Mr. John Nevay was licensed and ordained a minister (in the time of Scotland's purest reformation) and settled at Newmills in the parish of Loudon; and was, besides his soundness in the faith, shining piety in conversation, and great diligence in attending all the parts of his ministerial function, particularly church-judicatories, one who was also very zealous in contending against several steps of defection, which were contrary to the work of reformation carried on in that period. Thus,
When the earl of Callender and major-general Middleton were cruelly harassing the covenanters, and well affected people in the west of Scotland, because they would not join in the duke of Hamilton's unlawful engagement in war against England, (which was a manifest breach of the solemn league and covenant), Mr. Nevay was one of those ministers and other well-affected people, who were assembled at the celebration of our Lord's supper at Machlin-muir, in the month of June 1648, where opposition (in their own defence) was made to the said Calender and Middleton's forces, who attacked them there upon the last day of that solemnity.
Again, when that pretended assembly held at Edinburgh and St. Andrews anno 1651, did approve and ratify the public resolutions, in bringing in the justly excluded malignants into places of public power and trust, in judicatories and armies, he was one of those called remonstrators, who faithfully witnessed and protested against that sad course of covenant-breaking and land-defiling sin.
And, as a conclusion to all, when that head of malignants, Charles II. was again restored as king over these lands, in consequence of which the whole of our covenanted work of reformation (which for some time had flourished) now began to be defaced and overturned; and therefore it behoved the chief promoters thereof to be, in the first place, attacked; and Mr. Nevay, being the earl of Loudon's chaplain and very much valued by him, must be included among the rest; and was, upon the 18th of November 1662, by order of the council, cited, with some others, to repair to Edinburgh, and appear before the council on the 9th of Dec. next. He did not compear until the 23d, when he was examined, and upon refusal of the oath of allegiance, he was banished, and enacted himself in a bond as follows:
|I JOHN NEVAY, minister of the gospel at Newmills, bind and oblige myself to remove forth of the king's dominions, and not to return under pain of death; and that I shall remove before the first of February; and that I shall not remain within the diocese of Glasgow and Edinburgh in the mean time. Subscribed at Edinburgh, Dec.23.
And taking leave of his old parishioners (no doubt with a sorrowful heart), he prepared for his journey, and went over to Holland, among the rest of our banished ministers, where, for some years, he preached to such as would come and hear him; and yet all the while he retained the affection of a most dear and loving pastor to his old parishioners of Loudon, both by sending them many sermons and several affectionate letters, wherein he not only exhorted them to stedfastness in the midst of manifold temptations, but also shewed a longing desire to return to his own native land and parishioners again; as is evident from that excellent letter, wrote some time before his death, dated at Rotterdam Oct.22.1669, in which letter, among many other things, he has these expressions: |I can do no more but pray for you; and if I could do that well, I had done almost all that is required. I am not worthy of the esteem you have of me; I have not whereof to glory, but much whereof I am ashamed, and which may make me go mourning to my grave; but if you stand fast, I live; you are all my crown and joy in this earth (next to the joy of Jerusalem and her king), and I hope to have some of you my joy and crown in our Father's kingdom, besides those that are gone before us, and entered into the joy of the Lord. I have not been altogether ignorant of the changes and wars which have been amongst you, deep calling unto deep, nor how the Lord did sit on all your floods as king, and did give you many times some more ease than others, and you wanted not your share in the most honourable testimony that ever was given to the truth and kingdom of Christ in that land, since the days of Mr. Patrick Hamilton, Mr. George Wishart, and Mr. Walter Mill martyrs, &c.|
That Mr. John Nevay was no mean divine in his day, either in parts or learning, is fully evident, both from an act of the general assembly anno 1647, wherein he was one of these four ministers who were appointed to revise and correct Rouse's paraphrase of David's psalms in metre, lately sent from England (of which he had the last thirty for his share); and also that elegant and handsome paraphrase of his upon the song of Solomon in Latin verse, both of which shew him to have been of a profound judgment and rare abilities.
There are 52 sermons (or rather notes of sermons) of his published, upon the nature, properties, blessings, &c. of the covenant of grace, in 8vo; 39 sermons on Christ's temptations in manuscript, (being all sent from Holland for the benefit of his old parishioners of Newmills), and might also have been published, if those upon the covenant had met with that reception they deserved.