Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/93

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Howe
Howe
87

was kept so quiet that his congregation did not hear of it till he was gone; he wrote them a farewell letter from the continent. After travelling about he settled at Utrecht in 1686. He took a house and had boarders, among whom were George, fifteenth earl of Sutherland, and his countess. With Matthew Mead [q. v.] and two others he took turns in preaching at the English church. Gilbert Burnet [q. v.], when in Utrecht (1687), preached in the same church. In May 1687, shortly after James's declaration for liberty of conscience, Howe returned to his London flock, having consulted William of Orange in regard to this step. Though pressed by James himself, Howe resisted every attempt to give nonconformist sanction to the royal exercise of a dispensing power. Calamy says that William Sherlock, then master of the Temple, asked Howe what he would do if offered the mastership. He replied that he would take the place, but hand the emolument to the legal proprietor; whereupon Sherlock 'rose up from his seat and embrac'd him.' At the revolution Howe headed the London nonconformist ministers in an address of welcome to William. He had not lost hope of a policy of comprehension, and was in communication with the ecclesiastical commissioners appointed with that view. When toleration was granted (1689) he addressed a remarkable paper 'to conformists and dissenters,' recommending mutual forbearance.

Howe was a leading spirit in the efforts now made for the amalgamation of the presbyterians and congregationalists into one body. As early as 1672 they had combined in establishing the merchants' lecture on Tuesdays at Pinners' Hall; Howe became one of the lecturers in 1677, succeeding Thomas Manton, D.D. [q. v.] In 1689 the two bodies originated a common fund for educating students and aiding congregations; Howe was one of the projectors. A union of the two bodies in London was effected in 1690; the 'heads of agreement' (published 1691), which were largely Howe's work, were accepted by all but a few congregationalists, and formed the basis of similar unions throughout the country. This 'happy union' was broken in London by a controversy arising out of the publication (1690) of the work of Tobias Crisp, D.D. [q. v.] Howe and others had attested the genuineness of this publication in a declaration pre-fixed to the volume. Baxter at once assailed Crisp's antinomian tendency in a pamphlet which Howe prevailed upon him to suppress, promising that the certificate of genuineness should be explained as implying no approval of Crisp's writings. This was done in a declaration prefixed to 'A Blow at the Root,' by John Flavel (1630?-1691) [q. v.] Crisp's views were now attacked by Daniel Williams, D.D., in 'Gospel Truth' (1691) and the controversy became general, Crisp's opponents being accused of Arminian and even Socinian leanings. Among other healing measures Howe published (1693) his merchants' lectures on 'Christian Contention.' But in 1693 the common fund was divided; in 1694 Williams was excluded from the merchants' lectureship, and Howe with three others withdrew; a new lecture was established at Salters' Hall. In June 1694 Calamy, who wished to be publicly ordained, asked Howe to take part; after consulting Lord-keeper Somers he declined. His congregation, in December 1694, removed to a new meeting-house in Silver Street, Wood Street, Cheapside.

In 1694 and 1695 Howe published one or two tracts, orthodox but cautious, in the Socinian controversy, then dying out. His controversy with Defoe on 'occasional conformity' began in November 1700. Howe had always been in favour of the practice of friendly resort by nonconformists to the parish churches, both for worship and sacraments, and was opposed to the abortive bill introduced in the first year of Anne (4 Nov. 1702) for preventing such interchanges. Sir Thomas Abney (1640-1722) [q. v.], a prominent 'occasional conformist' during his mayoralty in 1701, was a member of Howe's congregation. It was probably in reference to this question that William III, shortly before his death, sent for Howe for 'some very private conversation,' in the course of which William 'ask'd him a great many questions about his old master Oliver.'

Howe was now past seventy and 'began to be weary of living.' In Watts's elegy on Gouge, who died in January 1700, he speaks of Howe as having survived his equals, 'a great but single name,' and `ready to be gone.' He laboured under several diseases, but was always cheerful, though extremely sensitive to pain; he remained in harness to the end. In his last illness Richard Cromwell paid him a farewell visit. 'A very few days before he died 'he expressed entire concurrence in the scheme of non-synodical presbyterianism contained in Calamy's 'Defence of Moderate Nonconformity' (1704). He died, 'quite worn out,' on 2 April 1705, at St. John Street, Smithfield, and was buried on 6 April in the church of Allhallows, Bread Street. On 8 April his colleague John Spademan preached his funeral sermon. He married, first, on 1 March 1655, Katherine, daughter of George Hughes, B.D. [q. v.], and