Nevin, Thomas

Nevin, Thomas an Irish Presbyterian divine, flourished after the opening of the 18th century as pastor of a church in Downpatrick. This church belonged at that time to the synod of Ulster, which was then greatly agitated by the question whether any Presbyterian-ministers could refuse to sign a confession on the ground that by such an act they gave up the right of private judgment. Mr. Nevin belonged to the party who at the synod of 1721 refused to subscribe to the Westminster Confession, and were therefore named Non-Subscribers. They were open to much suspicion; and after the synod of 1723, when the controversy regarding the propriety of intercommunion among the subscribers and non-subscribers had become general, Mr. Nevin, having carelessly expressed himself on the Trinitarian doctrine, was forthwith accused of heresy, and brought to trial in the synod of 1724; and though "satisfactory proofs were laid before the synod of Mr. Nevin's orthodoxy; this cardinal point of the Saviour's Deity,... the synod, disregarding these testimonies, and fully aware of Mr. Nevin's determination not to clear himself, under existing circumstances, by any declaration or subscription, resolved not to inquire further into the truth or relevancy of this accusation, but simply to require of him an immediate declaration of his belief in the Supreme Deity of Christ. With this demand, as was to be expected, he refused to comply, as the principle so frequently avowed by the non-subscribers that to clear himself by any such method was directly sinful; but he added that his refusal did not proceed from any disbelief of the doctrine of the Supreme Deity of Christ. Nothing, therefore, could be held to be proved against him, beyond the fact of his being a non-subscriber, like the rest of his party. Yet it was moved that, as Mr. Nevin had refused to make the declaration required of him, the synod should hold no further ministerial communion with him, nor proceed any further in his trial. This motion was carried." By the peculiar nature of the sentence passed on him, Mr. Nevin, though deprived of ministerial communion with the synod, was yet suffered to enjoy his ministerial character, and he therefore remained pastor of Downpatrick. He died about 1730. See Killen's Reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, 3:206 sq., 219 sq.

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