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of Christ, and am ready to debate that matter with your lordship if your lordship pleases; but I cannot begin again to be a minister."
For several years Howe suffered most of the hardships incident to an outed minister; but in 1671 he was invited to become chaplain to Viscount Massarene, at Antrim Castle, Ireland. · On his journey thither a little circumstance occurred which shews how great must have been his power in preaching. The ship, with a large company on board, was wind-bound in Holyhead harbour ; and on the Sunday morning Mr Howe and some of the passengers were proceeding along the shore in search of a convenient place for worship. There they met two men on horseback, who proved to be the parson and the clerk. One of the travellers asked the latter if his master would preach that day. “My master," was the reply, “is only accustomed to read prayers.” Would he have any objections to allow a minister now in town, awaiting a passage to Ireland, to occupy his pulpit that day? The clerk believed that his master would be perfectly willing; and so it proved. The clergyman gave his consent, and Howe preached twice—in the afternoon to a large and deeply affected auditory. But all that week the wind continued contrary, and next Sabbath morning the church was crowded with people, who hoped once more to hear the stranger. The clergyman was confounded at the sight of such a congregation, and despatched his clerk to fetch the unknown preacher. Mr Howe was sick, and in bed, but when he heard that “the whole country had come in for several miles to hear him,” he rose, and, forgetful of any personal risk, preached with unwonted warmth and energy; and when afterwards he related the occurrence, he added, "If my ministry was ever of any use, I think it must have been then.”
Howe remained at Antrim Castle five years, and early in 1676 came to London, to assume the pastorate of the church in Silver Street. Here the hostile spirit of the government made VOL. II.
it an anxious and interrupted ministry; and in 1685, accepting an invitation from Philip, Lord Wharton, to attend him in his travels, he settled at Utrecht, and, beside Gilbert Burnet and other refugees, he there continued, till the expulsion of the Stewarts made it safe to live and lawful to preach in England.
In Holland he had been admitted to the friendship of the Prince of Orange, and, in resuming his ministry at Silver Street, he occupied a position quite as honourable as that to which his brethren, Tillotson and Burnet, were promoted, and in those days of difficulty more independent and more happy. His blameless life, his commanding intellect, his conciliatory spirit, and his advancing years made him the centre of a very general reverence and affection; and as he approached the close of his pilgrimage, his spiritual consolations seemed to multiply. All records of his personal experience were destroyed in obedience to his dying injunction, but the following remarkable record, inscribed on his study Bible, has been preserved :
“ Dec. 26, '89. - After that I had long seriously and repeatedly thought with myself, that besides a full and undoubted assent to the objects of faith, a vivifying savoury taste and relish of them was also necessary, that with stronger force and more powerful energy, they might penetrate into the most inward centre of my heart, and there being most deeply fixed and rooted, govern my life; and that there could be no other sure ground whereon to conclude and pass a sound judgment on my good state Godward; and after I had in my course of preaching been largely insisting on 2 Cor. i. 12; this very morning I awoke out of a most ravishing and delightful dream, that a wonderful and copious stream of celestial rays, from the lofty throne of the Divine majesty, seemed to dart into my expanded breast. I have often since, with great complacency reflected on that very signal pledge of special Divine favour vouchsafed to me on that memorable day, and have with repeated fresh pleasure tasted the delights thereof. But what on
ROBERT HALL'S ESTIMATE.
Oct. 22, 1704, of the same kind I sensibly felt, through the admirable bounty of my God, and the most pleasant comforting influence of the Holy Spirit, far surpassed the most expressive words my thoughts can suggest. I then experienced an inexpressibly pleasant melting of heart; tears gushing out of mine eyes, for joy that God should shed abroad His love abundantly through the hearts of men, and that for this very purpose my own should be so signally possessed of and by His blessed Spirit (Rom. v. 5)."
Where much grace is given there is usually much humility. “I expect my salvation, not as a profitable servant, but as a pardoned sinner," was the most memorable of Howe's last sayings. Round his dying bed gathered many friends and ministers, to whom he expatiated with warmth on that future blessedness which had so long been the theme of his meditation. Among other friends he received a visit from Richard Cromwell, to whom he had been chaplain forty-five years before, and who now lived the life of a quiet country gentleman and of a most exemplary Christian. The interview between them was long and affectionate, and they parted amidst many tears. Howe died on Monday, April 2, 1705.
In those interesting gleanings from the conversations of Robert Hall, for which we are indebted to the late Dr Balmer, we find the following remarks on our author :-"B. “May I ask, sir, what writer you would most recom
mmend to a young minister ?' H. “Why, sir, I feel very incompetent to give directions on that head ; I can only say I have learned far more from John Howe, than from any other author I ever read. There is an astonishing magnificence in his conceptions. He had not the same perception of the beautiful as of the sublime; and hence his endless subdivisions.' B. That was the fault of his age.' H. 'In part, sir ; but he has more of it than many of the writers of that period -than Barrow, for example, who was somewhat earlier. There was, I think, an innate inaptitude in Howe's mind for discerning minute graces and proprieties, and hence his sentences are often long and cumbersome. Still, he is unquestionably the greatest of the puritan divines. After adverting to several of Howe's works, Mr Hall said, in reference to 'The Blessedness of the Righteous, Perhaps Baxter's “Saints' Rest” is fitted to make a deeper impression on the majority of readers. Baxter enforces a particular idea with extraordinary clearness, force, and earnestness. His appeals to the conscience are irresistible. Howe, again, is distinguished by calmness, self-possession, majesty, and comprehensiveness; and, for my own part, I decidedly prefer him to Baxter. I admire exceedingly his "Living Temple,” his sermon on the “Redeemer's Tears,” &c. ; but, in my opinion, the best thing he ever wrote is his defence of the sincerity of the Gospel offer. I refer to the treatise called the “Reconcileableness of God's Prescience of the Sins of Men, with his Counsels, Exhortations, and whatever other Means he uses to prevent them.” This I regard as the most profound, the most philosophical, and the most valuable of all Howe's writings.''
Early Death. [Of all Howe's works the one which has taken the firmest hold on our own imagination and affections is his “Discourse concerning the Redeemer's Dominion over the Invisible World.” It is founded on Rev. i. 18, “ And have the keys of Hades (or the world unseen) and of death;" and it was delivered on occasion of the death of a pious young man, the son of Sir Charles Houghton. Of this little volume it has been said by Howe's eloquent biographer, Professor Rogers, "I do not think that any man who has any, even though a faltering and inconstant hope that he is a Christian, and that to him death will be but admission into heaven, can peruse this discourse without feeling the dread of dissolution sensibly diminished; nay, the grave
* “Works of Robert Hall,” 10th edition, vol. vi. p. 120.
itself almost an object of desire and fascination. The descriptions it contains of that invisible world to which it leads our contemplation; of its splendour and magnificence; of the felicity it promises and insures ; and of the plenitude of life which fills it, instead of the solitude and silence, the darkness and desertion with which our imaginations are so apt to invest it; of that great and beneficent Being, whom it describes as Sovereign Lord of it, who has already passed into it by the same dreary path—who is familiarised to us by intimate communion with humanity-whose own gracious hand unlocks the portals which are to admit us to immortality, and whose voice it is which first welcomes the spirit to its resting-place; are absolutely ravishing. On these themes Howe seems to descant with a sort of privileged familiarity; as of a spirit to whom the scenery of Heaven had already been unfolded. Yet, glowing as his descriptions are, they contain nothing to which a sober and chastened judgment can take exception.”*]
It is a brighter and more unsullied testimony which is left in the minds of men concerning such very hopeful persons as die in their youth. They never were otherwise known, or can be remembered, than as excellent young persons. This is the only idea which remains of them. Had they lived longer-to the usual age of man—the remembrance of what they were in youth would have been in a great degree effaced and worn out by later things; perhaps blackened, not by what were less commendable, but more ungrateful to the greater part, especially if they lived to come into public stations. Their just zeal and contestations against the wickedness of the age might disoblige many, and create them enemies, who would make it their business to blast them, and cast upon their name and memory all the reproach they could invent. Whereas the lustre of that virtue and piety which had provoked nobody,
*"Life of Howe,” by Henry Rogers, p. 567.