Charles Henry Mackintosh’s life was as colorful as his writing. He was born in Glenmalure Barracks, County Wicklow, Ireland, in October, 1820. His father was a captain in the Highlanders’ Regiment, and had served in Ireland during the Rebellion. His mother was a daughter of Lady Weldon, and of a family long settled in Ireland. At the age of eighteen, the young man experienced a spiritual awakening through letters received from his sister after her conversion. He found peace after reading J. N. Darby’s “Operations of the Spirit.” He was especially helped by the thought that “It is Christ’s work for us, not His work in us, that gives peace.”
Entering a business house in Limerick, the young Christian gave attention to academic studies. When he was twenty-four years of age, he opened a private school at Westport in 1844. He threw himself enthusiastically into educational work, but in 1853, concerned that the school was consuming his life, he gave it up in order to devote himself to the ministry of the Word.
In 1858, C.H.M. began editing a magazine called Things New and Old, a monthly magazine for the lambs and sheep of the flock of Christ. He continued to edit the magazine for twenty-one years, until Charles Stanley took it over. The articles which became C.H.M.’s Miscellaneous Writings and his Notes on the Pentateuch were originally published in Things New and Old. He wrote to be understood, and his written works have been a benediction around the world. D. L. Moody warmly recommended them as invaluable. He declared his indebtedness for help in understanding the Word of God, saying, “It was C. H. Mackintosh who had the greatest influence.”
C.H.M.’s writings contain a deep-toned evangelical spirit, and have been published in numerous editions. Andrew Miller, largely financed the publication of C.H.M.’s Notes, He said of the teaching contained in them: “Man’s complete ruin in sin, and God’s perfect remedy in Christ, are fully, clearly, and often strikingly presented.”
As an expositor, C.H.M. had a plain-spoken style, and presented his views powerfully. For the most part, his teaching is Darby interpreted. Darby admired his ability to communicate the deep things in such an unincumbered way and once said to him, “You write to be understood; I write what I think.” However, he could be creative at times. Some of his deductions were peculiar, but his readers become so absorbed with the spirit of his writings that his tangents do not diminish his readership. For loyalty to God’s Word, and unswerving trust in Christ, few writers could be more edifying.
Mackintosh’s ability to instill truth was reflected in the Mackintosh home. His wife once overheard her son, Timothy (then about four years old), singing a hymn as he was swinging:
All my sins were laid upon Him,
Jesus bore them on the tree;
God who knew them laid them on Him,
And believing I am free.
Seizing the opportunity, she asked, “Timothy, have you laid your sins on Jesus?”
The young Mackintosh answered, “Why no, mother. God has already laid them on Him for me.”
After ceasing scholastic work, C.H.M. went to Dublin, where he began speaking in public. For many years he boldly stood forth in defense of the Gospel, and proclaimed the truth. When the Revival swept over Ireland in 1859-60, he was very active. That notable work of grace began in 1859 near Kells, County Antrim, among several young brethren, including Jeremiah Meneely. The movement spread far and wide, one of the first districts to be reached being near the town of Randalstown, County Antrim, where many were saved through the ministry of C. H. Mackintosh and a brother called Moore.
Afterwards, perhaps about 1860, a meeting was formed at a place called Groggan, two miles from Randalstown, in a little two-room house heated by a peat fire. When C.H.M. referred to those who were brought under conviction during the revival, besides speaking of them being saved, or converted, or born-again, he more often speaks of them being “stricken.” The conviction of sin which came upon the lost was overpowering. People collapsed, shook violently, or gasped for air, perhaps hyperventilating in their panic. Mackintosh labored to explain to his more squeamish fellow-Christians that when some people are saved, they are not always so polite about it. He contrasted the conversion experiences of Lydia and the jailer in Acts 16, noting how quietly Lydia appears to have drunk in Paul’s message, whereas the jailer’s experience was very dramatic. Both were saved, but in a very different manner.
Some account of his labors are found in the early volumes of Things New and Old. In volumes II, III, and IV there are articles such as The Awakening in Ulster, Narrative of a Recent Visit to Ireland, Signs of Revival, How Are the Converts of Last Year Standing? and The Work of God Among Children.
It is interesting that C.H.M. almost never refers to his own experiences, but almost always gives third person reports of the work. He was self-effacing in the extreme, and shunned anything he viewed as self-promotion. And in fact, as he would have wished it, no full biography has ever been undertaken. When he did not publish his articles anonymously, he used the initials, “C.H.M.” How different is the spirit of our age in which we find an author’s name on the book cover is often larger than the title!
He was a man of great faith, and was always ready to testify that, though God had often tried him, He had never allowed him to suffer want in the matter of life’s necessities while engaged in Gospel work and without material employment. He was staunchly opposed to any indebtedness, and wrote that he would not sit down and eat with a professed Christian who owed money.
During the last four years of his life, he resided at Cheltenham, and when unable, through his advanced years, to do much on the platform, he still continued to write. His last series of tracts was entitled “Handfuls of Pasture.” The influence of his writings cannot be estimated. He continually received letters from all parts of the world acknowledging the spiritual character of his teaching on the books of Moses.
He fell asleep on November 2, 1896, and four days later devout men carried him to his burial in Cheltenham Cemetery. His remains were laid beside those of his beloved wife. Dr. Wolston of Edinburgh spoke on the burial of Abraham from Genesis 25:8-10 and Hebrews 8:10. Before parting, they sang J. N. Darby’s beautiful hymn:
O bright and blessed scenes,
Where sin can never come;
Whose sight our longing spirit weans
From earth where now we roam.
His first tract in 1843 was “The Peace of God.” In 1896, he mailed another manuscript to his publishers on “The God of Peace.” Within a few months, he entered the land where peace resides and the God of peace reigns.