Puritan Memoirs - Mr. Oliver BowlesPuritan Memoirs - The Life and Death of Some Reformed Ministers
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THIS venerable divine was fellow of Queen’s college, Cambridge, where it is probable he had received his education. He was an excellent scholar, a celebrated tutor, and a man of exemplary piety. The famous Dr. Preston was one of his pupils. On leaving the university, he became rector of Luton in Bedfordshire, about the beginning of 1607, where he continued upwards of fifty years. He was chosen one of the assembly of divines, which he constantly attended, ‘and was eminently serviceable in that theological convention. The assembly having petitioned the parliament for a fast, previous to their proceeding to business, Mr. Bowles and Mr. Matthew Newcomen were appointed to preach before both houses and the assembly, and both their sermons were ordered to be published. Mr. Bowies’ sermon is entitled, Zeal for the House of God Quickened; or, a Sermon, preached before the assembly of lords, commons, and divines, at their solemn Fast, July 7th, 1643, in Abbey church, Westminster, expressing the eminency of zeal required in church reformers. He was likewise author of a work, entitled De Pastore Evangelico. Dr. Calamy says it is an excellent work; it was published by his son, and dedicated to the earl of Manchester. He says, moreover, “that during the time of rampant episcopacy, it was not suffered to creep out, not for any evil in it, but because some men do not care for being, put upon too much work.” Though Mr. Bowles survived the restoration many years, it does not appear that he either conformed or was ejected. On account of his great age, and for Homo other causes, it is believed he left off preaching about 1659. He died on the 5th of September 1674, supposed to have been above ninety years of age.
Mr. Bowles had twelve sons. Edward, one of them, a distinguished puritan divine, was ejected at the restoration.
Mr. Timothy Cruso was favored with the friendship and counsel of this aged divine, and attended him in his last illness. On the day prior to his death, Mr. Bowles said to him, “have a care of yourself, Timothy, in this evil world, and be hot so taken up with its vanities as to lose the substance for the Shadow. Seeing you have resolved on the work of the ministry, I would advise you never to trouble your hearers with useless or contending notions, but rather to preach upon practicals, that you may set them on performing the duties of a holy life. I would not any longer live that idle and unserviceable life that I have lately done.” “When I took my last leave of him (says Mr. Cruso), he said, ‘Farewell, Timothy; if I see thee no more in this world, I hope we shall meet in heaven, which is far better: Only remember to keep a good conscience, and walk closely with God.’ This he twice repeated, with a strong and impressive emphasis.”