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friend. He has repaid some portion of the debt which he owes to that friend's unwearied benevolence.
I have applied in many quarters for information : and to no quarter have I turned, without receiving something that, in some way or other, tends to dissipate the erroneous ideas that Mr. Kelly's statement, if credited, must infuse. I applied to the Rev. Samuel O'Sullivan, as to one who, though by no means identified with Mr. Knox's theology, held him high in his esteem and affection, and was in the habit of much intercourse with him, in his interior mind. From Mr. O'Sullivan I have received a long, most interesting, and satisfactory letter; the more so, because (while it is conclusive as to his opinion on the one point on which I consulted him,) it expresses certain differences of sentiment that bespeak him as little disposed to call Mr. Knox rabbi, as to sacrifice his independent opinions to
man, or set of men. I shall make large extracts from his letter, giving all of it which bears strictly on the point in hand.
Mr. O'Sullivan writes thus :-“Without imputing to Mr. Kelly any thing more than a mistake, my firm conviction is, that his notion of any change of sentiment in Mr. Knox, which would imply an abandonment of the fundamental principles maintained by him almost during the whole of his previous life, is most erroneous.
"I cannot now call to mind how nearly before his death it was that I saw him for the last time; but I know, that when I did see him last, he was so reduced that I did not think he had long to live; and certainly nothing then occurred which could induce me to suspect that any serious alteration had taken place in his previous convictions.
"I remember my friend the Rev. (who, at one period of his life, had adopted most of Mr. Knox's views, but has since seen reason to change them,) having mentioned to ine that Mr. Knox either complained to him of, or exhibited in his presence, a want of that religious comfort under severe amiction, by which the pious sufferer is frequently sustained, and which amounted to a sort of confession on his part, of the deficiency of the
views upon which his hopes of final acceptance were based. I saw my venerated friend soon after; and not being able to discover the slightest trace of any alteration in his religious sentiments, I ventured to question him closely upon the subject (without mentioning any name); and he denied in the most unqualified manner that he was fairly liable to any such imputation. He admitted fully the lowering effects which severe illness, to which he was exposed, sometimes produced upon him; and doubted not that he might, under such circumstances, have given expression to feelings, which zealous persons having very decidedly opposite religious convictions, might not unnaturally have considered either as evidencing the unsoundness of his views, or, at least, his own want of perfect satisfaction in them. But any thing more than this he utterly disclaimed; and seemed glad of the occasion for impressing upon me, that if at any future period such a mistake should be made about him, I should resolve it into a similar cause ; and not suppose that views and principles which he had studied and tested in every way in which the criterion of truth could be applied to them, while in the fullest possession of all his powers, could, in one moment of weakness, be utterly abandoned.
“ The truth is, that there were certain morbidly sensitive states of his body, in which the physical clearly predominated over the intellectual man. In those moments Mr. Knox was severely tried ; and expressions might escape from him, which individuals benevolently on the watch for his conversion, might regard as favouring an object which they had most sincerely at heart, and in which they would have rejoiced, probably with a greater joy than at any other isolated event in the Christian world, by which the dealings of God with his people were distinguished. But, in this case, I need not tell you, they would fall into a great error. They would mistake the weakness of his body for the strength of his mind; and look for a commentary upon the recorded convictions of his previous life, in the querulousness of an exhausted and suffering pature.
""Mr. Kelly I know well; and can truly say, that I do not believe there lives a man less capable of swerving from the directness of perfect truth, or of giving even an unduly coloured representation of any transaction which he may have seen it fitting to record. He is a gentleman of the most boundless religious zeal, and the most perfect religious sincerity, having devoted, from his youth up, the whole of his energies and an ample fortune to the propagation of what he believed to be true religion. He was a clergyman of the established church; and, had he remained in it, might, at the period of the Irish Union, have perhaps commanded a bishopric. But his religious persuasions to him were all in all, and for them he cheerfully, and without a sigh, abandoned every earthly object, undertaking the work of an unpaid evangelist, with an assiduous and laborious earnestness that reminds one of the apostolic times ; and exhibiting, in his own person, an example of that composed and happy serenity, which is, perhaps, after all, the clearest realization to the minds of men of the efficacious reception of true religion.
“Is it wonderful that Mr. Knox, who always sympathized with true piety wherever he found it, should have loved such a man, or delighted to hold with him at times spiritual communion ? I think the contrary would rather be to be admired. That he should have asked Mr. Kelly to pray with him, is a very clear proof that he valued the man, -as who would not desire to be united in prayer with an individual whose thoughts are habitually in heaven? His exhibiting a readiness to join in an extempore prayer, argues, undoubtedly, a certain departure from the strictness of his previous practice, and may prove the pressure upon his weakened frame of depressing or agitating influences, such as I have before alluded to; and by which bis mental powers may have been for a brief moment impeded or suspended. But I would no more reason from this to a deliberate change in his whole convictions, than I should argue from the awful words of the Saviour upon the cross,— My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' to a belief that the Lord of Life was
under a sense of divine abandonment, at the moment when he was taking away the sins of the world. Indeed I tremble to have touched on such sacred ground; and can only plead that I write under circumstances which afford me no time to look for any equally fitting illustration, even if an equally fitting illustration could be found.
“ After all, Mr. Knox's religious views must stand or fall by their own intrinsic worth or weakness. They have not been received by any one because they are his. And by those who are truly competent to understand them, even if it should be found that Mr. Knox saw it fitting to change them towards the close of his life, they will not be lightly abandoned.
“ The clergyman who attended Mr. Knox in his last illness, and whose testimony on the subject would be quite decisive, is no more: the late Rev. James Digges La Touche. He was a gentleman who had not the slightest tinge of Calvinism in his religious views; and I think, the very selection of him for the performance of the last solemn offices of religion, amounts in itself to a negative of the notion that there really was any change, such as that supposed, in the tenour of his religious convictions."
I have made large extracts from this interesting letter: with the substance of which, and almost with every sentiment expressed in it, my own views of the question cordially coincide. It came into my hands, indeed, after I had written all which, in this Preface, I state as my own opinions : the independent concurrence of Mr. O'Sullivan's, is an additional confirmation to me, that, in forming those opinions, I am right. He has touched almost every point of the question ; and he has touched all well. I shall briefly recapitulate each.
First, he rejects the notion of the imputed change, conceiving Mr. Kelly to be wholly in error in that respect, though cordially acquitting him “ of any thing more than mistake,” in his misrepresentation.
Secondly, he adverts to another charge of a similar character, which he named to Mr. Knox as brought
against him, which Mr. Knox explicitly denied, “ in the most unqualified manner,” to have any foundation in truth, attributing it to a misconception of “ zealous persons having very decidedly opposite religious convictions.” Mr. Knox warned him, also, “ that if at any future period such a mistake should be made about him, he (Mr. O'Sullivan) should resolve it into a similar cause," &c.
Thirdly, he states correctly the fact of physical depression of the nervous system, in “ certain morbidly sensitive states of Mr. Knox's body.” And that, at those times, his expressions might be liable to be misconceived by “ individuals benevolently on the watch for his conversion," &c.
Fourthly, he bears just testimony to the piety, zeal, virtues, and amiable qualities of Mr. Kelly; considering these as abundantly accounting (in spite of great ecclesiastical and doctrinal discrepancies) for the feeling that prevailed between that gentleman and one who so “ sympathised with true piety,” as Mr. Knox. He justly thinks it natural, that such genuine fellow citizens of heaven, should on earth unite in prayer. (I think it still more likely than even Mr. O'Sullivan; being aware that his sympathy with the truly religious had, on other occasions, led him into similar communion with true Christians of differing external denominations; though I am fully aware of the correctness of Mr. O'Sullivan's general statement, that Mr. Knox was much disinclined to the united use of extempore prayer.)
Fifthly, he states, succinctly and conclusively, that the present question has no bearing on the truth or falsehood of Mr. Knox's doctrinal theories ; they stand on the authority of their arguments, not on the ipse dixit of the man.
Lastly, he avers that, had Mr. Digges La Touche been living, his testimony must have been decisive: a just and important avowal. His testimony, had it been opposed to Mr. Kelly's statement, must have crushed that statement (the averment implies that); and it im