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Full text of "The life of Rev. Richard Baxter"

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133 WILLINGNESS TO DEPART, &c. [Chap. V. 

triumphant, reigning, glorified Love ; and therefore 
not less now than in all its tender expressions on 
earth." Had I done this more and better, and a? 
I have persuaded others to do it, I had lived in 
more convincing delights of God's love, which 
would have turned the fears of death into more 
joyful hopes, and more earnest "desires to be 
with Christ," in the arms, in the world, in the 
life of love, as far better than to be here in a world 
of darkness, doubts, and fears. " But, O my 
Father, thou infinite Love, though my arguments 
be many and strong, my heart is bad, my strength 
is weakness, and I am insufficient to plead the 
cause of thy love and loveliness to myself or 
others. O plead thy own cause, and what heart 
can resist ? Let it not be my word only, but thine, 
that thou lovest me, even me a sinner ! Say as 
Christ to Lazarus, " Arise !" Tell me as thou doet, 
that the sun is warm, yea, as thou didst, that my 
parents and dearest friends loved me ! Tell me, 
as by the conciousness and works of life thou 
tellest me, that thou hast given me life ; that while 
I can say, Thou that knowest all things, knowest 
that I love thee, I may infer, Therefore I know 
I am beloved of thee ! Thus let me come to thee 
in the confidence of thy love, and long to be 
nearer, in the clearer sight, the fuller sense, and 
more joyful exercise of love for ever ! Father, 
into thy hand I commend my spirit! Lord Jesus, 
receive my spirit." Amen. 

THE END. 



THE LIFE 



REV. RICHARD BAXTER. 

CHIEFLY COMPILED FROM HIS OWN WRITINGS. 



PUBLISHED BY THE 

AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY, 

150 NASSAU-STREET, NEW-YORK. 



D. Fanshaw, Printer. 



CONTENTS 



Chapter I.— His early life and conversion. — His fa- 
ther — early vices — the Bible and religious books 
blessed in his conversion — his early studies — fee- 
ble health — spiritual conflicts — sources of comfort 
— death of his mother — desire to be useful. ... 7 

Chapter II. — His ordination and first public engage- 
ments. — Preaches at Dudley — removes to Bridg- 
north — and then to Kidderminster 21 

Chapter III. — His labors, trials, and success at Kid- 
derminster. — Benefit of previous trials — branded 
as a traitor — hardly escapes with life — leaves Kid- 
derminster and preaches to soldiers at Coventry — 
becomes chaplain of a regiment under Cromwell — 
failure of his health — writes the Saints' Rest — re- 
turns to Kidderminster, and remains fourteen 
years — character of his labors — acts as a physi- 
cian — success of his ministry — various means of 
usefulness employed — his " Reformed Pastor " — 
is consulted by Cromwell — writes his " Call to the 
Unconverted," and other works 25 

Chapter IV. — His engagements after leaving Kidder- 
minster. — Visits London — preaches to parliament 
— interview witL the king — attempts to reconcile 



4 CONTENTS. 

the conflicting parties — declines a bishopric — for- 
bidden to return to Kidderminster — his interest in 
missions to the Indians — writes to Eliot — great con- 
cern for the conversion of the world — further un- 
successful attempts at reconciliation — is accused of 
sedition — preaches in London — not allowed to ad- 
dress his people at Kidderminster— is ejected, with 
2,000 others, by the "Act of Uniformity '" — his mar- 
riage — the plague and fire in London — preaches in 
his own house — acquaintance with Judge Hale. . 60 

Chapter V. — His persecution, trials, and death. — Is 
apprehended and cast into prison, where he is kept 
in great peace — is offered preferment by the king 
of Scotland — reasons for declining it — is licensed 
to preach again, under restrictions — preaches in 
London — writes the " Poor Man's Family Book," 
and other works — great success in preaching — in- 
terrupted by persecutions — death of Mrs. Baxter — 
feeble health and further persecutions — commences 
a " Paraphrase of the New Testament" — is char- 
ged with sedition for writing it — mock trial before 
Lord Chief Justice Jeffries — is two years impri- 
soned — Matthew Henry's description of his pa- 
tience — he is released from prison — preaches in 
his own house — last sickness — death 89 

Chapter VI. — His person, views op himself, and ge- 
neral character. — His person — his survey of his 
own character, showing the changes from his ear- 
lier to his riper years — character of his prayers — 
of his sermons — his works — his bodily sufferings — 
love to souls— walk with God 133 



NOTE. 

The life of this eminent servant of God, abound- 
ing with striking incidents, and adapted to be use- 
ful to all, is published nearly in the present form 
by the Religious Tract Society in London. Some 
corrections of obscure phraseology and antique style 
are here made, without altering the character of the 
narrative. The reader will be struck with his extra- 
ordinary reliance on the efficacy of prayer ; his abun- 
dant labors as a pastor ; the rudeness, ignorance, and 
persecuting spirit of the age in which he lived ; his 
burning zeal for the spread of the Gospel at that 
ca'rly period of modern missions ; the great variety of 
works he was enabled to write, though in a very low 
state of health ; and the wonderful extent to which 
the powers of the mind may be kept up by the ha- 
bitual exercise of them, even amid the multiplied 
infirmities of old age. 

A more full account of the man, comprising a 
description of his voluminous writings, may be found 
by ilie student in " Baxter's Life and Times, by Rev. 
William Orme • " 2 vols, octavo. 



LIFE OF 



THE 



REV. RICHARD BAXTER, 



CHAPTER I. 

HIS EARLY LIFE AND CONVERSION. 

Richard Baxter was born at Rowton, Shropshire, 
(England,) on the 12th of November, 1615. He resided 
in that village with his maternal grandfather till he 
was nearly ten years of age, when he was taken home 
to live with his parents at Eaton Constantine, in the 
same county. His father, he says, " had the competent 
estate of a freeholder, free from the temptations of po- 
verty and riches ; but having been addicted to gaming 
in his youth, as was also his father before him, it was 
so entangled by debts, that it occasioned some excess 
of worldly cares before it was freed." 

The father of Richard Baxter, about the time cf his 
son's birth, became seriously impressed with the im- 
portance of divine truth, and appears to have subse- 
quently become a sincere follower of the Redeemer. 
His conversion was effected chiefly through the instru- 
mentality of reading the Scriptures. He had but few 
opportunities of attending on other means of grace. 
Many of the pulpits were occupied by ministers igno- 



8 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

rant of the truth as it is in Jesus ; and those who preach- 
ed the Gospel in its purity were, for the most part, so 
despised and contemned, that it required no small share 
of moral courage to attend on their ministry. Convert- 
ed himself, he became anxious for the salvation of his 
only son. lie directed the attention of his youthful 
charge to the sacred Scriptures, whence he had himself 
derived so much benefit. Nor were his instructions 
and efforts altogether vain. Baxter thus ingenuously 
confesses his early sins and convictions, in his history 
of his own life and times : 

" At first my father set me to read the historical parts 
of Scripture, which, suiting with my nature, greatly 
delighted me; and though all that time I neither un- 
derstood nor relished much the doctrinal part and mys- 
tery of redemption, yet it did me good, by acquainting 
me with the matters of fact, and drawing me on to love 
the Bible, and to search by degrees into the rest. 

" But though my conscience would trouble me when 
I sinned, yet divers sins I was addicted to, and often 
committed against my conscience; which, for the warn- 
ing of others, I will here confess, to my shame. 

" 1. I was much addicted, when I feared correction, 
to lie, that I might escape. 

" 2. I was much addicted to the excessive gluttonous 
eating of apples and pears, which, I think, laid the foun- 
dation of that weakness of my stomach which caused 
the bodily calamities of my life. 

" 3. To this end, and to concur with naughty boys 
that gloried in evil, I have often gone into other men's 
orchards, and stolen their fruit, when I had enough at 
nome. 

" 4. I was somewhat excessively addicted to play, 
and that with covetousness for money. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 9 

" 5. I was extremely bewitched with a love of ro- 
mances, fables, and old tales, which corrupted my affec- 
tions and wasted my time. 

" 6. I was guilty of much idle foolish chat, and imi- 
tation of boys in scurrilous foolish words and actions, 
though I durst not swear. 

" 7. I was too proud of the commendations of my 
instructors, who all of them fed my pride, making me 
seven or eight years the highest in the school, and 
boasting of me to others ; which, though it furthered 
my learning, yet helped not my humility. 

" 8. I was too bold and irreverent towards my pa- 
rents. 

" These were my sins, with which, in my childhood, 
conscience troubled me for a great while before they 
were overcome." 

His convictions gathered strength, although occa- 
sionally resisted. The temptations to neglect religion 
were strong and powerful. The reproach cast on his 
father and others, who, for their desire and pursuit of 
holiness, were contemptuously designated "Puritans," 
proved for a season a stumbling-block in his path. Still, 
however, the reflecting mind of the son led him to dis- 
cern the difference between the conduct of his father 
and that of his calumniators, and to conclude that there 
was more of reason and truth in a life of holiness, than 
in a life of impiety and rebellion against the majesty 
of heaven. He says : 

" In the village where I lived, the Reader read the 
common prayer briefly ; and the rest of the day, even 
till dark night almost, except eating time, was spent 
in dancing under a may-pole and a great tree, not far 
from my father's door, where all the town met toge- 
ther : and though one of my father's own tenants was 



10 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

the piper, he could not restrain him not break the 
sport; so that we could not read the Scripture in our 
family without the great disturbance of the taber and 
pipe, and noise in the street !* Many times my mind 
was inclined to be among them, and sometimes I broke 
loose from my conscience and joined with them ; and 
the more I did it, the more I was inclined to it. But 
when I heard them call my father ' Puritan,' it did 
much to cure me aud alienate me from them ; for I 
considered that my father's exercise of reading the 
Scripture was better than theirs, and would surely be 
judged better by all men at the last; and I considered 
what it was, for which he and others were thus derided. 
When I heard them speak scornfully of others, as Pu- 
ritans, whom I never knew, I was at first apt to believe 
all the lies and slanders wherewith they loaded them ; 
but when I heard my own father so reproached, and 
perceived that drunkards were the most forward in the 
reproach, I perceived that it was mere malice. For my 
fathej never objected to common prayer or ceremonies, 
nor spoke against bishops, nor ever so much as prayed 
but by a book or form, being unacquainted then with 
any that did otherwise. But only for reading Scripture 
when the rest were dancing on the Lord's day, and for 
praying by a form out of the end of the common 
prayer book, in his house, and for reproving drunkards 
and swearers, and for talking sometimes a few words 
of Scripture, and about the life to come, he was reviled 
commonly by the name of Puritan, Precisian, and Hy- 
pocrite; and so were the godly ministers that lived in 
the country near us, not only by our neighbors, but by 

* These profanations of the Lord's day were authorised and 
encouraged by the royal proclamation, called the Book of 
Sports, set forth A. D. 1G18.— See Life of Bishop Hall, p. 36. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. || 

the common talk of the multitude all about us. By this 
observation I was fully convinced that godly people 
were the best; and those that despised them, and lived 
in sin and pleasure, were a malignant, unhappy sort of 
people ; and this kept me out of their company, except 
now and then, when the love of sports and play en- 
ticed me." 

When about fifteen years of age, " it pleased God," 
he writes, " of his wonderful mercy, to open my eyes 
with a clearer insight into the concerns and case of my 
own soul, and to touch my heart with a livelier feel- 
ing of things spiritual than ever I had found before." 
While under this concern, a poor man in the town 
lent his father an old torn book, entitled " Bunny's 
Resolutions." "In reading this book," he observes, 
" it pleased God to awaken my soul, and show me the 
folly of sinning, and the misery of the wicked, and the 
inexpressible weight of things eternal, and the neces- 
sity of resolving on a holy life, more than I was ever 
acquainted with before. The same things which I 
knew before, came now in another manner, with light, 
and sense, and seriousness to my heart." 

" Yet, whether sincere conversion began now, or be- 
fore, or after, I was never able to this day to know ; for 
I had before had some love to the things and people 
that were good, and a restraint from sins, except those 
forementioned ; and so much from most of those, that 
I seldom committed them, and when I did, it was with 
great reluctance. And, both now and formerly, I knew 
that Christ was the only mediator by whom we must 
have pardon, justification, and life; but I had little 
lively sense of the love of God in Christ to the world 
or me, or of my special need of him !" 

" About this time it pleased God that a poor pedlar 



12 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

came to the door with ballads and some good books, 
and my father bought of him Dr. Sibbs' 'Bruised Reed.' 
This, also, I read, and found it suited to my taste, and 
seasonably sent me ; which opened more the love of 
God to me, and gave me a livelier apprehension of the 
mystery of redemption, and of my obligations to Jesus 
Christ." 

" After this, we had a servant who had a little piece 
of Mr. Perkins' works, ' Of Repentance,' and the 
' Art of living and dying well,' and the ' Government 
of the Tongue ;' and the reading of that did further 
inform me, and confirm me. And thus, without any 
means but books, was God pleased to resolve me for 
himself." 

Various are the means by which God awakens the 
soul to a sense of its danger, and leads it to the know- 
ledge and enjoyment of himself. The pulpit and the 
school, conversation and reading, correspondence and 
advice, have been employed as instruments in the 
hands of the Eternal Spirit in effecting the conversion 
of souls. To preaching, as the express appointment of 
God, must be ascribed the highest place ; but inferior 
only to it is the instrumentality of religious books. 
In places where the preaching of the Gospel is un- 
known or unattended, the distribution of such books 
is of the utmost importance. To such books Baxter 
was greatly indebted for his conversion : and having 
derived so much benefit from this means, he ever after 
employed it extensively among his friends, his flock, 
and all to whom his influence would reach. The facili- 
ties afforded, in the present day, for the dissemination of 
religious knowledge are truly astonishing ; and among 
others, the efforts of Religious Tract Societies, with 
their millions of publications, should not be overlooked. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 13 

Many will arise in the last day, and acknowledge that 
their conversion was effected by means of these publi- 
cations. Nor is it the least advantage of these institu- 
tions, that they afford an opportunity to persons in the 
humblest circumstances to be instrumental in doing 
good to their fellow-creatures. They can give a Tract, 
though they cannot deliver a discourse ; they can send 
a Tract where they cannot visit in person ; they can 
circulate books where they cannot engage in religious 
conversation. In the formation of Baxter's early reli- 
gious opinions and character, we see the instrumen- 
tality of a laborer, a pedlar, and a servant employed. 
The sovereignty of God is clearly seen in the agents 
and means of salvation. " His wisdom is unsearch- 
able, and his ways are past finding out." " To God, 
only wise, be all the glory." 

Baxter's early education was greatly neglected. His 
professed teachers were either incompetent to their 
task, or suffered him to be occupied rather as he chose 
than according to any regular plan. Notwithstanding 
this neglect and irregularity, he made considerable 
progress. He rose superior to every difficulty, and in 
due time became qualified to enter the university. He 
was persuaded, however, not to enter college, but to 
pursue his studies under the direction of Mr. Wick- 
stead, chaplain to the council at Ludlow Castle. Being 
his only pupil, it was expected that, through the un- 
divided attention of his tutor, his proficiency would 
be greater than either at Cambridge or Oxford. The 
preceptor became much attached to the pupil ; but 
being in earnest quest of place and preferment, he 
neglected his charge. He allowed him " books and 
time enough," but never seriously attempted to in- 
struct and improve his mind. Nor was this the only 
E. b. 2 



14 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

disadvantage attending his residence at Ludlow, for 
he was thrown into gay and fashionable society, and 
was exposed to the various temptations incident to 
such a situation. His religious principles were in dan- 
ger of being corrupted or destroyed by the practice of 
gambling; but he was enabled, by the grace of God, 
to escape the snare, and to resist all subsequent at- 
tempts to lead him astray. In this situation he formed 
an intimacy with a young man of professed piety, but 
who, at length, by the seductive influence of liquor, 
became an apostate. At this period, however, he in- 
structed young Baxter " in the way of God more per- 
fectly ;" prayed with him, exhorted and encouraged 
him in his religious course, and thus became of essen- 
tial service to his young friend. Baxter remained with 
his tutor about a year and a half, and then returned 
home. At the request of lord Newport, he took the 
charge of the grammar school at Wroxeter for a short 
time, as the master was in a dying state. On his death, 
Baxter left this charge, and pursued his studies and 
religious inquiries under the direction of the venerable 
Mr. Garbett, a minister of Wroxeter. 

The health of Baxter was in a precarious state, and, 
in the prospect of eternity, he became more solicitous 
to improve his remaining days in the worship, and 
ways, and service of God. He says : 

" Being in expectation of death, by a violent cough, 
with spitting of blood, &c. of two years continuance, 
supposed to be a consumption, I was awakened to be 
more solicitous about my soul's everlasting state ; and 
I came so short of that sense and seriousness which a 
matter of such infinite weight required, that I was ma- 
ny years in doubt of my sincerity, and thought I had 
no spiritual life at all. I wondered at the senseless 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 15 

hardness of my heart, that I could think and talk of 
sin and hell, and Christ and grace, of God and heaven 
with no more feeling. I cried from day to day to God 
for grace against this senseless deadness. I called my- 
self the most hard-hearted sinner, that could feel no- 
thing of all that I knew and talked of. I was not then 
sensible of the incomparable excellence of holy love 
and delight in God, nor much employed in thanksgiv- 
ing and praise ; but all my groans were for more con- 
trition and a broken heart, and I prayed most for tears 
and tenderness. 

" Thus was I long kept with the calls of approach- 
ing death at one ear, and the questionings of a doubt- 
ful conscience at the other ; and since then I have 
found that this method of God's was very wise, and 
no other was so likely to have tended to my good. 
These benefits of it I sensibly perceived. 

" 1. It made me vile and loathsome to myself, and 
made pride one of the most hateful sins in the world 
to me. I thought of myself as I now think of a detest 
able sinner, and my enemy: that is, with a love of be- 
nevolence, wishing them well, but with little love of 
complacency at all ; and the long continuance of it 
tended the more effectually to a habit. 

" 2. It much restrained me from that sportful levity 
and vanity to which my nature and youthfulness much 
inclined me, and caused me to meet temptations to sen- 
suality with the greatest fear, and made them less ef- 
fectual against me. 

" 3. It made the doctrine of redemption the more 
savory to me, and my thoughts of Christ more serious 
and clear. I remember, in the beginning, how benefi- 
cial to me were Mr. Perkins' short treatise of the 
! Bight Knowledge of Chris; crucified,' and his [ Ex- 



16 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

position of the Creed,' because they taught me how to 
live by faith on Christ. 

" 4. It made the world seem to me as a carcass that 
had neither life nor loveliness, and it destroyed that am- 
bitious desire after literary fame which was the sin of 
my childhood. I had a desire before to have attained 
the highest academical degrees and reputation of learn- 
ing, and to have chosen out my studies accordingly ; 
but sickness, and solicitousness for my doubting soul, 
shamed away all these thoughts as fooleries and chil- 
dren's plays. 

"5. It set me upon that method of my studies, of 
which, since then, I have found the benefit, though at 
the time I was not satisfied with myself. It caused me 
first to seek God's kingdom and his righteousness, and 
most to mind the one thing needful ; and to determine 
first on my ultimate end, by which I was engaged to 
choose out and prosecute all other studies but as meant 
to that end. Therefore divinity not only shared with 
the rest of my studies, but always had the first and 
chief place. And it caused me to study a practical di- 
vinity first, in the most practical books, in a practical 
order ; doing all purposely for the informing and re- 
forming of my own soul." 

" And as for those doubts of my own salvation, which 
exercised me many years, the chief causes of them 
were these : 

" 1. Because I could not distinctly trace the work- 
ings of the Spirit upon my heart, in that method which 
Mr. Bolton, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Rogers, and other di- 
vines describe ; nor knew the time of my conversion, 
being wrought on by the forementioned degrees. But, 
since then, I understood that the soul is in too dark 
and passionate a plight at first to be able to keep an 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 17 

exact account of the order of its own operations; and 
that preparatory grace, being sometimes longer and 
sometimes shorter, and the first degree of special grace 
being usually very small, it is not to be expected that 
many will be able to give a true account of the time 
when special grace began. 

" 2. My second doubt was as aforesaid, because of 
the hardness of my heart, or want of such lively appre- 
hensions of things spiritual as I had about things cor- 
poreal. And though I still groan under this as my 
sin and want, yet I now perceive that a soul in flesh 
works so much after the manner of the flesh, that it 
much desires sensible apprehensions ; but things spi- 
ritual and distant are not so apt to excite emotion and 
stir the passions. 

" 3. My next doubt was lest education and fear had 
clone all that ever was done upon my soul, and regen- 
eration and love were yet to be sought ; because I had 
found conviction from my childhood, and found more 
fear than love in all my duties and restraints. 

" But I afterwards perceived that education is an or- 
dinary way for the conveyance of God's grace, and 
ought no more to be set in opposition to the Spirit, than 
the preaching of the word ; and that it was the great 
mercy of God to begin with me so soon, and to prevent 
such sins as else might have been my shame and sor 
row while I lived. And I understood, that, though 
fear without love be not a state of saving grace, and 
greater love to the world than to God be not consistent 
with sincerity, yet a little predominant love, prevail- 
ing against worldly love, conjoined with a far greatei 
measure of fear, may be a state of special grace. And 
I found that my hearty love of the word of God, and 
of the servants of God, and my desires to be more ho- 



18 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

ly, and especially the hatred of my heart for loving God 
no more, and my wish to love him, and be pleasing to 
him, were not without some true love to himself, 
though it appeared more sensibly afterwards. 

" 4. Another of my doubts was, because my grief 
and humiliation were no greater, and because I could 
weep no more for this. 

" But I understood, at last, that God breaks not all 
men's hearts alike, and that the gradual proceedings 
of his grace might be one cause, and my nature, not 
apt to weep for other things, another ; and that the 
change of our heart from sin to God is true repent- 
ance ; and a loathing of ourselves is true humiliation; 
and that he that had rather leave his sin, than have 
leave to keep it, and had rather be the most holy, than 
have leave to be unholy or less holy, is neither with- 
out true repentance nor the love of God. 

" 5. Another of my doubts was, because I had, after 
my change, committed some sins deliberately and 
knowingly. And, be they ever so small, I thought, he 
that could sin upon knowledge and deliberation, had 
no true grace ; and that, if I had but had as strong 
temptations to fornication, drunkenness, fraud, or other 
more heinous sins, I might also have committed them. 
And if these proved that I had then no saving grace, 
after all that I had felt, I thought it unlikely that ever 
I should have any." 

" The means by which God was pleased to give me 
some peace and comfort were — 

" 1. The reading of many consolatory books. 

" 2. The observation of the condition of other men. 
When I heard many make the very same complaints 
that I did, who were people of whom I had the best 
esteem for the uprightness and holiness of their lives, 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 19 

it much abated my fears and troubles. And, in par- 
ticular, it muc 1 ! comforted me to read him whom 1 
loved as one ot the holiest of all the martyrs, John 
Bradford, subscribing himself so often, ? The hard- 
hearted sinner,' and ' The miserable hard-hearted sin- 
ner,' even as I was used to do myself. 

" 3. And it much increased my peace, when God's 
providence called me to the comforting of many others 
that had the same complaints. While I answered their 
doubts, I answered my own ; and the charity which I 
was constrained to exercise for them, redounded to 
myself, and insensibly abated my fears, and procured 
me an increase of quietness of mind. 

" And yet, after all, I was glad of probabilities in- 
stead of full undoubted certainties ; and to this very 
day, though I have no such degree of doubtfulness as 
is any great trouble to my soul, or procures any great 
disquieting fears, yet I cannot say that I have such a 
certainty of my own sincerity in grace, as excludes all 
doubts and fears of the contrary." 

Baxter's old preceptor induced him for a season to 
lay aside all thoughts of the ministry, and to become 
an attendant at court. He resided for a month at 
Whitehall, but became so disgusted with the scenes 
and practices of high life, that his conscience would 
not allow his longer continuance from home. He says : 
" I had, quickly, enough of the court ; when I saw a 
stage-play, instead of a sermon, on the Lord's day in 
the afternoon, and saw what course was there in fash- 
ion, and heard little preaching but what was, in some 
part, against the puritans, I was glad to be gone. At 
the same time, it pleased God, my mother fell sick, and 
desired my return ; and so I resolved to bid farewell 
to those kinds of employments and expectations." 



*U LIFE OF BAXTER. 

When he was going home into the country, about 
Christmas day, A. D. 1G34, he relates that, on meeting 
a loaded wagon, his horse fell on the side of a bank, 
by which he was thrown before the wheel, which he 
says " had gone over me, but that, as it pleased God, 
the horses suddenly stopped, without any discernable 
cause, till I was recovered ; which commanded me to 
observe the mercy of my Protector." 

On his return he found his mother extremely ill. 
She lingered till May, and then expired. 

Baxter's own health was in a very precarious state ; 
but he was anxiously desirous of doing good during 
the short time which he supposed would be allotted to 
him on earth. He states : 

" My own soul being under serious apprehensions 
of another world, I was exceedingly desirous to com- 
municate those apprehensions to ignorant, presump- 
tuous, careless sinners. But I was in a very great per- 
plexity between my encouragements and my discou- 
ragements. I was conscious of my personal insuffi- 
ciency, for want of that measure of learning and expe- 
rience which so great and high a work required. I 
knew that the want of academical honors and degrees 
was likely to make me contemptible with the most, and 
consequently hinder the success of my endeavors. 
But yet, expecting to be so quickly in another world, the 
great concerns of miserable souls prevailed with me 
against all these impediments; and being conscious of 
a thirsty desire of men's conversion and salvation, and 
of some competent persuading faculty of expression 
which fervent affections might help to actuate, I re- 
solved, that if one or two souls only might be won to 
God. it would recompense all the dishonor I might re- 
ceive from men !" 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 21 

CHAPTER II. 

HI3 ORDINATION, AND FIRST PDBLIC ENGAGEMENTS. 

Baxter was induced, by the advice of his friend 
Berry, to accept the head mastership of a newly en- 
dowed grammar school at Dudley, Worcestershire. 
He was the more ready to accept this situation, as it 
would afford him an opportunity of preaching in that 
unenlightened neighborhood. He applied for ordina- 
tion to the Bishop of Winchester, which, after exami- 
nation and subscription, was duly administered. He, 
moreover, received the bishop's license to teach in the 
school at Dudley. In a subsequent period of his life, 
he dedicated his treatise on " Self-denial" to his friend 
Colonel Berry, whose character had undergone a con- 
siderable change. The following passage from his 
dedicatory letter describes his views and feelings on 
entering the ministry, and his obligation to his friend 
and adviser. " You brought me into the ministry. I 
am confident you know to what ends, and with what 
intentions I desired it. I was then very ignorant, 
young, and raw. Though my weakness be yet such as 
I must lament, I must say, to the praise of the great 
Shepherd of the flock, that he hath, since then, offord 
me precious opportunities, much assistance, and as 
much encouragement as to any man that 1 know alive. 
You know my education and initial weakness were 
such as forbid me to glory in the flesh ; but I will not 
rob God of his glory to avoid the appearance of osten- 
tation, lest I be proud of seeming not to be proud. 
I doubt not but many thousand souls will thank you, 



22 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

when they have read that you were the man that led 
me into the ministry." 

" Being settled in the new school at Dudley, I there 
preached my first public sermon in the upper parish 
church, and afterwards preached in the villages about ; 
and there had occasion to enter afresh upon the study 
of Conformity ;* for there were many private Christians 
thereabouts that were non-conformists, and one in the 
house with me. And that excellent man, Mr. William 
Fenner, had lately lived two miles off, at Sedgley, who, 
by defending conformity, and honoring it by a won- 
derfully powerful and successful way of preaching, 
conference, and holy living, had stirred up the non- 
conformists the more to a vehement pleading of their 
cause. And though they were there generally godly 
honest people, yet they were smartly censorious, and 
made conformity no small fault. And they lent me 
manuscripts and books which I never saw before ; 
whereupon I thought it my duty to set upon a serious 
impartial trial of the whole cause. 

" In the town of Dudley I lived in much comfort, 
amongst a poor tractable people, lately noted for drun- 
kenness, but commonly more ready to hear God's word 
with submission and reformation than most places 
where I have been, so that having, since the wars, set 
up a monthly lecture there, the church was usually 
as much crowded within, and at the windows, as ever 
I saw any London congregation ; partly through the 
great willingness of the people, and partly by the ex- 
ceeding populousness of the country, where the woods 
and commons are planted with nailers, scythe-smiths } 
and other iron laborers, like a continued village. 

• To the enactments of the established church. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 23 

" When I had been but three quarters of a year at 
Dudley, I was, by God's very gracious providence, 
invited to Bridgnorth, the second town of Shropshire, to 
preach there, as assistant to the worthy pastor of that 
place. As soon as I heard the place described, I judged 
it was the fittest for me; for there was just such em- 
ployment as I desired and could submit to without vi- 
olating conscience, and some probability of peace and 
quietness. 

" But the people proved a very ignorant, dead-heart- 
ed people, the town consisting too much of inns and 
ale-houses, and having no general trade to employ the 
inhabitants, which is the undoing of many large towns. 
So that though, through the great mercy of God, my first 
labors were not without success in the conversion of 
some ignorant and careless sinners to him, and were 
over-valued by those that were already regardful of 
the concerns of their souls, yet they were not so suc- 
cessful as they proved afterwards in other places. 
Though I was in the fervor of my affections, and ne- 
ver any where preached with more vehement desires 
of men's conversion, yet, with the generality, applause 
of the preacher was most of the success of the sermon 
which I could hear of; and their tippling, and ill-com- 
pany, and dead-heartedness quickly drowned all." 

Though a friend to episcopacy, yet the omission of 
some required ceremonies, together with his refusal to 
take the " et cetera" oath, (binding him never to give 
his consent to alter the government of the church in par- 
ticulars not distinctly defined,) had nearly occasioned 
his expulsion from the ministry, and the loss of his 
liberty, if not, in his weak and infirm state of health, 
of life itself. Indeed, some of his accusers threatened 
him with " hanging" if he did not comply. God, how- 



24 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

ever, in whose hands are the hearts of all men, changed 
the purposes and restrained the malice of his adver- 
saries, lie continued to preach at Bridgnorth a year 
and three-quarters, in the uninterrupted enjoyment of 
liberty, which, says he, " I took to be a very great mer- 
cy to me in these troublesome times." 

He says, b The long parliament, among other parts 
of their reformation, resolved to reform the corrupted 
clergy, and appointed a committee to receive petitions 
and complaints against them ; which was no sooner 
understood, but multitudes in all countries came up 
with petitions against their ministers." 

" Among all these complainers, the town of Kidder- 
minister, in Worcestershire, drew up a petition against 
their minister. The vicar of the place they represented 
4us utterly insufficient for the ministry ; presented by a 
papist; unlearned; preaching but once a quarter, and 
that so feebly as exposed him to laughter, and showed 
that he understood not the essential articles of Chris- 
tianity; as one thai frequented ale houses ; had some- 
times been drunk, &c. 

" The vicar, knowing his insufficiency, and hearing 
how two others in this case had fared, desired to com- 
pound the business with them, which was soon accom- 
plished. Hereupon they invited me to them from 
Bridgnorth. The bailiff of the town, and all the feof- 
fees, desired me to preach with them, in order to a full 
determination. My mind was much to the place, as 
soon as it was described to me, because it was a full 
congregation, with a most convenient temple; they 
were an ignorant, rude, and revelling people for the 
most part, who had need of preaching ; and yet had 
among them a small company of converts, humble, 
godly, and of good conversation, and not much hated 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 25 

by the rest, and therefore the fitter to assist their teach 
er: but above all, because they had hardly ever had 
any lively, serious preaching among them. For Bridg- 
north had made me resolve that I would never more 
go among a people that had been hardened in unpro- 
fitableness under an awakening ministry ; but either to 
such as never had any convincing preacher, or to such 
as had profited by him. As soon as I came to Kidder- 
minster, and had preached there one day, I was cho- 
sen, without opposition ; for though fourteen only had 
the power of choosing, they desired to please the rest. 
And thus I was brought, by the gracious providence 
of God, to that place which had the chief of my labors, 
and yielded me the greatest fruits. And I noted the 
mercy of God in this, that I never went to any place in 
my life, among all my changes, which I had before 
designed, or thought of, much less sought, but only 
to those that I never thought of, till the sudden invita- 
tion surprised me." 



CHAPTER III. 

HIS LABORS, TRIALS, AND SUCCESS AT KIDDERMINSTER. 

To this important and interesting scene of labor 
Baxter was invited on the 9th of March, 1640. His le- 
gal appointment, after laboring among the people dur- 
ing the interval, is dated April 5, 1641. 

For this station of public and extensive usefulness, 
lie had been prepared by various painful and alarming 
afflictions. He says : " All this forementioned time of 
L. b. 3 



26 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

my ministry was passed under my foredescribed weak- 
nesses, which were so great as made me live and preach 
in continual expectation of death, supposing still that 
I had not long to live. And this I found, through all 
my life, to be an invaluable mercy to me : for — 

" 1. It greatly weakened temptations. 

" 2. It kept me in great contempt of the world. 

" 3. It taught me highly to esteem time ; so that, if 
any of it passed away in idleness or unprofitableness, 
it was so long a pain and burden to my mind. So that 
I must say, to the praise of my most wise Conductor, 
that time has still seemed to me much more precious 
than gold, or any earthly gain, and its minutes have 
not been despised, nor have I been much tempted to 
any of the sins which go under the name of pastime, 
since I undertook my work. 

"4. It made me study and preach things necessary, 
and a little stirred up my sluggish heart to speak to 
sinners with some compassion, as a dying man to dy- 
ing men. 

" These, with the rest which I mentioned before, 
when I spake of my infirmities, were the benefits which 
God afforded me by affliction. I humbly bless his gra- 
cious providence, who gave me his treasure in an 
earthen vessel, and trained me up in the school of af- 
fliction, and taught me the cross of Christ so soon, that 
I might be rather, as Luther speaks, ' a cross-bearer, 
than a cross-maker, or imposer.' " 

His spiritual conflicts, too, were of a distressing cha- 
racter, and tended, eventually, by the grace of God, 
to qualify him to be an instructor of others, both as a 
preacher and writer. He says : 

" At one time, above all the rest, struggling under 
a new and unusual disease, which put me upon the 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 27 

present expectation of my change, and going for com- 
fort to the promises, as I was used, the tempter strong- 
ly assaulted my faith, and would have drawn me to- 
wards infidelity itself. Till I was ready to enter into 
the ministry, all my troubles had been raised by the 
hardness of my heart and the doubtings of my own 
sincerity ; but now all these began to vanish, and never 
much returned to this day. And, instead of these, I 
'was now assaulted with more pernicious temptations ; 
especially to question the certain truth of the sacred 
Scriptures ; and also the life to come, and the immor- 
tality of the soul. And these temptations assaulted me, 
not as they do the melancholy, with horrid vexing im- 
portunity ; but, by pretence of sober reason, they would 
have drawn me to a settled doubting of Christianity. 
"And here I found my own miscarriage and the 
great mercy of God. My miscarriage, in that I had so 
long neglected the well settling of the foundations on 
which I rested, while I had bestowed so much time 
in the superstructure and the applicatory part. For, 
not daring to question the truth of the Scriptures and 
the life to come, I had either taken it for a certainty 
upon trust, or taken up with common reasons of it, 
which I had never well considered, digested, or made 
my own ; insomuch, that when this temptation came, 
it seemed at first to answer and enervate all the for- 
mer reasons of my feeble faith, which made me take 
the Scriptures for the word of God ; and it set before me 
such mountains of difficulty in the incarnation, the 
person of Christ, his undertaking and performance, 
with the scripture chronology, histories, style, &c. as 
had overwhelmed me, if God had not been my strength. 
And here I saw much of the mercy of God, that he let 
not out these terrible and dangerous temptations upon 



28 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

me while I was weak and in the infancy of my faith ; 
for then I had never been able to withstand them. But 
faith is like a tree whose top is small while the root is 
young and shallow; and therefore, as then it has but 
small rooting, so it is not liable to the shaking winds 
and tempests as the large and high-grown trees are; but, 
as the top rises higher, so the root at once grows 
greater and deeper fixed, to cause it to endure its 
greater assaults. 

"Though formerly I was wont, when any such 
temptation came, to cast it aside, as fitter to be abhor- 
red than considered, yet now this would not give me 
satisfaction; but I was disposed to dig to the very 
foundations, and seriously to examine the reasons of 
Christianity, and to give a hearing to all that could be 
said against it, that so my faith might be indeed my 
own. And at last I found that ' Nothing is so firmly 
believed as that which has been some time doubted.' 

" In the storm of this temptation, I questioned awhile 
whether I were indeed a Christian or an infidel, and 
whether faith could consist with such doubts as I was 
conscious of. For I had read, in the works of papists 
and protestants, that faith had certainty, and was more 
than an opinion ; and that, if a man should live a god 
ly life, from the bare apprehensions of the probability 
of the truth of Scripture and the life to come, it would 
not save him, as being no true godliness or faith. But 
my judgment closed with the reason of Dr. Jackson's 
determination of this case, which supported me much ; 
that as in the very assenting act of faith there may be 
sucli weakness as may make us cry — ? Lord, increase 
our faith: we believe; Lord, help our belief;' so, 
when faith and unbelief are in their conflict, it is the 
effects which must show us which of them is victo- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 29 

rious. And that he that has so much faith as will cause 
him to deny himself, take up his cross, and forsake all 
the profits, honors, and pleasures of this world, for 
the sake of Christ, the love of God, and the hope of 
glory, has a saving faith, how weak soever. For God 
cannot condemn the soul that truly loves and seeks 
him ; and those that Christ brings to persevere in the 
love of God, he brings to salvation. And there were 
diver3 things that, in this assault, proved great assist- 
ances to my faith." 

" From this assault I was forced to take notice that 
our belief of the truth of the word of God, and the life 
to come, is the spring of all grace; and with which it 
rises or falls, flourishes or decays, is actuated or stands 
still: and that there is more of this secret unbelief at 
the root than most of us are aware of; and that our 
love of the world, our boldness in sin, our neglect of 
duty, are caused hence. I observed easily in myself, 
that if at any time Satan, more than at other times, 
weakened my belief of Scripture and the life to come, 
my zeal in every religious duty abated with it, and I 
grew more indifferent in religion than before. I was 
more inclined to conformity in those points which I 
had taken to be sinful, and was ready to think, Why 
should I be singular, and offend the bishops and other 
superiors, and make myself contemptible in the world, 
and expose myself to censures, scorns and sufferings, 
and all for such little things as these, when the foun- 
dations themselves have such great difficulties as I am 
unable to overcome? But when faith revived, then 
none of the parts or concerns of religion seemed small; 
and then man seemed nothing, and the world a shadow, 
and God was all. 

" In the beginning, I doubted not of the truth of the 
l. b. 3* 



30 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

Holy Scriptures, or of the life to come, because I saw 
not the difficulties which might cause doubting. After 
that, I saw them, and I doubted, because I saw not 
that which should satisfy the mind against them. 
Since that, having seen both difficulties and evidences, 
though I am not so unmolested as at the first, yet is 
my faith, I hope, much stronger, and far better able 
to repel the temptations of Satan, and the sophisms of 
infidels, than before. But yet it is my daily prayer that 
God would increase my faith, and give my soul a clear 
sight of the evidences of his truth, and of himself, and 
of the invisible world." 

Nor was Baxter exempt from slander: his moral 
character was assailed by base and unfounded calum- 
nies. These he was enabled successfully to refute. His 
chief calumniator was obliged to confess that the 
charges were fabrications, and to beg his forgiveness, 
which was freely given. 

The trials of ministers are frequently of a painful 
character, but, like those of private Christians, " they 
work together for good." They are over-ruled, not 
only for their personal benefit, but for the edification 
of their flocks. " If their sufferings abound, so do their 
consolations also," and that in order to their being the 
comforters of others. 2 Cor. 1 : 1-5. 

Baxter entered on his work with spirit and zeal ; nor 
was he suffered to labor long without witnessing bless- 
ed results in the conversion of sinners to God. At first 
he used to register the names, characters, &c. of his 
converts j but they became, at length, so numerous, that 
he discontinued the practice. 

He continued successfully discharging his ministe- 
rial and pastoral labors for nearly two years, when the 
civil wars (growing out of a rupture between the king 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 31 

and his parliament) threw the whole country into con- 
fusion. His situation, though he was no partizan, was 
critical and dangerous. He was at length advised by 
his friends to retire from Kidderminster till public af- 
fairs should assume a more peaceable aspect. The im- 
mediate occasion of his leaving, he thus describes ■ 

" About that time the parliament sent down an or- 
der for the demolishing of all statues and images of 
any of the three persons in the blessed Trinity, or of 
the virgin Mary, which should be found in churches, 
or on the crosses in churchyards. My judgment was 
for the obeying of this order, thinking it came from 
just authority; but I meddled not in it, but left the 
churchwarden to do what he thought good. The 
churchwarden, an honest, sober, quiet man, seeing a 
crucifix upon the cross in the churchyard, set up a 
ladder to have reached it, but it proved too short: 
whilst he was gone to seek another, a crew of the 
drunken riotous party of the town, poor journeymen 
and servants, took the alarm, and ran together with 
weapons to defend the crucifix and the church images, 
of which there were many remaining since the time of 
popery. The report was among them that I was the ac- 
tor, and it was me they sought ; but I was walking al- 
most a mile out of town, or else, I suppose, I had there 
ended my days. When,they missed me and the church- 
warden both, they went raving about the streets to seek 
us. Two neighbors that d welt in other parishes, hearing 
that they sought my life, ran in among them to see 
whether I were there, and they knocked them both 
down in the streets; and both of them are since dead, 
and, I think, never perfectly recovered of the wounds 
then received. When they had foamed about half an 
hour, and met with none of us, I came in from my 



32 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

walk, and hearing the people cursing at me in their 
doors, I wondered what the matter was, but quickly 
found how fairly I had escaped. The next Lord's day 
I dealt plainly with them, and laid open to them the 
quality of that action, and told them, seeing they so 
requited me as to seek my blood, I was willing to 
leave them, and save them from that guilt. But the 
poor sots were so amazed and ashamed that they took 
on sorrily, and were reluctant to part with me. 

" About this time the king's declarations were read 
in our market-place, and the Reader, a violent country 
gentleman, seeing me pass the streets, stopped, and 
said, ' There goes a traitor,' without ever giving a syl- 
lable of reason for it. 

" And the commission of array was set afoot, for 
the parliament meddled not with the militia of that 
county, Lord Howard, their lieutenant, not appearing. 
Then the rage of the rioters grew greater than before. 
And in preparation for the war, they had got the word 
among them — ' Down with the roundheads ;' insomuch 
that if a stranger passed in many places, that had short 
hair and a civil habit, the rabble presently cried, ' Down 
with the roundheads ;' and some they knocked down 
in the open streets. 

" In this fury of the rabble I was advised to with- 
draw awhile from home; whereupon I went to Glou- 
cester. As I passed but through a corner of the sub- 
urbs of Worcester, they that knew me not cried, ' Down 
with the roundheads ;' and I was glad to spur on and 
begone. But when I came to Gloucester, among stran- 
gers also that had never known me, I found a civil, 
courteous, and religious people, as different from Wor- 
cester as if they had lived under another government." 

" When I had been at Gloucester a month, my neigh* 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 33 

bors of Kidderminster came for me home, and told me 
that if I stayed any longer the people would interpret 
it either that I was afraid, upon some guilt, or that I 
was against the king ; so I bid my host, Mr. Darney, 
the town-clerk, and my friends, farewell, and never 
went to Gloucester more. 

" For myself, I knew not what course to take. To 
live at home I was uneasy; but especially now, when 
soldiers, on one side or other, would be frequently 
among us, and we must be still at the mercy of every 
furious beast that would make a prey of us. I had 
neither money nor friend-s. I knew not who would 
receive me in any place of safety ; nor had I any thing 
to satisfy them for my diet and entertainment. Here- 
upon I was persuaded, by one that was with me, to go 
to Coventry, where one of my old acquaintance was 
minister, Mr. Simon King, some time schoolmaster at 
Bridgnorth. So thither I went, with a purpose to stay 
there till one side or other had got the victory, and 
the war was ended, and then to return home. 

"Whilst I was thinking what course to take, the 
committee and governor of the city desired me that I 
would stay with them, and lodge In the governor's 
house, and preach to the soldiers. The offer suited 
well with my necessities, but I resolved that I would 
not be chaplain to the regiment, nor take a commis- 
sion; but, if the mere preaching of a sermon once or 
twice a week to the garrison would satisfy them, I 
would accept of the offer, till I could go home again. 
Here I lived in the governor's house, and followed my 
studies as quietly as in a time of peace, for about a 
year, only preaching once a week to the soldiers, and 
once on the Lord's day to the people, not taking from 
any of them a penny for either, save my diet only." 



34 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

The war continued with unabated fury and severity. 
During his stay at Coventry lie was invited by Crom- 
well to become chaplain to his troops which lay at 
Cambridge. This invitation he declined ; but some time 
after, on learning the state of the army and the pros- 
pects of usefulness among the soldiers, at the solicita- 
tion of Captain Evanson, he became chaplain to Colo- 
nel Whalley's regiment, and left his quarters at Coven- 
try, to the deep and universal regret of the residents in 
the garrison. 

On joining his regiment he writes: 

"I set myself, from day to day, to find out the cor- 
ruptions of the soldiers, and to adapt my discourses 
and conversation to their mistakes, both religious and 
political. My life among them was a daily contending 
against seducers, and gently arguing with the more 
tractable." 

His "efforts to do good" were unremitting. His 
time was occupied " in preaching, conference, and dis- 
puting against confounding errors," and in directing 
and comforting believers under the difficulties and pe- 
rils of the times. His success, however, did not equal 
his expectations: party spirit ran exceedingly high ; 
the soldiers were divided in their religious opinions ; 
the camp afforded but few facilities for collecting any 
considerable numbers together, and besides, was con- 
stantly changing its position, according to the direc- 
tion of war. And probably his desire to reconcile their 
religious differences, and to unite them under one re- 
ligious discipline, led him more frequently to dispute 
than to preach, to dwell more on the details and niinu- 
tiae of the Gospel than on its essential truths ; to labor 
as though they were at peace and had time for punc- 
tilios, rather than as being in a state of war, and in 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 35 

danger every hour of being hurried into eternity. 
These, with other untoward circumstances, contribu- 
ted to diminish the probability of success, but at the 
same time to illustrate the zeal, the piety, and the per- 
severance of the conscientious chaplain. He was never 
in any engagement, nor took part, personally, in any 
contests, though present at some sieges. 

After the fatal battle of Worcester, with health en- 
feebled by his excessive exertions in the army, he vi- 
sited his old flock at Kidderminster, and thence pro- 
ceeded to London for medical advice. His physician 
directed him to visit Tunbridge Weils, and try the 
efficacy of its waters. With this advice he complied. 
His health was in consequence improved, and in due 
time he returned to his quarters in Worcestershire, 
where the army still lay. 

In all his peregrinations with the army and other- 
wise, he preached in most of the churches in the towns 
through which he passed ; and no doubt can be enter- 
tained that his earnest, affectionate, and faithful preach- 
ing was attended with important results. 

While staying at the house of Sir John Cook, Mel- 
borne, Derbyshire, he was seized with a violent bleed- 
ing at the nos Q , which go reduced his strength that 
his case was considered almost hopeless. His counte- 
nance was so altered as scarcely to be recognized by 
his most intimate friends. As soon as he could re- 
move, he visited a friend in Leicestershire, where he 
remained three weeks in an exhausted state. In this 
state he was invited by his friends Sir Thomas and Lady 
Rous to take lodgings at their mansion. Thither he 
was conveyed, and experienced the greatest kindness 
and attention. At the end of three months, having re- 
covered his strength, he returned to Kidderminster. 



00 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

During this period of sickness and retirement from 
public labors ; he was anxious to be useful, and to be 
restored, if agreeable to the Divine will, that his use- 
fulness might be increased. He states concerning 
himself, "Being conscious that my time had not been 
improved to the service of God as I wished it had been, 

1 put up many an earnest prayer to God that he would 
restore me, and use me more successfully in his work. 
And, blessed be that mercy which heard my groans in 
the day of my distress, and granted my desires, and 
wrought my deliverance, when men and means fail- 
ed, and gave me opportunity to celebrate his praise." 

It was during this affliction that he wrote his cele- 
brated work, "the Saints' Everlasting Rest:"* a work, 
the usefulness of whicli no mortal can estimate. It was 
a blessing to the age in which he lived, and will con- 
tinue to be so to the remotest ages of time. Had he 
lived only to write this work, his name would have 
been held in " everlasting remembrance." 

His own account of the origin and progress of the 
work is interesting. " The second book which I wrote, 
and the first which I began, was that called 'The 
Saints' Everlasting Rest.' Whilst I was in health, I 
had not the least thought of writing books, or of serv- 
ing God in any more public way than preaching ; but, 
when I was weakened with great bleeding, and left 
solitary in my chamber, at Sir John Cook's, in Derby- 
shire, without any acquaintance but my servant about 
me, and was sentenced to death by the physicians, I 
began to contemplate more seriously the everlasting 
rest which I apprehended myself to be just on the 
borders of. And that my thoughts might not too 

* Published by the American Tract Society, 



LIFE OF BAXTER, 37 

much scatter in my meditation, I began to write some- 
thing on that subject, intending but a quantity of a 
sermon or two, but being continued long in weakness, 
where I had no books, and no better employment, I 
pursued it, till it was enlarged to the bulk in which 
it is published. The first three weeks I spent in it was 
at Mr. NpwePs, in Leicestershire; a quarter of a year 
more, at the seasons which so great weakness would 
allow, I bestowed on it at the house of Sir Thomas 
Rous, in Worcestershire; and I finished it, shortly 
after, at Kidderminster. The first and last parts were 
first done, being all that I intended for my own use ; 
and the second and third parts were written afterwards, 
beyond my first intention. 

This book it pleased God so far to bless to the profit 
of many, that it encouraged me to be guilty of all those 
writings which afterwards followed. The marginal ci- 
tations I put in after I came home to my books; but 
almost all the book itself was written when I had no 
book but a Bible and a concordance. And I found that 
the transcript of the heart has the greatest force on the 
hearts of others. For the good that I have heard that 
multitudes have received by that book, and the benefit 
which I have again received by their prayers, I here 
numbly return my thanks to Him that compelled me 
'o write it." 

Anticipating that some objection might be made in 
respect to its style, he says, in his dedication of the 
work to the people of Kidderminster, " It is no won- 
der, therefore, if I am too abrupt in the beginning, see- 
ing I then intended but the length of a sermon or two. 
Much less may you wonder if the whole is very im- 
perfect, seeing it was written, as it were, with one foot 
in the grave, by a man that was betwixt living and 

L. B. 4 



38 LIFE OF BAXTEK. 

dead, that wanted strength of nature to quicken inven- 
tion or affection, and had no book but his Bible until 
the chief part was finished, nor had any regard to hu- 
man ornaments. But, O how sweet is this providence 
now to my review ! that so happily forced me to the 
work of meditation, which I had formerly found so pro- 
fitable to my soul ! and showed me more mercy in de- 
priving me of other helps than I was aware of 1 and 
has caused my thoughts to feed on this heavenly sub- 
ject, which has more benefited me than all the studies 
of my life !" 

On his recovery he received a pressing invitation to 
return to his old charge at Kidderminster, which he 
instantly and cordially accepted. He was devotedly 
attached to his people, and considered himself bound 
to resist all attempts to procure his services in other 
places* He thus affectionately writes to " his beloved 
friends :" " If either I or my labors have any public use 
or worth, it is wholly, though not only yours j and I 
am convinced, by providence, that it is the will of God 
it should be so. This I clearly discerned on my first 
coming to you, in my former abode with you, and in 
the time of my forced absence from you. When I was 
separated by the miseries of the late unhappy wars, I 
durst not fix in any other congregation, but lived in a 
military unpleasing state, lest I should forestall my re- 
turn to you, for whom I conceived myself reserved. 
The offer of great worldly accommodations, with five 
times the means I receive with you, was no temptation 
to me once to question whether I should leave you* 
Your free invitation of my return, your obedience to 
my doctrine, the strong affection I have yet towards 
you, above all people, and the general hearty return of 
love whicx. I find from you, do all persuade me that 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 39 

I was sent into the world especially for the service of 
your souls." 

He resumed his labors under great bodily weakness, 
" being seldom an hour free from pain." He was sub- 
ject to repeated attacks, from which he recovered, ac- 
cording to his own account, chiefly through the inter- 
cessions and fervent prayers of his friends. " Many a 
time have I been brought very low, and received the 
sentence of death in myself, when my poor, honest, 
praying neighbors have met, and, upon their fasting 
and earnest prayers, I have recovered. Once, when 
I had continued very feeble three weeks, and was un- 
able to go abroad, the very day that they prayed for 
me I recovered, and was able to preach on ihe follow- 
ing Sabbath, and administered the Lord's supper; and 
was better after it, it being the first time that ever I 
administered it. And ever after that, whatever weak- 
ness was upon me, when I had, after preaching, ad- 
ministered that ordinance to many hundred people, I 
was much revived and eased of my infirmities." 

"O how often," he writes in his ' Dying Thoughts,' 
" have I cried to Him, when men and means were no- 
thing, and when no help in second causes appeared j 
and how often, and suddenly, and mercifully has he 
delivered me ! What sudden ease, what removal of 
long affliction have I had ! Such extraordinary changes, 
beyond my own and others' expectations, when many 
plain-hearted, upright Christians have, by fasting and 
prayer, sought God on my behalf, as have over and 
over convinced me of a special providence, and that 
God is indeed a hearer of prayer. And wonders have 
I seen done for others also, upon such prayer, more 
than for myself: yea, and wonders for the church, and 
for public societies." " Shall I therefore forget how 



40 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 



often he lias heard prayers for me? and how wonder- 
fully he often has helped both me and others; my 
faith has been helped by such experiences, and shall I 
forget them, or question them without cause at last ?'• 

Baxter relates several extraordinary instances of an 
swers to prayer, in the recovery and preservation both 
of himself and friends. He was attentive in seeking 
such blessings, and in observing such circumstances ; 
and, as an old divine justly observes, " they that watch 
providence shall never want a providence to watch." 
Having now brought down Baxter's life to the period 
when he settled again amongst his old friends, and re- 
sumed his accustomed labors, it will be desirable to 
Introduce, in an abridged form, his own account of his 
u employments, success, and advantages," during his 
fourteen years' continuance among them. 

1. Employments. 

"I preached, before the wars, twice each Lord's 
day ; but, after the war, but once, and once every 
Thursday, besides occasional sermons. Every Thurs- 
day evening, my neighbors that were most desirous, 
and had opportunity, met at my house, and there one 
of them repeated the sermon ; and afterwards they pro- 
posed what doubts any of them had about the sermon, 
or any other case of conscience, and I resolved their 
doubts. And, last of all, I caused sometimes one, and 
sometimes another of them to pray, sometimes praying 
with them myself. Once a week, also, some of the 
young who were not prepared to pray in so great an 
assembly, met among a few more privately, where 
they spent three hours in prayer together. Every Sa- 
turday night they met at some of their houses to repeat 
the sermon of the last Lord's day, and to pray and pre- 
pare themselves for the following day. Once in a few 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 41 

weeks we had a day of humiliation, on one occasion 
or other. Two days every week my assistant and my- 
self took fourteen families between us for private ca- 
techising and conference ; he going through the parish, 
and the town coming to me. I first heard them recite 
the words of the catechism, and then examined tliem 
about the sense, and lastly urged them, with all possi- 
ble engaging reason and vehemence, to answerable af- 
fection and practice. If any of them were perplexed 
through ignorance or bashfulness, I forbore to press 
them any farther to answers, but made them hearers, 
and either examined others, or turned all into instruc- 
tion and exhortation. But this, I have opened more 
fully in my ' Reformed Pastor.' I spent about an hour 
with a family, and admitted no others to be present, 
lest bashfulness should make it burdensome, or any 
should talk of the weaknesses of others. So that all 
the afternoons, on Mondays and Tuesdays, I spent 
in this, after I had begun it ; for it was many years be- 
fore I attempted it; and my assistant spent the morn- 
ings of the same days in the same employment. Be-p 
fore that, I only catechised them in the church, and 
conferred with, now and then one occasionally. 

" Besides all this, I was forced five or six years, by 
the people's necessity, to practise physic. A common 
pleurisy happening one year, and no physician being 
near, I was forced to advise them, to save their lives ; 
and I could not afterwards avoid the importunity of 
the town and country round about. And because 1 
never once took a penny of any one, I was crowded 
with patients, so that almost twenty would be at my 
door at once; and though God, by more success than 
I expected, so long encouraged me, yet, at last, I could 
endure it no longer ; partly because it hindered my 

L. B. 4* 



42 LIFE OF BAXTES. 

other studies, and partly because the very fear of mis- 
carrying and doing any one harm, made it an intolera- 
ble burden to me. So that, after some years' practice, 
I procured a godly diligent physician to come and live 
in tv,wn, and bound myself, by promise, to practise no 
more, unless in consultation with him in case of any 
seeming necessity. And so with that answer I turned 
them all off, and never meddled with it more." 

2. Success. 

" I have mentioned my sweet and acceptable em- 
ployment ; let me, to the praise of my gracious Lord, 
acquaint you with some of my success. And I will not 
suppress it, though I foreknow that the malignant will 
impute the mention of it to pride and ostentation. For 
it is the sacrifice of thanksgiving which I owe to my 
most gracious God, which I will not deny him for fear 
of being censured as proud, lest I prove myself proud 
indeed, while I cannot undergo the imputation of pride 
in the offering of my thanks for such undeserved 
mercies. 

" My public preaching met with an attentive, dili- 
gent auditory. Having broke over the brunt of the op- 
position of the rabble before the wars, I found them 
afterwards tractable and unprejudiced. 

" Before I ever entered into the ministry, God bless 
ed my private conference to the conversion of some, 
who remain firm and eminent in holiness to this day. 
Then, and in the beginning of my ministry, I was 
wont to number them as jewels ; but since then I could 
not keep any number of them. 

" The congregation was usually full, so that we 
were led to build five galleries after my coming thi- 
ther, the church itself being very capacious, and the 
most commodious and convenient that ever I was in. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 43 

Our private meetings also were full. On the Lord's 
day there was no disorder to be seen in the streets, 
but you might hear a hundred families singing psalms 
and repeating sermons, as you passed through the 
streets. In a word, when I came thither first, there 
was about one family in a street that worshipped God 
and called on his name ; and when I came away, there 
were some streets where there was not more than one 
family in the side of a street that did not so ; and that 
did not, in professing serious godliness, give us hopes 
of their sincerity. And of those families which were 
the worst, being inns and ale-houses, usually some per- 
sons in each house did seem to be religious. Though 
our administration of the Lord's supper was so order- 
ed as displeased many, and the far greater part kept 
themselves away, yet we had six hundred that were 
communicants, of whom there were not twelve that I 
had not good hopes of, as to their sincerity ; and those 
few that came to our communion, and yet lived scan-, 
dalously, were excommunicated afterwards. And I 
hope there were many who feared God that came not 
to our communion, some of them being kept off by 
husbands, by parents, by masters, and some dissuaded 
by men that differed from us. 

" When I commenced personal conference with each 
family and catechising them, there were very few fa- 
milies in all the town that reiused to come ; and those 
few were beggars at the town's ends, who were so ig- 
norant that they were ashamed it should be manifest. 
And few families went from me without some tears, or 
seemingly serious promises for a godly life. Yet many 
ignorant and ungodly persons there were still among 
us ; but most of them were in the parish, and not in 
the town, and in those parts of the parish which were 



44 LIFE OF BAXTER, 

farthest from the town. Some of the poor men com- 
petently understood the body of divinity, and were 
able to judge in difficult controversies. Some of them 
were so abl^ in prayer, that very few ministers equalled 
them in order and fullness, apt expressions, holy ora- 
tory, and fervency. A great number of them were able 
to pray very appropriately with their families, or with 
others. The temper of their minds, and the correct- 
ness of their lives, were even more commendable than 
their talents. The professors of serious godliness were 
generally of very humble minds and carriage ; of meek 
and quiet behavior towards others j and blameless in 
their conversation. 

■ And in my poor endeavors with my brethren in 
the ministry, my labors were not lost. Our discussions 
proved not unprofitable ; our meetings were never con- 
tentious, but always comfortable. We took gieat de- 
light in the company of each other; so that I know 
the remembrance of those days is pleasant both to them 
and me. When discouragements had long kept me 
from proposing a way of church order and discipline 
which all might agree in, that we might neither have 
churches ungoverned, nor fall into divisions among 
ourselves at the first mention of it. I found a readier 
consent than I could expect, and all went on without 
any great difficulties. And when I attempted to bring 
them all conjointly to the work of catechising and in- 
structing every family by itself, I found a ready con- 
sent in most, and performance in many. So that I 
must here, to the praise of my dear Redeemer, set up 
this pillar of remembrance, even to his praise who 
hath employed me so many years in so comfortable a 
work, with such encouraging success ! O what am I, 
a worthless worm, not only wanting academical ho- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 45 

nors, but much of that furniture which is needful to so 
high a work, that God should thus abundantly encou- 
rage me, when the reverend instructors of my youth 
labored fifty years together in one place, and could 
scarcely say they had been instrumental in the con- 
version of even one or two of their hearers. And the 
greater was this mercy, because I was naturally of a 
desponding spirit ; so that if I had preached one year, 
and seen no fruits of it, I should hardly have forborne 
running away like Jonah, but should have thought 
that God called me not to that place." 

3. Advantages. 

" Having related my encouraging successes in this 
place, I shall next tell you by what and how many 
advantages so much was effected, under that grace 
which worketh by means, though with a free diversi- 
ty ; which I do for the help of others in managing ig- 
norant and sinful people. 

" One advantage was, that I came to a people that 
never had any awakening ministry before. For if they 
had been hardened under a powerful ministry, and 
been sermon proof, I should have expected less. 

" Another advantage was, that at first I was in the 
vigor of my spirits, and had naturally a familiar mov- 
ing voice, which is a great matter with the common 
hearers ; and doing all in bodily weakness, as a dying 
man, my soul was the more easily brought to serious- 
ness, and to preach as a dying man to dying men ; for 
drowsy formality does but stupify the hearers and 
rock them asleep. It must be serious preaching which 
makes men serious in hearing and obeying it." 

" Another advantage which I had was, the accepta 
tion of my person. Though to win estimation and 
love to ourselves only, be an end that none but proud 



46 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

men and hypocrites intend, yet it is most certain that 
the acceptableness of the person ingratiates the message, 
and greatly prepares the people to receive the truth. 
Had they taken me to be ignorant, erroneous, scanda- 
lous, worldly, self-seeking, or such like, I could have 
expected small success among them. 

" Another advantage which I had was through the 
zeal and diligence of tlie godly people of the place, who 
thirsted after the salvation of their neighbors, and were, 
in private, my assistants; and being dispersed through 
the town, they were ready, in almost all companies, 
to repress seducing words, and to justify godliness, and 
convince, reprove, and exhort men according to their 
needs; and also to teach them how to pray, and to 
help them to sanctify the Lord's day. Those people 
that had none in their familfes who could pray or re- 
peat the sermons, went to the houses of their neigh- 
bors who could do it, and joined with them ; so that 
some houses of the ablest men in each street were filled 
with them that could do nothing or little in their own. 

" And the holy, humble, blameless lives of the reli- 
gious was a great advantage to me. The malicious peo- 
ple could not say, Your professors here are as proud 
and covetous as any. But the blameless lives of godly 
people shamed opposers, and put to silence the igno- 
rance of foolish men, and many were won by their 
good conversation." 

" Our private meetings were a marvellous help to 
the propagating of godliness among them ; for thereby 
truths that slipped away were recalled, and the seri- 
ousness of the people's minds renewed, and good de 
sires cherished ; and hereby their knowledge was much 
increased ; and here the younger Christians learned 
to pray, by frequently hearing others. And here I had 



LIFE OF BAXTE&. 47 

opportunity to know their case ; for if any were touch- 
ed and awakened in public, I would presently see them 
drop in to our private meetings." 

" Another furtherance of my work was the works 
which I wrote and distributed among them. Of some 
ftniall books I gave each family one, which came to 
about eight hundred ; of the larger I gave fewer ; and 
to every family that was poor, and had not a Bible, I 
gave a Bible. I had found, myself, the benefit of read- 
ing to be so great, that I could not but think it would 
be profitable to others. 

" And it was a great advantage to me, that my neigh • 
bors were of sucli a trade as allowed them time enough 
to read or talk of holy things ; for the town liveth upon 
the weaving of Kidderminster stuffs, and as they stand 
in their loom they can set a book before them, or edify 
one another." 

" And I found that my single life afforded me much 
advantage; for I could the more easily take my people 
for my children, and think all that I had too little for 
them, in that I had no children of my own to tempt 
me to another way of using it. And being discharged 
from the most of family cares, keeping but one ser- 
vant, I had the more time and liberty for the labors of 
my calling. 

" And God made use of my practice of physic among 
them as a very great advantage to my ministry; for 
they that cared not for their souls, loved their lives 
and cared for their bodies. And by this they were 
made almost as observant as a tenant is of his land- 
lord. Sometimes I could see before me in the church 
a very considerable part of the congregation, whose 
lives God had made me a means to save, or to recover 



48 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

their health ; and doing it for nothing, so obliged them, 
that they would readily hear me. 

"And it was a great advantage to me, that there 
were at last few that were bad, who had not some of 
their own relations converted. Many children were 
subjects of God's grace at fourteen, or fifteen, or sixteen 
years of age; and this did marvellously reconcile the 
minds of their parents to godliness. They that would 
not hear me, would hear their own children. They 
that before could have talked against godliness, would 
not hear it spoken against when it was their children's 
case. Many that would not be brought to it themselves, 
were gratified that they had intelligent religious chil- 
dren. And we had some persons near eighty years of 
age, who are, I hope, in heaven, and the conversion of 
their own children was the chief means to overcome 
their prejudice, and old customs, and conceits. 

" And God made great use of sickness to do good to 
many. For though sick-bed promises are usually soon 
forgotten, yet was it otherwise with many among us ; 
and as soon as they were recovered, they first came 
to our private meetings, and so kept in a learning state, 
till further fruits of piety appeared." 

" Another of my great advantages was, the true 
worth and unanimity of the honest ministers of the 
country round about us, who associated in a way of 
concord with us. Their preaching was powerful and 
sober ; their spirits peaceable and meek, disowning the 
treasons and iniquities of the times, as well as we ; they 
were wholly devoted to the winning of souls; self- 
denying, and of most blameless lives ; evil spoken of 
by no sober men, but greatly beloved by their own 
people and all that knew them ; adhering to no fac- 
tion ; neither Episcopal, Presbyterian, nor Independ- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 49 

ent, as to parties ; but desiring union, and loving that 
which is good, in all." 

" Another great help to my success at last, was the 
before described work of personal conference with 
every family apart, and catechising and instructing 
them. That which was spoken to them personally 
and sometimes drew forth their answers, awakened 
their attention, and was more easily applied than pub- 
lic preaching, and seemed to do much more upon them. 

" And the exercise of church discipline was no small 
furtherance of the people's good ; for I found plainly, 
that without it I could not have kept the more spiritual 
from separations and divisions. There is something 
generally in their dispositions which inclines them to 
separate from open ungodly sinners, as men of ano- 
ther nature and society ; and if they had not seen me 
do something reasonable for a regular separation of the 
notorious obstinate sinners from the rest, they would 
have withdrawn themselves irregularly ; and it would 
not have been in my power to satisfy them." 

f Another means of success was, directing my in 
structions to them in a suitableness to the main end, 
and yet so as might suit their dispositions and diseases. 
I daily opened to them, and with the greatest impor- 
tunity labored to imprint upon their minds the great 
fundamental principles of Christianity, even a right 
knowledge and belief of, and subjection and love to 
God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and 
love to all men, and concord with the church and one 
another. I daily so inculcated the knowledge of God 
our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, and love and 
obedience to God, and unity with the spiritual church, 
and love to men, and hope of life eternal, that these 
were the matter of their daily thoughts and discourses, 

L. B. 5 



50 LIFE OT BAXTER. 

and indeed their religion. And yet I usually put some- 
thing in my sermon which was above their own dis- 
covery, and which they had not known before ; and 
this I did, that they might be kept humble, and still 
perceive their ignorance, and be willing to keep in a 
learning state. And I did this also to increase their 
knowledge and make religion pleasant to them, by a 
daily addition to their former light, and to draw them 
on with desire and delight. But these things which 
they did not know before, were not unprofitable con- 
troversies, which tended not to edification, nor novel- 
ties in doctrine, contrary to the universal church j but 
either such points as tended to illustrate the great doc- 
trines before-mentioned, or usually about the right me- 
thodizing of them ; as the opening of the true and pro- 
fitable method of the creed or doctrine of faith, the Lord's 
prayer or matter of our desires, and the ten command- 
ments or law of practice ; which afford matter to add 
to the knowledge of most professors of religion a long 
time. And when that is done, they must be led on still 
further, by degrees, as they are capable ; but so as not 
to leave the weak behind ; and so as shall still be truly 
subservient to the great points of faith, hope, and love, 
holiness and unity, which must be still inculcated as 
the beginning and the end of all." 

" And it much furthered my success, that I stayed 
still in this one place near two years before the wars, 
and above fourteen years after ; for he that removeth 
often from place to place, may sow good seed in many 
places, but is not likely to see much fruit in any, un- 
less some other skillful hand shall follow him to water 
it. It was a great advantage to me to have almost all 
the religious people of the place of my own instruct- 
ing and informing ; and that they were not formed 



LIF1 OF BAXTER. 51 

into erroneous and factious principles before ; and that 
I stayed to see them grown up to some confirmedness 
and maturity." 

These passages strikingly depict the means and ef- 
fects of a revival of religion. Only let love to the Re- 
deemer burn with quenchless ardor in the breast, and 
eternity with its tremendous and unutterable conse- 
quences be distinctly realized ; compassion to immor- 
tal spirits infuse its tenderness and solicitude through- 
out the soul ; a deep and unfailing sense of ministerial 
responsibility rest upon the conscience ; then all the 
powers, talents, and influence that can be commanded, 
will be brought into exercise, and made to bear with 
unceasing energy on the great work of saving immor- 
tal souls, and then the Lord wilJ command his " bless- 
ing, even life for evermore." 

The secret of Baxter's success, perhaps, consisted 
prominently in the zeal, affection, and perseverance he 
displayed in following his people to their homes. His 
visits from house to house were for the purpose of ap- 
plying with more close and pungent force the truths 
which were taught from the pulpit, or learned in the 
systematic instructions which were given to families 
and to children. And it is remarkable that his success 
in the earliest period of his ministry was chiefly 
amongst the young. In the preface to his work enti- 
tled " Compassionate Counsel to all Young Men," &c. 
he observes — " At Kidderminster, where God most 
blessed my labors, my first and greatest success was 
with the youth : and what was a marvellous way of 
divine mercy, when God had touched the hearts of 
young people, and brought them to the love and obedi- 
ence of the truth, the parents and grand-parents who 
had grown old in an ignorant and worldly state ; embrac- 



52 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

ed religion, led by the love of their children, whom 
they perceived to be made, by it, much wiser and bet- 
ter, and more dutiful to th~m." — " By much experience 
I have been made more sensible of the necessity of 
warning and instructing youth, than I was before. 
Many say reports have taught it to me ; the sad com- 
plaints of mournful parents have taught it me ; the 
sad observation of the willful impenitence of some of 
my acquaintance tells it me ; the many scores, if not 
hundreds of bills, that have been publicly put up to me 
to pray for wicked and obstinate children, have told it 
me ; and, by the grace of God, the penitent confes- 
sions, lamentations, and restitutions of many converts, 
have made me more particularly acquainted with their 
case ; which moved me for a time, on my Thursday's 
lecture, the first of every month, to speak to youth 
and those that educate them." 

The religious education of youth is of infinite im- 
portance to families and to a nation, to the church 
and the world. 

The youthful members of his congregation should 
engage the anxious attention of every pastor. They 
are the hopes of his ministry. With them truth meets 
the readiest reception. Among them conversion most 
frequently takes place. From them the most valuable 
members of Christian society are obtained. Rising 
into life, their influence is exerted wholly on the side 
of truth and piety ; and when more matured in years, 
their instructions and example benefit and bless their 
families, their connexions, and the world. The con- 
version of a soul in the period of youth prevents its 
entering on a course of sin, engages it to the practice 
of holiness, ensures the exertion of its influence in be- 
half of God and his cause through the whole of its 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 53 

earthly being ; and thus a career of happiness begins 
which shall >xtend throughout eternity. 

In connection with this statement of Baxter's labors 
and sue jss, some notice may be taken of his work 
entitled the " Reformed Pastor," written expressly to 
arouse the attention and excite the efforts of the Chris- 
tian ministry to the great work in which he himself 
had so successfully engaged. His reverend brethren 
had witnessed the astonishing results of his pastoral 
engagements, and were anxious to make some efforts 
to accomplish among their own people similar results. 
A day of fasting and prayer was appointed by them- 
selves at Worcester, before entering on their untried 
labors, and Baxter was requested to preach on the oc- 
casion. He prepared his sermon, but his illness pre- 
vented his preaching. He therefore enlarged his ser- 
mon into a treatise, and published it. Concerning this 
work he says : 

" I have very great cause to be thankful to God for 
the success of that book, as hoping many thousand 
souls are the better for it, in that it prevailed with 
many ministers to set upon that work which I there 
exhort them to. Even from beyond the seas I have 
had letters of request to direct them how they might 
promote that work, according as that book had con- 
vinced them that it was their duty. If God would but 
reform the ministry, and set them on their duties 
zealously and faithfully, the people would certainly 
be reformed. All churches either rise or fall as the 
ministry rise or fall, not in riches and worldly gran- 
deur, but in knowledge, zeal, and ability for their 
work." 

Many and just encomiums have been passed on this 
work. "In the whole compass of divinity there is 



54 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

scarcely any thing superior to it, in close pathetic 
appeals to the conscience of the minister of Christ, 
upon the primary duties of his office." The editor of 
a recent edition justly says, " Of the excellence of 
this work it is scarcely possihle to speak in too high 
terms. For powerful, pathetic, pungent, and heart- 
piercing address, we know of no work on the pastoral 
care to be compared with it. Could we suppose it to 
be read by an angel, or by some other being possessed 
of an unfallen nature, the argumentation and expostu- 
lations of our author would be felt to be altogether 
irresistible : and hard must be the heart of that minis- 
ter who can read it without being moved, melted, and 
overwhelmed : hard must be his heart, if he be not 
roused to greater faithfulness, diligence, and activity 
in winning souls to Christ. It is a work worthy of be- 
ing printed in letters of gold. It deserves, at least, to 
be engraven on the heart of every minister. I cannot 
help suggesting to the friends of religion that they 
could not, perhaps, do more good at less expense, than 
by presenting copies of this work to the ministers of 
Christ throughout the country. They are the chief 
instruments through whom good is to be effected in 
any country. How important, then, must it be to stir 
them up to holy zeal and activity in the cause of 
the Redeemer ! A tract given to a poor man may be the 
means of his conversion ; but a work, such as this, 
presented to a minister, may, through his increased 
faithfulness and energy, prove the conversion of mul- 
titudes." 

In addition to Baxter's numerous ministerial and 
pastoral labors, he was consulted by persons of all 
classes and professions on the various subjects connect- 
ed with church and state, which at that period were 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 55 

hotly and fiercely agitated. His pacific disposition, and 
his desire to promote universal concord among all re- 
ligious parties, were generally known. Hence his ad- 
vice was eagerly sought by all. This must have occu- 
pied no small portion of his time, and caused him no 
little anxiety. He gives a curious account of his being 
consulted by Cromwell, and his preaching before him. 

" At this time Lord Broghill and the Earl of Warwick 
brought me to preach before Cromwell, the protector, 
which was the only time that ever I preached to him, 
save once long before, when he was an inferior man 
among other auditors. I knew not which way to pro- 
voke him better to his duty, than by preaching on 1 
Cor. 1 : 10, against the divisions and distractions of 
the church, and showing how mischievous a thing it 
was for politicans to maintain such divisions for their 
own ends, that they might fish in troubled waters, and 
keep the church, by its divisions, in a state of weakness, 
lest it should be able to offend them: and to show the 
necessity and means of union. But the plainness and 
nearness, I heard, was displeasing to him and his cour- 
tiers; yet they bore' with it. 

" A while after, Cromwell sent to speak with me ; 
and when I came, in the presence only of three of his 
chief men, he began a long and tedious speech to me 
of God's providence in the change of the government, 
and how God had owned it, and what great things had 
been done at home and abroad, in the peace with Spain 
and Holland, &c. When he had wearied us all with 
speaking thus slowly about an hour, I told him it was 
too great condescension to acquaint me so fully with 
all these matters which were above me, but that we 
took our ancient monarchy to be a blessing, and not 
an evil to the land, and humbly craved his patience, 



56 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

that I might ask him how England had ever forfeited 
that blessing, and unto whom the forfeiture was made 1 
I was led to speak of the species of government only, 
for they had lately made it treason by a law to speak 
for the person of the king. Upon that question he was 
awakened into some passion, and told me it was no for 
feiture, but God had changed it as pleased him ; and 
then he let fly at the parliament, which thwarted him; 
and especially by name at four or five of those mem- 
bers who were my chief acquaintance ; and I presumed 
to defend them against his passion j and thus four or 
five hours were spent. 

"A few days after, he sent for me again, to hear my 
Judgment about liberty of conscience, which he pre- 
tended to be most zealous for, before almost all his pri- 
vy council, where, after another slow, tedious speech 
of his, I told him a little of my judgment." 

Baxter was also consulted by various private indivi- 
duals on cases of conscience, which he was requested 
to solve. To these he lent a willing ear, and adminis- 
tered suitable advice ; or he replied to them in suitable 
and interesting letters. This must have occupied his 
time considerably. Besides, during his residence at 
Kidderminster, and while pursuing his indefatigable 
labors among his flock, he wrote and published nearly 
sixty different works, many of them quarto volumes of 
considerable size. Among these may be specially enu- 
merated, in addition to those already noticed, his "Call 
to the Unconverted,"* his " Treatise on Conversion," 
" On Self-denial," on " Crucifying the World," on 
" Peace of Conscience," &c. &c. &c. 

These herculean labors seem incredible. But for the 

* Published by the American Tract Society. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 57 

existence of the works themselves, his own declara- 
tions, and the concurring testimony of his several bio- 
graphers, it would have been deemed impossible that, ■ 
with his enfeebled health and incessant pain, he could 
have accomplished so much in so short a time. 

His own account of his general labors shows at once 
his piety and devotedness, his spirit and energy, his 
zeal and perseverance. He remarks : 

" But all these my labors, except my private con- 
ferences with the families, even preaching and prepar- 
ing for it, were but my recreations, and, as it were, the 
work of my spare hours ; for my writings were my 
chief daily labor, which yet went the more slowly on, 
that I never one hour had an amanuensis to dictate to, 
and especially because my weakness took up so much 
of my time. For all the pains that my infirmities ever 
brought upon me, were never half so grievous an afflic- 
tion to me as the unavoidable loss of my time which 
they occasioned." 

His treatise on " Self-denial" originated in his deep 
conviction of the " breadth, and length, and depth of 
the radical, universal, odious sin of selfishness." Un- 
der this conviction he preached a series of sermons on 
the subject, and, at the urgent entreaty of his friends, 
he published them in the form they now assume. He 
says that the work " found better acceptance than 
most of his others, but yet prevented not the ruin of 
church and state, and millions of souls by that sin." 

Previous to this he had published his work on " Con- 
version." This he says " was taken from plain sermons 
which Mr. Baldwin had transcribed out of my notes. 
And though I had no leisure, in this or other writings, 
to take much care of the style, nor to add any orna- 
ments, or citations of authors, I thought it might better 



58 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

pass as it was, than not at all ; and that i the author 
missed of the applause of the learned, yet the book 
might be profitable to the ignorant, as it proved, 
through the great mercy of God." 

Apologizing for the plainness and earnestness of his 
manner, he observes, " The commonness and the great- 
ness of men's necessity commanded me to do any thing 
that I could for their relief, and to bring forth some 
water to cast upon this fire, though I had not at hand 
a silver vessel to carry it in, nor thought it the most fit. 
The plainest words are the most profitable oratory in 
the weightiest matters. Fineness is for ornament, and 
delicacy for delight ; but they answer not necessity, 
though sometimes they may modestly attend that which 
answers it. Yea, when they are conjunct, it is hard for 
the necessitous hearer or reader to observe the matter 
of ornament and delicacy, and not to be carried from 
the matter of necessity ; and to hear or read a neat, con- 
cise, sententious discourse, and not to be hurt by it; 
for it usually hinders the due operation of the matter, 
keeps it from the heart, stops it in the fancy, and makes 
it seem as light as the style. We use not compliments 
when we run to quench a common fire, nor do we call 
men to escape from it by an eloquent speech. If we 
see a man fall into fire or water, we regard not the man- 
ner of plucking him out, but lay hands upon him as we 
can, without delay." 

Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted" was made re- 
markably useful. He says, " The occasion of this was 
my converse with Bishop Usher, while I was at Lon- 
don, who, much approving my method or directions 
for peace of conscience, was importunate with rne to 
write directions suited to the various states of Chris- 
tians and also against particular sins. I reverenced the 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 59 

man, but disregarded these persuasions, supposing I 
could do nothing but what was done as well or better al- 
ready. But when he was dead, his words went deeper 
to my mind, and I purposed to obey his counsel \ yet 
so as that to the first sort of men, the ungodly, I thought 
vehement persuasions meeter than directions only. 
And so for such I published this little book, which 
God has blessed with unexpected success beyond all 
the rest that I have written, except the Saints' Rest. 
In a little more than a year there were about twenty 
thousand of them printed by my own consent, and 
about ten thousand since, besides many thousands by 
stolen impressions, which men stole for lucre's sake. 
Through God's mercy I have had information of al- 
most whole households converted by this small book, 
which I set so light by. And as if all this in England, 
Scotland, and Ireland were not mercy enough to me, 
God, since I was silenced, has sent it over on his mes- 
sage to many beyond the seas ; for when Mr. Eliot had 
printed the Bible in the Indian language, he next 
translated this my ' Call to the Unconverted,' as he 
wrote to us here." 

In addition to its usefulness mentioned by Baxter 
himself, Dr. Bates relates an instance of six brothers 
being converted at one time by this invaluable book. 
To this work, multitudes now in glory, and many ad- 
vancing thither, stand indebted for their first serious 
impressions. Urged by its awful denunciations, they 
have fled from the " city of destruction ;" they have 
sought refuge at the cross of Calvary. Like the preach- 
ing of John, it awakens, alarms, and terrifies, that it 
may lead to peace, holiness, and glory, through Christ. 

Among other methods of doing good, Baxter adopt- 
ed the plan which is now so generally employed, of 



60 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

publishing small tracts, broadsheets, or handbills. He 
published various broadsheets, and had them affixed 
to walls and public buildings, that the attention of pas- 
sengers might be arrested, and that those who had no 
leisure for larger works, or were indisposed to pur- 
chase treatises, might be informed, edified, and saved. 
This plan he adopted with great success during the 
raging of the plague. 

This was certainly the most active, useful, and im- 
portant period of his life. His labors subsequently to 
this were of a more chequered, desultory, and less ob- 
vious character. Their results, though undoubtedly 
great, inasmuch as he labored with the same zeal, pie- 
ty, and devotedness as heretofore, yet could not be 
perceived so manifestly as when his efforts were con- 
centrated in one spot, and were superintended by his 
untiring pastoral vigilance. The time of persecution 
for conscience' sake was at hand. He therefore, in 
common wiih multitudes of his brethren, was obliged 
to labor in such places, and on such occasions only, as 
the providence of God pointed out. But these labors 
were not in vain, for, as in days of old, they " that 
were scattered abroad, went every where preaching 
the word." 



CHAPTER IV. 

HIS ENGAGEMENTS AFTER LEAVING KIDDERMINSTER. 

Baxter had acquired great celebrity, both as a 
preacher and writer. He was known, moreover, to be 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 61 

an ardent friend to civil and ecclesiastical peace. 
Hence he was frequently consulted on these subjects, 
not only by ministers, but by the higher powers. On 
various occasions he went to London, and it would 
seem chiefly on business relating both to the church 
and the nation. Early in April, 1660, he left Kidder- 
minster, and reached London on the 13th of that 
month. The reason of his leaving is not stated, but it 
appears evidently to have been in connexion with the 
state of public affairs. 

It was a saying of Baxter's, that we are " no more 
choosers of our employments than of our successes." 
The truth of this observation he was now especially 
called to verify by his own experience. On reaching 
London he was consulted on the subject of the (king's) 
" Restoration." This event he, in common with multi- 
tudes of his brethren, was desirous of seeing accom- 
plished. 

The new parliament appointed a day of fasting and 
prayer, and required Baxter to preach before them on 
the occasion. This occurred the day before the bill 
was passed for the return of the exiled monarch. 
Shortly after he was called to preach a thanksgiving 
sermon, on Monk's success, at St. Paul's, before the 
lord mayor and aldermen. Neither of the sermons ap- 
pear to have given entire satisfaction. His moderate 
views displeased partizans of all sides : some charged 
him with sedition j others with vacillation and tempo- 
rizing in politics. He was, however, a friend to the 
king, and rejoiced in the prospect of his restoration. 
He used all his efforts to promote its accomplishment. 

When king Charles was restored, amid the general 
acclamations of the nation, several of the Presbyterian 
ministers were made chaplains in ordinary to him, 

L. B. 6 



62 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

among whom was Baxter. His certificate of appoint- 
ment to the office is dated June 26, 1660. Various con- 
ferences were held by Baxter and his friends, to pro- 
mote a union between episcopacy and presbyterianism. 
A meeting was held on the subject, in the presence of 
Charles, at which Baxter was the chief speaker. His 
address on the occasion is distinguished alike by its 
piety and fidelity. He was desirous of promoting and 
securing the religious liberties of the people, and of 
preventing those measures which he perceived were 
contemplated to remove many of the most holy and 
zealous preachers from their flocks. The following 
passage from his address to the king shows the efforts 
that had been made to preserve the Gospel ministry 
during the commonwealth, and his desire that, under 
the dominion of their rightful monarch, the same in- 
valuable privilege might be preserved. 

" I presumed to tell him (his majesty) that the peo- 
ple we spake for were such as were contented with an 
interest in heaven, and the liberty and advantages of the 
Gospel to promote it j and if this were taken from them, 
and they were deprived of their faithful pastors, and 
liberty of worshipping God, they would consider them- 
selves undone in this world, whatever plenty else they 
should enjoy ; and the hearts of his most faithful sub- 
jects, who hoped for his help, would even be broken; 
and that we doubted not but his majesty desired to 
govern a people made happy by him, and not a broken- 
hearted people, that considered themselves undone by 
the loss of that which is dearer to them than all the 
riches of the world. And I presumed to tell him that 
the late usurpers that were over us, so well understood 
their own interest, that, to promote it, they had found 
this way of doing good to be the most effectual means, 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 63 

and had placed and encouraged many thousand faith- 
ful ministers in the church, even such as detested 
their usurpation. And so far had they attained their 
ends hereby, that it was the principal means of their 
interest in the people, and the good opinion that any 
had conceived of them ; and those of them that had 
taken the contrary course, had thereby broken them- 
selves to pieces. Wherefore I humbly craved his ma- 
jesty's patience that we might have the freedom to re- 
quest of him that, as he was our lawful king, in whom 
all his people, save a few inconsiderable persons, were 
prepared to centre, as weary of their divisions, and 
glad of the satisfactory means of union in him, so he 
would be pleased to undertake this blessed work of 
promoting their holiness and concord ; for it was not 
faction or disobedience which we desired him to in- 
dulge. And that he would never suffer himself to be 
tempted to undo the good which Cromwell or any 
other had done, because they were usurpers that did 
it ; or discountenance a faithful ministry because his 
enemies had set them up. But that he would rather 
outgo them in doing good, and opposing and rejecting 
the ignorant and ungodly, of what opinion or party 
soever. For the people whose cause we recommended 
to him, had their eyes on him as the officer of God, 
to defend them in the possession of the helps of their 
salvation ; which, if he were pleased to vouchsafe 
them, their estates and lives would be cheerfully of 
fered to his service." 

" The king gave us not only a free audience, but as 
gracious an answer as we could expect ; professing his 
gladness to hear our inclinations to agreement, and his 
resolution to do his part to bring us together ; and that 
it must not be by bringing one party over to the other, 



64 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

but by abating somewhat on both sides, and meeting 
in the midway ; and that, if it were not accomplished, 
it should be of ourselves, and not of him : nay, that he 
was resolved to see it brought to pass, and that he 
would draw us together himself: with some more to 
this purpose. Insomuch that old Mr. Ash burst out 
into tears with joy, and could not forbear expressing 
what gladness this promise of his majesty had put into 
his heart." 

Proposals of agreement were submitted to the king 
and his advisers, but without effect. Subsequently to 
this, Baxter was offered a bishopric by the lord chan 
cellor; but this, foi various reasons, he declined. He 
did not consider it " as a thing unlawful in itself," 
but he thought he " could better serve the church 
without it." In the letter in which he declines epis- 
copal honors, he begs of the lord chancellor that he 
might be allowed to preach to his old charge at Kid- 
derminster. He says : 

"When I had refused a bishopric, I did it on such 
reasons as offended not the lord chancellor ; and there- 
fore, instead of it, I presumed to crave his favor to re- 
store me to preach to my people at Kidderminster 
again, from whence I had been cast out, when many 
hundreds of others were ejected upon the restoration 
of all them that had been sequestered. It was but a 
vicarage ; and the vicar was a poor, unlearned, igno- 
rant, silly reader, that little understood what Chris- 
tianity and the articles of his creed did signify : but 
once a quarter he said something which he called a 
sermon, which made him the pity or laughter of the 
people. This man, being unable to preach himself, 
kept always a curate under him to preach. Before the 
wars, I had preached there only as a lecturer, and he 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 65 

was bound in a bond of £500 to pay me £60 per 
annum, and afterwards he was sequestered, as is be- 
fore sufficiently declared. My people were so dear to 
me, and I to them, that I would have been with them 
upon the lowest lawful terms. Some laughed at me 
for refusing a bishopric, and petitioning to be a read- 
ing vicar's curate. But I had little hopes of so good a 
condition, at least for any considerable time." 

His application, however, proved unsuccessful ; for 
arrangements could not be made between the patron 
and the chancellor respecting the removal of the old 
vicar, who retained the charge of four thousand souls, 
though utterly incompetent for his important duties, 
and Baxter was left without a charge. 

Though not permitted to return to his charge, he 
nevertheless exerted himself in various ways to pro- 
mote the glory of God and the good of souls. His at- 
tention was, at this period, drawn to the subject o 
missions among the North American Indians. Elio* 
the " Apostle of the Indians," and his assistants, hai 
effected much good among the roving tribes of Ame- 
rica. Cromwell had entered warmly into the cause, 
and ordered collections to be made in every parish 
for the propagation of the Gospel in those regions. 
Funds were raised, a society was formed and incor- 
porated, and much good was effected. At the " Resto- 
ration," some parties, inimical to the truth, endeavor- 
ed to destroy the institution, and to appropriate the 
funds to other objects. Baxter, assisted by others, ex- 
erted himself to prevent this spoliation; and by his 
influence at court, succeeded in securing the property, 
and in restoring the society to its original design. 

For his exertions he received a letter of thanks from 
the Governor of New England, and another from the 

L. B. 6* 



66 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

venerable Eliot. The latter informs Baxter of his in- 
tention to translate the " Call to the Unconverted" in- 
to the Indian language, but waited for his permission, 
his counsel, and his prayers. To this letter Baxter re- 
plied. A few extracts from his reply will show the in- 
terest that both he and many others felt in the cause 
of missions in those troublous times. 

"Reverend and much honored brother,— Though 
our sins have separated us from the people of our love 
and care, and deprived us of all public liberty of preach- 
ing the Gospel of our Lord, I greatly rejoice in the 
liberty, help, and success which Christ has so long 
vouchsafed you in his work. There is no man on earth 
whose work I think more honorable than yours. To 
propagate the Gospel and kingdom of Christ in those 
dark parts of the world, is a better work than our ha- 
ting and devouring one another. There are many here 
that would be ambitious of being your fellow-laborers, 
but that they are informed you have access to no 
greater a number of the Indians than you yourself and 
your present assistants are able to instruct. An hono- 
rable gentleman, Mr. Robert Boyle, the governor of the 
corporation for your work, a man of great learning and 
worth, and of a very public universal mind, did motion 
to me a public collection, in all our churches, for the 
maintaining of such ministers as are willing to go 
hence to you, while they are learning the Indian lan- 
guages and laboring in the work, as also to transport 
them. But I find those backward that I have spoken 
to about it, partly suspecting it a design of those that 
would be rid of them ; (but if it would promote the 
work of God, this objection were too carnal to be re- 
garded by good men;) partly fearing that, when the 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 67 

money is gathered, the work may be frustrated by the 
alienation of it, but this I think they need not fear so 
far as to hinder any ; partly because they think there 
will be nothing considerable gathered, because the peo- 
ple that are unwillingly divorced from their teachers 
will give nothing to send them farther from them, but 
specially because they think, on the aforesaid grounds, 
that there is no work for them to do if they were with 
you. There are many here, I conjecture, that would 
be glad to go any where, to Persians, Tartars, Indians, 
or any unbelieving nation, to propagate the Gospel, 
if they thought they could be serviceable ; but the de- 
fect of their languages is their great discouragement. 
The industry of the Jesuits and friars, and their suc- 
cesses in Congo, Japan, China, &c. shame us all, save 
you. I should be glad to learn from you how far your 
Indian tongue extends; how large or populous the 
country is that uses it, if it be known ; and whether it 
reach only to a few scattered neighbors, who cannot 
themselves convey their knowledge far because of 
other languages. We very much rejoice in your hap- 
py work, the translation of the Bible, and bless God 
that hath strengthened you to finish it. If any thing 
of mine may be honored to contribute in the least 
measure to your blessed work, I shall have great cause 
to be thankful to God, and wholly submit the altera- 
tion and use of it to your wisdom." 

The state of the heathen appears to have occupied 
the thoughts of Baxter through the whole course of 
his ministry. Numerous allusions and references to 
the subject are found in his writings. In the preface 
to his work entitled the " Reasons of the Christian 
Religion," he states that his desire to promote " the 
conversion of idolaters and infidels to God and the 



68 LIFB OF BAXTER. 

Christian faith," was one of the reasons which prompt 
ed him to write that work. "The doleful thought that 
five parts of the world were still heathens and Moham- 
medans, and that Christian princes and preachers did 
no more for their recovery," awakened the most pain- 
ful anxiety and distress in his mind. In his work, " How 
to do Oood to Many," &c. he asks, " Is it not possible, 
at l«*a*t, to help the poor ignorant Armenians, Greeks, 
Muscovites, and other Christians, who have no print- 
ing miong them, nor much preaching and knowledge; 
ann for want of printing, have very few Bibles, even 
for their churches or ministers? Could nothing be 
done to get some Bibles, catechisms, and practical 
books printed in their own tongues, and given among 
them? I know there is difficulty in the way; but 
money, and willingness, and diligence, might do some- 
thing. Might not something be done in other planta- 
tions, as well as in New-England, towards the conver- 
sion of the natives there? Might not some skillful, 
zealous preachers be sent thither, who would promote 
serious piety among those of the English that have too 
little of it, teach the natives the Gospel, and our plant- 
ers how to behave themselves so as to win souls to 
Christ?" 

How powerfully affecting, and yet how truly appli- 
cable, even at the present hour, is the following pas- 
sage, contained in his life! — "It would make a believ- 
er's heart bleed, if any thing in the world will do it, 
to think that five parts in six of the world are still 
heathens, Mohammedans, and infidels, and that the 
wicked lives of Christians, with fopperies, ignorance, 
and divisions, form the great impediment to their con- 
version! to read and hear travelers and merchants 
ted that the Banians, and other heathens in Hindostan, 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 6$ 

Cambaia, and many other lands, and the Mohamme- 
dans adjoining to the Greeks, and the Abyssinians, 
&c. do commonly fly from Christianity, and say, 'God 
will not save us if we be Christians, for Christians are 
drunkards, and proud, and deceivers,' &c. and that 
the Mohammedans and many heathens have more, 
both of devotion and honesty, than nominal Christians 
that live among them ! O wretched men, calling them- 
selves after the name of Christ ! that are not content 
to damn themselves, but thus lay stumbling-blocks 
before the world ! It were better for these men that 
they had never been born ! 

At the close of his life, and on the near approach of 
eternity, his mind was deeply interested on this im- 
portant subject. The unbounded benevolence of his 
heart is poured forth in the following extract from his 
solemn review of his own character, made in his last 
days : 

" My soul is much more afflicted with the thoughts 
of the miserable world, and more drawn out in desire 
of their conversion, than heretofore. I was wont to 
iook but little farther than England in my prayers, as 
not considering the state of the rest of the world : or, 
if I prayed for the conversion of the Jews, that was 
almost all. But now. as I better understand the case 
of the world, and the method of the Lord's prayer, so 
there is nothing that lies so heavy upon my heart as 
the thought of the miserable nations of the earth. It 
is the most astonishing part of all God's providence 
to me, that he so far forsakes almost all the world, and 
confines his special favor to so few; that so small a 
part of the world has the profession of Christianity, 
in comparison of heathens, Mohammedans, and infi- 
dels I and that, among professed Christians, there are 



70 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

so few that are saved from gross delusions, and have 
any competent knowledge ; and that among those 
there are so few that are seriously religious, and truly 
set their hearts on heaven. I cannot be affected so 
much with the calamities of my own relations, or of 
the land of my nativity, as with the case of the hea- 
then, Mohammedan, and ignorant nations of the earth. 
No part of my prayers is so deeply serious as that for 
the conversion of the infidel and ungodly world, that 
God's name may be sanctified, and his kingdom come, 
and his will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Nor 
was I ever before so sensible what a plague the divi- 
sion of languages was, which hinders our speaking to 
them for their conversion ; nor what a great sin ty- 
ranny is, which keeps out the Gospel from most of 
the nations of the world. Could we but go among 
Tartars, Turks, and heathens, and speak their lan- 
guage, I should be but little troubled for the silencing 
of eighteen hundred ministers at once in England, nor 
for all the rest that were cast out here, and in Scot- 
land and Ireland. There being no employment in the 
world so desirable in my eyes, as to labor for the win- 
ning of such miserable souls, which makes me greatly 
honor Mr. John Eliot, the apostle of the Indians in 
New-England, and whoever else have labored in such 
work." 

Baxter almost despaired of the conversion of the 
world. The obstacles to missionary enterprise were 
at that time insurmountable. " He that surveys the 
present state of the earth," writes Baxter to his friend 
Eliot, " and considers that scarcely a sixth part is 
Christian, and how small a part of them have murm 
of the power of godliness, will be ready to think that 
Christ has called almost all his chosen, and is ready 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 71 

to forsake the earth, rather than that he intends us 
such blessed days as we desire." But " what hath 
God wrought !" How great the change in the state of 
religion, both at home and abroad, since the days of 
Baxter! Persecution has fled; religion has revived; 
the missionary spirit has been enkindled ; prayer has 
been offered ; money has been contributed ; commerce 
has presented facilities for introducing the Gospel into 
all parts of the earth ; wide and effectual doors have 
been opened ; missionaries have gone forth to the help 
of the Lord against the mighty, and great success has 
attended their labors : so that we are evidently ap- 
proaching nearer to the period when the proclamation 
shall be made, " The kingdoms of this world are be- 
come the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; 
and he shall reign for ever and ever." 

About this period the celebrated "Savoy Confer- 
ence" was held. The object was to effect a reconcilia- 
tion between the different religious parties, that they 
might be united in one common profession of Chris- 
tianity. At this conference Baxter took a prominent 
part. He was sincerely desirous for the peace of the 
church, and that an accommodation should ensue. 
For this purpose he submitted various propositions, 
but without effect: and, after some weeks' delibera- 
tion, the conference was broken up, without the least 
hope or possibility, under existing circumstances, of 
reconciliation. Baxter was charged by his antagonists 
with " speaking too boldly, and too long ;" but this he 
accounted not a crime, but a virtue. " I thought it," 
says he, "a cause I could cheerfully suffer for; and 
should as willingly be a martyr for charity as for faith." 

This was the last public and authorized attempt to 
promote peace and unity by argument and persuasion. 



72 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

Thenceforward other measures were tried to effect so 
desirable an object, and, most unhappily, the diver- 
gence of the parties became greater than ever. 

From the termination of the " Savoy Conference," 
the case of the dissidents became more trying and per- 
plexing. They were calumniated and charged with 
preaching sedition, or with forming plots against the 
government. Baxter, whose loyalty was unimpeach- 
able, and whose ruling passion was a desire for peace, 
whose very soul was love, appears to have been parti- 
cularly marked as an object for the shafts of calumny. 
He says : " So vehement was the endeavor in court, 
city, and country, to make me contemptible and odi- 
ous, as if the authors had thought that the safety either 
of church or state did lie upon it, and all would have 
been safe if I were but vilified and hated. So that any 
stranger that had but heard and seen all this, would 
have asked, What monster of villany is this man? and 
what is the wickedness that he is guilty of? Yet was 
I never questioned to this day before a magistrate. 
Nor do my adversaries charge me with any personal 
wrong to them ; nor did they ever accuse me of any 
heresy, nor much contemn my judgment, nor ever ac- 
cuse my life, but for preaching where another had been 
sequestered that was an insufficient reader, and for 
preaching to the soldiers of the parliament ; though 
none of them knew my business there, nor the service 
that I did them. These are all the crimes, besides my 
writings, that I ever knew they charged my life with." 

" Though no one accused me of any thing, nor spake 
a word to me of it, being (they knew I had long been) 
near a hundred miles off, yet did they defame me all 
over the land, as guilty of a plot ; and when men were 
taken up and sent to prison, in other countries, it was 



fd 



*m 



% 



LIFE OF BAXTER 73 \ 

said to be for Baxter's plot : so easy was.it, and so ne- 
cessary a thing it seemed then, to cast reproach upon 
my name." 

During the two years of his residence in H»ondon, 
previous to his final ejectment, Baxter preached in va- 
rious places, as opportunities presented themselves. 

He says : " Being removed from my ancient flock 
in Worcestershire, and yet being uncertain whether I 
might return to them or not, I refused to take any 
other charge, but preached up and down London, for 
nothing, according as I was invited. When I had done 
thus above a year, I thought a fixed place was better, 
and so I joined with Dr. Bates, at St. Dunstan's in the 
West, in Fleet-street, and preached once a week, for 
which the people allowed me some maintenance. Be- 
fore this time I scarcely ever preached a sermon in 
the city. 

" The congregations being crowded, was that which 
provoked envy to accuse me ; and one day the crowd 
drove me from my place. In the midst of a sermon at 
Dunstan's church, a little lime and dust, and perhaps 
a piece of a brick or two, fell down in the steeple or 
belfry, which alarmed the congregation with the idea 
that the steeple and church were falling ; and indeed, 
in their confusion and haste to get away, the noise of 
the feet in the galleries sounded like the falling of the 
stones. I sat still in the pulpit, seeing and pitying their 
terror; and, as soon as I could be heard, I entreated 
their silence, and went on. The people were no sooner 
quieted, and got in again, and the auditory composed, 
but a wainscot bench, near the communion-table, broke 
with the weight of those who stood upon it; the nois<* 
renewed the fear, and they were worse disordered tna»: 
before ; so that one old woman was heard, at the churcu 

L. B. 7 



74 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

door, asking forgiveness of God for not taking the first 
warning, and promising, if God would deliver her this 
once, she would take heed of coming thither again. 
When they were again quieted I went on. But tne 
church having before an ill name, as very old, and rot- 
ten, and dangerous, it was agreed to pull down all the 
roof and repair the building, which is now much more 
comn-odious. 

" While these repairs were made I preached out my 
quarter at Bride's church, in the other end of Fleet- 
street ; where the common prayer being used by the 
curate before sermon, I occasioned abundance to be 
at common prayer, who before avoided it. And yet 
accusations against me still continued. 

" On the week days, Mr. Ashurst, with about twent-/ 
more citizens, desired me to preach a lecture in Milk 
street, for which they allowed me forty pounds per an 
num, which I continued near a year, till we were al. 
silenced. And at the same time I preached once every 
Lord's day at Blackfriars, where Mr. Gibbons, a judi- 
cious man, was minister. In Milk-street I took mone); 
because it came not from the parishioners, but stran- 
gers, and so was no wrong to the minister, Mr. Vincent 
a very holy, blameless man. But at Blackfriars I nevei 
took a penny, because it was the parishioners who 
called me, who would else be less able and ready to 
help their worthy pastor, who went to God by a con- 
sumption, a little after he was silenced. At these two 
churches I ended the course of my public ministry, 
unless God cause an undeserved resurrection." 

" Shortly after our disputation at the Savoy, I went 
to Rick mans worth, in Hertfordshire, and preached 
there but once, upon Matt. 22 : 12, c And he was speech- 
less f where I spake not a word that was any nearer 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 75 

kin to sedition, or that had any greater tendency to 
provoke them, than by showing ' that wicked men, 
and the refusers of grace, however they may now have 
many things to say to excuse their sins, will at last be 
speechless before God." Yet did the bishop of Wor- 
cester tell me, when he silenced me, that the bishop 
of London had showed him letters from one of the 
hearers, assuring him that I preached seditiously : so 
little security was any man's innocency to his reputa- 
tion, if he had but one auditor that desired to get fa- 
vor by accusing him. 

" Shortly after my return to London I went into 
Worcestershire, to try whether it were possible to have 
any honest terms from the reading vicar there, that I 
might preach to my former flock; but when I had 
preached twice or thrice, he denied me liberty to preach 
any more. I offered him to take my lecture, which he 
was bound to allow me, under a bond of five hundred 
pounds, but he refused it. I next offered him to be his 
curate, and he refused it. I next offered him to preach 
for nothing, and he refused it. And lastly, I desired 
leave but once to administer the Lord's supper to the 
people, and preach my farewell sermon to them, but 
he would not consent. At last I understood that he was 
directed by his superiors to do what he did. But Mr. 
Baldwin, an able preacher whom I left there, was yet 
permitted. 

" At that time, my aged father lying in great pain 
of the stone and strangury, I went to visit him, twen- 
ty miles further. And while I was there Mr. Baldwin 
came to me, and told me that he also was forbidden to 
preach. We both returned to Kidderminster." 
j " Having parted with my dear flock, I need not say 
with mutual tears, I left Mr Baldwin to live privately 



76 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

among them, and oversee them in my stead, and visit 
them from house to house; advising them, notwith- 
standing all the injuries they had received, and all the 
failings of the ministers that preached to them, and 
the defects of the present way of worship, that yet they 
should keep to the public assemblies, and make use of 
such helps as might be had in public, togethei with 
their private helps." 

The great crisis, which was foreseen by many, had 
now arrived. The parliamentary attempt to promote 
ecclesiastical peace, by the " Act of Uniformity," de- 
manding an oath of absolute subjection to every requi- 
sition of the church, ended ;n the ejectment of two 
thousand of the best and holiest ministers in the land 
from their livings and labors. Baxter determined on 
not taking the oath, and hence relinquished public 
preaching as soon as the act was passed, and before it 
came into operation. His reason for so doing, he states 
to be, that as his example was looked to by many 
throughout the country, it might be known that he 
could not conform. 

In the earlier period of his ministry Baxter had re- 
solved not to enter into the married state, that he might 
pursue his pastoral and ministerial labors with less 
anxiety and interruption. After his ejectment, how- 
ever, having no public charge, and seeing little pros- 
pect of ever being able to resume his ministerial en- 
gagements, he deemed himself at liberty, and that it 
would conduce to his comfort, to be united in the bonds 
of matrimony. He married Miss Charlton, a lady who, 
though much younger than himself, proved to be in 
every respect a suitable partner for this eminent saint. 

His marriage excited much curiosity and remark 
throughout the kingdom ; and " I think," he observes,. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 77 

" the king's marriage was scarce more talked of than 
mine." He and his wife lived a very unsettled life ; 
being obliged, on account of persecutions, frequently 
to remove from one place of residence to another. 

He says : " Having lived three years and more in 
London since I left Kidderminster, but only three 
quarters of a year since my marriage, and finding it 
neither agree with my health or studies, the one being 
brought very low, and the other interrupted, and all 
public service being at an end, I betook myself to live 
in the country, at Acton, that I might set myself to 
writing, and do what service I could for posterity, and 
live, as much as possibly I could, out of the world. 
Thither I came, 1663, July 14, where I followed my 
studies privately in quietness, and went every Lord's 
day to the public assembly, when there was any preach- 
ing or catechising, and spent the rest of the day with 
my family, and a few poor neighbors that came in ; 
spending now and then a day in London. And the 
next year, 1664, I had the company of divers godly 
faithful friends that tabled with me in summer, with 
whom I solaced myself with much content." 

" On March 26, being the Lord's day, 1665, as I was 
preaching in a private house, where we received the 
Lord's supper, a bullet, came in at the window among 
us, and passed by me, and narrowly missed the head 
of a sister-in-law of mine that was there, and hurt 
none of us ; and we could never discover whence it 
came. 

"In June following, an ancient gentlewoman, with 
her sons and daughter, came four miles in her coach, 
to hear me preach in my family, as out of special re- 
spect to me. It happened that, contrary to our cus- 
tom, we let her knock long at the door, and did not 

l b. 7* 



78 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

open it; and so a second time, when she had gone 
away and came again ; and the third time she came, 
we had ended. She was so earnest to know when she 
might come again to hear me, that I appointed her a 
time But before she came, I had secret intelligence, 
from one that was nigh her, that she came with a 
heart exceeding full of malice, resolving, if possible. 
to do me what mischief she could by accusation ; and 
so that danger was avoided." 

The " plague of London " now burst forth with tre- 
mendous fury, on which Baxter thus remarks: 

"And now, after all the breaches on the churches, 
the ejection of the ministers, and impenitency under 
all, wars, and plague, and danger of famine began all 
at once on us. War with the Hollanders, which yet 
continues ; and the driest winter, spring, and summer 
that ever man alive knew, or our forefathers men- 
tion of late ages; so that the grounds were burnt, like 
the highways, where the cattle should have fed ! The 
meadow grounds, where I lived, bare but four loads of 
hay, which before bare forty. The plague has seized 
on the most famous and most excellent city in Chris- 
tendom, and at this time eight thousand die of all 
diseases in a week. It has scattered and consumed 
the inhabitants, multitudes being dead and fled. The 
calamities and cries of the diseased and impoverished 
are not to be conceived by those that are absent fron- 
them ! Every man is a terror to his neighbor and him 
self ; for God, for our sins, is a terror to us all. O ! how 
is London, the place which God has honored with his 
Gospel above all the places of the earth, laid in low 
horrors, and wasted almost to desolation by the wrath 
of God, whom England hath contemned ; and a God- 
hating generation are consumed in their sins, and the 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 79 

righteous are also taken away, as from greater evil yet 
to come." 

" The number that died in London alone was about 
a hundred thousand. The richer sort removing out of 
the city, the greatest blow fell on the poor. At first, so 
few of the most religious were taken away, that, ac- 
cording to the mode of too many such, they began to 
be puffed up, and boast of the great difference which 
God made ; but quickly after, they all fell alike. Yet 
not many pious ministers were taken away : I remem- 
ber but three, who were all of my own acquaintance. 

" It is scarcely possible for people that live in a time 
of health and security, to apprehend the dreadfulness 
of that pestilence ! How fearful people were, thirty 
or forty, if not a hundred miles from London, of any 
thing that they bought from any mercer's or draper' 
shop ! or of any goods that were brought to them ! or 
of any person that came to their houses ! How they 
would shut their doors against their friends ! and if a 
man passed over the fields, how one would avoid an- 
other, as we did in the time of wars ; and how every 
man was a terror to another ! O how sinfully un- 
thankful are we for our quiet societies, habitations, 
and health !" 

Many of the ejected ministers seized the opportunity 
of preaching in the neglected or deserted pulpits, and 
in the public places of resort, to the terror-stricken in- 
habitants of London, and blessed results followed. 
" Those heard them one day often, that were sick the 
next, and quickly died. The face of death so awakened 
both preachers and hearers, that preachers exceeded 
themselves in fervent preaching, and the people crowd- 
ed constantly to hear them ; and all was done with 
such great seriousness that, through the blessing of 



80 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

God, many were converted from their carelessnesa 
impenitency, and youthful lusts and vanities ; and re- 
ligion took such a hold on the people's hearts as could 
never afterwards be loosed." 

When the plague reached Acton, in July, Mr. Bax- 
ter retired to Hampden, in Bucks, where he continued 
with his friend Mr. Hampden till the following March. 
The plague, he says, " having ceased on March 1st fol- 
lowing, I returned home, and found the churchyard 
like a ploughed field with graves, and many of my 
neighbors dead ; but my house, near the churchyard, 
uninfected, and that part of my family which I left 
here, all safe, through the great mercy of God." 

Scarcely had the plague ceased its ravages before 
the great fire commenced its destructive career in Lon- 
don. Churches in great numbers were destroyed in the 
general conflagration. The zealous, though silenced 
watchmen, ventured, amid the ashes of a ruined city, 
to urge the inhabitants to flee from the " wrath to 
come," and to seek, in their impoverished condition, 
;< the unsearchable riches of Christ." 

The distress occasioned by these calamities was 
great. " Many thousands were cast into utter want and 
beggary, and many thousands of the formerly rich 
were disabled from relieving them." To the friends of 
Christ in London, the silenced ministers in the coun- 
try had been accustomed to look for assistance in their 
distresses. By these providences their resources were 
in a measure dried up. But, though enduring dread- 
ful privations, few, if any, were suffered to perish 
through want. Baxter says : 

" Whilst I was living at Acton, as long as the act 
against conventicles was in force, though I preached 
to my family, few of the town came to hear me, part- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 81 

ly because they thought it would endanger me, and 
partly for fear of suffering themselves, but especially 
because they were an ignorant poor people, and had 
no appetite for such things. But when the act was 
expired, there came so many that I wanted room ; and 
when once they had come and heard, they afterwards 
came constantly ; insomuch that in a little time there 
was a great number of them that seemed very serious- 
ly affected with the things they heard ; and almost all 
the town, besides multitudes from Brentford and the 
neighboring places, came." 

He attended the services of the church, and between 
the interval of service preached in his own house to 
as many as chose to come. This gave umbrage to the 
minister. " It pleased the parson," says Baxter, " that 
I came to church, and brought others with me ; but 
he was not able to bear the sight of people's crowding 
into my house, though they heard him also ; so that, 
though he spoke kindly to me, and we lived in seem- 
ing love and peace while he was there, yet he could 
not long endure it. And when I had brought the peo- 
ple to church to hear him, he would fall upon them 
with groundless reproaches, as if he had done it pur- 
posely to drive them away ; and yet thought that my 
preaching to them, because it was in a private house, 
did all the mischief, though he never accused me of 
any thing that I spake. For I preached nothing but 
Christianity and submission to our superiors, faith, re- 
pentance, hope, love, humility, self-denial, meekness, 
patience, and obedience." 

During his residence at Acton, Baxter became ac- 
quainted with Lord Chief Justice Hale, who occupied 
the house adjoining his own. With his simplicity, in- 
tegrity, piety, and learning, he was delighted and 



82 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 



charmed. He denominates him " the pillar of justice, 
the refuge of the subject who feared oppression, and 
one of the greatest honors of his majesty's govern- 
ment." His lordship, too, appears to have been equal- 
ly interested in the character of his neighbor. His 
avowed esteem and respect for ihe despised noncon- 
formist was a means of encouraging and strengthen- 
ing the hands of Baxter. " When the people crowded 
in and out of my house to hear, he openly showed me 
such great respect before them at the door, and never 
spake a word against it, as was no small encourage- 
ment to the common people to go on j though the 
other sort muttered that a judge should seem so far to 
countenance that which they took to be against the 
law." 



CHAPTER V. 

HIS PERSECUTIONS, TRIAL, AND DEATH. 

At length Baxter's preaching at Acton could no 
longer be connived at. Information was laid against 
him, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension. 
He was taken before two j ustices of the peace. " When 
I came," he writes, " they shut out all persons from 
the room, and would not give leave for any one per- 
son, no, not their own clerk or servant, or the consta- 
ble, to hear a word that was said between us. Then 
they told me that I was convicted of keeping conven- 
ticles contrary to law, and so they would tender me 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 83 

the Oxford oath. I desired my accusers might come 
face to face, and that I might see and speak with the 
witnesses who testified that I kept conventicles con- 
trary to the law, which I denied, as far as I under- 
stood law ; but they would not grant it. I pressed that 
I might speak in the hearing of some witnesses, and 
not in secret; for I supposed that they were my judges, 
and that their presence and business made the place 
a place of judicature, where none should be excluded, 
or at least some should be admitted. But I could not 
prevail. Had I resolved on silence, they were resolved 
to proceed ; and I thought a Christian should rather 
submit to violence, and give place to injuries, than 
stand upon his right, when it will give others occasion 
to account him obstinate. I asked them whether I 
might freely speak for myself, and they said yea ; but, 
when I began to speak, still interrupted me, and put 
me by. But, with much importunity, I got them once 
to hear me, while I told them why I took not my 
meeting to be contrary to law, and why the Oxford 
act concerned me not, and they had no power to put 
that oath on me by the act ; but all the answer I could 
get was, 'That they were satisfied of what they did.' 
And when, among other reasonings against their 
course, I told them, though Christ's ministers had, in 
many ages, been men esteemed and used as we now 
are, and their afflicters had insulted over them, the 
providence of God had still so ordered it that the 
names and memory of their silencers and afflicters 
have been left to posterity for a reproach, insomuch 
that I wondered that those who fear not God, and 
care not for their own or the people's souls, should 
yet be so careless of their fame, when honor seems so 
great a matter with them. To which Ross answered, 



84 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

that he desired no greater honor to his name, than 
that it should be remembered of him that he did this 
against me, and such as I, which he was doing." 

The result of this interview was, that Baxter was 
fully committed, for six months, to the New Prison, 
Clerkenwell. He begged that his liberty might be 
granted till the following Monday ; but as he would 
not promise not to preach on the intervening Lord's 
day, his request was denied. 

The inhabitants of Acton were grieved at the loss of 
their neighbor, and the more so, as the incumbent of 
the parish was the means of his imprisonment. " The 
whole town of Acton were greatly exasperated against 
the dean when I was going to prison, insomuch that 
ever since they abhorred him as a selfish persecutor. 
Nor could he devise to do more to hinder the success 
of his (seldom) preaching there. But it was his own 
choice : c Let them hate me, so they fear me.' And so 
I finally left that place, being grieved most that Satan 
had prevailed to stop the poor people in such hopeful 
beginnings of a common reformation, and that I was 
to be deprived of the exceeding grateful neighborhood 
of the Lord Chief Justice Hale, who could scarce re- 
frain tears when he heard of the first warrant for my 
appearance. 

"My imprisonment was, at present, no great suf- 
fering to me, for I had an honest jailer, who showed 
me all the kindness he could. I had a large room, 
and the liberty of walking in a fair garden; and my 
wife was never so cheerful a companion to me as in 
prison, and was very much against my seeking to be I 
released; and she had brought so many necessaries, 
that we kept house as contentedly and as comfortably 
as at home, though in a narrower room ; and I had 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 85 

the sight of more of my friends in a day, than I had 
at home in half a year." 

Efforts were made, by his friends, to procure his re- 
lease, which, in consequence of some informalities in 
his commitment, were successful. His reflections on 
his imprisonment show his piety and submission. 

"While I stayed in prison, I saw somewhat to 
blame myself for, and somewhat to wonder at others 
for, and somewhat to advise my visitors about. 

" I blamed myself that I was no more sensible of 
the spiritual part of my affliction; such as the inter- 
ruption of my work among the poor people from whom 
I was removed, and the advantage Satan had got 
against them, and the loss of my own public liberty, 
for worshiping in the assemblies of God's people. 

"I marvelled at some who suffered more than I, as 
Mr. Rutherford, when he was confined to Aberdeen, 
that their sufferings occasioned them such great joys 
as they express; which surely was from the free grace 
of God, to encourage others by their example, and not 
that their own impatience made them need it much 
more than at other times. For surely so small a suf- 
fering needs not a quarter of the patience which 
many poor nonconforming ministers, and thousands 
of others need, that are at liberty; whose own houses, 
through poverty, are made far worse to them than my 
prison was to me. 

"I found reason to entreat my Acton neighbors 
not to let their passion against their parson, on my 
account, hinder them from a due regard to his doc- 
trine, nor from any of the duty which they owed him ; 
and to blame some who aggravated my sufferings, 
and to tell them that I had no mind to fancy myself 
hurt before I felt it. I used, at home to confine my- 

L. B. 8 



86 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

self voluntarily almost as much. I had ten-fold more 
public life here, and converse with my friends, than 
I had at home. If 1 had been to take lodgings at Lon- 
don for six months, and had not known that this 
had been a prison, and had knocked at the door and 
asked for rooms, I should as soon have taken this 
which I was put into, as most in town, save only for 
the interruption of my sleep. 

" I found cause to desire of my brethren, that, when 
they suffered, they wouid remember that the design of 
Satan was more against their souls than their bodies ; 
that it was not the least of his hopes to destroy the 
love due to those by whom they suffered ; to render 
our superiors odious to the people; and to make us 
take such a poor suffering as this for a sign of true 
grace, instead of faith, hope, love, mortification, and a 
heavenly mind ; and that the loss ef one grain of love 
was worse than a long imprisonment. Also that it 
much more concerned us to be sure that we deserve 
not suffering, than that we be delivered from it ; and 
to see that we wrong not our superiors, than that they 
wrong not us; seeing we are not near so much hurt 
by their severities as we are by our sins. Some told 
me that they hoped this would make me stand a little 
further from the prelates and their worship than I had 
done. To- whom I answered, that I wondered that 
they should think that a prison should change my 
judgment. I rather thought now it was my duty to 
set a stricter watch upon my passions, lest they should 
pervert my judgment, and carry me into extremes in 
opposition to those who afflicted me. If passion made 
me lose my love, or my religion, the loss would be 
my own. And truth did not change because I was 
in a jail." 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 



87 



His time was now chiefly occupied in writing and 
publishing various works on controversial and experi- 
mental divinity, and in making some attempts to pro- 
cure a union between the Presbyterians and Indepen- 
dents. He frequently conversed and corresponded 
with Dr. Owen on this subject. Owen requested Bax- 
ter to draw up a scheme of agreement. This scheme 
Owen attentively considered, but could not adopt. 
Baxter's attempts to unite all parties satisfied none. 

Baxter, with a few others of the nonconformists, de- 
fended the practice of occasional attendance and com- 
munion in the parish churches where the Gospel was 
preached. It was, in consequence, currently reported 
at this time, that he had actually conformed. He was 
offered preferment in Scotland by the king. A mitre, 
a professor's gown, or a surplice, was presented to his 
choice. But he declined accepting his majesty's offer. 
His refusal is contained in his letter to the Earl of Lau- 
derdale, through whom the offer was presented. 

"My Lord, — Being deeply sensible of your lord- 
ship's favors, and in special of your liberal offers for 
my entertainment in Scotland, I humbly return you 
my very hearty thanks. But these considerations for- 
bid me to entertain any hopes or further thoughts of 
such a remove : 

" 1. The experience of my great weakness and de- 
cay of strength, and particularly of this last winter's 
pain, and how much worse I am in winter than in 
summer, doth fully persuade me that I should live but 
a little while in Scotland, and that in a disabled, use- 
less condition, rather keeping my bed than the pulpit. 

" 2. I am engaged in writing a book, which, if I 
could hope to live to finish, is almost all the service 



88 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

that I expect to do God and his church more in the 
world — a Latin Methodus Theologiae ; and I can hard- 
ly hope to live so long, it requiring near a year's labor 
more. Now, if I should go and spend that one half 
year, or year, which should finish that work, in tra- 
vel, and the trouble of such a removal, and then leave 
my intended work undone, it would disappoint me of 
the ends of my life ; for I live only for work, and there- 
fore should remove only for work, and not for wealth 
and honor, if ever I remove. 

" 3. If I were there, all that I could hope for were 
liberty to preach the Gospel of salvation, and especially 
in some university among young scholars. But I hear 
that you have enough already for this work, that are 
like to do it better than I can. 

" 4. 1 have a family, and in it a mother-in-law, eighty 
years of age, of honorable extraction and great worth, 
whom I must not neglect, and who cannot travel. And 
it is to such a one as I, so great a business to remove 
a family, and all our goods and books so far, as deters 
me from thinking of it, having paid so dear for remo- 
vals these eight years as I have done, and being but 
yesterday settled in a house which I have newly taken, 
and that with great trouble and loss of time. 

"' All this concurs to deprive me of this benefit of 
your lordship's favor. But, my lord, there are other 
fruits of it, which I am not altogether hopeless of re- 
ceiving. When I am commanded to pray for kings, 
and all in authority, I am allowed the ambition of this 
preferment, which is all that ever I aspired after : ' to 
live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and 
honesty.' 

" I am weary of the noise of contentious revilers, 
and have often had thoughts to go into a foreign land. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 89 

if I could find any, where I might have a healthful air 
and quietness, that I might but live and die in peace. 
When I sit in a corner, and meddle with nobody, and 
hope the world will forget that I am alive, court, city, 
and country is still filled with clamors against me; 
and when a preacher wants preferment, his way is to 
preach or write a book against the nonconformists, 
and me by name. So that the press and pulpits of 
some, utter bloody invectives against myself, as if my 
peace were inconsistent with the kingdom's happiness. 
And never did my eyes read such impudent untruths, 
in matter of fact, as these writings contain j and they 
cry out for answers and reasons of m) T nonconformi- 
ty, while they know the law forbids me to answer 
them unlicensed. I expect not that any favor or jus- 
tice of my superiors should cure any of this. But a 
few things I would desire : 

" 1. If I might but be heard to speak for myself, be- 
fore I be judged by them, and such things be believed. 
For to contemn the judgment of my rulers is to dis- 
honor them. 

" 2. If I might live quietly to follow my private study, 
and might once again have the use of my books, which 
I have not seen these ten years, still paying for a room 
in which they stand at Kidderminster, where they are 
eaten with worms and rats, having no security for my 
quiet abode in any place long enough to encourage me 
to send for them. And if I might have the liberty that 
every beggar has, to travel from town to town ; I mean, 
but to London, to oversee the press, when any thing 
of mine is licensed for it. And, 

" 3. If I be sent to Newgate for preaching Chrises 
Gospel, (for I dare not sacrilegiously renounce my call- 
ing, to which I am consecrated,) that I may have the fa- 
in b. 8* 



90 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

vor of a better prison, where I may but walk and write. 

" These I should take as very great favors, and ac- 
knowledge your lordship my benefactor, if you pro- 
cure them. For I will not so much injure you as to 
desire, or my reason as to expect, any greater things; 
no, not the benefit of the law. I think I broke no law 
in any of the preachings which I am accused of; and 
I most confidently think that no law imposes on me 
the Oxford oath, any more than any conformable mi 
nister; and I am past doubting the present mittimus 
for my imprisonment is quite without law. But if 
the justices think otherwise now, or a! any time, I 
know no remedy. I have yet a license to preach pub- 
licly in London diocess, under the archbishop's own 
hand and se&l, which is yet valid for occasional ser- 
mons, though not for lectures or cures ; but I dare not 
use it, because it is in the bishop's power to recall it. 
Would but the bishop, who, one would think, should 
not be against the preaching of the Gospel, not recall 
my license, I could preach occasional sermons, which 
would absolve my conscience from all obligations to 
private preaching. For it is not maintenance that I ex- 
pect; I have never received a farthing for my preach- 
ing, to my knowledge, since May 1, 1662. I thank God 
I have food and raiment without being chargeable to 
any man, which is all that I desire, had I but leave to 
preach for nothing, and that only where there is a no- 
torious necessity. I humbly crave your lordship's par 
don for this tediousness, and again return you my very 
great thanks for your great favors ; remaining, &c. 

" June 24, 1670. Richard Baxter." 

He says : " On October 11, 1672, 1 fell into a dan- 
gerous fit of sickness, which God, in his wonted mer 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 91 

cy, in time so far removed as to return me to some 
capacity of service. 

" I had till now forborne, for several reasons, to seek 
a license for preaching from the king, upon the tole- 
ration. But when all others had taken theirs, and 
were settled in London and other places, as they could 
get opportunity, I delayed no longer, but sent to seek 
one, on condition I might have it without the title of 
Independent, Presbyterian, or any other party, but 
only as a nonconformist. And before I sent, Sir Thomas 
Player, chamberlain of London, had procured it me 
without my knowledge or endeavor. I had sought 
none hitherto. 

" 1. Because I was unwilling to be, or seem any 
cause of that way of liberty, if a better might have 
been had, and therefore would not meddle in it. 

" 2. I lived ten miles from London, and thought it 
not just to come and set up a congregation there, till 
the ministers had fully settled theirs, who had borne 
the burden there in the times of the raging plague and 
fire, and other calamities, lest I should draw away 
any of their auditors, and hinder their maintenance. 

" 3. I perceived that no one, that ever I heard of 
till mine, could get a license, unless he would *be en- 
titled in it, a Presbyterian, Independent, or of some 
sect. -^ 

" The 19th of November was the first day, after ten 
years' silence, that I preached in a tolerated public 
assembly, though not yet tolerated in any conseccated 
church, but only, against law, in my own house. 

"Some merchants set up a Tuesday's lecture in 
London, to be kept by six ministers at Pinner's Hall, 
allowing them twenty shillings a piece each sermon, 
of whom they chose me to be one." 



92 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

" January 24, 1672-3, I oegan a Friday lecture at 
Mr. Turner's church In New-street, near Fetter-lane, 
with great convenience and God's encouraging bless- 
ing ; but I never took a penny of money for it of any 
one. And on the Lord's days I had no congregation 
to preach to, but occasionally to any that desire me, 
being unwilling to set up a church and become the 
pastor of any, or take maintenance, in this distracted 
and unsettled way, unless further changes shall mani- 
fest it to be my duty. Nor did I ever yet administer 
the Lord's supper to any one person, but to my old 
flock at Kidderminster." 

i: On February 20th I took my house in Bloomsbury, 
in London, and removed thither with my family; God 
having mercifully given me three years' great peace 
among quiet neighbors at Totteridge, and much more 
health and ease than I expected, and some opportuni- 
ty to serve him." 

In this situation he continued for some time, em- 
ploying his flying pen and his unwearied efforts to pro- 
mote the peace of the churches and to instruct and 
bless mankind. In April, 1674, he writes, " God has 
so much increased my languishing, and laid me so 
low, that I have reason to think that my time on earth 
will not be long. And O how good has the will of God 
proved hitherto to me ! And will it not be best at last? 
Experience causes me to say to his praise, ' Great 
peace have they that love his law, and nothing shall 
offend them ;' and though my flesh and heart fail, God 
is the rock of my heart and my portion for ever. 

" At this time came out my book called 'The Poor 
Man's Family Book,' which the remembrance of the 
great use of Mr. Dent's 'Plain Man's Pathway to 
Heaven,' now laid by, occasioned me to write for 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 93 

poor country families, who cannot buy or read many 
books." 

Anxiously bent on doing good, and encouraged by 
the reception and success his " Poor Man's Family 
Book " met with, he prepared several other works for 
the promotion and increase of family religion. He 
justly believed that domestic piety was of the utmost 
importance for the maintenance and progress of Chris- 
tianity. To promote " household religion " he employ- 
ed all his energies while at Kidderminster. In his "Re 
formed Pastor," he urges ministers seriously to con 
sider the subject. He says : "The life of religion, and 
the welfare and glory, both of the church and state, 
depend much on family government and duty. If we 
suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all. What are 
we like to do ourselves for reforming a congregation, 
if all the work be cast on us alone, and masters of fa- 
milies neglect that necessary duty of their own by 
which they are bound to help us? If any good be be- 
gun by the ministry in any soul, a careless, prayerless, 
worldly family, is likely to stifle it, or very much hin- 
der it; whereas, if you could but get the rulers of fa- 
milies to do their duty, to take up the work where 
you left it, and help it on, what abundance of good 
might be done ! I beseech you, therefore, if you de- 
sire the reformation and welfare of your people, do all 
you can to promote family religion." 

He prosecuted his Master's work with unwearied 
zeal, though suffering great bodily affliction, and ex- 
posed to much vexatious and embarrassing opposition. 

He says : " Taking it to be my duty to preach while 
toleration continues, I removed, the last spring, to 
London, where my diseases, increasing this winter, a 
constant head-ache added to the rest, and continuing 



94 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

strong for about half a year, constrained me to cease 
my Friday's lecture, and an afternoon sermon on the 
Lord's days in my house, to my grief; and to preach 
only one sermon a week, at St. James's market-house, 
where some had hired an inconvenient place. But > 
had great encouragement to labor there, because o) 
the notorious necessity of the people ; it being the ha- 
bitation of the most ignorant, atheistical, and popish 
about London ; and because, beyond my expectation, 
the people generally proved exceedingly willing, and 
attentive, and tractable, and gave me great hopes o» 
much success." 

" On July 5, 1674, at our meeting over St. James'* 
market-house, God vouchsafed us a great deliverance. 
A main beam, before weakened by the weight of the 
people, so cracked, that three times they ran in terror 
out of the room, thinking it was falling ; but lemem- 
bering the like at Dunstan's in the west, I reproved 
their fear as causeless. But the next day, taking up 
the boards, we found that two rents in the beam wen» 
so great that it was a wonder of Providence that thu 
floor had not fallen, and the roof with it, to the de- 
struction of multitudes. The Lord make us thankful!* 

" It pleased God to give me marvellous encourage 
ment in my preaching at St. James's. The crack having 
frightened away most of the richer sort, especially thi. 
women, most of the congregation were young men, 
of the most capable age, who heard with great atten 
iion ; and many that had not come to church for many 
years, manifested so great a change, (some papiata 
and divers others, returning public thanks to God f<* 
their conversion) as made all my charge and troudfc 
easy to me. Among all the popish, rude, and ignoiaa* 
people who were inhabitants of those parts, we had 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 95 

scarcely any that opened their mouths against us, and 
that did not speak well of the preaching of the word 
among them ; though, when I came first thither, the 
most knowing inhabitants assured me that some of 
the same persons wished my death. Among the ruder 
sort, a common reformation was noticed in the place, 
in their conversation as well as in their judgments." 

"The dangerous crack over the market-house at 
St. James's, made many desire that I had a larger 
safer place for meeting. And though my own dullness, 
and great backwardness to troublesome business, made 
me very averse to so great an undertaking, judging 
that, it being in the face of the court, it would never 
be endured, yet the great and incessant importunity 
of many, out of a fervent desire of the good of souls, 
constrained me to undertake it. And when it was 
almost finished, in Oxendon-street, Mr. Henry Coven- 
try, one of his majesty's principal secretaries, who had 
a house joining to it, and was a member of parliament, 
spake twice against it in the parliament ; but no one 
seconded him." 

"And that we might do the more good, my wife 
urged the building of another meeting place in Blooms- 
bury, for Mr. Reed, to be furthered by my sometimes 
helping him ; the neighborhood being very full of peo- 
ple, rich and poor. 

" I was so long wearied with keeping my doors shut 
against them that came to distrain on my goods for 
preaching, that I was induced to go from my house, 
and to sell all my goods, and to hide my library first, 
and afterwards to sell it. So that if books had been 
my treasure, and I valued little more on earth, I had 
been now without a treasure. About twelve years I 
was driven a hundred miles from them j and when I 



96 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

had paid dear for the carriage, after two or three yeara 
I was forced to sell them. And the prelates, to hinder 
me from preaching, deprived me also of these private 
comforts. But God saw that they were my snare. We 
brought nothing into the world, and we must carry 
nothing out. 

" I was the more willing to part with goods, books, 
and all, that I might have nothing to be distrained, 
and so go on to preach. And accordingly removing 
my dwelling to the new chapel which I had built, I 
purposed to venture there to preach, there being forty 
thousand persons in the parish, as is supposed, more 
than can hear in the parish church, who have no place 
to go to for God's public worship. So that I set not 
up church against church, but preached to those that 
must else have none, being unwilling that London 
should turn atheists, or live worse than infidels. But 
when I had preached there but once, a resolution was 
taken to surprise me the next day, and send me for 
six months to the common jail, upon the act for the 
Oxford oath. Not knowing of this, it being the hottest 
part of the year, I agreed to go for a few weeks into 
the country, twenty miles off. But the night before I 
should go, I fell so ill that I was induced to send to 
disappoint both the coach and my intended compan- 
ion, Mr. Silvester. And when I was thus fully resolved 
to stay, it pleased God, after the ordinary coach hour, 
that three men, from three parts of the city, met at my 
house accidentally, just at the same time, almost to a 
minute, of whom, if any one had not been there, I had 
not gone, namely, the coachman again to urge me. 
Mr. Silvester, whom I had put off, and Dr. Coxe, who 
compelled me, and told me he would carry me into 
the coach. It proved a special merciful providence of 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 97 

God ; for after one week of languishing and pain, I 
had nine weeks greater ease than ever I expected in 
this world, and greater comfort in ray work. My good 
friend Richard Berisford, Esq. clerk of the exchequer, 
whose importunity drew me to his house, spared no 
cost, labor, or kindness for my health or service." 

Baxter was now constantly harassed with informa- 
tions, fines, and warrants of distress, but he bore them 
all with astonishing meekness and patience. He endea- 
vored to convince and convert the informers and offi- 
cers, who, on several occasions, came to apprehend 
him. In some cases his exhortations were successful, 
if not to their actual conversion, at least to induce them 
to relinquish their persecuting practices. 

A striking instance of his placable and forgiving dis- 
position is given in the following extract. "Keting, 
the informer, being commonly detested for prosecuting 
me, was cast into jail for debt, and wrote to me to en- 
deavor his deliverance, which I did ; and in his letters 
says, ' Sir, I assure you I do verily believe that God 
has bestowed all this affliction on me because I was 
so vile a wretch as to trouble you. And I assure you 
I never did a thing in my life that has so much trou- 
bled myself as that did. 1 pray God to forgive me. And 
truly, I do not think of any that went that way to work, 
that ever God would favor with his mercy. And truly, 
without great mercy from God, I do not think that 
ever I shall thrive or prosper. And I hope you will be 
pleased to pray to God for me.' " 

Baxter considered that the " vows of God were upon 
him," and that he must continue to preach wherever 
Divine providence opened a door for the purpose. His 
obligations to God he considered superior to those by 
which he was bound to obey the ordinances of man • 
l. b. 9 



98 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

and therefore, though forbidden by law, and in despite 
of persecution, he continued to preach the Gospel to 
his ignorant and perishing countrymen. 

He says: "Being driven from home, and having an 
old license of the bishop's yet in force, by the counte- 
nance of that, and the great industry of Mr. Berisford, 
I had leave and invitation for ten Lord's days to preach 
in the churches round about. The first that I preached 
in, after thirteen years' ejection and prohibition, was 
Rickmanworth, and after that, at Sarratt, at King's 
Langley, at Chesham, at Charlfont, and at Amersham, 
and that often twice a-day. Those heard who had not 
come to church for seven years; and two or three 
thousand heard, where scarcely a hundred were wont 
to come ; and with so much attention and willingness, 
as gave me very great hopes that I never spake to 
them in vain. And thus soul and body had these spe- 
cial mercies." 

" When I had been kept a whole year from preach- 
ing in the chapel which I built, on the 16th of April, 
1676, I began in another, in a tempestuous time; such 
was the necessity of the parish of St. Martin's, where 
about 60,000 souls have no church to go to, nor any 
public worship of God ! How long, Lord !" 

" Being denied forcibly the use of the chapel which 
I had built, I was forced to let it stand empty, and pay 
thirty pounds per annum for the ground-rent myself, 
and glad to preach for nothing, near it, at a chapel 
built by another, formerly in Swallow-street, because 
it was among the same poor people that had no 
preaching." 

Interruptions and informations were so numerous at 
Swallow-street that he was obliged to discontinue his 
labors there. " It pleased God to take away, by toi 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 99 

merit of the stone, that excellent faithful minister, Mr. 
Thomas Wads worth, in South vvark ; and just when I 
was thus kept out at Swallow-street, his flock invited 
me to South wark, where, though I refused to be their 
pastor, I preached many months in peace, there being 
no justice willing to disturb us." 

" When Dr. Lloyd became pastor of St Martin's in 
the Fields, I was encouraged by Dr. Tillotson to offer 
him my chapel in Oxendon-street for public worship, 
which he accepted, to my great satisfaction, and now 
there is constant preaching there. Be it by conformist 
or nonconformists, I rejoice that Christ is preached." 

His reputation, too, was assailed. He was charged 
with uttering falsehood, and with the crime of mur- 
der ! He was able, however, successfully to refute the 
calumnies, and to confound his calumniators. 

About this period, 1681, Baxter was called to endure 
a severe and trying providence, in the death of his wife. 
They had lived together nineteen years. She had been 
his companion in tribulation ; his comforter in sorrow. 
Animated by her piety and her influence, he had per- 
severed in all his attempts to do good. But, now, in 
the advance of life, in weakened health, in persecution, 
and in no distant prospect of imprisonment, he was 
left to pursue his journey alone. She died in the faith 
and hope of the Gospel, June 17, 1681. 

He still pursued his studies and his occasional labors. 
" Having been for retirement in the country, from Ju- 
ly till August 14, 1682, returning in great weakness, I 
was able only to preach twice, of which the last was 
in my usual lecture in New-street, and it fell out to be 
August 24, just that day twenty years, that I, and near 
two thousand more, had been by law forbidden to 
preach any more. I was sensible of God's wonderful 



100 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

mercy that had kept so many of us twenty years in so 
much liberty and peace, while so many severe laws 
were in force against us, and so great a number were 
round about us who wanted neither malice nor power 
to afflict us. And so I took, that day, my leave of the 
pulpit and public work, in a thankful congregation. 
And it is like, indeed, to be my last. 

" But after this, when I had ceased preaching, I 
was, being newly arisen from extremity of pain, sud- 
denly surprised in my house by a poor violent inform- 
er, and many constables and officers, who rushed in 
and apprehended me, and served on me one warrant 
to seize on my person, for coming within five miles of 
a corporation ; and five more warrants, to distrain for 
a hundred and ninety pounds for five sermons. They 
cast my servants into fears, and were about to take all 
my books and goods, and I contentedly went with 
them towards the justice to be sent to jail, and left my 
house to their will. But Dr. Thomas Coxe, meeting 
me, forced me in again to my couch and bed, and went 
to five justices and took his oath, without my know- 
ledge, that I could not go to prison without danger of 
death. Upon that the justices delayed a day, till they 
could speak with the king, and told him what the doc 
tor had sworn ; and the king consented that the pre- 
sent imprisonment should be forborne, that I might 
die at home. But they executed all their warrants on 
my books and goods, even the bed that I lay sick on, 
and sold them all ; and some friends paid them as much 
money as they were prized at, which I repaid." 

" When I borrowed some necessaries I was never 
the quieter; fer they threatened to come upon me 
again and take all as mine, whosesoever it was, which 
they found in my possession. So that 1 had no reme- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 101 

dy, but utterly to forsake my house, and goods, and 
all, and take secret lodgings distant in a stranger's 
house. But having a long lease of my own house, 
which binds me to pay a greater rent than now it is 
worth, wherever I go I must pay that rent. 

" The separation from my books would have been 
a greater part of my small affliction, but that I found 
I was near the end both of that work and life which 
needeth books, and so I easily let go all. Naked came 
I into the world, and naked must I go out. 

" But I never wanted less what man can give, than 
when men had taken all. My old friends, and stran- 
gers to me, were so liberal, that I was constrained to 
check their bounty. Their kindness was a surer and 
larger revenue to me than my own. 

" But God was pleased quickly to put me past all 
fear of man, and all desire of avoiding suffering from 
them by concealment, by laying on me more himself 
than man can do. Their imprisonment, with tolera- 
ble health, would have seemed a palace to me ; and 
had they put me to death for such a duty as they per- 
secute me for, it would have been a joyful end of my 
calamity. But day and night I groan and languish un- 
der God's just afflicting hand. As waves follow waves 
in the tempestuous seas, so one pain and danger fol- 
lows another in this sinful miserable flesh. I die daily, 
and yet remain alive. God, in his great mercy, know- 
ing my dullness in health and ease, makes it much 
easier to repent and hate my sin, and loath myself, 
and contemn the world, and submit to the sentence of 
death with willingness, than otherwise it was ever like 
to have been. O how little is it that wrathful enemies 
can do against us, in comparison of what our sin and 
the justice of God can do ! And O how little is it that 
L. b. 9* 



102 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

the best and kindest of friends can do for a pained 
body or a guilty soul, in comparison of one gracious 
look or word from God ! Wo be to him that has no 
better help than man; and blessed is he whose help 
and hope is in the Lord." 

" While I continued, night and day, under constant 
pain, and often strong, and under the sentence of ap- 
proaching death by an incurable disease, which age 
and great debility yields to, I found great need of the 
constant exercise of patience by obedient submission to 
God ; and, writing a small Tract of it for my own use, 
I saw reason to yield to them that desired it might be 
published, there being especially so common need oi 
! obedient patience. ' " ' 

" Under my daily pains 1 was drawn to a work which 
I had never the least thoughts of, and is like to be the 
last of my life, to write a paraphrase on the New Tes- 
tament. Mr. John Humphrey having long importuned 
me to write a paraphrase on the Epistle to the Romans, 
when I had done that, the usefulness of it to myself 
drew me farther and farther, till I had done all. But 
having confessed my ignorance of the Revelation, and 
yet unwilling wholly to omit it, I gave but general 
notes, with the reasons of my uncertainty in the great- 
est difficulties, which I know will fall under the sharp 
censure of many. But truth is more valuable than 
such men's praises. I fitted the whole, by plainness, 
to the use of ordinary families. 

" After many times deliverance from the sentence 
of death, on November 20, 1684, in the very entrance 
of the seventieth year of my age, God was pleased so 
greatly to increase my painful diseases, as to pass on 
me the sentence of a painful death. But God turns it 
to my good, and gives me a greater wiJUngness to die 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 103 

than I once thought I should ever have attained. The 
Lord teach me more fully to love his will and rest 
therein, as much better than my own, that often strives 
against it. 

" A little before this, while I lay in pain and lan- 
guishing, the justices of sessions sent warrants to ap- 
prehend me, about a thousand more being also on the 
list, to be all bound to good behavior. I thought they 
would send me six months to prison for not taking the 
Oxford oath, and dwelling in London, and so I refused 
to open my chamber door to them, their warrant not 
being to break it open. But they set six officers at my 
study door, who watched all night, and kept me from 
my bed and food ; so that the next day I yielded to 
them, who carried me, scarce able to stand, to their 
sessions, and bound me, in a four hundred pounds' bond, 
to good behavior. I desired to know what my crime 
was, and who were my accusers ; but they told me it 
was for no fault, but to secure the government in evil 
times ; and that they had a list of many suspected per- 
sons, who must do the like as well as I. I desired to 
know for what I was numbered with the suspected, 
and by whose accusation; but they gavfc me good 
words, and would not tell me. I told them I would 
rather they would send me to jail than put me in cir- 
cumstances to wrong others by being bound with me 
in bonds that I was like to break to-morrow; for if 
there did but five persons come in when I was praying, 
they would take it for a breach of good behavior. They 
told me not, if they came on other business unexpect- 
edly, and not to a set meeting ; nor yet if we did no- 
thing contrary to law, or the practice of the church. 
I told them our innocency was not now any security 
to us. If two beggar women did but stand in the street 



104 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

and swear that I spake contrary to the law, though 
they heard me not, my bonds and liberty were at their 
will ; for I myself, lying on my bed, heard Mr. I. R. 
preach in a chapel on the other side of my chamber, 
and yet one Sibil Dash and Elizabeth Cappell swore 
to the justices that it was another that preached ; two 
miserable poor women that made a trade of it, and had 
thus sworn against very many worthy persons in Hack- 
ney and elsewhere, on which their goods were seized 
for fines. But to all this I received no answer. I must 
give bond. 

" But all this is so small a part of my suffering, in 
comparison of what I bear in my flesh, that I could 
scarce regard it ; and it is small in comparison of what 
others suffer. Many excellent persons die in common 
jails : thousands are ruined. That holy humble man, 
Mr. Rosewell, is now under a verdict for death as a 
traitor for preaching some words, on the witness and 
oath of Hilton's wife, and one or two more women, 
whose husbands live professedly on the trade, for which 
he claims many hundred or thousand pounds. And not 
only the man declares, but many of his hearers wit- 
ness, that no such words were spoken, nor any that did 
not become a loyal, prudent man. 

"December 11, I was forced, in all my pain and 
weakness, to be carried to the sessions-house, or else 
my bond of four hundred pounds would have been 
judged forfeited. And the more moderate justices, that 
promised my discharge, would none of them be there, 
but left the work to Sir William Smith and the rest, 
who openly declared that they had nothing against 
me, and took me for innocent, but yet I must continue 
b^ino, lest others should expect to be discharged also, 
which 1 openly refused. But my sureties would be 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 105 

bound, lest I should die in jail, against my declared 
will, and so I must continue." 

" January 17, I was forced again to be carried to the 
sessions, and after divers days good words, which put 
me in expectation of freedom, when I was gone, one 

justice, Sir Deerham, said it was probable that 

these persons solicited for my liberty that they might 
come to hear me in conventicles ; and on that they 
bound me again in a four hundred pounds' bond for 
above a quarter of a year, and so it is likely to be till 
I die, or worse ; though no one ever accused me for 
any conventicle or preaching since they took all my 
books and goods above two years ago, and 1, for the 
most part, keep my bed." 

His greatest trial was now hastening. His " Para ■ 
phrase on the New Testament " gave great offence in 
certain quarters, and was made the ground of a trial 
for sedition. 

The following account of this extraordinary trial and 
its issue are given by Calamy, and in a letter from a 
person who was present on the occasion : 

" On the 28th of February Baxter was committed to 
the King's-Bench prison, by warrant of Lord Chief 
Justice Jefferies, for his ' Paraphrase on the New Tes- 
tament,' which had been printed a little before, and 
which was described as a scandalous and seditious 
book against the government. On his commitment by 
the chief justice's warrant, he applied for a habeas 
corpus, and having obtained it, he absconded into the 
country to avoid imprisonment, till the term approach- 
ed. He was induced to do this from the constant pain 
he endured, and an apprehension that he could not 
bear the confinement of a prison. 

" On the 6th of May, which was the first day of the 



106 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

term, he appeared tn Westminster-Hall, and an infor- 
mation was then drawn up against him. On the 14th 
of May he pleaded not guilty to the information. On 
the 18th of the same month, being much indisposed, it 
was moved that he might have further time given him 
before his trial, but this was denied him. He moved 
for it by his counsel ; but Jefferies cried out, in a pas- 
sion, ' I will not give him a minute's time more, to save 
his life. We have had to do,' said he, ' with other 
sorts of persons, but now we have a saint to deal with \ 
nnd I know how to deal with saints as well as sinners. 
Yonder,' said he, ' stands Oates in the pillory,' (as he 
actually did at that very time in the new Palace Yard,) 
' and he says he suffers for the truth, and so says Bax- 
ter; but if Baxter did but stand on the other side of 
the pillory with him, I would say, two of the greatest 
rogues and rascals in the kingdom stood there.' 

" On May 30, in the afternoon, Baxter was brought 
to trial before the lord chief justice at Guild-hall. 
Sir Henry Ashurst, who would not forsake his own 
and his father's friend, stood by him all the while. 
Baxter came first into court, and with all the marks 
of sincerity and composure, waited for the coming of 
the lord chief justice, who appeared quickly after, with 
great indignation in his face. 

" ' When I saw,' says an eye witness, ' the meek 
man stand before the flaming eyes and fierce looks of 
this bigot, I thought of Paul standing before Nero. 
The barbarous usage which he received drew plenty 
of tears from my eyes, as well as from others of the 
auditors and spectators. 

"Jefferies no sooner sat down than a short cause 
was called and tried ; after which the clerk began to 
read the title of another cause. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 107 

Jeflferies, ' the next cause is between Richard Baxter 
and the king :' upon which Baxter's cause was called. 

" On the jury being sworn, Baxter objected to them, 
as incompetent to his trial, owing to its peculiar na- 
ture. The jurymen being tradesmen, and not scholars, 
he alledged they were incapable of pronouncing wheth- 
er his 'Paraphrase' was or was not according to the 
original text. He therefore prayed that he might have 
a jury of learned men, though the one-half of them 
should be papists. This objection, as might have been 
expected, was overruled by the court. 

" The king's counsel opened the information at large, 
with its aggravations. Mr. Pollexfen, Mr. Wallop, Mr. 
Williams, Mr. Rotherham,Mr. Atwood, and Mr. Phipps, 
were Baxter's counsel, and had been engaged by Sir 
Henry Ashurst. 

"Pollexfen then rose and addressed the court and 
the jury. He stated that he was counsel for the pri- 
soner, and felt that he had a very unusual plea to 
manage. He had been obliged, he said, by the nature 
of the cause, to consult all our learned commentators, 
many of whom, learned, pious, and belonging to the 
church of England too, concurred with Mr. Baxter in 
his paraphrase of those passages of Scripture which 
were objected to in the indictment, and by whose help 
he would be enabled to manage his client's cause. 'I 
shall begin,' said he, 'with Dr. Hammond: and, gen- 
tlemen, though Mr. Baxter made an objection against 
you, as not fit judges of Greek, which has been over- 
ruled, I hope you understand English common sense, 
and can read.' To which the foreman of the jury 
made a profound bow, and said, 'Yes, sir.' 

"On this the chief justice burst upon Pollexfen like 
a fury, and told him he should not sit there to hear 



108 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

him preach. 'No, my lord,' said Pollexfen, 'I am conn 
sel for Mr. Baxter, and shall offer nothing but what is 
to the point.' ' Why, this is not,' said Jefferies, ' that 
you cant to the jury beforehand.' ' I beg your lord- 
ship's pardon,' said the counsel, 'and shall then pro- 
ceed to business.' ' Come then,' said Jefferies, ' what do 
you say to this count? read it, clerk:' referring to the 
paraphrase on Mark, 12 : 38-40. ' Is he not, now, an 
old knave, to interpret this as belonging to liturgies?' 
'So do others,' replied Pollexfen, 'of the church of 
England, who would be loth so to wrong the cause of 
liturgies as to make them a novel invention, or not to 
be able to date them as early as the scribes and pha- 
risees.' 'No, no, Mr. Pollexfen,' said the judge: 'they 
were long-winded, extempore prayers, such as they 
used to say when they appropriated God to themselves 
"Lord, we are thy people, thy peculiar people, thy 
dear people." ' And then he clenched his hands and 
lifted up his eyes, mimicking their manner, and run 
ning on furiously, as he said they used to pray. ' Pol 
lexfen,' said Jefferies, 'this is an old rogue, who has 
poisoned the world with his Kidderminster doctrine. 
Don't we know how he preached formerly, "Curse 
ye Meroz ; curse them bitterly that come not to the 
help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the 
mighty." He encouraged all the women and maids 
to bring their bodkins and thimbles to carry on their 
war against the king, of ever blessed memory. An old 
schismatical knave, a hypocritical villain!' 

" Mr. Wallop said that he conceived the matter de- 
pending being a point of doctrine, it ought to be re- 
ferred to the bishop, his ordinary : but if not, he hum- 
bly conceived the doctrine was innocent and justifiable, 
setting aside the inurndos, for which there was no 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 109 

color, there being no antecedent to refer them to, 
(i. e. no bishop or clergy of the church of England 
named;) he said the book accused contained many 
eternal truths: but they who drew the information 
were the libellers, in applying to the prelates of the 
church of England those severe things which were 
written concerning some prelates who deserved the 
characters which he gave. 'My lord,' said he, 'I hum- 
bly conceive the bishops Mr. Baxter speaks of, as your 
lordship, if you have read church history, must con- 
fess, were the plagues of the church and of tho world.' 

" Mr. Rotherham urged f that if Mr. Baxter's book 
had sharp reflections upon the church of Rome by 
name, but spake well of the prelates of the church of 
England, it was to be presumed that the sharp reflec- 
tions were intended only against the prelates of the 
church of Rome.' The lord chief justice said, 'Baxter 
was an enemy to the name and thing, the office and 
persons of bishops.' Rotherham added, that Baxter 
frequently attended divine service, went to the sacra- 
ment, and persuaded others to do so too, as was cer- 
tainly and publicly known; and had, in the very book 
so charged, spoken very moderately and honorably of 
the bishops of the church of England.' 

" Baxter added, ' My lord, I have been so moderate 
with respect to the church of England, that I have in- 
curred the censure of many of the dissenters upon that 
account.' 'Baxter for bishops!' exclaimed Jefferies, 
' that is a merry conceit indeed : turn to it, turn to it. 
Upon this Rotherham turned to a place where it is 
said ' that great respect is due to those truly called to 
be bishops among us; or to that purpose. 'Ay,' said 
Jefferies, 'this is your Presbyterian cant; truly called 
to r\e bishops : that is himself, and such rascals, called 

T.. B. 10 



110 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

to be bishops of Kidderminster, and other such places. 
Bishops set apart by such factious Presbyterians as 
himself: a Kidderminster bishop he means. ■ 

" Baxter beginning to speak again, Jefferies reviled 
him; 'Richard, Richard, dost thou think we'll hear 
thee poison the court ? Richard, thou art an old fellow, 
an old knave ; thou hast written books enough to load 
a cart, every one as full of sedition, I might say trea- 
son, as an egg is of meat. Hadst thou been whipped 
out of thy writing trade forty years ago, it had been 
happy. Thou pretendest to be a preacher of the Gospel 
of peace, and thou hast one foot in the grave : it is 
time for thee to begin to think what account thou in- 
tendest to give. But, leave thee to thyself, and I see 
thou'lt go on as thou hast begun ; but, by the grace of 
God, I'll look after thee. I know thou hast a mighty 
party, and I see a great many of the brotherhood in 
corners, waiting to see what will become of their 
mighty don ; and a doctor of the party (looking at Dr. 
Bates) at your elbow ; but, by the grace of Almighty 
God, I'll crush you all. Come, what do you say for 
yourself, you old knave? come, speak up ! What doth 
he say % I am not afraid of you, for all the snivelling 
calves you have about you :' alluding to some persons 
who were in tears about Mr. Baxter. ' Your lordship 
need not be,' said the holy man ; ' for I'll not hurt you. 
But these things will surely be understood one day • 
what fools one sort of protestants are made to perse- 
cute the other !' And, lifting up his eyes to heaven, he 
said, 'I am not concerned to answer such stuff; but 
am ready to produce my writings for the confutation 
of all this; and my life and conversation are known 
to many in this nation.' 

" Mr. Rotherham sitting down, Mr. Atwood began 



LIFE OF BAXTER. Ill 

to show that not one of the passages mentioned in the 
information ought to be strained to the sense which 
was put upon them by the inuendos ; they being more 
natural when taken in a milder sense : nor could any 
one of them be applied to the prelates of the church 
of England, without a very forced construction. To 
prove this, he would have read some of the text : but 
Jefferies cried out, ' You shan't draw me into a con- 
venticle with your annotations, nor your snivelling 
parson neither.' ' My lord,' said Mr. Atwood, f that I 
may use the best authority, permit me to repeat your 
lordship's own words in that case.' ' No, you shan't,' 
said he : ■ you need not speak, for you are an author 
already ; though you speak and write impertinently.' 
Atwood replied, 'I can't help that, my lord, if my 
talent be no better ; but it is my duty to do my best 
for my client.' 

"Jefferies then went on inveighing against what 
Atwood had published ; and Atwood justified it as in 
defence of the English constitution, declaring that he 
never disowned any thing that he had written Jef- 
feries several times ordered him to sit down ; but he 
still went on. ' My lord,' said he, ' I have matter of 
law to urge for my client.' He then proceeded to cite 
several cases wherein it had been adjudged that words 
ought to be taken in the milder sense, and not to be 
strained by inuendos. 'Well,' said Jefferies, when he 
had done, ' you have had your say.' 

"Mr. Williams and Mr. Phipps said nothing, for 
they saw it was to no purpose. At last Baxter himself 
said, ' My led, I think I can clearly answer all that is 
laid to my charge, and I shall do it briefly. The sum 
is contained in these few papers, to which I shall add 
a little by tp<?* ; nony ' But he would not hear a word. 



112 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

At length the chief justice summed up the matter til 
a long and fulsome harangue. ' It was notoriously 
known,' he said, ' there had been a design to ruin the 
king and the nation. The old game had been renewed ; 
and this person had been the main incendiary. He is 
as modest now as can be ; but time was, when no man 
was so ready at, " Bind your kings in chains, and your 
nobles in fetters of iron;" and, "To your tents, O 
Israel." Gentlemen, (with an oath,) don't let us be 
gulled twice in an age.' And when he concluded, he 
told the jury ' that if they in their consciences be- 
lieved he meant the bishops and clergy of the church 
of England in the passages which the information re- 
ferred to, and he could mean nothing else, they must 
find him guilty. If not, they must find him not guilty." 
"When he had done, Baxter said to him, ' Does your 
lordship think any jury will pretend to pass a verdict 
upon me upon such a trial?' 'I'll warrant you, Mr. 
Baxter,' said he, ' don't you trouble yourself about that.* 

" The jury immediately laid their heads together at 
the bar, and found him guilty. As he was going from 
the bar, Baxter told the lord chief justice, who had 
so loaded him with reproaches, and still continued 
them, that a predecessor of his had had other thoughts 
of him ; upon which he replied, ' that there was not 
an honest man in England but what took him for a 
great knave.' Baxter had subpoenaed several clergy- 
men, who appeared in court, but were of no use to 
him, through the violence of the chief justice. The 
trial being over, Sir Henry Ashurst led him through 
the crowd, and conveyed him away in his coach." 

This is a faithful portrait of Jefferies, who furnish- 
ed Bunyan with the features of his chief justice, the 
Lord Hategood. Can we be insensible to the mercies 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 113 

we enjoy in the very different administration of justice 
in our own times? 

" On the 29th of June Baxter had judgment given 
against him. He was fined five hundred marks, con- 
demned to lie in prison till he paid it, and bound to 
his good behavior for seven years. It is said that Jef- 
feries proposed a corporal punishment, namely, whip- 
ping through the city ; but his brethren would not ac- 
cede to it. In consequence of which the fine and im- 
prisonment were agreed to. 

" Baxter being unable to pay the fine, and aware 
that, though he did, he might soon be prosecuted again, 
on some equally unjust pretence, went to prison. Here 
he was visited by his friends, and even by some of the 
respectable clergy of the church, who sympathised 
with his sufferings and deplored the injustice he re- 
ceived. He continued in this imprisonment nearly 
two years, during which he enjoyed more quietness 
than he had done for many years before. 

" An imprisonment of two years would have been 
found very trying and irksome to most men ; to Bax- 
ter, however, it does not appear to have pro /ed so pain- 
ful, though he had now lost his beloved wife, who had 
frequently before been his companion in solitude and 
suffering. His friends do not appear to have neglected 
or forgotten him. The following extract of a letter from 
the well known Matthew Henry, presents a pleasing 
view of the manner in which he endured bonds and 
afflictions for Christ's sake. It is addressed to his fa- 
ther, and dated the 17th of November, 1685, when 
Baxter had been several months confined. Mr. Wil- 
liams justly remarks, ' It is one of those pictures of 
days which are past, which, if rightly viewed, r«a> 
produce lasting and beneficial effects; emotions of sa- 

l. b. 10* 



114 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

cred sorrow for the iniquity of persecution, and ani- 
mating praise that the demon in these happy days of 
tranquillity is restrained, though not destroyed.' 

" 4 1 went into Southwark, to Mr. Baxter. I was to 
wait upon him once before, and then he was busy. 1 
found him in pretty comfortable circumstances, though 
a prisoner, in a private house near the prison, attended 
by his own man and maid. My good friend Mr. Samuel 
Lawrence went with me. He is in as good health as 
one can expect ; and, methinks, looks better, and speaks 
heartier, than when I saw him last. The token you 
sent he would by no means be persuaded to accept 
(and was almost angry when I pressed it) from one 
ejected as well as himself. He said he did not use to 
receive; and I understand since, his need is not great. 

" We sat with him about an hour. He gave us some 
good counsel to prepare for trials, and said the best 
preparation for them was a life of faith and a constant 
course of self-denial. He thought it harder constantly 
to deny temptations to sensual appetites and pleasures, 
than to resist one single temptation to deny Christ for 
fear of suffering ; the former requiring such constant 
watchfulness ; however, after the former, the latter will 
be the easier. He said, we who are young are apt to 
count upon great things, but we must not look for 
them ; and much more to this purpose. He said he 
thought dying by sickness usually much mere painful 
and dreadful than dying a violent death, especially 
considering the extraordinary supports which those 
have who suffer for righteousness' sake." 

Various efforts were made by his friends to have his 
fine remitted, which, after considerable delay, was ac- 
complished. 

u On the 24th of November, 1686, Sir Samuel Astray 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 115 

sent his warrant to the keeper of the King's Bench 
prison to discharge Baxter. He gave sureties, how- 
ever, for his good behavior, his majesty declaring, for 
his satisfaction, that it should not be interpreted a 
breach of good behavior for him to reside in London, 
which was not inconsistent with the Oxford act. After 
this release he continued to live some time within the 
rules of the Bench ; till, on the 28th of February, 1687, 
he removed to his house in the Charterhouse-yard; 
and again, as far as his health would permit, assisted 
Mr. Sylvester in his public labors." 

" After his injurious confinement," says his friend 
Sylvester, in the funeral sermon which he preached 
for Baxter, " he settled in Charterhouse-yard, in Rut- 
landhouse, and bestowed his ministerial assistance gra- 
tis upon me. Thereupon he attended every Lord's day 
in the morning, and every other Thursday morning at 
a weekly lecture. Thus were we yoked together in 
our ministerial work and trust, to our great mutual sa- 
tisfaction ; and because his respects to me, living and 
dying, were very great, I cannot but the more feel the 
loss. I had the benefit and pleasure of always free ac- 
cess to him, and instant conversation with him ; and 
by whom could I profit more than by himself? So 
ready was he to communicate his thoughts to me, and 
so clearly would he represent them, as that I may truly 
say, it was greatly my own fault if he left me not 
wiser than he found me, at all times. 

M After he had continued with me about four years 
and a half he was disabled from going forth to his mi- 
nisterial work ; so that what he did he performed for 
the residue of his life in his own hired house, where 
he opened his doors, morning and evening, every day, 
to all that would come to join in family worship with 



116 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

him; to whom he read the Holy Scriptures, from 
whence he ' preached the kingdom of God, and taught 
those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, 
with all confidence, no man forbidding him,' Acts, 
28 : 30, 31, even as one greater than himself had done 
before him. But, alas, his growing diseases and in- 
firmities soon forbade this also, confining him first to 
his chamber, and after to his bed. There, through 
pain and sickness, his body wasted ; but his soul abode 
rational, strong in faith and hope, preserving itself in 
that patience, hope, and joy, through grace, which 
gave him great support, and kept out doubts and fears 
concerning his eternal welfare." 

He still labored with his pen. Even on the very 
borders of eternity he was desirous to improve the fleet- 
ing moments. " He continued to preach," Dr. Bates 
observes, in his funeral discourse, " so long, notwith- 
standing his wasted, languishing body, that the last 
time he almost died in the pulpit. Not long after, he 
felt the approaches of death, and was confined to his 
sick-bed. Death reveals the secrets of the heart ; then 
words are spoken with most feeling and least affecta- 
tion. This excellent man was the same in his life and 
death ; his last hours were spent in preparing others 
and himself to appear before God. He said to his 
friends that visited him, ' You come hither to learn 
to die; I am not the only person that must go this 
way. I can assure you that your whole life, be it ever 
so long, is little enough to prepare for death. Have a 
care of this vain, deceitful world, and the lusts of the 
flesh ; be sure you choose God for your portion, hea- 
ven for your home, God's glory for your end, his word 
for your rule, and then you need never fear but we 
shall meet with comfort.' 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 117 

" Never was penitent sinner more humble, never was 
a sincere believer more calm and comfortable. He ac- 
knowledged himself to be the vilest dunghill worm 
(it was his usual expression) that ever went to heaven. 
He admired the divine condescension to us, often say- 
ing, ' Lord, what is man ; what am I, vile worm, to the 
great God !' Many times he prayed, { God be merciful 
to me a sinner,' and blessed God that this was left upon 
record in the Gospel as an effectual prayer. He said, 
* God may justly condemn me for the best duty I ever 
did ; all my hopes are from the free mercy of God in 
Christ,' which he often prayed for. 

" After a slumber, he waked, and said, ' I shall rest 
from my labor.' A minister then present said, ' And 
your works will follow you.' To whom he replied, 
1 No works ; I will leave out works, if God will grant 
me the other.' When a friend was comforting him 
with the remembrance of the good many had receive'* 
by his preaching and writings, he said, ' I was but u 
pen in God's hands, and what praise is due to a pen V 

" His resignation to the will of God in his sharp 
sickness was eminent. When extremity of pain con- 
strained him earnestly to pray to God for his release 
by death, he would check himself: ' It is not fit for me 
to prescribe— when Thou wilt, what Thou wilt, how 
Thou wilt.' 

" Being in great anguish, he said, ■ O, how unsearch- 
able are His ways, and his paths past finding out ; the 
depths of his providence we cannot fathom !' And to 
his friends, ( Do not think the worse of religion for 
what you see me suffer.' 

" Being often asked by his friends, how it was with 
his inward man, he replied, ' I bless God I have a well- 
grounded assurance of my eternal happiness, and great 



118 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

peace and comfort within.' But it was his regret that 
he could not triumphantly express it, by reason of his 
extreme pains. He said, ' Flesh must perish, and we 
must feel the perishing of it ; and that though his judg- 
ment submitted^ yet sense would still make him groan.' 
" Being asked whether he had not great joy from his 
believing apprehensions of the invisible state, he re- 
plied, 'What else, think you, Christianity serves for?' 
He said, the consideration of the Deity in his glory and 
greatness was too high for our thought ; but the consi- 
deration of the Son of God in our nature, and of the 
saints in heaven, whom he knew and loved, did much 
sweeten and familiarize heaven to him. The descrip- 
tion of it, in Heb. 12 : 22-24-, was most animating to 
him ; ' that he was going to the innumerable company 
of angels, and to the general assembly and church of 
the first-born, whose names are written in heaven ; 
and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just 
men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new 
covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh 
better things than the blood of Abel.' That scripture, 
he said, deserved a thousand thousand thoughts. O, 
how comfortable is that promise ; ' Eye hath not seen, 
nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of 
man, the things which God hath prepared for them 
that love him.' At another time he said that he found 
great comfort and sweetness in repeating the words of 
the Lord's prayer, and was sorry some good people 
were prejudiced against the use of it, for there were all 
necessary petitions for soul and body contained in it. 
At other times he gave excellent counsel to young mi- 
nisters that visited him ; earnestly prayed God to bless 
their labors, and make them very successful in con- 
verting souls to Christ ; expressed great joy in the 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 119 

hope that God would do a great deal of good by them ; 
and that they were of moderate, peaceful spirits. 

" He often prayed that God would be merciful to 
this miserable, distracted world ; and that he would 
preserve his church and interest in it. He advised his 
friends to beware of self-conceit, as a sin that was 
likely to ruin this nation ; and said, ' I have written a 
book against it, which I am afraid has done little good.' 
Being asked whether he had altered his mind on con- 
troversial points, he said, those that pleased might 
know his mind in his writings ; and that what he had 
done was not for his own reputation, but for the glory 
of God. 

" I went to him, with a very worthy friend, Mr. Ma- 
ther, of New-England, the day before he died ; and 
speaking some comforting words to him, he replied, ' I 
have pain ; there is no arguing against sense ; but I 
have peace, I have peace.' I said, you are now ap- 
proaching your long-desired home; he answered, 'I 
believe, I believe.' He said to Mr. Mather, 'I bless 
God that you have accomplished your business ; the 
Lord prolong your life.' He expressed his great wil- 
lingness to die ; and during his sickness, when the 
question was asked, ' How he did V his reply was, 
1 Almost well.' His joy was most remarkable, when, in 
his own apprehension, death was nearest ; and his spi- 
ritual joy was at length consummated in eternal joy." 

"As to himself, even to the last," says Mr. Sylvester, 
" I never could perceive his peace and heavenly hopes 
assaulted or disturbed. I have often heard him greatly 
lament that he felt no greater liveliness in what ap- 
peared so great and clear to him, and so very much 
desired by him. As to the influence thereof upon his 
spirit, in order to the sensible refreshment of it, he 



120 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

clearly saw what ground he had to rejoice in God ; he 
doubted not of his title to heaven, through the merits 
of Christ. He told me he knew it would be well with 
him when he was gone. He wondered to hear others 
speak of their so passionately strong desires to die, and 
of their transports of spirit when sensible of their ap- 
proaching death, as he did not so vividly feel their 
strong consolations. But when I asked him whether 
much of this was not to be resolved into bodily con- 
stitution, he said it might be so. The heavenly state 
was the object of his severe and daily thoughts and 
solemn contemplations; for he set some time apart 
every day for that weighty work. He knew that nei- 
ther grace nor duty could be duly exercised without 
serious meditation. And as he was a scribe instructed 
into the kingdom of heaven, so he both could and did 
draw forth out of his treasures things new and old, to 
his own satisfaction and advantage, as well as to the 
benefit of others." 

" He had frequently, before his death, owned to me 
his continuance in the same sentiments that he had ex- 
hibited to the world in his polemic discourses, especial- 
ly about justification, and the covenants of works and 
grace, &c. And being asked, at my request, whether 
he had changed his former thoughts about those things, 
his answer was, that he had told the world suffi- 
ciently his judgment concerning them by words and 
writing, and thither he referred men. And then lifting 
up his eyes to heaven, he uttered these words, ' Lord, 
pity, pity, pity the ignorance of this poor city.' 

" On Monday, the day before his death, a great 
trembling and coldness awakened nature, and extorted 
strong cries for pity from Heaven ; which cries and 
agony continued for some time, till at length he ceas- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 121 

ed those cries, and so lay in a patient expectation of his 
change. And being once asked by his faithful friend 
and constant attendant upon him in his weakness, 
worthy and faithful Mrs. Bushel, his housekeeper, 
whether he knew her or no, requesting some signifi- 
cation of it if he did, he softly said, 'Death, death !' 
And now he felt the benefit of his former preparations 
J'or such a trying hour. And, indeed, the last words that 
lie spake to me, being informed that I was come to see 
him, were these, ' O, I thank him, I thank him ;' and 
turning his eyes to me, he said, ' The Lord teach you 
to die.' " 

" On Tuesday morning, about four o'clock, Decem- 
ber 8th, 1691, he expired ; though he expected and de- 
sired his dissolution to have been on the Lord's day 
before, which, with joy, to me he called a high day, be- 
cause of his desired change expected then by him." 

A report was quickly spread abroad after his death, 
that he was exercised on his dying bed with doubts 
respecting the truths of religion, and his own personal 
safety, which report Mr. Sylvester thus refutes : 

" Of what absurdity will not degenerate man be 
guilty! We know nothing here that could, in the 
least, minister to such a report as this. I that was with 
him all along, have ever heard him triumphing in his 
heavenly expectation, and ever speaking like one that 
dould never have thought it worth a man's while to be, 
were it not for the great interest and ends of godliness. 
He told me that he doubted not but it would be best 
for him, when he had left this life and was translated 
to the heavenly regions. 

" He owned what he had written, with reference to 
the things of God, to the very last. He advised those 
that came near him, carefully to mind their soul's con- 

l. b. 11 



122 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

cems. The shortness of time, the importance of eter- 
nity, the worth of souls, the greatness of God, the 
riches of the grace of Christ, the excellency and im- 
port of an heavenly mind and life, and the great use- 
fulness of the word and means of grace pursuant to 
eternal purposes, ever lay pressingly upon his own 
heart, and extorted from him very useful directions 
and encouragements to all that came near him, even 
to the last ; insomuch that if a polemical or casuistical 
point, or any speculation on philosophy or divinity, 
had been but offered to him for his resolution, after 
the clearest and briefest representation of his mind 
which the proposer's satisfaction called for, he present- 
ly and most delightfully fell into conversation about 
what related to our Christian hope and work." 

"Baxter was buried in Christ-church, London, where 
the ashes of his wife and her mother had been deposit- 
ed. His funeral was attended by a great number of 
persons of different ranks, especially of ministers, con- 
formists as well as nonconformists, who were eager 
to testify their respect for one of whom it might have 
been said with equal truth, as of the intrepid reformer 
of the north, ' There lies the man who never feared 
the face of man.'" 

In his last will, made two years before his death, he 
says, " I, Richard Baxter, of London, clerk, an un- 
worthy servant of Jesus Christ, drawing to the end of 
this transitory life, having, through God's great mercy, 
the free use of my understanding, do make this my 
last will and testament, revoking all other wills for- 
merly made by me. My spirit I commit, with trust 
and hope of the heavenly felicity, into the hands 0/ 
Jesus, my glorified Redeemer and Intercessor ; and, 
by his mediation, into the hands of God my reconcil- 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 123 

ed Father, the infinite eternal Spirit, Light, Life, and 
Love, most great, and wise, and good, the God of na- 
ture, grace, and glory ; of whom, and through whom, 
and to whom are all things ; my absolute Owner, Ru- 
ler, Benefactor, whose I am, and whom I, though im- 
perfectly, serve, seek, and trust; to whom be glory for 
ever, amen. To him I render the most humble thanks, 
that he hath filled up my life with abundant mercy, 
and pardoned my sins by the merits of Christ, and 
vouchsafed, by his Spirit, to renew me and seal me as 
his own ; and to moderate and bless 'o me my long 
sufferings in the flesh, and at last to sweeten them by 
his own interest and comforting approbation." He 
bequeathed his books to "poor scholars," and the resi- 
due of his property to the poor. 



CHAPTER VI. 

HIS PERSON — VIEWS OF HIMSELF, AND GENERAL 
CHARACTER. 

Having proceeded to the grave, and committed his 
" remains to their long and final resting-place, it will 
be proper to present the views which were formed of 
his character, both by himself and friends. 

" His person," Mr. Sylvester states, " was tall and 
slender, and stooped much; his countenance composed 
and grave, somewhat inclining to smile. He had a 
piercing eye, a very articulate speech, and his deport- 
ment rather plain than complimental. He had a great 



124 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

command over his thoughts. His character answered 
the description given of him by a learned man dis- 
senting from him, after discourse with him ; that ' he 
could say what he would, and he could prove what he 
said.' » 

Some few years before his death, Baxter took a mi- 
nute and extensive survey of his own character, and 
committed it to paper. From this paper the following 
extracts are taken : — 

" As it is soul-experiments which those that urge me 
to this kind of writing expect I should especially com- 
municate to others, and I have said little of God's deal- 
ing with my soul since the time of my younger years, 
I shall only give the reader what is necessary to ac- 
quaint him truly what change God has made upon my 
mind and heart since those earlier times, and wherein 
I now differ in judgment and disposition from my for- 
mer self. And, for any more particular account of 
heart-occurrences, and God's operations on me, I think 
it somewhat unsuitable to recite them ; seeing God's 
dealings are much the same with all his servants in the 
main, and the points wherein he varieth are usually so 
small, that I think such not proper to be repeated. Nor 
have I any thing extraordinary to glory in, which is 
not common to the rest of my brethren, who have the 
same Spirit, and are servants of the same Lord. And 
the true reason why I do adventure so far upon the 
censure of the world as to tell them wherein the case 
is altered with me, is, that I may prevent young inex- 
perienced Christians from being over-confident in their 
first apprehensions, or overvaluing their first degrees 
of grace, or too much applauding and following unfur- 
nished inexperienced men, and that they may be in 
some measure directed what mind and course of life to 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 125 

prefer, by the judgment of one that has tried both be- 
fore them. 

"The temper of my mind has somewhat altered 
with the temper of my body. When I was young, I 
was more vigorous, affectionate, and fervent in preach- 
ing, conference, and prayer, than ordinarily I can be 
now ; my style was more extemporary and lax, but by 
the advantage of affection, and a very familiar moving 
voice and utterance, my preaching then did more affect 
the auditory than many of the last years before I gave 
over preaching ; but yet what I delivered was much 
more raw, and had more passages that would not bear 
the trial of accurate judgments, and my discourses 
had both less substance and less judgment than of late. 

" In my younger years my trouble for sin was most 
about my actual failings, in thought, word, or action ; 
now I am much more troubled for inward defects, and 
omission or want of the vital duties or graces in the 
soul. My daily trouble is so much for my ignorance 
of God, and weakness of belief, and want of greater 
love to God, and strangeness to him and to the life to 
come, and want of a greater willingness to die, and ot 
a longing to be with God in heaven, — that I take not 
some immoralities, though very great, to be in them- 
selves so great and odious sins, if they could be found se- 
parate from these. Had I all the riches of the world, 
how gladly should I give them for a fuller knowledge, 
belief, and love of God and everlasting glory ! These 
wants are the greatest burdens of my life, which 
often make my life itself a burden. And I cannot find 
any hope of reaching so high in these while I am in 
the flesh, as I once hoped before this time to have at- 
tained ; which makes me the more weary of this sinful 
l. b. 11* 



126 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

world, which is honored with so little of the know • 
ledge of God. 

" Heretofore I placed much of my religion in ten- 
derness of heart, and grieving for sin, and penitential 
tears j and less of it in the love of God, and studying 
his love and goodness, and in his joyful praises, than 
I now do. Then I was little sensible of the greatness 
and excellency of love and praise, though I coldly 
spake the same words in its commendation as I now 
do. And now I am less troubled for want of grief and 
tears, though I more value humility, and refuse not 
needful humiliation ; but my conscience now looks at 
love and delight in God, and praising him, as the height 
of all my religious duties, for which it is that I value 
and use the rest. 

" My judgment is much more for frequent and seri- 
ous meditation on the heavenly blessedness, than it 
was in my younger days. I then thought that ser- 
mons on the attributes of God and the joys of hea- 
ven were not the most excellent ; and was wont io 
say, ■ Every body knows this, that God is great and 
good, and that heaven is a blessed place ; I had rather 
hear how I may attain it.' And nothing pleased me so 
well as the doctrine of regeneration, and the marks of 
sincerity, because these subjects were suitable to me in 
that state ; but now I had rather read, hear, or medi- 
tate on God and heaven, than on any other subject ; for 
I perceive that it is the object that changes and elevates 
the mind, which will be like what it most frequently 
feeds upon ; and that it is not only useful to our com- 
fort to be much in heaven in our believing thoughts, 
but that it must animate all our other duties, and for 
tify us against every temptation and sin j and that a 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 127 

man is no more a Christian indeed, than as he is 
heavenly. 

U I was once wont to meditate most on my own 
heart, and to dwell all at home, and look little higher. 
I was still poring either on my sins or wants, or exa- 
mining my sincerity ; but now, though I am greatly 
convinced of the need of heart-acquaintance and em- 
ployment, yet I see more need of a higher work j and 
that I should look oftener upon Christ, and God, and 
heaven, than upon my own heart. At home I can find 
distempers to trouble me, and some evidences of my 
peace ; but it is above that I must find matter of de- 
light and joy, and love and peace itself. Therefore I 
would have one thought at home, upon myself and 
sins, and many thoughts above, upon the high, and 
amiable, and beatifying objects. 

" Heretofore 1 knew much less than now, and yet 
was not half so much acquainted with my ignorance. 
I had a great delight in the daily new discoveries 
which I made, and in the light which shined upon me, 
like a man that comes into a country where he never 
was before ; but I little knew either how imperfectly I 
understood those very points, whose discovery so much 
delighted me, nor how much might be said against 
them, nor how many things I was yet a stranger to j 
but now I find far greater darkness upon all things, 
and perceive how very little it is that we know in com- 
parison of that which we are ignorant of, and I have 
far meaner thoughts of my own understanding, though 
I must needs know that it is better furnished than it 
was then. 

" I now see more good and more evil in all men^ 
than heretofore I did. I see that good men are not so 
good as I once thought they were, but have more im- 



128 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

perfections ; and that nearer approach, and fuller trial, 
doth make the best appear more weak and faulty than 
their admirers at a distance think. And I find that few 
are so bad as either their malicious enemies or censo- 
rious separating professors do imagine. 

" I less admire gifts of utterance and bare profes- 
sion of religion than I once did ; and have much more 
charity for many, who, by the want of gifts, do make 
an obscurer profession than they. I once thought that 
almost all that could pray movingly and fluently, and 
talk well of religion, were saints. But more observa- 
tion has opened to me what odious crimes may con- 
sist with high profession ; and I have met with divers 
obscure persons, not noted for any extraordinary pro- 
fession or forwardness in religion, but only to live a 
quiet, blameless life, whom I have after found to have 
long lived, as far as I could discern, a truly godly and 
sanctified life ; only their prayers and duties were, by 
accident, kept secret from other men's observation. 
Yet he that, upon this pretence, would confound the 
godly and the ungodly, ma) r as well go about to lay 
heaven and hell together. 

" I am not so narrow in my special love as hereto- 
fore. Being less censorious, and talking more than I 
did for saints, it must needs follow that I love more as 
saints than I did before. 

" I am much more sensible how prone many young 
professors are to spiritual pride and self-conceitedness, 
and unruliness and division, and so to prove the grief 
of their teachers, and firebrands in the church ; and 
how much of a minister's work lies in preventing this, 
and humbling and confirming such young inexperi- 
enced professors, and keeping them in order in their 
progress in religion. 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 129 

" I am more deeply afflicted for the disagreements 
of Christians, than I was when I was a younger Chris- 
tian. Except the case of the infidel world, nothing is 
so sad and grievous to my thoughts as the case of the 
divided churches ; and therefore I am more deeply 
sensible of the sinfulness of those prelates and pastors 
of the churches who are the principal cause of these 
divisions. O how many millions of souls are kept by 
them in ignorance and ungodliness, and deluded by 
faction, as if it were true religion ! How is the conver- 
sion of infidels hindered by them, and Christ and re- 
ligion heinously dishonored ! 

" I am much less regardful of the approbation of 
man, and set much lighter by contempt or applause, 
than I did long ago. I am often suspicious that this 
is not only from the increase of self-denial and humi- 
lity, but partly from my being glutted and surfeited 
with human applause ; and all worldly things appear 
most vain and unsatisfactory when we have tried them 
most. But as far as I can perceive, the knowledge of 
man's nothingness, and God's transcendent greatness, 
with whom it is that I have most to do, and the sense 
of the brevity of human things, and the nearness of 
eternity, are the principal causes of this effect, which 
some have imputed to self-conceitedness and mo- 
roseness. 

u I am more and more pleased with a solitary life; 
and though, in a way of self-denial, I could submit to 
the most public life, for the service of God, when he 
requires it, and would not be unprofitable that I might 
be private ; yet, I must confess, it is much more pleas- 
ing to myself to be retired from the world, and to have 
very little to do with men, and to converse with God 
and conscience, and good books. 



130 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

"Though I was never much tempted to the sin of 
covetousness, yet my fear of dying was wont to tell 
me that I was not sufficiently loosened from the world. 
But I find that it is comparatively very easy to me to 
be loose from this world, but hard to live by faith 
above. To despise earth is easy to me ; but not so easy 
to be acquainted and conversant with heaven. I have 
nothing in this world which I could not easily let go; 
t ut, to get satisfying apprehensions of the other world 
i the great and grievous difficulty. 

" I am much more apprehensive than long ago of 
he odiousness and danger of the sin of pride : scarce 
any sin appears more odious to me. Having daily 
more acquaintance with the lamentable naughtiness 
and frailty of man, and of the mischiefs of that sin, 
and especially in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical, 
I think, so far as any man is proud, he is kin to the 
devil, and a stranger to God and to himself. It is a 
wonder that it should be a possible sin, to men that 
still carry about with them, in soul and body, such 
humbling matter of remedy as we all do. 

" I more than ever lament the unhappiness of the 
nobility, gentry, and great ones of the world, who live 
in such temptation to sensuality, curiosity, and wast- 
ing of their time about a multitude of little things ; and 
whose lives are too often the transcript of the sins of 
Sodom — pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idle- 
ness, and want of compassion to the poor. And I more 
value the life of the poor laboring man, but especially 
of him that hath neither poverty nor riches. 

" I am much more sensible than heretofore, of the 
breadth, and length, and depth of the radical, univer- 
sal, and odious sin of selfishness, and therefore have 
written so much against it ; and of the excellency and 



LIFE OF BAXTWRf/ %^ ' c 131 

<#>* r v ^\ 
necessity of self-denial, and of ate^ic , %^d^h&or^ 
loving our neighbor as ourselves. \J^> c\$ (v 

" I am more and more sensible thayrofe^totroier^ ^ 
sies have more need of right stating than of debating ; 
and if my skill be increased in any thing, it is in nar- 
rowing controversies by explication, and separating 
the real from the verbal, and proving to many con- 
tenders that they in fact differ less than they think 
they do. 

" I am more solicitous than I have been about my 
duty to God, and less solicitous about his dealings with 
me, as being assured that he will do all things well, 
acknowledging the goodness of all the declarations of 
his holiness, even in the punishment of man, and 
knowing that there is no rest but in the will and good- 
ness of God. 

"Though my habitual judgment, and resolution, 
and scope of life be still the same, yet I find a great 
mutability as to actual apprehensions and degrees of 
grace ; and consequently find that so mutable a thing 
as the mind of man would never keep itself, if God 
were not its keeper. 

"Thus much of the alterations of my soul, since 
my younger years, I thought best to give the reader, 
instead of all those experiences and actual motions and 
affections which I suppose him rather to have expec- 
ted an account of. And having transcribed thus much 
of a life which God has read, and conscience has read, 
and must further read, I humbly lament it, and beg 
pardon of it, as sinful, and too unequal and unprofit- 
able. And I warn the reader to amend that in his 
own, which he finds to have been amiss in mine; con- 
fessing, also, that much has been amiss which I have 
not here particularly mentioned, and that I have not 



132 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

lived according to the abundant mercies of the Lord, 
But what I have recorded, has been especially to per- 
form my vows, and to declare his praise to all gen- 
erations, who has filled my days with his invaluable 
favors, and bound me to bless his name for ever. 

"But having mentioned the changes which I think 
were for the better, I must add, that as I confessed 
many of my sins before, so, I have been since guilty ol 
many, which, because materially they seemed small 
have had the less resistance, and yet, on the review, do 
trouble me more than if they had been greater, done 
in ignorance. It can be no small sin which is com- 
mitted against knowledge, and conscience, and deli- 
beration, whatever excuse it have. To have sinned 
whilst I preached and wrote against sin, and had such 
abundant and great obligations from God, and made 
so many promises against it, lays me very low ; not 
so much in fear of hell, as in great displeasure against 
myself, and such self-abhorrence as would cause re- 
venge against myself, were it not forbidden. When 
God forgives me, I cannot forgive myself; especially 
for any rash words or deeds, by which I have seemed 
injurious, and less tender and kind than I should have 
been to my near and dear relations, whose love abun 
dantly obliged me ; when such are dead, though we 
never differed in point of interest, or any great matter, 
every sour or cross provoking word which I gave them 
makes me almost irreconcileable to myself. 

" I mention all these faults that they may be a warn- 
ing to others to take heed, as they call on myself for 
repentance and watchfulness. O Lord, for the merits, 
and sacrifice, and intercession of Christ, be merciful 
to me a sinner, and forgive my known and unknown 
sins!" 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 133 

Dr Bates has drawn a full-length portrait of the 
character of his venerable friend in his funeral sermon, 
from which some extracts will now be given. 

"He had not the advantage of academical educa- 
tion ; but, by the Divine blessing upon his rare dex- 
terity and diligence, his eminence in sacred knowledge 
was such as few in the university ever arrive to." 

" Conversion is the excellent work of Divine grace: 
the efficacy of the means is from the Supreme Mover. 
But God usually makes those ministers successful in 
that blessed work, whose principal design and delight 
is to glorify him in the saving of souls. This was the 
feigning affection in his heart; and he was extraordi- 
narily qualified to obtain his end. 

" His prayers were an effusion of the most lively 
melting expressions, growing out of his intimate ar- 
dent affections to God : from the abundance of his 
heart, his lips spake. His soul took wing for heaven, 
and wrapped up the souls of others with him. Never 
did I see or hear a holy minister address himself to 
God with more reverence and humility, with respect 
to his glorious greatness ; never with more zeal and 
fervency, correspondent to the infinite moment of his 
requests ; nor with more filial affiance in the Divine 
mercy." 

As a specimen of his prayers, two quotations from 
his published writings may be given. Addressing the 
Divine Spirit, he says, " As thou art the Agent and 
Advocate of Jesus my Lord, O plead his cause effec- 
tually in my soul against the suggestions of Satan and 
my unbelief ; and finish his healing, saving work, and 
let not the flesh or world prevail. Be in me the resi- 
dent witness of my Lord, the Author of my prayers, 
the Spirit of adoption, the seal of God, and the earnest 

L. b. 12 



134 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

of mine inheritance. Let not my nights be so long, and 
my days so short, nor sin eclipse those beams which 
have often illuminated my soul. Without these, books 
are senseless scrawls, studies are dreams, learning is 
a glow-worm, and wit is but wantonness, impertinence 
and folly. Transcribe those sacred precepts on my 
heart, which by thy dictates and inspirations are re- 
corded in thy holy word. I refuse not thy help for 
tears and groans ; but O shed abroad that love upon my 
heart, which may keep it in a continual life of love. 
Teach me the work which I must do in heaven ; re- 
fresh my soul with the delights of holiness, and the 
joys which arise from the believing hopes of the ever- 
. lasting joys. Exercise my heart and tongue in the 
holy praises of my Lord. Strengthen me in sufferings; 
and conquer the terrors of death and hell. Make me 
the more heavenly, by how much the faster I am hast- 
ening to heaven ; and let my last thoughts, words, and 
works on earth, be most like to those which shall be 
my first in the state of glorious immortality ; where 
the kingdom is delivered up to the Father, and God 
will for ever be all, and in all ; of whom, and through 
whom, and to whom, are all things, to whom be glo- 
ry for ever. Amen." 

Another specimen may be given from Baxter's con- 
clusion of his work on the "Saints' Rest." 

" O Thou, the merciful Father of spirits, the attrac- 
tive of love, and ocean of delight ! draw up these dros- 
sy hearts unto thyself, and keep them there till they 
are spiritualized and refined ! Second thy servant's 
weak endeavors, and persuade those that read these 
lines to the practice of this delightful, heavenly work ! 
O ! suffer not the soul of thy most unworthy servant 
to be a stranger to those joys which he describes to 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 135 

others • but keep me, while I remain on earth, in daily 
breathing after thee, and in a believing, affectionate 
walking with thee. And, when thou comest, let me be 
found so doing; not serving my flesh, nor asleep with 
my lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for my 
Lord's return. Let those who shall read these pages, 
not merely read the fruit of my studies, but the breath- 
ing of my active hope and love ; that if my heart were 
open to their view, they might there read thy love 
most deeply engraven with a beam from the face of 
the Son of God ; and not find vanity, or lust, or pride 
within, where the words of life appear without ; that 
so these lines may not witness against me ; but pro- 
ceeding from the heart of the writer, may they be 
effectual, through thy grace, upon the heart of the 
reader, and so be the savior of life to both." 

Dr. Bates says : " In his sermons there was a rare 
union of arguments and motives to convince the mind 
and gain the heart. All the fountains of reason and 
persuasion were open to his discerning eye. There 
was no resisting the force of his discourses, without 
denying reason and Divine revelation. He had a mar- 
vellous felicity and copiousness in speaking. There 
was a noble negligence in his style; for his great mind 
could not stoop to the affected eloquence of words : he 
despised flashy oratory, but his expressions were clear 
and powerful; so convincing the understanding, so 
entering into the soul, so engaging the affections, that 
those were as deaf as adders who were not charmed 
by so wise a charmer. He was animated by the Holy 
Spirit, and breathed celestial fire, to inspire heat and 
life into dead sinners, and to melt the obdurate in their 
frozen tombs. Methinks I still hear him speak those 
powerful words : { A wretch that is condemned to die 



136 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

to-morrow cannot forget it : and yet poor sinners, that 
continually are uncertain to live an hour, and certain 
speedily to see the majesty of the Lord, to their incon- 
ceivable joy or terror, as sure as they now live on 
earth, can forget these things, for which they have 
their memory ; and which one would think, should 
drown the matters of this world, as the report of a 
cannon does a whisper, or as the sun obscures the poor- 
est glow-worm. O wonderful stupidity of the unrenew- 
ed soul ! O wonderful folly and madness of the ungod- 
ly ! That ever men can forget — I say again, that they 
can forget eternal joy, eternal wo, and the eternal God, 
and the place of their eternal unchangeable abodes, 
when they stand even at the door ; and there is but 
that thin veil of flesh between them and that amazing 
sight, that eternal gulf, and they are daily dying and 
stepping in." 

To this may be added a quotation from a sermon 
preached before the judges at the assizes : " Honora- 
ble, worshipful, and well-beloved, it is a weighty em- 
ployment that occasions your meeting here to-day. 
The estates and lives of men are in your hands. But 
it is another kind of judgment which you are all, 
hastening towards; when judges and juries, the ac- 
cusers and the accused, must all appear upon equal 
terms, for the final decision of a far greater cause. 
The case that is then and there to be determined, is not 
whether you shall have lands or no lands, life or no 
life, in our natural sense ; but whether you shall have 
heaven or hell, salvation or damnation, and endless life 
of glory with God and the Redeemer, and the angels 
of heaven, or an endless life of torment with devils 
and ungodly men. As sure as you now sit on those 
seats, you shall shortly all appear before the Judge ol 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 137 

all the world, and there receive an irreversible sen- 
tence to an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. 
This is the great business that should presently call up 
your most serious thoughts, and set all the powers of 
your souls on work for the most effectual preparation ; 
that, if you are men, you may acquit yourselves like 
men, for the preventing of that dreadful doom which 
unprepared souls must there expect. The greatest of 
your secular affairs are but dreams and toys to this. 
Were you at every assize to determine causes of no 
lower value than the crowns and kingdoms of the rao- 
narchs of the earth, it were but as children's games to 
this. If any man of you believe not this, he is worse 
than the devil that tempteth him to unbelief; and let 
him know that unbelief is no prevention, nor will put 
off the day, or hinder his appearance ; but will render 
certain his condemnation at that appearance. 

" He that knows the law and the fact, may know be- 
fore your assize what will become of every prisoner, if 
the proceedings be all just, as in our case they will cer- 
tainly be. Christ will judge according to his laws ; know, 
therefore, whom the law condemns or justifies, and 
you may know whom Christ will condemn or justify. 
And seeing all this is so, does it not concern us all to 
make a speedy trial of ourselves in preparation for this 
final trial ? I shall, for your own sakes, therefore, take 
the boldness, as the officer of Christ, to summon you to 
appear before yourselves, and keep an assize this day 
in your own souls, and answer at the bar of conscience 
to what shall be charged upon you. Fear not the trial ; 
for it is not conclusive, final, or a peremptory irrever- 
sible sentence that must now pass. Yet slight it not ; 
for it is a necessary preparative to that which is final 
and irreversible." 

L. B. 12* 



*38 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

After describing the vanities of the world, he bursts 
forth: "What! shall we prefer a mole-hill before a 
kingdom? A shadow before the substance? An hour 
before eternity? Nothing before all things? Vanity 
and vexation before felicity ? The cross of Christ hath 
set up such a sun as quite darkeneth the light of 
worldly glory. Though earth were something, if there 
were no better to be had, it is nothing when heaven 
standeth by." 

Dr. Bates further remarks : " Besides, his wonderful 
diligence in catechising the particular families under 
his charge was exceeding useful to plant religion in 
them. Personal instruction, and application of divine 
truths, has an excellent advantage and efficacy to in- 
sinuate and infuse religion into the minds and hearth 
of men, and, by the conversion of parents and masters, 
to reform whole families that are under their imme 
diate direction and government. His unwearied indus 
try to do good to his flock, was answered by corres 
pondent love and thankfulness. He was an angel in 
their esteem. He would often speak with great com- 
placence of their dear affections; and, a little before 
his death, said, ' He believed they were more expres 
sive of kindness to him, than the Christian converts 
were to the apostle Paul, by what appears in his 
writings.' " 

" His books, for their number and the variety of mat- 
ter in them, make a library. They contain a treasure 
of controversial, casuistical, positive, and practical di 
vinity. Of them I shall relate the words of one whose 
exact judgment, joined with his moderation, will give 
a great value to his testimony ; they are those of Dr. 
Wilkins, afterwards bishop of Chester. He said that 
Mr. Baxter had ' cultivated every subject he handled ;• 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 139 

and 'if he had lived in the primitive times, he had been 
one of the fathers of the church,' and ' that it was 
enough for one age to produce such a person as Mr. 
Baxter.' Indeed, he had such an amplitude in his 
thoughts, such a vivacity of imagination, and such so- 
lidity and depth of judgment as rarely meet in one 
man. His inquiring mind was freed from the servile 
dejection and bondage of an implicit faith. He adhered 
to the Scriptures as the perfect rule of faith, and 
searched whether the doctrines received and taught 
were consonant to it. This is the duty of every Chris- 
tian according to his capacity, especially of minis- 
ters, and the necessary means to open the mind for 
Divine knowledge, and for the advancement of the 
truth." 

" His books of practical divinity have been effectual 
for more numerous conversions of sinners to God than 
any printed in our time ; and while the church remains 
on earth, will be of continual efficacy to recover lost 
souls. There is a vigorous pulse in them that keeps the 
reader awake and attentive. His book of the ' Saints' 
Everlasting Rest,' was written by him when languish- 
ing in the suspense of life and death, but has the sig- 
natures of his holy and vigorous mind. To allure our 
desires, he unveils the sanctuary above, and discovers 
the glory and joys of the blessed in the Divine pre- 
sence, by a light so strong and lively, that all the glit- 
tering vanities of this world vanish in that comparison, 
and a sincere believer will despise them, as one of ma- 
ture age does the toys and baubles of children. To ex- 
cite our fear he removes the skreen, and makes the 
everlasting fire of hell so visible, and represents the 
tormenting passions of the damned in those dreadful 
colors, that, if duly considered, would check and 



140 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

control the unbridled licentious appetites of the most 
sensual." 

Baxter's practical writings alone occupy four pon- 
derous folio, or twenty-two octavo volumes. If a com- 
plete collection of his controversial and practical writ- 
ings were made, they would occupy fully sixty volumes 
of the same size. " His industry was almost incredible 
in his studies. He had a sensitive nature, desirous of 
ease, as others have, and faculties like others, liable to 
tire ; yet such was the continual application of him- 
self to his great work, as if the labor of one day had 
supplied strength for another, and the willingness of 
the spirit had supported the weakness of the flesh." 
His painful and incessant afflictions would have pre- 
vented an ordinary man from attempting any thing ; 
but he persevered with unwearied industry to the close 
of his days. His life was occupied, too, in active labors. 
In camps and at court, in his parish and in prison, at 
home and abroad, his efforts were unremitting and 
often successful. 

Some idea of his sufferings may be formed from the 
summary of his diseases given by his late biographer. 

" His constitution was naturally sound, but he was 
always very thin and weak, and early affected with 
nervous debility. At fourteen years of age he was 
seized with the small-pox, and soon after, by improper 
exposure to the cold, he was affected with a violent 
catarrh and cough. This continued for about two years, 
and was followed by spitting of blood and other phthi- 
sical symptoms. He became, from that time, the sport 
of medical treatment and experiment. One physician 
prescribed one mode of cure, and another a different 
one ; till, from first to last, he had the advice of no less 
than thirt) r -six professors of the healing art. By their 



LIFE OF BAXTER. Ui 

orders he took drugs without number, till, from ex- 
periencing how little they could do for him, he for- 
sook them entirely, except some particular symptom 
urged him to seek present relief. He was diseased lite- 
rally from head to foot; his stomach flatulent and acidu- 
lous ; violent rheumatic head-aches ; prodigious bleed- 
ing at the nose ; his legs swelled and dropsical, &c. 
His physicians called it hypochondria, he himself con- 
sidered it prcematura seneclus, premature old age ; so 
that at twenty he had the symptoms, in addition to 
disease, of fourscore ! To be more particular would 
be disagreeable ; and to detail the innumerable reme- 
dies to which he was directed, or which he employed 
himself, would add little to the stock of medical know- 
ledge. He was certainly one of the most diseased and 
afflicted men that ever reached the full ordinary limits 
of human life. How, in such circumstances, he was 
capable of the exertions he almost incessantly made, 
appears not a little mysterious. His behavior under 
them is a poignant reproof to many, who either sink 
entirely under common afflictions, or give way to 
indolence and trifling. For the acerbity of his temper 
we are now prepared with an ample apology. That 
he should have been occasionally fretful, and impatient 
of contradiction, is not surprising, considering the 
state of the earthen vessel in which his noble and ac- 
tive spirit was deposited. No man was more sensible 
of his obliquities of disposition than himself: and no 
man, perhaps, ever did more to maintain the ascend- 
ancy of Christian principle over the strength and way- 
wardness of passion." 

The conviction that his time would be short, urged 
him to prosecute his labors with unwearied assiduity. 
Love to immortal souls, too, exerted its powerful in- 



142 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

fluence. This "love to the souls of men," says Dr 
Bates, "was the peculiar character of his spirit. In 
this he imitated and honored our Savior, who prayed, 
died, and lives for the salvation of souls. All his na- 
tural and supernatural endowments were subservient 
to that blessed end. It was his meat and drink, the life 
and joy of his life to do good to souls." 

Disinterestedness formed no unimportant feature of 
his character, and was strikingly marked in his refusal 
of ecclesiastical preferment; his self-denying engage- 
ments respecting his stipend at Kidderminster; his 
gratuitous labors ; abundant alms-giving ; and the wide 
distribution of his works among the poor and destitute. 
So long as he had a bare maintenance he was content. 
He rejoiced in being able to benefit others by his pro- 
perty or his labors. 

Fidelity to his Divine Master, and to his cause, was 
conspicuous in all his engagements. He tendered his 
advice, or administered his reproofs with equal faith- 
fulness, whether in conrt or camp ; to the king or to 
the protector ; before parliament or his parishioners ; 
in his conversation or his correspondence. He could 
not suffer sin upon his neighbor ; and whatever he con- 
ceived would be for the benefit of those concerned, that 
he faithfully, and without compromise, administered. 
In his preaching he " shunned not to declare the whole 
counsel of God." 

Dr. Bates remarks : " He that was so solicitous for 
the salvation of others, was not negligent of his own. 
In him the virtues of the contemplative and active life 
were eminently united. His time w£s spent in com- 
munion with God, and in charity to men. He lived 
above the world, and in solitude and silence conversed 
with God. The frequent and seiious meditation ol 



LIFE OF BAXTER. 143 

eternal things was the powerful means to make his 
heart holy and heavenly, and from thence his conver- 
sation. His life was a practical sermon, a drawing ex- 
ample. There was an air of humility and sanctity in 
his mortified countenance ; and his deportment was be- 
coming a stranger upon earth and a citizen of heaven." 

The following passage from his interesting impor- 
tant work, entitled " The Divine Life," may be con- 
sidered as a portrait of his own spiritual character. 

" To walk with God," he says, " is a phrase so high, 
that I should have feared the guilt of arrogance in 
using it, if I had not found it in the Holy Scriptures. 
It is a phrase that imports so high and holy a frame 
of soul, and expresses such high and holy actions, that 
the naming of it strikes my heart with reverence, as if 
I had heard the voice to Moses, \ Put off thy shoes 
from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest 
is holy ground.' Methinks he that shall say to me, 
Come, see a man that walks with God, doth call me 
to see one that is next unto an angel or glorified soul. 
It is a far more reverend object in mine eye than ten 
thousand lords or princes, considered only in their 
earthly glory. It is a wiser action for people to run 
and crowd together to see a man that walks with God, 
than to see the pompous train of princes, their enter- 
tainments, or their triumph. O, happy man that walks 
with God, though neglected and contemned by all 
about him ! What blessed sights does he daily see ! 
What ravishing tidings, what pleasant melody does he 
daily hear ! What delectable food does he daily taste ! 
He sees, by faith, the God, the glory which the blessed 
spirits see at hand by nearest intuition ! He sees that 
in a glass, and darkly, which they behold with open 
face ! He sees the glorious majesty of his Creator, the 



144 LIFE OF BAXTER. 

eternal King, the Cause of causes, the Composer, Up. 
holder, Preserver, and Governor of all worlds ! He be- 
holds the wonderful methods of his providence ; an<? 
what he cannot fully see he admires, and waits for 
the time when that also shall be open to his view ! He 
sees, by faith, the world of spirits, the hosts that attenc 
the throne of God ; their perfect righteousness, tbeii 
full devotedness to God ; their ardent love, their flam 
ing zeal, their ready and cheerful obedience, their dig- 
nity and shining glory, in which the lowest of them 
exceed that which the disciples saw on Moses and 
Elias, when they appeared on the holy mount and 
talked with Christ ! He hears by faith the heavenly 
concert, the high and harmonious songs of praise, the 
joyful triumphs of crowned saints, tne sweet comme- 
morations of the things that were done and suffered 
on earth, with the praises of Him that redeemed them 
by his blood, and made them kings and priests unto 
God. Herein he has sometimes a sweet foretaste of the 
everlasting pleasures which, though it be but little, as 
Jonathan's honey on the end of his rod, or as the clus- 
ters brought from Canaan into the wilderness ; yet is 
more excellent than all the delights of sinners." 

His character may be summed up in the words of 
Mr. Orme : " Among his contemporaries there were 
men of equal talents, of more amiable dispositions, and 
of greater learning. But there was no man in whom 
there appears to have been so little of earth, and so 
much of heaven ; so small a portion of the alloy of hu- 
manity, and so large a portion of all that is celestial. 
He felt scarcely any of the attractions of this world, 
but felt and manifested the most powerful affinity for 
the world to come." 

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