ABERNETHY, JOHN Irish Presbyterian divine, was born at Coleraine, county Londonderry, on Oct. 19 1680. He was educated at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin, and was pastor of a church at Antrim for 14 years. In 1717 he was assigned by the synod to Usher's Quay, Dublin. He declined to obey, and remained at Antrim. This refusal became a test case of the authority of the ecclesiastical courts, and Irish Presby terianism was split into two camps of "subscribers" and "non subscribers." Out-and-out evangelical as John Abernethy was, there can be no question that he and his associates sowed the seeds of that after-struggle (1821-40) in which, under the leader ship of Dr. Henry Cooke, the Arian and Socinian elements of the Irish Presbyterian Church were thrown out. In 1726 the "non subscribers," in spite of pleading against separation by Abernethy, were cut off from the Irish Presbyterian Church. In 1730, al though a "non-subscriber," he was invited to Wood Street, Dub lin, whither he removed. In 1731 Abernethy made a stand against the Test Act, "against all laws that, upon account of mere differences of religious opinions and forms of worship, excluded men of integrity and ability from serving their country." He was nearly a century in advance of his age in his repudiation of tests and disabilities. He had to reason with those who denied that a Roman Catholic or Dissenter could be a "man of integrity and ability." His Tracts—afterwards collected—did fresh service, generations later, and his name is honoured by all who love free dom of conscience and opinion.
See Dr. Duchal's Life, prefixed to Sermons' (1762) ; Diary in ms., 6 vols. 4to ; Reid's Presbyterian Church in Ireland, iii.