Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/92

This page has been validated.
Howe
Howe
86

him to stay in London. He stipulated for leave to spend three months in the year at Torrington, and to appoint a substitute on full salary. One of these substitutes was Increase Mather [q.v.] Howe preached against fanatical notions current in the Protector's court; Cromwell heard with knitted brows, but did not remonstrate. Though occasionally employed in secret despatches, he did not take part in affairs of state, nor seek to advance his own interest. Religious men of all schools found in him a friend at court. Seth Ward, afterwards bishop of Salisbury, was indebted to his good offices, as was Fuller, the church historian.

After Cromwell's death, Howe remained at Whitehall as chaplain to Richard Cromwell. He was present (not as a member) at the Savoy conference in October 1658, when the Westminster confession was re-edited on congregational principles. Soon afterwards he visited Torrington, staying there till the spring of 1659. In the advertisement of his first publication (a sermon before parliament, 1659, no copy known) he is described as 'preacher at Westminster;' he held a lectureship at St. Margaret's. Of Richard Cromwell's ability, as well as of his patriotism, Howe spoke always in high terms, defending him warmly from the charge of weakness. Immediately upon Richard's deposition (May 1659) Howe resumed the charge of Torrington. For alleged sedition in sermons preached there on 30 Sept. and 14 Oct. 1660, he was tried, first before the mayor (14 Nov.), and again at the following spring assize; on neither occasion was there any evidence to sustain the charge. In 1662 he was ejected from Torrington by the operation of the Uniformity Act. Wilkins, afterwards bishop of Chester, wondered at his nonconformity, as he thought him a man of latitude; he answered that his latitude made him a nonconformist. To his own bishop, his old friend Seth Ward (then of Exeter), before whom he was soon cited for private preaching, he specified the requirement of re-ordination as an insuperable bar to his conforming. Of the process against him Ward took no notice. Calamy had heard that in 1665 Howe was imprisoned for two months in the Isle of St. Nicholas, off Plymouth; the story may be doubted. In 1666 he took the oath prescribed by the Five Miles Act, which came into effect 25 March 1666. He was thus free to choose his residence, and being let alone by his bishop (neither Ward nor Sparrow interfered with him) he preached about at the houses of the western gentry, and in 1668 published a volume of his Torrington sermons.

In April 1670 Howe left London for Dublin to become domestic chaplain to John, second viscount Massereene, of Antrim Castle. While in attendance on Lord Massereene at his Dublin residence, he preached at the presbyterian meeting-house in Cooke Street. The date of his arrival in Antrim was at least some weeks prior to his dedicatory letter to John Upton, dated `Antrim, April 12, 1671.' At Antrim he officiated on Sunday afternoons in the parish church, of which the presbyterians had part use, by Lord Massereene's permission. His best known work, 'The Living Temple,' was written at Antrim. He was a member of the Friday conferences known as the 'Antrim meeting,' a precursor of the presbyterian organisation of the north of Ireland. In conjunction with Thomas Gowan [q.v.] he took some part (in 1675) in a training school for presbyterian divines, probably teaching theology. At the end of this year he was called to London to succeed Lazarus Seaman, D.D., in the co-pastorship of the presbyterian congregation in Haberdashers' Hall, Staining Lane, Wood Street, Cheapside. A visit to London ended in his removing thither, by way of Liverpool, in 1676.

Next year a controversy on predestination arose out of the publication (1677) of a tract written by Howe at the instance of Robert Boyle. Theophilus Gale [q.v.] attacked it in the concluding part of his 'Court of the Gentiles.' The criticism was pursued, after Gale's death, by Thomas Danson [q.v.] Howe was defended by Andrew Marvell. His position has been incorrectly described as Arminian. The protestant feeling excited by the so-called 'Popish plot' led in 1680 to a renewed effort for the comprehension of nonconformists. Lloyd, then bishop of St. Asaph, consulted Howe about terms. A strong sermon (11 May 1680) against schism, by Stillingfleet, then dean of St. Paul's, met with a reply from Howe, written, as Stillingfleet owned, 'like a gentleman.' In the same year occurred his expostulation with Tillotson, when, according to Calamy's account, based on Howe's own statement, Tillotson was moved to tears 'as they were travelling along together in his chariot.' The period 1681-5 was one of much anxiety to nonconformists; Howe's hearers were arrested, and his health suffered from an indoor life, it not being safe for him to appear in the streets. In 1681 his colleague Daniel Bull [q.v.] disgraced himself. In 1685 Howe addressed an able letter (anonymous) on the prosecution of nonconformists to Thomas Barlow [q.v.], bishop of Lincoln.

In August 1685 Howe went abroad with Philip, fourth baron Wharton. His journey