« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
SILVER-STREET. Presbyterian, Extinct.
sonings nor expostulations would avail to extinguish the flame that was kindled. An attempt being made in 1694, to exclude Dr. Williams the lecture, a new one was set on foot at Salters'-Hall, to which place he was accompanied by Mr. Howe, Dr. Bates, and M. Alsop. Warm debates, soon followed concerning the Trinity, and occasional conformity, in which Mr. Howe engaged with great moderation, christian meekness and charity; greatly lamenting the want of these in others, and desiring to breathe a nobler air, and inhabit a better region.
Towards the close of his life, Mr. Howe's constitution became wasted by several diseases, which he bore with great patience and submission. He discovered no fear of dying; was calm and serene when his end drew near; and seemed sometimes to have got to heaven, even before he had laid aside that mortality which he had long expected to have been swallowed up of life. Though nature was nearly exhausted, yet he conversed sometimes very pleasantly with those who visited him, and they were many of all ranks. Among the rest Richard Cromwell, who was now grown old, and had lived many years retired from the world, since the time that Mr. Howe was his domestic chaplain, hearing that he was going off the stage, came to make him a respectful visit, and take his farewell of him before he died. There was a great deal of serious discourse between them; tears were freely shed on both sides; and the parting was very solemn and affecting. Many elder and younger ministers also frequently visited him, and he conversed with them like an inhabitant of the other world, with the most elevated hopes of that blessedness on which his heart had been long set. To his wife he once said, after an unexpected revival, "That though he thought he loved her as much as it was fit for one creature to love another, yet if it were put to his choice, whether to die that moment, or to live that night, and the living that night would secure his life for seven years
to come, he would chuse to die that moment." Being at last quite worn out, he finished his course with joy, April 2, 1705, having nearly completed his 75th year, and was translated into the calm and peaceful regions of the blessed above. He was interred in the parish church of Alhallows, Breadstreet; and his funeral sermon was preached by his worthy fellow-labourer, Mr. John Spademan, from 2 Tim. iii. 14.
Mr. Howe was in person tall and graceful. He had a piercing, but pleasant eye; and there was something in his aspect that indicated uncommon greatness, and excited veneration. His intellectual accomplishments were of the first order. Those who are acquainted with his writings will discover great abstractedness of thought, strong reasoning, and a penetrating judgment. Even Wood, the Oxonian, who seldom has a good word for a nonconformist, passes a high encomium upon Mr. Howe; and what is very singular, upon his style, which is the most exceptionable of any thing in his performances. His ministerial qualifications were very extraordinary. He could preach extempore with as great exactness as many others upon the closest study. His sermons, which were always delivered without notes, were often of uncommon depth, especially at the beginning, but were plain in the sequel, and towards the close generally came home with great force to the consciences of his hearers. In prayer he had great copiousness and fluency, and performed that exercise in a manner that effectually silenced the cavils against free prayer. He was a man of remarkable prudence himself, and much valued it in others. To strangers he was courteous and affable, and never thought religion inconsistent with good breeding. He knew how to address himself with propriety to the greatest personages, without 'the least mixture of servility. He possessed a truly great soul, free from the shackles of system, and seems to have been born to support generous principles, a truly catholic spirit, and an extensive charity. To impositions of all kinds he was an utter enemy, and would have nothing proposed as
a test or boundary of Christian communion, but what has its foundation expressly in revelation. In many cases he discovered remarkable sagacity, particularly as it respected public affairs. In common conversation he was very pleasant, and oftentimes facetious. He was furnished with a fortitude of mind that enabled him to encounter the most grievous sufferings; and he became an eminent example of a truly Christian patience, under very sharp afflictions. He finished his course with uncommon joy; few persons having experienced a more divine peace and serenity of mind at the near approaches of death.
Mr. Howe was very impartial and faithful in reproving sin, without respect of persons. Of this we have some remarkable instances that are worth remembering. Being at dinner with some persons of fashion, there was a gentleman in the company who expatiated with great freedom in praise of King Charles I. and made some indecent reflections upon others, that were not at all agreeable to several at the table. Mr. Howe observing that he intermixed many horrid oaths. with his discourse, took the freedom to observe, that in his humble opinion he had wholly omitted one very great excellency in the character of that prince. The gentleman seemed not a little pleased to have the testimony of Mr. Howe, and was impatient to know what particular excellency it was that he referred to. After pressing for it some considerable time, Mr. Howe at length told him it was this: "That he was never heard to swear an oath in common conversation." The gentleman took the reproof, and promised to break off the practice. At another time, as he passed by two persons of quality, who were talking freely, and damned each other repeatedly, Mr. Howe pulling off his hat, saluted them with great civility, saying, "I pray God save you both, gentlemen," which they received in good humour, and returned him their thanks.-At the time when the bill against occasional conformity was debating in parliament, Mr. Howe, walking in St. James's Park, passed by a certain nobleman,
who sent his footman desiring to speak with him. After the customary salutations, the noble lord entered into conversation upon the subject then depending, and intimated that he had opposed the bill to the utmost. In the warmth of his zeal against the favourers of the measure, he so far forgot himself as to say, "Damn these wretches, for they are mad; and are for bringing us all into confusion." Mr. Howe, who was no stranger to the nobleman, made this reply: "My lord, it is a great satisfaction to us, who in all affairs of this nature desire to look upwards, that there is a God who governs the world, to whom we can leave the issues and events of things: and we are satisfied, and may thereupon be easy, that he will not fail in due time of making a suitable retribution to all, according to their present carriage. And this great Ruler of the world, my lord, has among other things also declared, he will make a difference between him that sweareth, and him that feareth an oath." The nobleman was struck with the last hint, and replied, "I thank you, Sir, for your freedom: I take your meaning, and shall endeavour to make a good use of it." Mr. Howe, in return, said, "My lord, I have a great deal more reason to thank your lordship for saving me the most difficult part of a discourse, which is the application.”*— Another opportunity of exerting his happy talent in reproving this absurd practice, was furnished on the following occasion. Being at dinner with a certain nobleman, who treated him with great respect, and requested him to say, in what manner he could effectually serve him, strengthening his protestations of zeal with a multitude of profane oaths; Mr. Howe replied, "There is one favour which I should be happy your lordship would grant me."-" My good Mr. Howe, (replied the nobleman, impatiently, with another oath,) there is nothing that Mr. Howe can ask, but it will make me happy to grant." Upon which, Mr. Howe calmly
Calamy's Life of Howe
said, "The only favour, my lord, which I have to beg of you, is, that your lordship will give me leave to swear the next oath."*
Mr. Howe's reputation as a writer, has long been established upon a solid basis. It is a sign favourable to the present times, that his works have been rising in estimation, insomuch that a complete copy is difficult to be procured, and only at a very high price. Mr. Granger speaks of him "One of the most learned and polite writers among the Dissenters;" and says, "There is an uncommon depth of thought in several of his works."+ Dr. Doddridge observes, "He seems to have understood the gospel as well as any uninspired writer; and to have imbibed as much of its spirit. The truest sublime is to be found in his writings; and some of the strongest pathos. Yet he is often obscure, and generally harsh. He has a great variety of uncommon thoughts; and on the whole, is one of the most valuable writers in our language, and I believe, in the world." A complete list of his writings will be given below. (D)
Nonconformist's Memorial, vol. ii. p. 90.
+ Granger's Biog. Hist. England, vol. iii. p. 312.
(D) WORKS.-1. A Sermon on Man's Creation in an holy, mutable State; Eccles. vii. 29. 1660.-2. A Treatise on the Blessedness of the Righteous, Psa. xvii. 15. being Sermons preached while he was at Torrington 1668.-3. The Vanity of this mortal Life, or of Man, considered only in this present mortal State, from Psa. lxxxix. 47, 48. (usually bound up with his "Blessedness of the Righteous.") There is an epistle before this Sermon dated from Antrim, 1671.-4. A Treatise of delighting in God. 1674.-5. The living Temple of God, octavo. 1675.-6. The Reconcileableness of God's Prescience of the Sins of Men, with the Wisdom and Sincerity of his Counsels and Exhortations, and whatever other Means he uses to prevent them, octavo. 1677.-7. A Letter out of the Country to a Person of Quality in the City, who took Offence at the late Sermon of Dr. Stillingfleet, Dean of St. Paul's, before the Lord Mayor. 1680-8. Thoughtfulness for the Morrow, with an Appendix, concerning the immoderate Desite of foreknowing Things to come, octavo. To which is added, a Discourse of Charity, in reference to other Men's Sins, from 1 Cor. xiii. 6.