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ed that he gave much of his time to his people.
It is likewise known, that he had, very early in life, a large share in the management of the public affairs and business of the diffenters, and was obliged to be frequently abroad upon that account. His constant attendance at the stated meetings of his brethren took up much time; and, , if any thing happened extraordinary that concerned the public interest, he was always called upon as one, upon whose dircretion in counsel, and diligence in execution, his brethren had an intire dependance. And it will appear, from the account to be given immediately, that his engagements and business of this kind mult be supposed greatly to increase, when the debates concerning the power of the church, and christian liberty, were brought into the fynod. He was always looked upon as at the head of that party, which espoused the cause of liberty, and had a principal share in conducting the counsels of his friends, with respect to the public debates : In the business of their private societies, helaboured with great diligence, wrote many c 3
papers himself upon the controverted points, several of which were published, and af Gifted in those which were published by his friends.
But besides all this, he made very great progress in learning: The reader will
perceive, from the account of his education already given, that he was too much haftened in it; but he laboured afterwards with such application, that there were few branches of learning, to which he could be called a stranger. He had a taste for the classics, and understood them; and used to recommend the study of them very warmly to young candidates. He had carefully read the best systematical writers in divinity, and was skilful in their controversies. He was well acquainted with church history; understood the modern improvements in philosophy, and was not a stranger to the various hypotheses of the antients. He was thoroughly versed in the principles of natural religion and morality, and had made the principal authors, both antient and modern, upon these arguments, perfectly famiļiar to him: His knowledge in these matters best appears, from the fermons he pub
inhed upon the divine attributes, which have been so well received in the learned world, that it is unnecessary to say any thing concerning them.
But above all things, he applied himself to the study of the holy scriptures ; his thorough acqaintance with · which, the reader will see in the perusal of his fermons: No man could be more happy in pertinent quotations from them; or in explaining the more difficult and controverted passages, comparing texts together, and casting light upon them, by reasoning from the undoubted principles of religion, in which he had a great dexterity.
But while he was thus employed in the north, and had acquired a very high reputation, he was, in the
invited by the congregation of protestant dissenters at Usher's Quay in Dublin, to be their paftor, in conjunction with the late reverend Mr. Arbuckle, then their sole pastor. This
him much trouble. He had contracted a very great affection for his people in Antrim, and had seen his labours among them successful. He highly esteemed the
society of ministers in that neighbourhood, and was inexpressibly dear to them: It was his own opinion, that he was capable of serving the great purposes of christianity, and of the difsenting interest in Antrim, as effectually as he could in any other fitua
tion; and thought it extremely hard, that ; any minister should be removed by mere
dint of the authority of a fynod, contrary the judgment of his own mind. The affair was long depending, and took several turns, but at the last came to a decision by the
general fynod, in 1718.
At that time the congregation in Bela fast, usually called the Old Congregation, wanted a minister; the reverend Mr. John Macbride, their pastor, was then in a declining state, and unable to go through the ministerial services; fo that congregations while the affair of Upper's Quay was depending, invited Mr. Abernethy: And
many imagined, that, if he was obliged to leave Antrim, it would be more agreeable to him to fix in Belfast than Dublin ; and some thought it would be more serviceable to the common interest. The general fynod, af,
ter a long debate among the parties, one for his going to Dublin, another for Belfalt, and a third for his remaining at Antrim, came to a determination in favour of the first.
MR. ABERNET HY now found him felf in a good deal of perplexity; he was exceedingly dear to the congregation of Antrim, and they to him: His own judgment was, that his removal was like to be þurtful, rather than serviceable to the public interest of the diffenters : At the same time a great regard had been always shown to fynodical decisions; and there was apparent danger of incurring great inconveniencies, by acting in direct contradiction to them. The synod had appointed his remo. val to Dublin in three months ; during this time, he had frequent consultations with his friends: Many urged him to comply with the fynod, and had frightful apprehensions of the consequences of such an act of disobedience to their authority, as his continuing at Antrim must be. That authority had been generally esteemed indisputable, and any thing that was like to weaken, much more to bring it into contempt,