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THE METHODIST CONNEXION MAGAZINE
MEMOIR OF MR. ALDERMAN JAMES JACKSON,
J.P., "OF MACCLESFIELD. WORTI, in whatever sphere of life we find it, should be faithfully chronicled. Such records serve to exhibit the riches of Divine grace in the sanctification of human character, and incite the living to earnest emulation of the example of the pious dead. A good life is always a blessing to those among whom it has been lived. It gives a practical illustration of the beauty of holiness in all its acts; and when it ends its memorial should be sacredly preserved as a treasure of unspeakable preciousness. The memory of the just is, blessed. It is one among many means by which the world is made better. The holy ones departed speak to the living on those questions that touch most nearly their well-being for both worlds ; and we should act wisely to pay a more reverent and profound attention to the voices that are always speaking to us from heaven. There are always too few good men in the world ; and the removal of one is a loss that cannot be estimated. As we stand by the graves of pious friends whose light has shone very brightly, we may well cry, "Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth ; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.” Every good man's tomb utters, a loud and imperative call to prayer that God may raise up others to fill the places left empty by the sainted workers taken away.
In the death of Mr. James Jackson the world has lost one of its best men. He was a man greatly beloved by all who knew him. His familiar form and features are linked to the memories of two generations of his townsmen. His kindly spirit and Christian work will be well remembered and gratefully spoken of for many years yet to come. His name is cherished with a tender and hallowed love in thousands of hearts, and many will be his crown and joy in heaven. And yet, considering his advanced age, the numerous offices he held for so many years, the patient and laborious service he rendered to the church and school with which he was connected, it is surprising how little material there is for a written life. There were
no startling incidents in his life; nor did he ever originate bold and exciting measures to bring him into fame. He was not made to startle anybody; nor to make a great noise in the world. He was quiet and modest, simple and unpretending in all his habits; and these qualities prevented him making such records as would have thrown some light on important passages in his history. We regret this. For surely, without prying into things which do not concern us, and which are sometimes sought to gratify a morbid curiosity, it would have been a real service to us had we known something more than we do of the manner in which his life and work expanded into so much beauty-because into so much usefulness.
Mr. Jackson was born at Hedge Row, near Pott Shrigley, in April, 1795. His parents belonged to that class of society which has neither poverty nor riches. By religious profession they were members of the Established Church ; but in her early life his mother was connected with a Wesleyan Church. They were a good average sort of Church people. In those days there were not as many sections in the Established Church as now; and when a man was called a good Churchman, he was in no danger of being considered a Rationalist on the one hand, or a Romanist on the other. To place a good Churchman fairly now, we have to define the ground on which he stands as High, Low, or Broad. Mr. Jackson spent his early years within the pale of the Established Church; and we suppose he went through the regular routine of induction to the privileges of that Church by baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. His father was able to send him to school ; and as education went in those days, he got a moderately good course of instruction at a common school. In this respect he fared better than his younger brothers.
As a boy be was grave and thoughtful, and he took considerable pains to acquire such knowledge as would be of use to him. As a rule it is more painful than pleasant to see old heads on young shoulders. Precocious gravity and fatherliness are not generally agreeable qualities in young people. It is better that youth should have the semblance of youth. The bearing of forty or fifty years of age does not sit well on sixteen or twenty. But there may be special cases in which all ordinary rules and expectations fail. Circumstances may arise to mature the quality of a man long before he reaches the age at which in ordinary conditions such maturity is attained. That was the case with Mr. Jackson. He lost his mother before he was ten years of age, and his father before he was twenty. Upon him devolved the care of the younger members of his family while he was a very young man. He had to be a father to them, and to provide for their settlement in life. These duties he discharged with a thoughtful care that would have well-beseemed much more advanced
years. And yet in the midst of all these cares it is said he was a very smart young man, That is a welcome testimony. It is well that he was wise enough not to let his early cares knock all his youth out of him before the proper time. Had be done so, it is probable that he would have become sombre and cross-grained, and in that case he could not have done a tithe of the good work in which his life is honoured.
While he was young the family left his native place to reside at Kettleshulme ; and in a few years after that, wishing to be nearer the town, his father removed to Tytherington, about a mile and a half from Macclesfield. At fourteen years of age. Mr. Jackson began to work. A place was obtained for him in the warehouse of Mr. Pearson, who had a mill in Sunderland Street, and whose residence was in Mill Street. Mr. Jackson's father was.employed by the same gentleman in the capacity of undertaker, and between the two there had been a long acquaintance which had ripened into friendship. As our friend had to be at work at six o'clock in the morning, and the distance to be walked was considerable, he was compelled to be an early riser. Even then he was forming those careful and methodical habits which distinguished him in later years. With a view to the preservation of his health and comfort, he always took boiled milk before going out in the morning. But boiled milk at such a time means an early fire, and that was obtainable only by systematic forethought and effort. The luxury of good coals was not common in Macclesfield then. There was no Silkstone nor Staffordshire, but only Swanscoe slackpoor, small stuff, utterly unsatisfactory as fuel—and that could only hold its own in the absence of everything else. Among this coal it was his custom to poke and rake. at night to find something fit for kicdling that might be dignified with the name of lumps. On the chance of finding them hung that of being able to boil his milk in time. In many little things of this sort he gave indication of that plodding, careful, and persevering spirit which attended him all through life ; and trifling as they may seem when regarded in themselves, they are among the things by which he was trained for his after-work, both in the world and in the Church. No man can be systematic in great things who is not so in small. Orderliness was always a leading feature in Mr. Jackson's movements. He never made haste, and he never had occasion. Everything was done in its own time, and everything was found in its place. These habits make a thoroughly reliable man, and such was he. There was no fussy pretentiousness; no preparation of a long and imposing programme of what he intended to do; but a steady application to the claims of the hour. He was never in the habit of advertising his work, as some men do, that everybody may know how very earnest and energetic they are. He had a cordial hatred of everything of that kind.