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MoRE THAN Forty YEARs PAston of THE congregATIONAL church, colli ER's-RENTs, southwARR.
THE following valuable memorial of one of the best of men, is from the pen of the Rev. George Clayton, and was addressed to his flock, at Walworth, on occasion of Mr. Knight's death. Having spoken of the duty of honouring the character and cherishing the memory of the departed servants of God, and cited the well-known passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Remember them that have the rule over you (your spiritual guides), and have spoken to you the Word of God,” &c. &c., the preacher then proceeded as follows:—
The Rev. James Knight, for more than forty years the esteemed pastor of the church in Collier's-rents, Southwark, and since his retirement from the pastorate, an inhabitant of Clapham, and a worshipper in this congregation, was born in the year 1769. His honoured father, the Rev. Titus Knight, was for a long period the pastor of an ancient congregation, of great respect. ability, at Halifax, in Yorkshire. He lived in the age of religious revivals, and was cotemporary with the Wesleys, George Whitfield, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, and other stars of that
bright hemisphere, and sympathized, far more than many of his ministerial brethren, in the movements of that remarkable era. For many years he was accustomed to preach, as a regular supply, at the Tabernacle in Moorfields reared by Mr. Whitfield. His son, Mr James Knight, through the grace that was bestowed on him, became decidedly pious in the days of his youth, and early devoted himself to the service of the Christian Ministry. He entered on his academical course at “Old College, Homerton," and pursued his studies, both classical and theological, with distinguished diligence, application, and earnestness; while his deportment was marked, in a more than ordinary degree, with gravity, spirituality of mind, and holy circumspection. While at college, he united himself in fellowship with the church at the King's Weighhouse, Eastcheap, then under the pas toral care of the late Rev. John Clayton, between whom and himself there arose a firm and lasting friendship, which remained uninterrupted for more than half a century. Having honourably completed his
course of study, he was invited to take the oversight of the church in Collier'srents, in the year 1791, and cheerfully responded to the call; and his ordination service took place on June 19th of that year. At the age of twenty-two years, he succeeded to the pulpit of the Rev. John Rogers, who is described in the church document read on that occasion, as “a pastor whose integrity, simplicity, piety, and steady attachment to the glorious truths of the gospel will long be gratefully remembered by his bereaved flock." The presbyters engaged in the service were the Rev. Benjamin Davies, D.D., the Rev. Thomas Towle, B.D., and the Rev. John Clayton. In the charge delivered to the young minister by Mr. Clayton these words occur:— “Among other examples you will naturally consider that of your esteemed predecessor. He finished well. And as an affectionate son, you cannot but reflect on that of your venerable father, now thought to be at the point of death; if power remains he is imploring a double blessing on you this day; follow his shining track, and you will share with him the rewards of fidelity unto death.” Mr. Knight now addressed himself with great seriousness and assiduity to the duties of his office, upon which he bestowed much patient thought, and well-directed labour. Those who frequented his public teaching, could not but feel that they were listening to a man of God, -one whose mind was deeply impregnated with a devout spirit and a sincere solicitude for the conversion and edification of souls. If his gifts were not of the popular order, they were of sterling value, and secured the approbation and preference of some among the most reflecting, judicious, and godly of the community. Those who attached themselves on principle to his ministrations were very strongly attached, and, doubtless, profited greatly by them. With the duties of his pastorate he combined the education of a select
number of pupils, never exceeding six or eight in number, and resided in Richmond-place, Walworth. Of this little group it was the happiness of the preacher to be one. How little could it, at that time, have been imagined, that the school-boy of seven years old, should have eventually become the pastor of a church in that populous hamlet for the space of fortyeight years, and should have been called upon to improve the event of his revered tutor's decease, after the lapse of sixty years, from the period of his early training at Walworth? Yet such has been the ordination of the Divine Head of the church. In process of time, Mr. Knight was invited to fill the Divinity Chair, in Homerton College, where he liad, as we have stated, received his education for the ministry. It was an important and honourable post, which he retained for several years, most creditably to himself and advantageously to his classes. His was the good old-fashioned theology, that of the Owens, the Howes, the Bateses, and the Flavels of a former age, which, it is to be feared, in the boasted march of intellect and of scientific improvement, has been suffered to fade from the ministrations of many of our modern teachers, who have substituted the flimsy but gaudy essay, or the elaborated scientific disquisition, for those glorious truths of the gospel of Christ which constitute the food, the nourishment, and the life of the soul. For my own part, I must freely confess, that no healthful revival can be hoped for in our nonconforming colleges and churches, without a return to that system of public teaching, which is simple, scriptural, and “instinct all o'er with Christ,”—Christ in his dignity, his merit, his fulness, and his immutability Christ in the humiliations of his cross, in the radiance of his crown, and in the power of his Spirit. Christ the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the all and in all. The health of Mr. Knight, never very robust, became fluctuating and uncertain, which led him first to relinquish his tutorship at the college, and some years afterwards to retire from the stated labours of his ministry. When once he clearly discerned the path of duty, and had made up his mind to any measure, he was of inflexible purpose, and therefore bid farewell to his charge, with mutual regard and the reciprocation of the best wishes. It was, however, an evil day for the people at Collier's-rents when his ministrations among them finally ceased. His retirement was marked by habits of regular and fervent devotion; he walked with God, he held commerce with the skies. He was mighty in the Scriptures, an accurate expositor of the Sacred Word, and a sound and learned critic. He might, in truth, be called a perfect textuary. He was known, and resorted to, by many as a skilful, able, and faithful casuist; expert in resolving doubts, and defining duties in their most delicate relations and nicest shadings, in those matters which demanded the right application of acknowledged truths to practical purposes. He was a man of stern principle, steadfast and immoveable in the work of the Lord. Withal he was of a social turn and friendly disposition, always courteous, and sometimes indulging in innocent pleasantry and well-regulated mirth. For several years his house was open, once in the week, for the reception of his friends, who resorted to him for instruction, counsel, and edification. These he encouraged to propose questions upon matters of doctrinal and practical interest, to which he gave a response from the Holy Scriptures, which lay before him; and the meetings for friendly and Christian communing were closed with prayer. There are some persons now present with us who can testify to the interesting and improving character of these social gatherings.
It ought to be noted, that he indicated throughout his whole course a spirit of wise catholicity towards all who loved the Lord Jesus, whatever might be their sect, denomination, or party. He could distinguish between firmness and bigotry, and therefore was enabled, in the spirit of Christian love, to maintain communion with those from whom, in some things, he consoiantiously differed. His own brother was a minister of the Established Church, as were also his nephews; and I never heard that the diversity of their judgment and practice, on ecclesiastical matters, interfered to prevent the interchange of mutual affection, or to diminish the agreeableness of relative inter course. He was the last man in the world to employ himself, directly or indirectly, in sowing discord among brethren. As his health and strength began visibly to decline, he was strengthened unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness, till, having exemplified this last and hardest lesson, he was visited for a few months previous to his decease with a paralytic seizure, which confined him to his bed for the rest of his days. But even in this season of infirmity and disqualification, he enjoyed the presence and the help of his Divine Master and Lord. His bed was made in his sickness, and he was comforted on the couch of languishing. He did not speak much or often, but the utterances he gave forth were sententious, weighty, and edifying ; and by the testimony of his nearest relatives, who were in constant attendance upon him, he became doubly endeared to them, in his last illness, by his gentle, peaceful, thankful, and considerate carriage and behaviour. The ripe and mellow fruits of faith and love they were permitted to gather will be long laid up in store for their comfort and joy. On awaking from slumber, one morning, he was heard to groan heavily. His affectionate daughter inquired if she could do anything for him, and asked if he were under any particular pain or pressure. He replied, “No;— I was only praying that I might be set right, and kept right, through the day on which I have been permitted to enter.” He was always accustomed to attach great importance to the first thought which possessed the mind in awaking out of sleep. And who would not desire to be set right, and kept right, with every returning day?
He was at length favoured with a tranquil dismission from the body; and if he had not a painless exit, it was not marked by any strong or agonizing conflict. He slept in Jesus. It may be said, with the strictest truth, that, having served his generation according to the will of God, he fell on
sleep. “Mark the perfect man, and behold
the upright; for the end of that man is peace.”
LUTHER AND JUSTIFICATION No. III.
THE most interesting and awful question, which equally pertains to the whole race of mankind and each individual, and which can possibly be entertained by the human mind, is undoubtedly that of the ancient Patriarch, “How shall man be just with God?” and stand with acceptance before the Most High 2 In proportion to this, all other solicitudes that weigh upon the anxious spirit of humanity, or ever engage the less thoughtful attention of the passing hour, are trifles light as air, and if weighed in the impartial balances of truth and soberness, will be pronounced by every child of Adam to be “found wanting.” What are all the speculations that relate merely to the present world—the demands of science, the problems of philosophy, or the theories and appliances of human governments—in comparison with the tremendous inquiry, “What shall pass before the bar of the Eternal 2 What shall meet the approval of His eye? And in what righteousness shall man as a sinner—a fallen, depraved, guilty being —appear, so as to receive acquittal, and be released from condemnation at his Maker's tribunal 2". This is the ques. tion of questions. It is that which through all time, and in every portion of the globe, semper et ubique, has
weighed most heavily upon the world's population, and most deeply agitated the mind of successive generations. It cleaves to man in the frozen regions of the north, and in the burning climes of the south ; amidst the fairest scenes of oriental beauty, or the arid sands of the wilderness, and the uncleared forests of the west. No outward circumstances can conceal it— no external glory or ignominy suppress it—no conventualisms of human life destroy it. It rises above them—it breaks through them — it will manifest itself. And amidst the barbarities of uncivilized nations, or the attainments and improvements of the civilized and polite, there it is, ever present, ever faithful, ever uppermost—“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myse
before the High God?” This is the interrogation of our common humanity. All classes feel it. The rich cannot escape it; the poor are perpetually conscious of it. It has lived in the bosom of all generations hitherto: it will live in all that are to come. The thoughtful mind alone can appreciate it; but none can forget or overcome it. It has engaged the solicitude of the human spirit through all ages; and to furnish an answer to it, have all the devices of unassisted reason, and all the