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Past and Present
One of our Supplies

For many years the present City of Toronto methodistically stood in connexion with the Yonge Street Circuit, and appeared on the Minutes, not even as York and Yonge Street, but as '‘Yonge Street and York." It was so, we know, in 1823-4, 1824-5, and in 1825-6; in 1826-7 it was reversed, and York stood first. In 1827-8, it became an independent station. During the whole time, from 1823 to 1827, the Yonge Street preachers, two in number, came each only once a month. There Were two Sabbaths in every four which they did not supply. Sometimes this defect was remedied by the two Alcaster preachers, coming each once a month. In 1823, these were the Rev. David Culp, and towards the latter part of the year, Joseph Messmore, then a young man supplying under the direction of the Presiding Elder. We heard some of his first sermons, and no ill commencement they were to a long course of laborious efforts in his Master’s cause. The arrangement referred to stood also for the following year. Rut very frequently the alternate Sabbath to that on which the Yonge Street ministers in there, were supplied by local and located preacher The Rev. David Youmans, as we have already seen, was one of the latter. Mr. Robert Bosfield, a profound and masterly sermonizer, but very slow of speech, was one of the former. !But there was yet another, a great favourite with all, whom we shall make the special subject of the present sketch.

"He was, we believe, a native of Canada, but of German extraction, as both his family and baptismal name unmistakably indicated. He resided in the woods of Scarborough. He had no advantages of education, beyond what the country parts of Canada afforded fifty years ago: but he was a man of genius for all that. This he showed, we are told, by some very clever poetical effusions. During the war of 1812, he was a very active and enthusiastic militiaman, and composed several patriotic songs. One, of a military character, ascribed to him, we often heard sung in our boyhood, and it struck us as very clever. He was naturally a man of activity and daring. Traditions of his personal exploits, showing his ability and strength, were often recited to the writer. He was then unconverted, and remained in that state until he was twenty-nine years old. Then, an alarming providence, which took away one of his companions at “a raising,” aroused him from the sleep of sin. Happily the voice of God’s messengers in the wilderness, crying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” was there, as also, the voice of the turtle was heard In the land. His sin-sick soul drank in the balmy sound and was at once made whole.

He soon began to exhort and preach; nor did the trumpet give any uncertain sound. The preachers knew and appreciated him. They had to be absent from the town a Sabbath at a camp-meeting, and our hero was proposed by them as a supply. To this the richest man in the Society, an old Scotch gentleman, who did not believe in camp-meetings, and did not go to them, made strong objections. He was to stay at home, and wanted a respectable preacher in the pulpit, if possible but the proposed supply was a poor man who had to labour for his living, and had been in town only a few days before, with a load of shingles, barefooted. To have such a man, the sturdy Scot thought would not do at all. But there was no other supply; and, fortunately, the poor man “made a raise” of a pair of shoes before Sunday, and his good wife otherwise "fixed him up,” making his “auld claise to look almaist as weel as new.” On Sabbath morning, in he came, and succeeded to admiration. And the first news Mr. C. had to tell the ministers, on their return was, what two excellent sermons Brother F. had preached. He was thenceforth in great request in the town, and none of the travelling preachers stood higher.

We well remember our first sight of him. We had been only a few weeks trying to serve God, but long enough to have read the "Life of Wesley, by Coke and Moore,” and a volume of the "Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers.” We went on the morning referred to, as was our wont, at an early hour, to the meeting house. The congregation had pretty much all assembled before any preacher made his appearance. They had begun to look inquiringly at each other, when a broad, heavy, masculine-looking man, with plain but agreeable features, and a sunburnt, beardless face— perhaps thirty-four years of age—entered, dressed in a well-worn suit of dark-coloured homespun—cut-away coat—and an oaten-straw hat in his hand. I felt to love him at once. He was the beau ideal of one of the early rustic lay preachers, and might have answered to represent the meek but stout-hearted John Nelson himself. And, oh, what a delightful service we had that morning! Our preacher was modest, but composed. His voice was pleasant, and his elocution, or “delivery,” as we used to call it, good. An impressive reader was he. Then, such a sermon! So clear, methodical, consecutive, rememberable, and sweetly evangelical. His text was, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He treated it in a way that went to our hearts. To this day we can easily remember his texts and the way he treated them. He was an easy, natural, ingenious sermonizer, The secret of his amplification was, his always noticing what his text implied as well as expressed.

We must recite another incident of our friend and the town pulpit. At that time there were two well-educated gentlemen, natives of England, who sometimes came to the "Old Framed Meeting-House.” The first was the son of a Wesleyan Minister, and had been classically trained at Kingswood school—had been a popular local preacher himself, but now seldom officiated, and wore his religion pretty loosely around him. His connection with Methodism ended with the removal of the British Missionaries about 1820. The other, was a man of respectable connexions, the brother of an English Church Clergyman, and a sincere enquirer after truth, who ultimately became a Baptist. He was very partial to one of our circuit Ministers in 1825-6, during which year the following scene is laid. We remember the morning well; and of seeing him in the chapel, and the rest that occurred. The Scarborough brother supplied that morning. He was dressed in a heavy suit of home-made; and entered with a coarse wool hat in his hand, the binding around the rim of which was in ringlets. His nether extremities were cased in a large, heavy pair of cowhide boots, which were whole enough, only that one of them was minus its heel-leathers. This made his heavy tramp somewhat unequal, and give his walk a “wabbling” appearance. We observed that Mr. W—m looked fidgetty at the first, but that he staid out the service. Some day that week the following colloquy took place in the streets of “Little York.” Two gentlemen meet and exchange the usual greetings.

Mr. F—n.—“Where were you last Sunday?”

Mr. W—M.—"I was at the Methodist Chapel. I went expecting to hear Mr. R—n. There was no preacher in when I arrived, but I had not been seated long when a great, rough lump of a man came in dressed in home-spun. I was disappointed and disgusted, and, if it had not been for the looks of it, I should have taken my hat and left. But I staid; and I was glad I did. He gave us a beautiful sermon. Sir, he opened up the Scriptures rightly.”

His text that day was the words of Christ: “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall my servants be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.” He truly did open this passage of Scripture “rightly.” Many of his texts and his mode of treating them, after the lapse of thirty-four or five years are still fresh in our own recollection.

He was our only preceptor in Homiletics. Some reverses had confined him for a time to the city limits, where he was fain to support himself by making the coarser kind of shoes. We had been called out on to a neighbouring circuit, about this time. One day—the only spare one we had in four weeks, we rode into town to see our friends but we never failed to go and see this preaching Crispin. We usually told him of all the new texts we had taken during the month, and how we had handled them; as also what other texts we had thought of, but did not know how to extract their sweets. He gave us his judgment on the skeletons we had made, always suggesting some real improvement; while he taught us how to analyze those passages which we had feared to broach. Talk of Theological Schools, and Professors of Homiletics— no man understood sermonizing better than that wax-begrimed child of adversity. And never did I spend happier or more profitable hours' than in that unfinished loft, by that lowly shoe-bench. Our seasons of delightful communion were always concluded with prayer.

Subsequently, this good man—for he was a sanctified soul— adjusted his affairs, and went into the work as a “hired local preacher,” being too old and deficient in learning to enter in the usual way. After some years, however, the rule was dispensed with in his case, in view of his actual preaching abilities and successful labors, and he was made a member of the Conference. After laboring for twenty years upon circuits he is now for several years a Superanuate in retirement, not far from the scenes of his early labors. Scores of more sprightly and better educated men have entered the ministry and thrown those of his School into the shade ; yet few can think how useful they were in their day, and how really capable they were as preachers. Our hero’s general knowledge was not very extensive; the theme of his delighted conversations, therefore, usually was religion and preaching. He might have found it hard to keep up with all our connexional improvements, and may have lacked a little in that case as a Superintendent: yet a preacher he was, both in the pulpit and by the fire side— in the latter he particularly excelled.

Though our subject is not dead, we are anxious to have his name upon our pages; and hope he will pardon us for bringing Cornelius Flumerfelt out of his obscurity and making him to figure as One of Our Supplies, thirty-five years ago, in the “Old Framed Meeting House.”

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