Macknight, James

, a learned Scotch clergyman, was born at Irvine, in Argyleshire, in 1721, educated at the university of Glasgow, and afterwards, as was the custom at that time, heard a course of lectures at Leyden. After his return he was admitted into the church, and in May 1753, was ordained minister of Maybole, on which living he continued during sixteen years. Here he composed his two celebrated works, the “Harmony of the Gospels,” and his “New Translation of the Epistles,” both which were very favourably received, and greatly advanced his reputation in the theological world. In 1763 he published a second edition of the “Harmony,” with the addition of six discourses on Jewish antiquities; and a third appeared in 1804, in 2 vols. 8vo. In 1763 also he published another work of great merit, entitled “The Truth of the Gospel History.” On account of these publications, the university of Edinburgh conferred upon him the degree of D. D. In 1769 he was translated to the living of Jedburgh, and after three years, became one of the ministers of Edinburgh, which situation he retained during the remainder of his useful life. He was particularly active and zealous in promoting charitable institutions, especially the fund established by act of parliament, for a provision to the widows and fatherless children of ministers in the church of Scotland. As an author, Dr. Mackhight occupied a considerable portion of his time in the execution of his last and greatest work on the apostolical epistles. This was the result of an almost unremitting labour during thirty years: he is said to have studied eleven hours in each day, and before the work was sent to the press, the whole ms. had been written five times with his own hand. A specimen was published in 1787, containing his version of the epistles to the Thessalonians; and in 1795 the whole appeared in four vols. 4to, under the title of “A New Literal Translation from the original Greek of all the Apostolical Epistles; with a commentary, and notes, philosophical, critical, explanatory, and practical,” with essays on several important subjects, and a life of the apostle Paul, which includes a compendium of the apostolical history. | Having finished this great work, he was desirous of enjoying the remainder of his days free from laborious pursuits, and refused, though earnestly solicited, to undertake a similar work with regard to the Acts of the apostles. In a very short time after, the decline of his faculties became manifest, and about the close of 1799 he caught a violent cold, the forerunner of other complaints that put an end to his life in January 1800. Having early acquired a taste for classical literature, he studied the writers of antiquity with critical skill, and was well acquainted with metaphysical, moral, and mathematical science. As a preacher, without possessing the graces of elocution, he was much admired for his earnestness of manner, which rendered his discourses highly interesting and useful. 1


Life by his Son, prefixed to the “Epistles.