gentleman had neither much polish nor learning. He has often put me in mind of Bunyan, to whose portrait, in those days he bore a strong resemblance. His similes were of the most homely character. He has been heard in the pulpit to compare the process of purgatorial purification, taught by some, to that of “burning out an old pipe:” with which operation he was, no doubt, familiar, for he was an inveterate smoker. This was the only habit of a reprehensible kind I ever knew him to be guilty of; and this, I believe, was rendered necessary by some asthmatical affection. Yet he was once heard, in Conference, in a conversation on “needless self indulgences,” to offer to relinquish it, “if it were a stumbling-block to any one.”

Our hero was a lovely singer, possessed of a clear, strong, masculine, and yet soft voice, as well as correct ear, capable of carrying the bass of a tune with enrapturing effect. How much musical science he possessed I am not prepared to say. But this I know, he has often enchained the congregation in the chapel by commencing a solo at the close of the service; or by singing a select piece, with two or three other practiced, powerful singers, for the possession of which our society was then distinguished. Oh, with what majesty and what effect I have heard Watts’ “Tempest” sung on those occasions!

At the time of writing this, (August 28th, 1855,) my revered friend is still alive,1 but little known to the present generation, having been for several years confined to his home, if not to his bed. I hope to hear, when his death is announced, that the expectation I once heard him express in class-meeting, (a meant of grace in which he delighted, and of which he was the delight,) has been realized. Said he, on the occasion referred to:—“ It will not be long till it is said, Old Father Youman is dead and, blessed be God, I expect to go with shouting!” May the reader and writer both of them so leave the world! Amen.

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