Charles Henry Mackintosh
Howard A. Barnes, Bromborough, Merseyside
Charles Henry Mackintosh (better known as ‘CHM’) was born in 1820, at Glenmalure Barracks County Wicklow, Ireland, the son of a captain in a Scots Highland regiment. He was converted at the age of eighteen through reading letters sent to him by a devout Christian lady, and reading J. N. Darby’s ‘Operations of the Spirit’.
In 1838, he went to work in a business in Limerick, and he said of those earlier days, ‘I had not the honour of being among the first of those who planted their feet on the blessed ground occupied by Brethren. I left the [Established Church] about the year 1839, and took my place at the table in [Aungier Street] Dublin, where dear Bellett was ministering with great acceptance . . . As a young man I, of course, walked in retirement, having no thought of coming forward in public ministry of any kind’.
In 1843, Mackintosh wrote and published his first gospel tract, entitled Peace with God, showing his early interest both in evangelism and in writing. Interestingly, his last article – written in 1896 – was entitled The God of Peace.
When he was twenty-four, he opened a private boarding school at Westport, County Mayo, where he developed a special method of teaching classical languages. This was during the Irish potato famine of 1845 to 1850, and during his school holidays he went around County Mayo preaching the gospel to the poor. The time and effort involved in running a boarding school in such a poor and famine-hit district caused Mackintosh to give up the enterprise in 1853; he told John Nelson Darby that nothing could induce him to go on with a boarding school.
He tried farming for a while, but eventually wrote to Darby on 31 August 1853 that the Lord had called me into larger service than ever, and he soon concluded that he must give himself entirely to preaching, writing, and public speaking. Soon after this he established a periodical called Things New and Old, which he continued to edit from 1858 right up to 1890, and Good News for the Little Ones, which he edited from 1859 to 1876.
Having moved his family from near Dublin in the middle of Ireland to Coleraine in the far north in 1857, Mackintosh took a great interest in, and actively participated in, the Irish Evangelical revival of 1859-60, which centred on that area.
Of course, Mackintosh’s lasting influence results from his writings, particularly his Notes on the Pentateuch, beginning with a volume of 334 pages on Genesis, and concluding with a two-volume work on Deuteronomy extending to over 800 pages. Of this series, Andrew Miller wrote in the preface to the first volume of Genesis – ‘Man’s complete ruin in sin, and God’s perfect remedy in Christ, are fully, clearly, and often strikingly presented’. 1
Another series by Mackintosh, which has also been frequently reprinted, is Miscellaneous Writings, consisting of seven volumes, totalling over 2500 pages, and most of it is still definitely worth reading.
After many years living and serving in Ireland, Mackintosh and his family moved to England in 1863. He then travelled widely throughout the mainland, preaching the gospel and ministering the word. His written ministry continued, with a steady stream of publications on a variety of subjects. Though he never left the British Isles, the influence of his writings spread far and wide, with, for instance, his Notes on the Book of Genesis, having its first American edition in 1863.
Although during the 1870s teaching about household baptism became increasingly prevalent among the ‘Exclusive’ assemblies he associated with, in his magazine CHM wrote, ‘I can only say that I have for thirty-two years been asking in vain for a single line of Scripture for baptising any other than believers or those who profess to believe. Reasonings I have had, inferences, conclusions, and deductions; but of direct Scripture authority not one tittle’. 2 He felt cause to complain of those, who instead of preaching and teaching Jesus Christ, are disturbing the minds of God’s people by pressing infant baptism upon them.
Mackintosh did not take part in the divisions and doctrinal turbulence among Exclusive assemblies in the last fifteen years of his life. It has been said that Mackintosh was a man of a much gentler spirit than his older friend the volatile John Nelson Darby, and he ‘breathed an atmosphere of deep devotion’.
Mackintosh died on November 2, 1896, and is buried in Cheltenham Cemetery.
All CHM’s books, articles, tracts, etc., are freely and fully accessible at the Stempublishing website or at https://www.brethrenarchive.org/people/charles-henry-mackintosh/.
David Beattie wrote of Mackintosh that ‘As a platform speaker C.H.M. was much sought after’ but ‘it is as a writer rather than a speaker that his name is remembered today, and in this connection it would be difficult to estimate the powerful influence of the pen of C.H.M. during the last fifty years’. 3 Tim Grass later wrote about him that, ‘He proved to be a lucid and popular writer, with a gift for the telling phrase: not an original thinker, he mediated Darbyite theology to the wider church’. 4
1 Found here: https://www.stempublishing.com/authors/mackintosh/Pent/GENESISO.HTML
2 C. H. Mackintosh, Short papers, section 10 of 10, found here: https://www.stempublishing.com/authors/mackintosh
3 David J. Beattie, Brethren The Story of A Great Recovery, John Ritchie, 1939, pg. 143.
4 Tim Grass, Gathering to His Name, BAHN, pg. 151.