Like Joseph Parker, Dinsdale T. Young was a Northumbrian, having been born in 1861 at Corbridge-on-Tyne, where his father was a physician.
In early life he decided to become a Methodist preacher and began to preach at the age of fifteen. He attended Headingley College, Leeds. He was ordained in 1879 and was the youngest person till then to be ordained a Methodist preacher.
After twenty-seven years of “travelling,” as Methodists call it, in large city circuits he came to an anchorage in London. In 1906 he became minister of Wesley’s Chapel, and within a very short time he had become a fixed star for Methodists. The historic chapel soon became crowded.
Something was lost, in point of picturesque fitness, when he was transferred to the Central Hall, Westminster. There was a certain incongruity between the modern Mission Hall — with its tip-up seats and its concert-room decorations — and the stately head and ambassadorial bearing of the frock-coated preacher.
The great congregations that came in undiminished numbers to the Central Hall proved baffling to the liberals who declared repeatedly that Young would soon preach to empty seats because of his fundamentalism.
Young was a superb orator and a defender of evangelical doctrine. However, he never attacked his opponents. He was content to set forth the teachings of God’s Word in a positive way and pay no heed to his critics.
He often preached or lectured seven or eight times in a single week and travelled an average ten thousand miles a year to keep his preaching engagements. During some years of his ministry he had a highly distinguished neighbor in Dr. Jowett at Westminster Chapel, who was a far more celebrated man than Young and by far his superior in intellect and pulpit quality. Yet it was a familiar saying that “Jowett gets Dinsdale Young’s overflow.”
Jowett once asked an office-bearer why so many people arrived twenty minutes late and were distributed through such vacant seats as were left. He was rather shocked to be told that they had come away from the Central Hall, unable to get a seat.
Young was a man of remarkable gifts and attractive personality. He was natural, unassuming and kindly to a degree. He always moved with a certain grandeur and was never seen without his frock coat and silk hat. He grew old picturesquely, his white locks streaming out behind him as though he were Liszt, while two triangles of white hair flanked the high pink dome of his forehead.
He preached for twenty-four years at the Central Hall, not only to the largest congregation in London, but to the largest in Britain. A glorious voice, wonderfully used, was one of his great gifts. It was an organ voice, rich, full and resonant in tone.
Having chosen his text, he went straight to the best commentaries he could find on his well-filled library shelves. He often mentioned his delight in Calvin, Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, and, above all, Thomas Goodwin. He frequently consulted the writings of Spurgeon, Newman, Dean Vaughan and Alexander Maclaren.
He is said to have preached on over seven hundred texts at Wesley’s Chapel and some thousands of texts at Westminster. He clung to the principle of having three divisions, saying that Maclaren’s “three-pronged fork” was a useful instrument.
Young is described in that lovely book of George Herbert, “A Priest of the Temple,” where he says, “the Country Parson preacheth constantly, the pulpit is his joy and his throne. When he preacheth he preserves attention by every possible art.”
Young himself said “Preaching as an ordinance is part of God’s good pleasure. There has been no revocation of this supreme ordinance. It is the sacrament. Of all the acts of worship it is the most helpful. The Churches grieve God’s Spirit when they depreciate preaching.”
Young did not argue; he proclaimed. He was not an apologist but a herald. He knew no hesitancies or wistful doubts but preached with all his soul a gospel of grace abounding to the chief of sinners. What a thrill it was to hear him quote, as his own experience, William Cowper’s lines:
E’er since by faith I saw the strem
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die.
His faith did not fail him at the last. During moments of consciousness, as he lay awaiting the final call, he continually repeated lines of the hymn, “Just as I am,” and his last distinguishable words were, “I triumph.”
What was the secret of his popularity as a preacher? In 1929 he delivered the Fernley Lecture at the Wesleyan Methodist Conference on “Popular Preaching.” Popular preaching, he said, must aim at the many, not at the cultured few. It must be expository Bible preaching. It must be evangelistic. No preaching is abidingly popular which is not aflame with redeeming love. It is “the satisfactory Cross” which makes preaching popular. The only way to build up church attendance is to preach Christ crucified.
“Preaching which has taken the deity out of Christ, the Atonement out of the Cross, faith out of the method of salvation, and the indwelling of the Divine Spirit out of Christian experience ‘is cut down like the grass and withereth’.”
Young was a firm believer in the preaching of both Law and Gospel.
“No preacher,” he said, “is permanently popular if he does not make people uncomfortable. We must wound with the sword of the Spirit. We must show them all the mercy by showing them all the sin.”
All his preaching was deeply rooted in the Bible, as can be seen from a study of his many published volumes of sermons such as Unfamiliar Texts, neglected People of the Bible, The Unveiled Evangel, and The Crimson Book.
He said: “Let a preacher leave his Bible and he forsakes his own mercy in every sense of the word. Not least in this that he casts himself off from the fountain of effectiveness. His own thoughts will soon pall. Anecdotes will fail to interest. The gossip of the hour will perish with the hour. But if he cleaves to the Bible he will have a word which will attract and help.”
Some one asked Joseph Parker if he thought that literature would ever supersede preaching, and his reply was, “Not till correspondence supersedes conversation.”
Like Parker, Young believed that nothing can ever eclipse or rival preaching. He had the great gift of unction. He often chose words deliberately for their sonorous qualities. It was an experience to hear him recall some memory of C. H. Spurgeon, “that royal preacher.”
I once heard him give a lecture on “An Old Album Reopened,” in which he spoke of his personal memories of Spurgeon, Parker, Peter Mackenzie and other famous preachers. With what gusto he quoted from William Law and John Bunyan and John Wesley! He would roll their very names around his tongue. I recommend a reading of his autobiography, Stars of Retrospect.
Dinsdale Young’s sermons were unashamedly simple, though expressed in beautiful English and delivered with dignity and seriousness. He declared that he had never forgotten what an old saint once said to him: “I often see directions given to preachers, but I never see them recommended to pray more that they may preach better.” He believed that the preacher’s private prayer before preaching would work wonders during the service.
The chief element in his appeal was his absolute certainty and confidence in delivering the old Gospel. He delighted in dwelling on “the tender grace of a day that is dead.” He loved to use the old phrases, the language of Canaan, and would always evoke “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” from the old people in the congregation. He had an avowed preference for the old ways and the old terms. He was a champion of orthodoxy, of the old Gospel, the old Book.
J. T. Wardle Stafford, a lifelong friend in the Methodist ministry, in a tribute in The British Weekly after Young’s death in 1938, wrote this:
“Of all the preachers in England who speak from the vantage ground of a great metropolitan Church and who are entitled to serious consideration by reason of their manifestly attractive power, Dinsdale Young is the only one who can be called without any qualification whatever, an old-fashioned, foursquare, evangelical preacher of sin and salvation.”
“He is so orthodox that he has become heretical. His presence, his manner, his voice, his command of mellifluous English, his consistent and uncompromising adherence to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, secured for him the attention and goodwill of all who heard him.”

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