Page images
PDF
EPUB

larly Dr. WILKINS, Bishop of Chester, and Dr. BARLOW, Bishop of Lincoln, formerly his tutor, who, when he had applied to him on behalf of John BUNYAN, promised to “deny him nothing that he could legally do;" though, in this particular, he hardly fulfilled his word. The case was this; Mr. Bunyan had been confined to gaol for twelve years, upon excommunication for nonconformity, and Dr. Owen was applied to on this occasion, in virtue of a law that admitted of a cautionary bond to be offered to the Bishop of the diocese, and which admitted that the Bishop may release the prisoner upon that bond; and though Bishop Barlow was so obliging as to say that he would strain a point to serve Dr. OWEN, yet he could not be prevailed upon to accept it. And, after all, they were obliged to move the Lord Chancellor to issue forth an order to the Bish- op to take the cautionary bond before Mr. BUNYAN

was released. This Bishop once asked the Doctor, “What can you object to our liturgical worship which “I cannot answer?"" The Doctor's answer occasioned the Bishop to make a pause; on which the Doctor said, “Don't answer suddenly, but take time till our next “meeting,” which never happened. His great worth procured him the esteem of many strangers who resorted to him from foreign parts; and many foreign divines having read his Latin works, learned English for the benefit of the rest. His correspondence with the learned abroad was great, among whom we may particularly mention that prodigy of genius and learning, ANNA MARIA A SCHURCHMAN; and several travelled into England to see and converse with him. It is a loss to the public, much to be regretted, that none of those letters can be found.

$28. His many labors brought upon him, as might be expected, frequent infirmities, the weight of which daily increased, whereby he was taken off from his public service, though not rendered useless, for he was continually writing whenever he was able to sit up. At length he retired to Kensington. As he was once coming from thence to London, two informers seized upon his carriage, but he was discharged upon the interposition of Sir Edm. GODFREY, a justice of peace who happened to come by at that instant. The Doctor afterwards removed to a house of his own at Ealing, where he finished his course. He there employed his thoughts on the other world as one who was drawing near it in full prospect, which produced his “Meditations "on the Glory of Christ,” already mentioned, in which he breathed out the devotion of a soul continually growing in the temper of the heavenly state. Two days before his death he dictated a letter to a particular friend, Charles FLEETWOOD, Esq. in which are the following words: “I am going to him whom my soul “has loved, or rather who has loved me with an ever“lasting love, which is the whole ground of all my con“solations. T'he passage is very irksome and wearisome, through strong pains of various sorts, which are all is“sued in an intermitting fever. All things were provid"ed to carry me to London to-day, according to the “advice of my physicians; but we were all disappoint“ed, by my utter disability to undertake the journey. “I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but “whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under"rower will be inconsiderable. Live and pray, and “hope and wait patiently, and do not despond: the “promise stands invincible that he will never "leave us “or forsake us,” &c. Mr. Payne, who for several

years kept an academy at Saffron Walden, at which several eminent dissenting ministers were educated, being intrusted by the Doctor to put his last performance to the

press, came to see the Doctor the morning of that day on which he died, and told him, Doctor, I have been just putting your book “On the Glory of Christ” to the press; to which he answered, “I am glad to hear that “that performance is put to the press;" and then lifting up both his hands and his eyes, as in a kind of rapture, he said, “But, O Brother Payne, the long looked-for “day has come at last, in which I shall see that glory "in another manner than I have ever done yet, or was "capable of doing in this world.” He died August 24th 1683, aged 67. He was carried from Ealing to the burying ground in Bunhill Fields, his herse being attended by a very great number of noblemen's and gentlemen's coaches, and many gentlemen on horseback. He was interred in a new vault towards the east end of that burying place, with a monument of free stone erected over it, and a Latin Epitaph.* He left behind

* Though, in my opinion, the best eulogium, and most lasting monument, by which Dr. Owen's just merit is exhibited to posterity, are his own writings; yet, lest it should be deemed a deficiency in this memoir to omit his epitaph, it is here subjoined; and Dr Gibson's translation of it, as a summary conclusion of his character:

JOHANNES Owen, S. T. P.

Agro Oxoniensi Oriundus;
Patre insigni Theologo, Theologus Ipse Insignior;

Et Seculi hujus Insignissimis annumerandus:
Communibus Humaniorum Literarum Suppetiis,

Mensura parum Communi, Instructus;
Omnibus, quasi bene Ordinata Ancillarum Serie,

Ab illo jussis Suæ Famulari Theologiæ; Theologiæ Polemicæ, Practicæ, et quam vocant Casuum; (Harum enim omnium quæ magis Sua habenda erat,

ambigitur)
In illa, Viribus plusquam Herculeis, Serpentibus tribus,

Arminio, Socino, Cano, Venenosa, strinxit Guttura:
In ista Suo prior, ad verbi amussim, Expertus Pectore,
Universam Sp. Scti. Oeconomiam Alliis tradidit:

Et Missis Cæteris, Coluit ipse Sensitque,
Beatam, quam Scripsit, cum Deo Communionem:
In Terris Viator comprehensori in Cælis proximus:

him a mournful widow who had lived with him about seven years: a gentlewoman of a considerable family, being the daughter of — Michael, Esq. of Kingston Russel, Dorsetshire; she was a person of very good sense, truly religious, very tender and affectionate to the Doctor; she survived him many years, and was interred in the same vault which she had erected for him.*

$29. His character may be briefly summed up as follows:

As to his person, his stature was tall; his visage grave, majestic, and comely; his aspect and deportment, genteel; his mental abilities incomparable; his temper affable and courteous; his common discourse moderately facetious. He was a great master of his passions, especially that of anger: and possessed great serenity of mind, neither elated with honor or estate, nor depressed with difficulties; of great moderation in his judgments, and of a charitable spirit, willing to think the best of all men he could, not confining Christianity to a party. A friend of peace and a diligent promoter of it among Christians. * In point of learning he was one of the brightest ornaments of the University of Oxford. Even Mr. Ant. Wood, who seldom could drop any thing favorable of a pious non-conformist, thinks fit to own, that "he was a person well skilled in the tongues, rab"binical learning, and Jewish rites; that he had a “great command of his English pen, and was one of the “fairest and genteelest writers that appeared against the “church of England.” His Christian temper in managing controversy was admirable. He was well acquainted with men and things, and would shrewdly guess a man's temper and designs on the first acquaint

In Casuum Thcologia, Singulis Oraculi instar habitus;

Quibus opus erat, et Copia Consulendi:
Scriba ad Regnum Cælorum usquequoque institutus;
Multis privatos infra Parictes, a Suggesio Pluribus,
A Prelo Omnibus, ad eundem Scopum collineantibus,

Pura Doctrinæ Evangelicæ Lampas Præluxit;
Et sensim, non sine Aliorum, suoque sensu,

Sic prælucendo Periit,
Assiduis Infirmitatibus Obsiti,

Morbis Creberrimis Impetiti,
Durisque Laboribus potissimum Attriti Corporis
(Fabricæ, doncc ita Quassatæ, Spectabilis) Ruinas,
Deo ultra Serviendo inhabiles, Sancta Anima,

Deo ultra Fruendi Cupida, Deseruit;
Die, a Terrenis Potestatibus, Plurimis facto fatali;

Illi, a Cælesti Numine, Felici reddito;
Mensis Scilicet Augusti XXIV°, Anno a Partu Virginea

MDCLXXXIIIO, Ætat. LXVIIO.

* Dorothea Vice, non Ortu, Opibus, Officiisve, Secunda,

Laboribus, Morbis, Senioque ipso Elanguenti
Indulgentissimam etiam se Nutricem præstitit.

GILBERT's smaller Epit.

His labors, as a minister of the gospel, were incredible. He was an excellent preacher, having a good elocution, graceful and affectionate: and could, on all occasions, without any premeditation, express himself pertinently on any subject; yet the sermons were mostly well studied and digested, though he gen

ance.

* The following letter to a friend, which was never published, tending in a measure to illustrate this part of our author's character, is deemed not unworthy of insertion here.

“SIR, “I am very sorry to find that there is a difference arisen be. “tween Mr. C

and yourself. Since the receipt of yours, I "received one from him, with an account of the difference, and “his thoughts upon it at large. I do not therefore judge it meet “to write any thing at present about it, until I am ready to give sunto you both an account of my thoughts, which by reason of “many avocations I cannot now do. All that I shall therefore usay at present, is, That without mutual love and condescension “no interposition of advice will issue the business to the glory "of Christ and the gospel. I pray God guide you both by that “Spirit which is promised to lead us into all truth. Upon the “first opportunity you will have a farther account of his sense who is your

“Affectionate brother, &c. 4 January 2d, 1678-9."

« PreviousContinue »