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Had he been of that spirit he could not have done the work he did; nor would he have been remembered with the affectionate veneration iu which he is now held.
During the term of his employment at Mr. Pearson's he was aceustomed to dine at that gentleman's house in Mill Street. It was then that he made the acquaintance of Mr. Samuel Higginbotham, who survives him. A friendship was formed which continued without interruption to the close of life. That venerable gentleman, in a letter to Mr. F. Jackson, written on the day of Mr. Jackson's death, says “Only within a few hours have I been informed of the death of your dear brother and my old friend. I became acquainted with him in the year 1816; frequently at that time dining with him at my cousin Pearson's, in Mill Street. Believe my sincere sympathy with you and dear Mr. Jackson's family in this bereavement.
My veneration for your dear brother was deep and sincere, and his loss beyond the sphere of his relatives and intimate friends will be long and acutely felt. He was a true patriot, living not for himself, but for others. The Church and the world alike mourn! May my last end be like his ! My heart bids me to enlarge, but my pen has ceased to be that of a ready writer.” That is the testimony of one who through many years loved him very deeply, and co-operated with him in many a patriotic and Christian enterprise.
He did not always get fair play at the warehouse. One day when his father went to the warehouse on business Mr. Pearson said to hins in the boy's presence, “ You must sharpen this lad up a bit.” But the lad having to go out, Mr. Pearson said in his absence, “He is the best lad that ever came about the place.” That was hardly fair to the lad. And it goes a long way towards proving that Mr. Pearson's sense of justice wanted “sharpening up.” In the same warehouse Thomas Hatton worked-a name well remembered in connection with our church in this town. The fact of these two youths meeting thus early in the providence of God was followed by important consequences. It was one of the means, if not the means, of bringing Mr. Jackson into fellowship with our church in Parsonage Street. We have no means of determining the exact time at which Mr. Jackson began to attend Parsonage Street Chapel. But we know that he must have been very young. Our venerable father, Mr. David Oldham, who is eight years older than Mr. Jackson was at his death, had been for years actively engaged at that chapel in promoting its various interests. He was then a leader and local preacher. And, as many claims had to be met by few men, his hands, as those of his co-workers, were quite filled.
What is now the Macclesfield Circuit, or such parts of it as then existed, was part of the Stockport Circuit. No minister was resi
dent in Macclesfield till 1814, when it was constituted a Circuit Mr. Oldham and others worked hard and faithfully in those troubled and exciting times to maintain and extend the Church to which they belonged. The liberal principles embodied in the constitution of the Methodist New Connexion were not then appreciated, and those who held them incurred a good deal of odium. Besides, there were some men connected with the church in Parsonage Street whose credit did not stand very high. They made a great noise, and lived in a state of chronic excitement without having a good character to back it up. In the town they earned for the Church the soubriquet of “Skrikers ” -2.e., “Shriekers." The fraternity that brought this ill-repute upon the cause did nothing towards building up a strong and prosperous Church. And some of them did not turn out over well in the end. Mere noise is sometimes mistaken for religious life ; and many Churches have felt the drawbacks arising from the possession of more than their share of shouting pretenders, and of pretenders who do not shout. It was so at Parsonage Street.
Mr. Jackson was introduced to Mr. Oldham by his fellow-workman. There was then no Sunday-school, nor any of those organizations by which in later years the Church has been consolidated and extended. There was nothing beyond the ordinary services, public and social, and in these Mr. Jackson always took great delight. Nothing is known as to the time or the circunstances under which he was brought to God. I do not think he knew himself. But what matters it? We know he was brought to God. The fact was abundantly proved in a long life of earnest and consistent deyotion to Christian work, and in a steady exhibition of the graces of the Christian character. His heart was gently but effectually touched by the Spirit of God. The “still small voice” called him; he heard and obeyed it. And having once “put his hand to the plough” he never “ looked back.” This fact was owing not merely to his natural and habitual firmness of conviction and purpose; but also, and in a much higher degree, to the firmness created and sustained by God's renewing grace. He was “steadfast and unmovable” because as a tree of the Lord's planting he had a good root-hold. He endured because he “saw Him that is invisible.” He was patient and persevering in work because he was constrained by the love of Christ, and sought with supreme earnestness to promote the glory of Christ. He cared nothing for human opinion nor for human applause as motives for work. If he could have the approval of men in his work he was satisfied and thankful. But he had none of the toadyism which dances attendance on this man and that, seeking to please men rather tban God. Quickened continually by close communion with God, his work was done with regard to the record on high, and not with regard to any record which men could make. This spirit
was a universal force in him. It entered into every act of life; and enabled him to “do all to the glory of God.”
Shortly after Mr. Jackson's union with the Church, a friend from Tunstall spent a Sunday at Parsonage Street. He saw the position of affairs and the necessities of the neighbourhood, and he said to Mr. Oldham, “If you mean to do any good here, you must have a Sunday-school.” The Macclesfield Sunday-school in Roe Street, founded by the late Mr. John Whitaker, had been in operation some years. It has done good work in giving elementary instruction to numbers of children who had no other means of receiving it. That institution held an important place when secular instruction was not so generally imparted as now. It would do that work all the more effectively as an undenominational school. But as a religious institution it has been a comparative failure. Very small, indeed, have been the gains in young people led to the Saviour and brought into fellowship with the Church. The same thing may be said of all kindred institutions throughout the country. Those schools alone become nurseries to the Church which are brought under the supervision and conducted by the members of a particular Church. In cases where the ground is so broad as to embrace people of every name as workers, there are a few small and uncertain driblets into given Churches—but the great bulk still stand on the broad ground that no individual Church is to be recognised -and these go nowhere. They are wandering stars that go out in darkness at last? The vocation of secular Sunday-schools is now fulfilled. There is no need of them. There is not a shadow of pretence for keeping up instruction in writing, and kindred branches of knowledge ; for, with a compulsory attendance at day schools generally enforced, it is almost a cruelty to require a repetition of day school exercises on a Sunday.
The friends at Parsonage Street felt that great good would be realised by the establishment of a school, and steps were taken, afte much thought and prayer, towards its formation. The exact date on which the school was first held we do not know, but it was in the year 1819. It began with twenty scholars, and in a short time after its formation it was removed from the chapel to Knowles' shed, in Low Street, now a factory. Mr. Oldham had it in charge for some time. He was anxious to do good to the poor neglected children of the town, and particularly those in the neighbourhood of the chapel, that they might be taught something that would be of use to them in this world, and get an attachment to the house of God, and feel the power of the truth of God in early life, that they might become wise unto salvation. But he was much engaged in preaching. He felt he had a vocation to preach ; and as there were few preachers for the number of places to be supplied, he had a great many appointments, which prevented him from working in the school with much
efficiency; he therefore enlisted Mr. Jackson for that department of service. There never was a happier choice. Either Mr. Oldham was guided by a sound and clear.judgment, based upon a rare insight into character, in making this selection, or he had an inspiration from Heaven. The latter supposition is natural enough. The divinity of Mr. Jackson's call to Sunday-school work was abundantly proved by every year's history of his connection with it. There could not be two opinions as to his fitness for it : all his talents found happy and profitable exercise in it. It was exactly his sphere of labour, and he filled it well and faithfully. It is true that in entering upon it he had many fears.; but so had Moses, and so has any man who considers all the issues involved in it. But when he once entered upon it he went on, trusting in the promise of Him who has said, “As thy day is, so shall thy strength be.”
The work went on and prospered until the shed in Low Street became too small to hold the number of children that came to be taught, and in 1822, when the school had been in operation three years, Lord Street school was built. . That school is very dear to the hearts of many of our friends as the place in which their holiest impressions have been made, and in which they were taught the fear of the Lord. The memories that cluster around it are inexpressibly sacred, and even in eternity that old building, poor and unsightly as it was from an artistic point of view, will be remembered as the starting point in a career which has ended in everlasting glory. In that school our departed friend toiled with unflagging diligence, his kind looks and words strengthening such of his co-workers as were ready to faint. He regarded the school as a place in which the young were to be trained for honourable service in the Church ; in his view it mattered very little that they were taught to read and write unless they were taught also to love Jesus, and spend their lives in His service. Under his fostering hand the school grew in numbers and in influence. Many were raised up to become burning and shining lights, and its mark is made broadly and deeply in the membership of our church in this town.
We need not pursue in detail the story of his labours in that old school in Lord Street. He pursued “the even tenor of his way with so much regularity that the history of one month is the history of the whole period. He was always just the same in his manner of going about his work; always firm and decisive, yet always humble, prayerful, and diligent. There was no excitement, but immense solidity in his work, and God prospered it. The school became too small once more. It was never very comfortable or attractive in itself, the rooms were so low; and in 1869 the building was taken down to make way for the commodious and elegant school which: now occupies its place.
It is a remarkable fact that the two men in Macclesfield who were most famous for Sunday-school work (Mr. Jackson and Mr. Whitaker) were bachelors. Yet there was a time when neither of them meant to be. They both loved, they were both crossed in love, and they both went on to the end of life without being captivated any more. The story of Mr. Whitaker's adventure in this direction is quite entitled to rank in the romance of history; and we know how disastrously the lady was involved through the circumstances which followed the termination of the engagement. Mr. Jackson's affair was not so romantic, but quite as interesting. He sought alliance with a young lady distantly connected with his family on the mother's side. She lived near him, not more than ten minutes' walk from his father's house. There was a nice little plantation down there, near to which these young people met.
He had no time for such engagements as these but in the early morning before he left his bome to be in Sunderland Street by six o'clock. It speaks well for their mutual devotion that these meetings were held before the world in general was astir. In time a feud about certain dispositions of property in his grandfather's will led to their separation. This was his first and last engagement.
Early in his career as a business man Mr. Jackson had great reverses, arising from the unprincipled conduct of his partner. The firm was stopped, and as an honest man Mr. Jackson parted with all he had; and when he had done all, even to mortgaging his farm at Kettleshulme, he could not meet all the demands upon him. But when he became a prosperous business man again he paid every man his own and redeemed his farm, and not a single person lost a farthing through his misfortune.
It is thought that his troubles greatly affected his only sister, who was then a member of our Church and the leader of a class. Be that as it
may, her health declined, and in the month of November, 1827, she passed away to heaven. She was a most excellent woman, and her name is lovingly cherished by those who had the happiness of knowing her.
After his sister's death, her class was det for a short time by Mr. Oldham, Mrs. Galley, and others. The members of the class met for deliberation as to her successor. After full consideration it was resolved to ask Mr. Jackson to take charge of the class. A letter was written to him indited by the present Mrs. Joseph Jackson and two others. In that letter the words of Solomon were quoted, “He that winneth souls is wise.” The letter was delivered to him by Mrs. Jackson, and after considering the question, and carefully weighing the responsibility involved in the work of leading a class, he consented to take it. The words quoted in the letter were not among the least of the things which enabled him to make up his