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1769.-During the course of the fame year, he was tranflated to the Parochial Charge of Jedburgh; in which he remained about three years, and where he received from his people the most flattering tokens of refpect and kindness. In 1772, he was elected one of the Ministers of Edinburgh; a preferment for which he was chiefly indebted to the long continued and steady friendship of the very refpectable and highly esteemed family of Kilkerran. His firft Charge in Edinburgh was the Parish of Lady Yefters; from which he was translated, in 1778, to the Old Church, where he continued during the remainder of his life.
The lives of the learned commonly offer little elfe to our curiofity, than the fimple record of their studies and writings. This obfervation, often made, is peculiarly applicable in the present instance. After he took up his refidence in Edinburgh, there were few occurrences in the life Dr. MACKNIGHT, which can be made the subject of narration.-Befides performing the ordinary duties of the paftoral function, a Minister of Edinburgh, in virtue of his office, is much occupied with public meetings on business of various kinds, especially the management of the different charitable Foundations, which have long been the boast of the Capital of Scotland. On thefe, accordingly, Dr. MACKNIGHT, though he entertained some doubts respecting the good effects of fuch inftitutions, beftowed much of his attention ; and his judicious counfels of management, were undoubtedly productive, at that time, of confiderable benefit, in maintaining the ftrictness of their difcipline, as well as the purity of their administration. Among other objects of fuch official care, is the Fund established by
Act of Parliament for a Provifion to the Widows and Children of Ministers in the Church of Scotland. As one of the Trustees appointed by the Act, he had long taken a leading part in conducting the business of this Charity; and when the growing profperity of the Fund had paved the way for an increase of its capital, Dr. MACKNIGHT was nominated by the Trustees, along with the celebrated Dr. WEBSTER, (to whofe benevolent exertions this valuable inftitution was much indebted for its establishment) as a Commiffioner to folicit a renewal of the Act of Parliament. This accordingly was obtained in 1779; fixing the capital at 100,000. and making other alterations for the benefit of the Fund. After the death of Dr. WEBSTER, Dr. MACKNIGHT was appointed joint Collector with Sir H. MONCRIEFF WELLWOOD, Bart; a colleague whofe great ability and talents for business peculiarly qualified him, as experience has fince fhewn, for the important office which he still holds, with the highest credit to himself and advantage to the Fund.
The line of conduct which Dr. MACKNIGHT purfued, with regard to the points of Ecclefiaftical Policy that have long divided the Members of the Church of Scotland, was different from what might have been prefumed, in confequence of the first impreflions on these topics, which, it is probable, he had received from his father. But after mature deliberation, with that manliness and self-decifion which marked his character, he adopted the principles that were to regulate his future conduct in the Church Courts; and, throughout life, he acted steadily on that fyftem of Ecclefiaftical Policy, which, for many years paft, has guided the decifions of the General Affembly. At the fame time, he firmly refifted
refifted whatever appeared to him as any infringement on the conftitutional law or practice of the Church; and accordingly, when fome of his friends feemed to with for the abolition of Calls, as an unneceffary form in the fettlement of Ministers, he moved and carried a Refolution of the Affembly 1782, (relative to certain overtures on the subject, then under the difcuffion of the houfe), "Declaring, That the moderation of a Call in fettling Ministers, is agreeable to the immemorial and constitutional practice of this Church; and that it ought to be continued:" A refolufion which was afterwards converted into a Declaratory Act, and printed as fuch in the Proceedings of the Affembly for that year.
Of Dr. MACKNIGHT it may in general on this head be recorded, that no member of the Church to which he belonged, ever, perhaps, entertained more just or profound views respecting the great fundamental principles of her conftitution and laws, or concerning the nature and distinctive powers of her several judicatories; and that in relation to the bufinefs which ufually occupies the General Affembly, either in its judicative or in its legislative capacity, he always formed a clear, found, and decifive judgment. On this account he was often confulted by the leading members of that Court. If he had made the bufinefs of the Church a principal object of his attention, it is probable that he would have attained a still more diftinguished place in the number of those whofe counfels direct the ecclefiaftical affairs of Scotland.-It happened likewise, that on feveral important occafions, his profeffional advice and affiftance were of effential fervice to the Magiftrates of Edinburgh, with regard to the ecclesiastical arrangements of the city.
But what chiefly engaged his mind, and occupied his time, after he became a Minister of Edinburgh, was the execution of his laft and greatest Work on the Apoftolical Epiftles; which was published in 1795, in four volumes quarto. Refpecting this Work it is, perhaps, not unworthy of being told, that it was the result of the unremitting labour of almost thirty years; that notwithstanding his numerous profeffional avocations, the Author, while compofing it, was feldom less than eleven hours every day employed in ftudy; and that before it came to the prefs, the whole manufcript had been written no lefs than five times with his own hand.-At the time of publishing The New Translation of the Apoftolical Epiftles, with a Commentary and Notes,' Dr. MACKNIGHT was highly indebted to the patronage of the Duke of Grafton; and after the Work made its appearance, he received the most honourable teftimonies of approbation from many of the Bishops and respectable Dignitaries of the Church of England, as well as from the ableft Divines of all defcriptions.
After the publication of this Work, Dr. MACKNIGHT confidered himself as having accomplished the greatest object of his life; and wishing to enjoy at the end of his days, fome relief from the labour of ftudy, he refifted the repeated folicitations of his friends, who earneftly urged him to undertake the illustration of the book of the Acts, on the fame plan which he had fo fuccefffully followed in the explaining the other parts of the New Testament.-But foon after this period, from the want of their usual execife, a fenfible decline of his faculties, particularly a failure of his memory, was obferved by his family. This fact is a striking instance of
the analogy between the powers of the body and those of the mind, both of which fuffer by inaction: and it furnishes a useful caution to those who have been long habituated to any regular exertion of mind, against at once defifting entirely from its ufual efforts; fince the effect, in the course of nature, is not only to create languor, but to hasten the progress of debility and failure.
As yet, however, Dr. MACKNIGHT's bodily vigour feemed to be but little impaired. In early life he was afflicted with frequent headachs. But after he had reached the age of thirty, they feldom returned; and he afforded a fingular inftance of a fedentary life long continued, with hardly any of those complaints which it ufually induces. This uninterrupted enjoyment of health he owed, under Providence, to a naturally robust make, and a conftitution of body uncommonly found and vigorous: along with regular habits of temperance, and of taking exercise, which he did by walking nearly three hours every day.
Having finished the task he had prescribed to himself as an Author, he mingled frequently in the fociety of his friends, from which at intervals, he had always received much enjoyment; and long retained the fame cheerfulness of temper, for which at the hours of relaxation from severe study, he had been remarkable, when in the company of those whom he esteemed. Even after the fymptoms of his decline were become visible, his natural fagacity and ftrength of judgment, as well as his extenfive and familiar knowledge of the Scriptures, were ftill to be discerned in his converfation and public appearances. And fo habitual was his anxiety to discharge his duty, that he infifted on officiating for a confiderable time after his friends