« AnteriorContinuar »
The lives of persons of worth and eminence, when use. But after all, partly from the memories of some to drawn up with faithfulness and care, have been ever whom he was well known, and whom he admitted to freethought very entertaining and improving; and where dom in conversation; and parıly from some letters and pathere has been no hope of recovering any exact account pers, copies whereof were carefully preserved in the hands of one of a distinguished character, most people have of his relations, friends, and acquaintance; and partly rather chosen to have some short memorials of him, than also from such hints and passages as he has left behind that such particulars as might be retrieved, should be al- him in the many writings he bas published, such fragtogether buried in oblivion.
ments may be gathered up, as cannot, I think, but be It may be questioned whether any one now living is agreeable to those to whom his memory is precious. And capable of doing complete justice to the memory of the though in the memorials of him that are thus recovered, truly reverend Mr. John Howe; though there is good there will appear several gaps which could not be filled reason to believe, that the number of those who would set up; yet are some of the papers and things preserved so a value upon an exact account of his significant life significant and worthy of notice, that I cannot help ex(could such a thing be compassed) is far from being small. pecting to have a good number concurring with me in The history of it could not have been drawn up to ad- opinion, that it would be unhappy for them not to be put Fantage by any but himself, or one that had his personal together, and preserved. direction and assistance; or at least to whom he had given It is no difficult thing to foresee that it will occasion no the free use of his papers, with a liberty of transcribing small regret, in some whose respect for the deceased rises and inserting what might be likely to give entertainment high, to find the account given of one that was so eminent to the curious and inquisitive: whereas it has unhappily in his profession, and who would indeed have shined fallen out, that he has been so far from leaving behind hiin bright in any station, is so very defective and impersect : any directions for such a purpose, or narrative of the and if it may contribute any thing to their satisfaction, the most material passages of his life, or hints of what occur. compiler of this life is free to own, he should have been red in his general and extensive conversation, or even heartily glad to have been in a capacity of drawing it up committing his papers to the care of one that was fit to in such a manner as the subject deserved. He himself make use of them for the benefit of the public, that before had that knowledge of Mr. Howe, that he can readily say his death he (as we shall hereafter see in the course of of him, as he did of the celebrated Mr. Newcome of Man. these memorials of him) destroyed a number of writings, chester, that "they that knew him best, could know but a that might have afforded good materials towards the small part of his true and great worth, and might always giving a true historical account of him to after ages. apprehend when they knew most of him, there was still 'Tis not easy for us to judge what particular reasons he much more that they knew not." He laments he could might have for this part of his conduct, and therefore it not be better furnished with materials in this undertabecomes us to be sparing in our censures: and yet I must king, to which he was encouraged, and in which he was own I cannot see why we that are yet living should here assisted by many. And yet having been at consideraupon slight or throw away, or they that come after us ble pains, in collecting and putting together what is should be deprived of, what is still preserved, and may be here offered to public view, thinks he may be allowed recovered.
to hope, that such defects as are observed will be easily Most people, I doubt not, will readily conclude, that the overlooked, because he can with safety say, it would world has this way lost what might have been of no small have been no small pleasure to him to have been able
to have supplied them; and that any mistakes he may a Preface to Mr. Chorlton's Funeral Sermon for Mr Henry Newcome.
have run into will be readily pardoned, because he
would gladly have avoided them, had he but known how. this occasion guard that life, which was afterwards made And if it should so happen, that any into whose hands so serviceable to great and considerable purposes. Being these papers fall, should find some things represented in a driven from thence by the war, which continued for some manner that may not be suited to their particular gust, years, the father returned back into his native country, they are desired to consider, that the compiler acted but and settled in the county palatine of Lancaster; and the part of an historian, upon the best informations he there it was that our Mr. Howe went through the first could get, which he would not have regarded, if he had rudiments of learning, and was trained up in the knownot thought them fairly credible; but if any are furnished ledge of the tongues, though I have not been able to get with better accounts, and better vouchers, he not only can any certain information who were his particular instructreadily submit, but shall be glad to be favoured with their ors, nor any further notices relating to his infancy and intelligence.
childhood. To begin, then, with the first appearance of this great He was sent pretty early (I cannot say exactly in what man upon this earthly stage, our Mr. John Howe was year) to Christ College, in Cambridge, where falling born May 17, 1630, the 29th day of which month was re- among such persons as Dr. Henry More, and Dr. Cudmarkable for the nativity of king Charles II. and which worth, of both whom he was a great admirer, I think it very year, a few months after, gave birth to that excel- is not to be wondered at, that in his early days he received
lent person, Archbishop Tillotson, with whom Mr. Howe, that Platonic tincture, which so remarkably runs through | in his after-life, had a particular intimacy, and uncom- the writings which he drew up and published in his ad
mon freedom. The place of his birth was Loughbo- vanced years. As for Dr. More, there was an intimacy rough, a noted market town, in the county of Leicester ; between him and Mr. Howe, that continued till the Docof which town his father was for some time the worthy tor's death; which being known to Dr. Davis of Heyden, minister. I have heard his father commended as a per- (who had the most profound veneration imaginable for son of singular piety and probity; and his mother as a the Doctor,) he the more respected Mr. Howe upon that woman of distinguished sense. The father and this son of his, were not the only ministers of the family. For He continued at Cambridge till he took the degree there was one Mr. Obadiah Howe, vicar of Boston, in of B. A. and then removed to Oxford. Mr. Wood, the Lincolnshire, who upon several occasions appeared in antiquary, says that he was of Brazen-nose College, in print, and died in 1682,b who was our Mr. John Howe's Oxon, and Bible Clerk there in Michaelmas term, 1648, uncle. There was also one Mr. William Howe, of and that he there took his Bachelor's degree, Jan. 18, Gedney, in the same county, that was (I suppose) of 1649. It was a common thing then to take the same the family, though I cannot be positive how related to degree in both universities, and I suppose it is so to him.
this day. As to the father of our Mr. Howe, he was settled in He followed his studies close, and his great attainments the parish of Loughborough by Archbishop Laud, and in learning, joined with his exemplary piety, so recomafterwards thrust out by the same hand, on the account mended him, that he was at length duly elected Fellow of of his siding with the puritans, contrary to the expecta- Magdalen College, (of which famous society he was a tion of his promoter. He was one of those who could bright ornament,) after he had been made Demy by the not be satisfied to give in to that nice and punctilious parliament visitors. Mr. Wood mentioning this of the conformity, upon which that prelate laid so great a visitors, intends it I suppose as a reflection ; but I must siress; and therefore it was not thought fit to suffer him own that may have been the case, and yet there may be to continue in the exercise of his ministry in that popu- no just matter of reflection in it either on them or on him. lous town. Great was the rigour that was at that time Not on them, supposing the person in whose room he sucused in the ecclesiastical courts, by which, as' several ceeded deserved to be ejected; nor on him, supposing he were driven into America, and others into Holland, and did nothing unbecoming to get into his place when he was other foreign parts, so was this worthy person from ejected. whom Mr. John Howe immediately descended, driven He had several contemporaries in this college, that into Ireland, whither he took this his son (then very afterwards proved nonconformists, as Mr. Theophilus young) along with him. While they continued in that Gale, Mr. Thomas Danson, Mr. Samuel Blower, and country, that execrable rebellion broke out, in which so Mr. John Spilsbury. Of the two first, Mr. Wood has many thousands of the poor protestants, who were alto- given some account, among the Oxford Writers; as I gether unprovided, were so miserably butchered, and a also have done, in my memoirs of those who were ejectgreat number of flourishing families ruined and undone, ed for nonconformity : but the two latter are wholly by the enraged papists, whose very tenderest mercies omitted by Mr. Wood, though they were both of them were found to be cruelty. Both father and son were at Oxonians, and both of them graduates, because they that time exposed to very threatening danger, the place were not writers. Mr. Blower, who died pastor of a to which they had retired being for several weeks to-congregation of dissenters, in the town of Abingdon, in gether besieged and assaulted by the rebels, though the county of Berks,s was often used to say with pleawithout success. A very special providence did upon sure, when Mr. Howe was at any time spoken of in his
b Wood's Athen. Oxon. vol. Ü. p. 718. c Ath. Oxon. vol. ü. p. 1014.
d Fasti Oxon. p. 750.
e Athen. Oxon. vol. i. p. 608, 1016.
& Abridg. vol. č. p. 542.
ompany, that they two were born in the same town, philosophy, conversed closely with the heathen moral. zent to the same school, and were of the same college ists, read over the accounts we have remaining of pagan in the university. And Mr. Spilsbury, who was eject- theology, the writings of the school-men, and several ed for nonconformity from Bromsgrove in Worcester- systems and common-places of the reformers, and the shire, was one with whom Mr. Howe kept up a most divines that succeeded them, but (as he himself sig. intimate and endearing correspondence by letter to his nified to one from whom I had it) had thoroughly dring day.
studied the sacred Scriptures, and from thence drawn I might also mention two others, who were Fellows up a body of divinity for himself and his own use, of the same college, who were ejected in 1662, whom which he saw very little occasion afterwards to vary Mr. Wood wholly overlooks, viz. Mr. George Por- from, in compliance with the schemes of others. ten and Mr. James Ashhurst,k who died at Newington After his taking his last degree, Mr. Howe became Green, near London. It is true that they were neither a preacher, and was ordained by Mr. Charles Herle at of them writers, and yet they were both graduates, the his church of Winwick in Lancashire, which Mr. forner being B. D. and the latter M. A. and therefore Wood says is one of the richest churches in the kingsome notice ought to have been taken of them in his dom. This Mr. Herle was very noted man in those Fasti. Such things as these make me apprehend that times; and upon the death of Dr. Twiss, was chosen thai author designedly omitted several of the noncon- prolocutor of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. formists, for fear their number should have appeared too In his parish there were several chapelries, and the large and considerable.
ministers that officiated in them assisted at Mr. Howe's The famous Dr. Thomas Goodwin was President of ordination. And he would often say that this Mr. the college, at the same time that Mr. Howe and the Herle was a primitive bishop, and the assistants in his abers whom I have now mentioned were Fellows. He several chapels were his clergy; and they joining in had a gathered church among the scholars of that laying on hands upon him, he thought few in modern bouse, and finding Mr. Howe, who had an established times had so truly primitive an ordination as he. And reputation among them, did not offer himself to join with Mr. Howe always spoke of this Mr. Herle with a very them, he took an occasion to speak to him about it, great and particular respect. when they two were by themselveswithout any Some time after, by an unexpected conduct of Divine other company with them; and signified his surprise Providence, he was called to the stated exercise of his thu one of his character for serious piety should not ministry in the town of Great Torrington, in the county embrace such an opportunity of Christian fellowship, of Devon. Dr. Walkerm tells us that this place is a which might be likely to have many good consequences sort of donative or curacy, belonging to Christ Church mending it. Mr. Howe, with great frankness, told in Oxford, but deemed equivalent to one held by instihin that the true and only reason why he had been tution. He says that Mr. Theophilus Powel was turned so silent about that matter, was because he under- out here about 1646, and was succeeded by the famous stood they laid a considerable stress among them, upon independent Mr. Lewis Stukely; and after him came some distinguishing peculiarities, of which he had no Mr. Howe. fondness, though he could give others their liberty to He was but young at the time of his first settlement take their own way, without censuring them, or having in that town, and yet even there did he wondersully any unkind thoughts of them; but that if they would fulfil his ministry, and his labours were blessed with admit him into their society upon catholic terms, he great success. When he first came thither, several of would readily become one of them. The Doctor em- the inhabitants were members of the congregational braced him, and told him he would do it with all his church at Biddeford, of which Mr. William Bartleta heart; and that, to his knowledge, it would be much to was pastor, who had been Mr. Howe's particular acthe satisfaction and edification of all that were con- quaintance at Oxford. Being weary of the fatigue of cemed: and he thereupon became a member of that going five or six miles every sacrament day, and dissociety. It is with no small pleasure that I relate this posed to sit down under Mr. Howe's ministry, these passage, which is a proof that Dr. Goodwin was not so people desired a dismission from the church at Biddemarrow and confined in his temper and principles as ford, and Mr. Bartlet readily resigned them to Mr. same people have represented him.
Howe, in whom there was a general concurrence; and Mr. Howe's promotion and reputation in the college, he had a numerous auditory, and a very flourishing and through the university, added new spurs to his Christian society under his pastoral care, and thought diligence and application, which was so great, that he of no other than of living and dying with them. furnished himself with a large fund of rational and I shall not easily forget the account he once gave theological learning, the fruits whereof were very con- me in private conversation, of the great pains he took spicuous in his following life. He took the degree of among them, without any help or assistance, on the M. A. July 9, 1652 ;! Mr. Theophilus Gale, his fellow- public fasts, which in those days returned pretty frecollegiate, whom I was mentioning but now, having quently, and were generally kept with very great sotaken the very same degree but the month before. And lemnity. He told me it was upon those occasions his by this time he had not only gone through a course of common way to begin about nine in the morning, with
b Abridg, vol. Ü. .. 772
i lb. p. 70.
k Ib. p. 71.
1 Fasti Oxon. p. 99.
m Attempt, part ü. p. 329.
n See Abridg. vol. ü. p. 40.
a prayer for about a quarter of an hour, in which he cused. Cromwell told him it was a vain thing to atbegged a blessing on the work of the day; and after tempt to excuse himself, for that he would take no wards read and expounded a chapter or psalm, in which denial. Mr. Howe pleaded, that having despatched he spent about three quarters; then prayed for about what business he had in town, he was tending homean hour, preached for another hour, and prayed for wards, and could not be absent any longer without inabout half an hour. After this, he retired and took convenience. Cromwell inquired what great damage some little refreshment for about a quarter of an hour he was liable to sustain, by tarrying a little longer ? or more, (the people singing all the while,) and then Mr. Howe replied, that his people, that were very kind came again into the pulpit, and prayed for another to him, would be uneasy, and think he neglected them, hour, and gave them another sermon of about an hour's and slighted their respect. Cromwell promised to write length; and so concluded the service of the day, at to them himself, and to send down one to supply bis about four o'clock in the evening, with about half an place, and actually did so; and Mr. Howe staid and hour or more in prayer: a sort of service that few could preached as he was desired ; and when he had given have gone through without inexpressible weariness him one sermon, Cromwell still pressed for a second both to themselves and their auditories ! But he had a and a third; and at last, after a great deal of free constrong head, a warm heart, and a good bodily consti- versation in private, nothing would serve him (who tution: and the more he spent himself in his Master's could not bear to be contradicted, after he had once got service, the more was he beloved by the inhabitants of the power into his hands) but he must have him to be his parish.
his household chaplain, and he would take care his While he continued his painful labours in this town, place should be supplied at Torrington, to the full he kept up a good correspondence with the ministers satisfaction of the people. Mr. Howe did all that lay in the neighbourhood, and all over the country, and in his power to excuse himself and get off; but no was greatly esteemed: but there was a particular inti- denial would be admitted. And at length (though not macy between him and the famous Mr. George Hughes without great reluctance) he was prevailed with to of Plymouth," who made a greater figure, and had a comply, and remove with his family to Whitehall, greater interest and influence, than most of the minis- where several of his children were born: and in this ters in those parts; and he was married to his daughter difficult station he endeavoured to be faithful, and to March 1, 1654. These two kept up a weekly mutual keep a good conscience. And this I suppose is the # correspondence by Latin letters, and I have a memor- time when, as Mr. Wood informs us, he became Lecable passage to relate as to one of them. Mr. Howe turer of St. Margaret's church in Westminster. Certain happened to have a fire in his house at Torrington, it is, that he was then a celebrated preacher, and genewhich might have been ruinous to his family, if a vio- rally respected; and it has been observed by several, lent rain which fell just at that time had not con- that there was hardly any man that was in an eminent tributed greatly to extinguish it. On that very day it public station in those critical times, and that was adso fell out that he received a letter from his father mitted to the knowledge of so many secrets as he, that Hughes, which concluded with this prayer; Sit ros was so free from censure in the changes that afterwards cæli super habitaculum vestrum: Let the dew of hea succeeded. A plain argument of uncommon conduct ven be upon your dwelling: which was a prayer, the and caution ! seasonableness of which for his children in the letter of Never can I find him so much as charged, even by it, the good man could not apprehend at the time of those that have been most forward to inveigh against writing; but they could not but affectionately remark a number of his contemporaries, with improving his it at the receipt of it.
interest in those who then had the management of Some time after (I cannot with certainty say how affairs in their hands, either to the enriching himself, long) Mr. Howe having occasion to take a journey to or the doing ill offices to others, though of known disLondon, was detained there longer than he intended. fering sentiments. He readily embraced every occasion He had the curiosity to go one Lord's day (and it was that offered, of serving the interest of religion and on the last that he designed to continue in town) to be learning, and opposing the errors and designs which an auditor at the chapel at Whitehall; but cannot at that time threatened both. Among many instances meet with any one that can with certainty recollect of his generous temper, I shall mention one, which who was to be that day the preacher. Cromwell, who was his seasonable service to Dr. Seth Ward, who was generally had his eyes every where, spied out Mr. afterwards Bishop of Exeter, and Sarum, successively. Howe in the auditory, and knew him by his garb to The case in short was this. In 1657, that gentleman, be a country minister, and thought he discerned some who had succeeded Mr. John Greaves some time before thing more than ordinary in his countenance, and sent as Astronomy professor in the university of Oxon, stood a messenger to him to desire to speak with him when candidate for the principalship of Jesus college in the the worship of God was over. Upon his coming to same university, upon the resignation of Dr. Michael him, Cromwell requested him to preach before him the Roberts. Dr. Ward had the majority of the Fellows Lord's day following. Mr. Howe was surprised with for him; but Mr. Francis Howell of Exeter college the unexpected motion, and modestly desired to be ex- made an interest in the Protector Cromwell, and obtained
o See Abridg. Fol. ii. p. 2
P Athen. Oxon. vol. ü. p. 1014.
his promise for the filling up that vacancy. Dr. Ward In short, so generous was Mr. Howe, in using his Dot knowing that matters had gone so far, was for interest on the behalf of persons of any worth that making an interest in the Protector too, and in order to applied to him, that I have been informed Cromwell it applied to Mr. Howe, who, without making great once freely told him, that he had obtained many favours promises as to success, readily offered to introduce him for others; but, says he, I wonder when the time is to to the Protector, and do him what service he was able. come that you will move for any thing for yourself, or Having obtained an audience, and they three being your family. A plain argument that he took him for a Logether, Mr. Howe gave Cromwell a great character very disinterested person, and as free from selfishness of Dr. Ward, with respect to his learning, and signified as he was from partiality. how ill it would sound, if a man of his known merit And here I know not how to forbear mentioning a should be discountenanced; especially when he had the passage that I had from Mr. Howe's own mouth, when majority of the Fellows on his side. Cromwell replied, I had the happiness of some hours' free conversation that Dr. Roberts having resigned his principalship with him, without any interruption. I had heard from into his hands, he had been informed that it was his several, (and it had been confirmed to me by Mr. right to fill up the vacancy; and he had given his Jeremy White, who lived at Whitehall at the very promise to Mr. Howell, and could not draw back. But same time with Mr. Howe,) that the notion of a parimmediately taking Mr. Howe aside, and discoursing ticular faith in prayer prevailed much in Cromwell's him freely about Dr. Ward, and he telling him that in court; and that it was a common opinion among them, his apprehension it would be much for his honour to that such as were in a special manner favoured of God, do something for the Doctor, and that he would thereby when they offered up prayers and supplications to him encourage men of merit and learning, he returned to for his mercies, either for themselves or others, often Dr. Ward, who continued waiting, and told him that had such impressions made upon their minds and spirits be found Mr. Howe to be much his friend, and was by a divine hand, as signified to them, not only in the upon his report of him disposed to give him some general that their prayers would be heard, and gratokens of his regard : and thereupon he pleasantly ciously answered, but that the particular mercies that asked him what he thought the principalship of Jesus were sought for would be certainly bestowed; nay, College might be worth? The Doctor freely told him and sometimes also intimated to them in what way and what was the value of it according to common com- manner they would be afforded, and pointed out to putation. And thereupon he gave the Doctor a promise, them future events beforehand, which in reality is the that he would allow him the sum that he mentioned same with inspiration. Having heard of mischief done annually. This was at that time reckoned a seasonable by the prevalence of this notion, I took the opportunity kindness: and the Doctor expressed his grateful sense that offered, when there was nothing to hinder the of i to Mr. Howe some time after, when upon the utmost freedom, to inquire of Mr. Howe what he had change of the times he became a greater man. known about this matter, and what were his appre
There were many others to whom Mr. Howe was bensions concerning it? He told me the prevalence of Fery serviceable while he continued at Whitehall: and the notion that I mentioned at Whitehall, at the time bever was he known to be backward to assist any of when he lived there, was too notorious to be called in the royalists or episcopalians in distress, if they were question ; and that not a liule pains was taken to culbut persons of real merit. He befriended several with tivate and support it; and that he once heard a sermon his advice and interest upon their being obliged to ap- there, (from a person of note,) the avowed design of pear before the Triers, in order to the having their which was to maintain and defend it. He said, he was approbation before their being allowed to officiate in so fully convinced of the ill tendency of such a prinpublic as ministers. Among the rest that applied to ciple, that after the hearing this sermon, he thought him for advice upon that occasion, the celebrated Dr. himself bound in conscience, when it came next to his Thomas Fuller, who is so well known by his punning turn to preach before Cromwell, to set himself induswritings, was one. That gentleman, who was gene- triously to oppose it, and to beat down that spiritual rally upon the merry pin, being to take his turn before pride and confidence, which such fancied impulses and these Triers, of whom he had a very formidable notion, impressions were apt to produce and cherish. He told thus accosted Mr. Howe, when he applied to him for me, he observed that while he was in the pulpit advice. Sir, said he, you may observe I am a pretty Cromwell heard him with great attention, but would corpulent man, and I am to go through a passage that sometimes knit his brows, and discover great uneasi. is very straight, I beg you would be so kind as to give ness. When the sermon was over, he told me a person me a shove, and help me through. He freely gave of distinction came to him, and asked him if he knew him his advice, and he promised to follow it; and when what he had done; and signified it to him as his aphe appeared before them, and they proposed to him the prehension that Cromwell would be so incensed upon usual question, Whether he had ever had any experience that discourse, that he would find it very difficult ever of a work of grace upon his heart ? he gave this in for to make his peace with him, or secure his favour for the answer, that he could appeal to the Searcher of hearts, future. Mr. Howe replied, that he had but dischargea that he made conscience of his very thoughts; with which his conscience, and could leave the event with God, answer they were satisfied, as indeed they well might. He told me that he afterwards observed Cromwell was