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dent on him, he accepted an iavitation in the year 1671, to re. move to Ireland, and lived as chaplain to Lord Massarene in Antrim. Here he enjoyed the respect and confidence of all, the Metropolitan and Bishop of the diocese requiring no conformity, but giving him leave to preach in the pulpits under their control. During the first year of his residence here he published the discourse on “the Vanity of man as mortal,” which, with the treatise before mentioned, is contained in this volume.
Mr. Howe continued at Antrim till December, 1675, when he was invited to take charge of a congregation in London, made vacant by the death of Dr. Seaman, a non-conformist divine. In this charge he continued till 1685, and, during this period, was much occupied, beside his regular employment as pastor, with the public interests of the dissenters, as well as some controversial discussions on doctrinal subjects, and published many both of his larger and smaller works. During much of the time, however, his situation was rendered unquiet by the spirit of persecution, so that he sometimes could not walk the streets of London in safety. At length in 1685, being worn out with the vexations, to which the dissenters were exposed, he accepted an invitation of Lord Wharton to travel with him in foreign parts, and sailed with him in August. After visiting many places on the continent, and forming many valuable acquaintances among the wise and good, he settled in Utrecht, in 1686, surrounded by English acquaintances and friends, who were there for similar reasons with himself. Here he took his turn with other English clergymen, among whom was Dr. Burnet, afterwards bishop of Salisbury, in preaching in the English church, and gave occasional instruction to the English students, who were in the University of that place. With Dr. Burnet he had occasional interviews and much conversation on the public concerns of religion in England; and on Burnet's expressing a belief, that when he, Mr. Baxter, and Dr. Bates, with a few more, should pass off the stage, nonconformity would come to an end, Mr. Howe declared his full conviction, that it did not depend on men, but on principle, and, as its present supporters passed off, others would rise up in their place, a prediction of which Burnet afterwards acknowledged the truth. While here, Mr. Howe had also frequent interviews with William, afterwards king of England, who was free in his conversation with him, and asked him many questions respecting Cromwell, of whom Mr. Howe had of course an intimate knowledge.
In 1687 king James published a “declaration for liberty of conscience,” and at the earnest request of his people in London for his return to them, Mr. Howe complied, and after waiting upon the prince, who gave him very kind advice upon the occasion, returned to London, and was gladly received by his friends in May of this year. In the following year, 1688, upon the arrival of the Prince of Orange at St. James' palace, Mr. Howe had the honor of addressing him at the head of the dissenting clergy, and expressing their views of the revolution which had taken place in his favor. It was now very naturally expected by him and his friends, that the terms of conformity would be so modified, as to give them no farther trouble ; but when, to his surprise and mortification, he found that many dignitaries of the establishment were hostile to such a measure, notwithstanding the court paid to the dissenters during the reign of James, he drew up and published a piece entitled, “The case of the Protestant Dissenters represented and argued.” At length in May, 1689, the Act of Uniformity gave them much of what they had desired; and, although still exeluded from the establishment, they were content with toleration. Many of the Church party it seems, however, thought more severity should have been exercised; and, on the publication of some things of this sort, Mr. Howe, to prevent further collision, published an “Address to Conformists and Dissenters," in which the catholicism and benevolence of his spirit, as well as his great wisdom, are clearly exhibited. This, with the other piece just mentioned, is preserved in his memoirs by Dr. Calamy.
Not long after this, divisions arose among the dissenters themselves, which greatly tried the patience of Mr. Howe and others of a kindred spirit. An attempt it seems was made to unite more closely in one body those who were Presbyterian with those who were Congregational among them, and Mr. Howe, with others, was concerned in drawing up “ Heads of Agreement,” which were generally assented to by the united ministers in and about London. Some, however, refused to subscribe, and discussions were occasioned, which finally ended in breaking up the proposed union, and what was intended for concord produced greater discord. Mr. Howe in the course of these debates was drawn in to write occasionally on the matters at issue, but with a view to make peace, and cool the heat of the parties. It was with this view, that he published “ The carnality of Christian contention” in two sermons, in 1693, the preface to which, as well as the sermons, breathes a heavenly charity and truly pious concern for the real interests of religion. His efforts were unavailing, and in 1694 there was a division of those who had been united in the Lecture at Pinner's Hall, a new one being established at Salters' Hall, in which Mr. Howe, Dr. Bates, and Mr. Alsop joined with Mr. Williams, who had been excluded from the other.
About the same tiine there was also much discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity, occasioned by the writings of Dr. Wallis, Dr. Sherlock, Dr. South, and Dr. Cudworth on that subject, and Mr. Howe published “ An Inquiry into the possibility of a Trinity in the Godhead,” which is perhaps as well deserving the attention of the student, as any thing written on the subject since.
The only public discussion which Mr. Howe seems to have engaged in after this, was that respecting occasional conformity. He was led into this by the circumstance, that Sir Thomas Abney, a member of his congregation, while Mayor of London in 1701, attending public worship sometimes in the established church and sometimes among the dissenters, was publicly assailed for so doing in a pamphlet, with a preface, in which Mr. Howe was called on either to vindicate or condemn it. A part of what he wrote on this occasion is preserved by Calamy, and shows the acuteness as well as the liberal character of his mind in his now advanced age.
But Mr. Howe, as may be supposed, was tired of the narrowminded contentions of the world, and conscious that his own spirit was above them, and that the time of its deliverance could not be far distant, he seemed fast ripening for a better world, and impatient for that blessedness, the nature of which he so well understood. During the latter years of his life he published a number of sermons on various occasions, and in 1702 the second part of his Living Temple, the first part of which had been published soon after his settlement in London, in 1675, and which is the most elaborate and systematic of his theoretical works. The last work of his, published during his life, was a discourse on “ Patience in expectation of future blessedness," which appeared in 1705, "and this,” says Calamy," was what he now had particular occasion for. For having employed his time, strength, and interest in the most valuable services, he by this time was wasted with several diseases, which he bore with great patience and resigned submission to the will of his heavenly Father. He discovered no fear of dying, but, even when his end drew near, was very serene and calm. He seemed indeed sometimes to have been got to heaven, even before he had laid aside that mortality, which he had been long expecting to have swallowed up of life. It was observed, and is, I believe, to this day remembered by some of his flock, that in his last illness, and when he had been declining for some time, he was once in a most affecting, melting, heavenly frame at the communion, and carried out into such a ravishing and transporting celebration of the love of Christ, that both he himself, and they, who communicated with him, were apprehensive he would have expired in that very service.”
During his last sickness he was visited by many of all ranks, and conversed with them freely and cheerfully. Among the rest Richard Cromwell, now himself grown old in retirement, came to make him a last visit, and pay his respects to bim before he died. There was much serious conversation between them, and the parting was very solemn and affecting to both. To the young ministers, who visited him, he talked much, and like one of another world. His strength being at length quite exhausted, he died in peace and in full expectation of the blessed
ness of the righteous, April 2. 1705. He was buried in the parish church of St. Alhallows, Bread street, and his funeral sermon preached by his great admirer Mr. John Spademan.
Such are the leading incidents in the life of Howe, and my limits will only permit me to add a few paragraphs respecting his character. In his person he is represented by Dr. Calamy, as “very tall and exceeding graceful,” and the portaits, that are preserved of him, fully correspond with what the same writer says of the expression of his countenance, as indicating something uncommonly great and tending to excite veneration.
In regard to his intellectual powers the history of his early scholarship, as well as his writings, gives proof, that they were of the highest order and applied with exemplary diligence. Before taking his second degree at the University, at the age of 22, " he had not only gone through a course of philosophy, conversed closely with the heathen moralists, read over the accounts we have remaining of Pagan theology, the writings of the school-men, and several systems and common places of the Reformers, and the divines that succeeded them, but had thoroughly studied the Sacred Scriptures, and from thence drawn up a body of divinity for himself and his own use, which he saw very little occasion afterwards to vary from.” His character at the Universities, too, is indicated by the intimacy which he enjoyed with such men as Dr. Henry More and Dr. Cudworth, at Oxford, both of whom were over 30 years old, while he was but a boy; and with Mr. Gale and others, who were afterwards distinguished, at Cambridge. His distinguished Oxford friends, especially More, kept up habits of intimacy with him, frequently visiting him during his residence in London; and to his intercourse with these men has been ascribed the tincture of Platonism, which is so apparent in his writings.
His ministerial qualifications seem to have been remarkable even in that age of sound scholarship, and unsparing diligence. Such were his stores of thought, and so thoroughly were they digested, that he could preach as methodically without preparation, as others after the closest study, usually delivered his sermons without notes, and had great copiousness and fluency in prayer. The following is the account, which he gave Dr. Calamy, of his customary services in the pulpit at Torrington, on the public fasts, which, in those days, were frequent, and kept with great strictness and solemnity. He began“ about nine in the morning with a prayer for about a quarter of an hour, in which he begged a blessing on the work of the day, and afterwards read and expounded a chapter or psalm, in which he spent about three quarters, then prayed for about an hour, preached for another hour, and prayed for about half an hour. After this he retired, and took some little refreshment, for about a quarter of an hour, or more, the people singing all the while, and then came again into the pulpit, and prayed for another hour, and gave them another
BIOGRAPHY OF REV. JOHN HOWE.
sermon of about an hour's length, and so concluded the service of the day at about four in the evening, with about half an hour or more in prayer--a sort of service," as Calamy observes, “that few could have gone through without inexpressible weariness both to themselves and their auditories."
The great firmness, consistency, and inflexible integrity of Mr. Howe's character, were exhibited on many occasions, which would have shaken men of ordinary principles. No suspicion of a self-seeking disposition appears to have attached to him during his connexion with those in power, and when upon his refusing to assent to the terms of conformity, his friend Dr. Wilkins, now bishop of Chester, expressed his surprise, that a man of his latitude” should be scrupulous in that matter, Mr. Howe assured him, " that that latitude of his, which he was pleased to take notice of, was so far from inducing him to conformity, that it was the very thing, that made and kept him a non-conformist.”
His general views of religion were, in the highest and best sense, liberal and rational. He considered Christianity, not so much a system of opinions, and a set of forms, as a divine discipline for the heart and life, a living power, which must be felt, and become the actuating principle of our own spiritual being. He seems to me to have made his views of philosophy and of Christianity a more perfectly harmonious and consistent whole, than any other distinguished theologian, even of that philosophi
It was the largeness and comprehensiveness of his views, as well as the native temper of his mind, that made him liberal and tolerant to the views of others, and a firm and constant supporter of generous and catholic principles.
His writings are numerous, and were first collected and published in 2 vols. fol., at London, in 1724, with a dedication to the King, by Samuel Chandler, and memoirs by Dr. Calamy. Within a few years past they have been recalled into circulation, and several editions published in England, with large additions of posthumous matter. Other practical treatises, and many of his sermons are little, if at all, less worthy of a place in this selection, than those which are inserted, and my first intention was to fill the first volume from his writings. The wish to secure variety, and bring other writers into notice, has induced a different course. The late editions of his writings occupy eight octavo volumes, but large as the whole work is, there are few of the old authors, whose entire practical and theoretical works are equally deserving of a republication in this country. So profound and rational are his philosophical and theological views, and so free from the peculiar tones and phraseology of a sect, or an age, are his practical and devotional writings, that they can neither grow old by time, nor lose their power over the minds of thinking and pious men, so long as the essential principles of reason and religion remain unchanged.