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John MacKintosh
Chapter XI - Wider Church Activities


"Loathing pretence, he did with cheerful will
What others talked of while their hands were still;

His daily prayer, far better understood
In acts than words, was simply doing good." Whittier.

When Michael Angelo saw a figure drawn by one of his students whose style was cramped and timid, he took a pencil and drew the figure in bold lines greatly enlarged, and wrote beneath the word "Amplius." The work of some men is good, but it is cramped and narrow; they become parochial, and their sympathies are limited to their own little circle of domestic, religious or business life.

John Mackintosh could not be content with a narrow outlook and cramped and limited activities. His first work was naturally at "Queen's Road," for he had grown up in the church and with the church ; but he speedily extended his sympathies to other churches with entire disregard for denominational distinctions. Nor did his native town absorb all his energies, for he soon made his influence felt in the wider sphere of Church service. He was early recognised as a "Connexional Man," and when he was twenty-five years old he was elected a delegate from "Queen's Road" to the Conference of 1893. In the course of time he became a familiar figure in these Church parliaments in the Methodist New Connexion, and after the union had taken place, in the United Methodist Church. In all, he attended twelve annual conferences officially, six of them in the section of Methodism to which he belonged before the union.

He was also a delegate to the historic " Unit- in- Conference" in the year 1907, which was held in John Wesley's fine old chapel "City Road." the Mecca of Methodism. At this memorable Conference the three Methodist churches, the Methodist New Connexion, the Bible Christian Methodist and the Methodist Free Church were amalgamated to form the United Methodist Church. Those who were present will never forget the scene when the uniting resolution was put before the Conerence by the President. All opposition was withdrawn, and the resolution was passed without a dissentient voice or a discordant note. It was a moment of intense feeling a wave of emotion swept over the vast assembly, and found expression in the fervent singing of the Doxology, which is the apotheosis of praise.

The business of Methodism, like that of the Houses of Parliament, is chiefly done in the various committees,—the chamber for debate, the committee-room for work. It was inevitable that John Mackintosh should be frequently elected to serve on different connexional committees. He was a member of the Young People's and Temperance Committee, and of the Chapel Committee, which deals with trust estates and with efforts to free them from debt. He was appointed on the Book-room Committee, which is responsible for a large book business, the issue of magazines, connexional newspaper, &c ; and the same year he was elected a trustee of the Beneficent Fund, which is for the sustenance of aged ministers and their wives, and the widows of ministers. He continued his committee work in the United Methodist Church, serving on the Chapel Committee, the Foreign Missionary Committee, and the Home Missionary Committee.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of Foreign Missions, his gifts increasing as his power to give increased, and as his knowledge of the work extended. Naturally a man of this type was frequently found in the chair at missionary meetings, and his presence and earnest advocacy of the cause of missions always stimulated the interest of the workers. Many successful collectors for missions received their first impulse to engage in the work through his tempting offers of "Talent Money." This money was the "talent" which was to be put to good use in the service of the Master. He would offer forty shillings to forty collectors on the condition that they traded with the money and gave the proceeds to the missions. In Halifax the forty shillings produced over forty pounds. He also took a leading part in establishing a "Business Men's Missionary Society" in the Halifax District, the object of which was to interest business men in the work of Foreign Missions.

At the Manchester Conference of 1911 a huge deficit was reported on the Foreign Mission Account, amounting to £25,580. The coordination of the varying methods of missionary finance in the three sections of Methodism now united had not yet been completed. Possibly, also, the belief that great economies would be effected by the amalgamation of the three branches of missionary work may have resulted in a relaxing of effort. However, the deficit had occurred; the figures were staggering, and prompt action was imperative. But what action? Retrenchment? Must missionaries be recalled and the sphere of operations curtailed? Must mission stations full of promise be abandoned?

To such men the failure of God's work is as great a calamity as the failure of their own business, and there was a cloud over the Conference, and sadness in every heart. Then John Mackintosh stepped quietly from his pew into the aisle and began to speak in his practical, hopeful fashion. The delegates at first listened very quietly, but at length he touched the right chord. Here was no suggestion of withdrawal, but a determined attack on the difficulties that confronted them, and his address was punctuated with loud applause. The tension was relieved, the hour had come, and the man. He advocated the organising of a Missionary Exhibition and Bazaar in each District. Two objects should be sought; first, the fuller education of the people in the work of the missionaries; and secondly, the sweeping away of the mission debt. He offered to devote time and energy to the accomplishment of this object, and where desired, to organise the District efforts; an offer which the Conference immediately and gratefully accepted. Knowing the type of man from whom the proposals had emanated, the connexional officials felt that a great burden had been lifted from their shoulders, and that the result would justify their bright expectations. The speech changed the whole atmosphere, and put a silver lining to the cloud that was overshadowing the missionary efforts of the Connexion.

Resolutions were promptly passed expressing hearty approval of the scheme, and urging all ministers and friends of missions to give it their earnest support. There was no more talk of giving up mission stations; the situation was saved by the courage and the business ability of one man. This work afterwards made great demands on Mr. Mackintosh's time and strength, and accentuated his physical weakness, but bis indomitable spirit ultimately triumphed. Not one of these District efforts failed, and the good results were soon apparent. A year later at the Hanley Conference there were resolutions of thanks passed to the Districts for heartily working the scheme, and to Mr. Mackintosh for his able leadership.

At the Halifax Conference of 1913, a year later, further progress was reported, and an offer of £i,000 was made by an anonymous friend living at Redruth, in Cornwall, on condition that the entire debt was swept away by the time of the next Conference, which was to be held in Redruth the following year. This proved to be the spark which kindled the holy fire. The immediate response by the delegates was magnificent, and visitors and local residents joined in generous rivalry of sacrifice, with the wonderful result that no less a sum than £9,000 was raised in a few hours. Mr. Mackintosh gave largely to this effort. Such devotion could have but one sequel. When the Conference of 1914 assembled at Redruth, the generous donor of the £1,000 was dead; but he had ensured that his gracious design should be fully carried out, and the whole of the debt had been swept away. The Foreign Secretary gratefully acknowledged the wise and valuable assistance rendered throughout by Mr. Mackintosh:- "At a time," said he, "when others were full of forebodings, Mr. Mackintosh was able to see the light of hope."

An old chapel at Chao Tong, which was built in 1894 with money collected by the girls of Edgehill College, Bideford, had become too small for the purposes of the Mission. An excellent site had been purchased, but, on the lowest estimate, in addition to all that the Chinese themselves could contribute, a sum of £350 would be required. The missionary debt had not then been removed and the Conference felt that they could not grant even this small amount towards the new chapel. All that could be done was to declare that a gift of £roo for wofk in Yunnan might be devoted to the purpose, and the missionaries on furlough were at liberty to make special appeals for this cause. But when the Halifax Conference of 19 13 arrived, little had been done. In the glow of missionary enthusiasm aroused by the effort to sweep off the missionary debt, Mr. Mackintosh remembered the claims of Chao Tong. After consultation with Mrs. Mackintosh, who always warmly supported his generous impulses, he offered to provide the £250 needed in order to build the long desired sanctuary.

Three years later, on September 16th, 1916, the new church was opened. About one hundred Miao aborigines came in to be present at the services. There were also representatives of the Nosu churches, the Kopu churches and other outstations. The city mandarin honoured the occasion with his presence. The heads of schools, business guilds, military and police were also present and expressed their congratulations, some sending scrolls and crackers in honour of the event.

The proceedings began with a prayer meeting at 7 a.m. At noon the doors were opened formally for the first time, and a packed meeting was addressed by two missionaries and a university trained son of the Mission. In the evening six hundred people sat down to dinner, provided in part through the generosity of Mr. Mackintosh. "It is a pleasure to speak in the chapel," said the Rev. F. J. Dymond, the senior pioneer missionary on the spot. "Its accoustic properties are perfect; by throwing open the large windows we can get good ventilation ; the seats are comfortable, and I question whether the United Methodist Church ever got better value for its money."

Labour is cheap in Yunnan and materials are readily available; most of the church buildings on this field have been erected at little or no cost to the mission. The labour is the gift of the converts, the bricks are baked, or the timber felled, in the neighbourhood of the building.

Mr. and Mrs. Mackintosh derived much pleasure from the fact that their names were associated in the minds of the Yunnanese native Christians with a mission church in the city of Chao Tong. Mackintosh is a difficult word for the natives to pronounce, but the first two letters are manageable. 'Mr. Ma' is what they call him, and a tablet on the front of their city chapel, the head quarters of 'the most remote circuit in the United Methodist Church,' records the fact that it was largely through the beneficence of 'Mr. Ma ' that the church was erected.

When the Conference Missionary Meeting was held on July 14th, 1920, in 'City Road,' London, the great historic church was thronged in every part. On the platform were the missionaries newly arrived on furlough and others who were about to leave for the foreign field. There was also a Chinese representative in native costume, from distant Yunnan, and with her the lady missionary who had led her into the light. John Mackintosh, who should have presided, had passed on to the higher service, and in his stead his brother, the Rev. James E. Mackintosh, officiated, the first minister of his church to take the chair at a Conference Missionary Meeting. Some time before his death John Mackintosh had been asked to take this position and he had gladly accepted the honour. Then the Master's call was heard ' Friend come up higher,' and at the request of the family, cordially endorsed by the Missionary Committee, his beloved brother James accepted the position of chairman.

"I stand here," said the Chairman, "in the place and as the representative of another. Had God willed otherwise, my brother, and not I, would be your chairman to-night. I need not say how happy this would have made me. His passing has been to me a keen personal loss; it has been a sad loss to his family and to the church of which he was a member, and to that wider circle represented by the circuit of which he was an official, and to the Connexion. His usefulness had been checked by increasing physical disability. That he faced his difficulties as he did, that he went out and devoted himself to so many forms of service, showed the courage and faith that were in him. But what he did was only a small part of what he had it in his heart to do; and much of it was done under the very shadow of death. now many times he entered the dark valley to emerge once more on the earthward side, I know not, but the knowledge of the struggle, and of how costly a thing life was to him, helped to reconcile his friends to his passing."

"The relation in which I personally stand to the intended chairman of this meeting, leads me to think of that other relation which exists between the church, visible and militant, to which you and I belong, and that other church triumphant; which yet is not another; to which we shall one day belong, and to which those already belong who have gone from us by the will of God. We mourn their loss and remove their names from our church rolls, but be it remembered that the true church never yet lost any by death The church visible and invisible is one—the church militant and triumphant. Death interrupts the earthly communion: it removes none from the sheltering care of Christ."

"We are apt to think that the issues for the Kingdom of God are determined down here; that victory or defeat will result from what we and our fellow believers, do or fail to do. Is that so very certain? The Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. Its subjects are all who have ever known the Lord. We who serve down here are but a negligible minority of those who do serve. All the triumphs of grace through all the ages endure. All the souls in whom Christ has triumphed are his to-day and are on his side. Down here 'moth and rust consume' and 'thieves break through and steal.' It is not so up yonder, where the Lord keeps watch over his own."

Such was the meeting, and such the message through which John Mackintosh, being dead, yet spoke.


 


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