Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

" their temper and behaviour toward each other, upon

the lately passed indulgence. (D). Whatever effect this address to English Protestants in general had in reality, it must be owned to be wisely calculated to promote a good temper among them; and to prevent those evil consequences of their running into extremes, that might tend to weaken that interest, which it was the design of the indulgence to strengthen, and establish on firm foundations,

But soon after this, unhappy differences arose among the diffenters themselves; oc

casioned

(D) The Doctor fays very justly, that this paper deserves to be preserved to pofterity; and accordingly it is inserted in his Memoirs of the life of our Author, p. 54–59.- fol. p. 165–180. oct. But the Editor begs leave to rectify a small mistake, which the learned Collector of these memoirs might easily fall into ; who says (in a marginal note) that Mr. Henry, in his short account of the life of Mr. Stretton, ascribes this paper to that Gentleman ; and that he intimates he had it from a near relation of his, that he was the Author of it. Now that this paper was Mr. Howe's one may easily believe, from what Dr. Calamy tells us of the assurance his family had given him, that he was the real Author of it; and not only so, but the style alone is almost a demonstrative proof that he was so. But the paper Mr. Henry speaks of, and ascribes to Mr. Stretton, is the other lately taken notice of; to wit, “ The case of the « Protestant diflenters represented and argued. Whether Mr. Stretton was the Author of that paper is another question ; which the Editor pretends not to determine.

[merged small][ocr errors]

cafioned in some measure by an attempt to bring about an union between the presbyterians, and those of the congregational persuasion. These, already too violent, were yet heightened by the debates, 'that followed upon the reprinting Dr. Crifp's works, whose principles are very well known. It must be confessed that these contentions not only exposed them to the ridicule of their enemies, but were dishonourable to the Chriftian name. Pudet hæc opprobria nobis &c ! and happy would it be if they could for ever be buried in oblivion, and never revive any more among us! However attempts to moderate matters and to prevent them from coming to extremities were not wanting, in which Mr. Howe had a large share in common with several of his brethren. And particularly about this time, in the year 1693, he published two Sermons preached at the merchants’s lecture in BroadItreet, intitled, THE CARNALITY OF CHRISTIAN CONTENTIONS. The preface to these discourses breathes so heavenly a charity and concern for the truly Christian interest, that (as Mr. Spademan tells us) a very eminent divine of the established Church did profess a willingness to lay down his own life, if such a state of things as is there de

fcribed,

scribed, might obtain among Christians (E). But no reasonings, expostulations, or complaints, would avail to extinguish the flame that was kindled. At length there was an attempt formed in 1694 to exclude the late Dr. Williams out of the lecture of Pinner'shall; which occasioned a new Tuesday lecture to be set up at Salter's-hall, in which Dr. Bates, Mr. Howe, Mr. Alsop, bore Mr. Williams company, and the other two, who continued at Pinner's-hall, namely, Mr. Mead, and Mr. Cole, had four more joined to them. After this, no further attempts were made for a coalition, but the heat and strangeness abated by degrees, and they learned to keep up a friendly correspondence with each other, making allowance for a diversity of sentiments ; but acting in concert in all matters of public concernment, which was by experience found to be much more com

fortable

(E) Dr. CALAMY has given, in p. 61-63. fol. p. 186 - 194. oct. so large an account of this pre- , face, and of the discourses themselves, that there is no room for the Editor to add any thing more; tho' they cannot be too much recommended : in as much as the fame noble spirit, that runs through all his works, in a particular manner appears in this little piece ; which also contains a pathetic account of the iniferable consequences of contentions among Christians, and his grand idea of the unity of the catholic Church of Christ.

fortable, than the continuance of strife and contention, which tends to confusion and every evil work.

However the diffenters were not the only party of Christians, who were strangers to harmony and peace ; for at that time there were very unhappy and warm debates among some eminent divines of the Church of England, about the doctrine of the Trinity: all which together tended to expose the religion of Protestants to the scorn of the common enemy, and kindled such a flame as was not extinguished till after several years. Different explications of that doctrine had been published by Dr. Wallis, Dr. Sherlock, Dr. South, and Dr. Cudworth, and others; and a certain writer published « Confiderations on those ex.

plications : " which occasioned Mr. Howe in 1694, to publish a tract intitled, « calm and sober inquiry concerning the

possibility of a Trinity in the Godhead, “ in a letter to a person' of worth.To which were added fome letters formerly written to Dr. Wallis, on the same subject, Thus Mr. Howe was unhappily drawn into a controversy; and if he pleased some, he disobliged others, who greatly respected him : and there were not wanting some

persons,

[ocr errors]

persons, who were ready to charge him with downright heresy; which is often the fate of the best of men, and of the greatest worth and character (F).

But another great debate arose about occasional conformity which made a great noise in the world, and produced very bad consequences. It begun not till towards the end of King William's reign; but lasted several years, and in some fense may be said to continue to this day. Mr. Howe had all along, from his first quitting his Church upon the taking place of the act of uniformity, carried himself with great calmness and moderation ; and had openly declared for this occasional conformity, even before it was a necessary qualification, for a place in the magistracy, to communicate with the established Church. And he was not fingular in this respect, for many of his brethren were of the same sen timents. But when the chief magistrate in the city of London had the regalia carried to a difsenting congregation it occasioned

no (F) If the reader is curious to know what share Mr. Howe had in this controversy, he is referred to the memoirs of his life, p. 65–68. fol. & p. 198209. oct. Wherein the Doctor has also given a short account of our Author's sentiments on this intricate subject, which it is not necessary for the Editor to transcribe or abridge.

« AnteriorContinua »