« Prev Advertisement to Sermon XIII. Next »


THE following serious and pathetic discourse was preached by the author, at Brixham in Devonshire, when he was about twenty-eight years of age; but upon what occasion is not certainly known.101101   It is entitled in the manuscript, “A Sermon preached at Brixham the 23d. day of January, 1658; by Mr. John Howe, a faithful minister of the gospel pf Jesus Christ.” It was communicated to the editor by a worthy gentleman in the West of England, who after mature deliberation has resolved to give it a place in this collection; not only because it is well calculated to make serious impressions on every reader, but also as it is a specimen of the excellent author’s manner of preaching in his youth. There is, he thinks, no reason to doubt its being genuine; since (to use Dr. Evans’s expression) it plainly carries in it the marks, which to a person of taste always distinguish his performances.

The following extracts from a few letters, sent to the editor by the gentleman, to whom the world is obliged for this excellent discourse, will be sufficient to give an account of it.

The Sermon (says he) bears date January, 1658; which, I believe, must be 58-9. For though it is not impossible but Mr. Howe might have been at Brixham, in January, 58; yet as the protector (Oliver) kept him much at Whitehall, it is not so likely to be preached then, as the year after: about which time he returned into the West.102102   Meaning to Torrington, in Devonshire. For though he continued a little while in the same relation to the protector Richard, that he did to his father; yet Dr. 346Calamy tells us, he cannot find that he continued longer at court, than October, 58.

The copy was transcribed in the year 59. It is exceeding fair, and perfect. The spirit and language of it (the discourse) plainly evince it to be the production of that masterly hand. The writer, who took it after him, does not seem to have dropped any thing, whereby the sense is any way maimed; and has religiously copied it out, as appears from the repetitions, which were made for the relief of the hearers’ memory.103103   This discourse indeed abounds with repetitions, more by far than any other the editor has seen of Mr. Howe’s in manuscript; most of which be omitted in his transcript of it designed for the press, and he hopes without the least injury to the whole. The sense is entire, and delivered throughout in the author’s own words.

Though Mr. Howe has something to the same purpose with part of the contents of this sermon, in his treatise on Delighting in God, Part II. page 389-395, folio edition,104104   There seems to be no resemblance, scarcely, in the whole sermon, to any thing in the pages here referred to; except in page 390: where the text is indeed mentioned, and briefly descanted upon, and that is all. [Vide vol. 2, p. 188, of this edition.] as one might reasonably expect; yet, though there are some of the thoughts, he has not only pursued the subject much farther, but in a very different manner: insomuch that there can be no room for saying it is publishing the same thing over again, which is an injury some eminent authors have suffered after their death. Besides the forementioned place there can be no other, where he has any thing so near to the purpose.

That which brought our author on this side our country (for his charge lay 50 miles distant, to which he was lately returned) was his being related to the Upton family, of Lupton; which lies in the parish of Brixham, where, “the vanity of man as mortal,” took its birth.

It is very probable, that it was preached at once; and I have calculated on what day of the week, January 23, 1658-9, fell. And as D was the dominical letter for that year, the 23d. was a Friday; but if it was preached in 57-8, as the dominical letter was E, it was on a Thursday. So that as it could not be preached en a Lord’s day, it was therefore most likely preached at once.105105   It is very probable it was preached on a fast-day; either a private one or one of those public fast-days, which were frequently solemnised by authority before the restoration. To all which the gentleman adds the following general remark; the latter part of which, at least, is very just.

Though his style is not so smooth as some, yet it is as intelligible as any. And a person has this for his encouragement, that he is always sure to find something in Mr. Howe, that is well worth his pains.

« Prev Advertisement to Sermon XIII. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection