BROUGHT to the Lord in his youth, WILLIAM YAPP immediately yielded his body a living sacrifice to God, and the sacrifice once laid on the altar seems never to have been withdrawn. To the Church of God his whole life proclaimed him "your servant for Jesus' sake,"
Mr. Yapp loved the people of God because they were precious to Him, and he cared not how he toiled, or journeyed, or suffered if he could but cheer a child of God, or help him to follow the Lord more fully. Of him it may be said, perhaps more than of any other whom it has been our privilege to know, that his love never failed. His heart might break, but his love never gave in, even though he had often to say with Paul, "The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved," and with Paul he could add, "But be it so." By him all saints were recognised as having a claim on him; the sorrowing and the erring drew out his sympathy and his help, and many a bereaved heart has been made to sing for joy. Nor were the children forgotten; they had a large share of his tender love and care, and a sight of Mr. Yapp's kindly face coming along the road would cause their eyes to sparkle and their feet to go faster till they met him, and they went on their way with lighter hearts for his cheery word and loving smile, still fragrant a memory after over a quarter of a century!
It was not alone his ministry, varied and precious as it was, that drew hearts everywhere to him, and caused them to look beyond the servant to the Master; it was "the love of God shed abroad" by word and deed that drew and held fellow-saints in a manner those who did not personally know him can have little conception of. "Gaius, mine host" and "the well-beloved Gaius" were names he was often called by; and no one better deserved the title of honour, for his heart and home were ever open to receive, and to seek to lead on in the truth of God, any of His children.
For many years in Hereford, and subsequently in London and Leominster, Mr. Yapp took a large share in Gospel work. Well-sustained Gospel testimony was carried on in the villages around, extending to neighbouring towns; Worcester, Malvern, Ross, Ledbury, Leominster, and Ludlow were reached from Hereford by horses and traps. At one time Mr. Yapp kept five horses in his own stables for this purposes. Regular meetings were begun in a large room at the back of Mr. Yapp's house. Breaking of bread was instituted every Lord's day morning, and the room becoming too small was enlarged to seat 300 to 400 persons. Brethren and sisters sold their silver-plate and superfluous furniture to defray cost. It was Acts 2. 44-47 on a smaller scale.
Many of the believers connected with this movement, in which Mr. Yapp had a prominent share, had been connected with the Church of England, some of them being professional men of high standing in Hereford, many first class tradesmen, and others. Gifts which their church position had hitherto repressed were now exercised, and they became evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc. Grace, love, and power prevailed, God was glorified in them, and many from the world were thoroughly converted. In those days the house and its furniture, dress and its fashions, amusements, occupations, business, and customs, all were tested by the Word of God. Among these men of God it was said that "Mr. William Yapp was head and shoulders above every one else in his love and self-sacrifice, ever willing to give up time, comfort, and purse for the welfare and spiritual good of others." He married the sister of Mrs. Maclean, long of Bath.
Lest it may be thought that Mr. Yapp was rich (through his generous distribution to saints and large hospitality), it may be well to state that he began life as a chemist's assistant without a penny, but by his cordial geniality, faithfulness, and intrinsic worth he made his way, and was offered three partnerships, accepting the one with his employer; and he soon made it the best business in the county. He continued in business till health failed, always conducting it on godly principles, putting the Lord first in everything. Thus he was prospered in every business he put his hand to, and was a prince among his brethren.
In 1853 Mr. Yapp removed from Hereford to London, where for ten years he faithfully served his heavenly Lord and Master. He commenced publishing in Baker Street, and issued many pamphlets and books, being afterwards joined by Jas. E. Hawkins, the firm being Yapp & Hawkins. The Bibles with flap edges were suggested by Mr. Yapp, and for long were named in trade lists as "Yapp" Bibles. The Welbeck Street meeting owed much to his ministry of love during these years. One whose hair has grown white with age remarked lately that he "would never forget his first meeting with dear Mr. Yapp. When leaving his home in Scotland with a letter of commendation to the Welbeck Street meeting, he was on the first Lord's day introduced to Mr. Yapp, who promptly said in his own genial way, "You will dine with me to-day. " After the meeting he introduced him to Lord Congleton, who also said, "You will dine with me to-day, brother T." Such hospitality was new to this young brother, who thought he had come among strangers, and the genuine brotherly love manifested to him quite overcame him, leaving an impression that forty years has not effaced.
Failing health compelled Mr. Yapp to leave London in 1863, and he returned to end his days on earth where his school days and early youth had been spent, viz., in Leominster. His genial character drew other able brethren to the town, among them Dr. Maclean and Colonel Colbeck, the result being increased fellowship, full attendances at meetings, and a large Sunday School, with conversions.' The first Sunday Mr. Yapp said, "This room is too small," and within a week arrangements were made to take the large room in Waterloo House. One of the last acts of this noble-hearted brother was to rent and furnish the other parts of Waterloo House, Leominster, for the purpose of accommodating brethren whom he hoped to assemble together in the Lord's Name for mutual prayer, counsel, and conference on matters concerning the welfare of the Church of God. The four who signed the first circular of invitation to these conferences were W. Yapp, W. Lincoln, H. Groves, and Dr. J. L. Maclean. Mr. Yapp had the joy of seeing four conferences held in the Waterloo that year (1874), and many are alive who still remember some of those first ministering brethren. Three of the chief were Messrs. Henry Groves, Henry Dyer, and Henry Heath.
Mr. Yapp edited The Golden Lamp for five years till his Home-call on 28th November, 1874. When conscious that he was about to depart he cried out, "Loose me and let me go, Lord Jesus! Take me to Thyself, Lord Jesus!" So ended a noble, consecrated, and devoted life, having one purpose, and that CHRIST.