Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/158

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528 REV. DR. JAMES MACKNIGHT.

draw from public labour. It was not, indeed, without much entreaty, that he at last consented to accept the services of an assistant.

The disease which terminated his life was the peripneumonia notha, occa- sioned by an incautious exposure to the severity of the weather, about the end of December, 1799. This distemper, in its progress and issue, resisted the ablest and most assiduous efforts of medical skill. During his illness, his mind was composed, tranquil, and resigned ; he never complained ; and on the morning of the 13th of January, 1800, he expired without a struggle. As in the course of the preceding night he slept but little, the time was employed in hearing passages from the Psalms and Evangelists, which by his own desire were read to him by one of his family. Thus, having spent his life in il- lustrating Scripture, and exerted the last efforts of his attention in listen- ing with delight to its precious words, he may be truly said to have slept in Jesus.

As a clergyman, the sentiments and conduct of Dr Macknight were equally characterized by consistency and propriety. In the discharge of every public and private duty of religion, with a constant reliance on divine aid, he was re- gular and steady. He knew and felt what became the sacred office which he held; and never departed, on any occasion, from the dignity or decorum of his professional character. Having given himself wholly to the meditation of divine things, he continued in them : in the work of his Master he was steadfast and faithful to the end. His piety was at once sincere, rational, and without ostentation. To be useful in the cause of truth and virtue, was his highest am- bition ; and with all the means of attaining this end which the resources of a well-informed and liberal mind could supply, he united a zeal for the interests of Christianity, which terminated only with his life.

When engaged, either in private controversy or in the public debates of the church courts, he was always remarkable for speaking strictly to the point at is- sue. He was likewise distinguished by coolness, discretion, and command of temper; he listened with patience to the arguments of his opponents; and in delivering his opinions, he showed himself uniformly open, candid, and explicit At the same time, his talent was rather that of business than of address ; he ap- peared to be better fitted for deciding on the merits of a question in debate, than for soothing the passions, or managing the humours of mankind, a quali- fication rarely possessed but by minds of a superior order.

On various subjects, besides those embraced by his profession, his range of knowledge was ample and profound. He perused the writers of antiquity with critical skill ; and of his acquaintance with the Greek language, especially the original of the New Testament, his observations on the force of the particles, in his Commentary, are a sufficient proof. In the speculations, also, of metaphy- sical, moral, and mathematical science, he was a considerable proficient The fact is, his powers were such as might have been turned with advantage to any department of knowledge or learning.

It may further be noticed, that in conducting the ordinary affairs of life, he displayed uncommon prudence and sagacity. He was one of those who- are generally attentive to small concerns, but on proper occasions show themselves liberal to a high degree. Of this, different instances occurred in the course of his transactions with his friends ; and he was enabled to act on such a principle of generosity, by his usual habits of economy and prudence. Dr Macknight's external appearance was sufficiently expressive of his character. His counten- ance was manly and commanding, and his gait remarkably erect and firm.

Dr Macknight's " Harmony of the Gospels " has long been esteemed a work of standard excellence for the students of evangelical knowledge. His " Truth of the