Page images
PDF
EPUB

- He

with Mr. Knox. There was no man more capable of sagacious observation, nor more cautiously accurate, than this acute lawyer, and truly conscientious man. seemed to consider him, on that occasion, as more contemplative, and less diffusive, than before ; more calm(I should rather say, less physically animated, - more calm in spirit he could not be :) fully as instructive, as decided, as luminous as ever. And so far from any symptom of mistrust or despondency, my father (no careless or inaccurate judge of character,) considered his frame of mind as an evidence of the soundness of long-settled principles, which the weakness of painful bodily nervousness could in no degree modify or impair."

These are the opinions of two persons very capable of forming sound judgments, from the impressions made in two several interviews, subsequent to the conversation with Mr. Kelly ; certainly within seven, possibly within four, weeks of the death of Mr. Knox.

A little before this period, (that is, on a late day in April,) the two dearest friends he had on earth visited Mr. Knox, previous to their departure for England. They never saw him again! The impression on their minds was, that his religious sentiments were precisely such as they had been ever since they knew him; that his hope was sufficient for the sustaining support of his spirit under a load of depressing disease, and painful bodily nervousness; and that the mode of his reliance on Christ as his Saviour, was, in every respect, the same as that which he had been accustomed to express, deliberately, undoubtingly, and without reserve. Can we suppose that Mr. Knox (in his own opinion a dying man), suffered these two, — the dearest of his bosom friods, – to quit him, for ever on earth, under this delusion !!!

In the preceding February, one of these friends had attended him, at his summons, under the expressed conviction that he was then dying; an event which he believed to be so sure and urgent, that he called in two of his nearest neighbours to witness the execution of his last will. To that person he then intrusted his papers. Those papers contained many things on the most momentous of all subjects; which, on the supposition that Mr. Kelly's notions are correct, he felt to be delusive! Yet did Mr. Knox personally bequeath them without any reservation or correction! Mr. Knox, with death before him, permitted his friend to believe as truth, and to promulgate to the world as his confirmed mode of thinking, that which, at that very moment, (if his conversion were not instantaneous), he must have been “ beginning to suspect” was a cunningly devised fable, – not to say, an artfully con

structed lie!!! I ask all candid men, are these things possible? Can there have been such conduct on the part of such a man?

In common with many others, I deeply regret the death of one who possessed the amplest means of bearing (had he lived) the most satisfactory testimony. The late Rev. John James Digges La Touche was of the number of those who enjoyed near intimacy with Mr. Knox. He well knew the value of such a friend ; and with the most diligent assiduity availed himself to the utmost of his intimacy. Few days, perhaps, passed, in which he did not visit Mr. Knox. And few

persons, I have reason to think, were more conversant with the thoughts of Mr. Knox's mind. Unfortunately, there is no existing record of any conversation which Mr. Knox ever held with him. * Mr. Digges La Touche is dead, his papers have been destroyed ; I cannot (I wish I could !) avail myself of his testimony. I can use it only negatively, and through the medium of another informant. His sister, in answer to my inquiries, has most kindly replied, that she never heard him breathe a doubt of the fixedness of Mr. Knox's religious views; or suggest a suspicion that any change had taken place in the character of his long established

Whilst this sheet is under my revision, I hear the following interesting anecdote. On the day before Mr. Knox's death, Mr. J. J. Digges La Touche was observed to be in a state of the deepest feeling ;---on being asked the reason, he referred to the state of his friend, Mr. Knox: and when pressed more particularly, he exclaimed, “I would give my right hand to be now as that man is; he is living with God.”

belief and opinions. “I do not hesitate" (she writes) “to assert, that I am sure my brother was not aware that any change had taken place in Mr. Knox's mind on religious subjects, so as to differ from his views and sentiments as published in “ The Remains.” And, as he was in the frequent habit of visiting Mr. Knox, even to within a day or two of his death, it is almost certain he would have been made acquainted with any such change of views, had it taken place.”

That is the opinion of an impartial, and candidly judicious mind : it is an opinion with which, I think, all such minds will be concurrent.

Within a fortnight previous to Mr. Knox's death, he received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, at the hands of the Rev. J. J. Digges La Touche, the curate of St. Anne's Church, the assistant minister of Mr. Knox's parish. That solemn ordinance was partaken of, in communion with a minister, whom Mr. Knox then wilfully suffered to remain in error as to a change in one of the most important topics of his doctrinal belief! On the supposition of such a change, would this have been to the

quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness?"

The Rev. Christopher Darby, rector of Kells, in the county of Kilkenny, had enjoyed an intimacy with Mr. Knox of sixteen years' continuance; and there was, I believe, no subject on which Mr. Knox was not in the habit of communicating with him, without any reserve. Mr. Darby writes to me thus: “As well as I can recollect, I saw Mr. Knox a fortnight before his death. The last evening I was in Dublin, I spent with him alone. Up to that period, I can positively say no change had taken place in his religious opinions. He spoke of his increasing infirmities; his perfect confidence in future happiness ; and prayed for an increased inward growth of what he called evangelical religion : nothing else, he said, could satisfy him. He had some fears respecting the struggle of nature with death; and said he hoped this would be spared him, (as it mercifully was). It was at that time

[ocr errors]

that he spoke to me of two persons who had come to press what they called evangelical religion upon him ; and he spoke as confidently as to the justness of his own views as ever I heard him. I have no doubt, however, that his own papers will be more valuable in determining what his opinions were, than any other document."

I should have been satisfied to rest the question here; but my duty has been to make inquiries in various quarters; and I have thought it candid and right to produce the result of every inquiry that I have made, as far as it bears upon the point in question. .

Among the friends of Mr. Knox were many in whose mental and moral education he took deep interest; and to whom, with the object of thus advancing them, he devoted himself with extraordinary care. Of this number was the Rev. W. Spedding. To him I am indebted for a most kind communication in answer to my inquiries. I make the following extracts from a letter, dated Ballincollig, April 3d, 1837.

“My firm belief is, that no change took place in the opinions of my dear friend, Mr. Knox, either at, or previous to, the time of his death. Indeed, I was so impressed with this conviction, that, when I read Mr. Kelly's letter, I drew up a statement; but I felt diffident of publishing it, not considering myself to be the proper person. The substance of that statement I am most happy now to

[ocr errors]

send you.

“Mr. Knox was evidently more devotional and spiritual than ever, before his death ; growing in grace, yet often expressing a want of more, (as who would not ?) as he saw the day approaching; but certainly not embracing the forensic system.

“For the four last years of Mr. Knox's life, I had the very great privilege of reading to, or conversing with him, for several hours every day; and during all this time I observed the greatest consistency in him.

“I leave it to those who knew Mr. Knox to decide, whether he could be capable of manifesting a change of mind to one,-and, the next moment, point out to an

other extracts and authorities in support of the views he invariably brought forward to converse upon with his friends.

“ During my interviews with Mr. Knox, I used to put down in a commonplace book very many of his learned remarks, and the substance of almost every conversation, from his own lips. A month and a few days (May 4th, 1831) before Mr. Knox's death, he received an anonymous letter, and a tract, containing sentiments very different from his own. Upon which he said, “ I am very thankful to those good people, but my mind is made up.” And he then spoke upon the subject of justification in his accustomed way, --- supporting his views, as he was often used to do, by quotations from our Liturgy.

The day before his death, when I entered his room, and had taken my seat to read to him (Ogden's Sermons), he leaned a little forward in his chair, and said, “No, I cannot bear it; I will rest awhile on the sofa. He did so; and slept about an hour. When he awoke, he said, My time is very near at hand to leave you ; but how thankful ought I to be, that, up to this moment, I have an unclouded apprehension of the great and good God!""

A remarkable phrase, and a most cheering declaration ! the phrase he had before used in a letter now published, and which I heretofore quoted.* The declaration, almost with his last breath, confutes the error of those who deemed him to be at any time the subject of religious alarm or despondency. “Up to this time,” with “a madeup mind," he had viewed the greatness and the goodness of God under one unvarying aspect; and over the Divine character, and his apprehension of that gloriously beneficent character, (whatever might at any time be the disturbance of his bodily nature), there had never come, to darken the spiritual eye of his faith, one intervening cloud.

Mr. Spedding's written recollections have done good service to the cause of truth in the person of his venerated

* In the Preface to the first edition of “ The Remains."

« PreviousContinue »