Charles Henry Mackintosh

Charles Henry Mackintosh
Charles Henry Mackintosh
Born October 1820
Glenmalure Barracks, County Wicklow, Ireland
Died 2 November 1896
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

Charles Henry MacKintosh was a nineteenth century Christian preacher, dispensationalist, writer of Bible commentaries, magazine editor and member of the Plymouth Brethren.


Early life

Mackintosh was the son of Captain Duncan Mackintosh[citation needed], an officer in a Highland regiment.[1] He is considered to be the older cousin of Charles Herbert Mackintosh."[citation needed] Charles Henry had a spiritual experience at the age of eighteen through the letters of his sister and the reading of John Nelson Darby's Operations of the Spirit. In 1838 he went to work in a business house in Limerick, Ireland. The following year he went to Dublin and identified himself with the Plymouth Brethren. About 1874, Mackintosh reflecting on his course wrote, "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 Establishment about the year 1839, and took my place at the table in 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 ... Indeed, I may say that nothing but the most solemn sense of responsibility could ever have induced me to stand up in public."[citation needed]

In 1843 Mackintosh wrote his first tract entitled Peace with God. When he was twenty-four years of age, he opened a private school at Westport where he developed a special method of teaching classical languages. The Great Irish Potato Famine (“An Gorta Mor” – The Great Hunger) of 1845-1850 raged around this time and though the British Government had repeatedly attempted to relieve the desperate poverty among the Irish (following the Act of Union 1800), the intense and increasing suffering of the common people only worsened. During school holiday periods Mackintosh went around Co. Mayo preaching the gospel to the poor. The endeavour to run a boarding school in such a poor and famine-hit district caused Mackintosh to cease the enterprise in 1853: in February he told John Nelson Darby that "Nothing could induce him to go on with a boarding school".

For a while he tried farming. He wrote again to Darby on 31 August 1853, "I cannot resist sending you a few lines to tell you of the Lord's peculiar mercy and faithfulness to His unworthy servant since I last wrote amid much conflict of soul from various causes. I was led to preach a little from share of circumstances and gave myself entirely to the work to which, I feel convinced, He has called me. I earnestly desired, at the same time, if possible, to work with my hands and for this purpose, I bought a small farm. However the Lord did not suffer me to take such a thing, but called me into larger service than ever, and blessed be His name, owned the service most manifestly, while at the same time He most graciously passed in upon me far more than enough to meet all my need. I mention this to you, my beloved brother, because I knew how your heart is interested in the work and those engaged in it." It was not long before he concluded he must give himself entirely to preaching, writing and public speaking.

Author and Evangelist

Soon after this he established a periodical named Things New and Old[2], which he continued to edit (with Charles Stanley) from 1858 to 1890, and Good News for the Little Ones, later called Good News for Young and Old and some pages for the Little Ones from 1859 to 1876.[3]

Mackintosh took a great interest in, and actively participated in, the great Irish Evangelical revival of 1859 and 1860 (see Revivalism)[citation needed].[4]

Mackintosh's literary fame rests primarily upon his work 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. These are still in print and have been translated into a dozen or more languages[citation needed].[5]

Brethren historian Roy Coad notes:

"Another popular writer among the exclusives was an Irish schoolmaster, Charles Henry Mackintosh, who preached extensively in the revival movement. The initials 'C.H.M.' became familiar in many pious evangelical households of the later Victorian and Edwardian years. No critical scholar, Mackintosh nevertheless had a marked gift for simple Biblical exposition, and his works on the Pentateuch had an enormous vogue as simple aids to devotional interpretation for the first five books of the Bible. He was, however, no theologian, and certain isolated sentences in those books referred to 'the heavenly humanity' of Christ (and thus verged on formal heresy), brought him much hostile notice from prejudiced opponents of the Brethren (who took his writings as being far more significant and representative than they deserved). He later withdrew the expressions, on Darby's insistence."[6]

Charles Spurgeon offers the following comment on C.H. Mackintosh's Notes on Leviticus:

"We do not endorse Plymouthism which pervades these notes, but they are frequently suggestive. Should be read cautiously."[7]

Closing Days

Charles Andrew Coates wrote, "I was one of the last persons to hear C.H.M. pray. It was most touching to hear the aged and feeble Levite pouring out his heart to God, first for the whole assembly, and then for the little companies gathered everywhere to the Lord's Name. The Lord's interests were the great burden of his heart. Though he had been for a length of time incapacitated for any public service he was still keeping the charge." Mackintosh died on 2 November 1896 shortly after entering his 76th year, following increasing weakness in which he had no energy left to preach, though he had continued to write until even that was impossible. Eventually this also ceased, but his literature continued to be published. The 6th edition of Notes on the Book of Genesis was published before the year ended.

Four days later on 6 November 1896 he was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery.[1] He was buried by the side of his wife in what is known as "the Plymouth Brethren plot", just in front of the grave of one of his converts, the hymn writer G.W. Frazer who had died in the previous January and where other prominent Plymouth Brethren of the day were buried. Dr. Walter Wolston of Edinburgh preached from Genesis 25:8-10 and Hebrews 11:8-10 at the funeral and the mourners sang J.N. Darby’s hymn:

O bright and blessèd scenes,
Where sin can never come;
Whose sight our longing spirit weans
From earth, where yet we roam.

Photograph of Gravestone

The American author of a brief obituary remarked that he would not allow his "thoughts to indulge in fulsome praise (of men) – rather to recognise the grace of God vouchsafed to His servant."[citation needed] An Australian magazine The Message published this in its pages, "Now to tell of our beloved and honoured brother Mr Mackintosh's departure to be with Christ. He had been in failing health for twelve months, but continued the Handfuls of Pasture monthly as before – most sweet, profitable teaching. Mr Mackintosh's breathing greatly distressed him, and for some time he was not equal to going to the Meetings, or even to leaving the house, but did not take to his bed. I went as often as I could to see him. When inquiring how he was, the answer ever was – 'Just as I ought to be.' God’s way was always best to him. Just six months before his own departure to be with Christ – J B Stoney, in declining health at Scarborough, said of CHM, 'He is now where love is satisfied.'"

The Scripture texts on the gravestone of Mackintosh and his wife Emma are "Feed the flock of God" (1 Peter 5:3) and "He being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4). Beneath Emma’s inscription is Darby’s verse,

Jesus, we wait for Thee,
With Thee to have our part;
What can full joy and blessing be
But being where Thou art?

Further information

  • Noel, Napoleon (1936). The History of the Brethren. W.F. Knapp. 
  • Coad, Frederick Roy (1968). A History of the Brethren Movement. Paternoster. 
  • Cross, Edwin Norman (2011). The Life and Times of Charles Henry Mackintosh: a biography. Chapter Two. 
  • John Rylands University Library, Manchester, Christian Brethren Archive.
  • Private Brethren Archive of Edwin Cross, Woolwich, London SE18.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ F. Roy Coad, A History of the Brethren Movement (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1968), page 208.
  7. ^ C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Edinburgh: First Banner of Truth edition, 2008), page 729.

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