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SILVER-STREET.- -Presbyterian, Extinct.
University of Oxford, stood candidate in 1657, for the Principalship of Jesus College, in the same university, upon the resignation of Dr. Michael Roberts. A majority of the Fellows was in his favour; but the Protector had promised the situation to Mr. Francis Howell, of Exeter College. Dr. Ward, not knowing that matters had gone so far, was for making interest with Cromwell, and applied to Mr. Howe for that purpose. The latter promised to introduce him to the Protector, and having obtained an audience, recommended him strongly to his favour; but as he had promised the situation, he could not draw back. Nevertheless, Cromwell told Dr. Ward, that he found Mr. Howe to be much his friend, and was, upon his report, disposed to give him some token of his regard. He then asked him pleasantly, what he thought the Principalship of Jesus College might be worth, which, when he was told, he promised the Doctor that he would make him an annual allowance of the same sum. Of this kindness Dr. Ward entertained a grateful sense, which he expressed to Mr. Howe sometime afterwards, when, upon the change of the times, he became a greater man. (c)
There were many others to whom Mr. Howe was very serviceable, while he continued at Whitehall. Several of the royalists and episcopalians he befriended in their distress, and assisted some in their passage through the hands of the Triers, previous to their being allowed to officiate in public. Among the rest who applied to him for advice upon this occasion, was the celebrated Dr. Thomas Fuller. This noted punster, who was generally in a merry humour, being to take his turn before the Triers, of whom he had a very formidable notion, applied to Mr. Howe for his advice. "Sir, (said he,) you may observe I am a pretty corpulent man, and I am to go through a passage that is very strait; I
(c) In the reign of Charles the Second, Dr. Seth Ward was successively Bishop of Exeter and Sarum.
beg you will be so kind as to give me a shove, and help me through." Mr. Howe freely gave him his advice, and he promised to follow it. When he appeared before them, they proposed to him the usual question, "Whether he had ever had any experience of a work of grace upon his beart ?" To which he gave this answer; "That he could appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that he made conscience of his very thoughts;" with which answer they were satisfied.
The generous and disinterested conduct of Mr. Howe, in using his interest on the behalf of any worthy persons who applied to him, was taken notice of by the Protector Cromwell, who once freely told him, "You have obtained many favours for others; but I wonder when the time is to come that you will move for any thing for yourself, or your family.” This disinterested principle enabled Mr. Howe to be faithful in the discharge of his duty, of which we have the following remarkable instance. The notion of a particular faith in prayer, with respect to the obtaining of particular blessings, prevailed much at Cromwell's court, and Mr. Howe once heard a sermon there from a person of note, designed to defend it. Being fully convinced of the ill tendency of such an opinion, he thought himself bound in conscience, when it came to his turn to preach, to oppose it; which accordingly he did with great plainness. Cromwell heard with great attention, but sometimes frowned, and discovered great uneasiness, insomuch that a person who was present, told Mr. Howe, it would be difficult ever to make his peace with him again. Mr. Howe replied, "I have discharged my conscience, and leave the event with God." Nothing, however, passed between them on the subject, though Cromwell seemed cooler towards him ever afterwards.
After the death of Oliver, Mr. Howe still continued chaplain to his son, Richard Cromwell; but when the latter was set aside, he retired to his living at Torrington. At the Restoration he met with some trouble, being informed
against for delivering something treasonable in the pulpit; but he was honourably acquitted. When the Act of Uniformity took place, Mr. Howe relinquished his public station in the church, and became a silenced nonconformist; but before he quitted his living, he stated his reasons for not complying with the act in two farewell sermons to his people on Bartholomew-day, which so affected them that they were dissolved in tears. The first time he fell into company with his friend, Dr. Wilkins, after this change, the Doctor expressed a desire to know how it was, that a person of his latitude stood out, while some others, who were much more stiff and rigid, had fallen in with the establishment. Mr. Howe very frankly told him, that he had weighed the matter with all the impartiality he was able, and had not so slender a concern for his own usefulness, as to withdraw from the establishment without sufficient reasons, which he could not overcome without offering violence to his conscience; and with regard to his latitude, that was the very thing which made him a Nonconformist. The Doctor appeared satisfied, and advised him as a friend to stand to his principles.
After his ejectment, Mr. Howe continued for some time in Devonshire, preaching in private houses, as he had opportunity, amongst his friends and acquaintance. Upon his return home from a friend's house, where he had been preaching, he was informed that an officer of the bishop's court had been inquiring after him, and left word that a citation was out both against him and the gentleman at whose house he had preached. Upon this he rode the next morning to Exeter, where alighting at an inn, a certain dignified clergyman, his acquaintance, happened to pass by while he
was standing at the gate, and looking upon him with some surprise, saluted him with," Mr. Howe, what do you do here?" To which he replied, by putting another question, "Pray, Sir, what have I done, that I may not be here?" Upon this he told him that there was a process out against him,
and if he did not take care of himself, he would very shortly be taken up. The same gentleman acquainting the bishop that Mr. Howe was in the city, his lordship expressed a desire to see him, and received him with great civility as his old acquaintance, but expostulated with him concerning his nonconformity, wishing to know the reasons that influenced his conduct. Mr. Howe, without entering minutely into the subject, mentioned only the point of re-ordination. Why, pray Sir, (said the bishop,) what hurt is there in being twice ordained?"-" Hurt, my lord, (said Mr. Howe,) it is shocking; it hurts my understanding; it is an absurdity: for nothing can have two beginnings. I am sure (continues Mr. Howe) I am a minister of Christ, and am ready to debate that matter with your lordship: I can't begin again to be a minister." The bishop then dropping the subject, told Mr. Howe, as he had done at other times, that if he would come in amongst them, he might have considerable preferments, and at length dismissed him in a very friendly manner. What is remarkable, nothing passed between them respecting the process, and Mr. Howe never heard any thing of it afterwards.
Upon the passing of the Oxford act, in 1665, Mr. Howe took the required oath, as did eleven other ministers in Devonshire. In the same year, he was imprisoned for two months in the isle of St. Nicholas, where he penned the following thoughts, in a letter to his brother-in-law, Obadiah Hughes, who had been confined in the same prison for a longer time. "Blessed be God, that we can have, and hear of each other's occasions of thanksgiving, that we may join praises as well as prayers, which, I hope, is done daily for one another. Nearer approaches, and constant adherence to God, with the improvement of our interest in each other's heart, must compensate (and I hope will abundantly) the unkindness and instability of a surly and treacherous world, that we see still retains its wayward temper, and grows more peevish as it grows older, and more ingenious
in inventing ways to torment whom it disaffects. It was, it seems, not enough to kill by one single death, but when that was almost done, to give leave and time to respire, to live again, at least in hope, that it might have the renewed pleasure of putting us to a farther pain and torture in dying once more. Spite is natural to her. All her kindness is an artificial disguise a device to promote and save the design of the former, with the more efficacious and patient malignity. But patience will elude the design, and blunt the sharpest edge. It is perfectly defeated when nothing is expected from it but mischief: for then the worst it can threaten finds us provided, and the best it can promise incredulous, and not apt to be imposed upon. This will make it at last despair, and grow hopeless, when it finds, that the more it goes about to mock and vex us, the more it teaches and instructs us; and that as it is wickeder, we are wiser. If we cannot, God will outwit it, and carry us, I trust, safe through, to a better world, upon which we may terminate hopes that will never make us ashamed." The cause of this great and good man's imprisonment is not mentioned; nor is it easy to imagine that he could commit a crime of sufficient magnitude to deserve it.
Mr. Howe being some years without any stated employment, began to feel the effects of a growing family with only a small income. He, therefore, accepted, in 1671, an invitation from a person of quality in Ireland. Being detained by contrary winds on the Welch coast, probably at Holyhead, he continued there two Lord's-days, and preached in the parish church to great multitudes, who had not been used to hear sermons, their minister being in the habit of only reading prayers. At length he arrived safely with his family in Ireland, where he lived as chaplain to the Lord Massarene, in the parish of Antrim, and was treated with all imaginable respect. His great learning, and Christian temper procured him the particular friendship of the bishop of the diocese, who, together with his metropolitan, gave him li