« VorigeDoorgaan »
Twohundred years ago the Puritan dwelt in Oxford; but, before his arrival, both Cavalier and Roundhead soldiers had encamped in its Colleges. Sad was the trace of their sojourn. From the dining-halls the silver tankards had vanished, and the golden candlesticks of the oathedral lay buried in a neighboring field. Slained windows were smashed, and the shrines of Bernard and Frideswide lay open to the storm. And whilst the heads of marbe apostles, mingling with cannon-balls and sounders' coffins, formed a melancholy rubbish in many a corner, straw heaps on the pavement and staples in the wall reminded the spectator that it was not long since dragoons had quartered in All-Souls, and horses crunched their oats beneath the tower of St. Mary Magdalene.
However, matters again are mending. Broken windows are repaired; lost revenues are recovered; and the sons of Crispin have evacuoted chambers once more consecrated to syn** and the syllogism. Through these spa"ous courts we recognize the progress of the
man who has accomplished the arduous restoration. Tall, and in the prime of life, with cocked-hat and powdered hair, with lawn tops to his morocco boots, and with ribbons luxuriant at his knee, there is nothing to mark the Puritan,—whilst in his easy unembarrassed movements and kindly-assuring air, there is all which bespeaks the gentle. man ; but were it not for the reverences of obsequious beadles, and the recognitions of respectful students, you would scarce surmise the academic dignitary. That old-fashioned divine,—his square cap and ruff surmounting the doctor's gown, with whom he shakes hands so cordially, is a Royalist and Prelatist, but withal the Hebrew Professor, and the most famous Orientalist in England, Dr. Edward Pocock. From his little parish of Childry, where he passes for “no Latiner," and is little prized, he has come up to deliver his Arabic lecture, and collate some Syriac manuscript, and observe the progress of the fig-tree which he fetched from the Levant ; and he feels not a little beholden to the Vice-Chancellor, who, when the Parliamentary triers had pronounced him incompetent, interfered and retained him in his living. Passing the gate of Wadham, he meets the 10
upbreaking of a little conventicle. That no treason has been transacting, nor any danger
ous doctrine propounded, the guardian of the
University has ample assurance in the presence of his very good friends, Dr. Wallis the Savilian Professor, and Dr. Wilkins the Protector's brother-in-law. The latter has published a dissertation on the Moon and its Inhabitants, “with a discourse concerning the possibility of a passage thither; ” and the former, a mighty mathematician, during therecent war had displayed aterrible ingenuity in deciphering the intercepted letters of the Royalists. Their companion is the famous physician Dr. Willis, in whose house, oppo. site the Vice-Chancellor's own door, the Oxford Prelatists daily assemble to enjoy the forbidden Prayer-Book; and the youth who follows, building castles in the air, is Christopher Wren. This evening they had met to witness some experiments which the tall sickly gentleman in the velvet cloak had promised to show them. The tall sickly gentleman is the Honorable Robert Boyle, and the instrument with which he has been amusing his brother sages, in their embryo Royal Society, is the newly invented air-pump. Little versant in their pursuits, though respectful to their genius, after mutual salutations, the divine passes on and pays an evening visit to his illustrious neighbor, Dr. Thomas Goodwin. In his embroidered night-cap, and deep in the recesses of his dusky study, he finds the recluse old President of Magdalene; and they sit and talk together, and they pray together, till it strikes the hour of nine ; and from the great Tom Tower a summons begins to sound, calling to Christ Church cloisters the hundred and one students of the old foundation. And returning to the Deanery, which Mary's cheerful management has brightened into a pleasant home, albeit her own and her little daughter's weeds are suggestive of recent sorrows, the doctor dives into his library.
For the old misers it was pleasant to go down into their bullion vaults, and feel that they were rich enough to buy up all the town, with the proud Earl in his mortgaged castle. And to many people there is a peculiar satisfaction in the society of the great and learned; nor can they forget the time when they talked to the great poet, or had a moment's monopoly of Royalty. But—
“That place that doth contain
And sometimes for variety I confer
Not only is there the pleasant sense of property,+the rare editions, and the wonderful bargains, and the acquisitions of some memorable self-denial,—but there are grateful memories, and the feeling of a high companionship. When it first arrived, yon volume kept its owner up all night, and its neighbor introduced him to realms more delightful and more strange than if he had taken Dr. Wilkins' lunarian journey. In this biography, as in a magician's mirror, he was awed and startled by foreshadowings of his own career; and, ever since he sat at the feet of yonder sacred sage, he walks through the world with a consciousness, blessed and not vainglorious, that his being contains an element shared by few besides. And even those heretics inside the wires—like caged wolves or bottled vipers—their keeper has come to entertain a certain fondness for them, and whilst he detests the species, he would feel a pang in parting with his own exemplars.
Now that the evening lamp is lit, let us survey the Doctor's library. Like most of its coeval collections, its foundations are laid with massive folios. These stately tomes are the Polyglots of Antwerp and Paris, the Critici Sacri and Poli Synopsis. The colossal theo: logians who flank them, are Augustine and Jerome, Anselm and Aquinas, Calvin and Episcopius, Bellarmine and Jansenius, Baroni. us and the Magdeburg Centuriators, natu, ral enemies, here bound over to their good behavior. These dark veterans are Jewish Rabbis, Kimchi, Abarbanel, and, like a row of rag-collectors, a whole Monmouth Street of rubbish, behold the entire Babylonian Talmud. These tall Socinians are the Polish brethren, and the dumpy vellums overhead are Dutch divines. The cupboard contains Greek and Latin manuscripts, and those spruce fashionables are Spenser, and Cowley, and Sir William Davenant. And the new books which crown the upper shelves, still uncut and fresh from the publisher, are the last brochures of Mr. Jeremy Taylor and Mr. Richard Baxter.*
* In his elaborate “Memoirs of Dr. Owen," (P. 315,) Mr. Orme mentions that “his library was so in May, 1684, by Millington, one of the earlies. of our book auctioneers;” and adds, “Considering the Doctor's taste as a reader, his age as a minister, * his circumstances as a man, his library, in o' prob: ability, would be both extensive and valuable. Then, in a foot-note, he gives some interesting P. ticulars as to the extent of the early Non-conformist
This night, however, the Doctor is intent on a new book nowise to his mind. It is the “Redemption Redeemed” of John Goodwin. Its hydra-headed errors have already drawn from the scabbard the sword of many an orthodox Hercules on either side of the Tweed; and now, after a conference with the other Goodwin, the Dean takes up a ream of manuscript, and adds a finishing touch to his refutall00.
At this period Dr. Owen would be forty years of age, for he was born in 1616. His father was minister of a little parish in Oxfordshire, and his ancestors were princes in Wales; indeed the genealogists claimed for him a descent from King Caractacus. He himself was educated at Queen's College, and, under the impulse of an ardent ambition, the young student had fully availed himself of his academic privileges. For several years he took no more sleep than four hours a night, and in his eagerness for future distinction he mastered all attainable knowledge, from mathematics to music. But about the time of his reaching majority, all his ambitious projects were suspended by a visitation of religious earnestness. In much ignorance of
libraries, viz.: Dr. Lazarus Seaman's, which sold for £70); Dr. Jacomb's, which sold for £1300; Dr. Bates's, which was bought for five or six hundred pounds by Dr. Williams, in order to lay the foundation of Red Cross Street library; and Dr. Evans's, which contained 10,000 volumes; again subjoining, "It is probable Dr. Owen's was not inferior to some of these. It would have gratified the biographer had he known that a catalogue of Owen's library is still in existence. Bound up with other sale catalogues in the Bodleian, is the “Bibliotheca Oweni. ana; sive catalogus librorum plurimis facultatibus insignium, instructissimae Bibliothecae Rev. Doct. Wiri D. Joan. Oweni (quondam Vice-Cancellarii et Decani Adis Christi in Academia Oxoniensi) nuperone defuncti; cum variis manuscriptis Græcis, Latinis, &c., propria manu Doct. Patricii Junii alio. rumq conscriptis: quorum auctio habebitur Londini "pud domum auctionariam, adverso Nigri Cygni in Mico vulgo dicto Ave Mary Lane, prope Ludgate Street, vicesimo sexto die Maii, 1684. £, Eduardum Millington, Bibliopolam.” In the Preface, the auctioneer speaks of Dr. Owen as “a person so *nerally known as a generous buyer and great col*tor of the best books;" and after adverting to his copies of Fathers, Councils, Church Histories, and Rabbinical Authors, he adds, “all which, con. sidered together, perhaps for their number are not "be paralleled, or upon any terms to be procured, when gentlemen are desirous of, or have a real occa on for the perusal of them.” The number of vol. * is 2889. For the knowledge of the existence of this catalogue, and for a variety of curious par*lass regarding it, the Reviewer is indebted to * of the dignitaries of Oxford, whose bibliographical information is only exceeded by the obligingness with which he puts it at the command of others, the Rev. Dr. Macbride, Principal of Magdalene Hall.
the divine specific, his conscience grew tender, and sin appeared exceeding sinful. It was at this conjuncture that Archbishop Laud imposed on Oxford a new code of statutes, which scared away from the University the now scrupulous scholar. Years of anxious thoughtfulness followed, partly filled up by his duties as chaplain successively to Sir Robert Dormer and Lord Lovelace, when about the year 1641 he had occasion to reside in London. Whilst there he went one day to hear Edmund Calamy , but instead of the famous preacher there entered the pulpit a country minister, who, after a fervent prayer, gave out for his text—“Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” The sermon was a very plain one, and Owen never ascertained the preacher's name; but the perplexities with which he had long been harassed disappeared, and in the joy of a discovered gospel and an ascertained salvation, the natural energy of his character and the vigor of his constitution found again their wonted play. Soon after this happy change, his first publication appeared. It was a “Display of Arminianism,” and, attracting the attention of the Parliamentary “Committee for purging the Church of Scandalous Ministers,” it procured for its author a presentation to the living of Fordham, in Essex. This was followed by his translation to the more important charge of Coggeshall, in the same county; and so rapidly did his reputation rise, that besides being frequently called to preach before the Parliament, he was, in 1649, selected by Cromwell as the associate of his expedition to Ireland, and was employed in re-modellin and resuscitating Trinity College, Dublin. Most likely it was owing to the ability with which he discharged this service that he was appointed Dean of Christ Church in 1651, and in the following year Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. It was a striking incident to find himself thus brought back to scenes which, fourteen years before, he had quitted amidst contempt and poverty, and a little mind would have been apt to signalize the event by a vainglorious ovation, or a vindictive retribution. But Owen returned to Oxford in all the grandeur of a God-fearing magnanimity, and his only solicitude was to fulfil the duties of his office. Although himself an Independent, he promoted well-qualified men to responsible posts, notwithstanding their Presbyterianism or their Prelacy; and although the law gave him ample powers to disperse them, he never molested the liturgical meetings of his Episcopalian neighbors. From anxiety to promote the spiritual welfare of the students, in addition to his engagements as a Divinity lecturer and the resident head of the University, along with Dr. Goodwin he undertook to preach, on alternate Sabbaths, to the great congregation in St. Mary's. And such was the zeal which he brought to bear on the studies and the secular interests of the place, that the deserted courts were once more populous with ardent and accomplished students, and in alumni like Sprat, and South, and Ken, and Richard Cumberland, the Church of England received from Owen's Oxford some of its most distinguished ornaments; whilst men like Philip Henry and Joseph Alleine went forth to perpetuate Owen's principles; and in founding the English schools of metaphysics, architecture, and medicine, Locke, and Wren, and Sydenham taught the world that it was no misfortune to have been the pupils of the Puritan. It would be pleasant to record that Owen's generosity was reciprocated, and that if Oxford could not recognize the Non-conformist, neither did she forget the Republican who patronized the Royalists, and the Independent who befriended the Prelatists. According to the unsuspected testimony of Grainger, and Burnet, and Clarendon, the University was in a most flourishing condition when it passed from under his control; but on the principle which excludes Cromwell's statue from Westminster Palace, the picture-gallery at Christ Church finds no place for the greatest of its Deans. The retirement into which he was forced by the Restoration was attended with most of the hardships incident to an ejected minister, to which were added sufferings and sorrows of his own. He never was in prison, but he knew what it was to lead the life of a fugitive; and after making a narrow escape from dragoons sent to arrest him, he was compelled to quit his rural retreat, and seek a precarious refuge in the capital. In 1676 he lost his wife, but before this they had mingled their tears over the coffins of ten out of their eleven children; and the only survivor, a pious daughter, returned from the house of an unkind husband, to seek beside her father all that was left of the home of her childhood. Soon after he married again; but though the lady was good, and affectionate, and rich withal, no comforts and no kind tending could countervail the effects of bygone toils and privations, and from the brief remainder of his days, weakness and anguish made many a mournful deduction. Still the busy mind worked on. To the congregation, which had already shown at once its patience and its
piety, by listening to Caryl's ten quartos on Job, and which was afterwards to have its patience further tried and rewarded, in the long but invalid incumbency of Isaac Watts, Dr. Owen ministered as long as he was able; and, being a preacher who had “something to say,” it was cheering to him to recognize among his constant attendants persons so intelligent and influential as the late Protector's brother-in-law and son-in-law, Colonel Desborough and Lord Charles Fleetwood, Sir John Hartopp, the Hon. Roger Boyle, Lady Abney, and the Countess of Anglesea, and many other hearers who adorned the doctrine which their pastor expounded, and whose expectant eagerness gave zest to his studies, and animation to his public addresses. Besides during all this interval, and to the number of more than thirty volumes, he was giving to the world those masterly works which have invigorated the theology and sustained the devotion of unnumbered readers in either hemisphere. Amongst others, folio by folio, came forth that Exposition of the Hebrews, which, amidst all its digressive prolixity, and with its frequent excess of erudition, is an enduring monument of its author's robust understanding and spiritual insight, as well as his astonishing industry. At last the pen dropped from his hand, and on the 23d of August, 1683, he dictated a note to his likeminded friend, Charles Fleetwood:—“I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me, with an everlasting love, which is the whole ground of all my consolation. I am leaving the ship of the Church in a storm; but while 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 nor forsake us. My affection: ate respects to your lody, and to the rest of your relations, who are so dear to me in the Lord. Remember your dying friend with all fervency.” The morrow after he had sent this touching message to the representative of a beloved family was Bartholomew day, the anniversary of the ejection of his two thousand brethren. That morning a friend called to tell him that he had put to press his “Meditations on the Glory of Christ." There was a moment's gleam in his languid eye, as he answered, “I am glad to hear it: but, O brother Payne the long wished-for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in this world." A few hours of silence followed, and then that glory was revealed. On the fourth of September, a vast funeral procession, including the carriages of sixty-seven noblemen and gentlemen, with long trains of mourning coaches and horsemen, took the road to Finsbury; and there, in a newburying-ground, within a few paces of Goodwin's grave, and near the spot where, five years later, John Bunyan was interred, they laid the dust of Dr. Owen. His grave is with us to this day; but in the crowded Golgotha, surrounded with undertakers’ sheds and blind brick walls, with London cabs and omnibuses whirling past the gate, few pilgrims can distinguish the obliterated stone which marks the restingplace of the mighty Non-conformist.* Many of our readers will remember Robert Baillie's description of Dr. Twiss, the Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly: “The man, as the world knows, is very learned in the questions he has studied, and very good -beloved of all, and highly esteemed—but merely bookish . . . and among the unfittest of all the company for any action.” In this respect Dr. Owen was a great contrast to his studious contemporary; for he was as eminent for business talent as most ministers are conspicuous for the want of it. It was on this account that he was selected for the task of re-organizing the Universities of Dublin and Oxford; and the success with which he fulfilled his commission, whilst it justified his Patron's sagacity, showed that he was sufficiently master of himself to become the master of other minds. Of all his brethren few were so “fit for action.” To the same cause to which he owed this practical ascendency, we are disposed to ascribe his popularity as a preacher; for we agree with | Thompson, (Life of Owen, p. cvi.,) in thinking that Owen's power in the pulpit must have been greater than is usually surmised by his modern readers. Those who knew him describe him as a singularly fluent and persuasive speaker; and they also *present his social intercourse as peculiarly Wacious and cheerful. From all which our inference is, that Owen was one of those appy people who, whether for business or study, whether for conversation or public
*A copious Latin epitaph was inscribed on his ombstone, of which Mr. Orme speaks, in 1826, as "still in fine preservation.” (Memoirs, p. 346.) We * Sorry to say that three letters, faintly traceable, are all that can now be deci phered. The tomb of his illustrious colleague, Goodwin, is in a still more *plorable condition: not only is the inscription efficed, but the marble slab, having been split by lightning, has never been repaired.
speaking, can concentrate all their faculties on the immediate occasion, and who do justice to themselves and the world, by doing justice to each matter as it successively comes to their hand. A well-informed and earnest speaker will always be popular, if he be tolerably fluent, and if he “show himself friendly;” but no reputation and no talent will secure an audience to the automaton who is unconscious of his hearers, or to the misanthrope who despises or dislikes them. And if, as Anthony a Wood informs us, “the persuasion of his oratory could move and wind the affections of his admiring auditory almost as he pleased,” we can well believe that he possessed the “proper and comely personage, the graceful behavior in the pulpit, the eloquent elocution, and the winning and insinuating deportment,” which this reluctant witness ascribes to him. With such advantages, we can understand how, dissolved into a stream of continuous discourse, the doctrines which we only know in their crystallized form of heads and particulars, became a gladsome river; and how the man who spoke them with sparkling eye and shining face was not shunned as a buckram pedant, but run after as a popular preacher. And yet, to his written style Owen is less indebted for his fame than almost any of the Puritans. Not to mention that his works have never been condensed into fresh pith and modern portableness by any congenial Fawcett, they never did exhibit the pathetic importunity and Demosthenic fervor of Baxter. In his Platonic loftiness Howe always dwelt apart; and there have been no glorious dreams since Bunyan woke amidst the beatific vision. Like a soft valley, where every turn reveals a cascade or a castle, or at least a picturesque cottage, Flavel lures us along by the vivid succession of his curious analogies and interesting stories; whilst all the way the path is green with kind humanity, and bright with gospel blessedness. And like some sheltered cove, where the shells are all so brilliant, and the sea-plants all so curious, that the young naturalist can never leave off collecting, so profuse are the quaint sayings and the nice little anecdotes which Thomas Brooks showers from his “Golden Treasury,” from his “Box,” and his “Cabinet,” that the reader needs must follow where all the road is so radiant. But Owen has no adventitious attractions. His books lack the extempore felicities and the reflected fellow-feeling which lent a charm to his spoken sermons; and on the table-land of his controversial treatises, sentence follows sentence like a file of ironsides