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R I ( IJ A R D B V X T E Ft 

LIFE OF l tl I. \i THOR 

B1 LEO \ \ R i» BACOH 


in TWO VOI r M 


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[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1831, by Durrie & Peck, 
i the Clerk's office, of the District Court of Connecticut.] 



In making the following selections, I have, for ob- 
vious reasons, omitted those works of this venerated 
author which are familiar to the Christian public ; 
and have been guided by a desire to provide a book 
suited to the wants of private Christians, and of 
Christian families. Had it been my object to afford 
the theological scholar the means of judging respect- 
ing Baxter's opinions and his modes of reasoning on 
disputed subjects in divinity, these two volumes would 
have been made up of very different materials. 

The writings of Baxter are distinguished, even 
above those of his cotemporaries, by the peculiarities 
of the man and of the age in which he lived. Those 
only who know what the author was, what were the 
vicissitudes through which he passed, what were the 
changes and commotions of the times in which he liv- 
ed, and what were the men with whom he had to do, — 
can enter fully into the spirit of his writings. It is 
simply with a view of helping the unlearned reader to 
a knowledge of the man and of the age, that the Life 
of Baxter has been prefixed to this selection from his 
works. Literary men and theologians will find tho 


more extensive and labored work of the late Mr. 
Orme on the same subject, much better adapted to 
their use. 

When I began the preparation of these volumes, I 
expected to see the end of them much earlier. But 
I thank God that while I was studying the writings 
and the history of this eminent saint, and was seeking 
to imbibe that spirit which made him so successful a 
pastor, my studies were interrupted by a signal revi- 
val of the work of God among the people of my charge. 
Whatever delay has attended the publication, has 
been caused by this happy interruption. 

Now reader, let these devout and searching trea- 
tises have that attention which they deserve. Read 
to learn what truth is, and to receive the truth in 
love ; to learn what duty is, and to do it. 

New Haven, Oct. 28, 1831. 




Part I. From his birth, to the beginning of the civil war in 1641, 9 

Part II. From the beginning of the war, to the time of his leaving the army, 66 
Part III. From his return to Kidderminster, to the year 1660, . 94 

Part IV. From the year 1660, to the year 1665, ... 164 

Part V. From the year 1665, to his death, .... 222 

Epistle Dedicatory, ....... 267 

To the Poor in Spirit, ....... 272 

The Case to be Resolved, ...... 283 

Direct. I. Discover the cause of your trouble, . . . 284 

Direct. II. Discover well how much of your trouble is from melancholy or 

from outward crosses, and apply the remedy accordingly, . . 286 

Direct. III. Lay first in your understanding sound and deep apprehensions 
of God's nature, ....... 291 

Direct. IV. Get deep apprehensions of the gracious nature and office of the 
Mediator, ........ 297 

Direct. V. Believe and consider the full sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice and 
ransom for all, . . . . . . . 299 

Direct. VI. Apprehend the freeness, fullness and universality of the law of 

grace, or conditional grant of pardon and salvation to all men, . 299 

Direct. VII. Understand the difference between general grace and special ; 
and between the posssibility, probability, conditional certainty, and abso- 
solute certainty of your salvation ; and so between the several degrees of 
comfort that these may afford, ..... 300 

Direct. VIII. Understand the nature of saving faith, . 307 

Direct. IX. Next, perform the condition, by actual believing, . 310 

Direct. X. Next, review your own believing, and thence gather farther 
assurance, ........ 316 

Direct. XI. Make use, in trial, of none but infallible signs, . 326 

Direct. XII. Know that assurance of justification cannot be gathered from 
the least degree of saving grace, . . . . 345 

Direct. XIII. The first time of our receiving or acting saving grace, cannot 
ordinarily be known, ...... 354 

Direct. XIV. Know that assurance is not the ordinary lot of true christians, 

but only of a few of the strongest, most active, watchful and obedient, 358 
Direct. XV. Know that even many of the stronger and more obedient, are 
yet unassured of their salvation for want of assurance to'persevere, . 366 


Direct. XVI. Thare are many grounds to discover a probability of saving 
grace when we cannot yet discover a certainty : and you must learn, next 
to the comforts s of general grace, to receive the comforts of the probability 
of special grace, before you expect or are ripe for the comforts of assurance, 368 

Direct. XVII. Improve your own and others experiences to strengthen your 
probabilities, ...... 372 

Direct. XVIII. Know that God hath not commanded you to believe that you 
do believe, nor that you are justified, or shall be saved (but only conditionally,) 
and therefore your assurance is not a certainty properly of Divine faith, 377 

Direct. XIX. Know that those few that do attain to assurance, have it not 
constantly, ........ 380 

Direct. XX. Never expect so much assurance on earth as shall set you above 
all possibility of the loss of heaven, and above all apprehensions of danger, 387 

Direct. XXI. Be glad of a settled peace, and look not too much after raptures 
and strong feelings of comfort ; and if you have such, expect not a constancy 
of them, ........ 395 

Direct. XXII. Spend more time and care about your duty than your comforts, 
and to get, and exercise, and increase grace, than to discern the certainty of it, 398 

Direct. XXIII. Think not that those doubts and troubles which are caused by 
disobedience will be ever well healed but by the healing of that disobedience, 404 

Direct. XXIV. Content not yourself with a cheap religiousness, and to serve 
God with that which costs you little or nothing ; and take every call to 
costly duty or suffering for Christ, as a prize put into your hand for advan- 
cing your comforts, ....... 437 

Direct. XXV. Study the great art of doing good ; and let it be your every day's 
contrivance, care and business, how to lay out all your talents to the greatest 
advantage, ........ 448 

Direct. XXVI. Trouble not your soul with needless scruples, nor make 
yourself more work than God has made you, . . . 455 

Direct. XXVII. When God hath discovered your sincerity to you, fix it in 
your memory; and leave not your soul open to new apprehensions, except 
in case of notable declinings or gross sinning, . . . 471 

Direct. XXVIII. Beware of perplexing misinterpretations of scriptures, pro- 
vidences, or sermons, ...... 477 

Direct. XXIX. Distinguish carefully between causes of doubting, and causes 
of mere humiliation and amendment, .... 485 

Direct. XXX. Discern whether your doubts are such as must be cured by the 
consideration of general or of special grace; and be sure that, when you lose 
the sight of certain evidences, you let not go probabilities; or at the worst, 
when you are beaten from both, and judge yourself graceless, yet lose not 
the comforts of general grace, ..... 528 

Direct. XXXI. In all pressing necessities take advice from your pastors, 533 

Direct. XXXII. Understand that the height of a christian life, and the great- 
est part of your duty, lieth in a loving delight in God and a thankful and 
cheerful obedience to his will, ..... 545 

MAKING LIGHT OF CHRIST; A Sermon, ... 557 











The life of Richard Baxter extends over a little more than 
three quarters of a century. And perhaps in all the history of 
England, no period of the same length can be selected more 
abundant in memorable events, or more critical in its bearings on 
the cause of true liberty and of pure Christianity, than the seventy- 
six years between the birth of Baxter and his death. 

The Reformation of the English Church had been begun about 
the middle of the preceding century, by a wayward and arbitrary 
monarch, to gratify his own passions. Henry VIII. renounced the 
supremacy of the pope, only that he might be pope himself within 
the limits of his own dominions. He dissolved the monasteries, 
because their immense possessions made them worth plundering. 
He made the hierarchy independent of Rome, and dependent on 
himself, because he would admit no power co-ordinate with that 
of the crown. And though in effecting these changes he was un- 
der the necessity of employing the agency of some true reformers, 
who shared in the spirit of Wickliffe and Luther and Calvin, nothing 
was farther from his design than the intellectual or moral renovation 
of the people. 

On his death in 1547, an amiable prince, a boy in his tenth 
year, became nominally king of England and head of the English 

Vol. 1. 2 


church. During the short reign of Edward VI. the reformation 
was carried on with a hearty good will, by the good Cranmer and 
his associates in the regency. The bible in the English language, 
which, having been published by authority in the preceding reign, 
had been soon afterwards, by the same authority, suppressed, was 
now again placed by royal proclamation in the parish churches. 
Worship was performed in a language " understanded of the peo- 
ple." The liturgy, first translated and established in the second 
year of this reign, was revised and purged from some of its imper- 
fections three years afterwards, and then assumed nearly the form 
under which it is now used in the churches of the English Estab- 
lishment and in the Episcopal churches of America. The design 
of the leading reformers in this reign was to carry the work of re- 
formation as far as the circumstances in which they were placed 
would permit. They had their eye on the more perfect refor- 
mation of foreign churches ; they were in the full confidence of 
foreign reformers ; and their aim was to bring back the Church of 
England not only to the purity of scriptural doctrine, but to the sim- 
plicity of scriptural worship, and the strictness of scriptural disci- 
pline. In pursuance of this aim, foreign divines of eminence, hearty 
disciples of the Swiss reformers, in discipline as well as in doctrine, 
were made professors of theology in both the universities, and were 
placed in other stations of honor and influence. The progress of 
the work was hindered by the influence of a powerful popish party, 
including the heir apparent to the throne, many of the bishops, the 
mass of the clergy, and perhaps the numerical majority of the peo- 
ple ; and its consummation was defeated by the premature death of 
the king in the sixth year of his reign. 

The crown and the ecclesiastical supremacy then devolved upon 
the " bloody Mary," in the year ] 553. This princess inherited a 
gloomy temper ; and the circumstances of her early life, while they 
inspired her with a bigotted attachment to the religion of Rome, 
co-operated with that religion to aggravate all that was unfortunate 
in her native disposition. Under her government, a few months 
was time enough to undo all that had been done towards a refor- 
mation in the two preceding reigns. It was found that the king's 
supremacy was as able to bring back the old doctrines and the 


old worship, as it had been to bring in the new. All king Edward's 
laws about religion were repealed by a single act of an obsequious 
parliament. A solemn reconciliation was effected with the See of 
Rome, and was ratified in the blood of an army of martyrs. 
Many of the active friends of the reformation, forseeing the tem- 
pest, saved their lives by a timely flight to foreign countries. But 
God made the wrath of man to praise him ; for the six years of this 
reign contributed more perhaps than all the labors of Cranmer and 
his associates during the six years of Edward, to open the eyes and 
quicken the sluggish minds of the people, and to inspire them at 
once with a warm affection for the protestant faith, and with a hear- 
ty detestation of popery. 

The commencement of the reign of Elizabeth, in 1558, is the 
era of the establishment of the reformation in England. This 
queen, of all the children of Henry VIII. inherited most largely the 
spirit of her father. She was against the pope, because the pope's 
supremacy was at variance with her own. She was against the 
spirit of protestantism, because she saw that its tendency was to 
make the people think for themselves. It soon appeared that, 
under her auspices, the reformation which during the reign of Ed- 
ward had been progressive, and had been represented by its patrons 
as only begun, was to be progressive no longer. Those who had 
hoped that the new government would take up the work of reform 
where Cranmer and his associates had left it, and would bring the 
ecclesiastical affairs of the kingdom still nearer to a piimilive sim- 
plicity in doctrine and in order, found that the queen's march of im- 
provement was retrograde, and that the church, under her supre- 
macy, was to be carried back towards the stately and ceremonious 
superstition of Romanism. But the popular mind had begun to 
take an interest in these matters. So many religious revolutions 
treading on each other's heels, had wakened thought and inquiry, 
even among those who were generally regarded as having only to 
obey the dictation of their superiors. To have suffered under 
Queen Mary for dissenting from the established faith and order, 
was extolled under Queen Elizabeth as meritorious ; and the peo- 
ple began to apprehend that religious truth and duty might be 


something independent of the throne and the parliament, something 
which law could not fix, nor revolution overturn. Those who had 
seen so many burnt, and so many banished, for particular religious 
opinions, and who understood that the opinions then proscribed 
were now triumphant, were led to inquire what those opinions were, 
and on what basis they rested. Thus the public mind was ripening 
for a real reformation. 

In these circumstances there sprung up a new party, the party of 
the Puritans. Under King Edward, there had been dissension 
among the reformers, some wishing to go faster and farther than 
others. The question related chiefly to certain vestments of the 
popish priesthood, and the controversy was whether they should be 
retained or disused. By some it was deemed important to con- 
tinue the use of those garments in the administration of public 
worship, at least for a while, lest by too sudden and violent a de- 
parture from all old usages and forms, the people might become 
unnecessarily and inveterately prejudiced against the reformation. 
By others those vestments were disapproved as relics of popish idol- 
atry ; and the disuse of them was insisted on, inasmuch as the peo- 
ple had been taught to regard them with a superstitious feeling, and 
to believe that they were essential to the validity of all religious ad- 
ministrations. What was at first little else than a question of expe- 
diency, soon became a question of conscience. Dr. Hooper, one 
of the most zealous and efficient leaders of the reformation, was 
imprisoned several months by his brethren, for refusing to accept 
the bishopric of Gloucester unless he might be consecrated without 
putting on the popish habits. That difficulty was at last compro- 
mised by the mediation of the Swiss reformers with Hooper on the 
one hand, and of the king and council with the ruling prelates on 
the other ; and Ridley and Hooper afterwards labored with the same 
zeal for the truth, and at last suffered with the same patience 
the pains of martyrdom. During the persecution in Queen Mary's 
time, the controversy was revived in another form. Of the exiles 
who fled to the protestant countries on the continent, many admired, 
and were disposed to copy, the discipline and worship of the re- 
formed churches ; while others insisted on adhering to the letter of 


King Edward's service-book. At Frankfort, the congregation 
at first agreed with entire unanimity on certain modes of worship 
adapted as they thought to their necessities ; but afterwards, a new 
company having arrived who brought with them a zealous attach- 
ment to the liturgy, a schism arose, and a considerable portion of 
the congregation, with the ministers, left the field to the new comers, 
and took up their residence in Geneva. On returning to their na- 
tive country, many of those who had approved the constitution of 
the Swiss and French proteslant churches, exerted themselves to 
promote a further reformation in England, or at least to secure 
some liberty in regard to matters which were acknowledged to be 
indifferent. Their influence as individuals, some of them personally 
connected with men high in rankand authority, their influence in the 
universities, where some of them occupied important stations, and 
their influence by means of the press, was employed to promote, 
by all lawful means, greater purity of doctrine and of discipline in 
the Church of England. But, as has already been intimated, 
unifcrmity, the imposing idea of a whole nation united in one church, 
with one faith and one form of worship, and subjected to a splendid 
hierarchy with the monarch at the head of it, — was the idol to which 
the queen and her counsellors were willing to sacrifice both peace 
and truth. Other matters besides habits and ceremonies were 
soon brought into debate. The entire constitution of the English 
church was called in question. Thus the breach grew wider. It 
was evident that the Puritans were not to be put down at a word ; 
for, to say nothing of the merits of their cause, they were the most 
learned divines, the most powerful preachers, and the most able dis- 
putants of the age, Thomas Cartwright, Margaret Professor of 
Divinity in the University of Cambridge, of whom Beza said that 
" there was not a more learned man under the sun," led the van in 
the dispute against prelacy. The venerable Miles Coverdale who 
having assisted Tindal in the translation of the bible, had been 
bishop of Exeter under King Edward, and had hardly escaped 
from death under Queen Mary, was a Puritan, and as such died 
poor and neglected. John Fox whose history of the martyrs was 
held in such veneration that it was ordered to be set up in the 
churches, w^as a Puritan, and shared the lot of Coverdale. Many 


church dignitaries, including some of the bishops, were known to 
despise the habits and ceremonies, and to desire earnestly a more 
complete reformation. Yet nothing was yielded; the terms of 
uniformity were so defined as to be easier for papists than for those 
who doubted the completeness of the established reformation. 
Ministers convicted of non-conformity, though it were but the 
omission of a sentence or a ceremony in the liturgy, or a neglect 
to put on the popish surplice, were suspended, or deprived of their 
livings, then forbidden to preach, then — in many instances — im- 
prisoned. When such men were thus turned out of their employ- 
ments, and prohibited the exercise of their gifts, they found refuge 
and employment in the houses of many of the nobility and gentry, 
as private chaplains and instructors. In this way their principles 
were diffused among the highest classes of society. Meanwhile 
few preachers could be found to occupy the places of the ejected 
and silenced Puritans. Men without learning and without charac- 
ter were made clergymen ; but neither the orders of the Queen in 
council, nor the imposition of episcopal hands could qualify them 
to be pastors. The people, especially the thinking and the sober 
people of the middling classes, when they saw the difference be- 
tween the pious and zealous preachers who were deprived for non- 
conformity, and the ignorant and sometimes profligate readers who 
were put in their places, called the latter " dumb dogs," (in allusion 
to the language of scripture,) and were the more ready to follow 
their persecuted teachers. And those, of every rank, who had 
begun to experience any thing of the power of christian truth, and 
to love the doctrines and duties of the gospel, and who desired to 
see sinners converted by the preaching of God's word, sympathized 
deeply with these suffering ministers, and, out of respect to their 
evangelical character, were strongly disposed to favor and to adopt 
the principles for which they suffered. Thus, while Puritanism 
was making constant progress in the community, it was associated, 
almost from its origin, with serious and practical piety ; and it soon 
came to pass that every man who cared more for godliness than his 
neighbors, or was more strict than fhey in his obedience to the pre- 
cepts of the gospel, or who exhibited any faith in the principles of 
experimental religion, was called, by way of reproach, a Puritan. 


Elizabeth died after a reign of forty-four years, and was suc- 
ceeded by James I. in 1G83. The Puritans, including both those 
who had been voluntarily or forcibly separated from the establish- 
ment, and those who by a partial or entire conformity still retained 
their connection with the church, had entertained strong hopes 
that a king who had reigned in Scotland from his infancy, who 
had made ample and frequent professions of his attachment to the 
ecclesiastical constitution of his native kingdom, and who had 
openly declared respecting the church of England, that " their 
service was an evil-said mass in English," would decidedly 
favor a more complete reformation. Accordingly he was met on 
his progress towards London, with numerous petitions, one of 
which was signed by nearly eight hundred clergymen, " desiring 
reformation of certain ceremonies and abuses of the church." But 
the king whom they addressed was at once a vainglorious foolish 
pedant, and an arbitrary treacherous prince ; and the first year of 
his reign abundantly taught them the fallacy of all their hopes. 
For the sake of first raising, and then disappointing and crushing, 
the expectations of such as were dissatisfied with the existing sys- 
tem, a conference was held by royal authority at Hampton Court, 
to which were summoned, on one side four Puritan divines, with 
a minister from Scotland, and on the other side seventeen digni- 
taries of the church, nine of whom were bishops. At this meeting, 
after the king had first determined all things in consultation 
with the bishops and their associates, the Puritans were made to 
feel that they were brought there not in the spirit of conciliation, 
but to be made a spectacle to their enemies ; not to argue, or to be 
argued with, before a king impartial and desiring to be led by rea- 
son, but to be ridiculed and scorned, insulted and reproached by 
a fool too elevated in station to be answered according to his folly. 
As for their desire of liberty in things indifferent, his language 
was, " I will have none of that ; I will have one doctrine, one dis- 
cipline, one religion in substance and ceremony : never speak more 
to that point, how far you are bound to obey." To their request 
that ministers might have the liberty of meeting under the direc- 
tion of their ecclesiastical superiors, for mutual assistance and im- 
provement, he replied peremptorily, in language characteristically 


coarse and profane, that their plans tended to the subversion of 
monarchy, and charged them with desiring the overthrow of his 
supremacy. And his majesty's conclusion of the whole matter 
was, " I will make them conform, or I will harry them out of this 
land, or else worse." Neal adds very truly, " and he was as good 
as his word." 

There were many things in the policy of the government, and 
in the character of the times, which promoted, during all this reign, 
the cause of Puritanism. The king, with nothing of the masculine 
energy by which Elizabeth controled her parliaments, had the 
most extravagant notions of his own divine right to govern without 
limitation, and was evidently bent on setting his will above all laws. 
Under such a prince, too arbitrary to be loved, and too foolish to 
be feared, the spirit of liberty naturally revived among the people. 
James in his folly, gave the name of Puritanism to every movement 
and every principle, wherever manifested, which breathed of pop- 
ular privilege, or implied the existence of any limit to his_ preroga- 
tive. Thus the cause of the Puritans was associated, in the esti- 
mation both of court and country, with the cause of English free- 
dom, and of resistance to the encroachments of arbitrary power ; 
and the cause of the prelates was equally associated with all those 
measures of the government that were odious to the friends of lib- 
erty, or pernicious to the common welfare. Nor was there any 
incongruity in these associations. The Puritans were men of a 
stern and republican cast ; they spake as if they had rights, and 
addressed the throne with their complaints. The prelates, in 
all their relations, were dependent on the court; they sympathized 
with the king in his love of power ; they joined with him in his 
maxim, " No bishop, no king;" and they fed his oriental notions 
of royalty with strains of oriental adulation. Thus the party of 
the Puritans, though it lacked not the support of many a high- 
minded nobleman, rapidly became the party of the middling class- 
es ; while prelacy was espoused chiefly by the luxurious and un- 
principled nobility on the one hand, and by their degraded and 
dependent peasantry on the other. At the same time, with a folly 
if possible still greater, the king deserted the protestant interest in 
Europe, of which both policy and principle ought to have made 


him the head ; sought first a Spanish, and afterwards a French al- 
liance for his son ; entered into treaties binding himself to protect 
and favor the papists in his own kingdom ; and in many ways show- 
ed himself not unwilling to be reconciled to Rome. Nothing could 
have been more offensive to the people whose hatred of popery, 
kindled into a passion by the persecutions under Mary, and kept 
alive by the terror of the Spanish invasion, and by the national re- 
joicings over its defeat, had now been aggravated into an incurable 
horror by the recently discovered "Powder Plot." Hardly any 
thing could have given the Puritans a better introduction to popular 
favor; for they were cordial and zealous protestants, hating the very 
garments spotted with the pollutions of Rome ; and what could 
their enemies be but secret papists. Another instance of the infa- 
tuation of this reign was the marked favor shown to the newly 
broached doctrines of Arminianism. Abbot, the Archbishop of 
Canterbury was indeed an opposer of those novelties, and promo- 
ted to the extent of his influence the preaching of evangelical truth, 
deeming it far more important than all the ceremonies ; but the 
king introduced into several of the most important bishoprics men 
of another stamp, whose views were known to be at war with the 
doctrines of the reformers; and all who held the Calvinistic con- 
struction of the articles, however strict their conformity, were 
branded as " doctrinal Puritans," and for them there was no road 
to preferment. No wonder that under such influences, dissatis- 
faction with the existing ecclesiastical system grew deeper and 
stronger. James I. was succeeded by Charles I. in 1625. 

In the scenes that followed, Richard Baxter sustained an im- 
portant part. He was born at Rovvton, a village in Shropshire, No- 
vember 12, 1615. His father (whose name was also Richard) was 
a freeholder possessed of a moderate estate at Eaton Constantine, 
another village in the same county, about five miles from Shrews- 
bury. His infancy was spent under the care and in the house of 
his maternal grandfather at Rowton. At about ten years of age he 
was taken home by his parents to their residence at Eaton Con- 

His father had been in youth so much addicted to gaming, as to 

Vol. I. 3 


have involved his property in very considerable embarrassments ; 
but, at a later period, the blessing of God on the simple reading of 
the scriptures, without any other religious advantages, had made 
him a devout and godly man. The influence of a father's example 
and serious instructions early affected the mind of the son with re- 
ligious impressions, and gave him a remarkable tenderness of con- 
science. In subsequent years, the father expressed a strong belief 
that his son Richard was converted in infancy. 

Respecting the religious advantages of his childhood, aside from 
domestic example and instruction, Baxter gives the following testi- 
mony. " We lived in a country that had but little preaching at all. 
In the village where I was born, there were four readers succes- 
sively in six years time, ignorant men, two of them immoral in their 
lives, who were all my schoolmasters. In the village where my 
father lived, there was a reader of about eighty years of age that 
never preached, and had two churches about twenty miles distant. 
His eye sight failing him, he said common prayer without book ; 
but for the reading of the Psalms and chapters, he got a common 
thresher, and day-laborer one year, and a taylor another year ; for 
the clerk could not read well. And at last he had a kinsman of 
his own, (the excellentest stage-player in all the country, and a 
good gamester and good fellow,) that got orders and supplied one 
of his places. After him another younger kinsman that could write 
and read, got orders. And at the same time another neighbor's 
son that had been a while at school, turned minister, and, who would 
needs go further than the rest, ventured to preach, (and after got a 
living in Staffordshire) and when he had been a preacher about 
twelve or sixteen years, he was fain to give over, it being discovered 
that his orders were forged by the first ingenious stage-player. 
After him another neighbor's son took orders, when he had been a 
while an attorney's clerk, and a common drunkard, and tippled him- 
self into so great poverty that he had no other way to live. It was 
feared that he and more of them came by their orders the same 
way with the forementioned person. These were the schoolmas- 
ters of my youth, (except two of them) who read common prayer 
on Sundays and holy-days, and taught school and tippled on the 
week days, and whipped the boys when they were drunk, so that 


we changed them very oft. Within a few miles about us were near 
a dozen more ministers that were near eighty years old apiece, and 
never preached ; poor ignorant readers, and most of them of scan- 
dalous lives. Only three or four constant competent preachers 
lived near us, and those (though conformable all save one) were 
the common marks of the people's obloquy and reproach, and any 
that had but gone to hear them when he had no preaching at home, 
was made the derision of the vulgar rabble, under the odious name 
of a Puritane."* 

The state of society in which his early years were spent, he de- 
scribes in the same style. The character of the people correspond- 
ed_ with the character of their religious privileges. " In the village 
where I lived," he says, " 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 did meet 
together. And though one of my father's own tenants was the 
piper, he could not restrain him nor break the sport ; so that we 
could not read the scripture in our family without the great dis- 
turbance 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 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 and alienate me from them ; 
for I considered that my father's exercise of reading the scripture, 
was better than their's, and would surely be better thought on by 
all men at the last ; and I considered what it was for which he and 
and others were thus derided. When I heard them speak scorn- 
fully of others as Puritans, 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 the 
drunkards were the forwardest in the reproach, I perceived that it 
was mere malice. For my father never scrupled common prayer 
or ceremonies, nor spake against bishops, nor even so much as prayed 

Narrative of his life and times. Part I. p. 2. 


but by a book or form, being not even acquainted 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 the life to come, he was reviled commonly by the 
name of Puritan, Precisian, and Hypocrite ; and so were the godly 
conformable ministers that lived any where near us, not only by our 
neighbors, but by the common talk of all the vulgar rabble of all 
about us. By this experience 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 enticed me."* 

About the age of fifteen, the mind of Baxter was more deeply and 
permanently affected with the things that pertain to salvation. That 
tenderness of conscience, which has already been described as 
characteristic of his early childhood, made him feel with much sen- 
sibility the guilt of some boyish crimes into which he had been led 
by his ruder companions. In this distress, he met with an old torn 
book which had been lent to his father by a poor day-laborer. 
The book, though now obsolete, seems to have been blessed in its 
day to the conversion of many. It was written originally by a Jesuit 
on Roman Catholic principles, but had been carefully corrected by 
Edmund Bunny, a Puritan of Queen Elizabeth's time, after whom 
it was entitled "Bunny's Resolution." The reading of this book 
was attended with the happiest effects on his mind. "I had before 
heard," he says, " some sermons, and read a good book or two, 
which made me more love and honor godliness in the general; but 
I had never felt any other change by them on my heart. Whether 
it were that till now I came not to that maturity of nature, which 
made me capable of discerning ; or whether it were that this was 
God's appointed time, or both together, I had no lively sight or sense 
of what I read till now. And in the reading of this book, it pleased 
God to awaken my soul, and show me the folly of sinning, and the 

* Narrative, Part I, pp. 2, 3. 


misery of the wicked, and the inexpressible weight of things eter- 
nal, and the necessity of resolving on a holy life, more than I was 
ever acquainted with before. The same things which I knew be- 
fore, came now in another manner, with light and sense and seri- 
ousness to my heart. This cast me at first into fears of my condi- 
tion ; and those drove me to sorrow and confession and prayer, and 
so to some resolution for another kind of life. And many a day 
I went with a throbbing conscience, and saw that I had other mat- 
ters to mind, and another work to do in the world, than I had mind- 
ed well before. 

" Yet whether sincere conversion began now, or before, or after, 
I was never able to this day* to know ; for I had before had some 
love to the things and people which were good, and a restraint 
from other sins except those forementioned ; and so much from 
those that I seldom committed most of 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 even at that time, I had little lively sense 
of the love of God in Christ to the world in me, nor of my spe- 
cial need of him ; for all Papists almost are too short upon this 

At this time his father bought of a pedlar at the door, another 
book, "The Bruised Reed," by Dr. Richard Sibbs. This he 
found adapted to the state of his mind in those circumstances. 
It disclosed to him more clearly the love of God towards him, and 
gave him livelier apprehensions of the mystery of Redemption, 
and of his obligations to the Savior. Afterwards a servant came 
into the family with a volume of the works of William Perkins, ano- 
ther ancient and eminent Puritan divine ; the reading of which in- 
structed him further, and gave new strength to his determination. 
" Thus," he says, " without any means but books, was God pleased 
to resolve me for himself." During all this period of his educa- 
tion and of his christian experience, neither his father nor himself 
had any acquaintance with a single individual better instructed than 
themselves on the subject of religion. It is also worthy of notice 

* Written in 1664, thirty-four 3'ears afterwards, t Narrative, Part I. p. 3. 


that they had never heard an extemporaneous prayer. "My 
prayers," says Baxter, " were the confession in the common prayer 
book and sometimes one of Mr. Bradford's prayers in a book call- 
ed his * Prayers and Meditations,' and sometimes a prayer out of 
another prayer book which we had. 1 ' 

The ignorant and tippling schoolmasters, under whom he ac- 
quired the earliest rudiments of education, have already been de- 
scribed. Of a Mr. John Owen, master of a considerable free 
school at Wroxeter, near his fathers residence, he speaks with re- 
spect. In that school he was fitted for the university. But when 
his studies were advanced to that point, he was diverted from his 
original design of obtaining a regular education at one of the esta- 
blished seats of learning. His teacher proposed that instead of go- 
ing to the university, he should be put under the tuition of a Mr. 
Wickstead chaplain to the council at Ludlow, who was allowed to 
have a single pupil. This situation, he was made to believe, was 
much more favorable to study than the university ; and his parents 
regarded the new proposal with much partiality, as by such an ar- 
rangement their only son would still be kept near them. Accord- 
ingly he went to Ludlow Castle. But his new instructor taught him 
nothing. The chaplain to the council was too much engaged with 
his efforts " to please the great ones and to seek preferment ;" he 
had no time or attention to bestow on his single pupil. Yet he did 
nothing to hinder the progress of the active and powerful young 
mind which he had undertaken to instruct ; and with time enough 
and books, such a mind could not fail to make progress. 

In his new circumstances he was exposed to many temptations, 
the Castle and town being full of idleness and dissipation. But 
while there, he formed an intimate acquaintance with a man who 
though he afterwards apostatised, was then distinguished by strong 
and fervid religious feelings. His intercourse with his friend not 
only kept him on his guard, but kindled his own feelings to a high- 
er pitch of excitement than they had ever attained before. 

After a year and a half spent at Ludlow Castle, he returned to 
his father's house. His former teacher Owen being sick with con- 
sumption, he, at the request of Lord Newport the patron, took 
charge of the school for a few months. The death of Owen and 


the appointment of a successor soon left him at liberty; and hav- 
ing resolved to enter the ministry, he put himself under the instruc- 
tion of Mr. Francis Garbet then minister at Wroxeter, of whom 
he speaks with affection and reverence. Under this teacher he 
commenced, with much zeal, those metaphysical pursuits to which 
he was ever afterwards so much devoted. His studies however 
were much interrupted by disease, and sometimes by mental distress 
approaching to religious melancholy. 

Not far from this time, when he was about eighteen years of 
age, he was persuaded for a little while, to abandon his plans and 
expectations in regard to preaching the gospel, Mr. Wickstead, 
his tutor at Ludlow, who seems to have regarded him with a friend- 
ly interest, proposed that he should go to London in the hope of 
obtaining some office about the court. Baxter himself disliked the 
proposal ; but his parents not having any great inclination to see 
their son a clergyman, (which cannot be thought strange consider- 
ing the specimens of clerical character with which they were ac- 
quainted,) were so much pleased with it, that he felt himself con- 
strained to yield to their wishes. Accordingly he went to London, 
and by the friendly aid of Mr. Wickstead, was introduced to the 
patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, then master of the revels. He 
stayed with Sir Henry at Whitehall about a month ; and in that short 
time had enough of the court. For when he saw, as he says, " a 
stage play instead of a sermon on the Lord's days in the after- 
noon," and " heard little preaching but what was as to one part 
against the Puritans," he was glad to be gone. At the same time 
his mother being sick desired his return. So he " resolved to bid 
farewell to those kinds of employments and expectations." It is 
no wonder if, after this piece of experience, he entertained very 
little respect for the religion of the court and the king, and was 
more inclined than ever toward the principles of the calumniated 

When he came home, he found his mother in extreme pain. 
She continued in lingering distress for about five months, and died 
on the tenth of May 1635. More than a year afterwards his father 
married Mary the daughter of Sir Thomas Hurkes, a woman of 
eminent excellence, whose ' J holiness, mortification, contempt of 


the world, and fervent prayer," made her " a blessing to the family, 
an honor to religion, and a pattern to those that knew her." This 
is the character given of her by her step-son, after her departure 
at the age of ninety-six. 

He now pursued his preparation for the ministry without any 
further interruption save what was occasioned by the extreme in- 
firmity of his constitution and the repeated attacks of disease. His 
physical frame, though naturally sound was never firm or vigorous ; 
and from childhood he was subject to a nervous debility. At four- 
teen years of age he had the small pox ; and in connection with 
that disease, he brought upon himself by improper exposure and 
diet, a violent catarrh and cough, which prevented all quiet sleep 
at night. After two years this was attended with spitting of blood 
and other symptoms of consumption ; and from this time to the 
extreme old age at which he left the world, he lived a dying life. 
The ever varying remedies which he successively tried, following 
from time to time the discordant suggestions of physicians and 
other advisers, had little effect except to vary, and with each va- 
riation as it seemed, to aggravate the symptoms of disease. The 
record of his diseases and his remedies need not be transcribed. 
His "rheumatic head;" his "flatulent stomach that turned all 
things into wind ;" his blood in such a state as to occasion the fre- 
quent excoriation of his fingers' ends ; and his excessive bleedings 
at the nose — both periodical every spring and fall — and occasional, 
whenever he was subjected to any unusual heat, explain his inter- 
vals of melancholy, afford an apology for the alleged acerbity of 
his temper, and make the industry of his life, especially when view- 
ed in connection with the results, almost miraculous. 

This living continually at the gate of death, and as it were within 
sight of an immediate retribution, had much to do in the formation 
of his character as a christian and as a minister of the gospel. 
When, at the age of seventeen, he was thought to be sinking in a 
consumption, the nearness of death set him on a close and trem- 
bling examination of his fitness to die. Thus was he "long kept 
with the calls of approaching death at one ear and the questionings 
of a doubtful conscience at the other ;" and afterwards he " found 
that this method of God's was very wise," and that no other was 


so likely to have tended to his good. It humbled him and led him 
to abasing views of himself. It restrained him from the levity and 
vanity of youth, and helped him to meet temptations to sensuality 
with the greatest fear. It made the doctrine of redemption the 
more delightful to him ; and the studies and considerations to which 
it led him, taught hiin how to live by faith on Christ. It made the 
world seem to him like " a carcass that had neither life nor loveli- 
ness." "It destroyed," he says, "those ambitious desires after 
literate fame, which was the sin of my childhood. I had a desire 
before to have attained the highest academical degrees and repu- 
tation of learning, and to have chosen out my studies accordingly; 
but sickness and solicitousness for my doubting soul did drive away 
all these thoughts as fooleries and children's plays." 

What he says respecting the effect of all this on the course of 
his preparation for the ministry, is worthy of a particular attention. 
" It set me upon that method of my studies, which since then I have 
found the benefit of, though at the time I was not satisfied with 
myself. It caused me first to seek God's kingdom and his right- 
eousness, and most to mind the one thing needful, and to deter- 
mine first of my ultimate end, by which I was engaged to choose 
out and to prosecute all other studies but as meant to that end. 
Therefore divinity was not only carried on with the rest of my stu- 
dies with an equal hand, but always had the first and chiefest place. 
And it caused me to study practical divinity first, and in the most 
practical books, in a practical order, doing all purposely for the in- 
forming and reforming of my own soul* So that I had read a 
multitude of our English practical treatises before I had ever read 
any other bodies of divinity than Ursine and Amesius, or two or 
three more. By which means my affection was carried on with my 
my judgment ; and by that means I prosecuted all my studies with 
unweariedness and delight ; and by that means all that I read did 
stick the better in my memory ; — and also less of my time was lost 
by lazy intermissions, but my bodily infirmities always caused me 
to lose (or spend) much of it in motion and corporeal exercises, which 

* A new day will dawn on the church, when all students of theoloo-y adopt this 

Vol. I. 4 


was sometimes by walking, and sometimes at the plow and such 
country labors. 

" But one loss I had by this method, which hath proved irrepara- 
ble ; I missed that part of learning which stood at the greatest dis- 
tance (in my thoughts) from my ultimate end, though no doubt but 
remotely it may be a valuable means — and I could never since find 
time to get it. Besides the Latin tongue, and but a mediocrity in 
Greek, with an inconsiderable trial at the Hebrew long after, I had 
no great skill in languages ; though 1 saw that an accurateness and 
thorough insight in the Greek and Hebrew were very desirable. 
But I was so eagerly carried after the knowledge of things, that I 
too much neglected the study of words. And for the mathematics, 
I was an utter stranger to them, and never could find in my heart to 
divert my studies that way. But in order to the knowledge of di- 
vinity, my inclination was most to logic and metaphysics, with that 
part of physics which teacheth of the soul, contenting myself at first 
with a slighter study of the rest. And these had my labor and de- 
light ; which occasioned me (perhaps) too soon to plunge myself 
very early into the study of controversies, and to read all the 
schoolmen I could get. For next to practical divinity, no books 
so suited with my disposition as Aquinas, Scotus, Durandus, Ock- 
am, and their disciples; because I thought they narrowly searched 
after truth, and brought things out of the darkness of confusion. 
For I could never from my first studies endure confusion. Till 
equivocals were explained, and definition and distinction led the 
way, I had rather hold my tongue than speak ; and was never 
more weary of learned men's discourses, than when I heard them 
wrangling about unexpounded words or things, and eagerly disputing 
before they understood each others' minds, and vehemently asserting 
modes and consequences and adjuncts, before they considered 
of the Quod sit, the Quid sit, or the Quotuplex. I never thought 
I understood any thing till I could anatomize it, and see the parts 
distinctly, and the conjunction of the parts as they make up the 
whole. Distinction and method seemed to me of that necessity, 
that without them I could not be said to know ; and the disputes that 
forsook them, or abused them, seemed but as incoherent dreams." 
Allusion has been made to the fears and difficulties which at- 


tended his religious views and feelings at this period of his life. 
These were, perhaps, in no respect peculiar. Few christians 
can read what he records on this subject, without finding much 
that coincides with their own experience, and much, in the way of 
analysis and explanation, that is adapted to their own necessities. 
" As for those doubts of my own salvation, which exercised 
me for many years, the chiefest causes of them were these : 

" 1 . Because I could not distinctly trace the workings of the 
Spirit upon my heart, in that method which Mr. Bolton, Mr. Hook- 
er, Mr. Rogers and other divines 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 pas- 
sionate a plight at first, to be able to keep an 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 possible that one of very many 
should be able to give any true account of the just time when spe- 
cial grace began, and advanced him above the state of preparation. 
"2. My second doubt was as aforesaid, because of the hardness 
of my heart, or want of such a lively apprehension of things spirit- 
ual, which I had about things corporeal. And though I still groan 
under this as my sin and want, yet I now perceive that a soul in flesh 
doth work so much after the manner of the flesh, that it much de- 
sireth sensible apprehensions ; but things spiritual and distant are 
not so apt to work upon them, and to stir the passions, as things 
present and sensible are ; especially being known so darkly as the 
state and operations of separated souls are known to us who are in 
the body ; and that the rational operations of the higher faculties 
(the intellect and will) may without so much passion, set God and 
things spiritual highest within us, and give them the pre-eminence, 
and subject all carnal interest to them, and give them the gov- 
ernment of the heart and life ; and that this is the ordinary state of 
a believer. 

" 3. My next doubt was lest education and. fear had done all that 
was ever done upon my soul, and regeneration and love were yet to 
seek ; because I had found convictions from my childhood, and 
had found more fear than love in all my duties and restraints. 


" But I afterwards perceived that education is God's ordinary 
way for the conveyance of his 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 pre- 
vent such sins as might else have been my shame and sorrow 
while I lived ; and that repentance is good, but prevention and in- 
nocence is better, which though we cannot obtain in perfection, yet 
the more the better. And 1 understand 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 predomi- 
nant love (prevailing against worldly love) conjunct with a far great- 
er measure of fear, may be a state of special grace ; and that fear 
being an easier and irresistible passion, doth oft obscure that measure 
of love which is indeed within us : and that the soul of a believer 
groweth up by degrees from the more troublesome and safe ope- 
ration of fear, to the more high and excellent operations of com- 
placential love ; even as it hath more of the sense of the love of God 
in Christ, and belief of the heavenly life which it approacheth ; and 
that it is long before love be sensibly predominant in respect of fear 
(that is, of self-love and self-preservation) though at the first it is 
predominant against worldly love. And I found that my hearty 
love of the word of God and of the servants of God, and my de- 
sires to be more holy, and especially the hatred of my heart for lov- 
ing God no more, and my love to love him, and be pleasing to him, 
was not without some love to himself, though it worked more sen- 
sibly on his nearer image. 

"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 breaketh 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 repentance, aud a 
loathing of ourselves is true humiliation ; and he that had rather 
leave his sin, than have leave to keep it, and had rather be the 
most holy, than leave to be unholy or less holy, is neither without 
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 tbey ne- 
ver so small, I thought he that could sin upon knowledge and de- 
liberation had no true grace, and that if I had but had as strong 
temptations to fornication, drunkenness, fraud or other more hein- 
ous sins, I might also have committed them. And if these proved 
that I had then no saving grace, after all that I had felt, 1 thought 
it unlikely that I ever should have any. 

" This stuck with me longer than any ; and the more, because that 
every sin which I knowingly committed did renew it ; and the 
terms on which I receive consolation against it are these : (Not as 
those that think every sin against knowledge doth nullify all our for- 
mer grace and unregenerate us ; and that every time we repent of 
such, we have a new regeneration, but) 

" 1 . All saving grace doth indeed put the soul into a state of 
enmity to sin as sin, and consequently to every known sin. 

" 2. This enmity must show itself in victory ; for bare striving, 
when we are overcome, and yielding to sin when we have awhile 
striven against it, proveth not the soul to be sincere. 

" 3. Yet do not God's children always overcome ; for then they 
should not sin at all ; but he that saith he hath no sin deceiveth 

"4. God's children always overcome those temptations which 
would draw them to a wicked unholy state of life, and would un- 
regenerate them and change their state, and turn them back from 
God to a fleshly, worldly life ; and also to any particular sin which 
proveth such a state, and signifieth a heart which hath more love 
to the world than tc God, — which may well be called a mortal sin, 
as proving the sinner in a state of death ; as others may be called ve- 
nial sins, which are consistent with spiritual life and a justified state. 

" 5. Therefore whenever a justified person sinneth, the tempta- 
tion at that time prevaileth against the Spirit and the love of God ; 
not to the extinction of the love of God, nor the destruction of the 
habit, nor the setting up of the contrary habit in predominance ; as 
setting up the habitual love of any sin above the habitual love of 
God. The inclination of the soul is still most to God ; and he es- 
teemeth him most, and preferreth him in the adherence of his will, 
in the main bent and course of heart and life ; only he is overcome 


and so far abateth the actual love and obedience to God, as to 
commit this particular act of sin, and remit or omit that act of love. 

"6. And this it is possible for a justified person to do upon some 
deliberation ; for as grace may strive one instant only in one act, 
and then be suddenly overcome ; so it may strive longer, and keep 
the mind on considerations of restraining motives, and yet be over- 

" 7. For it is not the mere length of consideration, which is enough 
to excite the heart against sin, but there must be clearness of light, 
and liveliness in those considerations. And sometimes a sudden 
conviction is so clear, and great* and sensible, that in an instant it 
stirreth up the soul to an utter abhorrence of the temptation, when 
the same man at another time may have all the same thoughts, in 
so sleepy a degree as shall not prevail. 

" 8. And though a little sin must be hated, and universal obedience 
must prove our sincerity, and no one sin must be wilfully continued 
in ; yet it is certain that God's servants do not often commit sins 
materially great and heinous, (as fornication, drunkenness, perjury, 
oppression, deceit, etc.) and yet that they often commit some lesser 
sins, (as idle thoughts, and idle words, and dullness in holy duties, 
defectiveness in the love of God, and omission of holy thoughts and 
words, etc.) and that the tempter often getteth advantage even 
with them, by telling that the sin is small, and such as God's ser- 
vants ordinarily commit ; and that naturally we fly with greater fear 
from a great danger than from a less ; from a wound in the heart 
than from a cut finger. And therefore one reason why idle words 
and sinful thoughts are, even deliberately, oftener committed than 
most heinous sins, is because the soul is not awaked so much by fear 
and care to make resistance; and love needeth the help of fear in 
this our weak condition. 

" 9. And it is certain that usually the servants of God being men 
of most knowledge, do therefore sin against more knowledge than 
others do ; for there are but kw sins, which they know not to be 
sins. They know that idle thoughts and words, and the omissions of 
the contrary, are their sins. 

" 10. There are some sins of such difficulty to avoid, (as the dis- 
order or omission of holy thoughts, and the delects of love to God, 


etc.) and some temptations so strong, and the soul in so sluggish a 
case to resist, that good thoughts which are in deliheration used 
against them, are borne down at last and are less effectual. 

"11. And our present stock of habitual grace is never sufficient 
of itself without co-operating grace from Christ ; and therefore 
when we provoke him to withhold his help; no wonder if we show 
our weakness, so far as to stumble in the way to heaven, or to 
step out into some by-path, or break over the hedge, and some- 
times to look back, and yet never to turn back, and go again from 
God to the world. 

" 12. And because no fall of a saint which is venial, an infirmity, 
consistent with grace, doth either destroy the habit of love and 
grace, or set up a contrary habit above it, nor yet pervert the scope 
and bent of the conversation, but only prevaileth to a particular act, it 
therefore followeth, that the soul riseth up from suoika sin by true 
repentance, and that the new nature or habit of love within us will 
work out the sin as soon as it hath advantage; as a needle in the 
compass will return to its proper point, when the force that moved 
it doth cease ; and as a running stream will turn clear again, when 
the force that muddied it is past. And this repentance will do much 
to increase our hatred of the sin, and fortify us against the next 
temptation ; so that though there be some sins which through our 
great infirmity we daily commit, as we daily repent of them (as disor- 
dered thoughts, defects of love, neglect of God, &c.) yet it will not 
be so with those sins which a willing, sincere, habituated penitent 
hath more in his power to cast out. 

" 13. And yet when all this is done, sin will breed fears, (and the 
more by how much the more deliberate and wilful it is ;) and the 
best way to keep under doubts and terrors, and to keep up com- 
fort, is to keep up actual obedience, and quickly and penitently re- 
turn when we have sinned. 

" This much I thought meet to say, for the sake of others, who 
may fall into the same temptations and perplexities. 

" 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 other men's condition. 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, it much abated my fears and troubles. And in par- 
ticular it much comforted mo, to read him whom I loved as one of 
the holiest of all the martyrs, Mr. John Bradford, subscribing him- 
self so often, "the hard-hearted sinner;" and " the miserable hard- 
hearted sinner," even as I was used to do myself. 

" 3. And it much increased my peace when God's Providence 
called me to the comforting many others that had the same com- 
plaints. While I answered their doubts I answered my own ; and 
the charity, which I was constrained to exercise for them, redound- 
ed 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 instead of full, un- 
doubted certainties ; and to this very day, though I have no such 
degree of doubtfulness as is any great trouble to my soul, or pro- 
cureth any great disquieting fears, yet cannot I say, that I have such 
a certainty of my own sincerity in grace, as exeludeth all doubts 
and fears of the contrary."* 

His ill health increased as he pursued his studies after his return 
from London ; and the spirituality and devotedness of his mind 
seems to have maintained a progress corresponding with the decay 
of his physical system. From the age of twenty-one to near twen- 
ty-three, he had no expectation of surviving a single year. And in 
these circumstances so clear were his views of the eternal world 
and its interests, that he was exceedingly desirous to communicate 
those apprehensions " to such ignorant, presumptuous, careless sin- 
ners, as the world aboundeth with." As he thought of preaching, 
he felt many discouragements. He not only knew that the want 
of university honors and titles was likely to diminish the estimation 
in which he would be held, and the respect with which he would 
be heard by many ; but he was conscious of the actual defects of 
his education, and felt deeply all his personal insufficiency. " But 

Narrative, Part I. pp. 6 — 9. 


yet, " he adds, " expecting to be so quickly in another world, the 
great concernments of miserable souls, did prevail 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 ac- 
tuate, I resolved that if one or two souls only might be won to God, 
it would easily recompense all the dishonor which, for want of titles, 
I might undergo from men. And indeed I had such clear convic- 
tions of the madness of secure presumptuous sinners, and the un- 
questionable reasons which should induce men to a holy life, and 
of the unspeakable greatness of that work which in this hasty inch 
of time we have all to do, that I thought that a man that could be 
ungodly if he did but hear these things, was fitter for Bedlam than 
for the reputation of a sober rational man."* The man who un- 
dertakes the ministry with such views, and has a fair opportunity to 
exercise that ministry, never will fail to be successful, so long as 
the gospel is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto 

As yet, he had not entered into the questions on which the 
church of England was divided. While young he had never been 
acquainted with any who refused to conform to the established or- 
der and ceremonies of the church. He was twenty years of age, 
when he first formed an acquaintance with a few zealous and de- 
voted non-conforming ministers in Shrewsbury and the vicinity, 
whose fervent prayers, and spiritual conversation, and holy lives, 
were highly profitable to him ; and when he found that these men 
were troubled and vexed by the ecclesiastical authorities, he could 
not but be somewhat prejudiced in their favor, and began to doubt 
whether their opposers "could be the genuine followers of the Lord 
of love." Yet he resolved to hold his judgment in suspense till 
he should have an opportunity to investigate the subject. And 
his prepossessions, generally, were in favor of conformity. He had 
been educated in that way. Mr. Garbet and the other ministers 
with whom he was most intimate, on whom he depended for di- 
rection in his studies, and to whom he looked with much deference 

* Narrative, Part I. p. r2. 

Vol. I. 5 


to their learning as well as with respect for their piety, were deci- 
ded conformists. The only Puritan books which he had read, had 
been books of practical religion ; for books against the order and 
ceremonies of the church, were in those days not easily circulated. 
But on the other hand his instructors and friends had put into his 
hands all the works which were then considered the best in defense 
of their opinions and practice. Thus being led to think in general 
that the conformists had the better side of the question, he had 
no scruple about the subscription required at ordination. At about 
twenty-three years of age he was ordained in due form according 
to the ritual of the church of England by the bishop of Worcester. 

His first station was at Dudley in Worcestershire, where by the 
interest of a friend with the patron, he had obtained a place as 
master of a free school, with an usher. This situation accorded 
with his wishes, for it gave him opportunity to preach in destitute 
places, and at the same time relieved him of the responsibility of a 
pastoral charge, which he felt unwilling to sustain at the com- 
mencement of his ministry. 

In this place he soon found himself compelled to enter on the 
examination of the great controversy of those times. He found 
that many private christians in that neighborhood were non-con- 
formists; one of them resided under the same roof with him. The 
dispute took so strong a hold on the religious community around 
him, that he soon resolved on a serious and impartial investigation. 
The result of his inquiries at that time is worth stating, as it 
shows what were the disputed questions of the day. 

In regard to episcopacy he had then no difficulty, for he had 
not at that time noticed the difference between arguments for an 
episcopacy in the abstract, and arguments for the particular dioce- 
san episcopacy which existed in England. On the question of 
kneeling at the Lord's supper, he was fully satisfied that conformity 
was lawful. In regard to the surplice, he doubted ; he would not 
wear it unless compelled to on pain of expulsion from the ministry ; 
and the fact was he never wore it in his life. Respecting the ring 
in marriage he had no scruple. The cross in baptism he thought 
unlawful, though he felt some doubt respecting it ; and therefore 
he never uged it. kform of prayer, he considered in itself lawful ; 


and he thought such a form might be prescribed by public autho- 
rity ; and though he regarded the English liturgy as objectionable 
on account of its " disorder and defectiveness," his conclusion was 
that it might be used in the ordinary public worship, by such as 
had no liberty to do better. The want of discipline in the church 
was in his view a great evil ; though he " did not then understand 
that the very frame of diocesan prelacy excluded it," but supposed 
that the bishops might have remedied that evil if they would. The 
subscription required before ordination he now began to disap- 
prove ; and he blamed himself for having yielded to that claim. 
So from this time he became, as he says, a non-conformist to these 
three things, "subscription, and the cross in baptism, and the pro- 
miscuous giving of the Lord's supper to all drunkards, swearers, 
fornicators, scorners at godliness, etc. that are not excommunicr- 
ted by a bishop or chancellor that is out of their acquaintance." 
Still he was far from acting with the more zealous and thorough 
non-conformists. He often debated the matter with them ; for he 
regarded the disposition which some of them had to forsake and 
renounce the established church, as a serious and threatening evil. 
He labored to repress their censoriousness and the boldness and 
bitterness of their language against the bishops, and to reduce them 
to greater patience and charity. "But I found," he adds, " that 
their sufferings from the bishops, were the great impediment to my 
success; and he that will blow the coals must not wonder if some 
sparks do fly in his face ; and that to persecute men and then call 
them to charity, is like whipping children to make them give over 
crying. The stronger sort of christians can bear mulcts and im- 
prisonments and reproaches for obeying God and conscience with- 
out abating their charity to their persecutors ; but to expect this 
from all the weak and injudicious, the young and passionate, is 
against all reason and exprience. I saw that he that will be loved, 
must love ; and he that rather chooseth to be more feared than 
loved, must expect to be hated, or loved but diminutively. And 
he that will have children, must be a father ; and he that will be a 
tyrant, must be contented with slaves." 

He occupied his post at Dudley only nine months. The peo- 
ple were of a degraded class, having been much addicted to drunk- 


enness ; but his labors among them were attended with an encou- 
raging measure of success. Being invited to Bridgenorth, the se- 
cond town in his native county, to preach there as assistant to the 
worthy pastor of that place, he left his school, and thenceforward 
had no work but that of the ministry. At Bridgenorth he had 
an excellent colleague, a full congregation, and owing to some pe- 
culiar circumstances, a freedom from all those things respecting 
which he had scruples or objections. 

The people to whom he here preached were ' ignorant and dead- 
hearted.' The town was one which afforded the people no uni- 
form and regular employment, and at the same time was full of inns 
and alehouses. Of course he labored at a great disadvantage. 
His preaching however was very popular, and was blessed to the 
conversion of some of his hearers. But the tippling and evil-com- 
munications and stupidity of the people were such, that though, as 
he says, he never preached any where with more fervor or with 
more vehement desires for the conversion of his hearers, his suc- 
cess was much less than it afterwards was in other places. 

While Baxter continued at Bridgenorth, the controversy, civil 
and ecclesiastical, which had so long been growing up, and which 
from year to year had agitated the nation with a deeper and strong- 
er interest, broke out in those commotions which overturned the hi- 
erarchy and the throne. A brief view of the progress of affairs from 
the beginning of this reign, seems proper in this connection, as the 
means of illustrating to readers not familiar with the details of Eng- 
lish history ; many events recorded or referred to in the sequel of 
this narrative. 

Charles I. succeeded to the throne of his father at the age of 
twenty-five, in circumstances which demanded of the chief ma- 
gistrate, not so much great force and splendid talents, as good 
common sense, and plain common honesty, directed by a spirit of 
kindness towards the people. The English nation had long been 
accustomed to some measure of freedom ; and though the consti- 
tution of the kingdom was not then that well defined system of dis- 
tributed and balanced powers which it now is ; and though sove- 
reigns had often transcended the bounds of law, and in many in- 


stances had made their own will their rule of government ; it had 
been well understood, from the earliest ages, that the rights of the 
subject were as real as the prerogative of the monarch. The mon- 
archy had always been limited, not only, like every other ancient 
monarchy in Europe, by the nature of the feudal system, but lim- 
ited still more by many a provision for the security of individual 
rights. And though the boundaries of power seem to have advan- 
ced and receded from time to time, as the monarch was more or 
less energetic, or as the barons and people were more or less spir- 
ited in the assertion of their rights, it was at every period, and un- 
der every reign, an indisputable principle of English freedom, that 
no man could be rightfully deprived of property or liberty but in 
the course of law, and that no law could be made but by the con- 
sent of the people expressed in parliament. James I. himself a 
foreigner in England, and having neither knowledge of the English 
character nor sympathy with the English spirit, attempted to govern 
on the most arbitrary principles. The other monarchs of Europe 
having gradually undermined, or violently overthrown, the barriers 
of the old feudal constitutions, had made themselves absolute ; and 
the successor of Elizabeth, so far as he was capable of forming or 
comprehending any scheme of policy, pursued his measures with 
reference to a similar result. Had he been as much of a man 
as she was to whose throne he succeeded, his success might not 
have been quite impossible. As it was, his imbecile efforts to play 
the absolute monarch, at once roused in his subjects the spirit to as- 
sert their rights, and gave them strength to resist aggression. He 
died baffled, disgraced, despised and unlamented; and his son in- 
herited, not only his throne already beginning to be undermined, 
but his weak and vaccillating judgment, his faithless disposition, his 
principles of usurpation and arbitrary misrule, his love of ecclesias- 
tical pomp and ceremony, and even his subjection to the influence 
of a worthless and odious favorite. 

The first important act of Charles after his accession was his 
marriage with Henrietta a sister of the king of France, which had 
been agreed on during the lifetime of his father. The bride 
brought with her into the kingdom a retinue of Romish servants, 
priests and courtiers, who by the marriage treaty were to be allow- 


ed the uninterrupted exercise of all the rites of their religion. 
Hardly anything could have been more obnoxious to the protestant 
feelings of the nation, than the insolence of these'privileged foreign- 
ers. The queen of England was seen walking through the 
streets of the city to do penance, " her confessor meanwhile riding 
by her in his coach ;" and as if on purpose to rouse popular indigna- 
tion into frenzy, her priests led her to Tyburn " there to present 
her devotions for the departed souls of the papists who had been 
executed at that place, on account of the gunpowder treason, and 
other enormous crimes."* If any thing had been wanting to excite 
prejudice against the superstitions of Rome, or against the court 
as inclined to popery, such proceedings were best adapted to 
that end. 

The parliament, assembled by the young monarch at Westmin- 
ster immediately after the arrival of the queen, and thence adjourn- 
ed to Oxford on account ot the plague, betrayed a new spirit, and 
gave decided indications that the time had come in which the peo- 
ple would be heard and would make their rights respected. There 
were men in the house of commons who were conscious of the in- 
creased political importance which the increase of wealth and in- 
telligence had given to the middling classes; who had witnessed, 
during the preceding reigns, the encroachments of arbitrary power 
on the ancient privileges of the people ; and who saw that the ac- 
cession of a new prince, involved in war, embarrassed with debt, 
and guided by a weak and odious favorite, afforded them the best 
opportunity to assert their rights, and to erect new barriers against 
future usurpation. Accordingly, when called upon to replenish 
the royal treasury, they began by voting a supply so limited as to 
keep the court still dependent on the commons, and to secure for 
themselves the vantage ground in negotiating for the redress of 
grievances. To the king's explanations of his necessities and his 
engagements they were inexorable ; and instead of giving money 
to make him independent of his people, they joined in a petition 
setting forth the causes of the increase of popery, with an enu- 
meration of such remedies as in their judgment ought to be ap- 

* H. L' Estrange's View of Kiny Charle?, quoted in the " Selection from the 
Ilarlcian Miscellany," p. 331. London, 1700. 


plied. Among the remedies, they proposed ' that the preaching of 
the word of God might be enlarged, and that to this purpose the 
bishops be advised to make use of the labors of such able minis- 
ters as have been formerly silenced, advising and beseeching them 
to behave themselves peaceably.' The king's answer was full of 
compliance, especially and repeatedly promising that the laws 
against popery should be put in execution ; and the next day his 
special warrant releasing eleven popish priests from prison, gave 
them a practical illustration of his fidelity to his engagements. A 
law was passed (which was never executed, and which the king not 
many years afterwards set aside by proclamation) for the preven- 
tion of unlawful pastimes on the Lord's day. Some other procee- 
dings helped to show the strong and determined spirit of the com- 
mons in relation to the questions between the party of the court 
and the prelates on the one hand, and the party of the people and 
the puritans on the other. The king saw that if such a parlia- 
ment continued he must be content with the condition of a limited 
monarch, and must secure the affections of the people by conduct- 
ing his administration for their benefit. Determined not to yield, 
he dissolved the parliament, and made a feeble and unpopular ef- 
fort to raise money by way of loan, taxing individuals according 
to their estimated ability, and promising repayment at the end of 
eighteen months. 

The resources thus secured were soon exhausted in an ill-con- 
ducted and abortive enterprise, the object of which was to inter- 
cept and plunder the Spanish fleet as it returned laden with the 
product of the mines of South America. Another parliament was 
called, which, like the preceding, first voted a limited supply, and 
then immediately took up the subject of grievances. An impeach- 
ment of the duke of Buckingham, the obnoxious prime minister, 
was undertaken with much zeal. The king who seems to have 
had little knowledge of the genius of the nation which he govern- 
ed, and as little of the principles of human nature, took every op- 
portunity to manifest his contempt of the commons. Besides 
lesser measures of irritation, he imprisoned two members of the 
house, employed as managers of the impeachment ; and then was 
obliged to release them. He sent his commands to the house to 


enlarge and finish the bill for a supply ; for, though the supply was 
voted, it had not yet become a law. At the same time he threat- 
ened them, both by a message, and in the speeches of his minis- 
ters, that if he found them still uncomplying he should try " new- 
counsels."* After a short session the parliament was dissolved, 
before any important business had been finished, before even the 
vote for a supply had been passed into a law. 

There was an interval of two years before the assembling of 
another parliament. In this interval the king made some experi- 
ment of the new counsels which he had threatened. Various ir- 
regular and arbitrary measures were employed to provide a reve- 
nue. These were of course unpopular, and were pursued with 
characteristic inefficiency, till, by the event of a battle on the con- 
tinent, a new emergency arose in the king's affairs. Then, the 
want of money in the treasury having become more pressing, and 
the insufficiency of halfway measures more glaring than ever, an 
act of council was passed and duly promulgated, demanding of 
each subject just what he would have paid had the proposed sup- 
ply been granted by the parliament. The people, however, were 
informed for their satisfaction that the sums exacted were to be 
called loans and not taxes. To enforce the payment of this reve- 
nue, soldiers were quartered upon the refractory ; and he who de- 
clined lending his money to the king, found that refusal was likely 
to cost more than submission. Those who went so far as to per- 
suade or encourage others to refuse, were thrown into prison. Ap- 
peal was made to the law, against such invasion of personal liberty; 

*'"J pray you consider," said Sir Dudley Carlcton, vice chamberlain, in the 
house of commons, " what these new counsels arc, or may be. I fear to de- 
clare those that I conceive. In all christian kingdoms, you know that parlia- 
ments were in use anciently, by whrch those kingdoms were governed in a 
most flourishing manner; until the monarchs began to know their own strength, 
and seeing the turbulent spirit of their parliaments, at length they, by little 
and little, began to stand on their prerogatives, and at last overthrew the par- 
liaments throughout Christendom, except here only with us. Let us be care- 
ful, then, to preserve the king's good opinion of parliaments, which bringcth 
such happiness to the nation, and makes us envied of all others, while there is 
this sweetness between his majesty and the commons ; lest we lose the repute 
of a free people, by our turbulency in parliament." Hume's History of Eng- 
land. Vol. III. pp. 360,361. Philad. 1828. 


but the courts of justice, newly organized by the king to meet the 
emergency, refused to sustain the appeal. 

At the same time, that usurpation might not want the sanctions 
of religion, the court clergy were employed to aid these despotic 
proceedings, by preaching up the duty of passive obedience and 
the divine right of kings to govern without check or responsibility. 
Among these, one Dr. Sibthorp became distinguished by circum- 
stances. Having preached on some public occasion, a sermon full 
of the court doctrine, he dedicated it to the king, and carried it to 
Archbishop Abbot to be licensed for the press. The good old pri- 
mate, who was half a puritan and altogether a protestant, refused 
to sanction such doctrine, and was therefore suspended from the 
functions of his office, and compelled to retire in disgrace to a 
country residence. Another of these preachers, Dr. Manwaring, 
was distinguished still more, not only by the boldness with which 
he carried out his principles, but by the favor with which he was 
regarded by the court. In two sermons preached before the king, 
and published by the king's command, he taught among other mat- 
ters as follows ; " The king is not bound to observe the laws of 
the realm concerning the subject's rights and liberties, but his royal 
will and pleasure, in imposing taxes without consent of parliament, 
doth oblige the subjects conscience on pain of damnation." These 
were the doctrines which the dominant party in the church took 
pains to propagate in that day of usurpation and national danger. 

While the nation was in this state of angry and growing excite- 
ment, the king, — as if a war with the house of Austria, which then 
governed both Spain and Germany, were not embarrasment enough, 
— engaged in a new war with France, merely to gratify the caprice 
and passion of his favorite. One expedition was fitted out under 
the command of Buckingham,which speedily terminated in disaster 
and shame. Nothing now remained for the baffled monarch, but 
to try once more the expedient of calling the great council of the 

The third parliament of this reign accordingly met in March 1,628. 
At the opening of this parliament, the king, instead of making an ac- 
knowledgment of his past errors, or any promise of a more liberal 
and legal administration in future, boldly declared, as if the absolute 
Vol. I. 6 


power at which he was aiming were already consolidated, that if 
they failed in their duty of providing for the necessities of the state, 
"he must, in discharge of his conscience, use those other means 
which God had put into his hands." And the same claims of pow- 
er were advanced under his direction, in language still more di- 
rect and offensive, by some of his ministers. Thus evident was it 
that the king, nothing wiser by experience, was still bent on chang- 
ing the constitution of the kingdom, and removing every limitation 
of his power. In these circumstances, the parliament conducted 
themselves with a deliberate and prudent firmness which deserves the 
highest admiration. They began by voting a supply, which Charles 
himself, moved to tears by a liberality almost unexpected, acknowl- 
edged to be ample ; but they wisely refused to pass their vote into 
a law, till the king after much reluctance and many a pitiful evasion, 
had given his unqualified assent to a bill called the " petition of 
right," which they had framed with reference to the late arbritary 
measures of the court, in the hope of securing in future the ancient 
privileges of Englishmen. But while Buckingham retained his as- 
cendancy, they could feel no security. They went on with the 
the investigation of abuses, and soon presented a remonstrance re- 
capitulating the public grievances and national disasters of the reign, 
and ascribing them all to the mismanagement of Buckingham. As 
they were proceeding in another remonstrance, the session was 
suddenly closed by a prorogation. 

In one particular, of no great moment in itself, but worthy to be 
noticed, on account of its significance, the court immediately after 
this prorogation showed its contempt for the voice of parliament, 
and its persevering and daring adherence to the principles of des- 
potism. The lords, on the impeachment of the commons, had 
condemned Dr. Manwaring, for his sermons above mentioned, to 
be imprisoned during the pleasure of the house, to be fined a thou- 
sand pounds, to make submission and acknowledgment, to be sus- 
pended three years, and to be incapable of holding any ecclesias- 
tical dignity, or secular office. As soon as the session was closed, 
the condemned criminal was not only pardoned by the king, but, 
as if he had earned a reward, was preferred to a valuable living, 
and a few years afterwards raised to a bishopric. About the same 


time, Sibthorp received a similar reward ; and Montague, another 
preacher and author of the same school, who like Manwaring was 
under the censure of parliament, was elevated to a seat among the 
bishops. Demonstration was thus afforded, that the king after all 
his concessions, was still in principle a despot. 

Not long after the prorogation of the parliament, all further pro- 
ceedings against Buckingham, and all his schemes of mischief, were 
arrested by the dagger of an insane assassin. From this time the 
prime minister in church and state, was William Laud, then bishop 
of London, and soon afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. 

When the parliament came together according to prorogation, 
early in the following year, (1629) they found new evidence of 
the king's unfaithfulness, evidence which must have wrought in 
many a mind the conviction that no confidence could be reposed 
in either his concessions or his promises. Not only had unautho- 
rized taxes been levied, and illegal punishments been inflicted, as 
before, but the all-important petition of right, as published by au- 
thority, instead of bearing that unqualified royal assent which made 
it a law, had, annexed to it, only an evasive and unmeaning answer 
from the king, which the parliament had refused to acknowledge 
as satisfactory. By such treacheries, so weak, so profligate, so 
contemptible, did this ill-starred monarch forfeit the confidence of 
his people and make his own ruin inevitable. After all that had 
now been developed, what cordiality or co-operation could there 
be, between the king and the parliament. Whatever followed was 
only the necessary result of what had gone before. The king was 
determined, and so were the people. The king was determined 
to be independent and absolute. The people were determined to 
submit to no authority but that which was lawful. The result 
could not have been a\'oided but by the people's abandoning their 
rights, and lying down to be trodden into the earth by the iron 
hoof of usurpation, or by the king's abandoning his principles, 
and becoming, what so few kings have ever been, a plain and 
honest lover of his country. 

A bill had been introduced into the house of commons, for 
granting to the king, what he had levied from the beginning of 
his reign without law and against many complaints both of par- 


liament and of people, the customary taxes on commerce. But 
before passing the bill, the house, for the sake of securing an im- 
portant principle, insisted that the unauthorized collection of this 
revenue should cease. This the king refused ; and his custom- 
house officers proceeded with their collections. The officers were 
summoned to the bar of the house ; but the king sent a message 
to the commons, implying that he was responsible for the acts com- 
plained of. The house were still bent on proceeding ; but the 
speaker having received orders from the king, refused to put the 
question. A short protestation was framed and passed by accla- 
mation, while the speaker was forcibly detained in the chair ; and 
the house was then adjourned by the king's authority. Immedi- 
ately afterwards the parliament was dissolved. And soon a procla- 
mation was published, in which the king very clearly avowed his 
intention to have no more to do with parliaments for the present. 

For the twelve succeeding years, Charles reigned, very much as 
he had always been trying to reign, the absolute monarch. Under 
this new constitution, as it might be called, the Council was the le- 
gislative, and the Star Chamber and High Commission were the 
most important branches of the judiciary. The king's proclama- 
tions and orders in council were the law of the land. By this au- 
thority, not only the ancient taxes of tonnage and poundage, against 
which parliament had protested, were continued, but new imposts 
were collected. Under the name of ship-money, direct taxes 
were levied for the support of the navy. Numerous and odious 
monopolies were erected ; and other measures for providing a 
revenue were resorted to. For every disobedience to the law en- 
acted at the council-table, the offender was liable to be tried before 
the same persons assembled in the star-chamber, and to be pun- 
ished with fine, imprisonment, pillory, or mutilation, at the discre- 
tion of the court. The fines imposed by this court seem to have 
been no inconsiderable part of the ways and means. The high 
commission was an ecclesiastical court erected on the basis of the 
king's supremacy, which, contrary to acts of parliament and judi- 
cial sentences, had usurped the power of fining, imprisoning, and 
inflicting corporal punishment for ecclesiastical offenses. It was 
during this twelve years despotism that those Puritans fled from 


England, who settled the New-England colonies. Four" thousand 
persons became voluntary exiles, rather than submit, to the system 
which then prevailed in the church and state. Some indication of 
the character and standing of these exiles is afforded by the fact 
that their removal is supposed to have drawn from the kingdom, 
money to the amount of four or five hundred thousand pounds. 

All this apparatus of despotism was under the control of Laud ; 
and he employed it all, with the zeal of a fanatic, to root out puri- 
tanism, and to promote those popish principles and practices, with 
which (though himself an enemy to the court of Rome) he was so 
enamored. The mind of Charles was one of that class to which such 
notions are most congenial. He verily thought, as Laud did, that a 
puritan was far worse than a papist ; and that among all the errors of 
the church of Rome there was not one so deadly as the error of 
supposing that there might be a true church without prelates or 
priestly vestments, and without liturgy or pompous ceremonies. 
It was therefore no difficult matter for the primate to persuade the 
monarch that he would be doing God service by stretching his pre- 
rogative to introduce into Scotland, not only the entire hierarchy, 
but the liturgy and ceremonies of the church of England. The 
insane attempt roused that jealous and turbulent people to rebel- 
lion. A solemn covenant for mutual defence and support, and for 
the entire reformation of their national church from popery and 
prelacy, was subscribed with oaths by willing thousands, and 
proved a bond of union which all the art and power of the English 
court were unable to dissolve. The king having accumulated from 
the surplus of illegal taxation a treasure of two hundred thousand 
pounds, raised an army to reduce the covenanters to obedience. 
The queen at the same time made an appeal to the catholics of 
England for help in this emergency ; and they came forward with 
abundant free will offerings, thus helping to fix the impression on 
the public mind that the question to be decided by arms, was in 
fact the question between protestantism on the one hand and a re- 
turn to popery on the other. 

One grand infirmity in Charles' character was an extreme obsti- 
nacy of purpose, conjoined with the utmost vaccilation of conduct ; 
and never perhaps was that infirmity more strikingly exhibited than 


in his management at this crisis. The enterprise of forcing English 
uniformity on the presbyterians of Scotland, was one of which he 
might have said beforehand, " The attempt and not the deed con- 
founds us;" and had he been endowed with the talent, as he 
was impelled by the spirit of usurpation, he would have seen that if 
once embarked on such a project, he had no alternative but success 
or ruin. Having made great preparation, he marched in person, at 
the head of a numerons army to the Scottish frontier. There, with- 
out hazarding a single action, he made a treaty with the covenan- 
ters, in which he yielded nearly every thing they could ask for; 
and at once disbanded his army. Then suddenly, when he began 
to feel the operation of his own concessions, he recommenced hos- 
tilities without an army and without the means of raising one, his 
last resources having been expended in the previous operations. 

In these circumstances of weakness and humiliation, after eleven 
years of arbitrary government, he resolved on calling another par- 
liament. But that there might be no opportunity to form com- 
plaints against his administration, he fixed the time of meeting just 
before the time for the opening of the campaign. The par- 
liament however, when assembled, gave no heed to the king's ur- 
gency for an immediate supply of money ; but proceeded, as 
formerly, to the consideration of the public grievances. After a 
few days debate they were dissolved without having done any thing ; 
and the only result was that the necessities of the king were more 
embarrassing, and the excitement of the nation deeper and more 
alarming. The old course of illegal taxation and illegal punish- 
ment was pursued with renewed violence ; and matters were fast 
ripening for civil war. 

In this crisis it was that the convocation of the clergy, which 
according to immemorial custom had been in session during the ses- 
sion of parliament, continued its proceedings by a doubtful autho- 
rity, and enacted a new body of " constitutions and canons eccle- 
siastical," the grand object of which was the more grievous op- 
pression of the puritans. One of these canons made it the duty 
of every minister to read publicly, once in three months, a certain 
prescribed declaration of the divine institution of absolute monar- 
chy. Another decreed not only excommunication, but a further 


punishment in the star-chamber, against every person who should 
" import, print, or disperse" any book written against the discipline 
and government of the church of England. Another enjoined it 
on all public preachers to preach twice a year, " positively and 
plainly, that the rites and ceremonies of the church of England 
are lawful, and that it is the duty of all people to conform to them." 
But the most obnoxious of these canons, was that which prescri- 
bed an oath to be taken by all ecclesiastical persons, on pain first 
of suspension, and, after two months, of deprivation. Those who 
received this oath swore not only that they approved the doctrine, 
discipline, and government established in the church of England, 
but that they never would consent to any alteration. The de- 
sign was, to cast out and silence every minister in the kingdom, 
who entertained any scruple in regard to the perfection of the 
church as it was then constituted and governed. But the mad 
zeal of those who framed and imposed this test defeated its own 
purpose, and strengthened instead of suppressing the cause of the 
puritans. One clause of the oath was as follows, " Nor will I give 
my consent to alter the government of this church by archbishops, 
bishops, deacons and archdeacons, etc. as it stands now established, 
and by right out to stand." Frcm the et cetera in this clause, the 
oath was denominated the Et cetera oath. It wakened a new and 
earnest dispute throughout the kingdom ; and many who had sub- 
mitted, without scruple, to every previous exaction of the hierarchy, 
were roused to resistance by the attempt to force upon them an 
oath so sweeping in what it did express, and with an et cetera in 
the middle that might be made to mean any thing or every thing 
that had been left unexpressed. 

It was not long after Baxter's settlement at Bridgenorth, that 
these canons were published. He speaks of the oath as having 
threatened his expulsion. It occasioned much debate among the 
ministers of that county, though as has been already stated, they 
were generally satisfied with conformity. A meeting of these minis- 
ters was held at Bridgenorth for consultation. The greater number 
were against the oath, and were resolved not to take it. Baxter 
was led by this debate to a new investigation of the whole subject 


of episcopacy, and of the government of the English church. He 
read several important woi.ks, on hoth sides of the question, which 
he had not seen before. The result of his inquiries was, that ' though 
he found not sufficient evidence to prove all episcopacy unlawful, yet 
he was much satisfied that the English diocesan frame was guilty of 
the corruption of churches and ministry, and of the ruin of the true 
church discipline.' A similar effect was produced on many other 
minds. Indeed so evidently unfavorable to the cause of prelacy, 
was the imposition of this oath, that, though the archbishop 
was disposed to press it to the utmost, the king soon gave order 
that there should be " no prosecution thereof till the next meeting 
of the convocation." Thus the matter was dropped ; and Baxter 
and a multitude of others similarly situated, were permitted still to 
preach the gospel. 

He had hardly escaped from this danger, when another incident 
seemed likely to deprive him of the privilege of laboring as a min- 
ister of Christ. The earl of Bridgewater, Lord President of the 
marches of Wales, passed through Bridgenorth on his way to join 
the king in his expedition against the Scots ; and, arriving there 
on Saturday at evening, he was informed by some malicious per- 
sons, that both Mr. Baxter and Mr, Madstard his colleague, were 
guilty of non-conformity in respect to the sign of the cross and 
wearing the surplice, and that neither of them prayed against the 
Scots. The Lord President was a man having authority, and these 
were charges of no trivial guilt. He told the accusers he would 
himself attend church the next day, and see whether the ministers 
would do these things or not. Nothing was expected but that 
both would be deprived. But suddenly the Lord President 
changed his purpose and proceeded on his journey ; and the re- 
sult was, the malice of the accusers was baffled. 

The king's second expedition against the covenanters of Scot- 
land was more disastrous than the first. His army, undisciplined 
and discontented, after one slight skirmish fled as in a panic from the 
Tweed to York ; and the Scots took possession of the three north- 
ern counties of England. Among the requests which the success- 
ful invaders sent to the king, addressing him in tlie most respectful 
language, and with many protestations of fidelity to his person, 


was one that lie would call an English parliament to settle the 
peace between the two kingdoms. All the desires and hopes of 
England were for a parliament. Twelve peers attending on the 
king at York, presented their petition that a parliament might be 
called. Another petition to the same effect, came from London. 
After a little more delay, in the vain hope of some change by which 
he might escape from what he so much feared and hated, he 
yielded to the dire necessity ; and to the universal joy of an op- 
pressed and indignant nation, a parliament was summoned. 

This assembly, celebrated in history as the Long Parliament, 
was opened November 3, 1640; and immediately proceeded with 
a high hand to the redress of grievances. Their confidence in the 
king was lost beyond recovery ; they believed the constitution of 
the kingdom to have been subverted ; and as they went on in the 
work of reformation, they insensibly came to consider themselves as 
bound not only to correct existing abuses, by strong, and if need 
be, violent measures, but also to limit the power of the monarch 
by new restraints, and to guard the liberties of the people against 
the possibility of future invasion. That the king had justly for- 
feited the confidence of his people ; and that his conduct, for at 
least twelve years, had betrayed a settled design to change the 
constitution, admits of no serious question. That there are cases 
of usurpation, in which the bonds of allegiance are dissolved, and 
the people are left to institute, in such manner as convenience dic- 
tates, new forms of government, is a maxim undisputed in modern 
politics. Whether the case in which the parliament now found 
themselves was one of this description ; whether the king's sub- 
version of the old constitution justified them in irregularly framing 
a new one, is a question which still divides the opinions of the Eng- 
lish people, and which it is no part of the design of this narrative to 
illustrate or decide. 

At the very beginning of the session, the almost unanimous hos- 
tility of the members, against the administration in all its depart- 
ments, discovered itself. The topics of complaint, both civil and 
ecclesiastical, were discussed in long and vehement speeches, many 
of which were published and eagerly read throughout the nation. 

Vol. I. 7 


The principal advisers of the crown, especially Strafford and Laud, 
were impeached of high treason. 

" The concord of this parliament consisted not in the unanimity 
of the persons, for they were of several tempers as to matters of 
religion, but in the complication of the interest of those causes 
which they severally did most concern themselves in." For as 
the king's illegal and violent proceedings in the state, had run par- 
allel with Laud's popish impositions on the church ; so " the par- 
liament consisted of two sorts of men, who, by the conjunction of 
these causes, were united in their votes and endeavors for a refor- 
mation. One party made no great matter of these alterations in 
the church ; but they said if parliament were once down, and out 
propriety gone, and arbitrary government set up, and law subjected 
to the prince's will, we were then all slaves j and this they made a 
a thing intolerable, for the remedying of which, they said, every 
true Englishman could think no price too dear. These the people 
called, ' good commonwealth's men.' The other sort were the 
more religious men, who were also sensible of all these things, but 
were much more sensible of the interest of religion ; and these 
most inveighed against the innovations in the church, the bowing to 
altars, (enjoined and enforced by the prelates) the book for sports 
on Sundays, the casting out of ministers, the troubling of the peo- 
ple by the high-commission court, the pillorying and cutting off 
men's ears for speaking against the bishops, the putting down lec- 
tures and afternoon sermons and expositions on the Lord's days, 
with such other things, which they thought of greater weight than 
ship-money. But because these latter agreed with the forme.r in 
the vindication of the people's propriety and liberties, the former 
did the easilier concur with them against the proceedings of the 
bishops and high-commission court."* 

Petitions and complaints against arbitrary power in state and 
church, came in from every quarter. Many proceedings of the 
star-chamber and high-commission courts were revised and con- 
demned by the house of commons. Individuals who had been 
fined immense sums, and pilloried, and mutilated, and condemned 
to perpetual imprisonment, were brought out from distant places of 

* Narrative, Part I. p. 18. 


confinement, and conducted to London with popular acclamations, 
and as in a triumphal procession. A bill of attainder was passed 
against Strafford, to which the king with much reluctance, and after 
some alarming demonstrations of the popular fury, at last gave 
his assent ; and the blood of Charles' ablest, and with but one 
exception, most arbitrary minister was shed on the scaffold. 
At the same time the king assented to a bill which made the 
parliament incapable of dissolution, save by its own consent, thus 
changing at once the constitution of the government. The high- 
commission, star-chamber, and other arbitrary courts were soon 
afterwards abolished. Not many months elapsed before the bish- 
ops were deprived of their seats in the house of lords. Thus one 
encroachment after another was made on the royal power, the 
king meanwhile, as formerly, pursuing no uniform course of con- 
duct, but acting now from fear and now from pride or anger, as one 
passion or another was excited by present circumstances. Mutual 
distrust and irritation proceeded ; every preparation was gradually 
made by both parties, for an appeal to arms ; and at last on the 22d 
of August 1 642 the king set up his standard, and a civil war was 

But we have run before our narrative of Baxter's personal history. 
One of the measures of reform undertaken by the parliament, 
was the appointment of a committee to receive petitions and com- 
plaints against scandalous clergymen. As soon as this was known, 
petitions were brought forward from all quarters. At a later pe- 
riod, ministers were removed by parliament for political offences ; 
but at the lime now referred to, no encouragement was given for 
complaints against any minister except for insufficiency, false doc- 
trine, illegal innovations, or scandal. The chairman of this com- 
mittee published the names of a hundred of these ministers with 
their places and the articles proved against them, "where," says 
Baxter, " so much ignorance, insufficiency, drunkenness, filthiness, 
etc. was charged upon them, that many moderate men could have 
wished that their nakedness had been rather hid, and not exposed 
to the world's decision." 

The inhabitants of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, following 
the example of other towns, prepared a petition against their minis- 
ters, the vicar and his two curates, all of whom were decidedly un- 


qualified for the sacred office. The vicar, whose name was 
Dance, foreseeing how such a petition in relation to him would ter- 
minate, proposed a compromise with the people. By the media- 
tion of Sir Henry Herbert, Baxter's old patron at Whitehall, then 
member of parliament, an agreement was finally made that the vi- 
car should dismiss the curate who assisted him in the town, and 
should allow sixty pounds yearly to such preacher as a committee 
of fourteen named by the complainants should choose. The min- 
ister thus elected was not to be hindered from preaching at any 
time ; and the vicar was to read the common prayer, as usual, and 
to do whatever else w r as to be done. So the petition was with- 
drawn and the vicar kept his place, which, after the allowance 
stipulated for a preacher, was still worth two hundred pounds per 

To this place Baxter was invited on the 9th of March 1641. 
" My mind," he says, " was much to the place as soon as it was 
described to me ; because it was a full congregation, and most con- 
venient temple ; an ignorant rude and reveling people for the 
greater part, who had need of preaching, and yet had among them 
a small company of converts, who were humble, godly, and of 
good conversation, and not much hated by the rest and therefore 
the fitter to assist their teacher ; but above all because they had 
hardly ever had any lively, serious preaching among them. For 
Bridgenorth had made me resolve that I would never more go 
among a people that had been hardened in unprofitableness under 
an awakening ministry ; but either to such as had never had any 
convincing preacher or to such as had profited by him. As soon 
as I came to Kidderminster, and had preached there one day, I 
was chosen, nemine contradicente ; 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 chiefest of my labors, and yielded the greatest fruits of 
comfort. 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 be- 
fore desired, or thought of, much less sought ; but only to those 
that I never thought of till the sudden invitation did surprise me.'' 
The sequel of his life will show in what manner and with what 


success he labored in this place. At the beginning of his labors 
here, he found himself the object of much jealousy and hatred on 
the part of the ignorant rabble of the town. Some instances of 
their malice he records ; the same idle ridicule, the same perverse 
misrepresentations, the same lying reports, with which drunkards 
and scorners are wont to assail serious and faithful ministers in 
these days, were employed against him. He lived, however, to 
see the party of the tippling and profane, very much diminished 
under his influence. 

In connection with the commencement of his labors at Kidder- 
minister, he adverts again to those bodily infirmities under which 
he had all along been suffering. These, he says, " were so great 
as made me live and preach in some 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 a great contempt of the world. 

" 3. It taught me highly to esteem of time ; so that if any of it 
passsed 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 hath 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 usually go by the name of pastime, since I understood my 

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

"These, with the rest which I mentioned before when I spake 
of my infirmities, were the blessings which God afforded me by af- 
fliction. I humbly bless his gracious providence, who gave me his 
treasure in an earthen vessel, and trained me up in the school of 
affliction, and taught me the cross of Christ so soon."* 

Amid these distresses of the body, the blessed effects of which, 
he acknowledged in his old age so gratefully, his mind was not 

*Nai*ative, Part I. p! 2V 


always free from even severe and painful conflicts. The trials of 
such a believer, and the processes by which his faith advanced to- 
ward perfection, are always instructive. The following record will 
not be read without interest. It was by such inward struggles, pro- 
bably, that he acquired those clear and discriminating views of 
christian character, as well as christian truth, by which his writings 
are distinguished. 

" At one time above all the rest, being under a new and unusual 
distemper, which put me upon the present expectations of my 
change, and going for comfort to the promises as I was used, the 
tempter strongly assaulted my faith, and would have drawn me to- 
wards infidelity itself. Till 1 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 by more pernicious temptations ; especially to 
question the truth of the sacred scriptures, and also the life to 
come and immortality of the soul. And these temptations assault- 
ed me not as they do the melancholy, with horrid vexing importu- 
nity ; 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 my foundations, while I had bestowed so much time in 
the superstructures and the applicatory part. For having taken it 
for an intolerable evil, once 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 con- 
sidered, digested, or made mine own. Insomuch as when this 
temptation came, it seemed at first to answer and enervate all the 
former reasons of my feeble faith, which made me to take the 
scriptures for the word of God ; and it set before me such moun- 
tains of difficulty in the incarnation, the person of Christ, his un- 
dertaking and performance, with the scripture chronology, histo- 
ries and style, etc. which had stalled and 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 temptations upon 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 hath but small rooting, so is it not liable to the shaking 
winds and tempests, as the big and high-grown trees are : but as 
the top groweth higher, so the root at once grows greater, and 
deeper fixed, to cause it to endure its greater assault. 

" Though formerly I was wont when any such temptation came, 
to cast it aside, as fitter to be abhorred than considered of, yet now 
this would not give me satisfaction ; but I was fain to dig to the 
very foundations, and seriously to examine the reasons of Christian- 
ity, 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, Nil 
tarn cerium quam quod ex dubio cerium; nothing is so firmly belie- 
ved as that which hath been sometime doubted of. 

" In the storm of this temptation, I questioned a while whether 
1 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 
many papists and protestants, that faith had certainty and was more 
than an opinion ; and that if a man should live a godly 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 fiath. 
But my judgment closed with the reason of Dr. Jackson's deter- 
mination of this case, which supported me much, that as in the 
very assenting act of faith there may be such weakness, as may 
make us cry, " Lord increase our faith ; we believe, Lord, help 
our unbelief;" so when faith and unbelief are in their conflict, it 
is the effects which must show us which of them is victorious. And 
that he that hath 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, hath a saving faith, how weak soever ; for God can- 
not condemn the soul that truly loveth and seeketh him : and those 
that Christ bringeth to persevere in the love of God, he bringeth 
to salvation. And there were diverse things, that in this assault 
proved great assistance to my faith. 

" 1 . That the being and attributes of God were so clear to me, 


that he was to my intellect what the sun is to my eye, by which 1 
see itself and all things. And he seemed mad to me, who ques- 
tioned whether there were a God." "All the suppositions of the 
atheists, have ever since been so visibly foolish and shameful to my 
apprehension, that I scarce find a capacity in myself of doubting of 
them ; and whenever the tempter hath joined any thing of these 
with the rest of his temptations, the rest have been the easier over- 
come, because of the overwhelming evidences of a Deity which are 
always before the eyes of my soul. 

" 2. And it helped me much to discover that this God must 
needs be related to us as our owner, our governor, and our bene- 
factor, in that he is related to us as our creator ; and that therefore 
we are related to him as his own, his subjects, and his benificiaries ; 
which as they all proceed by undeniable resultancy from our crea- 
tion and nature, so thence do our duties arise which belong to us in 
those relations, by as undeniable resultancy ; and that no show of 
reason can be brought by any infidel in the world to excuse the 
rational creature from loving his Maker, with all his heart and soul 
and might, and devoting himself and all his faculties to him from 
whom he did receive them, and making him his ultimate end who 
is his first efficient cause. So that godliness is a duty so undenia- 
bly required in the law of nature, and so discernible by reason it- 
self, that nothing but unreasonableness can contradict it. 

" 3. And then it seemed utterly improbable to me that this God 
should see us to be losers by our love and duty to him, and that 
our duty should be made our snare, or make us the more misera- 
ble by how much the more faithfully we perform it. And I saw 
that the very possibility of a life to come would make it the duty 
of a reasonable creature to seek it though with the loss of all below. 

" 4. And I saw by undeniable experience, a strange universal 
enmity between the heavenly and the earthly mind, the godly and 
the wicked." " And I saw that the wicked and haters of godli- 
ness are so commonly the greatest and most powerful and nume- 
rous, as well as cruel, that ordinarily there is no living according to 
the precepts of nature and undeniable reason, without being made 
the derision and contempt of men." 

" 5. And then I saw that there is no other religion in the world, 


which can stand in competition with Christianity. Heathenism and 
Mohametanism are kept up by tyranny, and blush to stand at the 
bar of reason ; and Judaism is but Christianity in the egg or bud ; 
and mere Deism, which is the most plausible competitor, is so 
turned out of almost the whole world, as if nature made its own 
confession, that without a Mediator it cannot come to God. 

" G. And I perceived that all other religions leave the people 
in their worldly, sensual, and ungodly state." " And the nations 
where Christianity is not, are drowned in ignorance and earthly 
mindedness, so as to be the shame of nature. 

" 7. And I saw that Christ did bring up all his serious and sin- 
cere disciples to real holiness and to heavenly mindedness, and 
made them new creatures, and set their hearts and designs and 
hopes on another life, and brought their senses into subjection to 
their reason, and taught them to resign themselves to God, and to 
love him above all the world. And it is not like that God will 
make use of a deceiver for this real visible recovery and reforma- 
tion of the nature of man ; or that any thing but his own zeal can 
imprint his image. 

" 8. And here I saw an admirable suitableness in the office and 
design of Christ, to the ends of God, and the felicity of man ; 
and how excellently these supernatural revelations do fall in, and 
take their place in subserviency to natural verities ; and how won- 
derfully faith is fitted to bring men to the love of God, when it is 
nothing else but the beholding of his amiable attractive love and 
goodness in the face of Christ, and the promises of heaven, as in 
a glass, till we see his glory. 

" 9. And I had felt much of the power of his word and spirit 
on myself, doing that which reason now telleth me must be done. 
And shall I question my physician when he hath done so much of 
the cure, and recovered my depraved soul to God ? 

" 10. And as I saw these assistances to my faith, so I perceived 
that whatever the tempter had to say against it, was grounded on 
the advantages which he took from my ignorance, and my distance 
from the times and places of the matters of the sacred history, and 
such like things which every novice meeteth with in almost all other 
sciences at the first, and which wise, well-studied men can see through. 

Vol. I. £ 

58 Lira ov kichakjj baxtkr. 

" All these assistances were at hand before I came to the imme- 
diate evidences of credibility in the sacred oracles themselves. 
And when I set myself to search for those, I found more in the 
doctrine, the predictions, the miracles, than I ever before took no- 
tice of, which I shall not here so far digress as to set down, having 
partly done it in several treatises." 

" From this assault, I was forced to take notice that it is our belief 
of the truth of the word of God and the life to come, which is the 
spring that sets all grace on work, 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 with sin, our ne- 
glect of duly, are caused hence. I observed easily in myself that 
if at any time Satan did, more than at other times, weaken my belief 
of scripture and the life to come, my zeal in 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 of- 
fend the bishops and my 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 foundations have 
so great difficulties as I am unable to overcome? But when faith 
revived, then none of the parts or concernments 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 holy scrip- 
tures or of the life to come, because I saw not the difficultes which 
might cause doubling. After that, I saw them, and I doubted be- 
cause 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 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 ev- 
idences of his truth, and of himself, and of the invisible world."* 

i tivi I'-art-l f>p ''!, 24 


It was a little more than a year after Baxter's coming to Kidder- 
minister, when the war between the king and the parliament was 
fairly begun. In his own narrative, he describes much at length, 
the causes of the war, the character of the parties into which the 
nation was divided, and the progress of events. He was himself 
the sworn partizan of neither side ; his views were much more fa- 
vorable to the doctrine of non-resistance, than were those of his 
friends ; and he ascribes the blame of the war to both parties. On 
the side of the parliament, he blames, first, the indiscretion and 
tumultuous proceedings of the people who adhered to them, par- 
ticularly in London, where their zeal broke out in acts of violence. 
This, he attributes in a great measure to the bitter and angry spirit 
of a few, who were yet " enough to stir up the younger and unex- 
perienced sort of religious people to speak too vehemently and in- 
temperately against the bishops and the ceremonies, and to jeer 
and deride at the common prayer and all that was against their 
minds. For the young and raw sort of christians are usually prone 
to this kind of sin ; to be self-conceited, petulant, wilful, censori- 
ous, and injudicious in all their management of their differences 
in religion, and in all their attempts of reformation. Scorning and 
clamoring at that which they think evil, they usually judge a war- 
rantable course. And it is hard finding any sort of people in the 
world, where many of the most unexperienced are not indiscreet, 
and proud, and passionate." This spirit among the people, he 
says, occasioned the riotous proceedings referred to ; and every 
such popular movement widened the breach and made the quar- 
rel more desperate. " Thus rash attempts of headstrong people, 
do work against the good ends which they themselves intend ; and 
the zeal which hath censorious strife and envy, doth tend to confu- 
sion and every evil work : and overdoing is the ordinary way 


Another thing on the side of the parliament, which hastened the 
war, and made it inevitable and irreconcilable, was the revolution- 
ary spirit of some of the active members, who encouraged the 
disorders before mentioned, and were unwilling to rest at any point 

Narrative, Part I. pp. 86, 27. 


short of the reduction of the whole system of church and state to 
their notions. 

To these causes he adds another, " the great distrust which the 
parliament had of the king ;" but though he mentions this in the 
catalogue of those particulars in which the parliament was blame- 
worthy, he neglects to show how the blame of this distrust could 
be imputed either to the parliament or to the people. " They 
were confident," he says, and evidently they had good reason to 
be confident, " that the king was unmovable as to his judgment 
and affections ; and that whatever he granted them, was but in de- 
sign to get his advantage utterly to destroy them ; and that he did 
but watch for such an opportunity. They supposed that he utterly 
abhorred the parliament and their actions ; and therefore whatever 
he promised them, they believed him not, nor durst take his word ; 
which they were hardened in by those former actions of his, which 
they called, the breach of his former promises."* 

On the other side the quarrel was aggravated, and the war has- 
tened, first by a plot, in which the king was involved, to bring the 
northern army to London, and thus to overawe and subdue the 
parliament ; then by his undertaking to provide a guard, ostensibly 
for the protection, but really for the restraint, of the house of com- 
mons ; next by the king's coming in person to the house, followed 
by an armed retinue, with the design of seizing five members 
whom he had accused of treason ; afterwards by the rash move- 
ments of some of the king's friends ; and more than all the rest, 
by the supposed connection between the court and the rebellion of 
the papists in Ireland, who had murdered two hundred thousand 
protestants in that kingdom, and to whom the English catholics, fa- 
vored by the king, and known to be his zealous partizans in his 
whole controversy with the parliament, were looking with undis- 
guised sympathy and with ardent hopes for their success. 

These, Baxter regarded as the causes of mutual irritation, to 
which the commencement of hostilities might be directly ascribed. 

In this contest, the great body of the nobility were on the king's 
side, especially after the war had actually begun. Not a few 

Narrative Part I. p. 27. 


members of the house of commons left their seats when they saw 
that the ancient constitution of the kingdom was to be subverted. 
A great party of the knights and men of family, the extensive and 
hereditary landed proprietors, were with the king from the begin- 
ning ; and they with their tenantry constituted the strength of his 
cause. To these were added most of the lowest and poorest 
class of the people, the ignorant and vicious rabble every where. 
On the side of the parliament, were a few of the nobility, some in 
the highest rank ; and a very respectable minority of the country 
knights and gentlemen. But the chief strength of the parliament 
was in the middling classes, among the great body of the freehold- 
ers, and manufacturers, and merchants, the classes which since the 
era of the reformation had acquired wealth and intelligence, and a 
new importance in the nation. 

In respect to religious principles and character, the parties differ- 
ed more widely, and the line of division was more distinctly 
drawn, than in respect to rank. For " though the public safety 
and liberty wrought very much with most, especially with the no- 
bility and gentry, who adhered to the parliament, it was principally 
the differences about religious matters that filled up the parlia- 
ment's armies, and put the resolution and valor into their soldiers, 
which carried them on in another manner than mercenary soldiers 
are carried on. Not that the matter of bishops or no bishops, was 
the main thing, for thousands that wished for good bishops were on 
the parliament's side." " But the generality of the people through 
the land, who were then called Puritans, Precisians, Religious per- 
sons, that used to talk of God, and heaven, and scripture, and 
holiness, and to follow sermons, and read books of devotion, and 
pray in their families, and spend the Lord's day in religious exer- 
cises, and plead for mortification, and serious devotion, and strict 
obedience to God, and speak against swearing, cursing, drunken- 
ness, profaneness, he. ; I say the main body of this sort of men, 
both preachers and people, adhered to the parliament. And on 
the other side, the gentry that were not so precise and strict 
against an oath, or gaming, or plays, or drinking ; nor troubled 
themselves so much about the matters of God and the world to 


come; and the ministers and people that were for the king's book,* 
for dancing and recreations on the Lord's days ; and those that 
made not so great a matter of every sin, but went to church and 
heard common prayer, and were glad to hear a sermon which 
lashed the puritans ; and who ordinarily spoke against this strict- 
ness and preciseness in religion, and this strict observation of tho 
Lord's day, and following sermons, and praying extempore, and 
talking so much of scripture and the matters of salvation ; and 
those that hated and derided them that take these courses ; — the 
main body of these were against the parliament. Not but that 
some such, for money, or a landlord's pleasure, served them ; as 
some few of the stricter sort were against them, or not for them ; 
but I speak of the notable division through the land. 

" If you ask how this came to pass, it requireth a longer answer 
than I think fit here to give. But briefly ; actions spring from 
natural dispositions and interest. There is somewhat in the na- 
ture of all worldly men which makes them earnestly desirous of 
riches and honors in the world. They that value these things most 
will seek them ; and they that seek them are more likely to find 
them than those that despise them. He who takes the world and 
preferment for his interest, will estimate and choose all means ac- 
cordingly ; and, where the world predominates, gain goes for god- 
liness, and serious religion which would mortify their sin, is their 

* The " book of sports," frequently spoken of in the history of those times, 
was a royal proclamation, first drawn up by bishop Morton, and published by 
James I. in the year 1618, and afterwards at the instigation of arch-bishop 
Laud republished by Charles I. in the year 1633. The design of this procla- 
mation was to express his majesty's pleasure " that after the end of divine 
service his good people should not be disturbed, letted or discouraged from any 
lawful recreations, such as dancing, either of men or women, archery for men, 
leaping, vaulting, or any such harmless recreations, nor from having may-games, 
whitson-ales, or morrice-dances, or setting up of may-polts, or other sports there- 
with used, so as the same may be had in due and convenient time without im- 
pediment or let of divine service." When this proclamation was renewed by 
King Charles, it was ordered to be read in all the churches. Many of the 
ministers refused to comply with this order, some of whom were suspended 
for their disobedience. Others, after publishing the king's decree, immedi- 
ately read the fourth commandment, adding This is the law of God, the other 
the injunction of man. 


greatest enemy. Yet, conscience must be quieted, and reputation 
preserved ; which cannot be done without some religion. There- 
fore, such a religion is necessary to them, as is consistent with a 
worldly mind : which outside formality, lip service, and hypocrisy, 
are ; but seriousness, sincerity, and spirituality, are not. On the 
other side, there is that in the new nature of a believer, which in- 
clineth him to things above, and causeth him to look at worldly 
grandeur and riches as things more dangerous than desirable. He 
is dead to the world, and the world to him, by the cross of Christ. 
No wonder, therefore, if few such attain great matters in the world, 
or ever come to preferment or greatness on earth. And there is 
somewhat in them which maketh them more fearful of displeasing 
God than all the world, and will not give them leave to stretch 
their consciences, or turn aside when the interest or the will of man 
requireth it. And the laws of Christ, to which they are so devo- 
ted, are of such a stream as cannot suit with carnal interest. There 
is a universal and radicated enmity between the carnal and the 
spiritual. This enmity is found in England, as well as in other 
countries between the godly and the worldly minds." " The vul- 
gar rabble of the carnal and profane, did every where hate them 
that reproved their sin, and condemned them by a holy life." 
" The vicious multitude of the ungodly called all Puritans that 
were strict and serious in a holy life, were they ever so conforma- 
ble. So the same name in a bishop's mouth signified a non-con- 
formist, and in an ignorant drunkard's or swearer's mouth, a godly 
obedient christian." " Now the ignorant rabble, hearing that the 
bishops were against the Puritans, not having wit enough to know 
whom they meant, were emboldened the more against all those 
whom they called Puritans themselves; and their rage against the 
godly was increased ; and they cried up the bishops, partly be- 
cause they were against the Puritans, and partly because they 
were earnest for that way of worship which they found most con- 
sistent with their ignorance, carelessness, and sins. And thus the 
interest of the diocesans, and of the profane and ignorant sort of 
people, were unhappily twisted together in England."* 

It is unnecessary to say on which side Baxter was enlisted. 

1 Narrative, fart I. pp. 31. 33 


The great conscientiousness with which he acted sufficiently ap- 
pears from his own review of the reasons which governed his de- 
cision. No doubt the same or similar reasons swayed the minds 
of the great multitude of conscientious men with whom he was as- 
sociated in the cause which he espoused. 

" For my own part, I freely confess that I was not judicious 
enough in politics and law to decide this controversy. Being as- 
tonished at the Irish massacre, and persuaded fully both of the 
parliament's good endeavors for reformation, and of their real dan- 
ger, my judgment of the main cause, much swayed my judgment 
in the matter of the wars ; and the arguments a fine, et a natura, 
et necessitate, which common wits are capable of discerning, did 
too far incline my judgment in the cause of the war, before I well 
understood the arguments from our particular laws. The conside- 
ration of the quality of the persons also, that sided for each cause, 
did greatly work with me, and more than it should have done. I 
verily thought that if that which a judge in court saith is law, must 
go for law to the subject, as to the decision of that cause, though 
the king send his broad seal against it; then that which the parlia- 
ment saith is law, is law to the subject about the dangers of the 
commonwealth, whatever it be in itself. 

" I make no doubt that both parties were to blame, as it com- 
monly falleth out in most wars and contentions ; and I will not be 
he that will justify either of them. I doubt not but the headiness 
and rashness of the younger inexperienced sort of religious peo- 
ple, made many parliament men and ministers overgo themselves 
to keep pace with those Hotspurs. No doubt but much indiscre- 
tion appeared, and worse than indiscretion in the tumultuous peti- 
tioners ; and much sin was committed in the dishonoring of the 
king, and in the uncivil language against the bishops and liturgy of 
the church. But these things came chiefly from the sectarian, se- 
parating spirit, which blew the coals among foolish apprentices. 
And as the sectaries increased, so the insolence increased." " As 
bishop Hall speaks against the justifying of the bishops, so do I 
against justifying the parliament, ministers, or city. I believe many 
unjustifiable things were done ; but I think that a few men among 
them all, were the doers or instigators." 


" But I then thought, whoever was faulty, the people's liberties 
and safety should not be forfeited. I thought that all the subjects 
were not guilty of all the faults of king or parliament when they 
defended them : yea, that if both their causes had been bad, as 
against each other ; yet that the subjects should adhere to that 
party which most secured the welfare of the nation, and might de- 
fend the land under their conduct without owning all their cause. 

" And herein I was then so zealous, that I thought it was a great 
sin for men that were able to defend their country, to be neuters. 
And I have been tempted since to think that I was a more compe- 
tent judge upon the place, when all things were before our eyes, 
than I am in the review of those days and actions so many years 
after, when distance disadvantageth the apprehension."* 

No American who justifies the revolution of 177G, — no Eng- 
lishman who justifies the revolution of 1680, — can doubt that Bax- 
ter and those with whom he acted, were at the beginning, in the 
right. Their cause, though it was afterwards shipwrecked by their 
ignorance and their dissensions, was the cause which will one day 
triumph throughout all the world. 

* Narrative Part I. p. 39. 

Vol. I. 


The point at which the king ventured to make a stand against 
the claims of the parliament, was when they demanded of him that 
the militia of the kingdom should be put under the command of 
men in whom they could confide, and whom they might nominate. 
This was in their view essential to their personal safety, and equal- 
ly essential to secure the execution of the laws and the liberties of 
the people. After some delay and some proposals for a compro- 
mise, the king, having in the mean time removed from London 
sent them a flat refusal. The two houses proceeded to form and 
publish an ordinance, in which they named lieutenants for the coun- 
ties, conferring on them the command of the militia, and of all the 
guards, garrisons, and forts of the kingdom. These lieutenants 
were to obey the orders of the king signified by the two houses of 
parliament. On the other hand the king, taking advantage of an 
old statute, issued his commissions of array, appointing men of his 
own choice in the several counties to array, muster, and train the 
people The date of the ordinance of parliament, was March 5th, 
but no attempt was made to execute either that or the king's com- 
missions, till three months afterwards, or about two months before 
the formal declaration of war. The setting up of these clashing 
authorities was attended with some skirmishes in places where there 
was something like a balance of strength between the two parties. 
But generally, where the people had, with a decided majority, es- 
poused the causeof parliament, the militia acknowledged the autho- 
rity of their ordinance ; and where the majority were for the king, 
the commissions of array were put in execution. 

That part of the country in which Baxter, resided, including 


the three adjacent counties of Shropshire, Worcester, and Here- 
fordshire, was so generally devoted to the king that there was no 
public movement in behalf of the parliament. And as these pre- 
parations for war went forward, it became necessary for him to re- 
treat from a scene of so much danger to those of his known cha- 
racter and principles. Some apprehension of the fury of the times 
may be gathered more easily from a few particular incidents de- 
scribed in his own language, than from any more general state- 

" About that time, the parliament sent down an order 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 church-yards. My judgment was 
for the obeying of this order, thinking it came from just authority ; 
but J meddled not in it, but left the church-warden to do what he 
thought good. The church-warden, an honest, sober, quiet man, 
seeing a crucifix upon the cross in the church-yard, set up a ladder 
to have reached it, but it proved too short. While he was gone to 
seek another, a crew of the drunken, riotous party of the town, 
took the alarm, and run together with weapons to defend the cru- 
cifix and the church images, of which there were divers left since 
the time of popery. The report was among them that I was the 
actor, and it was me they sought ; but I was walking almost 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 dwelt 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 that hurt. When they had foamed about half 
an hour, and met with none of us, and were newly housed, I came 
in from my walk, and hearing the people cursing me at their 
doors, I wondered what the matter was, but quickly found how 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 
iheni; and save them from that guilt. But the poor sots were so 



amazed and ashamed, that they took on sorrily, and were loth to 
part with me. 

" About this time, the king's declarations were read in our mar- 
ket-place, and the reader, a violent country gentleman, seeing me 
pass the streets, stopped and said, There goeth a traitor. 

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

" In this fury of the rabble, I was advised to withdraw a while 
from home 5 whereupon I went to Gloucester. As I passed but 
through a corner of the suburbs of Worcester, they that knew me 
not, cried, ' Down with the round-heads ;' and 1 was glad to spur 
on to be gone. But when I came to Gloucester, among strangers 
also that had never known me, I found a civil, courteous, and re- 
ligious people, as different from Worcester as if they had lived 
under another government."* 

The county of Gloucestershire was as unanimous for the cause 
of the parliament, as Worcester was for the cause of the king. But 
Baxter saw in the religious aspect of Gloucester, during his short 
residence there, the beginnings of a spirit of division and sectari- 
anism, which afterwards produced in that city the most unhappy 
effects. First there were a few Baptists, who, laboring to draw 
disciples after them, occasioned an undesirable controversy. Then 
came a good man, zealous for Independency, who formed another 
separating party. Afterwards, Antinomianism was introduced. 
And by such means the solid piety of the place was dwindled and 
withered away. 

After he had been at Gloucester about a month, some of his 
friends came to him from Kidderminster, inviting him to return. 
Their argument was, that the people would be sure to put the most 

Narrative, Part 1. pp. 40,41. 


unfavorable construction on his continued absence. So, in the 
hope of retaining his influence and prolonging his usefulness, even 
in those stormy times, he went again to his work. 

" When I came home," he says, " 1 found the beggarly drunk- 
en rout in a very tumultuating disposition ; and the superiors that 
were for the king did animate them ; and the people of the place 
who were accounted religious, were called round-heads, and open- 
ly reviled, and threatened as the king's enemies, though they had 
never meddled in any cause against the king. Every drunken sot 
that met any of them in the streets, would tell them, ' We shall take 
an order with the Puritans ere long.' And just as at their shows, 
and wakes, and stage-plays, when the drink and the spirit of riot 
did work together in their heads, and the crowd encouraged one 
another, so it was with them now : they were like tied mastiffs 
newly loosed, and flew in the lace of all that was religious, yea or 
civil, which came in their way." " Yet after the Lord's day, when 
they heard the sermon, they would a while be calmed, till they 
came to the alehouse again, or heard any of their leaders hiss them 
on, or heard a rabble cry, ' Down with the round-heads.' When 
the wars began, almost all these drunkards went into the king's 
army, and were quickly killed, so that scarce a man of them came 
home again and survived the war."* 

The war which had been opened a few weeks, was now actively 
carried on in Baxter's immediate vicinity. The army of the king 
commanded by his nephew, Prince Rupert, and that of the parlia- 
ment commanded by the Earl of Essex, met in the county of 
Worcester ; and the first considerable battle in that long contest, 
the battle of Edghill, was fought on a Lord's day, (October 23d,) 
within Baxter's hearing while he was preaching in the pulpit of a 
friend at Alcester, a few miles distant from the scene of conflict. 

In such circumstances, he felt that the peaceful prosecution of 
his work at Kidderminster was not to be thought of. " For my- 
self," he says, " 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 still be at the 

Narrative, I'urt L p. 42. 


mercy of every furious beast that would make a prey oi us. I 
had neither money nor friends : 1 knew not who would receive me 
in any place of safety ; nor had I any thing to satisfy them for my 
diet and entertainment. Hereupon I was persuaded, by one that 
was with me, to go to Coventry, where an old acquaintance, Mr. 
Simon King, was minister ; 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 again : for so wise in matters 
of war was I, and all the country beside, that we commonly sup- 
posed that a very few days or weeks, by one or other battle, would 
end the wars ; and I believe that no small number of the parlia- 
ment men, had no more wit than to think so too. Here I stayed 
at Mr. King's a month ; but the war was then as far from being 
likely to end as before. 

" While I was thinking what course to take in this necessity, the 
committee and governor of the city desired me to 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 a regiment, nor take a commission : yet, 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 1 could go home 
again. Here, accordingly, 1 lived in the governor's house, and follow- 
ed my studies as quietly as in a time of peace, for about a year ; 
preaching once a week to the soldiers, and once, on the Lord's 
day, to the people ; taking nothing from either but my diet."* 

Meanwhile the war, instead of being brought to a conclusion, was 
spreading its horrors over the whole land. A few counties were 
so decidedly for the parliament, and a few others so decidedly for 
the king, that they enjoyed comparative rest ; elsewhere every 
man's hand was against his neighbor. Indeed in all places where 
the parliament had not the ascendency, there was no security to 
the country, " the multitude did what they list." " If any one was 
noted for a strict and famous preacher, or for a man of precise and 
pious life, he was either plundered, or abused and in danger of his 
life. If a man did but pray in his family or were but heard repeat 

* lucrative, fart J. pp.-U. !-}. 


a sermon, or sing a psalm, they presently cried out, rebels, round- 
heads ; and all their money and goods that were portable proved 
guilty, how innocent soever they were themselves." This it was 
that rilled the armies and garrisons of the parliament with sober pious 
men. " Thus when I was at Coventry, the religious part of my 
neigbors at Kidderminster, that would fain have lived quietly at 
home, were forced (the chiefest of them) to be gone. And to 
Coventry they came ; and some of them that had any estates of 
their own, lived there on their own charge ; and the rest were 
fain to take up arms and be garrison soldiers, to get them bread." 

Under such persecutions Baxter's father in Shropshire, and all his 
neighbors that were noted for praying, and hearing sermons, were 
afflicted. In the hope of rendering some aid to his father, he was 
induced to leave Coventry for a few weeks, in company with a 
party who went to fortify and garrison one of the towns in that 
county. There he saw some fighting, such as was then going on 
almost every where. His father he found in prison at Lillshul. 
Having relieved him, he returned to Coventry after two months 
absence. There he settled again in his old habitation and em- 
ployment, and followed his studies in quietness another year. 

At Coventry, he says he had a very judicious auditory, and he 
records the names of many whom he regarded with particular 
affection. There were also in that place during the period of his 
residence there, about thirty worthy ministers who, like him, had 
fled thither for safety from the soldiers and from popular fury. "I 
have cause," he adds, " of continual thankfulness to God for the 
quietness and safety, and sober wise, religious company, with lib- 
erty to preach the gospel, which he vouchsafed me in this city, 
when other places were in the terrors and flames of war." 

The garrison to which he was chaplain, he describes as a com- 
munity in which there was much of the spirit of devotion, and at 
the same time no inconsiderable degree of intelligence on religious 
subjects. Some men of sectarian principles and of a dividing 
disposition, gave him plenty of employment. He says he "preach- 
ed over all the controversies against the anabaptists first, and then 
against the separatists." The Baptists, determined not to be put 
down by his learning and acuteness, sent abroad for a minister of 


their persuasion, who was no contemptible scholar; and with him 
Baxter held a disputation, first by word of mouth, and afterwards 
in writing. The result was that a few of the townsmen became 
Baptists, and a Baptist church was then planted in that city which 
continues to this day.* The garrison however, and the rest of the 
city "were kept sound." 

The two years which Baxter spent at Gloucester, were years 
of convulsion and blood throughout England. The detail of bat- 
tles, and sieges, and occasional attempts at pacification, is no part of 
our design. Every part of the kingdom being in arms, (he war 
was carried on with various success, and with little progress towards 
a conclusion ; and at the close of the first year, there was more 
prospect of a long continued conflict than at the beginning. At 
this time, the parliament, somewhat disheartened perhaps by the 
recent successes of the royal forces, invited aid from Scotland. 
The Scots, inflamed with zeal for the divine right of their presby- 
terian church government, insisted on a uniformity of doctrine, 
worship, and discipline in the two kingdoms, as the condition on 
which their assistance was to be afforded. A solemn league and cov- 
enant for the extirpation of popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, 
schism, and profaneness, was framed in Scotland, and after having 
undergone some amendments designed to make it somewhat more 
equivocal in its construction, was with great solemnity adopted aiid 
subscribed by both houses of parliament, and by the assembly of 
divines then sitting at Westminster. This covenant was ordered 
to be sworn to and subscribed by all persons over the age of eigh- 
teen years, throughout the kingdom. 

From about this time, parties began to be distinctly formed both 
in the parliament and among its adherents. Heretofore all had 
been united in the common cause of reforming the existing hierar- 
chy. What ecclesiastical system should take the place of that which 
they proposed to overturn, had not been discussed, much less deter- 
mined. Many, perhaps the majority of sober men, were for a mode- 
rate, or as they styled it, a primitive episcopacy. Others prefer- 
red the platform of Geneva and of the churches of Holland, which 


had been adopted with only slight modifications in Scotland. Oth- 
ers disapproving of all national and provincial churches, favored 
the scheme on which the churches of New-England had been form- 
ed ; and these, deeming no act of parliament necessary to give 
them authority, gathered separate churches as they had opportuni- 
ty, on the congregational plan. But now the zeal of the Scots for 
their presbyterianism, and their intrigues to introduce their unifor- 
mity, into the sister kingdom, divided those who had been hitherto 
agreed ; and this was the rock on which was wrecked the cause of 
civil and religious liberty in England. 

Cotemporaneously with this division of opinions in relation to 
ecclesiastical polity, there was drawn, insensibly, between the same 
parties, another line of distinction which related to the conduct and 
the expected conclusion of the war. The Presbyterians, seem to 
have calculated on the continuance of the kingly name and some- 
thing of the kingly power : their plan was to establish their favor- 
ite uniformity, and to secure it, as had already been done in Scot- 
land, before entering into any final agreement with the king. To 
this party naturally adhered all those men of moderate feelings and 
principles, who hoped for a reconciliation. The Independents, on 
the other hand, saw clearly that Charles could never be trusted ; 
they had no expectation that he could be brought to approve their 
scheme for the entire disjunction of church and state, and for the 
establishment of entire religious liberty ; and they thought that if 
it was lawful to carry on war against the king, it was equally lawful 
to conquer him, and that if the nation had been reduced to anarchy 
by his forfeiture of the trust reposed in him, the nation was in cir- 
cumstances which justified the adoption of another and a better 
form of government. With them were of course allied that class 
of men, who were in love with the abstract rights of the people, 
and who desired to see the throne and the aristocracy both giving 
way to the fairer institutions of a republic. 

The assembly of divines at Westminister has already been re- 
ferred to ; and as that body is hardly less famous in the history of 
those times than the parliament itself, some notice of its consti- 
tution and character, will not be irrelevant in this place. The 
Westminister Assembly was not a national synod or convocation, 

Vol. I. 10 


nor did it pretend to represent at all either the churches or the 
ministers. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-one divines, 
with thirty lay-assessors, called together by parliament to give ad- 
vice on such questions as might be referred to them by the houses ; 
and to questions thus referred, all their debates and proceedings 
were expressly confined, by the parliamentary ordinance which 
brought them together. " The divines there congregated," says 
Baxter, " were men of eminent learning, godliness, ministerial 
abilities, and fidelity : and being not worthy to be one of them 
myself, I may the more freely speak that truth which I know, 
even in the face of malice and envy, that as far as I am able to 
judge by the information of all history of that kind, and by any 
other evidences left us, the christian world since the days of the 
apostles, had never a Synod of more excellent divines, taking one 
thing with another, than this and the Synod of Dort." 

The assembly was composed chiefly of those ministers who, 
like Baxter, retaining their connection with the church of Eng- 
land, were known to favor the cause of the parliament against the 
King, and to desire a thorough reformation. Several of the most 
learned Episcopal divines, some of them prelates, among whom 
was the Irish primate archbishop Usher, were chosen as members ; 
but the King having declared himself against the assembly they re- 
fused to take their seats. A few of that party however came ; 
but their leader Dr. Featly was after a while detected in a corres- 
pondence with the Kiug, and for that offence was imprisoned. 
And that all sides might be heard, six or seven Independents were 
added, five of whom took an active part in the proceedings of 
the assembly, and were known as the " dissenting brethren." 
" These," Baxter says, "joined with the rest till they had drawn 
up a confession of faith, and a larger and a shorter catechism. 
But when they came to church government, they engaged them 
in many long debates, and kept that business, as long as possibly 
they could, undetermined. And after that, they kept it so long 
unexecuted in almost all parts of the land, saving London and 
Lancashire, that their party had time to strengthen themselves in 
the army and the parliament, and hinder the execution after all, 
and keep the government determined on, a stranger to most of 


the people of this land, who knew it but by hear-say, as it was 
represented by reporters." 

This view of the influence of the five dissenting brethren in the 
Westminister Assembly, seems to be somewhat extravagant. The 
fact was, the Scots were carried away with the hope of reducing 
England and Ireland, by law and conquest, to a uniformity of reli- 
gion with them ; and their partizans in the assembly and parlia- 
ment, and among the clergy, soon caught from the covenant the same 
spirit. Great mistakes as to the nature of church government, 
and as to the authority of civil magistrates in matters of religion, 
were widely prevalent. Some politicians, and they had able 
divines to support them, held that there ought to be no church 
government, no power to debar from church privileges and ordi- 
nances, but in the hands or under the control of the civil magis- 
trate. These were called Erastians. Others held that the 
church was independent of the State ; but with this vital truth 
they held the miserable error, that the magistrate is bound to sus- 
tain the church, and to enforce uniform obedience to what the 
church decides. This was the doctrine of the Presbyterians as a 
party. They claimed that Christ had established in and over his 
church a government entirely distinct from the civil magistracy, 
that this government was none other than that by parochial sessions, 
classical presbyteries, provincial synods, and national assemblies ; 
and that the government of the commonwealth was bound to sup- 
port this system in the church, and to make all men respect and 
obey the decrees of this spiritual authority. The Independents 
took a different ground. They believed, indeed, that the power 
of admission to church privileges and of exclusion from ordinan- 
ces, was independent of the civil government ; but they believed 
that this power resided, both by a right resting on the princi- 
ples of common sense, and by a right resting on divine authority, 
in the officers and members of each particular church, and there 
only. They had seceded from the church of England ; and had 
assumed their natural liberty of forming churches and worship- 
ping God according to their own views of propriety, without ask- 
ing leave of the government; and they had engaged in this war 
for the vindication of what they supposed to be their natural liberty. 


In opposition therefore not only to the prelatical party, but to the Pres- 
byterians, and the Erastians, they were for a toleration ; and while it 
does not appear that they were, as a body, unwilling to have any 
public provision for the support of religious instruction, they were 
zealous for an entire separation between Church and State. 

The Presbyterians had a numerical majority in parliament, and a 
still stronger majority in the assembly of divines ; for on almost every 
question between them and the Independents, all who were for a 
church establishment, all who believed it to belong to the magis- 
trate to interfere with his authority in matters of religion, and all 
who deemed uniformity in doctrine discipline and worship, an ob- 
ject of supreme importance, acted with that party. The Inde- 
pendents however had on their side some of the most active, adroit 
and efficient men in parliament ; they had a plain and popular cause; 
and they had as their natural allies, the Baptists and the numerous 
minor sects which were beginning to spring up from the chaotic 
and fermenting elements. With these advantages they were able 
at first to hinder and embarrass, and at last to defeat, the scheme of 
Presbyterian uniformity. 

In the army especially, the cause of the Independents made ra- 
pid progress. The soldiers had been all along fightine, as they 
supposed, against unwarrantable impositions on the conscience ; and 
when they found that they had fought down one hierarchy, only 
that the parliament and the assembly of divines might set up an- 
other, they began to entertain a not unreasonable dissatisfaction. 
Nor was the nation at large long indifferent to these considerations. 
Thousands began to see that, as Milton phrased it, 

" New presbyter is but old priest writ large ;" 

and with Milton they were ready to cry out, 

"Because you have thrown off your prelate lord, 
And with stiff vows renounced his liturgy, 
Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword 
To force our consciences that Christ set free, 
And ride us with a classic hierarchy ? 

It was such causes as these, rather than the simple efforts of the 


five dissenting brethren in the assembly, which kept the presbyteri- 
an scheme of church government " so long unexecuted in almost 
all parts of the land," and which " hindered the execution of it 
after all." 

Toward the close of Baxter's second year at Coventry, an im- 
portant change took place in the army. The earl of Essex had 
heretofore been commander in chief for the parliament. But 
about this time there began to be dissatisfaction both with him and 
with the armies which he commanded. Men who had looked into 
the tendency and probable results of the existing state of things, 
and who judged that the safest way was to make thorough work, 
and to conclude the war by victory, saw that Essex and some other 
leaders in the army were of a different judgment. It appeared 
that the generals, even when putting the battle in array against the 
king, were unwilling to conquer him ; and the complaint was made 
that on some occasions when an active pursuit might have finished 
the war, the king and his forces were suffered to escape. Yet Es- 
sex was a man in great esteem with the parliament and with the 
people, as well as with the army, and deservedly honored, both for 
his military qualities and for his noble integrity of character. And 
indeed there were many, who, fearing what might be attempted 
by the ambitious and the turbulent, desired a peace with the king 
on the basis of mutual accommodation, rather than a complete tri- 
umph over him reducing him to unqualified submission. All this 
made it the more difficult for those who favored more decisive 
measures, to bring about the changes which they desired. 

Other complaints were made against the army as then constitu- 
ted. " Though none could deny that the earl was a person of 
great honor, valor and sincerity, yet some did accuse the soldiers 
under him of being too like the king's soldiers in profaneness, lewd 
and vicious practices, and rudeness of carriage toward the coun- 
try; and it was withal urged that the revolt of" several officers 
who, since the commencement of the war had gone over to the 
king, " was a satisfying evidence that the irreligious sort of men 
were not to be much trusted, but might easily by money, be hired 
to betray them."* At the same time it appeared that Cromwell's 

* Narrative, Part I. p. 47. 


troops, enlisted by him, and trained under his eye from the begin- 
ning of the war, and every where known as strictly religious men, 
had become the most efficient portion of the army, and were most 
to be depended on for discipline and order in the camp, and lor 
valor in the field of battle. These things made the religious sort 
of men in parliament, in the army, and in the country, desirous of a 
thorough change in the organization of the army, " putting out the 
loose sort of men, especially officers, and putting religious men in 
their steads." 

To effect so great a change without mutiny or serious dissatis- 
faction, was a problem not easily solved. All was accomplished 
however, without any difficulty, by a single vote of parliament. An 
ordinance was framed, afterwards known as the " self-denying or- 
dinance," by which, all members of either house were excluded 
from almost every office, civil or military, during the war. For 
this measure so many reasons were alleged, that after a few day's 
debate, it passed without any formidable opposition. Nearly all 
the principal officers of the army immediately sent in their commis- 
sions. Fairfax, a man of good military talents, and of great in- 
tegrity of character, but without the ambition or the peculiar skill 
to be a leader in such times, was made commander-in-chief; and 
at his request, Cromwell was exempted from the operation of the 
self-denying ordinance, and was made lieutenant-general. The 
master genius of Cromwell gave him a great ascendancy over his 
nominal superior ; and the army was soon entirely re-organized 
under his supervision, and very much according to the wishes of 
the Independents, though Fairfax himself was a devoted Presby- 
terian. No sooner had the new-modeled army taken the field, 
than the effect of these new counsels and commands was evident. 
The first engagement of this army with the royal forces was the 
decisive battle of Naseby. 

Tn this army Baxter became a chaplain. His views in enter- 
ing the army, and his employment and efforts while there, were 
highly characteristic of the man in all his peculiarities. His account 
however, of Cromwell, and of the spirit which prevailed in the 
army, should be read with some allowance for the influence of pre- 
judices which, even in his old age, had not forsaken him, and of 


disappointments which, in a]] his latter years especially, he had 
much reason to remember. 

" Naseby being not far from Coventry, where I was, and the noise 
of the victory being loud in our ears, and I having two or three that 
had been my intimate friends, in Cromwell's army, whom I had not 
seen for above two years, I was desirous to see whether they 
were dead or alive; so to Naseby Field I went two days after the 
fight, and thence by the army's quarters before Leicester, to seek 
my acquaintance. When I found them, I staid with them a 
night ; and I understood the state of the army much better than 
ever I had done before. We that lived quietly in Coventry did keep 
to our old principles, and thought all others had done so too, ex- 
cept a very few inconsiderable persons. We were unfeignedly for 
king and parliament ; we believed that the war was only to save the 
parliament and kingdom from papists and delinquents, and to re- 
move the dividers, that the king might again return to his parlia- 
ment ; and that no changes might be made in religion, but by the 
laws which had his free consent. We took the true happiness of 
king and people, church and state, to be our end, and so we under- 
derstood the covenant, engaging both against Papists and schisma- 
tics ; and when the Court News-book told the world of the swarms 
of Anabaptists in our armies, we thought it had been a mere lie, 
because it was not so with us, nor in any of the garrison'or county 
forces about us. But when I came to the army, among Crom- 
well's soldiers, I found a new face of things which 1 never dreamt 
of; I heard the plotting heads very hot upon that which intimated 
their intention to subvert both church and state." 

" Abundance of the common troopers, and many of the officers, 
I found to be honest, sober, orthodox men ; and others tractable, 
ready to hear the truth, and of upright intentions. But a few proud, 
self-conceited, hot-headed sectaries had got into the highest places, 
and were Cromwell's chief favorites ; and by their very heat and 
activity, bore down the rest, or carried them along with them. 
These were the soul of the army, though much fewer in number 
than the rest, being indeed not one to twenty throughout the army ; 
their strength being in the General's, in Whalley's and in Rich's regi- 
ments of horse, and among the new-placed officers in many nf the rest. 


" I perceived thalfthey took the king for a tyrant and an enemy, 
and really intended absolutely to master him or to ruin him. They 
thought if they might fight against him, they might also kill or con- 
quer him ; and if they might conquer, they were never more to trust 
him further than he was in their power. They thought it folly to 
irritate him either by wars or contradictions in parliament, if so be 
they must needs take him for their king, and trust him with their 
lives when they had thus displeased him. They said, ' What were 
the lords of England, but William the Conqueror's colonels; or the 
barons, but his majors ; or the knights, but life captains !' They 
plainly showed that they thought God's providence would cast the 
trust of religion and the kingdom upon them as conquerors ; they 
made nothing of all the most wise and godly in the armies and gar- 
risons, that were not of their way. Per fas aut nefas, by law or 
without it, they were resolved to take down not only bishops, and 
liturgy, and ceremonies, but all that did withstand their way. They 
were far from thinking of a moderate episcopacy, or of any healing 
way between the episcopalians and the presbyterians ; they most 
honored the separatists, anabaptists, and antinomians ; but Crom- 
well and his council took on them to join themselves to no party, 
but to be for the liberty of all. Two sorts, I perceived, they did so 
eommonly and bitterly speak against, that it was done in mere de- 
sign, to make them odious to the soldiers, and to all the land ; and 
these were first, the Scots, and with them all presbyterians, but es- 
pecially the ministers ; whom they called 'priests,' and 'priestbyters,' 
'dry vines,' and 'the dissemblymen,' and suchlike: secondly, the com- 
mittees of the several counties, and all the soldiers that were under 
them, that were not of their mind and way. Some orthodox cap- 
tains of the army did partly acquaint me with all this, and I heard 
much of it from the mouths of the leading sectaries themselves. 
This struck me to the heart, and made me fear that England was 
lost by those that it had taken for its chief friends. 

"Upon this I began to blame other ministers and myself. I saw 
that it was the ministers that had lost all, by forsaking the army, 
and betaking themselves to an easier and quieter way of life. When 
the earl of Essex went out first, each regiment had an able 
preacher ; but at Edghill fight, almost all of them went home ; and 


as the sectaries increased, they were more averse to go into the 
army. It is true I helieve now, that they had little invitation; and 
it is true, that they could look for hut little welcome, and great con- 
tempt and opposition, heside all other difficulties and dangers; but 
it is as true, that their worth and labor, in a patient, self-denying 
way, would probably have preserved most of the army, and defeated 
the contrivances of the sectaries, saved the king, the parliament and 
the land. And if it had brought reproach upon themselves from 
the malicious, who called them Military Levitts, the good which 
they had done would have wiped off that blot, much better than the 
contrary course would have done. 

" I reprehended myself also, who had before rejected an invita- 
tion from Cromwell. When he lay at Cambridge long before, with that 
famous troop which he began his army w T ith, his officers purposed to 
make their troop a gathered church, and they all subscribed an invita- 
tion to me to be their pastor, and sent it me to Coventry. I sent them 
a denial, reproving their attempt, and told them wherein my judg- 
ment was against the lawfulness and convenience of their way-, and so 
I heard no more from them ; and afterwards meeting Cromwell at 
Leicester, he expostulated with me for denying them. These very 
men that then invited me to be their pastor, were the men that 
afterwards headed much of the army, and some of them were the 
forwardest in all our changes ; which made me wish that I had 
gone among them, however it had been interpreted ; for then all the 
fire was in one spark. 

" When I had informed myself, to iny sorrow, of the state of the 
army, Captain Evanson, (one of my orthodox informers,) desired 
me yet to come to their regiment, which was the most religious, 
most valiant, most successful of all the army ; but in as much 
danger as any one whatsoever. I was unwilling to leave my stu- 
dies, and friends, and quietness, at Coventry, to go into an army so 
contrary to my judgment ; but I thought the public good com- 
manded me, and so I gave him some encouragement. Whereupon 
he told his colonel (Whalley,*) who also was orthodox in religion, 

* This Whalley is the man who many years afterwards, with his son-in- 
law, Goffe. found refuge from the vens'pance of the English Court among 

Vol. 1. 11 


but engaged by kindred and interest to Cromwell. He invited me 
to be chaplain to his regiment, and g I told him I would take but one 
day's time to deliberate, and would send him an answer or else 
come to him. 

" As soon as I came home to Coventry, I called together an as- 
sembly of ministers; Dr. Bryan, Dr. Grew, and many others. I 
told them the sad news of the corruption of the army, and that I 
thought all we had valued was likely to be endangered by them ; 
seeing this army having first conquered at York, and now at Naseby, 
and having left the king no visible army but Goring's, the fate of 
the whole kingdom was likely to follow the disposition and interest 
of the conquerors. We have sworn to be true to the king and his 
heirs, in the oath of allegiance. All our soldiers here do think that the 
parliament is faithful to the king, and have no other purpose them- 
selves. If king and parliament, church and state, be ruined by 
those men, and we look on and do nothing to hinder it, how are we 
true to our allegiance and to the covenant, which bindeth us to de- 
fend the king, and to be against schism, as well as against Popery 
and profaneness? For my part, said I, I know that my body is so weak 
that it is likely to hazard my life to be among them ; I expect their 
fury should do little less than rid me out of their way ; and I know 
one man cannot do much among them : but yet, if your judgment 
take it to be my duty, I will venture my life ; perhaps some other 
minister may be drawn in, and then some more of the evil may be 

" The ministers finding my own judgment for it, and being moved 
with the cause, did unanimously give their judgment for my going. 
Hereupon, I went straight to the committee, and told them that I 
had an invitation to the army, and desired their consent to go. They 
consulted a while, and then left it wholly to the governor, saying, 
that if he consented they should not hinder me. It fell out that 
Colonel Barker, the governor, was just then to be turned out, as a 
member of parliament, by the self-denying vote. And one of his 

the republican settlers of New-England. The history of the regicide Judges' 
is too well known in this country to need repetition here. 


captains (Colonel VVilloughby) was to be colonel and governor 
in his place. Hereupon Colonel Barker was content, in his dis- 
content, that I should go out with him, that he might be missed the 
more; and so gave me his consent. 

''Hereupon I sent word to Col. Whalley that, to-morrow, God wil- 
ling, I would come to him. As soon as this was done, the elected 
governor was much displeased ; and the soldiers were so much of- 
fended at the committee for consenting to my going, that the com- 
mittee all met again in the night, and sent for me, and told me I 
must not go. I told them that, by their consent, 1 had promised, 
and therefore must go. They told me that the soldiers were ready 
to mutiny against them, and they could not satisfy them, and there- 
fore I must stay. I told them that I would not have promised, if 
they had not consented, though being no soldier or chaplain to the 
garrison, but only preaching to them, I took myself to be a free 
man, and I could not break my word, when I had promised by their 
consent. They seemed to deny their consent, and said they only 
referred me to the governor. In a word, they were so angry with 
me, that I was fain to tell them all the truth of my motives and de- 
sign, what a case I perceived the army to be in, and that I was re- 
solved to do my best against it. I knew not, till afterwards, that 
Colonel William Purefoy, a parliament-man, one of the chief of 
them, was a confident of Cromwell's ; and as soon as I had spoken 
what I did of the army, magisterially he answereth me, ' Let me 
hear no more of that ; if Nol Cromwell should hear any soldier but 
speak such word, he would cleave his crown ; you do them wrong. 
It is not so.' I told him what he would not hear, he should not 
hear from me : but I would perform my word though he seemed 
to deny his. And so I parted with those that had been my very 
great friends, in some displeasure. The soldiers, however, threat- 
ened to stop the gates and keep me in; but, being honest, under- 
standing men, I quickly satisfied the leaders of them by a private in- 
timation of my reasons and resolutions, and some of them accom- 
panied me on my way. 

"As soon as I came to the army, Oliver Cromwell coldly bade 
me welcome, and never spake one word to me more while I was 
there ; nor once, all that time, vouchsafed me an opportunity to 


come to the head quarters, where the councils and meetings of the 
officers were ; so that most of my design was thereby frustrated. 
His secretary gave out that there was a reformer come to the army 
to undeceive them, and to save church and state, with some such 
other jeers; by which I perceived that all I had said the night be- 
fore to the committee, had come to Cromwell before me, I believe 
by Colonel Purefoy's means ; but Colonel Whalley welcomed me, 
and was the worse thought of for it by the rest of the cabal. 

" Here I set myself, from day to day, to find out the corruptions 
of the soldiers, and to discourse and dispute them out of their mis- 
takes, both religious and political. My life among them was a daily 
contending against seducers, and gently arguing with the more tract- 
able ; but another kind of militia I had than theirs. 

" I found that many honest men of weak judgments and little ac- 
quaintance with such matters, had been seduced into a disputing 
vein, and made it too much of their religion to talk for this opinion 
and for that; sometimes for state democracy, and sometimes lor 
church democracy ; sometimes against forms of prayer, and some- 
times against infant baptism, which yet some of them did maintain; 
sometimes against set times of prayer, and against the tying of our- 
selves to any duty before the Spirit move us; and sometimes about 
free-grace and free-will, and all the points of Antinomianism and 
Arminianism. So that I was almost always, when I had opportu- 
nity, disputing with one or other of them ; sometimes for our civil 
government, and sometimes for church order and government ; 
sometimes for infant baptism, and oft against Antinomianism, and 
the contrary extreme. But their most frequent and vehement dis- 
putes were for liberty of conscience, as they called it ; that is, that 
the civil magistrate had nothing to do to determine any thing in mat- 
ters of religion, by constraint or restraint ; but every man might not 
only hold, but preach and do, in matters of religion, what he pleased : 
that the civil magistrate hath nothing to do but with civil things, to 
keep the peace, protect the church's liberties, &c. 

" I found that one-half almost, of the religious party among them, 
were such as were either orthodox, or but very slightly touched with 
their mistakes; and almost another half were honest men, that stepped 
further into the contending way than they could well get out of again 


but who, with competent help, might be recovered. There were 
a lew fiery, sell-conceited men among them, who kindled the rest, 
and made all the noise and bustle, and carried about the army 
as they pleased ; for the greatest part of the common soldiers, 
especially of the foot, were ignorant men, of little religion ; 
abundance of them such as had been taken prisoners, or turn- 
ed out of garrisons under the king, and had been soldiers in his 
army. These would do any thing to please their officers, and were 
ready instruments for the seducers, especially in their great work, 
which was to cry down the covenant, to vilify all parish ministers, 
but especially the Scots and Presbyterians ; for most of the soldiers 
that I spoke with, never took the covenant, because it tied them to 
defend the king's person, and to extirpate heresy and schism. 

" Because I perceived that it was a few men who bore the bell, 
and did all the hurt among them, I acquainted myself with those 
men, and would be oft disputing with them, in the hearing of the 
rest. I found that they were men who had been in London, hatched 
up among the old separatists, and had made it all the matter of their 
study and religion to rail against ministers, parish churches, and 
Presbyterians; and who had little other knowledge or discourse of 
any thing aboutthe heart, or heaven. They were fierce with pride 
and self-conceitedness, and had gotten a very great conquest over 
their charity, both to the Episcopalians and Presbyterians : whereas 
many of those honest soldiers who were tainted but with some doubts 
about liberty of conscience or Independency, were men who would 
discourse of the points of sanctification and christian experience very 
savorily. But we so far prevailed in opening the folly of these re- 
vilers and self-conceited men, as that some of them became the 
laughing-stock of the soldiers before I left them ; and when they 
preached, for great preachers they were, their weakness exposed 
them to contempt. A great part of the mischief they did among the 
soldiers was by pamphlets, which were abundantly dispersed, such 
as Overton's Martin Mar-Priest, and more of his ; and some of 
J. Lilburn's, who was one of them ; and divers against the 
king, and against the ministry, and for liberty of conscience, &ic. 
And soldiers being usually dispersed in their quarters, they had such 
books to read, when thev had none to contradict them. 


" But there was yet a more dangerous party than these among 
the soldiers (only in Major Bethel's troop of our regiment,) 
who took the direct Jesuitical way. They first most vehe- 
mently declaimed against the doctrine of election, and for the 
power of free-will, and all other points which are controverted be- 
tween the Jesuits and Dominicans, the Arminians and Calvinists. 
Then they as fiercely cried down our present translation of the 
scriptures, and debased their authority, though they did not deny 
them to be divine. They cried down all our ministry, episcopal, 
presbyterian and independent, and all our churches. They vilified 
almost all our ordinary worship, especially singing of psalms 
and constant family worship ; they allowed of no argument from 
scripture, but what was brought in its express words ; they were 
vehement against both king and all government, but popular : 
and against magistrates meddling in matters of religion. All their 
disputing was with as much fierceness as if they had been ready to 
draw their swords upon those with whom they disputed. They 
trusted more to policy, scorn, and power, than to argument. They 
would bitterly scorn me among their hearers, to prejudice them 
before they entered into dispute. They avoided me as much as 
possible ; but when they did come to it, they drowned all reason 
in fierceness, and vehemency, and multitude of words. They 
greatly strove for places of command ; and when any place was 
due by order to another that was not of their mind, they would be 
sure to work him out, and be ready to mutiny if they had not their 
will. I thought they were principled by the Jesuits, and acted all 
for their interest, and in their way ; but the secret spring was out 
of sight. These were the same men that were afterwards called 
Levellers, who rose up against Cromwell, and were surprised at 
Burford, having then deceived and drawn to them many more. 
Thompson, the general of the levellers, who was slain then, was no 
greater a man than one of the corporals of Bethel's troop ; the cor- 
net and others being much worse than he."* 

The battle of Naseby was fought June 14, 1645. The victori- 
ous army immediately afterwards marched into the west of England, 
to encounter the royal forces there under the command of Goring, 
before the fugitives should have time to rally in that quarter, and 

* Narrative, Tart I. pp. 50 — 54. 


strengthen the king's last hope. In this expedition Baxter saw first 
the battle, or rather skirmish, at Langport, in which Goring's forces 
were routed. Next he was at the storming of Bridgewater. Thence 
he went with the conquerors to Bristol, which after a month's seige 
was ingloriously surrendered. After the first three days of this siege 
he was taken sick with a fever, and on the first symptoms of the 
disease, retired, and with much difficulty reached Bath ; where 
under careful medical attendance he recovered, from the brink of 
death, sufficiently to reach the army again, three or four days be- 
fore the city was taken. Then after two weeks at the siege of 
Sherborne castle, which was at last taken by storm, he went with- 
the main body of the army under Fairfax, still further west, in pur- 
suit of Goring. He staid three weeks at the seige of Exeter ; and 
then Whalley's regiment with some others being sent back, he re- 
turned with them. 

The service on which Whalley was now sent, with these regi- 
ments of horse, was to watch the garrison with v\hich the king had 
shut himself up in Oxford, till the army should come to besiege 
that city, which was the most considerable place then in the hands of 
the royal party. About six weeks in winter, they were quartered in 
Buckinghamshire; and then they were sent to besiege Banbury 
Castle, about twenty miles north of Oxford, which after two months 
was taken. After this enterprise, the same regiments were sent 
with some forces of the neighboring militia, to besiege Worcester,, 
while the main army having returned from the west was employed 
before Oxford. The seige of Worcester lasted eleven w r eeks. In 
all these marches and sieges Baxter was with his regiment, pursu- 
ing with characteristic zeal, his scheme of preaching down, and ar- 
guing down, that radical and revolutionary spirit, from which he 
anticipated the most disastrous results. 

" By this time," he adds, " Colonel Whalley, though CromwelFs 
kinsman, and commander of the trusted regiment, grew odious 
among the sectarian commanders at the head quarters, for my sake ; 
and was called a Presbyterian, though neither he nor I were of 
that judgment in several points. When he had brought the city 
to a necessity of present yielding, two or three days before it yield- 
ed, Colonel Rainsborough was sent from Oxford, which had yield- 


oil, with some regiments of foot, to command, in chief ; partly that 
lie might be governor there, and not \V 'halley, when the city was 
surrendered. So when it was yielded, Rainsborough was gover- 
nor, to head and gratify the sectaries, and settle city and county in 
their way ; but the committee of the county were for Whalley, and 
lived in distaste with Rainsborough, and the sectaries prospered 
there no further than Worcester city itself, a place which deserved 
such a judgment ; but all the country was free from their infection. 
" All this while, as I had friendly converse with the sober part, 
so I was still employed with the rest as before, in preaching, con- 
ference, and disputing against their confounding errors ; and in all 
places where we went, the sectarian soldiers much infected the 
counties, by their pamphlets and converse. The people admiring 
the conquering army, were ready to receive whatsoever they com- 
mended to them ; and it was the waj of the faction to represent 
what they said, as the sense of the army, and to make the people 
believe that whatever opinion they vented, which one in forty of 
the army owned not, was the army's opinion. When we quarter- 
ed at Agmondesham, in Buckinghamshire, some sectaries of Ches- 
ham had set up a public meeting as for conference, to propagate their 
opinions through all the country ; and this in the church, by the 
encouragement of an ignorant sectarian lecturer, one Bramble, 
whom they had got in, while Dr. Cook, the pastor, and Mr. Rich- 
ardson, his curate, durst not contradict them. When this public 
talking-day came, Bethel's troopers, with other sectarian soldiers, 
must be there to confirm the Chesham men, and make men believe 
that the army was for them. I thought it my duty to be there also, 
and took divers sober officers with me, to let them see that more 
of the army were against them than for them. I took the reading 
pew, and Pitchford's cornet and troopers took the gallery. And 
there I found a crowded congregation of poor well-meaning people, 
who came in the simplicity of their hearts to be deceived. Then did 
the leader of the Chesham men begin, and afterwards Pitchford's 
soldiers set in, and I alone disputed against them from morning 
until almost night ; for I knew their trick, that if I had but gone 
out first, they would have prated what boasting words they list- 
ed when I was gone, and made the people believe that they had 


baffled me, or got the best ; therefore, I stayed it out till they first 
rose and went away.'" Some of the sober people of Agmondesham, 
gave me abundance of thanks for that day's work, which they said 
would never be there forgotten ; I heard also that the sectaries were 
so discouraged that they never met there any more. 

" The great impediments to the success of my endeavors, I found 
were only two; the discountenance of Cromwell and the chief offi- 
cers of his mind, which kept me a stranger from their meetings and 
councils ; and my incapacity of speaking to many, as soldiers' quar- 
ters are scattered far from one another, and I could be but in one 
place at once. So that one troop at a time, ordinarily, and some 
few more extraordinarily, was all that I could speak to. The most 
of the service I did beyond Whalley's regiment was, by the help of 
Captain Lawrence, with some of the General's regiment, and some- 
times I had converse with Major Harrison and a few others ; but I 
found that if the army had only had ministers enough, who would 
have done such little as I did, all their plot must have been broken, 
and king, and parliament, and religion, might have been preserved. 
I, therefore, sent abroad to get some more ministers among them, 
but I could get none. Saltmarsh and Dell were the two great 
preachers at the head quarters ; but honest and judicious Mr. Ed- 
ward Bowles kept still with the General. At last I got Mr. Cook, 
of Roxhall, to come to assist me ; and the soberer part of the offi- 
cers and soldiers of Whalley's regiment were willing to remunerate 
him out of their own pay. A month or two he staid and assisted 
me ; but was quickly weary, and left them again. He was a very 
worthy, humble, laborious man, unwearied in preaching, but weary 
when he had not an opportunity to preach, and weary of the spirits 
he had to deal with. 

" All this while, though I came not near Cromwell, his designs 
were visible, and I saw him continually acting his part. The Lord 
General suffered him to govern and to do all, and to choose almost 
all the officers of the army. He first made Ireton commissary-ge- 
neral ; and when any troop or company was to be disposed of, or 
any considerable officer's place was void, he was sure to put a sec- 
tary in the place ; and when the brunt of the war was over, he looked 
not so much at their valor as their opinions ; so that, by degrees, 

Vol. II. 12 


he had headed the greatest part of the army with anabaptists, anti- 
nomians, seekers, or separatists at best. All these he led together 
by the point of liberty of conscience, which was the common inter- 
est in which they did unite. Yet all the sober party were carried 
on by his profession, that he only promoted the universal interest of 
the godly, without any distinction or partiality at all ; but still, when 
a place fell void, it was twenty to one a sectary had it; and if a god- 
ly man, of any other mind or temper, had a mind to leave the army, 
he would, secretly or openly, further it. Yet he did not openly pro- 
fess what opinion he was of himself."* 

The fact which Baxter here testifies, namely that all this while 
he came not near Cromwell, is a fact which ought to qualify his 
strictures on Cromwell's proceedings and intentions. Baxter feared, 
as well he might, the progress of arminianism, antinomianism and 
fanaticism in the army; and he used, with laudable diligence, the 
weapons of his warfare to check those evils. Had he been inti- 
mate with the counsels of the sectarian commanders at head quar- 
ters, he might have seen other evils at work in other quarters, and 
threatening to become, in their results, not less disastrous to the cause 
of truth and holiness. Cromwell saw, what the good chaplain of 
Whalley's regiment seems never to have suspected, that the Presby- 
terian party in the assembly and in parliament, were determined to set 
up their Scotch hierarchy as the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and, under 
the claim of a divine right, to put again upon the necks of Independ- 
ents, Baptists, and all other sectaries, a yoke of uniformity,, which 
neither they nor their fathers had been able to bear. Seeing this, 
he must have felt himself bound to use all proper means for the 
defeat of such a design ; and it is not difficult to suppose that he 
may have acted as conscientiously in his measures for the defence 
of the great principles on which the revolution rested, as Baxter act- 
ed in attempting to argue down the vagaries of antinomian fana- 

After the surrender of Worcester, the war with the king being 
apparently at an end, Baxter visited his old flock at Kidderminster, 
and was earnestly importuned to resume his labors there. On this 

* Narrative, Part I. pp. 55, 57. 


application he went to Coventry, and sought the advice of the min- 
isters there, by whose counsel he had first gone into the army. In 
asking their advice he told them not only all his fears, but that his 
own judgment was clear for staying in the army till the crisis which 
he expected should arrive. Their opinion accorded with his; 
and he determined on a still longer absence from the peaceful la- 
bors of his pastoral charge. 

Ahout this time he retired from his quarters for a while on ac- 
count of his health. He visited London for medical assistance, 
and spent some time at Tunbridge wells, and returned to his regi- 
ment in Worcestershire, prepared to go on with his work. But 
soon the fatigue and exposure of moving from place to place, as in 
that military life he was under the necessity of doing, during a cold 
and snowy season had almost proved fatal to him. He was at- 
tacked with a violent bleeding at the nose, which continued till 
his strength and almost his life was exhausted. 

" And thus," he says, " God unavoidably prevented all the effect 
of my purposes in my last and chiefest opposition of the army; and 
took me off at the very time when my attempt should have begun. 
My purpose was to have done my best, first to take off that regiment 
which I was with, and then a with Capt. Lawrence, to have tried 
upon the General's, in which too was Cromwell's chief confi- 
dence ; and then to have joined with others of the same mind; for 
the other regiments were much less corrupted. But the determin- 
ation of God against it was most observable ; for the very time that 
I was bleeding, the council of war sat at Nottingham, where, as I 
have credibly heard, they first began to open their purposes, and 
act their part ; and, presently after, they entered into their engage- 
ment at Triploe Heath. And as I perceived it was the will of 
God to permit them to go on, so I afterwards found that this great 
affliction was a mercy to myself; for they were so strong, and ac- 
tive, that I had been likely to have had small success in the attempt, 
and to have lost my life among them in their fury. And thus I 
was finally separated from the army. 

"When I had staid at Melbourne, in my chamber, three weeks, 
being among strangers, and not knowing how to get home, I went 
to Mr. Nowell's house, at Kirby-Mallory, in Leicestershire, where, 


with great kindness, I was entertained three weeks. By that time, 
the tidings of my weakness came to the Lady Rons, in Worcester- 
shire, who sent her servant to seek me out; and when he returned, 
and told her I was afar off, and he could not find me, she sent him 
again to find me, and bring me thither, if I were able to travel. So, 
in great weakness, thither I made shift to get, where I was enter- 
tained with the greatest care and tenderness, while I continued the 
use of means for my recovery; and when 1 had been there a quar- 
ter of ayear, I returned to Kidderminster."* 

It was during this long sickness, and while he was anticipating a 
speedy departure, that he employed himself in writing that work 
on the " Saint's Everlasting Rest," which has made his name dear 
to the friends of serious and practical religion through the world. 
This was the first written of all his published compositions. A 
much smaller work, entitled " Aphorisms of Justification," de- 
signed to refute some of the antinomian errors which he had been 
combatting in the army, was commenced while the " Saint's Rest" 
was still unfinished and was published in 1649, two years after his 
return to Kidderminster. The " Saint's Rest" was published 
In 1650. 

Of the circumstances in which this work was written, the au- 
thor says, " While I was in health, I had not the least thought 
of writing books, or of serving 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 Derbyshire, with- 
out any acquaintance but my servant about me, and was sentenced 
to death by the physicians, I began to contemplate more seriously 
on the everlasting rest, which I apprehended myself to be just on 
the borders of. That my thoughts might not too much scatter in 
my meditation, I began to write something on that subject, intend- 
ing but the quantity of a sermon or two ; but being continued long 
in weakness, where I had no books and no better employment, I 
followed it on, till it was enlarged to the bulk in which it is publish- 
ed. The first three weeks I spent in it was at Mr. Nowel's house, 
at Kirby Mallory, in Leicestershire ; a quarter of a year more, at 

* Narrative. Tart I ]>i>. 5<i, 59. 

93 Lift: OF HlCHAliI> BAXTER. 

the seasons which so great weakness would allow, I bestowed on it 
at Sir Thomas Rous's house at Rous-Lench in Worcestershire; 
and I finished it shortly after at Kidderminster." 

"The marginal citations 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 hath the greatest force on the hearts of others. For the good 
that I have heard that multitudes have received by that writing, 
and the benefit which I have again received by their prayers, I here 
humbly return my thinks to Him that compelled me to write it."* 

There are'few testimonies to the great intellectual vigor, and the 
extraordinary industry of Baxter, more surprising than the fact that 
" The Saint's Everlasting Rest," which at its first publication was a 
quarto volume of eight hundred pages, was written in six months, 
while the author stood languishing and fainting between life and 

♦Narrative, Parti, p. 108. 

P A |{ T THIRD. 

The personal history of Baxter is so closely connected with the 
history of the times in which he lived, that it seems f necessary in 
this place briefly to review the progress of public events from the 
siege of Oxford in the beginning of the year 1646, to the death of 
Cromwell in September 1658. 

After the battles and sieges by which all the southwestern parts 
of England had been reduced under the power of the parliament, 
the victorious army, commanded by Fairfax and Cromwell, return- 
ed as soon as the spring opened, to put an end to the war by be- 
sieging the king in his head-quarters at Oxford. On receiving 
this intelligence, and learning that the enemy was just at hand, 
Charles, with only two attendants, left the city by night, in disguise, 
and fleeing to the north, threw himself into the hands of the Scottish 
army then employed in the seige of Newark. He was aware 
that the Scots, in their zeal for covenant uniformity, had begun to 
be disgusted with the dilatory proceedings of the English parlia- 
ment respecting the establishment of presbyterianism as the only 
and divinely authorized form of church government ; he knew that 
they looked on the progress of independency with equal alarm and 
abhorrence; and his hope was that by throwing himself upon 
them, whose claims in relation to their own country he had fully 
satisfied, he might be able to break up their alliance with England. 
The Scottish generals, however, refused to enter into any separate 
treaty with him ; and while they paid him scrupulously all the ex- 
terior respect due to majesty, he was in fact a prisoner rather 
than a sovereign. At their suggestion, which in his circumstances 
differed little from a command, he gave orders to the commanders 
at Oxford, and in all his other garrisons, to surrender to the parlia- 


ment; and thus the war was ended, the last of the royal garri- 
sons being surrendered, a litle less than four years from the day on 
which the king set up his standard at Nottingham. 

Charles continued with the Scots eight months. The parlia- 
ment and the Scottish commissioners offered him terms of recon- 
ciliation, better than conquerors ordinarily impose upon the van- 
quished. His friends importunately urged him to accept those 
terms, as the best provision which he could possibly make for 
himself and for his partizans. But he was now infatuated with 
the visionary expectation of dividing his enemies. He addressed 
himself to the Scots, representing to them how probable it was that 
the independents would secure a toleration in spite of the provisions 
of the covenant, and proposing that if episcopacy might be contin- 
ued in four of the dioceses of England, the presbyterian discipline 
should be established in all the other parts of the kingdom, with the 
strictest enactments that could be devised against both papists and 
sectarians. At the same time he entered into a more private ne- 
gotiation with the leaders of the army, who proposed to set him 
on his throne again, without his taking the covenant or renouncing 
the liturgy, if he would but secure, with the civil liberties of the 
people, a general toleration in religion. Had he in this emergen- 
cy enlisted frankly on either side, he might have retrieved something 
of his fallen fortunes. But he had too much imbecility of charac- 
ter to decide in such circumstances ; and while he lingered, hoping 
to set one party against the other, and to secure from their mutual 
collision the re-establishment of his entire authority, he suffered the 
opportunity to go by without accepting the proposals of either. 
The Scots after some negotiation with the English parliament, find- 
ing that they could make no agreement with the king, and that to 
retain his person in their hands would be attended with much loss 
and hazard, and with no probable advantage, surrendered him 
to the commissioners appointed by parliament, by whom he was 
conducted to Holmby House in Northamptonshire the place ap- 
pointed for his residence. 

Meanwhile, as the disposition of the parliament towards a strict 
presbyterian establishment, excluding all toleration, became more 
manifest, the dissatisfaction of the army increased ; and they were 


gradually brought to the fixed resolution that they would be heard 
on that point, and that their opinions should be regarded in all the 
measures which concerned their separate interests or that common 
religious liberty for which they had boen fighting. To this end 
they elected a council of officers, and a body of adjutators, or as- 
sistants, consisting of three or four from each regiment, represent- 
ing the common soldiers. These two councils held their separate 
sessions, like the two houses of parliament, and consideied freely 
all the proposals and orders of the parliament in relation to the set- 
tlement of the kingdom, or the disposal of the army. By this or- 
ganization the army became a military republic, and ceased to be 
governed by the civil authority. Indeed the nation was in a state 
in which hardly any rightful authority could be said to esist. The 
king had forfeited his right to govern. The parliament having got- 
ten the power into their hands, betrayed a disposition to keep it ; 
and there being no law to secure the dissolution of the existing 
parliament and the election of another, the members in proportion 
as their body approximated to the character of a perpetual senate, 
became in fact and in public estimation, the usurping sovereigns 
rather than the representatives and organs of the people. It was 
not strange then that the army should feel themselves justified 
in refusing to be disbanded, or to be otherwise disposed of, till 
justice should be done to them as public creditors, and the peace 
and liberty of the nation should be secured on some basis satisfac- 
tory to their judgment. Having taken such a resolution they com- 
municated it, by a formal delegation, to parliament. 

The presbyterian party seeing whereunto this might grow, has- 
tened their treaty with the king, and seemed to be on the point of 
concluding it, as if they were more willing to make any sacrifice 
than to consent to that religious freedom which the army demand- 
ed. The treaty was suddenly broken off by an unexpected move- 
ment. A cornet, acting probably under the direction of the ad- 
jutators, came to Holmby at the head of fifty horse, and removed 
the king from the midst of his guards and keepers to the quarters 
of the army at Newmarket. It does not appear that the king 
felt any decided aversion to this removal. He was treated with 
much more consideration by the officers of the army, than he had 


b-een by the parliamentary commissioners ; and he had more per- 
sonal liberty at Newmarket, than he had known before from the 
time of his surrendering himself to the Scots. 

The news of this bold measure, threw the parliament and the city 
into great confusion. It was expected that the army would be in- 
stantly before the city ; and hasty preparations were made for a 
defense. Commissioners were sent to the general to forbid the ap- 
proach of the army. Fairfax replied that they would make no 
further advance without giving due notice ; and he assured the 
houses that there was no design to overthrow the presbyterian gov- 
ernment or to set up the independent, and that the army claimed 
nothing more than the privilege of dissenting from the established 
religion. After some negotiation, the presbyterians in the parlia- 
ment and the city, began to recover courage; and the army began 
to reply in bolder language. The citizens grew violent, and by 
tumultuous petitions endeavored to bring the parliament to stronger 
measures. But the speakers of the two houses and with them a 
very considerable portion of the members, not a few of whom 
were zealous presbyterians, fearing these tumults, withdrew from 
the city, and claimed the protection of the army that the parlia- 
ment might be free. The army was immediately put in motion, 
and on its approach, the city submitted without a defense. A few 
of the most active presbyterian leaders, were under the necessity of 
abandoning their places in the house of commons ; and from this 
time, the proceedings of parliament were generally conformed to 
the wishes of the army. 

The king was all this while with the army ; and when the city 
and parliament had submitted, he was allowed to reside at his 
palace of Hampton Court, where he appeared in great state, and 
was attended by throngs of people from the city and the country. 
Cromwell and Ireton conferred with him privately about restoring 
him to the throne. They made him better offers than those of the 
parliament ; and there is no sufficient reason to doubt the sincerity 
of their proposals. But he was still infatuated with the notion that 
neither party could exist without him, and that each would willing- 
ly outbid the other to secure his name and influence. Thus he 
carried on a deceitful negotiation with both parties, till his duplicity 

Vol. I 13 


was discovered by a letter to his wife which Cromwell intercept- 
ed. Upon this discovery, Cromwell informed the king's most in- 
timate attendant that he would have no more to do with a man so 
unworthy of his confidence, and would no longer be responsible, 
as he had been, for his personal safety. The unhappy monarch, 
without seeming to have formed any definite plan of escape, fled 
from Hampton Court, and a few hours afterwards found himself, 
he hardly knew how, a prisoner in the Isle of Wight. 

Here he was soon visited by commissioners from parliament, offer- 
ing him certain proposals to which his assent was required as pre- 
liminary to any further negotiation. It was very distinctly intima- 
ted that if he rejected these propositions, they would proceed to 
settle the nation without him. The preliminaries now proposed, 
were not materially different from the terms which he had formerly 
rejected. He now declined them once more, having already en- 
tered on a secret treaty with the Scottish commissioners, which was 
signed three days afterwards. In this treaty, the king on the one 
hand promised that the covenant should be confirmed by act of 
parliament ; that the presbyterian discipline should be established 
in England for three years, and afterwards such a system as should 
be agreed on in the mean time, the king and his household having 
the privilege of using those forms of worship to which they had 
"been accustomed ; and that an effectual course should be taken to 
suppress all heresy and schism. The Scots on the other hand, 
who had long been dissatisfied with their English friends as wanting 
in zeal for the covenant, and who had become finally disgusted on 
witnessing the predominant influence of the military sectarians, 
promised to raise an army which should deliver the king from his 
imprisonment and restore him to his authority. This treaty was 
signed near the close of the year 1G47. 

Early in the following year, the nation was again involved in war. 
The Scots, in compliance with their new treaty, invaded England 
under the banner of the covenant ; the king's old friends rising si- 
multaneously, wherever they were numerous enough to show them- 
selves. The army which had overawed the parliament by being 
quartered about London, was now drawn off to meet the common 
enemy; and the presbyterian party immediately regained its old 


ascendency in the city. A new treaty was set on foot with the 
king, and though long delayed by the efforts of the minority in par- 
liament, was at last on the point of being concluded and carried 
into execution ; when the army, having once more crushed all arm- 
ed opposition, suddenly marched to London, and all was reversed. 
Military usurpation became the order of the day. A great number 
of presbyterians were forcibly expelled from the house of commons. 
The lords, refusing to concur with the acts of the lower house thus 
mutilated, were no longer acknowledged as a branch of the le- 
gislature. A high court of justice was erected by the commons for 
the trial of " Charles Stuart king of England j" and by the sentence 
of that court after a public trial, the king was beheaded on the 
thirtieth of January, 1G49. 

The Rump, for that was the name which the people in derision 
applied to the remnant of the parliament, consisted chiefly of zeal- 
ous republicans, and was therefore resolved on the establishment 
of a commonwealth which might surpass in renown the classic re- 
publics of antiquity. But, as the republicans were in fact only a 
minority in the nation, it was felt that the people could not be 
trusted with this favorite project. Therefore the existing members 
of parliament must still retain the power in their own hands; though 
they made many fair promises that as soon as peace and order 
should be established, they would resign their power, and give the 
people an opportunity to elect new rulers. Meanwhile for the se- 
curity of the infant commonwealth, all the subjects were called on 
to profess allegiance to its government. This promise was styled 
the " engagement," and was thus expressed, " I do promise to be 
true and faithful to the commonwealth, as it is now established, 
without a king or house of lords." 

In Scotland, Charles II. was proclaimed king, and was invited to 
come over from Holland where he had found refuge, and to receive 
his crown, on condition of his taking the covenant and submitting to 
many additional restrictions and engagements. The Rump, see- 
ing no immediate danger likely to arise from that quarter, left the 
Scots to settle their own government in their own way. Cromwell 
was sent to command in Ireland, where after a bloody war of nine 
months, he established beyond resistance or dispute, the authori- 
ty of the commonwealth. 


In the meantime Charles II. despairing of any other relief, had 
accepted the proposals of the Scots and had come over into that 
kingdom. With a hypocrisy which has few parallels even in the 
history of his own faithless family, he solemnly swore to the cove- 
nant. He published a formal declaration, setting forth his humilia- 
tion and grief for the wickedness of his father and the idolatry of his 
mother, as well as for his own sins ; professing his detestation of all 
popery, superstition, prelacy, heresy, schism, and profaneness; and 
promising that he would never favor those who followed his interests, 
in preference to the interests of the gospel and of the kingdom of 
Christ. Those who ruled in England, saw that this attempted re- 
conciliation between Charles and the Scots, if attended with any 
measure of success, must imply some invasion of their peace and 
power ; and they resolved to be before-hand with the your:g king 
and his new subjects. War was determined on ; and Fairfax hav- 
ing resigned his command, out of his presbyterian regard to the 
covenant, Cromwell was made captain-general of all the forces. 
With characteristic promptness he invaded Scotland, and soon re- 
duced the king to desperate circumstances. By a bold move- 
ment suited to such circumstances, Charles with the main body of 
the Scottish army marched into England, hoping that his friends 
there, and the many others who were dissatisfied with the existing 
government, would instantly rally around him. In this he was dis- 
appointed ; Cromwell having left a detachment to complete the 
subjugation of Scotland, followed hard after him, and at Worcester 
his army was annihilated, and he himself putting on the disguise of 
a servant with great difficulty escaped out of the kingdom. This 
battle, which Cromwell called his " crowning mercy," was fought 
on the third of September 1651. 

Mutual dissatisfaction still existed between the parliament and 
the army. Peace was now established ; the three kingdoms were 
consolidated into one commonwealth ; and the parliament were 
loudly reminded of the promises which they had made to abdicate 
their power. Still they were unwilling to trust the people, and 
they resolved on continuing their own authority. At this crisis, 
Cromwell, having surrounded the house with soldiers, rose up in 
his place, and declaring that God had called him to dissolve that 


assembly, told them they were no longer a parliament and bid them 
begone. Thus ended the Long Parliament, in 1653, and the only 
government of the nation was in the hands of the general and his 
council of officers. 

By these men, after one short experiment of a parliament cho- 
sen by themselves, a new constitution was imposed on the nation. 
Cromwell was invested with the power of a limited monarch, under 
the title of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth; and provision 
was made for triennial parliaments, to be elected by the people. 
Under this government, though royalists and republicans, prelatists 
and presbyterians, papists and fanatics, united in hating it, the peo- 
ple enjoyed order and prosperity till the death of the Protector. 

We now return to Baxter's personal history, to the elucidation of 
which this survey of public events seemed necessary. 

" I have related how after my bleeding a gallon of blood, by the 
nose, that I was left weak at Sir Thomas Rouse's house, at Rous 
Lench, where I was taken up with daily medicines to prevent a 
dropsy ; and being conscious that my time had not been improved 
to the service of God as I desired it had been, I put up many an 
earnest prayer, that God would restore me, and use me more suc- 
cessfully in his work. Blessed be that mercy which heard my 
groans in the day of my distress ; and gratified my desires and 
wrought my deliverance when men and means failed, and gave 
me opportunity to celebrate his praise. 

"Whilst I there continued, weak and unable to preach, the 
people of Kidderminster had again renewed their articles against 
their old vicar and his curate. Upon trial of the cause, the com- 
mittee sequestered the place, but put no one into it ; but put the 
profits in the hands of divers of the inhabitants, to pay a preacher 
till it were disposed of. They sent to me and desired me to take 
it, in case I were again enabled to preach; which I flatly refused, 
and told them I would take only the lecture, which, by his own con- 
sent and bond, I held before. Hereupon they sought Mr. Brum- 
skill and others to accept the place, but could not meet with any 
one to their minds; therefore, they chose one Mr Richard Serjeant 
to officiate, reserving the vicarage for some one that was litter. 


" When I was able, after about five months, to go abroad, I went 
to Kidderminster, where I found only Mr. Serjeant in possession ; 
and the people again vehemently urged me to take the vicarage ; 
which I denied, and got the magistrates and burgesses together into 
the towuhall, and told them, that though I had been offered many 
hundred pounds per annum elsewhere, I was willing to continue 
with them in my old lecturer's place, which I had before the wars, 
expecting they would make the maintenance a hundred pounds a 
year, and a house ; and if they would promise to submit to that 
doctrine of Christ, which as his minister, I should deliver to them, 
proved by the holy scriptures, I would not leave them. And that 
this maintenance should neither come out of their own purses, nor 
any more of it out of the tithes, save the sixty pounds which the 
vicar had before bound himself to pay me, I undertook to procure 
an augmentation for Mitton (a chapel in the parish) of forty ponnds 
per annum, which I did ; and so the sixty pounds and that forty 
were to be my part, and the rest I was to have nothing to do with. 
This covenant was drawn up between us in articles, and subscribed ; 
in which I disclaimed the vicarage and pastoral charge of the pa- 
rish, and only undertook the lecture. 

" Thus the sequestration continued in the hands of the towns- 
men, as aforesaid, who gathered the tithes and paid me (not a 
hundred as they promised) but eighty pounds per annum, or ninety 
at most, and house-rent for a few rooms in the top of another 
man's house, which is all I had at Kidderminster. The rest they 
gave to Mr. Sergeant, and about forty pounds per annum to the 
old vicar j six pounds per annum to the king and lord for rents, 
and a few other charges." 

"Besides this ignorant vicar, there was a chapel in the parish, 
where was an old curate as ignorant as he, that had long lived upon 
ten pounds a year and unlawful marriages, and was a drunkard and 
a railer, and the scorn of the country. I knew not how to keep 
him from reading, for I judged it a sin to tolerate him in any sacred 
office. I got an augmentation for the place, and an honest preach- 
er to instruct them, and let this scandalous fellow keep his former 
stipend of ten pounds for nothing ; and yet could never keep him 
from forcing himself upon the people to read, nor from unlawful 


marriages, till a little before death did call him to his account. I 
have examined him about the familiar points of religion and he 
could not say half so much to me as I have heard a child say.* 

During the revolutionary times which followed, Baxter's feelings 
were enlisted chiefly with the piesb) terian party. His views of 
Cromwell and of the sectarians have already been sufficiently ex- 
hibited. He had many conscientious scruples about the allegiance 
due to the person of the king ; and therefore he abhorred not only 
the execution of Charles, but all the distinctive principles and mea- 
sures of the party which finally predominated. And as he felt, so 
he always acted. " When the soldiers were going against the 
king and the Scots, I wrote letters to some of them," he says, 
" to tell them of their sin, and desired them at last to begin to 
know themselves, it being those same men that have so much boast- 
ed of love to all the godly, and pleaded for tender dealing with 
them, who are now ready to imbrue their swords in the blood of 
such as they acknowledge to be godly." 

" At the same time, the Rump who so much abhorred persecu- 
tion, and were for liberty of conscience, made an order that all 
ministers should keep their days of humiliation to fast and pray for 
their success in Scotland, and that we should keep their days of 
thanksgiving for their victories, and this upon pain of sequestra- 
tion : so that we all expected to be turned out. But they did not 
execute it upon any save one in our parts :" a fact which shows 
that their love of toleration was not mere profession. 

" For my part," continues the narrative, " instead of praying 
and preaching for them, when any of the committee or soldiers 
were my hearers, I labored to help them understand what a crime 
it was to force men to pray for the success of those who were vio- 
lating their covenant and loyalty, and going, in such a cause to kill 
their brethren." " My own hearers were all satisfied with my doc- 
trine ; but the committee men looked sour, but let me alone- 
And the soldiers said, I was so like to Love, that I would not be 
right till I was shorter by the head. Yet none of them ever med- 

* Narrative, Part I. pp. 79, CO. 


died with me, farther than by the tongue ; nor was I ever by any 
of them in those times forbidden or hindered to preach one sermon, 
only one assize sermon, which the high sheriff had desired me to 
preach, and afterwards sent me word to forbear, and not to preach 
before the judges, because I preached against the state. But af- 
terwards they excused it, as done merely in kindness to me, to 
keep me from running myself into danger and trouble."* 

Christopher Love who is referred to in the preceding paragraph, 
was one of eight presbyterian ministers id London, who, with others, 
were arrested on account of some measures which they were se- 
cretly pursuing to aid the king, and to unite the Presbyterians with 
the Scots in maintaining his authority. Seven were pardoned on 
the recantation of one of them ; but Love, and another, a layman 
concerned in the same conspiracy, were made examples of pub- 
lic justice. He " was beheaded, dying neither timorously nor 
proudly in any desperate bravado, but with as great alacrity and 
fearless quietness as if he had but gone to bed, and had been as 
little concerned as the standers by." 

Baxter's conscientious scruples, and his presbyterian feelings 
would of course lead him to refuse any distinct acknowledg- 
ment of the government which was erected after the express abo- 
lition of monarchy. When the " engagement," or promise of 
fidelity to the commonwealth, was put upon the people, he took his 
stand fearlessly against it. 

" For my own part," he says, " though I kept the town and 
parish of Kidderminster from taking the covenant, seeing how it 
might become a snare to their consciences ; yea, and most of Wor- 
cestershire besides, by keeping the ministers from offering it in any 
of the congregations to the people, except in Worcester city, where 
I had no great interest, and knew not what they did ; yet I could 
not judge it seemly for him that believed there is a God, to play 
fast and loose with a dreadful oath, as if the bonds of national and 
personal vows were as easily shaken off as Sampson's cords. — 
Therefore I spake and preached against the engagement, and dis- 
suaded men from taking it."f 

* Narrative, Part I. p. 67. f Narative, Part I. p. 64. 


The principles by which he regulated his conduct in regard to 
the government of Cromwell, while it continued, he thus describes. 
" I did seasonably and moderately, by preaching and printing, con- 
demn the usurpation, and the deceit which was the means to bring 
it to pass. I did in open conference declare Cromwell and his 
adherents to be guilty of treason and rebellion, aggravated by per- 
fidiousness and hypocrisy. But yet I did not think it my duty to 
rave against him in the pulpit, nor to do this so unseasonably and 
imprudently as might irritate him to mischief. And the rather be- 
cause, as he kept up his approbation of a godly life in general, and 
and of all that was good, except that which the interest of his sin- 
ful cause engaged him to be against ; so I perceived that it was his 
design to do good in the main, and to promote the gospel and the 
interest of godliness, more than any had done before him ; except 
in those particulars Which his own interest was against. The 
principal means that hence-forward he trusted to for his own estab- 
lishment, was doing good that the people might love him, or at 
least be willing to have his government for that good, who were 
against it as it was usurpation. And I made no question but that 
when the rightful governor was restored, the people who had 
adhered to him, being so extremely irritated, would cast out multi- 
tudes of the ministers, and undo the good which the usurper had 
done, because he did it, and would bring abundance of calamity 
upon the land. Some men thought it a very hard question, whether 
they should rather wish the continuance of an usurper that will do 
good, or the restitution of a rightful governor whose followers will do 
hurt. For my own part, T thought my duty was clear to disown the 
usurper's sin what good soever he would do ; and to perform all 
my engagements to a rightful governor, leaving the issue of all to 
God ; but yet to commend the good which an usurper doth, and to 
do any lawful thing which may provoke him to do more ; and to 
approve of no evil which is done by any, either usurper or lawful 

At a later period he seems to have changed his mind, respecting 
the course of conduct here recorded. In 1691, he wrote, " I am 

* Narrative, Part T. p. 
Vol. I. 14 


in great doubt how far I did well or ill in my opposition to Crom- 
well and his army at last. I am satisfied that it was my duty to dis- 
own, and as I said, to oppose their rebellion and other sins. But 
there were many honest, pious men among them. And when God 
chooseth the executioner of justice as he pleaseth, I am oft in doubt 
whether I should not have been more passive and silent than I was ; 
though not as Jeremiah to Nebuchadnezzar, to persuade men to 
submit, yet to have forborne some sharp public preaching and wri- 
ting against them, — when they set themselves too late to promote 
piety to ingratiate their usurpation. To disturb possessors needeth 
a clear call, when for what end soever they do that good, which 
men of better title will destroy."* 

But it is more pleasant to turn, from the confusion of these public 
changes, to the calm laborious life of the diligent pastor among the 
people of his charge. In what circumstances Baxter first found 
the people of Kidderminster ; what hatred and opposition he en- 
countered ; and how the violence of the infuriated rabble compel- 
led him to flee for safety, after a two years residence among them ; 
need notbe here repeated. The recollection of these things, howev- 
er, imparts additional interest to the record of his labors and success- 
es among the same people in more favorable circumstances. The 
story of his life as a pastor, cannot be better told than in his own 

** I shall next record to the praise of my Redeemer, the com- 
fortable employment and successes which he vouchsafed me during 
my abode at Kidderminster, under all these weaknesses. And, 
1st. I will mention my employment. 2. My successes. And, 
3. Those advantages by which, under God, they were procured. 

" Before the wars, I preached twice each Lord's day ; but after 
the war, but once, and once every Thursday, besides occasional 
sermons. Every Thursday evening, my neighbors, who were 
most desirous, and had opportunity, met at my house, and there 
one of them repeated the sermon ; afterwards they proposed what 
doubts any of them had about the sermon, or any other case of con- 
science ; and I resolved their doubts : last of all, I caused some- 

* Fenitent Confessions, pp. 24, 25, quoted by Onne. 


times one and sometimes another of them to pray, to exercise 
them ; and sometimes I prayed with them myself : which, beside 
singing a psalm, was all they did. And once a week, also, some 
of the younger sort, who were not fit to pray in so great an assem- 
bly, met among a few more privately, where they spent three 
hours in prayer together. Every Saturday night, they met at some 
of their houses, to repeat the sermon of the last Lord's day, and to 
pray and prepare themselves for the following day. Once in a few 
weeks, we had a day of humiliation on one occasion or other. 
Every religious woman that was safely delivered, instead of the old 
feastings and gossippings, if they were able, did keep a day of 
thanksgiving with some of their neighbors, with them, praising God, 
and singing psalms, and soberly feasting together. Two days eve- 
ry week, my assistant and myself took fourteen families between 
us, for private catechising 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 them about the sense ; 
and lastly, urged them, with all possible engaging reason and ve- 
hemency, to answerable affection and practice. If any of them 
were stalled 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 instruction and exhortation. 
But this I have opened more fully in my Reformed Pastor. I 
spent about an hour with each family, and admitted no others to 
be present ; lest bashfulness should make it burthensome, 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 before I did attempt it,) and my assistant 
spent the morning of the same day in the same employment. Be- 
fore that, I only catechised them in the church, and conferred 
with now and then one, occasionally- 

"Beside 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, 1 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 I never 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 other stu- 
dies, and partly because the very fear of miscarrying and doing any 
one harm, did make it an intolerable burden to me. So that, al- 
ter some years' practice, I procured a godly diligent physician to 
come and live in the town, and bound myself, by promise, to prac- 
tise no more, unless in consultation with him, in case of any seem- 
ing necessity ; and so with that answer I turned them all off, and 
never meddled with it again. 

" But all these my labors (except my private conference with 
the families,) even preaching and preparing for it, were but my 
recreations, and, as it were, the work of my spare hours j for my 
writings were my chiefest 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 affliction as the unavoidable loss of my 
time which they occasioned. I could not bear, through the weak- 
ness of my stomach, to rise before seven o'clock in the morning, 
and afterwards not till much later ; and some infirmities I labored 
under, made it above an hour before I could be dressed. An hour, 
I must of necessity have to walk before dinner, and another before 
supper ; and after supper I can seldom study : all which, beside 
times of family duties, and prayer, and eating, &ic. leaveth me but 
little time to study : which hath been the greatest external personal 
affliction of all my life. 

" Besides all these, every first Wednesday of the month was our 
monthly meeting for parish discipline ; and every first Thursday of 
the month, was the ministers' meeting for discipline and dispu- 
tation. In those disputations it fell to my lot to be almost constant 
moderator ; and for every such day, usually, I prepared a written 
determination ; all which I mention as my mercies and delights, 
and not as my burdens. Every Thursday, besides, I had the 
company of divers godly ministers at my house, after the lecture, 
with whom I spent that afternoon in the truest recreation, till my 
neighbors came to meet for their exercise of repetition and prayer. 


" For ever blessed be the God of mercies, that brought me from 
the grave, and gave me, after wars and sickness, fourteen years' 
liberty in such sweet employment ! and that, in times of usurpa- 
tion, I had all this mercy and happy freedom ; when under our 
rightful king and governor, 1, and many hundreds more, are si- 
lenced and laid by as broken vessels, and suspected and vilified 
as scarce to be tolerated to live privately and quietly in the land ! 
that God should make days of licentiousness and disorder under an 
usurper so great a mercy to me, and many a thousand more, who 
under the lawful governors which they desired, and in the days 
when order is said to be restored, do sit in obscurity and unpro- 
fitable silence, and some lie in prison ; and all of us are accounted 
as the scum and sweepings, or offscourings of the earth. 

" I have mentioned my sweet and acceptable employment ; 
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 gra- 
cious God, which I will not deny him, for fear of being censured 
as proud ; lest I prove myself proud, indeed, while I cannot under- 
go the imputation of pride in the performance of my thanks for 
such undeserved mercies. 

" My public preaching met with an attentive, diligent auditory. 
Having broke over the brunt of the opposition of the rabble before 
the wars, I found them afterwards tractable and unprejudiced. 
Before I entered into the ministry, God blessed my private confe- 
rence to the conversion of some, who remain firm and eminent in 
holiness to this day : but 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 fain to build five galleries after my coming thither j 
the church itself being very capacious, and the most commodious 
and convenient that ever I was in. Our private meetings, also, 
were full. On the Lord's days 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 past one 
family in the side that did not do so; and did not, by professing 
serious godliness, give us hopes of their sincerity. And in those 
families which were the worst, being inns and alehouses, usually 
some persons 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 away them- 
selves, yet we had six hundred that were communicants ; of whom 
there were not twelve that 1 had not good hopes of, as to their sin- 
cerity ; and those few that did consent to our communion, and 
yet lived scandalously, were excommunicated afterwards. And I 
hope there were many who had the fear of God, that came not to 
our communion in the sacrament, some of them being kept off by 
husbands, by parents, by masters, and some dissuaded by men 
that differed from us. Those many that kept away, yet took 
it patiently, and did not revile us as doing them wrong ; and those 
unruly young men who were excommunicated, bore it patiently 
as to their outward behavior, though their hearts were full of 

" When I set upon personal conference with each family, and 
catechising them, there were very few families in all the town 
that refused to come ; and those few were beggars at the town's 
ends, who were so ignorant, that they were ashamed it should be 
manifest. Few families went from me without some tears, or 
seemingly serious promises of 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 farthest from the town. And whereas one 
part of the parish was impropriate, and paid tithes to laymen, and 
the other part maintained the church, a brook dividing them, it 
fell out that almost all that side of the parish which paid tithes to 
the church, were godly, honest people, and did it willingly, with- 
out contention, and most of the bad people of the parish lived 
on the other side. Some of the poor men did competently un- 
derstand the body of divinity, and were able to judge in difficult 
controversies. Some of them were so able in prayer, that very 


few ministers did match them in order, and fullness, and apt ex- 
pressions, and holy oratory, with fervency. Abundance of them 
were able to pray very laudably with their families, or with others. 
The temper of their minds, and the innocency of their lives, were 
much more laudable than their parts. The professors of serious 
godliness were generally of very humble minds and carriage ; of 
meek and quiet behavior unto others ; and of blamelessness and 
innocency in their conversation. 

" God was pleased also to give me abundant encouragement in 
the lectures, I preached about in other places ; as at Worcester, 
Cleobury, &tc, but especially at Dudley and Sheffnal. At the 
former of which, being the first place that ever I preached in, 
the poor nailers, and other laborers, would not only crowd the 
church as full as ever I saw any in London, but also hang upon the 
windows and the leads without. 

" In my poor endeavors with my brethren in the ministry, my 
labors were not lost; our disputations proved not unprofitable. 
Our meetings were never contentious, but always comfortable ; we 
took great delight in the society of each other ; so that I know that 
the remembrance of those days is pleasant both to them and me. 
When discouragements had long kept me from motioning 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 mentioning of it, I found a readier consent 
than I could expect, and all went on without any great obstructing 
difficulties. When I attempted also to bring them all conjointly to 
the work of catechising and instructing every family by itself, I 
found a ready consent 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 employ- 
ed me so many years in so comfortable a work, with such encour- 
aging success. O what am I, a worthless worm, not only wanting 
academical honors, but much of that furniture which is needful to 
so high a work, that God should thus abundantly encourage me, 
when the reverend instructors of my youth did labor fifty years 
together in one place, and could scarcely say they had converted 
one or two in their parishes ! and the greater was this mercy, be- 


cause I was naturally of a discouraged 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 not to that place. Yea the mercy was yet greater, in 
that it was of farther public benefit. For some independents and 
anabaptists that had before conceited that parish churches were the 
great obstruction of all true church order and discipline, and that it 
was impossible to bring them to any good consistency, did quite 
change their minds when they saw what was done at Kiddermin- 

" And the zeal and knowledge of this poor people provoked 
many in other parts of the land. And though 1 have been now 
absent from them about six years, and they have been assaulted 
with pulpit calumnies and slanders, with threatenings and imprison- 
ments, with enticing words and seducing reasonings, they yet 
stand fast, and keep their integrity. Many of them are gone to 
God and some are removed, and some now in prison, and most still 
at home, but none, that I hear of, that are fallen off, or forsake their 

" Having related my comfortable successes in this place, I shall 
next tell you by what and how many advantages this was effected, 
under that grace which worketh by means, though with a free di- 
versity ; which I do chiefly for their sakes who would know the 
means of other men's experiments in managing ignorant and sinful 

" 1. One advantage was, that I came to a people who never 
had any awakening ministry before, but a few formal cold ser- 
mons of the curate ; for if they had been hardened under a 
powerful ministry, and had been sermon proof, I should have ex- 
pected less. 

" 2. Another advantage was, that at first I was in the vigor of my 
spirits, and had .naturally a familiar moving 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 seriousness, and to preach as a dying man to flying 
men. For drowsy formality and nistomariness doth but stupify 


the hearers, and rock them asleep. It must be serious preaching, 
which will make men serious in hearing and obeying it. 

" 3. Another advantage was, that most of the bitter enemies of 
godliness in the town who rose in tumults against me before, in 
their hatred of Puritans, had gone out into wars, into the king's ar- 
mies, and were quickly killed, and kxv of them ever returned 
again; and so there were few to make any great opposition to god- 

"4. Another and the greatest advantage was, the change that 
was made in the public affairs, by the success of the wars, which, 
however it was done, and though much corrupted by the usurpers, 
yet was such as removed many and great impediments to men's 
salvation. For before, the riotous rabble had boldness enough to 
make serious godliness a common scorn, and call them all Puri- 
tans and Precisians who did not care as little for God, and heaven, 
and their souls, as they did ; especially if a man was not fully sa- 
tisfied with their undisciplined, disordered churches, or lay-chan- 
cellor's excommunications, he. Then, no name was bad enough 
for him ; and the bishop's articles inquiring after such, and their 
courts, and the high-commission grievously afflicting those who did 
but fast and pray together, or go from an ignorant, drunken reader, 
to hear a godly, able preacher at the next parish, kept religion 
among the vulgar under either continual reproach or terror ; en- 
couraging the rabble to despise it and revile it, and discouraging 
those that else would own it. Experience telJeth us, that it is a la- 
mentable impediment to men's conversion when it is a ' way every 
where spoken against,' and persecuted by superiors, which they 
must embrace ; and when at their first approaches, they must go 
through such dangers and obloquy as is fitter for confirmed chris- 
tians to be exercised with, than unconverted sinners or young be- 
ginners. Therefore, though Cromwell gave liberty to all sects 
among us, and did not set up any party alone by force, yet this 
much gave abundant advantage to the gospel, removing the preju- 
dices and the terrors which hindered it; especially considering that 
godliness had countenance and reputation also, as well as liberty. 
Whereas before, if it did not appear in all the fetters and formalities 
ol the times, it was the common way to shame and ruin. Hearing 


sermons abroad, when there were none or worse at home ; fasting 
and praying together; the strict observation of the Lord's day, am) 
such-like, went under the dangerous name of puritanism, as well as 
opposing bishops and ceremonies. 

" I know in these times you may meet with men who confidently 
affirm that all religion was then trodden down, and heresy and 
schism were the only piety ; but I give warning to all ages by the 
experience of this incredible age, that they take heed how they 
believe any, whoever they be, while they are speaking for the in- 
terest of their factions and opinions, against those that were their 
real or supposed adversaries. 

" For my part I bless God, who gave me even under an usur- 
per whom I opposed, such liberty and advantage to preach his gos- 
pel with success, as I cannot have under a king to whom I have 
sworn and performed true subjection and obedience ; yea, such as 
no age, since the gospel came into this land, did before possess, as 
far as I can learn from history. I shall add this much more for 
the sake of posterity, that as much as I have said and written 
against licentiousness in religion, and for the magistrates' power in 
it; and though 1 think that land most happy whose rulers use their 
authority for Christ, as well as for the civil peace; yet, in compa- 
rison of the rest of the world, I shall think that land happy which 
hath but bare liberty to be as good as the people are willing to be. 
And if countenance and maintenance be but added to liberty, and 
tolerated errors and sects be but forced to keep the peace, and not 
to oppose the substantial of Christianity, 1 shall not hereafter 
much fear such toleration, nor despair that truth will bear down 

"5. Another advantage which I found, was the acceptation of 
my person among the people. Though to win estimation and love 
to ourselves only, be an end that none but proud men and hypo- 
crites intend, yet it is most certain that the gratefulness of the per- 
son doth ingratiate the message, and greatly prepareth the people 
to receive the truth. Had the}- taken me to be ignorant, erro- 
neous, scandalous, worldly, self-seeking, or such like, I could have 
expected small success among them. 
' »'6. Another advantnge which I had, was the zeal and dili^-ricf 


of the godly of the place ; who thirsted after the salvation of their 
neighbors, and were in private my assistants, and being dispersed 
through the town, were ready in almost all companies to repress se- 
ducing words, and to justify godliness, and convince, reprove, ex- 
hort men according to their deeds; as also to teach them how to 
pray; and to help them to sanctify the Lord's day. For those 
people that had none in their families who could pray; or repeat 
the sermons, went to their next neighbor's house who could do it, 
and joined with them ; so that some of the houses of the ablest 
men in each street, were filled with them that could do nothing, or 
little in their own. 

"7. And the holy, humble, blameless lives of the religious sort 
were also a great advantage to me. The malicious people could not 
say, Your professors here are as proud and covetous as any ; but the 
blameless lives of godly people did shame opposers, and put to si- 
lence the ignorance of foolish men, and many were won by their 
good conversation. 

"8. Our unity and concord were a great advantage to us; and 
our freedom from those sects and heresies, with which many other 
places were infected. We had no private church, and though we 
had private meetings, we had not pastor against pastor, or church 
against church, or sect against sect, or christian against christian. 
There was none that had any odd opinions of his own, or censured 
his teacher as erroneous, or questioned his call. At Bewdley, 
there was a church of Anabaptists ; at Worcester, the Indepen- 
dents gathered theirs. But we were all of one mind, and mouth, 
and way ; not a Separatist, Anabaptist, or Antinomian in the town. 
One- journeyman shoemaker turned Anabaptist, but he left the 
town upon it, and went among them. Where people saw diversity 
of sects and churches in any place, it greatly hindered their con- 
version ; and they were at a loss, and knew not what party to be 
of, or what way to go, and therefore would be of no religion at all, 
and perhaps derided them all, whom they saw thus disagreed. 
But they had no such offense or objection there ; they could not 
ask, Which church or party, shall I be of, for we were all but as 
one. Nay, so modest were the ablest of the people, that they nev- 
er were inclined to a preaching way, nor to make ostentation of 


their parts ; but took warning by the pride of others; and thought 
they had teaching enough by their pastors, and that it was better 
for them to bestow their labor in digesting that than in preaching 

" 9. Our private meetings were a marvellous help to the propa- 
gating of godliness, for thereby, truths that slipped away, were 
recalled, and the seriousness of the people's minds renewed, and 
good desires cherished. Their knowledge, also, was much in- 
creased by them, and the younger sort learned to pray by frequent- 
ly hearing others. And here I had opportunity to know their 
case ; for if any were touched and awakened in public, I should 
presently see him drop into our private meetings. Hereby also idle 
meetings and loss of time were greatly prevented ; and so far were 
we from being by this in danger of schism, or divisions, that it was 
the principal means to prevent them : for here I was usually pres- 
ent with them, answering their doubts, and silencing objections, 
and moderating them in all. And some private meetings, I found 
they were exceedingly much inclined to ; and if I had not allowed 
them such as were lawful and profitable, they would have been rea- 
dy to run to such as were unlawful and hurtful. And by encour- 
aging them here in the fit exercise of their parts, in repetition, 
prayer, and asking questions, I kept them from inclining to the dis- 
orderly exercise of them, as the Sectaries do. We had no meet- 
ings in opposition to the public meetings, but all in subordination to 
them ; and under my oversight and guidance, which proved a way 
profitable to all. 

" 10. Another thing which advantaged us, was some public dis- 
putations which we had with gainsayers, which very much con- 
firmed the people. The Quakers would fain have got entertain- 
ment, and set up a meeting in the town, and frequently railed at 
me in the congregation ; but when I had once given them leave to 
meet in the church for a dispute, and, before the people, had open- 
ed their deceits and shame, none would entertain them more, nor 
did they get one proselyte among us." 

"11. Another advantage, was the great honesty and diligence 
of my assistants." 

' $2. Another was the presence and countenance of honest jus- 


tices of peace," " who ordinarily were godly men, and always such 
as would be thought so, and were ready to use their authority to 
suppress sin and promote goodness." 

"13. Another help to my success, was that small relief which 
my low estate enabled me to afford the poor. Though the place 
was reckoned at near two hundred pounds per annum, there came 
but ninety pounds, and sometimes only eighty pounds to me. Be- 
side which, some years I had sixty, or eighty pounds a year of the 
booksellers for my books : which little, dispersed among them, 
much reconciled them to the doctrine that I taught. I took the 
aptest of their children from the school, and sent divers of them to 
the universities ; where for eight pounds a year, or ten, at most, 
by the help of my friends there, I maintained them." " Some of 
these are honest, able ministers, now cast out with their brethren ; 
but, two or three, having no other way to live, turned great Con- 
formists, and are preachers now. In giving the little I had, I did 
not inquire whether they were good or bad, if they asked relief j 
for the bad had souls and bodies that needed charity most. And 
I found that three pence or a groat to every poor body that asked 
me, was no great matter in a year ; but a few pounds in that way of 
giving would go far. And this truth I will speak to the encour- 
agement of the charitable, that what little money I have now by 
me, I got it almost all, I scarce know how, at that time when I 
gave most, and since I have had less opportunity of giving, 1 have 
had less increase. 

" 14. Another furtherance of my work, was the writings which I 
wrote, and gave away among them. Of some small books I gave 
each family one, which came to about eight hundred ; and of the 
bigger, I gave fewer : and every family that was poor, and had 
not a Bible, I gave a Bible to. I had found myself the benefit of 
reading to be so great, that I could not but think it would be pro- 
fitable to others. 

" 15. And it was a great advantage to me, that my neighbors 
were of such a trade, as allowed them time enough to read or talk 
of holy things. For the town liveth upon the weaving of Kidder- 
minster stuffs ; and, as they stand in their looms, the men can set 
a book before them, or edify one another ; whereas, ploughmen, 


and many others, are so wearied, or continually employed, either 
in the labors, or the cares of their callings, that it is a great im- 
pediment to their salvation. Freeholders and tradesmen are the 
strength of religion and civility in the land ; and gentlemen, and 
beggars, and servile tenants, are the strength of iniquity. Though 
among these sorts, there are some also that are good and just, as 
among the other there are many bad. And their constant con- 
verse and traffic with London, doth much promote civility and pie- 
ty among tradesmen. 

"16. I found also that my single life afforded me much advan- 
tage : for I could the easier 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. Being dis- 
charged from the most of family cares, and keeping but one servant, 
I had the greater vacancy and liberty for the labors of my calling. 

" 17. God made use of my practice of physic among them also 
as a very great advantage to my ministry ; for they that cared not 
for their souls, did love their lives, and care for their bodies ; and, 
by this, they were made almost as observant, as a tenant is of his 
landlord. Sometimes I could see before me in the church, a ve- 
ry considerable part of the congregation, whose lives God had 
made me a means to save, or to recover their health ; and doing 
it for nothing so obliged them, that they would readily hear me. 

" 18. It was a great advantage to me, that there were at last 
few that were bad, but some of their own relations were converted : 
many children did God work upon, at fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen 
years of age ; and this did marvellously reconcile the minds of the 
parents and elder sort 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 who would not be brought to it 
themselves, were proud that they had understanding, religious 
children ; and we had some old persons of eighty years of age, 
who aie, I hope, in heaven, and the conversion of their own chil- 
dren, was the chief means to overcome their prejudice, and old 
customs, and conceits. 

" 19. And God made great use of sickness to do good to many. 

Ltt'K OV lilCriARU BAVTkH. 119 

For though sick-bed promises are usually soon forgotten ; yet it 
was otherwise with many among us ; and as soon as they were re- 
covered, they came first to our private meetings, and so kept in a 
learning state till further fruits of piety appeared. 

" 20. And I found that our dUownirg the iniquity of the times 
did tend to the good of many. For they de.-pised those that al- 
ways followed the stronger side, and justified every wickedness 
that was done by the stronger party." " And had 1 owned the guilt 
of others, it would have been my shame, and the hindrance of my 
work, and provoked God to have disowned me. 

"21. 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 preachi.ig was 
powerful and sober ; their fruits peaceable and meek, disowning 
the treasons and iniquities of the times as well as we. They were 
wholly addicted to the winning of souls; self-denying, and of most 
blameless lives ; evil-spoken of by no sober men, but greatly be- 
loved by their own people and all that knew them ; adhering to no 
faction ; neither episcopal, presbyterian, nor independent, as to 
parties ; but desiring union, and loving that which is good in all. 
These, meeting weekly at our lecture, and monthly at our dispu- 
tation, constrained a reverence in the people to their worth and 
unity, and consequently furthered my work." 

" 22. Another advantage to me was the quality of the sinners of 
the place. There were two drunkards almost at the next doors to 
me, who one by night, and the other by day, did constantly every 
week, if not twice or thrice a week, roar and rave in the streets 
like stark mad men. These were so beastly and ridiculous, that 
they made that sin, of which we were in most danger, the more 

"23. Another advantage to me was the quality of the apostates 
of the place. If we had been troubled with mere Separatists, 
Anabaptists, or others that erred plausibly and tolerably, they might 
perhaps have divided us, and drawn away disciples after them. 
But we had only two professors that fell off in the wars ; and one or 
two that made no profession of godliness were drawn in to them. 
Those that fell off, were such as before, by their want of grounded 


understanding, humility, and mortification, gave us the greatest 
suspicion of their stability ; and they fell to no less than familism 
and infidelity, making a jest of the scripture and of the essentials 
of Christianity. And as they fell from the faith, so they fell to 
drinking, gaming, furious passions, (horribly abusing their wives, 
and thereby saving them from their errors,) and to a vicious life. 
So that they stood up as pillars and monuments of God's justice, to 
warn all others to take heed of self-conceitedness and heresies, and 
of departing from truth and Christian unity. And so they were a 
principal means to keep out all sects and errors from the town. 

"24. Another great help to my success at last, was the fore- 
described work of personal conference with every family apart, 
nd catechising and instructing them. That which was spo- 
ken to them personally, and which put them sometimes upon an- 
swers, awakened their attention, and was easier applied than pub- 
lic preaching, and seemed to do much more upon them. 

" 25. And the exercise of church discipline was no small fur- 
therance of the people's good : fori found plainly, that without it, 
I could not have kept the religious sort from separations and divis- 
ions. There is something generally in their dispositions, which 
inchneth them to dissociate from open ungodly sinners, as men 
of another nature and society ; and if they had not seen me do 
something reasonable for a regular separation of the notorious, ob- 
stinate sinners from the rest, they would irregularly have withdrawn 
themselves ; and it had not been in my power with bare words to 
satisfy them, when they saw we had liberty to do what we would. 

"It was my greatest care and contrivance so to order this work, 
that we might neither make a mere mock-show of discipline, nor, 
with Independents, unchurch the parish church, and gather a church 
out of them anew. Therefore all the ministers associate agreed to- 
gether, to practise so much discipline as the Episcopal, Presbyte- 
rians, and Independents, were agreed on that presbyters might and 
must do. And we told the people that we were not about to gath- 
er a new church, but taking the parish for the church, unless they 
were unwilling to own their membership, we resolved to exercise 
that discipline with all : only, because there are some papists and 
familists or infidels among us, and because in these times of liberty 


we cannot, nor desire to, compel any against their wills, we desired 
all that did own their membership in this parish church, and take 
us for their pastors, to give in their names, or any other way signi- 
fy that they do so; and those that are not willing to be members 
and rather choose to withdraw themselves than live under discipline, 
to be silent. 

" And so, for fear of discipline, all the parish kept off except 
about six hundred, when there were in all above sixteen hundred 
at age to be communicants. Yet because it was their own doing, 
and they knew they might come in when they would, they were 
quiet in their separation ; for we took them for the Separatists. 
Those that scrupled our gesture at the sacrament, I openly told 
that they should have it in their own. Yet did I baptize all their 
children, but made them first, as I would have done by strangers, 
give me privately, or publicly if they had rather, an account of their 
faith ; and if any father was a scandalous sinner, I made him con- 
fess his sin openly, with seeming penitence, before I would baptise 
his child. If he refused it, I forbore till the mother came to pre- 
sent it; for I rarely, if ever, found both father and mother so desti- 
tute of knowledge and faith, as in a church sense to be incapable 

"26. Another advantage which I found to my success, was, by 
ordering my doctrine to them in a suitableness to the main end, 
and yet so as might suit their dispositions and diseases. The 
things which I daily opened to them, and with greatest importunity 
labored to imprint upon their minds, were the great fundamental 
principles of Christianity contained in their baptismal covenant, even 
a right knowledge and belief of, and subjection and love to, God 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; love to all men, and 
concord with the church and one another. I did so daily incul- 
cate the knowledge of God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sancti- 
fier, love and obedience to God, unity with the church catholic, 
and love to men and the hope of life eternal, that these were the 
matter of their daily cogitations and discourses, and indeed, their 

" Yet, I did usually put in something my sermon, which was 
above their own discovery, and which they had not known before • 

Vol. I. 16 



and this I did that they might be kept humble, and still perceive 
their ignorance, and be willing to keep in a learning state. For 
when preachers tell their people of no more than they know, and 
do not show that they excel them in knowledge, and easily overtop 
them in abilities, the people will be tempted to turn preachers 
themselves, and think that they have learned all that the ministers 
can teach them, and are as wise as they. They will be apt to con- 
temn their teachers, and wrangle with all their doctrines, and set 
their wits against them, and hear them as censurers, and not disci- 
ples, to their own undoing, and to the disturbance of the church ; 
and they will easily draw disciples after them. The bare authority 
of the clergy will not serve the turn, without overtopping ministerial 
abilities. And I did this to increase their knowledge, and also 
to make religion pleasant to them, by a daily addition to their for- 
mer 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, or novelties in doctrine 
contrary to the universal church ; but either such points as tended 
to illustrate the great doctrines before mentioned, or usually about 
the right methodizing of them; the opening of the true and profit- 
able method of the creed or doctrine of faith ; the Lord's Prayer, 
or matter of our desires; and the ten commandments, or the law 
of practice. 

"27. Another help to my success was, that my people were not 
rich. There were among them very few beggars ; because their 
common trade of stuff-weaving would find work for all, men, wo- 
men, and children, that were able. And there were none of the 
tradesmen very rich, seeing their trade was poor, that would but 
find them food and raiment. The magistrates of the town were, 
few of them, worth forty pounds per annum ; and most not half so 
much. Three or four of the richest thriving masters of the trade, 
got about five or six hundred ponnds in twenty years. The gene- 
rality of the master workmen, lived but a little better than their 
journeymen, from hand to mouth, but only that they labored not al- 
together so hard . 

"And it is the poor that receive the glad tidings of the gospel, 
vnd that are usually rich in faith, and heirs of the heavenly riches 


which God hath promised to them that love him. As Mr. George 
Herbert saith in his church Militant, 

" Gold and the gospel never did agree ; 
Religion always sides with poverty." 

" One knight, Sir Ralph Clare, who lived among us, did more to 
hinder my greater successes than a multitude of others could have 
done. Though he was an old man of great courtship and civility, 
and very temperate as to diet, apparel, and sports, and seldom 
would swear louder than " by his troth," etc. and showed me much 
personal reverence and respect, beyond my desert, and we con- 
versed together with love and familiarity ; yet, (having no relish for 
this preciseness, and extemporary praying, and making so much 
ado for heaven ; nor liking that which went beyond the pace of 
saying the common prayer ; and also the interest of himself and of 
his civil and ecclesiastical parties leading him to be ruled by Dr. 
Hammond,) his coming but once a day to church on the Lord's 
days, and his abstaining from the sacrament, as if we kept not suffi- 
ciently to the old way, and because we used not the common pray- 
er book when it would have caused us to be sequestered, did cause 
a great part of the parish to follow him, and do as he did, when else 
our success and concord would have been much more happy than 
it was. And yet his civility and yielding much beyond others of 
his party, sending his family to be catechized and personally in- 
structed, did sway with almost the worst among us, to the like. 
Indeed we had two other persons of quality, Col. John Bridges, 
and at last Mrs Hanmer, that came from other places to live there, 
and were truly and judiciously religious, who did much good ; for 
when the rich are indeed religious and overcome their temptations, 
as they may be supposed better than others, because their conquest 
is greater, so they may do more good than others, because their 
talents are more. But such are always comparatively few. 

"28. Another thing that helped me, was my not meddling with 
tithes or wordly business, whereby I had my whole time, except 
what sickness deprived me of, for my duty, and my mind more free 
from entanglements than else it would have been; and, also, I es- 
caped the offending of the people, and contending by any law-suits 


with them. Three or four of my neighbors managed all those 
kinds of business, of whom I never took account; and if any one 
refused to pay his tithes, if he was poor, I ordered them to forgive 
him. (After that, I was constrained to let the tithes be gathered 
as by my title, to save the gatherers from law-suits.) But if the 
parties were able, I ordered them to seek it by the magistrate, with 
the damage, and give both my part and the damages to the poor; 
for I resolved to have none of it myself that was recovered by law, 
and yet I could not tolerate the sacrilege and fraud of covetous 
men. When they knew that this was the rule I went by, none of 
them that were able would do the poor so great a kindness as to de- 
ny the payment of their tithes. In my family, I had the help 
of my father and mother-in-law, and the benefit of a godly, under- 
standing, faithful servant, an ancient woman, near sixty years old, 
who eased me of all care, and laid out all my money for house- 
keeping; so that I never had one hour's trouble about it, nor ever 
took one day's account of her for fourteen years together, as being 
certain of her fidelity, providence, aad skill. 

"29. And it much furthered my success, that I staid still in this 
one place, near two years before the wars, and above fourteen 
years after ; for he that removeth oft from place to place, may sow 
good seed in many places, but is not likely to see much fruit in any, 
unless some other skilful hand shall follow him to water it. It was 
a great advantage to me to have almost all the religious people of 
of the place, of my own instructing and informing; and that they 
were not formed into erroneous and factious principles before; and 
that I staid to see them grow up to some confirmedness and ma- 

" 30. Lastly, our successes were enlarged beyond our own con- 
gregations, by the lectures kept up round about. To divers of them 
I went so oft as I was able ; and the neighboring ministers, oftener 
than I; especially Mr. Oasland, of Bewdley, who having a strong 
body, a zealous spirit, and an earnest utterance, went up and down 
preaching from place to place, with great acceptance and success. 
But this business, also, we contrived to be universally and orderly 
managed. For, beside the lectures set up on week days fixedly, 
in several places, we studied how to have them extend to every 


place in the county that had need. For when the parliament 
purged the ministry, they cast out the grosser sort of insufficient 
and scandalous ones, such as gross drunkards and such like ; and 
also some few civil men that had assisted in the wars against the 
parliament, or setup bowing to altars, or such innovations; but they 
had left in nearly one half the ministers, that were not good enough 
to do much service, or bad enough to be cast out as utterly intolera- 
ble. These were a company, of poor, weak preachers who had no 
great skill in divinity, or zeal for godliness ; but preached weakly 
that which is true, and lived in no gross, notorious sin. These men 
were not cast out, but yet their people greatly needed help ; for 
their dark, sleepy preaching did but little good. We, therefore, re- 
solved that some of the abler ministers should often voluntarily help 
them ; but all the care was how to do it without offending them. 

"It fell out seasonably that the Londoners of that county, at their 
yearly feast, collected about thirty pounds, and sent it to me by that 
worthy man, Mr. Thomas Stanley, of Bread-street, to set up a lec- 
ture for that year. Whereupon we covered all our designs under 
the name of the Londoner's Lecture, which took off the offence. 
We choose four worthy men, Mr. Andrew Tristram, Mr. Henry 
Oasland, Mr. Thomas Baldwin, and Mr. Joseph Treble, who un- 
dertook to go, each man his day, once a month, which was every 
Lord's day between the four, and to preach at those places which 
had most need twice on a Lord's day. To avoid all ill conse- 
quences and offence, they were sometimes to go to abler men's 
congregations; and wherever they came, to say somewhat always 
to draw the people to the honor and special regard of their own pas- 
tors, that, how weak soever they were, they might see that we 
came not to draw away the people's hearts from them, but to 
strengthen their hands, and help them in their work. 

"This lecture did a great deal of good; and though the Lon- 
doners gave their money but that one year, when it was once set on 
foot, we continued it voluntarily, till the ministers were turned out 
and all these works went down together. 

" So much of the way and helps of those successes, which I 
mention, because many have inquired after them, as willing, with 


their own flocks, to take that course which other men have by ex- 
perience found to be effectual."* 

Such was Baxter as a pastor ; and such were his successes. In 
answer to the inquiry how far the progress of religion in other pla- 
ces might be supposed to correspond with what he testifies concern- 
ing Kidderminster, he says " I must bear this faithful witness to 
those times, that as far as I was acquainted, where before there was 
one godly preacher, there were then six or ten; and taking one 
place with another, 1 conjecture there is a proportionable increase 
of truly godly people, not counting heretics, or perfidious rebels, or 
church disturbers, as such. But this increase of godliness was not 
in all places alike. For in some places where the ministers were 
formal, or ignorant, or weak or imprudent, contentious or negligent, 
the parishes were as bad as heretofore. And in some places, 
where the ministers had excellent parts and holy lives, and thirsted 
after the good of souls, and wholly devoted themselves, their time 
and strength and estates, thereunto, and thought no pains or cost too 
much, there abundance were converted to serious godliness. And 
with those of a middle state, usually they had a middle measure of 
success. And I must add this to the true information of posterity; 
that God did so wonderfully bless the labors of his unanimous faith- 
ful ministers, that had it not for the faction of the prelatists on one 
side that drew men off, and the factions of the giddy and turbulent 
sectaries on the other side," "together with some laziness and self- 
ishness in many of the ministry, I say had it not been for these im- 
pediments, England had been like in a quarter of an age to have 
become a land of saints, and a pattern of holiness to all the world, 
and the unmatchable paradise of the earth. Never were such fair 
opportunities to sanctify a nation lost and trodden under foot, as 
have been in this land of late. Woe be to them that were the 
causes of it !" 

At this time there was no jurisdiction exercised either in or over 
the national church of England, other than that which was exercised 
by the civil goverment for the time being. The abolition of epis- 
copacy had not been succeeded by the establishment of the presby- 

* Narrative, Part I. pp. 83 — 96. 


terian platform, or any other national system. The model framed 
by the Westminster assembly, had indeed been adopted in Lon- 
don ; but it wanted the sanction of law, and was not received with 
great favor by either ministers or people. In these circumstances, 
the pastors in Worcestershire formed an association for mutual ad- 
vice and assistance in all matters relating to their official work, re- 
sembling very closely the associations of the congregational minis- 
ters in this country. Their example was followed in other parts of 
England. In effecting this organization Baxter seems to have had 
an important agency both in his own county and elsewhere. Re- 
specting the men who united in the Worcestershire association, he 
says, " Though we made our terms large enough for all, episcopal, 
presbyterians and independents, there was not one Presbyterian* 
joined with us that I knew of, (for I knew of but one in all the 
county ;) nor one independent, though two or three honest ones 
said nothing against us; nor one of the new prelatical way, but 
three or four moderate conformists that were for the old episcopa- 
cy : and all the rest were mere catholics, men of no faction, nor sid- 
ing with any party ; but owning that which was good in all as far as 
they could discern it; and upon a concord in so much, laying 
themselves out for the great end of their ministry, the people's edi- 

In this connection he adds a few remarks on another subject, 
which well illustrate the true liberality of his own temper. "The 
increase of sectaries among us, was much through the weakness or 
the faultiness of ministers. And it made me remember that sects 
have most abounded when the gospel hath most prospered, and 
God hath been doing the greatest works in the world : as first in 
the apostle's and the primitive times ; and then, when christian em- 
perors were assisting the church; and then, when reformation pros- 
pered in Germany ; and lately in New-England where godliness 
most flourished; and last of all, here when so pleasant a spring had 
raised all our hopes. And our impatience of weak people's errors 

* He uses this word here in the party sense comon in those times. He 
means of the Scottish party, zealous for the covenant and the exclusive di- 
vine right of presbytery. 

128 LirE or ricuakd Baxter. 

and dissent did make the business worse ; while every weak minis- 
ter that could not, or would not do that for his people, which be- 
longed to his place, was presently crying out against the magis- 
trates for suffering these errors, and thinking the sword must do 
that which the word should do. And it is a wicked thing in men 
to desire with the papists, that the people were blind rather than 
purblind, and that they might rather know nothing than mistake 
in some lew points ; and to be more troubled that a man contra- 
dicteth us in the point of infant baptism or church government, than 
that many of the people are sottishly careless of their own salva- 
tion. He that never regardeth the word of God, is not like to er r 
much about it. Men will sooner fall out about gold or pearls, than 
swine will."* 

In 1 654, probably in November, Baxter was called to London to 
be associated there with several other ministers, as a committee 
of Parliament, to draw up a statement of the fundamentals of reli- 
gion. The occasion was this. The constitution of the common- 
wealth provided that all who " professed faith in God by Jesus 
Christ though differing in judgment from the doctrine, worship or 
discipline publicly held forth, shall not be restrained from, but shall 
be protected in the profession of their faith and exercise of their 
religion, so as they abuse not this liberty to the injury of others and 
the actual disturbance of the public peace." In the first parliament 
that was convened under this constitution, the entire " instrumeut 
of government" was examined and discussed. On the point of re- 
ligious liberty, the majority in parliament were evidently less enlight- 
ened than were the men who framed the constitution. A profes- 
sion of faith in God by Jesus Christ, it was said, implied a pro- 
fession of the fundamentals of Christianity; and therefore a large 
committee was appointed to consider what were the fundamentals 
of religion, and were empowered to consult with such divines as 
they might choose for themselves. One of the ministers first invi- 
ted by the committee to this consultation, was the venerable arch- 
bishop Usher ; and when he had declined the service, Baxter was 

* Narrative, Part I. pp. 96, 97. 


called in his room. Dr. Owen was one of the most respected and 
able members of this committee of divines ; and though Owen and 
Baxter had previously had some encounters in the way of theologi- 
cal discussion through the press, there is reason to believe that this 
was the first time these two great and good men ever came togeth- 
er face to face. Baxter did not arrive till the other ten were al- 
ready at their work ; but it soon appeared that he had brought with 
him views of his own, and was well prepared to make them no lit- 
tle trouble. 

"I would have had the brethren," he says, " to have offered the 
parliament the creed, Lord's prayer, and decalogue alone, as our 
essentials or fundamentals, which at least contain all that is necessa- 
ry to salvation, and have been by all the ancient churches taken for 
the sum of their religion. And whereas they still said, ' A so- 
cinian or papist will subscribe all this,' I answered them, so much 
the better, and so much the fitter is it to be the matter of our con- 
cord. But if you are afraid of communion with papists and socin- 
ians, it must not be avoided by making a new rule or test of faith 
which they will not subscribe to, or by forcing others to subscribe 
to more than they can do, but by calling them to account whenever 
in preaching or writing they contradict or abuse the truth to which 
they have subscribed. This is the work of government; and we 
must not think to make laws serve instead of judgment and exe- 
cution ; nor must we make new laws as oft as heretics will misin- 
terpret and subscribe the old ; for when you have put in all the 
words you can devise, some heretics will put their own sense upon 
them, and subscribe them. And we must not blame God for not 
making a law that no man can misinterpret or break ; and think to 
make such an one ourselves, because God could not or would not. 
These presumptions and errors have divided and distracted the 
christian churches ; and one would think experience should save us 
from them. 5 '* 

This style of arguing however was insufficient to change the 
views with which the committee had begun their work. They re- 
ported about twenty propositions as embracing in their judgment 

* Narrative, Part II. p. 198. 

Vol. I. 17 


the fundamentals of the christian religion. "But the parliament 
was dissolved, and all came to nothing, and that labor was lost." 
The truth was, Cromwell was determined to adhere as far as possi- 
ble to the great principle of religious liberty. 

Baxter was called to London on this business by the influence of 
Lord Broghill afterwards earl of Orrery, and lord president of 
Munster, who was then high in the favor of the protector ; and at 
the house of this friend he was entertained while he continued in 
the city. " At this time," he says, " the Lord Broghill, and the 
earl of Warwick brought me to preach before Cromwell the pro- 
tector ; which was the only time that ever I preached to him, save 
once long before, when he was an inferior man among other audh- 
tors. I knew not which way to provoke him better to duty, than by 
preaching on 1 Cor i. 10, against the divisions and distractions of 
the church ; and showing how mischievous a thing it was for politi- 
cians 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. My plainness, I heard, was 
displeasing to him and his courtiers ; but they put it up. 

" A little while after, Cromwell sent to speak with me, and when 
I came, in the presence of only 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, &tc. When he had wearied us all with speaking 
thus slowly about an hour, I told him it was too great condescen- 
sion to acquaint me so fully with all these matters, which were above 
me; but I told him that we took our ancient monarchy to be a 
blessing, and not an evil to the land ; and humbly craved his pa- 
tience that I might ask him how England had ever forfeited that 
blessing, and unto whom that forfeiture was made? I was fain to 
speak of the form of government only, for it had lately been made 
treason, by law, to speak for the person of the king. 

"Upon that question, he was awakened into some passion, and 
then told me it was no forfeiture, 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 members who were 


my chief acquaintances, whom I presumed to defend against his 
passion ; 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 pretended to be most zealous 
for, before almost all his privy council ; where, after another slow 
tedious speech of his, I told him a little of my judgment. And 
when two of his company had spun out a great deal more of the 
time in such-like tedious, but more ignorant speeches, some four or 
five hours being spent, T told him, that if he would be at the labor 
to read it, I could tell him more of my mind in writing in two sheets, 
than in that way of speaking in many days ; and that I had a paper on 
the subject by me, written for a friend, which, if he would peruse 
and allow for the change of person, he would know my sense. 
He received the paper afterwards, but I scarcely believe that he ever 
read it; for I saw that what he learned must be from himself; being 
more disposed to speak many hours, than to hear one ; and little 
heeding what another said, when he had spoken himself." 

" In this time of my abode at the Lord Broghill's, fell out all the 
acquaintance I had with the most reverend, learned, humble, and 
pious primate of Ireland, Archbishop Usher, then living at the earl 
of Peterborough's house in Martin's lane. Sometimes he came to 
me, and oft I went to him." "In this time I opened to him the mo- 
tions of concord which I had made with the episcopal divines, and 
desired his judgment of my terms which were these : 1 That every 
pastor be the governor as well as the teacher of his flock. 2. In 
those parishes that have more presbyters than one, that one be the 
stated president. 3. That in every market town, or some such meet 
divisions, there be frequent assemblies of parochial pastors associa- 
ted for concord and mutual assistance in their work ; and that in 
these meetings one be a stated, not a temporary, president. 4. 
That in every county or diocess there be every year, or half year, 
or quarter, an assembly of all the ministers of the county or diocess; 
and that they also have their fixed president ; and that in ordina- 
tion nothing be done without the president, nor in matters of com- 
mon or public concernment. 5. That the coercive power or sword 
be meddled with by none but magistrates. To this sense were my 
proposals, which he told me might suffice for peace and unity 
among moderate men; but when he had offered the like to the 


king, intemperate men were displeased with him, and they were re- 
jected, but afterwards would have been accepted ; and such suc- 
cess I was like to have." 

"I asked him also his judgment about the validity of presbyters' 
ordination; which he asserted, and told me that the king asked him 
at the Isle of Wight, wherever he found in antiquity that presbyters 
alone ordained any, and that he answered, I can show your majesty 
more, even where presbyters alone successively ordained bishops, 
and instanced in Jerome's words of the presbyters of Alexandria 
choosing and making their own bishops, from the days of Mark till 
Heraclus and Dionysius. I also asked him whether the paper be 
his which is called "a reduction of episcopacy to the form of Syn- 
odical government;" which he owned. 

" And of his own accord he told me confidently, ' that synods are 
not properly for government, but for agreement among the pastors; 
and a synod of bishops are not the governors of any one bishop 
there present.' Though] no doubt but every pastor out of the syn- 
od being a ruler of his flock, a synod of such pastors may there ex- 
ercise acts of government over their flocks, though they be but acts 
of agreement or contract for concord one towards another.' * 

While he was thus employed in London, he preached occasion- 
ally to crowded assemblies in several churches of the metropolis, 
once at St. Paul's before the mayor and aldermen. One of his 
sermons was taken down, in part, as it fell from his lips, and was 
thus published ; and after his return to his own parish, he was im- 
portuned by many letters to publish others. In several instances he 
complied with these requests. 

A favorite hope of Baxter and one on which he expended du- 
ring these years, no small portion of his prodigious industry, was 
the hope of seeing a reconciliation and visible union among evan- 
gelical christians of different denominations. The spirit of secta- 
rianism and division ; the spirit of exclusion which builds up a 
middle wall of partition in the church of God; and which raises 
among the multitude of those who should own no master but Christ, 
the clamor "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas," was 
a spirit with which the large and catholic mind of Richard Baxter 

Narrative, Part IT. pp. 206, 206. 


could have no sympathy. He saw that the points on which the 
evangelical christians of his day were agreed, were infinitely more 
important than the points on which they differed; and he felt that 
while they continued to divide from each other, they would con- 
tinue to treat with comparative neglect the great truths on which 
they built their common hopes, and to attach disproportionate im- 
portance to their several distinctive principles. He himself ^be- 
longed to no party. He thought for himself on every subject of 
controversy; and he saw or thought he saw, in regard to many of 
the controversies of his day, the peculiar errors and peculiar truths 
of each opposing party. It seemed to him that men who were so 
near together might be brought to a hearty fellowship, and to a hap- 
py co-operation for the advancement of a common cause. He has 
left on record a long history of his labors in behalf of unity and 
catholic communion among christians, including a voluminous cor- 
respondence with distinguished men of different parties. The par- 
ticulars of these efforts hardly come within the design of this narra- 
tive ; yet we may gather from that part of what he has written 
concerning his own life and times, a few things which could hardly 
be omitted here consistently with justice to his character as a chris- 
tian and as a minister of the gospel. 

The principal parties of those days, in the disputes respecting the 
constitution and government of the church w r ere the Erastians, 
the diocesans, the presbyterians, and the independents.* Baxter be- 
longed, strictly, to none of them ; though generally he acted with the 
presbyterians, and was high in their confidence, in so much that Wood, 
the high-church Oxford historian, calls him "the pride of the presby- 
terian party." His mind was too enlarged and independent, too 
sensible of the paramount importance of peace and fellowship 
among christians, to be enlisted for better and for worse with any 
of the violent parties of a violent age. Moved by the excitement 
and debate which he could not but see and hear, he set himself to 
the most serious study of the disputed points; " the result of which 
was," to use his own words, "this confident and settled judgment, 
that of the four contending parties each one had some truths in pe- 
culiar which the others overlooked, or took little notice of, and 
each one had their proper mistakes which gave advantage to men- 

Seme account of these parties has already been given. See pp. ?>, 7~ 


adversaries ; though all of them had so much truth in common 
among them as would have made these kingdoms happy, if it had 
been unanimously and soberly reduced to practice, by prudent 
and charitable men. 

" The Erastians, I thought, were thus far in the right, in assert- 
ing more fully than others the magistrates' power in matters of re- 
ligion ; that all coercive power by mulcts or force is only in their 
hands ; and that no such power belongeth to the pastors or people 
of the church ; and that thus there should not be any coercive 
power challenged by pope, prelate, presbytery, or any, but by the 
magistrate alone ; that the pastoral power is only persuasive, or ex- 
ercised on volunteers." "But though the diocesans, and the pres- 
byterians of Scotland, who had laws to enable them, opposed this 
doctrine, or the party at least, yet I perceived that it was but on 
the ground of their civil advantages, as the magistrate had impow- 
ered them by his laws." "The generality of each party indeed 
owned this doctrine ; and I could speak with no sober judicious 
prelatist, presbyterian, or independent, but confessed that no se- 
cular or forcing power belonged to any pastors of the church as 
such ; and unless the magistrate authorized them as his officers, 
they could not touch men's bodies or estates, but the conscience 
alone, which can be of none but assenters. 

"The Episcopal party seemed to have reason on their side in this, 
that in the primitive church there were some apostles, evangelists, 
and others, who were general unfixed officers of the church, not 
tied to any particular charge, and had some superiority, some of 
them, over fixed bishops or pastors. And though the extraordina- 
ry parts of the apostles' office ceased with them, I saw no proof of 
the cessation of any ordinary part of their office, such as church 
government is confessed to be. All the doubt that I saw in this, 
was whether the apostles themselves were constituted governors of 
other pastors, or only overruled them by the eminency of their gifts 
and privilege of infallibility. For it seemed to me unmeet to affirm 
without proof; that Christ settled a form of government in his church 
to endure only for one age, and changed it for a new one when that 
age was ended." 

" And as for the Presbyterians, I found that the office of preach- 
ing presbyters was allowed by all that deserve the name of chris- 


tians, and that this office did participate, subserviently to Christ, of 
the prophetical or teaching, the priestly, or worshipping, and the 
governing power; and that scripture, antiquity, and the persuasive 
nature of church government, clearly show that all presbyters were 
church governors as well as church teachers ; and that to deny this 
was to destroy the office and to endeavor to destroy the churches. 
And I saw in scripture, antiquity, and reason, that the association 
of pastors and churches for agreement, and their synods in cases 
of necessity, are a plain duty ; and that their ordinary stated synods 
are usually very convenient. 

" And I saw that in England the persons which were called Pres- 
byterians, were eminent for learning, sobriety, and piety, and the 
pastors so called, were they that went through the work of the min- 
istry, in diligent serious preaching to the people, and edifying 
men's souls, and keeping up religion in the land. 

"And for the Independents, I saw that most of them were zeal- 
ous, and very many learned, discreet, and godly men, and fit to be 
very serviceable in the church. And I found in the search of 
scripture and antiquity, that in the beginning, a governed church, 
and a stated worshipping church, were all one, and not two several 
things ; and that though there might be other by-meetings in pla- 
ces like our chapels or private houses, for such as age or persecu- 
tion hindered to come to the more solemn meetings, yet churches 
then were no bigger in number of persons than our parishes now, 
to grant the most ; and that they were societies of christians united 
for personal communion, and not only for communion by meetings 
of officers and delegates in synods. And I saw if once we go 
beyond the bounds of " personal communion," as the end of par- 
ticular churches, in the definition, we may make a church of a na- 
tion, or of ten nations, or what we please, which shall have none 
of the nature and ends of the primitive particular churches. Also 
I saw a commendable care of serious holiness and discipline 
in most of the independent churches. And I found that some 
Episcopal men (as Bishop Usher did voluntarily profess his judg- 
ment to me) did hold that every bishop was independent as to sy- 
nods, and that synods were not proper governors of the particular 
bishops, but only for their concord. 


" And for the Anabaptists themselves (though I have written and 
said so much against them) as I found that most of them were per- 
sons of zeal in religion, so many of them were sober, godly people, 
and differed from others but in the point of infant baptism, or at 
most in the points of predestination and free will and perseverance, 
as the Lutherans from the Calvinists, and the Arminians from the 
Contra-remonsirants. And I found in all antiquity that though in- 
fant baptism was held lawful by the church, yet some, with Ter- 
tullian and Nazien/.en, thought it most convenient to make no haste, 
and the rest left the time of baptism to every one's liberty." " So 
that in the primitive church, some were baptized in infancy, and 
some a little before their death, and none were forced, but all left 

" As to doctrinal differences also I soon perceived that it was 
hard to find a man that discerned the true state of the several con- 
troversies; and that when unrevealed points, uncertain to all, were 
laid aside, and the controversies about words were justly separated 
from the controversies about things, the differences about things, 
which remained, were fewer and smaller than most of the contend- 
ers perceived or would believe." "What I began to write about 
any of these doctrinal differences, I will now pass by ; because it 
is not such differences that I am. now to speak of. 

" 1 perceived, then, that every party before mentioned having 
some truth or good in which it was more eminent than the rest, 
it was no impossible thing to separate all that from the error and 
the evil ; and that among all the truths which they held either in 
common or in controversy there was no contradiction ; and there- 
fore he that would promote the welfare of the church must do his 
best to promote all the truth and good which was held by every 
part, and to leave out all their errors and their evil, and not to take 
up all that any party had espoused as their own. 

" The things which I disliked as erroneous or evil in each party 
were these : 

" In the Erastians, 1. That they made too light of the power of 
the ministry and church, and of excommunication." "2. That 
they make the articles of ' the holy catholic church' and ' the com- 
munion of saints' too insignificant by making church communion 


more common to the impenitent than Christ would have it, and so 
dishonored Christ by dishonoring his church." " 3. That they mis- 
understood and injured their brethren, supposing and affirming them 
to claim as from God a coercive power over the bodies and purses 
of men, and so setting up imperium in imperio ; whereas all 
temperate christians confess that the church hath no power of force, 
but only to manage God's word unto men's consciences. 

" In the Diocesan party I utterly disliked 

" I. Their extirpation of the true discipline of Christ, as we con- 
ceive, by consequence, though not intentionally ; not only as they 
omitted it, but as their principles and church state had made it 
impracticable and impossible." 

"2. That hereby they altered the species of churches, and either 
would deface all particular churches, and have none but associated 
diocesan churches, who hold communion by delegates and not per- 
sonally, or else they would turn all the particular parochial church- 
es into christian oratories and schools, while they gave their pastors 
but a teaching and worshipping power, and not a governing. 

" 3. That hereby they altered the ancient species of ^presbyters, 
to whose office the spiritual government of their properjjflocks as 
truly belonged, as the power of preaching and worshipping God. 

" 4. That they extinguished the ancient species of bishops, 
which was in the times of Ignatius, when every church had one al- 
tar and one bishop." 

He adds many other particulars, such as their setting up secular 
courts, their vexing honest christians that could not worship by 
their ceremonies, their permitting ignorant drunken readers to oc- 
cupy the place of pastors in abundance of churches, their excessive 
zeal for formalities and ceremonies, and the general tendency of 
their spirit and measures to the suppression of godliness and the in- 
crease of ignorance and profaneness. 

" In the presbyterian way I disliked 

" 1. Their order of lay elders who had no ordination, nor power 
to preach, nor to administer sacraments. For though I grant that 
lay elders or the chief of the people, were oft employed to express 
the people's consent and preserve their liberties, yet these were no 
church officers at all, nor had any charge of private oversight of 

Vol. 1. 18 


the flocks. And though I grant that one church had oft more eld- 
ers than did use to preach, and that many were most employed in 
private oversight, yet that was but a prudent dividing of their work 
according to the gifts and parts of each, and not that any elders 
wanted power of office to preach or administer sacraments when 
there was cause. 

" 2. And I disliked, also, the course of some of the more rigid 
of them, who drew too near the way of prelacy, by grasping at a 
kind of secular power ; not using it themselves, but binding the ma- 
gistrates to confiscate or imprison men, merely because they were 
excommunicated ; and so corrupting the true discipline of the 
church, and turning the communion of saints into the communion 
of the multitude, who must keep in the church against their wills 
for fear of being undone in the world. Whereas, a man whose 
conscience cannot feel a just excommunication unless it be backed 
with confiscation or imprisonment, is no fitter to be a member of a 
christian church, than a corps is to be a member of a corporation. 
It is true they claim not this power as jure divino; but no more do 
the prelates, though the writ de excommunicato capiendo is the life 
of all their censures. But both parties too much debase the magis- 
trate, by making him their mere executioner ; whereas he is the 
judge wherever he is the executioner, and is to try each cause 
at his own bar, before he be obliged to punish any. They also cor- 
rupt the discipline of Christ, by mixing it with secular force. They 
reproach the keys or ministerial power, as if it were a leaden 
sword, and not worth a straw, unless the magistrate's sword en- 
force it. What, then, did the primitive church for three hundred 
years? And worst of all, they corrupt the church, by forcing in 
the rabble of the unfit and the unwilling ; and thereby tempt many 
godly christians to schisms and dangerous separations. Till magis- 
trates keep the sword themselves, and learn to deny it to every 
angry clergyman who would do his own work by it, and leave them 
to their own weapons — the word and spiritual keys — and valeant 
quantum valere possunt, the church will never have unity and 

" 3. And I disliked some of the Presbyterians, that they were 
not tender enough to dissenting brethren ; but too much against 


liberty, as others were too much for it ; and thought by votes and 
numbers to do that which love and reason should have done." 

A fourth objection in Baxter's mind against the presbyterians, 
was that " in their practice they would have so settled it that a wor- 
shipping church and a governed church should nowhere be the 
same thing, but ten or twelve worshipping churches should have 
made one governed church which prepared the way to the diocesan 

His objections to the system of the Independents, were, in his 
own words, 

" 1. They made too light of ordination. 

" 2. They also had their office of lay-eldership. 

" 3. They were commonly stricter about the qualification of 
church members, than scripture, reason, or the practice of the 
universal church would allow." 

" 4. I disliked also the lamentable tendency of this their way to 
divisions and subdivisions and the nourishing of heresies and sects. 

" 5. But above all I disliked that most of them made the people 
by majority of votes to be church governors, in excommunications, 
absolutions, etc. which Christ hath made to be an act of office ; and 
so they governed their governors and themselves. 

"6. Also they too much exploded synods, refusing them as sta- 
ted, and admitting them but on some extraordinary occasions. 

"7. Also they were over-rigid against the admission of christians 
of other churches to their communion. 

"8. And I disliked their making a minister to be as no minister 
to any but his own flock, and to act to others but as a private man ; 
with divers other such irregularities, and dividing opinions ; many of 
which, the moderation of ; the New-England synod hath of late 
corrected and disowned, and so done very much to heal these 

"And for the Anabaptists, I knew that they injudiciously exclu- 
ded the infants of the faithful from solemn entrance into the cove 
nant and church of God, and as sinfully made their opinion a ground 
of their separation from the churches and communion of their 
brethren ; and that among them grew up the weeds of many er- 
rors ; and divisions, subdivisions, reproach of ministers, faction 


and pride, and scandalous practices were fomented in their way." 

With these views of the principles and characters of the several 
evangelical denominations of his day, he thought himself called to 
some special efforts for the promotion of peace and catholic com- 
munion. He made it a great object to bring all these parties 
of christians to see distinctly that the points on which they all 
agreed were not only more numerous and more important than the 
points on which they difF red, but were also such as to afford am- 
ple ground for mutual fellowship and cooperation. 

He soon found, however, that besides the diversity of men's opin- 
ions and principles, there were other and more serious obstacles in 
the way of his success. One hindrance he found "in men's com- 
pany, and another in their seeming interests, and the chiefest of all 
in the disposition and quality of their minds." 

Respecting these three great hindrances, he says, " Some that 
were most conversant with sober, peaceable, experienced men, and 
were under the care of peaceable ministers, I found very much in- 
clined to charity and peace. But multitudes of them conversed 
most with ignorant, proud, unexperienced, passionate, uncharitable 
persons, who made it a part of their zeal and ingenuity to break a 
jest in reproach and scorn of them that differed from them ; and 
who were ordinarily backbiters, and bold unrighteous censurers of 
others, before they well understood them, or ever heard them give 
a reason of their judgments. And the hearing and conversing with 
such persons as these, doth powerfully dispose men to the same 
disease, and to sin impenitently after their example. Especially, 
when men are incorporated into a sect or uncharitable party, and 
have captivated themselves to a human servitude in religion, and 
given up themselves to the will of men, the stream will bear down 
the plainest evidence, and carry them to the foulest errors. 

" And as it is carnal interest that ruleth the carnal world, so T 
found that among selfish men, there were as many interests and 
ends, as persons ; and every one had an interest of his own which 
governed him, and set him at a very great enmity to the most ne- 
cessary means of peace. I found also that every man that had 
once given up himself to a party, and drowned himself in a faction, 
did make the interests of that faction or party to be his own. And 


the interest of Christianity, Catholicism and charity, is contrary to 
the interests of sects as such. And it is the nature of a sectary 
that he preferreth the interest of his opinion, sect, or party, before 
the interest of Christianity, Catholicism, and charity, and will sacri- 
the latter to the service of the former. 

" But the grand impediment I found in the temper of men's 
minds; and there I perceived a manifold difference. Among all 
these parties I found that some were naturally of mild and calm and 
gentle dispositions, and some of sour, froward, passionate, peevish, 
or furious natures. Some were young and raw and unexperienced 
and like young fruit, sour and harsh ; addicted to pride of their 
own opinions, to self-conceitedness, turbulency, censoriousness, and 
temerity, and to engage themselves to a party before they under- 
stood the matter ; and were led about by those teachers and books 
that had once won their highest esteem, judging of sermons and 
persons by their fervency more than by the soundness of the mat- 
ter and the cause. And some I found on the other side, to be an- 
cient and experienced christians that had tried the spirits, and seen 
what was of God and what of man, and noted the events of both in 
the world ; and these were like ripe fruit, mellow and sweet, first 
pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and 
good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy, who being 
makers of peace, did sow the fruits of righteousness in peace. I 
began by experience to understand the meaning of those words of 
Paul, 1 Tim. iii. 6, ' Not a novice lest being lifted up with pride, 
he fall into the condemnation of the devil.' Novices, that is, young, 
raw, unexperienced christians, are much apter to be proud, and 
censorious and factious, than old, experienced, judicious christians. 

" But the difference between the godly and the ungodly, the 
spiritual and carnal worshippers of God, was the most considerable 
of all. An humble, holy, upright soul is sensible of the interest of 
Christ and souls ; and a gracious person is ever a charitable per- 
son and loveth his neighbor as himself; and therefore judgeth of 
him as he would be judged of himself, and speaketh of him as he 
would he spoken of himself, and useth him as he would be used 
himself; and it is against his charitable inclination to disagree or 
separate from his brethren." ' : And it is easy to bring such per- 


sons to agreement, at least to live in charitable communion. But 
on the other side, the carnal, selfish, and unsanctified, of what par- 
ty or opinion soever, have a nature that is quite against holy con- 
cord and peace. They want that love which is the natural balsom 
for the churches' wounds. They are every one selfish, and ruled 
by self-interest, and have as many ends and centers of their desires 
and actions as they are individual men." "These and many more 
impediments do rise up against all conciliatory endeavors." 

To follow the peace-maker through all the details of his efforts in 
behalf of union, would carry us beyond the prescribed limits of this 
narrative. Sectarians were too numerous then among christians of 
every name, to permit the consummation of such hopes as Baxter 
seems to have cherished. Selfish men, men of ecclesiastical am- 
bition, men of defective piety, and men of narrow minds, have al- 
ways had, and for some time to come will doubtless continue to have, 
in the visible church, influence enough to keep up, in spite of the 
prayers and endeavors of peace-makers, the spirit of jealousy and 
party strife, among those who, notwithstanding all their divisions have 
still one Lord, one faith, and substantially one baptism. 

But though he failed to accomplish all the good which he 
desired, his efforts in behalf of this great object were not lost ; for 
indeed the God of peace will never permit any sincere endeavor 
in such a cause, to be utterly in vain. The Worcestershire Asso- 
ciation of pastors, of which mention has already been made,* and 
the many similar associations which were formed cotemporaneous- 
ly in other parts of England, owed their origin in a great measure to 
the pacificatory labors of Baxter. By these associations for mutual 
counsel and free fraternal discussion, the attention of hundreds of 
pastors was turned from strivings and questions of little profit, to the 
great business of their ministry, the conversion and sanctification of 
their hearers. Thus too the progress of division was in some de- 
gree hindered. The voice of God's truth that had been as it were 
half-drowned in the clamor of ecclesiastical as well as civil factions, 
began to be heard in a louder and clearer tone ; and the churches, 

Sec pp. 126, 127. 


enjoying a brief season of something like rest, "were edified, and 
walking in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost 
were multiplied." Such was at that time the success of that good 
man's labors to bring about a union among christians on the ground 
of mutual toleration and freedom of opinion. But who can say that 
the immediate result was all ? Who can say how many in succeed- 
ing ages, having read the record of what he did, have been moved 
in their several spheres to do likewise ? And if by this brief exhibi- 
tion of his spirit and example, any in these days, should be awaken- 
ed to the more lively exercise of a kindred spirit, and encouraged 
in similar efforts, it will afford an additional illustration of the truth 
that under the providence of the God of peace no such endeavor 
will utterly fail of its success here, any more than it can fail of its 
reward hereafter. 

But while Baxter was so intent on peace, he was not willing to 
sit still and see either error, or sectarian and dividing principles, 
propagated in his own parish to the perversion of his people. 
When contention was inevitable he showed himself ready to contend 
effectually. Respecting a controversy which he had with a zeal- 
ous and able Baptist brother, he gives the following statement. 

" Mr. Tombes, who was my neighbor, within two miles, denying 
infant baptism, and having wrote a book or two against it, was not a 
little desirous of the propagation of his opinion, and the success of 
his writings. He thought that I was the chief hinderer, though I 
never meddled with the point. Whereupon he came constantly 
to my weekly lectures, waiting for an opportunity to fall upon that 
controversy in his conference with me ; but I studiously avoided it, 
so that he knew not how to begin. He had so high a conceit of his 
writings, that he thought them unanswerable, and that none could 
deal with him in that way. At last, somehow he urged me to give 
my judgment of them ; when I let him know that they did not sa- 
tisfy me to be of his mind, but went no further with him. Upon 
this he forebore coming any more to our lecture ; but he unavoida- 
bly contrived to bring me into the controversy which I shunned. 
For there came unto me five or six of his chief proselytes, as if they 
were yet unresolved, and desired me to give them in writing the 
arguments which satisfied me for infant baptism. I asked them 


whether they came not by Mr. Tonibes' directions; and they con- 
fessed that they did. I asked them whether they had read the 
books of Mr. Cobbet, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Church, Mr. Blake, for 
infant baptism ; and they told me, no. I desired them to read 
that which is written already, before they called for more, and 
tell me what they had to say against them. But this they would by 
no means do, they must have my writings. I told them, that now 
they plainly confessed that they came upon a design to promote 
their party by contentious writings, and not in sincere desire to be 
informed, as they pretended. To be short they had no more mo- 
desty than to insist on their demands, and to tell me, that if they 
turned against infant baptism, and I denied to give them my argu- 
ments in writing, they must lay it upon me. I asked them, wheth- 
er they would continue unresolved till Mr. Tombes and I had done 
our writings, seeing it was some years since Mr. Blake and he be- 
gan, and had not ended yet. But no reasoning served the turn with 
them, they still called for my written arguments." 

The negotiation was concluded by a proposal on the part of 
Baxter to hold a public discussion in Mr. Tombes' church at Bewd- 
ley, to which ihose of the other party readily assented. 

" So Mr. Tombes and I agreed to meet at his church on the 
first day of January, 1G49. And in great weakness thither I came, 
and from nine o'clock in the morning till five at night, in a crowd- 
ded congregation, we continued our dispute ; which was all spent 
in managing one argument, from infant's right to church-member- 
ship to their right to baptism ; of which he often complained, as if 
I assaulted him in a new way, which he had not considered of be- 
fore. But this was not the first time that I had dealt with Anabap- 
tists, few having so much to do with them in the army as I had. In 
a word, this dispute satisfied all my own people, and the country 
that came in, and Mr. Tombes' own townsmen, except about twen- 
ty whom he had perverted, who gathered into his church ; which 
never increased to above twenty-two, that I could learn."* 

This however was not the end of the discussion. It was pro- 

*Narrative, Part I. pp 96. 


longed by the press. Volume after volume came forth ; and still 
neither of the combatants was driven from the field. These dispu- 
tants have both gone where they are at peace with each other, and 
where no principles of close communion bar their mutual fellow- 
ship; but the dispute is still unfinished. 

We have seen the diligence of Baxter as a pastor ; and the la- 
bor and solicitude which he bestowed upon the general interests of 
the church. As yet however, only part of his great industry while 
at Kidderminster has been distinctly noticed. All this labor, all 
that he did as a minister, except his private conference with/ami- 
lies, was only his recreation and the work of his spare hours. " My 
writings," he says, in a passage already quoted from his narrative,* 
" were my chiefest daily labor ; which yet went the more slowly 
on, that I never one hour had an amanuensis to dictate to." 

The following enumeration of the works published by him, during 
the period of about thirteen years now under review, will afford evi- 
dence that the preceding statement is not a mere rhetorical flourish. 
The enumeration is limited to those works which were published 
during his residence at Kidderminster. 

1 . " Aphorisms of Justification with their Explications. Where- 
in also is opened the nature of the Covenants, Satisfaction, Right- 
eousness, Faith, Works, etc." 12mo. published in 1G49. 

2. "The Saint's Everlasting Rest; or a Treatise of the blessed 
state of the Saints in their enjoyment of God." 4to. published in 
1650. This and the preceding were mostly written before his re- 
turn to Kidderminster, though the date of their publication comes 
within the period we are now reviewing. The occasions on which 
they were written have already been described. f 

3. " Plain Scripture Proof of Infant's Church Membership and 
Baptism ; being the arguments prepared for, and partly managed 
in, the public dispute with Mr. Tombes at Bewdley, on the first 
day of January 1649. With a full reply to what he then answered, 
and what is contained in his sermon since preached, in his printed 
books, his MS. on 1 Cor vii.14 : with a reply to his valedictory ora- 

"See p 108. i See pp. 92, 93. 
Vol. 1. l" 


tion at Bewdley, and a Correction for his Antidote." 4to. pub- 
lished in 1650. The occasion of this book may be thus stated. 
Baxter in the dedication prefixed to the first edition of the Saint's 
Rest alluded to the public dispute at Bewdley, speaking as if he 
had gained the victory in that conflict. Whereupon Tombes who 
was one of the most voluminous writers of his party, published 
what he styled ' An Antidote against the Venom' contained in 
those allusions. Baxter's idea seems to have been that every 
thing in the form of argument, must be either answered, or ac- 
knowledged as unanswerable ; and accordingly he came out, 
promptly, with the quarto to which was prefixed that long title just 
recited. " This book," says the author, long afterwards, " God 
blessed with unexpected success to stop abundance from turning 
Anabaptists ; and it gave a considerable check to their proceed- 
ings."* In proof of the interest taken by the public in the contro- 
versy, it has been stated that this work in the course of a few years 
passed through several editions. 

4. " Right Method for a Settled Peace of Conscience and Spir- 
itual Comfort; in thirty-two directions." 12mo. published in 
1653. "The occasion of it," he says, "was this. Mrs. Bridges, 
the wife of Col. John Bridges, being one of my fleck, was often 
weeping out her doubts to me about her long and great uncertain- 
ty of her true sanctification and salvation. I told her that a few has- 
ty words were not direction enough for the satisfactory resolving 
of so great a case ; and therefore I would write her down a few of 
those necessary directions which she should read and study, and 
get well imprinted on her mind. As soon as I begun, I found that 
it would not be well done in the brevity which I expected ; and 
that when it was done, it would be as useful to many others of my 
flock as to her ; and therefore I bestowed more time on it and made 
it larger and fit for common use. 

" This book pleased Dr. Hammond much, and many rational 
persons, and some of those for whom it was written; but the 
women and weaker sort, I found, could not so well improve clear 

* Narrative, Part I. p. 109. 


reason as they can a few comfortable, warm, and pretty sentences. 
It is style, and not reason, which doth most with them. Some 
of the divines were angry with it, for a passage or two about per- 
severance ; because I had said that many men are certain of their 
present sanctification, who are not certain of their perseverance and 
salvation, meaning all the godly that are assured of. their sanctifica- 
tion, and yet do not hold the certainty of perseverance. But a 
great storm of jealousy and censure was, by this, and some such 
words, raised against me by many good men, who lay more on their 
opinions and party than they ought ; therefore, as some would 
have had me to retract it, and others to leave out of the next im- 
pression, I did the latter."* 

This " storm of jealousy and censure" led him to publish, not 
long after, the work next to be noticed. 

5. " Richard Baxter's Account of his Present Thoughts con- 
cerning the Controversies about the Perseverance of the Saints." 
A pamphlet in 4to. published in 1653. In this book, he says, " I 
showed the variety of opinions about perseverance, and that Au- 
gustine and Prosper themselves did not hold the certain perseve- 
rance of all that are truly sanctified, though they held the perse- 
verance of all the elect ; but held that there are more sanctified 
than are elect, and that perseverance is affixed to the elect as such, 
and not the sanctified as such." " From hence and many other 
arguments, I inferred that the sharp censures of men against their 
brethren for not holding a point which Augustine himself was 
against, and no one author can be proved to hold from the apostles' 
days till long after Austin, doth assure less charity than many of 
the censurers seem to have." 

The following passage has been cited from this work as a plain 
expression of his personal opinion respecting the doctrine in 
question. "Therefore, notwithstanding all the objections that are 
against it, and the ill use that will be made of it by many, and the 
accidental troubles into which it may cast some believers, it seems 
to me that the doctrine of perseverance is grounded on the scrip- 

Narrative, Part II. pp. 109. 110. 


tures and therefore is to be maintained, not only as extending to all 
the elect, against the Lutherans and Arminians, but also as extend- 
ing to all the truly sanctified, against Augustine, and the Janse- 
nians, and other Dominicans ; though we must rank it but among 
truths of its own order, and not lay the church's peace or com- 
munion upon it."* 

The explanations of his orthodoxy seem to have been satisfac- 
tory j for he adds, " I never heard of any censure against these pa- 
pers, though the few lines which occasioned them had so much.''f 

6. " Christian Concord ; or the Agreement of the Associated 
Pastors and Churches of Worcestershire : with Richard Baxter's 
Explication and Defense of it, and his Exhortation to Unity." 
4to. published in 1653. Of this work he says, "When we set on 
foot our association in Worcestershire, I was desired to print our 
agreement, with an explication of the several articles, which I did 
in a small book, in which I have given reasons why the Episcopal, 
Presbyterians, and Independents, might and should unite, on such 
terms, without any change of any of their principles; but I confess 
that the new Episcopal party, that follow Grotius too far, and deny 
the very being of all the ministers and churches that have not dio- 
cesan bishops, are not capable of union with the rest upon such 
terms. And hereby I gave notice to the gentry and others of the 
royalists in England, ol the great danger they were in of changing 
their ecclesiastical cause, by following new leaders that were for 
Grotianism. But this admonition did greatly offend the guilty, 
who now began to get the reins, though the old Episcopal Protes- 
tants confessed it all to be true." 

7. " The Worcestershire Petition to Parliament, in behalf of 
the able, faithful, and godly ministry of this nation,'' was drawn up 
by Baxter at a time when the Anabaptists, Seekers, and others were 
clamorous against the clergy ; and it was feared that the Rump Par- 
liament was about to abolish the maintenance of the gospel ministry. 
This petition was presented by Col. Bridges and Mr. Thomas Fo- 
ley, in the name of " many thousands, gentleman, freeholders, and 

* This quotation is taken from Orme's Lite of Baxter. IS ixters work 
on Perseverance is not before me. 
f Narrative* Part II. p. 110, 


others of the county of Worcestershire," on the 22d of December 

1652, and "was accepted with thanks." Soon afterwards, in 

1653, it was published with the answer of the speaker in the name 
of Parliament, thanking the petitioners for their zeal. " But sec- 
taries greatly raged against that petition ; and one wrote a vehe- 
ment invective against it," which Baxter hastened to answer in the 
work next to be noticed. 

8. " The Worcestershire Petition to Parliament for the Ministry 
of England, Defended by a Minister of Christ in that County 
in answer to sixteen queries, printed in a book called, A Brief 
Discovery of the Threefold Estate of Antichrist," etc. 4to. pub- 
lished in 1653. Of this book he says, "I knew not what kind of 
person he was that I wrote against, but it proved to be a Quaker, 
they being just now rising, and this being the first of their books, 
as far as I can remember, that I had ever seen." This Quaker, 
we are informed by Orme, was none other than George Fox, the 
father of that sect. 

9. " True Christianity ; or Christ's Absolute Dominion, and 
Man's Recovery, Self-resignation, and Subjection, in two Assize 
Sermons." 4to. published in 1654. " The first was preached be- 
fore Judge Atkins, Sir Thomas Rous being high sheriff; the second 
before Sergeant Glyn, who desiring me to print it, I thought meet 
to print the former with it." In the preface to one of these ser- 
mons, he says to the " christian reader," " I have endeavored to 
show you in both these sermons, that Christ may be preached with- 
out antinomianism; that terror may be preached without unwar- 
rantably preaching the law ; that the gospel is not a mere promise, 
and that the law is not so terrible as it is to the rebellious ; as also 
what that superstructure is, which is built on the foundation of gen- 
eral redemption rightly understood ; and how ill we can preach 
Christ's dominion in his universal propriety and sovereignty, with- 
out this foundation." Speaking of the style and structure of the 
work he has this characteristic saying. " It is for the vulgar prin- 
cipally, that I publish it; and I had rather it might be numbered 
with those books which are carried up and down the country from 
door to door in pedlar's packs, than with those that lie on booksel- 
lers' stalls., or arc set up in the libraries of learned divines." 


10. "Richard Baxter's Apology," etc. 4to. published in 1654. 
This work was designed as a reply to the strictures which had been 
published by different authors, on his Aphorisms of Justification. 
It was dedicated to his old military friend, " the Honorable Com- 
missary General Whalley." The conclusion of this dedication de- 
serves to be cited, on account of its beauty both of sentiment and 
expression ; and those who are familiar with the subsequent history 
of the man to whom this language was addressed, will read it with 
a superadded interest. 

" Your great warfare is not yet accomplished : the worms of cor- 
ruption that breed in us will live, in some measure, till we die our- 
selves. Your conquest of yourself is yet imperfect. To fight with 
yourself, you will find the hardest but most necessary conflict that 
ever yet you were engaged in ; and to overcome yourself, the 
most honorable and gainful victory. Think not that your greatest 
trials are all over. Prosperity hath its peculiar temptations, by 
which it hath foiled many that stood unshaken in the storms of ad- 
versity. The tempter, who hath had you on the waves, will now 
assault you in the calm, and hath his last game to play on the moun- 
tain, till nature cause you to descend. Stand this charge, and you 
win the day."* 

11. "Richard Baxter's Confession of Faith, especially con- 
cerning the Interest of Repentance and Sincere Obedience to 
Christ in our Justification and Salvation." 4to. published in 1655. 
This was designed as a farther explanation and defense of his Apho- 
risms. " In my Confession," he says, " I opened the whole 
doctrine of antinomianism which I opposed." "And 1 opened the 
weakness of Dr. Owen's reasonings for justification before faith in 
his former answer to me." 

12. "Richard Baxter's Advice to the Members of Parliament, 
in a Sermon preached in Westminster Abbey," published in 1655. 
" This was," he says, "one scrap of a sermon preached to many 
members of Parliament, which was taken by some one and print- 

Ormc. The Apology of Baxter has not been before inc. 


ed ; and is nothing but the naming of a few directions which I then 
gave the parliament men for church reformation and peace."* 

13. "Making light of Christ and Salvation, too oft the Issue of 
Gospel Invitations : a sermon, preached at Laurence Jury in Lon- 
don." 4to. published in 1655. 

14. " A Sermon of Judgment ; preached at Paul's before the 
Honorable Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the city of London, Dec. 
17, 1654, and now enlarged." 4to. published 1655. This, in 
the octavo edition of his practical works, is a treatise of nearly a 
hundred pages. 

15. "The Quakers's Catechism; or the Quakers questioned, 
their questions answered, and both published for the sake of those 
of them that have not yet sinned unto death, and of those unground- 
ded novices that are most in danger of their seduction." A pam- 
phlet in 4to. published in 1555. The occasion of this little work, 
he describes in the following words. 

" The Quakers began to make a great stir among us, acting the 
part of men in raptures, speaking in the manner of men inspired, 
and every where railing against tithes and ministers. They sent 
many papers of queries to divers ministers about us ; to one of the 
chief of which I wrote an answer, and gave them as many more 
questions, to answer, entitling it ' The Quaker's Catechism.' 
These pamphlets being but one or .two clays' work, were no great 
interruption to my better labors, and as they were of small worth, 
so also of small cost. The same ministers of our country, that are 
now silenced, are they that the Quakers most vehemently opposed, 
meddling little with the rest. The marvellous concurrence of in- 
struments telleth us, that one principal agent doth act them all. I 
have oft asked the Quakers lately, Why they choose the same 
ministers to revile whom all the drunkards and swearers rail against ? 
And why they cried out in our assemblies, Come down, thou de- 
ceiver thou hireling, thou dog ; and now never meddle with the 
pastors or congregations ? They answer, that these men sin in 
the open light, and need none to discover them; and that the Spirit 

^Narrative, Part F. p. 111. 


hath his times of severity and of lenity. But the truth is, they 
knew then they might he bold. without any fear of suffering by it : 
and now it is time for them to save their skins, they suffer enough 
for their own assemblies."* 

It is hardly necessary to add that the Quakers of that day were 
exceedingly unlike the sober, peaceable and exemplary moralists 
who now bear that name. All accounts unite in testifying that the 
conduct of the fanatics against whom Baxter wrote this pamphlet, 
was such as outraged all decency, no less distinctly than their 
principles contradicted both scripture and common sense. 

16. "The Unreasonableness of Infidelity, manifested in four 
Discourses." Svo. published in 1655. This is a work of about 
450 pages. The author from the time of his connection with the 
army, had watched with much interest the tendency of certain fa- 
natical sects towards sheer infidelity. The papists who were every 
where at work in those stormy times, were at much pains secretly, 
to promote these tendencies, hoping that men would by and by be 
persuaded that infidelity was the necessary result of every scheme 
which denied the infallibility of their church. A certain class of 
republican politicians, whom Cromwell called the ' heathen,' were 
diffusing a sort of philosophic unbelief in the sphere of their influ- 
ence. Hobbes and Lord Herbert, the fathers of English Deism, 
were directly assailing Christianity by their writings. Baxter was 
the first who encountered these tendencies by argument. His are 
said to be the earliest original works in the English language on the 
evidences of Christianity. 

The following account of his views and motives in undertaking 
this work, is from the preface. 

11 Having the unhappy opportunity, many years ago of discoursing 
with some of those, [fanatic infidels,] and perceiving them to increase, 
I preached the sermons on Gal. iii., which are here first printed. Long 
after this, having again and again too frequent occasion to confer with 
some of them, the nearness and the hideousness of this deplorable 
evil did very much force my thoughts that way, especially when I 

"•'Narrative. Part 1. p,216. 


found that I fell into whole companies of them, besetting me at 
once, and who with great scorn and cunning subtlety endeavored to 
bring my special friends to a contempt of the scripture and the life 
to come ; and also when I considered how many of them were once 
my intimate friends, whom I cannot yet choose but love with com- 
passion, when I remember our former converse and familiarity : 
and some of them were ancient professors, who have done and 
suffered much in a better cause ; and whose uprightness we were 
all as confident of as most men's living on earth. All this did make 
t he case more grievous to me ; yet I must needs say that the most that 
I have known to fall thus far, were such as were formerly so proud, or 
sensual, or giddy professors, that they seemed then but to stay for a 
shaking temptation to lay them in the dirt ; and those of better qualifi- 
cations, of whose sincerity we are so confident, were very few. It 
yet troubled me more that those of them, whose welfare I most hear- 
tily desired, would never be drawn to open their minds to me, so 
that I was out of all capacity of doing them any good, though some- 
time to others they would speak more freely. And when I have 
stirred sometime further abroad, I have perceived that some per- 
sons of considerable quality and learning, having much conversed 
with men of that way, and read such books as ' Hobbes' Leviathan,' 
have been sadly infected with this mortal pestilence ; and the horrid 
language that some of them utter cannot but grieve any one that 
heareth of it, who hath the least sense of God's honor, or the worth 
of souls. Sometimes they make a jest at Christ ; sometimes at 
scripture ; sometimes at the soul of man ; sometimes at spirits ; 
challenging the devil to come and appear to them, and professing 
how far they would travel to see him, as not believing that indeed 
he is ; sometimes scorning at the talk of hell, and presuming to se- 
duce poor, carnal people that are too ready to believe such things, 
telling them that it were injustice in God to punish a short sin with 
an everlasting punishment ; and that God is good, and therefore 
there cannot be any devils or hell, because evil cannot come from 
good : sometimes they say that it is not they, but sin that dwelleth 
in them ; and therefore sin shall be damned and not they : and 
most of them give up themselves to sensuality, which is no wonder ; 
for he that thinks there is no greater happiness hereafter to be ex- 
Vol. 1. 20 


pected, is like enough to take his fill of sensual pleasure while he 
may have it ; and, as I have said once before, he that thinks he 
shall die like a dog, is like enough to live like a dog. 

" Being awakened by these sad experiences and considerations 
to a deeper compassion of these miserable men, but especially to a 
deeper sense of the danger of weak unsettled professors, whom they 
labor to seduce, another providence also instigating thereto, I put 
those sermons on Gal. iii. to the press."* 

17. "The Agreement of the Worcestershire Ministers for cate- 
chising." 12mo. published in 1656. 

18. "Gildas Salvianus : The Reformed Pastor; shewing the 
nature of the pastoral work, especially in private instruction and 
catechising, with an open confession of our too open sins," etc. 8vo. 
published in 1656. 

Of the occasion and design of these two works he speaks thus. 
" About that time, being apprehensive how great a part of our work 
lay in catechising the aged who were ignorant, as well as children, 
and especially in serious conference with them about the matters 
of their salvation, I thought it best to draw in all the ministers of 
the county with me that the benefit might extend the further, and 
that each one might have the less opposition. Which having pro- 
cured, at their desire I wrote a catechism, and the articles of our 
agreement, and before them an earnest exhortation to our ignorant 
people to submit to this way : and this was then published. The 
catechism was also a brief confession of faith, being the enlarge- 
ment of a confession which I had before printed in an open sheet, 
when we set up church discipline. 

" When we set upon this great work, it was thought best to be- 
gin with a day of fasting and prayer by all the ministers, at Worces- 
ter, where they desired me to preach. But weakness and other 
things hindered me from that day ; and to compensate that I en- 
larged and published the sermon which I had prepared for them ; 
and entitled the treatise Gildas Salvianus (because I imitated 
Gildas and Salvianus in my liberty of speech to the pastors of 
the churches) or the Reformed Pastor." 

* Bcxter's Practical Works ; London. 1830. Voi. xx. pp. 22, 23. 


The Reformed Pastor is one of those works of Baxter which 
lias been most extensively circulated and most profitably read. It 
is in the hands of thousands of ministers at this day ; and it were 
well if the diligent and devotional study of that book, were made a 
part of the course of preparation for the ministry in every theolo- 
gical seminary. " I have very great cause," says the author less than 
ten years after its first publication, " 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 bring on that 
work according as that book had convinced them that it was their 
duty. If God would but reform the ministry, and set them on their 
duty zealously and faithfully, the people would certainly be reform- 
ed : all churches either rise or fall, as the ministry doth rise or fall, 
not in riches or wordly grandeur, but in knowledge, zeal, and ability 
for the work. But since bishops were restored, this book, is use- 
less, and that work not meddled with."* 

19. " Certain Disputations of Rights to Sacraments, and the 
True Nature of Visible Christianity." Published in 1656. Of 
this work it is unnecessary to say more than that it is a controver- 
sial examination of the question, What is the proper condition of 
church communion? and that the doctrine which it maintains is that 
the only condition of membership which any church has a right to 
require, and the great condition which no church has a right to dis- 
pense with, is simply " a creidble profession of true faith and re^ 

20. " The Safe Religion, or Three Disputations for the Reformed 
Catholic Religion against Popery." Svo. published in 1657. Of 
this work he says, " The great advancement of the Papist interest 
by their secret agency among the Sectaries, Seekers, Quakers, 
Behmenists, etc., did make me think it necessary to do something 
directly against popery. So I published three dissertations against 
them, one to prove our religion safe, and another to prove their re- 
ligion unsafe, and a third to show that they overthrew the faith by 
the ill resolution of their faith." 

*Narrative. Tart I. p. 115. 


21. "A Treatise of Conversion ; preached and now publish- 
ed for the use of those that are strangers to a true conversion, es- 
pecially the grossly ignorant and ungodly," 4to. published in 1657. 
It was as he says, " some plain sermons on that subject which Mr. 
Baldwin, an honest young minister that had lived in my house and 
learned my short hand in which I wrote my sermon notes, had 
transcribed out of my notes. And though I had no leisure, for this 
or other writings, to add any ornaments, or citations of authors, I 
thought it might better pass as it was, than not at all ; and that if 
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." 

This work, it may be supposed, is a fair specimen of the author's 
ordinary preaching. In this point of view it is a book of no small 
value, not only for " the grossly ignorant and ungodly," but also 
for divines however " learned." He who reads it carefully will 
hardly wonder at Baxter's success as a preacher ; and may learn 
from it more of the manner in which truth should be presented to 
the minds of men, than from many a learned work on rhetoric and 
homiletics. The work is at the same time worthy of diligent at- 
tention as a theological treatise. It shows what views of { conver- 
sion' were entertained by a man whose success in promoting the 
conversion of sinners has rarely been equaled. 

22. Several single sheets, corresponding in their plan with the 
publications of our Tract Societies were among the works which 
he published in 1657. The titles of these were " A Winding 
Sheet for Popery ;" " One Sheet for the Ministry against Malig- 
nants of all sorts ;" " One Sheet against the Quakers ;" " A se- 
cond Sheet for the Ministry, justifying our calling against the Qua- 
kers, Seekers, and Papists, and all that deny us to be the Ministers 
of Christ ;" and " A Sheet directing Justices in corporations to 
discharge their duty to God." The industry and spirit of the au- 
thor has been illustrated by a few words from one of these fugi- 
tive publications. 

" The Quakers say, we are idle drones, that labor not, and there- 
fore should not eat. The worst I wish you is, that you had but my 
ease instead of your labor. I have reason to take myself for the 


least of saints, and yet I fear not to tell the accuser that I take the 
labor of most tradesman in the town to be a pleasure to the body, 
in comparison with mine; though for the ends and pleasure of my 
mind, I would not change it with the greatest prince. Their labor 
preserveth health, and mine consumeth it ; they work in ease, and 
I in continual pain ; they have hours and days of recreation, I have 
scarce time to eat and drink. Nobody molesteth them for their 
labor, but the more I do, the more hatred and trouble I draw upon 
me. If a Quaker ask me what all this labor is, let him come and 
see, or do as I do, and he shall know."* 

23. " A call to the Unconverted to turn and live, and accept of 
mercy while mercy may be had, as ever they would find mercy in 
the day of their extremity : From the Living God. To which are 
added Forms of Prayer for morning and evening for a family, for 
a penitent sinner and for the Lord's day." 8vo. published in 1657. 
" The occasion of this," he says, " was my converse with Bishop 
Usher, while I was at London, who much approving my ' Direc- 
tions for peace of conscience,' was importunate with me to write 
directions suited to the various states of Christians, and also against 
particular sins. I reverenced the man ; but disregarded these per- 
suasions, supposing I could do nothing but what is done as well or 
better already. 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 hath blessed with unexpected success be- 
yond all the rest that I have written, except the ' Saint's 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 poor men 
stole for lucre's sake. Through God's mercy, I have had informa- 
tion of almost whole households being 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 si- 

This quotation is on the authority of Orine. 


lenced, liath sent it over on his message to many beyond the seas. 
For when Mr. Elliot had printed all the Bible in the Indians' lan- 
guage, he next translated this my ' Call to the Unconverted,' as 
he wrote to us here ; and though it was here thought prudent to 
begin with the ' Practice of Piety,' because of the envy and distatc 
of the times against me, he had finished it before that advice came 
to him. Yet God would make some further use of it ; for Mr. 
Stoop, the pastor of the French church in London, being driven 
hence by the displeasure of superiors, was pleased to translate it in- 
to elegant French, and print it in a very curious letter ; and I hope 
it will not be unprofitable there, nor in Germany, where it is print- 
ed in Dutch."* 

The work is too well known, and too extensively useful at the 
present day, to need either description or eulogy. I may add, 
however, to what the author has said in the paragraph just cited, 
that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe ; 
and that the men who in the spirit and power of Elliot are now 
carrying the gospel to every nation, will probably find themselves 
constrained to imitate his example, till Baxter's Call, " that small 
book which he set so light by," shall be read in every language of 

24. " The crucifying of the World by the cross of Christ, With 
a preface to the nobles, gentlemen, and all the rich, directing them 
how they may be richer." 4 to. published in 1658. This was ori- 
ginally an assize sermon preached at Worcester on the request of 
his early friend Mr. Thomas Foley, then high sheriff of the coun- 
ty. In preparing it for the press, he enlarged it into a treatise of 
about three hundred pages, which deserves a place among his most 
eloquent and finished productions. 

25. " A Treatise of Saving Faith." 4to. published in 1G58. 
In some of his former publications he had been understood as main- 
taining " that saving faith differeth not in kind but in degree, from 
common faith." Dr. Barlow, then provost of Queen's College 
Oxford, and afterwards bishop of Lincoln, had published, anony- 

Narrative, Part I. pp. 114, 115. 


mously, some strictures on this supposed opinion of Baxter's. To 
these strictures Baxter replied in this work on Saving Faith. 

26. " Confirmation and Restauration, the necessary means of 
Reformation and Reconciliation ; for the healing of the corruptions 
and divisions of the churches. Submissively, but earnestly ten- 
dered to the consideration of the Sovereign Powers, Magistrates, 
Ministers, and People, that they may awake, and be up and doing 
in the execution of so much as appeareth to be necessary; as they 
are true to Christ, his Church and Gospel, and to their own and 
others' souls, and to the peace and welfare of the Nations ; and as 
they will answer the neglect to Christ at their peril." 12mo. pub- 
lished in 1G58. A Mr. Hanmer had written a work on confirma- 
tion, urging the necessity of some solemn introduction of persons 
at adult age to the privileges of church membership, and at his re- 
quest, Baxter had prefixed to that work an Introductory Epistle. 
The inquiries which that publication occasioned, led Baxter to take 
up the subject again, and to discuss it more at large, presenting the 
testimony of the scriptures. The design of the book is simply to 
show that no person ought to be admitted to the privileges of adult 
membership in any church, save on the public profession of his 
conversion and faith, and that of the satisfactoriness of such pro- 
fession the pastor ought to be the judge. 

27. " Directions and Persuasions to a Sound Conversion, for 
prevention of that Deceit and Damnation of Souls, and of those 
Scandals, Heresies, and desperate Apostasies, that are consequents 
of a counterfeit or superficial change." 8vo. published in 1658. 
This was designed as a sequel to his " Call to the Unconverted." 
" After the Call, I thought," he says, " that according to Bishop 
Usher's method, the next sort that I should write for is those that 
are under the work of conversion, because by half-conversions, 
multitudes prove deceived hypocrites."* He oppears to have va- 
lued this work more highly than the call, probably he bestowed 
more labor on it. Yet, owing as he thought to the bad manage- 
ment of the booksellers, it passed through only two or three edi- 

* Narrative, Part I. p. 115. 


28. " Five Disputations of Church Government and Worship." 
4to. published in 1G58. "I published these," he says, 'in order 
to the reconciliation of the differing parties.. In the first I proved 
that the English diocesan prelacy is intolerable, which none hath 
answered. In the second, I have proved the validity of the ordi- 
nation then exercised without diocesans in England, which no man 
hath answered, though many have urged men to be re-ordained. 
In the third, I have proved that there are divers sorts of episcopacy 
lawful and desirable. In the fourth and filth, I show the lawfulness 
of some ceremonies, and of a liturgy, and what is unlawful here."* 

29. " The Judgment and Advice of the Associated Ministers of 
Worcestershire, concerning Mr. John Dury's Endeavors after Ec- 
clesiastical Peace." 4to. published in 1G48. Whatever was 
done in the Worcestershire Association, Baxter seems to have been 
the doer of it. Of the occasion of this pamphlet he says, " Mr. 
John Dury having spent thirty years in endeavors to reconcile 
the Lutherans and Calvinists, was now going over sea again in that 
work, and desired the judgment of our association, how it should be 
successfully expedited ; which at thmr desire I drew up more large- 
ly in Latin, and more briefly in English. The English letter he 
printed, as my letter to Mr. Dury for pacification. "f 

30. Universal Concord." 12mo. published in 1G58. This was 
another of his contributions to the cause of catholic communion. 
"Having been desired," he says, "in the time of our associations, 
to draw up those terms which all christian churches may hold com- 
munion upon, I published them, though too late for any such use 
(till God gave men better minds,) that the world might see what 
our religion and terms of communion were ; and that if after ages 
prove more peaceable, they may have some light from those that 
went before them. "J 

31. "The Grotian Religion discovered, at the invitation of Mr. 
Thomas Pierce." 12mo. published in 1658. In the Universal 
Concord, he had spoken of Grotius as a concealed papist, and as 
having designed a reunion of the protestant churches with the 
church of Rome on the ground of mutual concession ; and had in- 

* Narrative Part I. p. 117. f Ibid. p. 117. \ Ibid. p. 119. 


timated that some were still prosecuting that design. This intima- 
tion awakened the wrath of one Mr. Thomas Pierce, who replied 
by an abusive attack on Baxter and the Puritans, making it howev- 
er his principal business to defend Grotius. To this, Baxter re- 
sponded in his " Grotian Religion Discovered." The controversy 
seems to have excited a great interest, as it was in fact an examina- 
tion of the popish tendencies ascribed to the Arminian prelatists 
of those days, the followers of Laud. " This book," he says, " the 
printer abused, printing every section so distant to fill up paper, as 
if they had been several chapters." Few authors, in these days, 
would complain of such " abuse." 

32. "Four Disputatious of Justification." 4to. published in 
165S. This work was designed as a further explanation and de- 
fense of his supposed peculiar views on that subject. It was a 
continuation of the controversy which had grown out of the publi- 
cation of his Aphorisms. 

33. " A Key for the Catholics, to open the Juggling of the Je- 
suits, and satisfy all that are but truly willing to understand, whether 
the cause of the Roman or Reformed Churches is of God." 4to. 
published in 1659. "Those that were not prejudiced against this 
book," he says, " have let me know that it hath not been without 
success ; it being indeed a sufficient armory for to furnish a protes- 
tant to defend his religion against all the assaults of the papists 
whatsoever ; and teacheth him how to answer all their books. 
The second part doth briefly deal with the French and Grotian 
party that are for the supremacy of a council, at least as to the le- 
gislative power ; and showeth that we never had a general council, 
nor can it be at all expected."* 

34. " ' Holy Commonwealth ; or, Po/itical Aphorisms : opening 
the true principles of Government; for the healing of the mistakes, 
and resolving the doubts, that most endanger and trouble England at 
this time; and directing the desires of sober christians that long to 
see the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of the Lord 
and of his Christ."' 8vo. published in 1659. This work was 

*Narralive, Tart. I. p. 1 13. 
Vor.. 1. 21 


published at a moment of peculiar interest. Oliver Cromwell had 
gone from his throne to the grave. Richard had succeeded to the 
protectorate without any apparent opposition; but his hand was too 
feeble to hold the iron scepter which his father had swayed with so 
great ability. The leaders of the army were making arrangements 
to regain the power which they considered theirs by right of con- 
quest ; and the republican politicians whom the protector had 
so disappointed and baffled, were again beginning to hope for 
the speedy consummation of their schemes. Another man in such 
circumstances, might have waited to see which way the tide would 
turn, before venturing on any political discussion. But Baxter 
rarely acted with any reference to personal expediency ; and at 
this very juncture, even when Richard Cromwell bad already abdi- 
cated, he came out with a book in the former part of which he 
pleaded for a monarchical form of government, and in the conclusion 
of which, he eloquently defended the war of parliament against the 
usurpations of Charles. Thus he equally displeased the republi- 
cans on the one hand and the royalists on the other. But let us 
hear his own account of the book and of the occasion on which it 
was written. 

" The book which hath furnished my enemies with matter of revi- 
ling which none must dare to answer, is my ' Holy Commonwealth.' 
The occasion of it was this ; when our pretorian sectarian bands 
had cut all bonds, pulled down all government, and after the death 
of the king had twelve years kept out his son, few men saw any 
probability of his restitution, and every self-conceited fellow was ready 
to offer his model for a new form of government. Mr. Hobbes' 
' Leviathan,' had pleased many. Mr. Thomas White, the great Pa- 
pist, had written his Politics in English, for the interest of the protec- 
tor, to prove that subjects ought to submit and subject themselves to 
such a change. And now Mr. James Harrington (they say, by the 
help of Mr. Neville) had written a book in folio for a democracy, 
called Oceana, seriously describing a form near to the Venetian, 
nd setting the people upon the desires of a change. After this, 
Sir H. Vane and his party were about their sectarian democratical 
model, which Stubbs defended. Rogers, Needham, and Mr. Bag- 
shaw, had also written against monarchy before. In the end of an 


epistle before my book of ' Crucifying the World,' I had spoken a 
few words against this innovation and opposition to monarchy ; and 
having especially touched upon * Oceana' and ' Leviathan,' Mr. 
Harrington seemed in a Bethlehem rage; for byway of scorn he 
printed half a sheet of foolish jeers, in such words as idiots or 
drunkards use, railing at ministers as a pack of fools and knaves; 
and by his gibberish derision persuading men that we deserve no oth- 
er answer than such scorn and nonsense as beseemeth fools. With 
most insolent pride he carried it, as if neither I nor any ministers 
understood at all what policy was, but prated against, we knew not 
what, and had presumed to speak against other men's art, which 
he was master of, and his knowledge, to such idiots as we, incom- 
prehensible. This made me think it fit, having given that general 
hint against his ' Oceana,' to give a more particular charge, and 
withal to give the world and him an account of my political princi- 
ples, to show what I held as well as what I denied ; which I did in 
that book called ' Holy Commonwealth,' as contrary to his heathen- 
ish commonwealth. In which I pleaded the cause of monarchy 
as better than democracy and aristocracy ; but as under God the 
universal monarch. Here Bishop Morley hath his matter of 
charge against me, of which one part is that 1 spake against unlimit- 
ed] monarchy, because God himself hath limited all monarchs. 
If I had said laws limit monarchs, I might, amongst some men, be 
thought a traitor and inexcusable ; but to say that God limiteth 
monarchs, I thought had never before been chargeable with treason, 
or opposed by any that believed that there is a God. If they are 
indeed unlimited in respect of God, we have many Gods or no 
God. But now it is dangerous to meddle with these matters, 
most men say, Let God defend himself. 

" In the end of this book is an appendix concerning the cause 
of the parliament's first war." " And this paper it is that con- 
tained all my crimes. Against this, one Tomkins wrote a book 
called the ' The Rebel's Plea.' But 1 wait in silence till God 
enlighten us."* 

For this book the author was reproached and vilified through all 

* Narrative, Part TI. pp. 118,119. 


the remainder of his life. It was honored by a decree of die Uni- 
versity of Oxford, which consigned it to the fire in company with 
other defenses of British freedom. 

35. "A Treatise of Death, the last Enemy to be destroyed : 
showing wherein its enmity consisteth, and how it is to be destroyed. 
Part of it was preached at the funeral of Elizabeth, the late wife of 
Mr. Joseph Baker, Pastor of the church of St. Andrews in Worces- 
ter. With some passages of the life of the said Mrs. Baker ob- 
served." 8vo. This is a work of nearly a hundred pages, first 
published in 1659. 

36. "A Treatise of Self-denial." 4to. published in 1659. 
This is a work of nearly four hundred pages, " which," he says, 
" found better acceptance than most of my other books, but yet 
prevented not the ruin of church, and state, and millions of souls 
by the sin of selfishness." 

37. " Catholic Unity : or the only way to bring us all to be of 
one religion. To be read by such as are offended at the differ- 
ences in religion, and are willing to do their part to heal them." 
12mo. published in 1659. 

38. " The True Catholic, and Catholic Church described ; and 
the vanity of the papists, and all other schismatics, that confine the 
catholic church to their sect, discovered and shamed." 12mo. 
published in 1659. 

These two works were sermons which he had formerly preach- 
ed, one in London, and the other in Worcester. They came out 
at a time when the nation was in a revolutionary state. The pres- 
byterians were hoping to regain their political ascendency. Bax- 
ter probably thought it a favorable time to speak once more in be- 
half of those truly catholic principles, for which he had so zealously 
labored. These pamphlets were published in December; in the 
April following (1660) he came to London, and his labors with his 
beloved flock he was never permitted to resume. 


The death of Oliver Cromwell, which took place on the third of 
September 1658, was soon followed by great and amazing changes 
in the commonwealth which he had so long and prosperously gov- 
erned. His eldest son, Richard, succeeded to the vacant throne, 
as peaceably, and received the congratulations of the nation on his 
accession as unanimously as if he had traced back his title through 
a line of kings, even to the age of William the conqueror. But 
Richard had little of the talent and less of the spirit of his father. 
The hopes of the disappointed republicans began to revive. A 
parliament was summoned, the majority of which, with the presby- 
terian part of the army, was friendly to the young protector. The 
principal officers of the army however, some from disappointed 
ambition, and some from principle as republicans, soon began to 
enter into cabals against him. In an unfortunate moment he was 
persuaded to consent to the meeting of a " general council of offi- 
cers ;" and from that moment the military aristocracy which had 
governed before Oliver concentrated the power into his own 
hands, was revived. The parliament, alarmed at this movement, 
made an ineffectual resistance. The heads of the army demanded 
of the protector the dissolution of the parliament. Richard saw 
that his refusal would immediately involve the nation in another 
civil war ; he felt himself unequal to such a conflict ; his kind 
and peaceful temper shrunk from the prospect of bloodshed; and 
the parliament was instantly dissolved. A few days afterwards 
he formally abdicated his authority, and retired to private life, prob- 
ably without a sigh over his fallen grandeur. In the obscurity for 
which his nature fitted him, he lived, respected for his private vir- 
tues, and unmolested, through several succeeding reigns. 


The " council of officers" found themselves once more at the 
head of the British empire. By them, the remnant of the old 
Long Parliament, the despised and hated Rump, was revived and 
reinstated in its authority, as it existed immediately before its disso- 
lution by Oliver Cromwell. No movement could have had more 
effect in wakening universal alarm and indignation. The presby- 
terians, though they might been contented under the administration 
of Richard, were many of them loyalists upon principle, and were 
all opposed to every thought of such a commonwealth as either the 
military republicans of the army, or the political enthusiasts of the 
Rump, would have erected. An extensive conspiracy was entered 
into between the cavaliers and the presbyterians ; and the restora- 
tion of the old monarchy was secretly agreed upon, as the only re- 
fuge from the anarchy in which the nation seemed likely to be in- 
volved. On an appointed day the conspirators were to rise in all 
parts of England, and Charles had already arrived at Calais, with 
the intention of immediately passing over and putting himseif at 
the head of the insurrection. But that contemptible and profligate 
prince was always surrounded by associates as unprincipled as him- 
self, who supported their profligacy by betraying all his counsels to 
his enemies. Thus this projected effort was disclosed, just in time 
to prevent that unanimous and simultaneous movement which alone 
could be successful. The cavaliers, Baxter says, failed to perform 
their part of the engagement. Sir George Booth and Sir William 
Middleton, two presbyterian officers of the old parliamentary armies, 
succeeded in raising about five thousand men in North Wales and 
the adjoining counties, and took possession of the city of Chester, de- 
claring for a " free parliament." This rising was soon suppressed 
by a detachment of the standing army; but it was immediately fol- 
lowed by a rupture between the military leaders and the Rump, 
which ended in another dissolution of that body. The council of 
officers again took it upon themselves to settle the nation ; and by 
them a committee of safety was appointed with ample powers for 
the temporary administration of the government. This was in Oc- 
tober 1659. 

General Monk was a man in whose military talents and fidelity, 
Cromwell seems to have reposed much confidence ; and he had 


for many years commanded the army in Scotland. He had peace- 
ably and submissively acknowledged not only the government of 
Richard, but that of the restored parliament. When that parlia- 
ment was again dissolved by the same military usurpation which 
had revived it, Monk, urged by the solicitations of the various dis- 
contented parties, made arrangements to march into England, and 
wrote to the military usurpers there, chiding them for the violence 
which they had put upon parliament. As he advanced, men of 
every party looked to him with strong hope. He had been an in- 
dependent ; and the independents, while they were not without 
fear in regard to his designs, hoped for the establishment of a re- 
public on the foundation of civil and religious freedom. He 
purged his army of all those officers whom he suspected of any 
sympathy with the men he was going to encounter ; and as these 
officers were generally anabaptists, the presbyterians began to hope 
that covenant uniformity would come again out of Scotland in its 
former glory. The parliament hoped for another restoration of 
their power ; for he had acknowledged their recent authority, and 
now he seemed to espouse their quarrel. The cavaliers hoped that 
either by negotiation he might be persuaded, or by the force of 
circumstances he might be compelled, to declare for their cause. 
Lambert, who in talent and influence was the head of the new 
government, marched with a great part of the army to repel this in- 
vasion. But every where he found the passions and hopes of 
the people against him. His own soldiers soon began to desert him. 
The regiments left in London revolted ; and supported by them, 
the Rump once more assumed the government of the three nations. 
But after the ostensible object with which Monk commenced 
his march into England was already attained, he still continued to 
advance with all his forces, not waiting for any orders from the re- 
stored parliament. The Rump, though not fully assured of his 
fidelity to them, could not venture to order back their deliverer in- 
to his own province. They therefore only expressed their de- 
sire that a good part of his forces might be sent back into Scotland. 
He complied with that request ; but still continued his progress 
with about five thousand men on whom he knew he could depend. 
The people were generally in his favor ; and he encountered no 

1 is 


opposition. It was widely understood that he was in favor of a new 
and free parliament; though all his public declarations were full ol 
fidelity to the parliament then existing. When he had arrived 
within twenty or thirty miles of London, he sent a message to the 
parliament requesting that the regiments then quartered about the 
city might be withdrawn, lest there should fall out some collision 
between them and his troops. With this request they were con- 
strained to comply ; and on the third of February 1660, Monk, at 
the head of his army entered the metropolis as in triumph, and 
quartered with his troops in Westminster. 

After a few days of indecision, the general declared himself 
openly for the presbyterian interest, and for a commonwealth in 
which there should be neither king nor protector, nor house of 
lords; and supported by his authority, those members who were 
excluded in 1648, again took their seats in parliament. The ma- 
jority of the house were now presbyterians ; and as presbyterians, 
they began to take measures which looked toward the restoration 
of the monarchy, on such terms and with such limitations as should 
be agreeable to their party. They appointed a new council of 
state for the temporary administration of the government ; and on 
the seventeenth of March, having provided for the election of a new 
parliament to meet on the twenty-fifth of the ensuing month, they 
passed the act of their own dissolution. 

The act for the election of the new parliament, had directed that 
none who had been in arms against the Long Parliament should be 
elected. Having put up this defence against the cavaliers, the pres- 
byterians used their diligence to prevent the election of men of re- 
publican principles. This diligence of theirs was ill-timed ; it amal- 
gamated them for the moment with their oldest, bitterest and most ir- 
reconcilable enemies; their own voices were drowned in the clam- 
or which themselves had begun for the king and against the com- 
monwealth ; and the result was that in many places the loyalty of 
the people broke over the barrier of the disabling clause, and elect- 
ed old cavaliers to negotiate with the king about his restoration and 
their own, and in many other places the members elected were 
equally unworthy to be trusted with the liberties of the nation. 

When Monk saw that the tide of popular feeling was turned for 


the king, he fell in with the current, and commenced a secret cor- 
respondence with Charles, advising him to be in readiness for an 
immediate return. 

As soon as the new parliament came together, it was no longer 
doubtful that all things were ripe for restoration, and for a complete 
triumph of the old royalists. In a word, the king was recalled 
without any condition, and without any security for that civil and 
religious liberty which the people had wrested from his father in a 
painful conflict. A strange infatuation seized upon the nation ; 
and if Charles had been restored by the bayonets of the French 
and Spanish monarchies, he could not have come in on terms more 
favorable to himself and his partisans. He arrived at London on 
the 29th of May, 1G60. 

Baxter came from Kidderminster to London, in April, just before 
tha assembling of the parliament. What his business was in com- 
ing to the metropolis at that time, he does not inform us. We may 
safely suppose, however, that he came to be present with his presby- 
terian friends, and to aid by his counsels and activity in the great 
matter of the restoration. That the king should be restored, the 
presbyterians were all agreed ; and their vain hope was that by 
their forwardness in bringing him back, they might secure the esta- 
blishment of their ecclesiastical system, or at least of something so 
much like it that they could live under it in peace. This exceed- 
ing forwardness of theirs, defeated, as we have already seen, its 
own object, and gave their bitterest enemies the greatest possible 
advantage over them. Many of them trembled at the turn which 
affairs were taking, and at the part which they themselves were 
acting ; but others, in the fever of their loyalty, hoped much from 
the gratitude of Charles, and trusted to the notion of his having 
learned wisdom from the fate of his father, and suffered themselves 
to be duped by the letters which his courtiers procured to be writ- 
ten from France and Holland commending his devotion and his 
zeal for the protestant religion. 

" When I was at London," says Baxter, " the new parliament 
being called, they presently appointed a day of fasting and prayer 
for themselves. The House of Commons chose Mr. Calamy, 
Dr. Gauden, and myself, to preach and pray with them at St. Mar- 

Vol. I. 22 


garet's, Westminster. In that sermon, I uttered some passages 
which were aftervvardj matter of some discourse- Speaking of 
our differences and the way to heal them, I told them that, wheth- 
er we should be loyal to our king was none of our differences. In 
that, we were all agreed ; it being not possible that a man should 
be true to the protestant principles and not be loyal ; as it was im- 
possible to be true to the Papist principles, and to be loyal. And 
*or the concord now wished in matters of church government, I 
told them it was easy for moderate men to come to a fair agree- 
ment, and that the late reverend Primate of Ireland and myself 
had agreed in half an hour. I remember not the very words, but 
you may read them in the sermon, which was printed by order of 
the House of Commons." " The next morning after this day of 
fasting, the parliament unanimously voted home the king." 

" The city of London, about that time, was to keep a day of so- 
lemn thanksgiving for General Monk's success ; and the lord may- 
or and aldermen desired me to preach before them at St. Paul's 
church ; wherein I so endeavored to show the value of that mercy, 
as to show also, how sin and men's abuse might turn it into matter 
of calamity, and what should be right bounds and qualifications of 
that joy. The moderate were pleased with it ; the fanatics were 
offended with me for keeping such a thanksgiving ; and the dioce- 
san party thought I did suppress their joy. The words may be 
seen in the sermon ordered to be printed. 

" But the other words, about my agreement with Bishop Usher, in 
the sermon before the parliament, put me to most trouble. For pres- 
ently many moderate episcopal divines came to me to know what 
those terms of our agreement were. And thinking verily that others 
of their party had been as moderate as themselves, they entered upon 
debates for our general concord ; and we agreed as easily among 
ourselves in private, as if almost all our differences were at an end. 
Among others, I had speech about it with Dr. Gauden, who prom- 
ised to bring Dr. Morley and many more of that party to meet with 
some of the other party at Dr. Bernard's lodgings. There came 
none on that side but Dr. Gauden and Dr. Bernard ; and none of the 
other side But Dr. Manton and myself; and so little was done, but 
only desires of concord expressed." "Thus men were every day 
talking of concord, but to little purpose as appeared in the issue." 


" When the king was sent for by the parliament, certain divines, 
with others, were also sent by the parliament and city to him into 
Holland : viz. Mr. Calamy, Dr. Man ton, Mr. Bowles, and divers 
other ; and some went voluntarily ; to whom his majesty gave 
such encouraging promises of peace, as raised some of them to 
high expectations. And when he came in, as he passed through 
the city towards Westminster, the London ministers in their places 
attended him with acclamations, and by the hands of old Mr. Ar- 
thur Jackson, presented him with a richly adorned Bible, which 
he received, and told them, it should be the rule of his actions." 

For a while after the restoration it seemed necessary to cajole 
the presbyterians with the hope of an improved liturgy and of such 
changes in respect to episcopacy as would admit of their being in- 
cluded within the pale of the establishment. With this view ten 
or twelve of the leading presbyterian ministers were nominated to 
be the king's chaplains in ordinary. Mr. Calamy, and Dr. Rey- 
nolds, were first appointed ; soon afterwards Mr. Ash, and Mr. 
Baxter ; then Dr. Spurstow, Dr. Wallis, Dr. Bates and others. 
None of % them however were ever called to preach at court ex- 
cept Calamy, Reynolds, Baxter, and Spurstow, each of them 
a single sermon. Baxter's sermon before the king was pub- 
lished, and was afterwards included in his work entitled the 
'Life of Faith.' Not many kings, since King Agrippa, have had the 
advantage of hearing the word of God so plainly and powerfully 
preached, as Baxter preached it to King Charles il. on that occa- 
sion. The discourse was evidently written with more attention to 
style than the author ordinarily bestowed on such matters ; yet 
in its bold and pungent exhibition of the truth, it is like all his oth- 
er writings. The sermon contains no direct address to the king, 
nor even one distinct allusion to him. But there are many passa- 
ges, pointed in that peculiar way which must have made them felt 
by the monarch and his profligate attendants. " Faith," said the 
preacher, "is the wisdom of the soul; and unbelief and sensuality 
are its blindness, folly and brutishness." " Will you persuade us 
that the man is wise, that can climb a little higher than his neigh- 
bors, that he may have the greater fall ? That is attended in his 
way to hell with greater pomp and state than others ? That can 


sin more syllogistically and rhetorically than the vulgar; and more 
prudently and gravely run into damnation ; and can learnedly de- 
fend his madness, and prove that he is safe at the hrink of hell ? 
Would you persuade us that he is wise, that contradicts the God and 
rule of wisdom, and that parts with heaven for a few merry hours, 
and hath not wit to save his soul ? When they see the end, and are 
arrived at eternity, let them boast of their wisdom, as they find 
cause : we will take them then for more competent judges. Let 
the eternal God be the portion of my soul ; let heaven be my inhe- 
ritance and hope; let Christ be my Head, and the promise my se- 
curity, let faith be my wisdom, and love be my very heart and will, 
and patient, persevering obedience be my life ; and then I can 
spare the wisdom of the world, because I can spare the trifles that 
it seeks, and all that they are like to get by it." 

Not long after the king's return, Baxter, in an interview with 
Lord Broghill and the earl of Manchester, two noblemen who 
though known as presbyterians were men of some influence at 
court on account of their great services in promoting the restora- 
tion, spoke of the conversations which he had held with some epis- 
copal divines, respecting union in the church; and urged the im- 
portance of a conierence between the leading men of the two par- 
ties for the sake of finding on what terms a union might be effected. 
On this suggestion Broghill "proposed to the king a conference for 
an agreement ;" and within a few days Baxter and Calamv were 
informed that the king was pleased with that proposal, and was re- 
solved to further it. This led to a personal interview between the 
king and his ten presbyterian chaplains, which took place about the 
middle of June at the earl of Manchester's lodgings. Of the part 
which Baxter acted in this interview, we have a full account from 
his own pen. 

" We exercised more boldness, at first, than afterwards would 
have been borne. When some of the rest had congratulated his 
majesty's happy Restoration, and declared the large hope which they 
had of a cordial union among all dissenters by his means, I pre- 
sumed to speak to him of the concernments of religion, and how far 
we were from desiring the continuance of any factions or parties in 
the church, and how much a happy union would conduce to the 
good of the land, and to his majesty's satisfaction ; and though there 


were turbulent, fanatic persons in his dominions, yet that those 
ministers and godly people whose peace we humbly craved of him 
were no such persons ; but such as longed after concord, and were 
truly loyal to him, and desired no more than to live under him a 
quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness ai.d honesty. And where- 
as there were differences between them and their brethren, about 
some ceremonies or discipline of the church, we humbly craved 
his majesty's favor for the ending of those differences ; it being easy 
for him to interpose, that so the people might not be deprived of 
their faithful pastors, nor ignorant, scandalous, unworthy ones ob- 
truded on them. 

" I presumed to tell him ; that the people we spoke for were such 
as were contented with an interest in heaven, and the liberty and 
advantages of the gospel to promote it ; and that if these were ta- 
ken from them, and they were deprived of their faithful pastors, 
and liberty of worshipping God, they would take themselves as un- 
done in this world, whatever plenty else they should enjoy ; and 
the hearts of his most faithful subjects, who hoped for his help, 
would even be broken ; and we doubted not but his majesty desi- 
red to govern a people made happy by him, and not a broken heart- 
ed people who took themselves to be undone by the loss of that 
which is dearer to them than all the riches of the world. I pre- 
sumed to tell him, that the late usupers that were over us so well 
understood their own interest, that to promote it, they had found the 
way of doing good to be the most effectual means ; and had placed 
and encouraged many thousand faithful ministers in the church, 
even such as detested their usurpation ; and so far had they attain- 
ed their ends hereby, that it was the principal means of their inter- 
est in the people, and the good opiniou that many had conceived of 
them ; and those of them that had taken the contrary course had 
thereby broken themselves in pieces. Wherefore, I humbly craved 
his majesty, that as he was our lawful king, in whom all his people 
were prepared to centre, 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 indulge ; and 
that he would never suffer himself to be tempted to undo the good 
which Cromwell, or any other had done, because they were usur- 


pers 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 re- 
commended 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 offered to his service. 

" And I humbly besought him that he would never suffer his 
subjects to be tempted to have favorable thoughts of the late usurp- 
ers, by seeing the vice indulged which they suppressed, or the 
godly ministers of the gospel discountenanced whom they encoura- 
ged ; for the common people are apt to judge of governors by the 
effects, even by the good or evil which they feel, and they will take 
him to be the best governor who doth them most good, and him 
to be the worst who doth them most hurt. And all his enemies 
could not teach him a more effectual way to restore the reputation 
and honor of the usurpers than to do worse than they, and destroy 
the good which they had done." " And, again, I humbly craved 
that no misrepresentations might cause him to believe, that because 
some fanatics have been factious and disloyal, therefore the reli- 
gious people in his dominions, who are most careful of their souls, 
are such, though some of them may be dissatisfied about some 
forms and ceremonies in God's worship, which others use : and 
that none of them might go under so ill a character with him, by 
misreports behind their backs, till it were proved of them personal- 
ly, or they had answered for themselves : for we, that better knew 
them than those likely to be their accusers, did confidently testify 
to his majesty on their behalf, that they are the resolved enemies of 
sedition, rebellion, disobedience, and divisions, which the world 
should see, and their adversaries be convinced of, if his majesty's 
wisdom and clemency did but remove those occasions of scruple in 
some points of discipline and worship of God, which give advan- 
tage to others to call all dissenters factious and disobedient, how 
loyal and peaceable soever. 

"I, further, humbly craved, that the freedom and plainness of 
these expressions to his majesty might be pardoned, as being ex- 


tracted by the present necessity, and encouraged by our revived 
hopes. I told him also, that it was not for presbyterians, or any 
party, as such, that we were speaking, but for the religious part of 
his subjects as such, than whom no prince on earth had better. I 
also told him how considerable a part of the kingdom he would find 
them to be; and of what great advantage their union would be to 
his majesty, to the people, and to the bishops themselves, and how 
easily it might be procured — by making only things necessary to be 
the terms of union — by the true exercise of church discipline against 
sin, — and by not casting out the faithful ministers that must exer- 
cise it, and obtruding unworthy men upon the people : and how 
easy it was to avoid the violating of men's solemn vows and cove- 
nants, without hurt to any others. And finally, I repuested that we 
might be heard to speak for ourselves, when any accusations were 
brought against us. 

" These, with some other such things, I then spake, when some 
of my brethren had spoken first. Mr. Simeon Ash also spake 
much to the same purpose, and of all our desires of his majesty's 
assistance in our desired union. The king gave us not only a 
free audience, but as gracious an answer as we could expect ; pro- 
fessing 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, but by abating some- 
what on both sides, and meeting in the midway ; and that if it were 
not accomplished, it should be owing to ourselves and not to him. 
Nay, that he was resolved to see it brought to pass, and that he 
would draw us together himself, with some more to that purpose. 
Insomuch that old Mr. Ash burst out into tears of joy, and could 
not forbear expressing what gladness this promise of his majesty 
had put into his heart."* 

About the same time the king required them to draw up, and 
bring to him their own proposals for an agreement with the episco- 
pal party, on the subject of church government. They told him 
they were only a few individuals, and could not undertake to rep- 
resent the opinions or the wishes of their brethren ; and therefore 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. '230,231, 


desired leave to consult with their brethren in the country. This 
was refused on the ground that it would take too much time, and 
would make too much noise. He assured them that his intention 
was only to consult with a few individuals of each party. On their 
particular request he promised them that when they offered their 
concessions, the brethren on the other side should bring in theirs, 
and should state the utmost that they could yield for the sake of 

Accordingly they held a few meetings at Sion College, the usual 
place of meeting for the London ministers. Their consultations 
were with open doors, and as many of their brethren as chose, 
came to assist them. They soon agreed on their proposals ; and 
the extent of their concessions may be judged of by the fac: that 
the papers which they finally presented to the king were drawn up 
mostly by Baxter, and by Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Worth, both of 
whom were afterwards dignitaries in the church of England. The 
amount of their requests was that episcopacy might be reduced to 
the form drawn up and proposed to Charles I. by Archbishop Ush- 
er in the year 1641 ; a scheme in which the prelate became little 
more than a stated president in the synod of the presbyters, 
having the power of a negative voice on all their acts. 

When they went to the king with these proposals, expecting of 
course to meet there some divines of the other party, with their 
proposals for accomodation and union, they found not one of them 
there. "Yet it was not fit for us," says Baxter, "to expostulate 
or complain. But his majesty very graciously renewed his profes- 
sions — I mU st not call them promises — that he would bring us to- 
gether, and see that the bishops should come down and yield on 
their parts. When he had heard our papers, he seemed well 
pleased with them, and told us he was glad we were for a liturgy 
and yielded to the essence of episcopacy, and therefore he doubted 
not of our agreement with much more ; which we thought meet 
to recite in our following addresses by way of gratitude, and for 
other reasons easy to be conjectured." 

After waiting a while for the promised proposals of the opposite 
party, they received, instead of what they expected, only a sharp 
and controversial reply to the papers which they had offered. The 


bishops had determined to make no proposal but that of entire con- 
formity to the old episcopal establishment. Against this paper, 
Baxter, at the request of his brethren, drew up a defense of their 
proposals. But afterwards it was judged impolitic to provoke them 
by a reply such as he had prepared. 

Not long afterwards they were informed that another course had 
been chosen ; and that the king would publish, in the form of a 
royal declaration, all his intentions on the subject of ecclesiastical 
affairs. This they- were to see before it should be published, that 
they might inform the king of whatever might be in their view in- 
consistent with the desired concord. A draught of the proposed 
declaration was accordingly sent them by the Lord Chancellor 
Hyde (afterwards earl of Clarendon.) Having perused it, they 
saw that it would not serve the purpose professed. They drew up 
their objections in ihe form of a petition to the king, the paper be- 
ing prepared by the ready pen of Baxter, and thoroughly revised 
and amended by his brethren, who feared that the boldness and 
plainness which he had used would give offense. This petition be- 
ing delivered to the lord chancellor, was still so ungrateful to his 
feelings that he never called them to present it to the king. In- 
stead of that, he proposed to them to present the precise altera- 
tions in the royal declaration which they considered absolutely ne- 
cessary. With this proposal they complied. And on an appoint- 
ed day, they met the king at the lord chancellor's house, with 
several of the bishops and lords. "The business of the day," says 
Baxter, " was not to dispute ; but as the lord chancellor read 
over the declaration, each party was to speak to what they disliked, 
and the king to determine how it should be, as liked himself." 
"The great matter which we stopped at was the word consent, 
where the bishop is to confirm ' by the consent of the pastor of that 
church ;' and the king would by no means pass the word ' con- 
sent' either there or in the point of ordination or censures, because 
it gave the ministers a negative voice." 

In connection with this interview, one anecdote recorded by Bax- 
ter deserves to be repeated, as it helps to illustrate the character 
of all the parties concerned. The king was already, as there is 
much reason to believe, a secret papist; at least he was determin- 

Vol. I. 23 


ed to go as far as he dared, in promoting the interests of the papists. 
The bishops and other courtiers, had no disposition to object to 
what they knew to be his wishes. The presbyterians with all their 
zeal for their own liberty, had not yet learned the great principle 
f universal toleration against which they had so zealously con- 
tended in the days of the Commonwealth ; and Richard Baxter 
was always too boldly consciencious not to speak his mind whatever 
it might cost him. 

" The most of the time being spent thus in speaking to particu- 
lars of the declaration, as it was read, when we came to the end, 
the lord chancellor drew out another paper, and told us that the 
king had been petitioned also by the Independents and Anabaptists; 
and though he knew not what to think of it himself, and did not 
very well like it, yet something he had drawn up which he would 
read to us, and desire us also to give our advice about it. There- 
upon he read, as an addition to the declaration, ' that others also be 
permitted to meet for religious worship, so be it they do it not to 
the disturbance of the peace ; and that no justice of peace or offi- 
cer disturb them.' When he had read it, he again desired them 
all to think on it, and give their advice; but all were silent. The 
Presbyterians all perceived, as soon as they heard it, that it would 
secure the liberty of the Papists ; and Dr. Wallis whispered me in 
the ear, and entreated me to say nothing, for it was an odious busi- 
ness, but to let the bishops speak to it. But the bishops would not 
speak a word, nor any one of the Presbyterians, and so we were 
like to have ended in silence. I knew, if we consented to it, it 
would be charged on us, that we spake for a toleration of Papists 
and sectaries : yet it might have lengthened out our own. And if 
we spake against it, all sects and parties would be set against us as 
the causers oi their sufferings, and as a partial people that would 
have liberty ourselves, but would have no others have it with us. 
At last, seeing the silence continue, I thought our very silence 
would he charged on us as consent, if it went on, and therefore I 
only said this: 'That this reverend brother, Dr. Gunning, even 
now speaking against sects, had named the Papists and the Socini- 
ans : for our parts, we desired not favor to ourselves alone, and 
rigorous severity we desired against none. As we humbly thanked 


his majesty for his indulgence to ourselves, so we distinguished he 
tolerable parties from the intolerable. For the former, we humbly- 
craved just lenity and favor, but for the latter, such as the two sorts 
named before by that reverend brother, for our parts, we could not 
make their toleration our request.' To which his majesty said, 
' there were laws enough against the Papists;' to which I replied, 
that we understood the question to be, whether those laws should 
be executed on them or not. And so his majesty broke up the 
meeting of that day." 

"When I went out from the meeting, I went dejected, as being 
fully satisfied that the form of government in that declaration would 
not be satisfactory, nor attain that concord which was our end, be- 
cause the pastors had no government of the flocks ; and I was re- 
solved to meddle no more in the business, but patiently suffer with 
other dissenters. But two or three days after, I met the king's de- 
claration cried about the streets, and I presently stopped into a 
house to read it; and seeing the word consent put in about con- 
firmation and sacrament, though not as to jurisdiction, and seeing 
the pastoral persuasive power of governing left to all the ministers 
with the rural dean, and some more amendments, I wondered 
how it came to pass, but was exceeding glad of it; as perceiving 
that now the terms were, though not such as we desired, such as 
any sober, honest minister might submit to. I presently resolved 
to do my best to persuade all, according to my interest and oppor- 
tunity, to conform according to the terms of this declaration, and 
cheerfully to promote the concord of the church, and brotherly 
love which this concord doth bespeak. 

" Having frequent business with the lord chancellor about other 
matters, 1 was going to him when I met the king's declaration in 
the street ; and I was so much pleased with it, that having told him 
why I was so earnest to have had it suited to the desired end, I 
gave him hearty thanks for the additions, and told him that if the 
liturgy were but altered as the declaration promised, and this set- 
tled and continued to us by a law, and not reversed, I should take 
it to be my duty to do my best to procure the full consent of others, 
and promote our happy concord on these terms; and should re- 
joice to see the day when factions and parties may all be swallowed 


up in unity, and contentions turned to brotherly love. At that 
time he began to offer me a bishoprick, of which more anon."* 

This rejoicing in the king's declaration was altogether premature. 
The whole of this movement was designed only to gain time, to 
keep the Presbyterians quiet with vain hopes, and to divide the 
more moderate from the more zealous. This was the policy of 
the court party, while their single intention was not only to bring 
every thing back to the old footing, but to make the yoke of uni- 
formity heavier than before. A part of the same policy was, to 
bring over or at least to silence some of the leaders whom they 
feared, by giving them preferments in the church. Of the nego- 
tiation on this subject Baxter gives the following account. 

"A little before the meeting about the king's declaration, Colo- 
nel birch came to me, as from the Lord Chancellor, to persuade 
me to take the bishopric of Hereford, for he had bought the bish- 
op's house at Whitburne, and thought to make a better bargain 
with me than with another, and, therefore, finding that the lord 
chancellor intended me the offer of one, he desired it might be 
that. I thought it best to give them no positive denial till I saw 
the utmost of their intents : and I perceived that Colonel Birch 
came privately, that a bishopric might not be publicly refused, and 
to try whether I would accept it, that else it might not be offered 
me; for he told me that they would not bear such a repulse. I 
told him that I was resolved never to be bishop of Hereford, and 
that I did not think I should ever see cause to take any bishopric ; 
but I could give no positive answer till I saw the king's resolutions 
about the way of church government : for if the old diocesan frame 
continued, he knew we could never accept or own it. After this, 
not having a flat denial, he came again and again to Dr. Reynolds, 
Mr. Calamy, and myself together, to importune us all to accept the 
offer, for the bishopric of Norwich was offered to Dr. Reynolds, 
and Coventry and Litchfield to Mr. Calamy; but he had no posi- 
tive answer, but the same from me as before. At last, the day 
that the king's declaration came out, when I was with the lord 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 276, 279. 


chancellor, who did all, he asked me whether I would accept of a 
bishopric; I told him that if he had asked me that question the 
day before, I could easily have answered him that in conscience I 
could not do it ; for though I would live peaceably under whatever 
government the king should set up, I could not have a hand in exe- 
cuting it. But having, as I was coming to him, seen the king's 
declaration, and seeing that by it the government is so far altered 
as it is, I took myself for the church's sake exceedingly beholden 
to his lordship for those moderations; and my desire to promote 
the happiness of the church, which that moderation tendeth to, did 
make me resolve to take that course which tendeth most thereto. 
Whether to take a bishopric by the way, I was in doubt, and de- 
sired some further time for consideration. But if his lordship would 
procure us the settlement of the matter of that declaration, by pass- 
ing it into a law, I promised him to take that way in which I might 
most serve the public peace. 

" Dr. Reynolds, Mr. Calamy, and myself, had some speeches 
oft together about it ; and we all thought that a bishopric might be 
accepted according to the description of the declaration, without 
any violation of the covenant, or owning the ancient prelacy : but 
all the doubt was whether this declaration would be made a law as 
was then expected, or whether it were but a temporary means to 
draw us on till we came up to all the diocesans desired. Mr. Cal- 
amy desired that we might all go together, and all refuse or all ac- 
cept it. 

"But by this time the rumor of it fled abroad, and the voice of 
the city made a difference. For though they wished that none of 
us should be bishops, yet they said Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Baxter," 
being known to be for moderate episcopacy, their acceptance 
would be less scandalous ; but if Mr. Calamy should accept it, who 
had preached, and written, and done so much against it (which 
were then at large recited,) never Presbyterian would be trusted 
for his sake. So that the clamor was very loud against his accept- 
ance of it: and Mr. Matthew Nevvcomen, his brother-in-law, and 
many more, wrote to me earnestly to dissuade him. 

" For my own part, I resolved against it at the first, but not as a 
thing which I judged unlawful in itself, as described in the king's 


declaration : but 1 . I knew that it would take me off my writing. 
2. I looked to have most of the godly ministers cast out; and 
what good could be done by ignorant, vile, incapable men ? 3. 
I feared this declaration was but for a present use, and that shortly 
it would be revoked or nullified. 4. And if so, I doubted not but 
the laws would prescribe such work for bishops, in silencing minis- 
ters, and troubling honest Christians for their consciences, and ruling 
the vicious with greater lenity, as that I had rather have the mean- 
est employment among men. 5. My judgment was also fully re- 
solved against the lawfulness of the old diocesan frame. 

" But when Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Calamy asked my thoughts, 
I told them that, distinguishing between what is simply, and what 
is by accident, evil, I thought that as episcopacy is described in 
the king's declaration, it is lawful when better cannot be had; but 
yet scandal might make it unfit for some men more than others. 
To Mr. Calamy therefore I would give no counsel, but for Dr. 
Reynolds, I persuaded him to accept it, so be it he would publicly 
declare that he took it on the terms of the king's declaration, and 
would lay it down when he could no longer exercise it on those 
terms. Only I left it to his consideration whether it would be bet- 
ter to stay till he saw what they would do with the declaration ; 
and for myself, I was confident I should see cause to refuse it. 

" When I came to the lord chancellor the next day save one, he 
asked me of my resolution, and put me to it so suddenly, that I 
was forced to delay no longer, but told him that I could not accept 
it for several reasons. And it was not the least that I thought I 
could better serve the church without it, if he would but prosecute 
the establishment of the terms granted. And because I thought it 
would be ill taken if I refused it upon any but acceptable reasons, 
and also that writing would serve best against misreports hereafter, 
I the next day put a letter into the lord chancellor's hand, which 
he took in good part; in which I concealed most of my reasons, 
but gave the best, and used more freedom in my further requests 
than I expected should have any good success." 

'• Mr. Calamy blamed me for giving in my denial alone, before 
we had resolved together what to do. But I told him the truth, 
that being upon other necessary business with the lord chancellor, 


lie put me to it on the sudden, so that I could not conveniently de- 
lay my answer. 

"Dr. Reynolds almost as suddenly accepted, saying, that some 
r riend had taken out the conge d'elire for him without his know- 
edge. But he read to me a profession directed to the king, which 
he had written, where he professed that he took a bishop and a 
presbyter to differ not online but gradu; that a bishop was but 
the chief presbyter, and that he was not to ordain or govern but 
with his presbyters' assistance and consent^; that he aocepted of 
the place as described in the king's declaration, and not as it stood 
before in England ; and that he would no longer hold or exercise 
it than he could do it on these terms. To this sense it was, and he 
told me that he would offer it to the king when he accepted of the 
place ; but whether he did or not I cannot tell. He died in the 
bishopric of Norwich, an. 1676." 

"Mr. Calamy long suspended his answer, so that that bishopric 
was long undisposed of; till he saw the issue of all of our treaty, 
which easily resolved him. Dr. Manton was] offered the deanery 
of Rochester, and Dr. Bates, the deanery of Coventry and Litch- 
field, which they both after some time refused. And, as I heard, 
Mr. Edward Bowles was offered the deanery of York, at least, 
which he refused."* 

The king's declaration of which some account has already been 
given, contained the following expression of his intentions concern- 
ing the book of common prayer. " Though we do esteem the lit- 
urgy of the church of England, contained in the book of common 
prayer, and by law established, to be the best we have seen, and 
we believe we have seen all that are extant and used in this part of 
the world, and well know what reverence most of the reformed 
churches, or at least the most learned men in those churches have 
for it; yet since we find some exceptions made to many obsolete 
words, and other expressions used therein, which upon the reform 
ation and improvement of the English language may well be alter- 
ed, we will appoint some learned divines, of different persuasions 
to review the same, and to make such alterations as shall be thought 

Narrative, Part II. pp. 281, 284: 


most necessary, and some such additional prayers as shall be 
thought fit for emergent occasions, and the improvement of de- 
votion, the using of which may be left to the discretion of the min- 
ters." This royal promise was yet to be fulfilled ; and on the ful- 
filment of this depended the value and efficacy of all the previous 
negotiations. " Therefore," says Baxter, "being often with the 
lord chancellor, I humbly entreated him to hasten the finishing of 
that work, that we might rejoice in our desired concord. At last 
Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Calamy were authorized to name the per- 
sons on that side to manage the treaty ; and a commision was 
granted under the broad seal to the persons nominated on both 
sides. I entreated Mr. Calamy and Dr. Reynolds, to leave me 
out; for though I much desired the expedition of the work, I found 
that the last debates had made me unacceptable with my superiors, 
and this would much more increase it, and other men might be fit- 
ter who were much less distasted. But I could not prevail with 
them to excuse me." Twelve bishops were appointed on one side ; 
and as many of the leading presbyterian ministers on the other, in- 
cluding Reynolds, Calamy, and Baxter ; with nine assistants on 
each side, among whom, on the presbyterian side, were men of no 
less note than William Bates and John Lightfoot. 

" A meeting was appointed," says Baxter in his account 
of this affair, " and the Savoy, the bishop of London's lodg- 
ings, named by them for the place." " The commission being 
read, the archbishop of York, a peaceable man, spake first, and 
told us that he knew nothing of the business, but perhaps the 
bishop of London knew more of the king's mind in it, and therefore 
was fitter to speak in it than he. The bishop of London told us, 
that it was not they, but we that had seen the seekers of this con- 
ference, and that desired alterations in the liturgy; and therefore 
they had nothing to say or do, till we brought in all that we had to 
say against it in writing, and all the additional forms and alterations 
which we desired. Our brethren were very much against this 
motion, and urged the king's commission, which required us to 
meet together, advise, and consult. They told him that by con- 
ference we might perceive, as we went, what each would yield to, 
and might more speedily dispatch, and probably attain, our end ; 


whereas, writing would be a tedious, endless business, and we 
should not have that familiarity and acquaintance with each other's 
minds, which might facilitate our concord. But the bishop of Lon- 
don resolutely insisted on it not to do any thing till we brought in 
all our exceptions, alterations, and additions, at once. In this I 
confess, above all things else, I was wholly of his mind, and pre- 
vailed with my brethren to consent ; but, I conjecture, upon con- 
trary reasons. For, I suppose, he thought that we should either be 
altogether by the ears, and be of several minds among ourselves, 
at least in our new forms ; or that when our proposals and forms 
came to be scanned by them, they should find as much matter of 
exception against ours as we did against theirs ; or that the people 
of our persuasion would be dissatisfied or divided about it. And 
indeed our brethren themselves, thought either all, or much of this 
would come to pass, and our disadvantage would be exceeding 
great. But I told them the reasons of my opinion : 1. That we 
should quickly agree on our exceptions, or offer none but what we 
were agreed on. 2. That we were engaged to offer them new 
forms, which was the expedient that from the beginning I had aim- 
ed at and brought in, as the only way of accommodation, consider- 
ing that they should be in Scripture words, and that ministers should 
choose which forms they would. 3. That verbal disputes would 
be managed with much more contention. 4. But above all, that 
our cause would never else be well understood by our people, or 
foreigners, or posterity ; but our conference and cause would be 
misreported, and published, as the conference at Hampton Court 
was, to our prejudice, and none durst contradict it : And that what 
we said for our cause would in this way come fully and truly to the 
knowledge of England, and of other nations ; and that if we re- 
fused this opportunity of leaving upon record our testimony against 
corruptions, for a just and moderate reformation, we were never 
like to have the like again. And upon these reasons, I told the 
bishops that we accepted of the task which they imposed on us ; 
yet so as to bring all our exceptions at one time, and all our addi- 
tions at another time, which they granted."* 

* Narrative, Part H. pp. 305, 306. 
Vol. I. 24 


This plan having been determined on, the Presbyterian breth- 
ren immediately proceeded to their work. The task of drawing 
up additional and amended forms of prayer they imposed upon 
Baxter ; but the preparation of exceptions against the liturgy then 
in use, they undertook in common, and for that work they agreed 
to meet day by day till it should be finished. In making this ar- 
rangement for the division of their labor, they were probably influ- 
enced by the expectation that Baxter would do his part better with- 
out any coadjutor, and that they would proceed more peaceably 
and more rapidly without the assistance of his peculiarly keen and 
disputatious mind. " Hereupon," he says, " I departed from them, 
and came no more till I had finished my task, which was a fort- 
night's time. My leisure was too short for the doing of it with that 
accurateness which a business of that nature doth require, or for 
the consulting with men or authors. I could not have time to 
make use of any book save the Bible and my concordance, com- 
paring all with the Assembly's Directory, and the book of com- 
mon prayer, and Hammond L'Estrange. At the fortnight's end I 
brought it to the other commissioners." 

The work which was prepared in that fortnight was afterwards 
published. It is an entire liturgy, drawn up not with the design 
that it might be published by law in the place of the old book of 
prayer, but only with the desire that the ministers of the church 
might be at liberty to use this if they pleased, instead of the other. 
In reading these devout, scriptural and impressive forms : I cannot 
but acknowledge that I have felt with how much more effect the 
cause of prescribed forms of public devotion might have been ar- 
gued at this day, had the "Reformed Liturgy" then been allowed 
in the established church of England. 

When Baxter, having done his part of the work, came back to 
his brethren, he found them only beginning their exceptions. At 
his suggestion, they agreed to present to the bishops, with their 
other papers, a petition for peace, beseeching them to make 
every concession which they could without doing violence to their 
own consciences, for the sake of promoting the peace of the church 
and the conversion and salvation of souls. The result however 
was, as the Presbyterians had feared, and as the bishops had pre- 


determiued. Not the least point or particle was yielded by the 
dominant party for the sake of accommodation. 

The time within which the commission was limited, was nearly 
exhausted in this sort of controversy, when, about ten days before 
the expiration of their commission, the bishops still insisting that 
there should be no alteration of the liturgy but in those points in 
which it should be proved by regular scholastic disputation to be 
unlawful, the Presbyterians reluctantly yielded to their demand for 
such a disputation. "We were left," says Baxter, "in a very 
great strait. If we should enter upon dispute with them, we gave 
up the end and hope of our endeavors. If we refused it, we knew 
that they would boast that when it came to the setting to, we 
would not so much as attempt to prove any thing unlawful in the 
liturgy, nor durst dispute it with them. 

" Mr. Calamy, with some others of our brethren, would have 
had us refuse the motion of disputing as not tending to fulfil the 
king's commands. We told the bishops, over and over, that they 
could not choose but know that before we could end one argument 
in a dispute, our time would be expired ; and that it could not pos- 
sibly tend to any accommodation ; and that to keep off from per- 
sonal conference, till within a few days of the expiration of the 
commission, and then resolve to do nothing but wrangle out the 
time in a dispute, as if we were between jest and earnest in the 
schools, was too visibly in the sight of all the world, to defeat the 
king's commission, and the expectation of many thousands, who 
longed for our unity and peace. But we spoke to the deaf; they 
had other ends, and were other men, and had the art to suit the 
means unto their ends. For my part, when I saw that they would 
do nothing else, I persuaded our brethren to yield to a disputation 
with them, and let them understand that we were far from fearing 
it, seeing they would give us no hopes of concord: but, withal, 
first to profess to them, that the guilt of disappointing his majesty 
and the kingdom, lay not upon us, who desired to obey the king's 
commission, but on them. And so we yielded to spend the little 
time remaining, in disputing with them, rather than go home and 
do nothing;, and leave them to tell the court that we durst not dis- 


pute with them when they so provoked us, nor were able to prove 
our accusations of the liturgy."* 

The dispute thus undertaken was managed by three on each 
side, chosen for the purpose. Baxter took the lead on one side, 
and Dr. Gunning on the other. Bishop Burnet's account of the 
debate is, that these two disputants " spent several days in logical 
arguing, to the diversion of the town, who looked upon them as a 
couple of fencers engaged in a dispute that could not be brought to 
any end. The Bishops insisted on the laws being still in force, to 
which they would admit of no exception unless it was proved that 
the matter cf them was sinful. They charged the Presbyterians 
with making a schism for that which they could not prove to be sin- 
ful. They said there was no reason to gratify such men; that one 
demand granted would draw on many more ; that all authority in 
church and state was struck at by the position they had insisted on, 
namely, That it was not lawful to impose things indifferent; since 
these seemed to be the only matters in which authority could in- 

Thus ended the Savoy conference, the commission by which it 
was held expiring July 25, 1661. At the end it was agreed to 
report to the king as the result of their conference, "That we were 
all agreed on the ends for the churches welfare, unity, and peace, 
and his majesty'.- happiness and contentment, but after all our de- 
bates were disagreed of the means." 

" When this work was over," says Baxter, "the rest of our 
brethren met again, and resolved to draw up an account of our en- 
deavors and present it to his majesty, with our petition for his 
promised help yet for those alterations and abatements which we 
could not procure of the bishops. They also resolved that first we 
should acquaint the Lord Chancellor with it, and consult with him 
about it. Which we did; and as soon as we came to him, ac- 
cording to my expectation, I found him most offended at me, and 
that I had taken off the distaste and blame from all the rest. At 
our first entrance he merrily told us that if I were but as fat as Dr. 
Manton, we should all do well. I told him, if his lordship could 

■<\ Pari II- 


tench me the art of growing fat, he shoud find me not unwilling to 
learn by any good means. Me grew more serious, and said that I 
was severe and strict like a melancholy man, and made those things 
sin which others did not : and I perceived he had been possessed 
with displeasure towards me upon that account, that I charged the 
church and liturgy with sin, and had not supposed that the worst 
was but inexpediency. I told him that I had spoken nothing but 
what I thought and had given my reasons for. After other such 
discourse, we craved his favor to procure the king's declaration 
yet to be passed into an act, and his advice what we had further to 
do. He consented that we should draw up an address to his ma- 
jesty, rendering him an account of all ; but desired that we would 
first show it him, which we promised. 

" When we had showed our paper to the lord chancellor, (which 
the brethren had desired me to draw up, and bad consented to 
without any alteration,) he was not pleased with some passages in 
it, which he thought too pungent or pressing ; but would not bid us 
put them out. So we went with it to the lord chamberlain, (the 
earl of Manchester,) and I read it to him also ; and he was earnest 
with us to blot out some passages as too vehement, and such as 
would not well be borne. I was very loth to leave them out, but 
Sir Gilbert Gerard, an ancient godly man, being with him, and of 
the same mind, I yielded." "But when we came to present it to 
his majesty, the earl of Manchester secretly told the rest, that if 
Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Bates, and Dr. Manton would deliver it, it 
would be the more acceptable, intimating that I was grown unac- 
ceptable at court. But they would not go without me, and he 
professed he desired not my exclusion. When they told me of it, I 
took my leave of him and was going away ; but he and they came 
after me to the stairs and importuned me to return, and I went with 
them to take my farewell of this service." " So we desired Dr. 
Manton to deliver our petition, and with it the fair copies of all our 
papers to the bishops, which were required of us for the king. And 
when bishop Reynolds had spoken a few words, Dr. Manton de- 
livered them to the king, who received them and the petition, but 
did not bid us read it at all. At last, in his speeches, something 
fell out which Dr. ?vlanton told him that the petition gave a full 


account of, if his majesty pleased to give him leave to read it ; 
whereupon he had leave to read it out." " And this was the end 
of these affairs.''* 

While this vexatious and fruitless negotiation was going on, Bax- 
ter had frequent interviews with the lord chancellor, on business of 
another nature, of which some account may be given in his own 

" In the time of Cromwell's government, "Mr. John Elliot, with 
some assistant in New-England, having learned the natives' lan- 
guage, and converted many souls among them, it was found that 
the great hindrance of the progress of that work, was the poverty 
and barbarousness of the people which made many to live dis- 
persed like wild beasts in wildernesses, so that having neither 
towns, nor food, nor entertainment fit for English bodies, few of 
them could be got together to be spoken to, nor could the English 
go far or stay long among them. Wherefore to build them houses, 
and draw them together, and maintain the preachers that went 
among them, and pay school masters to teach their children, 
and keep their children at school, etc., Cromwell caused a 
collection to be made in England in every parish ; and peo- 
ple did contribute very largely. And with the money, beside 
some left in stock, was bought seven or eight hundred pounds per 
annum of lands; and a corporation was chosen to dispose of the 
rents for the furthering of the works among the Indians. This land 
was almost all bought for the worth of it of one Colonel Bedding • 
field, a papist, an officer in the king's army. When the king 
came in, Beddingfield seizeth on the lands again and keepeth 
them, and refuseth either to surrender them or to repay the mon- 
ey ; because all that was done in Cromwell's time being now 
judged void, as done without law, that corporation was now null, 
and so could have no right to money or lands ; and he pretended 
that he sold it under the worth, in expectation of the recovery of it 
upon the king's return. The president of the corporation was the 
Lord Steele, a judge, a worthy man ; the treasurer was Mr. Hen- 
ry Ashurst, and the members were such sober godly men as were 
best affected to New-England's work. Mr. Ashurst being the most 

' Narrative, Tart II. pp. 364, 365. 


exemplary person for eminent sobriety, self-denial, piety, and char- 
ity, that London could boast of, as far as public observation, and 
fame, and his most intimate friends' reports could testify, did make 
this, and all other public good which he could do, his business. 
He called the old corporation together and desired me to meet 
them, where we all agreed that such as had incurred the king's 
displeasure by being members of any courts of justice in Cromwell's 
days, should quietly recede, and we should try if we could get the 
corporation restored, and the rest continued and more fit men add- 
ed, that the land might be recovered. And because, in our other 
business, I had ready access to the lord chancellor, they desired 
me to solicit him about it. So Mr. Ashurst and I did follow the 
business. The lord chancellor at the very first was ready to fur- 
ther us, approving of the work, as that which could not be for any 
faction or evil end, but honorable to the king and land. He told 
me that Beddingfield could have no right to that which he had 
sold, and that the right was in the king who would readily grant it 
to the good use intended ; and that we should have his best as- 
asssistance to recover it. And indeed I found him real to us in 
this business from first to last; yet did Beddingfield by the friend- 
ship of the attorney general and some others, so delay the business, 
as bringing it to a suit in chancery, he kept Mr. Ashurst in a 
twelve-month's trouble before he could recover the lands, but when 
it came to judgment, the lord chancellor spake very much against 
him, and granted a decree for the new corporation. For I had pro- 
cured of him before, tbe king's grant of a new corporation ; and 
Mr. Ashurst and myself had the naming of the members. We de- 
sired Mr. Robert Boyle, a worthy person of learning and a public 
spirit, and brother to the earl of Cork, to be president ; and I got 
Mr. Ashurst to be treasurer again ; and some of the old members, 
and many other godly able citizens made up the rest. Only we 
left the nomination of some lords to his majesty, as not presuming 
to nominate such ; and the lord chancellor, lord chamberlain, and 
six or seven more, were added. But it was Mr. Boyle and Mr. 
Ashurst, with the citizens, that did the work ; but especially the 
care and trouble of all was on Mr. Ashurst. And thus that busi- 
ness was happily restored. 


LIKE OF K!i;HALil> BAVi'Eft. 

" As a fruit of this his majesty's favor, Mr. Elliot sent the king, 
first the New Testament, and then the whole Bible, translated and 
printed in the Indians' language; — such a work and fruit of a plan- 
tation as was never before presented to a king. And he sent word 
that next he would print my ' Call to the unconverted,' and then 
'The Practice of Piety.' But Mr. Boyle sent him word that it 
would be better taken here, if ' The Practice of Piety' were print- 
ed before any thing of mine. At the present, the revenue of the 
land goeth most to the maintaining of the press. Upon the occa- 
sion of this work, I had letters of thanks from the Court and Gov- 
ernor in New-England, and from Mr. Norton and Mr. Elliot."* 

These letters are given at length in Baxter's narrative; but they 
are more important in connection with the history of New-England 
than as a part of his personal history. The first is dated " Boston 
in New-England, this 7th of August 1661," and is signed " Jo. En- 
decott, Governor; with the consent and by order of the General 
Court." It was written on the presumption that " one of his ma- 
jesty's chaplains in ordinary," who had been instrumental in reor- 
ganizing the corporation for the benefit of the Indians, must have 
some influence at court; and while it beautifully expresses the 
thanks of the Massachusetts colony for what lie had already done, 
it solicits his continual good offices in their behalf. " What advan- 
tage," say they, " God hath put into your hands, and reserved your 
weak body unto, by access unto persons of honor and trust, or oth- 
erwise, we hope it will be no grief of heart unto you, if you shall 
improve part thereof this way. All that we desire, is liberty to 
serve God according to the Scriptures. Liberty unto error and 
sin, or to set up another rule besides the Scriptures, we neither 
wish to be allowed to ourselves nor would we allow it to others. 
If in any thing we should mistake the meaning of the Scriptures," 
" we are willing and desirous to live and learn by any orderly 
means that God hath appointed for our learning and instruction ; 
and glad shall we be of the opportunity to learn in peace. The 
liberty aforesaid we have, by the favor of God, now for many 
years enjoyed, and the same advantaged and enconraged by the 

*Narrative, Part II. Pj>. 29,291. 


constitution of our civil government, according to concessions and 
privileges granted and established to us by the gracious letters- 
patent of king Charles the first, the continuance of which privileges 
is our earnest and just desire, for nothing that is unjust, or not hon- 
est both in the sight of the Lord and also of men, do we seek, or 
would allow ourselves in. We hope we shall continue as faithful 
subjects to his majesty (according to our duty,) under an elective 
government, as under an imposed." Our hope is in God who hath 
hitherto helped us, and who is able to keep open for us a great and 
effectual door of liberty to serve him, and opportunity to advance 
his name in this wilderness, although there be many adversaries." 

The second of these letters, is from the pen of the celebrated 
John Norton of the first church in Boston, and bears date " Sept. 
23, 1661." It was written " in behalf of one Mr. William Leet, 
Governor of New Haven jurisdiction, whose case," says the writer, 
" is this. He being conscious of indiscretion and some neglect, 
(not to say how it came about) in relation to the expediting the 
execution of the warrant, according to his duty, sent from his ma- 
jesty for the apprehending of the two Colonels,* is not without fear 
of some displeasure that may follow thereupon; and indeed hath 
almost ever since been a man depressed in his spirit for the neglect 
wherewith he chargeth himself therein. His endeavors also since 
have been accordingly, and that in full degree ; as, besides his own 
testimony, his neighbors attest they see not what he could have 
done more. Sir, if any report prejudicial to this gentleman in this 
respect, come unto your ear by your prudent enquiry upon this 
intimation, or otherwise; so far as the signification of the premises 
unto his majesty or other eminent person, may plead for him or 
avert trouble towards him, I assure myself you may report it as a 
real truth ; and that, according to your wisdom, you would be help- 
ful to him so far therein, is both his and my desire. The gentle- 
man hath pursued both others and myself with letters to this effect, 
and yet not satisfied therewith, came to Boston to disburthen his 

* It is hardly necessary to say that these " two colonels," are the regicide 
Judges, Whalleyaad GofTe. 
Vol. I. 25 


heart to me ;" " upon issue of which conference no hetler expedi- 
ent, under God, presented itself to us than this." 

The letter from Elliot, abovementioned, is a valuable and beau- 
tiful memorial of the venerated apostle of the Indians; but it was 
written at a late date, and the insertion of any extracts here would 
too much interrupt our narrative. 

The Savoy conference was closed, July 25th, 1GG1. The last 
interview of Baxter and his brethren with the king, when they pre- 
sented their last and hopeless petition, must have been soon after. 
In bringing down to this lime the story of these public transactions, 
many incidents of a more private and personal nature have heen 
omitted. Some of these will now be recited in his own language. 

" When I had refused a bishopric, I did it on such reasons as 
offended not the lord chancellor ; and, therefore, instead of it, I 
presumed to crave his favor to restore 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, ignorant, silly reader, who little under- 
stood what Christianity, 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. My people were so dear to me, and 1 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. 

" The ruler of the vicar and all the business there, was Sir 
Ralph Clare ; an old man, and an old courtier, who carried it to- 
wards me, all the time I was there, with great civility and respect, 
and sent me a purse of money when I went away, but I refused it. 
But his zeal against all who scrupled ceremonies, or who would 
not preach for prelacy and conformity, was so much greater than 
his respects to me, that he was the principal cause of my removal, 
though he has not owned it to this day. I suppose he thought that 
when I was far enough off, he could so far rule the town, as to re- 


duce the people to his way. But he little knew, nor others of that 
temper, how firm conscientious men are to the matters of their 
everlasting interest, and how little men's authority can do against 
the authority of God, with those that are unfeignedlv subject to 
him. Openly, he seemed to be for my return at first, that he 
might not offend the people ; and the lord chancellor seemed very 
forward in it, and all the difficulty was, how to provide some other 
place for the old vicar, Mr. Dance, that he might be no loser by 
the change. And it was so contrived, that all must seem forward 
in it except the vicar. The king himself must be engaged in it ; 
the lord chancellor earnestly presseth it; Sir Ralph Clare is willing 
and very desirous of it ; and the vicar is willing, if he may but be 
recompensed with as good a place. Either all desire it, or none 
desire it. But the hindrance was, that among all the livings and 
prebendaries of England, there was none fit for the poor vicar. A 
prebend he must not have, because he was insufficient, and yet he 
is still thought sufficient to be the pastor of near 4,000 souls ! The 
lord chancellor, to make the business certain, will engage himself 
for a valuable stipend to the vicar, and his own steward must be 
commanded to pay it him. What could be desired more? But 
the poor vicar was to answer him that this was no security to him ; 
his lordship might withhold that stipend at his pleasure, and then 
where was his maintenance ? Give him but a legal title to any 
thing of equal value, and he would resign. And the patron was 
my sure and intimate friend. But no such thing was to be had, 
and so Mr* Dance must keep his place. 

" Though I requested not any preferment of them but this, yet 
even for this I resolved I would never be importunate. I only 
nominated it as the favor which I desired, when their oilers in gen- 
eral invited me to ask more ; and then [ told them, that if it were 
in any way inconvenient to them, I would not request it of them. 
And at the very first I desired, that if they thought it best for the 
vicar to keep his place, I was willing to take the lecture, which, by 
his bond, was secured to me, and was still my right ; or if that were 
denied me, I would be his curate while the king's declaration stood 
in force. But none of these could be accepted with men that were 
so exceeding willing. In the end, it appeared thai two knights of 


the county, Sir Ralph Clare and Sir John Packington, who were 
very great with Dr. Morley, newly-made bishop of Worcester, 
had made him believe that my interest was so great, and I could do 
so much with ministers and people in that county, that unless I 
would bind myself to promote their cause and party, 1 was not fit 
to be there. And this bishop, being greatest of any man with the 
lord chancellor, must obstruct my return to my ancient flock. At 
last, Sir Ralph Clare did freely tell me, that if I would conform to 
the orders and ceremonies of the church, and preach conformity to 
the people, and labor to set them right, (here was no man in Eng- 
land so fit to be there, for no man could more effectually do it ; but 
if I would not, there was no man so unfit for the place, for no man 
could more hinder it. 

"I desired it as the greatest favor of them, that if they intended 
not my being there they would plainly tell me so, that I might 
trouble them and myself no more about it ; but that was a favor 
too great to be expected. I had continual encouragement by 
promises till I was almost tired in waiting on them. At last, meet- 
ing Sir Ralph Clare in the bishop's chamber, I desired hirn, before 
the bishop, to tell me to my face, if he had any thing against 
me which might cause all this ado. He told me that I would 
give the sacrament to none kneeling, and that of eighteen hundred 
communicants, there were not past six hundred that were for me, 
and the rest were rather for the vicar. I answered, 1 was very 
glad that these words fell out to be spoken in the bishop's hearing. 
To the first accusation, I told him, that he himself knew I invited 
him to the sacrament, and offered it him kneeling, and under my 
hand in writing ; and openly in his hearing in the pulpit, I had 
promised and told both him and all the rest, I never had nor ever 
would put any man from the sacrament on the account of kneel- 
ing, but leave every one to the posture which they should choose ; 
and that the reason why I never gave it to any kneeling, was be- 
cause all that came would sit or stand, and those that were for 
kneeling only followed him, who would not come unless I would 
administer it to him and his party on a day by themselves, when 
the rest were not present ; and I had no mind to be the author of 
such a schism, and make, as it were, two churches of one. But 



especially the consciousness of notorious scandal-, which they knew 
they must be accountable for, did make many kneelers stay away ; 
and all this he could not deny. 

"As to the second charge, I stated, there was a witness ready to 
say as he did ; for the truth is, among good and bad, I knew but 
one man in the town against me, which was a stranger newly come, 
one Ganderton, an attorney, steward to the Lord of Abergavenny, 
a Papist, who was lord of the manor, and this one man was the 
prosecutor, and witnessed how many were against my return. I 
craved of the bishop that I might send by the next post to know 
their minds, and if that were so I would take it for a favor to be 
kept from thence. When the people heard this at Kidderminster, 
in a day's time they gathered the hands of sixteen hundred of the 
eighteen hundred communicants, and the rest were such as were 
from home. And within four or five days, I happened to find Sir 
Ralph Clare with the bishop again, and showed him the hands of 
sixteen hundred communicants, with an offer of more if they might 
have time, all very earnest for my return. Sir Ralph was silenced 
as to that point ; but he and the bishop appeared so much the more 
against my return. 

" The letter which the lord chancellor upon his own offer wrote 
for me to Sir Ralph Clare, he gave at my request unsealed ; and 
so I took a copy of it before I sent it away, as thinking the chief 
use would be to keep it and compare it with their dealings. It was 
as followeth : 

" ' Sir, 

'"lama little out of countenance, that after the discovery of 
such a desire in his majesty, that Mr. Baxter should be settled at 
Kidderminster, as he was heretofore, and my promise to you by the 
king's direction, that Mr. Dance should very punctually receive a 
recompense by way of a rent upon his or your bills charged here 
upon my steward, Mr. Baxter hath yet no fruit of this his majesty's 
good intention towards him ; so that he hath too much reason to 
believe that he is not so frankly dealt with in this particular as he 
deserves to be. I do again tell you, that it will be very acceptable 
to the king if you can persuade Mr. Dance to surrender that charge 
to Mr. Baxter; and in the mean time, and till he is preferred to 


as profitable an employment, whatever agreement yon shall make 
with him for an annual rent, it shall be paid quarterly upon a bill 
from you charged upon my steward, Mr. Clulterbueke ; and for 
the exact performance of this, you may securely pawn your full 
credit. I do most earnestly entreat you, that you will with all 
speed inform me what we may depend upon in this particular, that 
we may not keep Mr. Baxter in suspense, who hath deserved very 
well from his majesty, and of whom his majesty hath a very good 
opinion ; and I hope you will not be the less desirous to comply 
with him for the particular recommendation of, 

" • Sir, Your very affectionate servant, 

" < Edw. Hyde." 

"Can any thing be more serious, cordial, and obliging, than all 
this? For a lord chancellor that hath the business of the kingdom 
upon his hand, and lords attending him, to take up his time so much 
and often about so low a person and so small a thing ! And why 
should not a man be content without a vicarage or a curateship, 
when it is not in the power of the king and the lord chancellor to 
procure it for him, though they so vehemently desire it? But, O ! 
thought I, how much better a life do poor men live, who speak as 
they think, and do as they profess, nnd are never put upon such 
shifts as these for their present conveniences ! Wonderful ! thought 
I, that men who do so much overvalue worldly honor and esteem, 
can possibly so much forget futurity, and think only of the present 
day, as if they regarded not how their actions be judged of by pos- 
terity. Notwithstanding all his extraordinary favor, since the day 
the king came in, I never received, as his chaplain, or as a preach- 
er, or on any account, the value of one farthing of any public 
maintenance. So that I, anil many a hundred more, had not had 
a piece of bread but for the voluntary contribution, whilst we 
preached, of another sort of people : yea, while I had all this ex- 
cess of favor, I would have taken it indeed for an excess, as being 
far beyond my expectations, if they would but have given me lib- 
erty to preach the Gospel, without any maintenance, and leave me 
to beg my bread." 

" A little after this, Sir Ralph Clare and others caused the houses 
of the people of the town of Kidderminster to be searched for 


arms, and if any had a sword it was taken from them. And meet- 
ing him after with the bishop, I desired him to tell us why his 
noighbors were so used, as if he would have made the world be- 
lieve they were seditious, or rebels, or dangerous persons, that 
should be used as enemies to the king. He answered me, that it 
was because they would not bring out their arms when they were 
commanded, but said they had none ; whereas they had arms on 
every occasion to appear with on the behalf of Cromwell. This 
great disingenuity of so ancient a gentleman towards his neighbors, 
whom he pretended kindness to, made me break forth into some 
more than ordinary freedom of reproof; so that I answered him, 
we had thought our condition hard, that by strangers, who knew us 
not, we should be ordinarily traduced and misrepresented : but 
this was most sad and marvellous, that a gentleman so civil, should, 
before the bishop, speak such words against a corporation, which 
he knew I was able to confute, and were so contrary to truth. I 
asked him whether he did not know that I publicly and privately 
spake against the usurpers, and declared them to be rebels; and 
whether he took not the people to be of my mind ; and whether I 
and they had not hazarded our liberty by refusing the engagement 
against the king and House of Lords, when he and others of his 
mind had taken it. He confessed that I had been against Crom- 
well ; but they had always, on every occasion, appeared in arms 
for him. I told him that he struck me with admiration, that it 
should be possible for him to live in the town, and yet believe what 
he said to be true, or yet to speak it in our hearing if he knew it to 
be untrue. And I professed that having lived there sixteen years 
since the wars, I never knew that they once appeared in arms for 
Cromwell, or any usurpers; and challenged him, upon his word, 
to name one time. I could not get him to name any time, till' I had 
urged him to the utmost ; and then he instanced in the time when 
the Scots army fled from Worcester. I challenged him to name 
one man of them that was at Worcester fight, or bare arms there, 
or at any time for the usurpers : and when he could name none, I 
told him that* all that was done to my knowledge in sixteen years, 
of that kind was but this, that when the Scots fled from Worcester, 
as all the country sought in covetousness to catch some of them for 


the sake of their horses, so two idle rogues of Kidderminster, that 
never communicated with me any more than he did, had drawn two 
or three neighbors with them in the night, as the Scots (led, to 
catch their horses. And I ni vet beard of three that they c 
and I appi lid his conscience, whether he — 

that being urged, could nai but this did ingenuously 

accuse the corporation, magistrates, and people, to have appeared 
on all occasions in arms for Cromwell? And when they had no 
more to say, I told them by this we saw what measures to expect 
from strangers of his mind, when he that is our neighbor, and no- 
ted for eminent civility, never sticketh to speak such things even of 
a people among whom he hath still lived. 

" At the same time, about twenty or two-arid-twenty furious 
fanatics, called lifth-inonarchy men, one Venner, a wine-cooper, and 
his church that he preached unto, being transported with enthusias- 
tic pride, did rise up in arms, and fought in the streets like mad- 
men, against all that stood in their way, till there were some killed 
and the rest taken, judged, and executed. 1 wrote a letter at this 
time to my mother-in-law, containing nothing but our usual matter, 
ev( n encoui . • m< nts to her in her age and weakness, fetched from 
the nearness of her rest, together with the report of this news, and 
some sharp and vehement words against the rebels. By means of 
Sir John Packington, or his soldiers, the post was searched, and 
my letter interceph d, opened and revised, and by Sir John sent up 
to London to the bishop, and the lord chancellor. It was a won- 
der, that having read it, they were not ashamed to send it up ; but 
joyful would they have been, could they have found a word in it 
which could possibly have been distorted to an evil sense, that mal- 
ice might have had its prey. I went to the lord chancellor and 
complained ol this usage, and that I had not the common liberty of 
a subject to converse by letters with my own family. He disown- 
ed it, and blamed men's rashness, but excused it from the distem- 
pers of (he times ; yet he and the bishops confessed they had seen 
the letter, and that there was nothing in it but what was good and 
pious. Two days after, came the lord Windsor, lord 'lieutenant of 
he county, and governor of Jamaica, with Sir Charles Littleton, 
the king's cup-bearer, to bring me my letter again to my lodgings, 


and lord Windsor told me the lord chancellor appointed him to do 
it. And after some expression of my sense of the abuse, I thanked 
him for his great civility and favor. But I saw how far that sort of 
men were to be trusted."* 

While these things were done, Baxter preached in various 
churches of the metropolis as he had opportunity. About one 
year after his leaving Kidderminster, he accepted a lectureship at 
St. Dunstan's church in Fleet-street, where Dr. Bates was pastor, 
and preached there statedly in the afternoon of every Lord's day, 
receiving some small compensation from the people. " Seeing 
which way things were going, he, for his better security, applied to 
Bishop Sheldon, for his license to preach in his diocese. Some 
were offended at his taking this step ; but he went to him as the 
king's officer. The bishop received him with abundance of re- 
spect, but offered him the book to subscribe in. He pleaded the 
king's declaration as exempting from a necessity of subscribing. 
The bishop bid him therefore write what he would. Whereupon, 
he subscribed a promise in Latin, not to preach against the doctrine 
of the church or the ceremonies in his diocese as long as he used 
his license. Upon which he freely gave him his license, and would 
let his secretary take no money of him. And yet he could scarce 
preach a sermon but he was informed from some quarter or other, 
that he preached sedition, and reflected on the government."! He 
says himself, " I scarce think that I ever preached a sermon with- 
out a spy to give them his report of it." Sometimes he preached 
explicitly " against faction, schism, sedition and rebellion, and those 
sermons also," he says, " were reported to be factious and sedi- 
tious." Several discourses against which such charges were pre- 
ferred, he felt himself constrained to publish in self-defence. The 
book thus produced is entitled " The Vain Religion of the formal 

Speaking of his ministry at St. Dunstan's, he says, " The con- 
gregation being crowded, was that which provoked envy to accuse 
me : and one day the crowd did drive me from my place. It fell 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 300, 301. t Calamy's Abridgement, pp. 576, 577. 
Vol. 1. 26 


out that at Dunstan's church, in the midst of sermon, a little lime and 
dust, and perhaps a piece of a brick or two, fell down in the steeple 
or belfrey near the boys ; which put the whole congregation into 
sudden melancholy, so that they thought the steeple and church 
were falling ; which put them all into so confused a haste to get 
away, that indeed the noise of their feet in the galleries sounded 
like the falling of the stones. The people crowded out of doors : 
the women left some of them a scarf, and some a shoe behind them, 
and some in the galleries cast themselves down upon those below, 
because they could not get down the stairs. I sat still down in the 
pulpit, seeing and pitying their vain distemper, and as soon as I 
could he heard, I entreated their silence, and went on. The peo- 
ple were no sooner quieted and got in again, and the auditory com- 
posed, but some that stood upon a wainscot-bench, near the com- 
munion table, brake the bench with their weight, so that the noise 
renewed the fear again, and they were worse disordered than be- 
fore. One old woman was heard at the church door asking for- 
giveness of God for not taking the first warning, and promising, if 
God would deliver her this once, she would take heed of coming 
hither again. When they were again quieted, I went on ; but the 
church having before an ill name as very old, rotten, and danger- 
ous, this put the parish upon a resolution to pull down all the roof, 
and build it better, which they have done with so great reparation 
of the walls and steeple, that it is now like a new church and much 
more commodious for the hearers."* 

Dr. Bates, in his sermon on occasion of Baxter's funeral, de- 
scribes this incident, as " an instance of his firm faith in the divine 
providence, and his fortitude." " Mr. Baxter, without visible dis- 
turbance, sat down in the pulpit. After the hurry was over, he re- 
sumed his discourse, and said, to compose their minds, ' We are in 
the service of God to prepare ourselves, that we may be fearless at 
the great noise of the dissolving world, when the heavens shall pass 
away, and the elements melt in fervent heat ; the earth also and 
the works therein shall be burned up.' "f 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 301, 302. i Bates' Works, Vol. IV. p. 329 


" Upon this reparation of Dunstan's church, 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 oc- 
casioned abundance to be at common prayer, who before avoided 
it : and yet my accusations still continued. On the week days, 
Mr. Ashurst, with about twenty more citizens, desired me to preach 
a lecture in Milk Street ; for which they allowed me forty pounds 
per annum, which I continued near a year, till we were all silenced. 
At the same time I preached once every Lord's day at Blackfriars, 
where Mr. Gibbons, a judicious man, was minister. In Milk Street, 
I took money, because it came not from the parishioners, but from 
strangers, and so was no wrong to the minister, Mr. Vincent, a very 
holy, blameless man. But at Blackfriars I never 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 consumption, a little after he was silenced and put out. At 
these two churches I ended the course of my public ministry, un- 
less God cause an undeserved resurrection."* 

" Shortly after our disputation at the Savoy, 1 went to Rick- 
in erswortb, in Hertfordshire, and preached there but once, from 
Matt. xxii. 12, ' And he was speechless.' I spake not a word 
that was any nearer kin to sedition, or that had any greater tenden- 
cy to provoke them, than by showing that wicked men, and the 
refusers of grace, however they may have now many things to 
say to excuse their sin, will, at last, be speechless, and dare not 
stand to their wickedness before God. Yet did the bishop of 
Worcester tell me, when he silenced me, that the bishop of Lon- 
don had showed him letters from one of the hearers, assuring him, 
that I preached seditiously. So little security was any man's inno- 
cency, who displeased the bishops, to his reputation with that party, 
if he had but one auditor that de&ired to get favor by accusing 

" Soon 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 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 301, 302. 


when I had preached twice or thrice, he denied me liberty to preach 
any more. I offered to take my lecture, which he was bound to 
allow me, under a bond of £500 ; but he refused it. I next of- 
fered to be his curate, and he refused it. I next offered to preach 
for nothing, and he refused it : and, lastly, I desired leave but once 
to administer the sacrament 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 stranguary, I went to visit him, twenty miles further : and 
while I was there, Mr. Baldwin came to me, and told me that he 
also was forbidden to preach. We returned both to Kiddermin- 
ster, and having a lecture at Sheffnal in the way, I preached there, 
and staid not to hear the evening sermon, because 1 would make 
haste to the bishop. It fell out that my turn at another lecture 
was on the same day with that at Sheffnal, viz., at Cleobury, in 
Shropshire ; and many were met in expectation to hear me. But 
a company of soldiers were there, as the country thought, to have 
apprehended me ; who shut the doors against the minister that 
would have preached in my stead, bringing a command to the 
churchwarden to hinder any one that had not a license from the 
bishop ; so that the poor people who had come from far, were fain 
to go home with grieved hearts. 

"The next day it was confidently reported, that a certain knight 
offered the bishop his troop to apprehend me, if I offered to preach : 
and the people dissuaded me from going to the bishop, supposing 
my liberty in danger. I went that morning, with Mr. Baldwin, 
and in the hearir.g of him and Dr. Warmeslry, then dean of Wor- 
cester, I reminded the bishop of his promise to grant me his li- 
cense, &ic, but he refused me liberty to preach in his diocese ; 
though I offered to preach only on the Creed, the Lord's prayer, 
and the Ten Commandments, catechistical principles, and only to 
such as had no preaching." 

" Bishop Morley told me when he silenced me, that he would 
take care that my people should be no losers, but should be taught 
as well as they were by me. When I was gone, he got awhile a 


few scandalous men, with some that were more civil, to keep up 
the lecture, till the paucity of their auditors gave them a pretense 
to put it down. He came himself one day and preached to them 
a long invective against them and me as Presbyterians, and I know 
not what ; so that the people wondered that ever a man would 
venture to come up into a pulpit and speak so confidently to a peo- 
ple that he knew not, the things which they commonly knew to be 
untrue. And this sermon was so far from winning any of them to 
the estimation of their new bishop, or curing that which he called 
the admiration of my person, (which was his great endeavor,) that 
they were much confirmed in their former judgments. But still 
the bishop looked at Kidderminster as a factious, schismatical, 
Presbyterian people, that must be cured of their overvaluing of me, 
and then they would be cured of all the rest. Whereas if he had 
lived with them the twentieth part so long as I had done, he would 
have known that they were neither Presbyterians, nor factious, nor 
schismatical, nor seditious; but a people that quietly followed their 
hard labor, and learned the holy Scriptures, and lived a holy, 
blameless life, in humility and peace with all men, and never had 
any sect or separated party among them, but abhorred all faction 
and sidings in religion, and lived in love and Christian unity. 

" Yet when the bishop was gone, the dean came and preached 
about three hours to cure them of the admiration of my person ; 
and a month after came again and preached over the same, per- 
suading the people that they were Presbyterians, and schismatical, 
and were led to it by their overvaluing of me. The people ad- 
mired at the temerity of these men, and really thought that they 
were scarce well in their wits, who would go on to speak things so 
far from truth, of men whom they never knew, and that to their own 
faces." " This dealing, instead of winning them to the preacher, 
drove them from the lecture, and then, as I said, they accused the 
people of deserting it, and put it down. 

" For this ordinary preacher, they set up one, of the best parts 
they could get, far from what his patrons spake him to be, who was 
quickly weary and went away. And next they set up a poor dry 
man, that had been a schoolmaster near us, and after a little time 
he died. And since they have taken another course, and set up a 


young man, the best they can get, who taketh the contrary way to 
the first, and over applaudeth me in the pulpit, and speaketh well 
of them, and useth them kindly. And they are glad of one that 
hath some charity. And thus the bishop hath used that flock, who 
say that till then they never knew so well what a bishop was, nor 
were before so guilty of that dislike of Episcopacy of which they 
were so frequently and vehemently accused. I hear not of one 
person among them, who is won to the love of prelacy or formality 
since my removal. 

" Having parted with my dear flock, I need not say with mutual 
sense and tears, I left Mr. Baldwin to live privately among them and 
oversee them in my stead, and visit them from house to honse ; ad- 
vising them, notwithstanding all the injuries they had received, and 
all the failings of the ministers that preached to them, and the defects 
oi the present way of worship, that they should keep to the public as- 
semblies and make use of such helps as might be had in public, to- 
gether with their private helps. Only in three cases they ought to 
absent themselves. 1. When the minister was one that was utter- 
ly insufficient, as not being able to teach them the articles of the 
faith and essentials of true religion ; such as, alas ! they had known 
to their sorrow. 2. When the minister preached any heresy, or 
doctrine which was directly contrary to any article of the faith, or 
necessary part of godliness. 3. When in the application he set 
himself against the ends of his office, to make a holy life seem 
odious, to keep men from it, and to promote the interest of Satan. 
Yet not to take every bitter reflection upon themselves or others, 
occasioned by difference of opinion or interest, to be a sufficient 
cause to say that the minister preacheth against godliness, or to 
withdraw themselves."* 

Soon after this, Baxter's ministry in the church of England was 
terminated by the celebrated "act of uniformity." The greatest 
diligence had been employed by the court party to secure a par- 
liament suited to their purposes. Sham plots, and flying rumors 
of conspiracies were got up, to throw the nation into a panic and to 
prepare the public mind for the most violent proceedings against 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 374, 376. 


those whom the lord chancellor in the house of commons de- 
nounced and vilified as " seditious preachers." Of some of this 
management, we find in Baxter's Narrative the following naked 

" In November (1661) many worthy ministers and others were 
imprisoned in many counties; and among others, divers of my old 
neighbors in Worcestershire. And that you may see what crimes 
were the occasion, I will tell you the story of it. One Mr. Am- 
brose Sparry, a sober, learned minister that had never owned the 
parliament's cause or wars, and was in his judgment for moderate 
episcopacy, had a wicked neighbor whom he reproved for adultery, 
who bearing him a grudge, thought he had found a time to show 
it. He, or his confederates for him, framed a letter as from, I 
know not whom, directed to Mr. Sparry, ' That he and Captain 
Yarrington should be ready with money and arms at the time ap- 
pointed, and that they should acquaint Mr. Oasland and Mr. Bax- 
ter with it.' This letter he pretended that a man left behind him 
under a hedge, who sat down and pulled out many letters, and put 
them all up again save this and went his ways — he knew not what 
he was or whither he went. This letter he bringeth to Sir John 
Packington, the man that hotly followed such work, who sent Mr. 
Sparry, Mr. Oasland and Captain Yarrington to prison." "Who 
that Mr. Baxter was that the letter named, they could not resolve, 
there being another of the name nearer, and I being in London. 
But the men, especially Mr. Sparry, lay long in prison ; and when 
the forgery and injury was detected, he had much ado to get out. 
Mr. Henry Jackson also, our physician at Kidderminster, and many 
of my neighbors, were imprisoned, and were never told for what 
to ihis day." "Though no one accused me of any thing, nor 
spake a word to me of it (seeing 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 counties, it was said to be for ' Baxter's plot ;' — so easy 
was it, and so necessary a thing it seemed then, to cast such filth 
upon my name."* 

* Narrative, Part II p. 383. The following statement, differing in some 
particulars from that given above, is from a note in Calamy's Abridge- 


These sham plots having had the desired effect ; and the Con- 
vocation having revised the prayer book, and having made it more 

ment, Chap. viii. pp. 177, 180. " Captain Yarrington (a man of an estab- 
lished reputation) did in 1681 publish a full discovery of the first Presby- 
terian sham plot. In which discovery he declares he related nothing 1 but 
what he could prove by letters, and many living witnesses; and his ac- 
count was never publicly contradicted. He says, that many, both of the 
clergy and laity, disliking the king's declaration concerning ecclesiastical 
affairs, resolved to run things to the utmost height : And that some of the 
leading churchmen were heard to say, They would have an act so framed 
as would reach every Puritan in the kingdom : And that if they thought 
any of them would so stretch their consciences, as to be comprehended by 
it, they would insert yet other conditions and subscriptions, so as that they 
should have no benefit by it. To pave the way for it, they contrive a 
Presbyterian plot, which was laid in about thirty-six several counties. 
As to Worcestershire, he gives a like account with Mr. Baxter, only with 
the addition of many particulars. He says, several letters were drawn 

up and delivered by Sir John P to one Rich. N his neighbor, to 

convey them to one Cole of Martley, who with one Churn, brings them 

again to Sir John P from whom they came, making affidavit, That he 

found the packet left by a Scotch pedlar under a hedge. In this packet, 
when it was opened, there were Ibund several letters, discovering a con- 
spiracy to raise a rebellion. There were several letters to the captain; 
one from Mr. Baxter of Kidderminster, intimating, that he had provided a 
considerable body of men well armed, which should be ready against the 
time appointed. And another from Mr. Sparry, intimating, He had' or- 
dered him 500/. lodged in a friend's hand, &c. Upon this, the militia of 
the county was raised immediately, and the city of Worcester filled with 
them the very night after the packet was opened. The next morning the 
captain was seized by a troop of horse, and brought prisoner to Worcester; 
and so also were Mr. Sparry, Mr. Oasland. Mr. Moor, and Mr. Brian, 
ministers, together with some scores of others. They were all kept close 
prisoners for ten days; by which time the trained bands being weary, most 
of them were discharged paying their fees. But the captain, Mr. 
Sparry and the two Oaslands, were still kept close prisoners in the George 
Inn, the dignitaries of the cathedral taking care, when the trained bands 
retired, to raise sixty foot soldiers (who had double pay, and were called 
the clergy band) to secure these criminals. And besides the sentinels 
upon each of the prisoners, they had a court of guard at the town hall of 
Worcester." "At length Mrs. Yarrington discovering the sham intrigue, 
by the acknowledgment which the person employed by Sir J. P. to carry 


grievous to men of puritan principles than before, by the addition 
of more festivals to the Calendar and more lessons out of the apoc- 

the packet to Cole of Martley, made to his brother, she gives notice of it 
to her husband in his confinement, who immediately enters actions against 
those that imprisoned him. Being at last discharged, he comes up to 
London, aud prevailed with the lord of Bristol to acquaint the king, how 
his ministers imposed upon him by such sham plots, &c. Upon this the 
deputy-lieutenants were ordered to appear at the council board. They 
endeavored to clear themselves, and desired to consult those in the coun- 
try. But afterwards Sir J. W. (who was one of them) arrests the captain 
for high treason. He was again released upon the earl of Bristol's pro- 
curing the king's privy seal : And going down into the country he prose- 
cutes his prosecutors. But within six months, persons were suborned to 
swear against him. That he had spoken treasonable words against the king 
and government. For this he was tried at the assizes at Worcester be- 
fore Judge Twisden, and upon a full hearing was presently acquitted by 
the Jury. And one of the witnesses (whom he names) afterwards con- 
fessed he had 5/. given him for being an evidence. 

" This feigned plot was on foot in Oxfordshire at the same time." " There 
was something of a like sham plot in Leicestershire and Yorkshire. See 
Conformists 4th Plea for the Nonconf pp. 30, 40. The great design 
aimed at by these methods, was to possess the parliament, that it was ab- 
solutely necessary to make a severe act against such a restless sort of 
men, who not contented with the king's pardon, were always plotting to 
disturb the government. And they reached their end. These plots and 
stirs in several counties of the land, were in October and November 1661. 
And on the 20th of November the king appearing in the house after an ad- 
journment, made a speech wherein are these words. — ' I am sorry to find 
that the general temper and affections of the nation are not so well com- 
posed as I hoped they would have been, after so signal blessings of God 
Almighty upon us all, and after so great indulgence and condescensions 
from me towards all interests ; there are many wicked instruments still as 
active as ever, who labor night and day to disturb the public peace, and 
to make people jealous of each other : It may be worthy your care and 
vigilance to provide proper remedies for diseases of that kind: And if you 
find new diseases, you must find new remedies, &c.' When the house of 
commons after this speed) camu to their debates, up stands J. P. one of 
the knights for Worcestershire, and with open mouth informs them of a 
dangerous Presbyterian plot on foot ; and that many of the chief conspir- 
ators were now in prison at Worcester. The like information was given 
by some members who served for Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, Stafford- 
Vol. I. 27 


rypha; the bill for an act of uniformity was introduced into the 
house of commons, where after several debates it passed by a 'ma- 
jority of only six votes. The lords, after proposing several amend- 
ments which were the subject of a conference between the two 
houses, at last on the 8th of May 1662 concurred with the com- 
mons ; and ten days afterwards the bill received the royal assent, 
and became one of the laws of the land. 

The terms of uniformity now imposed on all the ministers were : 

1. Such as had not been ordained by a bishop must be reordained. 

2. They must all declare their " unfeigned assent and consent to 
all and every thing prescribed and contained in the book of com- 
mon prayer." 3. They must swear obedience to their bishops 
and other ecclesiastical superiors. 4. They must most solemnly 
abjure and condemn the solemn league and covenant, as an oath 
unlawful in itself and unlawfully imposed. 5. They must profess 
in its broadest extent the doctrine of passive obedience, declaring 
the unlawfulness of taking arms against the king or those commis- 
sioned by him, upon any pretence whatever. 

" When the Act of Uniformity was passed," says Baxter, 
" it gave no longer time than till Bartholomew's day, Aug- 
ust 24, 1662, and then they must be all cast out. This fatal 
day called to remembrance the French massacre, when on the 
same day thirty or forty thousand Protestants perished by Roman 
religious zeal and charity. I had no place of my own ; but I 
preached twice a week, by request, in other men's congregations, 
at Milk Street and Blackfriars. The last sermon that I preached 
in public was on May 25. The reasons why I gave over sooner than 
most others were, because lawyers did interpret a doubtful clause 
in the act, as ending the liberty of lecturers at that time; because 
I would let authority soon know that I intended to obey in all that 

shire, and other places. Nay this was the general cry; this all the 
pamphlets printed at that time ran upon. And it was in this very sessions 
that this bill of uniformity passed the house. And that the general cry 
occasioned by these sham plots much promoted it, will easily be judged by 
any one, that will but be at the pains to peruse Yarrington's Narrative, to 
which the reader is referred for satisfaction." 


was lawful ; because I would let all ministers in England under- 
stand in time, whether I intended to conform or not : for, had I 
staid to the last day, some would have conformed the sooner, from 
a supposition that I intended it. These, with other reasons, moved 
me to cease three months before Bartholomew's day, which many 
censured for awhile, but, afterwards, better saw the reasons. of it."* 
By this measure about two thousand ministers, most of them 
well qualified for their office and devoted and successful in their 
work, were at once cast out of their places and forbidden to preach 
the gospel. When the popish clergy were ejected at the reforma- 
tion, some provision was made for their relief; and so it was with 
the ministers deprived by the Long Parliament and afterwards by 
Cromwell : at both those periods, one-fifth of the income of the 
living was uniformly reserved for the benefit of the person ejected. 
But in this case, these two thousand ministers were turned out at 
once upon the world without the least means of subsistence, and 
forbidden even to keep " any public or private school," or to " in- 
struct youth in any private family." " And now," says Baxter, 
" came in the great inundation of calamities, which in many 
streams, overwhelmed thousands of godly Christians together with 
their pastors. As for example; 1. Hundreds of able ministers 
with their wives and children had neither house nor bread ; for many 
of them had not past thirty or forty pounds per annum apiece, and 
most but sixty or eighty pounds per annum, and few had any con- 
siderable estates of their own. 2. The people's poverty was so 
great, that they were not able much to relieve their ministers. 3. 
The jealousy of the state and the malice of their enemies were so 
great, that people that were willing durst not be known to give to 
their ejected pastors, lest it should be said that they maintained 
schism, or were making collections for some plot or insurrection. 
4. The hearts of the people were much grieved for the loss of their 
pastors. 5. Many places had such set over them in their steads, 
as they could not with conscience or comfort commit the conduct 
of their souls to : and they were forced to own all these, &c." " by 

Narrative, Part IT. 


receiving the sacrament in the several parishes whether they would 
or not. 6. Those that did not this were to be excommunicated, 
and then to have a writ sued out against them de excommunicato 
capiendo, to lay them in the jail, and seize on their estates." He 
lengthens out this catalogue of evils by enumerating the many di- 
visions among ministers and among Christians which the great con- 
troversy of the time occasioned, the murmuring and complaining of 
the people against the government; and he concludes with the 
remark that " by all these sins, these murmurings, and these viola- 
tions of the interest of the church and the cause of Christ, the 
land was prepared for that further inundation of calamities, by war 
and plague, and scarcity, which hath since brought it near to deso- 

Till this time Baxter had lived unmarried. But soon after the 
Bartholomew ejection, when in his forty-seventh year, he married 
a lady of good family much younger than himself, whose affection 
and assiduity did much to alleviate the distresses that were now to 
follow him. Her name was Margaret Charlton. She had been 
one of his flock during some part of his. ministry at Kidderminster, 
and under his preaching became eminently pious. The attach- 
ment between them seems to have commenced some time before, 
though when they were married she was not more than twenty- 
three years of age. Nearly a year before the event actually took 
place, he says, " About this time, it was famed at the court that I 
was married, which went as the matter of a most heinous crime, 
which I never heard charged by them on any man but me. Bish- 
op Morley divulged it with all the odium he could possibly put 
upon it;" — "and it every where rung about, partly as a wonder and 
partly as a crime." " And I think the king's marriage was scarce 
more talked of than mine."* 

He was at last married, Sept. 10, IGG2. "She consented," 
he says, " to these conditions of our marriage : First, that T should 
have nothing that before our marriage was hers ; that I who want- 
ed no earthly supplies might not seem to marry her for covetous- 
ness. Secondly, that she would so alter her affairs that I might be 

* Xnrrative, Part IT. 


entangled in no lawsuits. Thirdly, that she would expect none of 
my time which my ministerial work should require."* 

The Act of Uniformity had hardly taken effect when the idea 
was thrown out by the court that some indulgence might yet be 
granted to nonconformists, by the exertion of the royal preroga- 
tive. The king hoped in this way to secure some favor for his 
catholic friends. He knew that it would be impossible to set up 
a toleration of the Romish worship in the existing state of public 
feeling ; and there can be no reasonable doubt that he and many 
about the court, hoped that the oppression of the protestant non- 
conformists would create a necessity for a general toleration, un- 
der which he might show what favor he pleased to the catholics. 

Accordingly "on the 26th of December, 1662, the king sent 
forth a declaration expressing his purpose to grant some indulgence 
or liberty in religion not excluding the Papists, many of whom had 
deserved so well of him." But the great body of nonconformists, 
unwilling to be even indirectly instrumental in promoting such a 
design, stood aloof from the court. It was intimated to some of 
them, that it would be acceptable if they would own this declara 
tion by returning thanks for the offered indulgence. The design 
was, that they should be the means of securing this advantage for 
the Papists; and that they should stand between the. king and the 
odium of such a measure. The Presbyterians, persuaded of the 
unlawfulness of tolerating any " intolerable" error, like the errors 
of popery, could not give thanks for an indulgence on such terms. 
The Independents, however, having clearer views of the great doc- 
trine of religious liberty, were hindered by no conscientious scru- 
ples ; and were always ready to accept and to ask for a toleration 
on the broadest basis. But the king's declaration, like every meas- 
ure of his which looked towards the toleration of popery, was 
strongly resisted by the parliament. 

It was soon discovered that the laws on the subject of religious 
uniformity, with all their pains and penalties, were by no means to 
be a dead letter. Mr. Calamy happening to be present at the 

:;; Breviate ofthe life of Mr?. Margaret Baxter,, quoted by Orme 


church where he had formerly been pastor, on an occasion when 
the preacher failed, and the congregation was about to disperse, 
was persuaded to preach under the impression that there was no 
provision of the law applicable to such a case ; but was the next 
week sent to Newgate prison. After a few days imprisonment, he 
was released ; but his release displeased the Commons who were 
beginning to watch against any exercise of that dispensing power, 
which they knew the king was disposed to set up for the benefit of 
his catholic friends. The imprisonment of ministers for preaching 
either publicly or privately, was a common thing. "As we were 
forbidden to preach," says Baxter, "so we were vigilantly watched 
in private, that we might not exhort one another, or pray together; 
and, as I foretold them oft, how they would use us when they had 
silenced us, every meeting for prayer was called a dangerous 
meeting for sedition, or a conventicle at least. I will now give but 
one instance of their kindness to myself. One Mr. Beale, in Hat- 
ton Garden, having a son, his only child, and very towardly and 
hopeful, long sick of a dangerous fever, who had been brought so 
low that the physicians thought he would die, desired a few friends, 
of whom I was one, to meet at his house to pray for him. And 
because it pleased God to hear our prayers, and that very night to 
restore him ; his mother shortly after falling sick of a fever, we 
were desired to meet to pray for her recovery, the last day when 
she was near to death. Among those who were to be there, it fell 
out that Dr. Bates and I did fail them, and could not come; but it 
was known at Westminster, that we were appointed to be there, 
whereupon two justices of the peace were procured from the dis- 
tant parts of the town, one from Westminster and one from Clerk- 
enwell, to come with the parliament's serjeant at arms to appre- 
hend us. They came in the evening, when part of the company 
were gone. There were then only a few of their kindred, beside 
two or three ministers to pray. They came upon them into the 
room where the gentlewoman lay ready to die, drew the curtains, 
and took some of their names ; but, missing of their prey, returned 
disappointed. What a joy would it have been to them that re- 
proached us as Presbyterian, seditious schismatics, to have found 


but such an occasion as praying with a dying woman, to have laid 
us up in prison !"* 

In the beginning of the following year, .the talk of liberty to the 
silenced ministers began to be revived ; and it was much debated 
among them and their friends whether toleration as dissenters, or 
comprehension as a part of the establishment, were the more de- 
sirable scheme. But " instead of indulgence and comprehension," 
says Baxter, "on the last day of June, 1G63, the bill against pri- 
vate meetings for religious exercises passed the House of Com- 
mons, and shortly after was made a law. The sum of it was, \ that 
every person above sixteen years old, whc is present at any meet- 
ing under color or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other 
manner than is allowed by the liturgy or practice of the church of 
England, where there are five persons more than that household, 
shall, for the first offense, by a justice of peace be recorded, and 
sent to jail three months, till he pay five pounds; and, for the 
second offense, six months, till he pay ten pounds; and the third 
time, being convicted by a jury, shall be banished to some of the 
American plantations, excepting New-England or Virginia.' The 
calamity of the act, beside the main matter, was, 1 . That it was 
made so ambiguous, that no man that ever I met with could tell 
what was a violation of it, and what not ; not knowing what was 
allowed by the liturgy or practice in the church of England in 
families, because the liturgy meddleth not with families; and 
among the diversity of family practice, no man knoweth what to 
call the practice of the church. 2. Because so much power was 
given to the justices of the peace to record a man an offender 
without a jury, and if he did it causelessly, we were without any 
remedy, seing he was made a judge." 

" And now came in the people's trial, as well as the ministers'. 
While the danger and sufferings lay on the ministers alone, the 
people were very courageous, and exhorted them to stand it out 
and preach till they went to prison. But when it came to be their 
own case, they were as venturous till they were once surprised 
and imprisoned ; but then their judgments were much altered, and 

* Narrative, Part II. pp. 431, 432. 


they that censured ministers before as cowardly, because they 
preached not publicly, whatever followed, did now think that it 
was better to preach often in secret to a few, than but once or 
twice in public to many ; and that secrecy was no sin, when it 
tended to the furtherance of the work of the Gospel, and to 
the church's good. Especially the rich were as cautious as the 
ministers. But yet their meetings were so ordinary, and so well 
known, that it greatly tended to the jailers' commodity. 

" It was a great strait that the people were in, especially who 
dwelt near any busy officer, or malicious enemy. Many durst not 
pray in their families, if above four persons came in to dine with 
them." " Some thought they might venture if they withdrew into 
another room, and left the strangers by themselves : but others said, 
it is all one if they be in the same house, though out of hearing, 
when it cometh to the judgment of the justices. In London, where 
the houses are contiguous, some thought if they were in several 
houses and -heard one another through the wall or a window, it 
would avoid the law: but others said, it is all in vain whilst the 
justice is judge whether it was a meeting or no. Great lawyers 
said, If you come on a visit or business, though you be present at 
prayer or sermon, it is no breach of the law, because you met not 
071 pretence of a religious exercise: but those that tried them said, 
such words are but wind, when the justices come to judge you. 

" And here the Quakers did greatly relieve the sober people for 
a time ; for they were so resolute, and so gloried in their constan- 
cy and sufferings, that they assembled openly at the Bull and 
Mouth, near Aldersgate, and were dragged away daily to the com- 
mon jail ; and yet desisted not, but the rest came the next day, 
nevertheless : so that the jail at Newgate was filled with them. 
Abundance of them died in prison, and yet they continued their 
assemblies still. They would sometimes meet only to sit still in 
silence, when, as they said, the Spirit did not speak : and it was a 
great question, whether this silence was a religious exercise not 
allowed by the liturgy, &c."* 

Narrative, Part II. pp. 435, 436. 


Notwithstanding all this persecution, many of the non conform- 
ists, including such men as Baxter and Bates and Calamy, insisted 
on the propriety of occasional communion with the church of Eng- 
land by attending on the public worship al the parish churches, and 
by receiving the Lord's supper at the hands of the more serious 
and exemplary among the established clergy. This occasioned an 
unhappy division among those who at such a time needed to act 
in concert ; and it limited the influence of these men with their suf- 
fering exasperated brethren. 

The opportunity of doing good by public preaching being at an 
end, Baxter looked about for some retirement where he might 
pursue his studies, and especially his writings, with better health 
and more tranquility than he could hope to enjoy in the city. He 
removed to Acton, six miles from London, July 14. 1663 ; — 
" where," he says, " I followed my studies privately, in quiet- 
ness, and went every Lord's-day to the public assembly, when 
there was any preaching or catechising, and spent the rest of the 
day with my family, and a few poor neighbors that came in ; spend- 
ing now and then a day in London. 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." 

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

Having followed him to this retirement, we may here continue 
the enumeration of his publications to the close of the year 1665, 
with which date he concludes the second part of the Narrative of 
his life. Thirty-eight separate works of his, it will be recollected, 
were published before the restoration.* 

39. " A Sermon of Repentance, preached before the Honora- 
ble House of Commons, &tc. at their late solemn fast for the settle- 
ment of these nations." — 4to. published in 1 660. 

40. " Right Rejoicing, &c. A Sermon preached at St. Paul's 

* See pp. 145, 1G4. 
Vol. I. 28 


before the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, and the several Companies 
of the city of London, on May 10th, 1660, appointed by both 
houses of Parliament to be a day of solemn thanksgiving, fac." 4to. 
published in 1660. The occasions of these two sermons have al- 
ready been described.* 

41. "The Life of Faith ; as it is the evidence of things not 
seen ; a sermon preached before the king, July 22, 1660." 4to. 
published in I660.f 

42. " The successive visibility of the Church," 12mo. publish- 
lished in 1660. This was one of his controversial works against 
the Roman Catholics. 

43. " The Vain Religion of the Formal Hypocrite, and the 
mischief of an unbridled tongue as against religion, rulers, or dis- 
senters, described in several sermons preached at the abbey in 
Westminster, before many members of the Honorable House of 
Commons, 1 660 : And the Fool's prosperity the occasion of his 
destruction ; a sermon preached at Covent Garden. Both pub- 
lished to heal the effects of some hearer's misunderstandings and 
misreports." 12mo. published in Nov. 1660.J 

44. " The Last Work of a Believer : His passing prayer, recom- 
mending his departing spirit to Christ to be received by him. Pre- 
pared lor the funeral of Mary the widow, first of Francis Charl- 
ton, Esq., and after of Thomas Hanmer, Esq." &c. 4to. pub- 
lished in January, 1661. This was the funeral sermon for the 
mother of his intended wife. 

45. After the Savoy Conference, " somebody," he says, " print- 
ed our papers, most of them, given in to them in that treaty ; of 
which the petition for peace and the Reformed Liturgy, (except a 
prayer for the king,) the large reply to their answer of our excep- 
tions, and the two last addresses, were my writing." This was in 

46. " The Mischiefs of Self-ignorance and the Benefits of Self- 
acquaintance, opened in divers sermons at Dunstan's West, and 
published in answer to the accusations of some and the desires of 
others." 8vo. published in 1661. "It was fitted," he says, "to 

* See pp, 169, 170. f See pp. 171, 172. } See p. 207. OF K1CHAKJJ BAXTER. 219 

the disease oi' this furious age in which each man is ready to de- 
vour others because they do not know themselves." 

47. u Baxter's Account to the inhabitants of Kidderminster of 
the reasons of his being forbid to preach among them." 4to. pub- 
lished in 1662. 

48. " A Saint or a Brute : The certain Necessity and Excel- 
lency of Holiness so plainly proved, and urgently applied, as by the 
blessing of God may convince and save the miserable, impenitent, 
ungodly sensualists, if they will not let the Devil hinder them from 
a sober and serious reading and considering. To be communicated 
by the charitable that desire the conversion and salvation of souls, 
while the patience of God, and the day of grace and hope contin- 
ue." 4to. published in 1 662. This is a work of several hundred 

49. " Now or Never : The holy, serious, diligent believer, 
justified, encouraged, excited, and directed ; and the opposers 
and neglecters convinced, by the light of scripture and reason." 
Published in 1663. 

50. " Fair Warning ; or twenty-five reasons against the tolera- 
tion of popery." 8vo. published in 1663. There seems to be 
some doubt whether this pamphlet ought to be numbered among 
the writings of Baxter. 

51. " The Divine Life, in three treatises ; the first of the knowl- 
edge of God ; the second of walking with God ; the third of con- 
versing with God in solitude." 4to. published in 1664. This 
work was occasioned by a request of the Countess of Balcarras. 
She was about returning to Scotland after a residence of some time 
in England, and having been much profited by Baxter's writings 
and by his preaching, desired him to preach the last sermon which 
she was to hear from him, on these words of Christ, ' Behold the 
hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every 
man to his own, and shall leave me alone ; and yet I am not alone, 
because the Father is with me.' The sermon thus preached is the 
third part of the work ; he says he prefixed the other two treatises 
to make it more considerable. He apologizes for the work, in his 
life, by saying that it was, " but popular sermons preached in the 
midst of diverting business, accusations, and malicious clamors." 


How much freedom of the press the non conformists enjoyed 
appears from an incident which he records respecting this book. 
" When I offered it to the press, 1 was fain to leave out the quantity 
of one sermon in the end of the second treatise, (that God took 
Enoch,) wherein I showed what a mercy it is to one that walked 
with God, to be taken to him from this world ; because it is a dark, 
wicked, malicious, incapable, treacherous, deceitful world, &c. 
All which, the bishop's chaplain must have expunged, because men 
would think it was all spoken of them." 

52. In 1665 he published only three single sheets ; two, de- 
signed " for the use of poor families that cannot buy greater books, 
or will not read them ;" and the third, published at the time of the 
plague, entitled, " Directions for the sick."" 

Among his earliest employments at Acton must have been the 
preparation of his Narrative of his own life, the first part of which 
was written mostly in 166!, and the second part in 1665. At the 
conclusion of the second part of this narrative, he writes thus, — 
" 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 at once on us. War with the Hollanders, 
which yet continueth ; and the dryest winter, spring, and sum- 
mer, that ever man alive know, or our forefathers mention 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 hath 
seized on the famousest and most excellent city of Christendom, 
and at this time nearly 8,300 die of all diseases in a week. It 
hath scattered and consumed the inhabitants ; multitudes being 
dead and fled. The calamities and cries of the diseased and im- 
poverished, are not to be conceived by those that are absent from 
them. Every man is a terror to his neighbor and himself: and 
God, for our sins, is a terror to us all. O ! how is London, the 
place which God hath honored with his Gospel above all places of 
the earth, laid low in horr rs, and wasted almost to desolation by 
the wrath of that God, whom England hath contemned ! A God- 
hating generation are consumed in their sins, and the righteous are 
a ] S o taken away as from greater evils yet to come." "Yet, under 


all these desolations, the wicked arc hardened, and cast all on the 
fanatics ; the true dividing fanatics and sectaries are not yet hum- 
bled for former miscarriages, but cast all on the prelates and im- 
posers ; and the ignorant vulgar are stupid, and know not what 
use to make of any thing they feel. But thousands of the sober, 
prudent, faithful servants of the Lord are mourning in secret, and 
waiting for his salvation ; in humility and hope they are staying 
themselves on God, and expecting what he will do with them. 
From London the plague is spread through many counties, espe- 
cially next London, where few places, especially corporations, are 
free : which makes me oft groan, and wish that London, and all 
the corporations of England, would review the Corporation Act, 
and their own acts, and speedily repent. 

" Leaving most of my family at Acton, compassed about with 
the plague, at the writing of this, through the mercy of my dear 
God, and Father in Christ, I am hitherto in safety and comfort in 
the house of my dearly beloved and honored friend, Mr. Richard 
Hampden, of Hampden, in Buckinghamshire, the true heir of his 
famous father's sincerity, piety, and devotedness to God ; whose 
person and family the Lord preserve ; honor them that honor him, 
and be their everlasting rest and portion."* 

Hampden, September 28, 1665. 

* Narrative, Part II. 


Tiik reader has now traced the series of events in the life of 
Richard Baxter to the fiftieth year of his age. We have seen him 
approving himself the man of God in the camp and in the court, in 
the rural parish and in the great metropolis ; we are now to see him 
in the decline of life, like tho illustrious poet his cotemporary, 
" unchanged," 

** On evil days though fall'ii and evil tongues, 
In darkness and with dangers compassed round." 

At this period in his history, it is a privilege to have before us his 
own deliberate review of the changes which had been wrought up- 
on his mind arid heart, in his progress from youth to the commence- 
ment of his declining years. This review is the conclusion of the 
first part of his personal narrative, and was written in 1664, the for- 
ty-ninth year of his age. It is presented here, much abridged. 

" Because it is soul-experiments which those who urge me to 
this kind of writing do expect that I should, especially,, commu- 
nicate to others ; and I have said little of God's dealings with my 
soul since the time of my younger years, I shall only give the rea- 
der so much satisfaction as to acquaint him truly what change God 
hath made upon my mind and heart since those unriper times, and 
wherein I now differ in judgment and disposition from myself. And 
for any more particular account of heart occurrences, and God's 
operations on me, I think it somewhat unsavory 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 fit to be repeated." " 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 take off young 
unexperienced Christians from over confidence in their first appre- 
hensions, or overvaluing their first degrees of grace, or too much 
applauding and following unfurnished, unexperienced men ; and 
that they may be directed what mind and course of life to prefer, 
by the judgment of one that hath tried both before them. 


" I. The temper of my mind hath somewhat altered with the 
temper of my body. When I was young I was more vigorous, af- 
fectionate, and fervent, in preaching, conference, and prayer, than, 
ordinarily, I can be now. My style was more extemporate and 
lax, but, by the advantage of warmth, and a very familiar moving 
voice and utterance, my preaching then did more affect the audi- 
tory, than many of the last years before I gave ov^r preaching. 
But what I delivered then was much more raw, and had more pas- 
sages that would not bear the trial of accurate judgments ; and my 
discourses had both less substance and less judgment than of lale. 

" 2. My understanding was then quicker, and could more ea- 
sily manage any thing that was newly presented to it upon a sud- 
den : but it is since better furnished, and acquainted with the ways 
of truth and error, and with a multitude of particular mistakes of 
the world, which then I was the more in danger of, because I had 
only the faculty of knowing them, but did not actually know them. 
I was then like a man of quick understanding, that was to travel a 
way which he never went before, or to cast up an account which 
he never labored in before, or. to play on an instrument of music 
which he never saw before. I am now like one of somewhat a 
slower understanding, who is traveling a way which he hath of- 
ten gone, and is casting up an account which he hath often cast up 
and hath ready at hand, and that is playing on an instrument which 
he hath frequently used : so that I can very confidently say my 
judgment is much sounder and firmer now than it was then. When 
I peruse the writings which I wrote in my younger years, I can find 
the footsteps of my unfurnished mind, and of my emptiness and in- 
sufficiency : so that the man that followed my judgment then, was 
liker to have been misled by me than he that should follow it now. 

" And yet, that I may not say worse than it deserveth of my 
former measure of understanding, I shall truly tell you what change 
I find now in the perusal of my own writings. Those points which 
then I thoroughly studied, my judgment is the same of now as it 
was then, and therefore in the substance of my religion, and in 
those controversies which I then searched into with some extraor- 
dinary diligence, I find not my mind disposed to a change : but in 
divers points that T studied slightly, and by the halves, and in ma- 


ny things which I took upon trust from others, I have found since 
that my apprehensions were either erroneous or very lame." " And 
this token of my weakness accompanied those my younger stu- 
dies, that I was very apt to start up controversies in the way of my 
practical writings, and also more desirous to acquaint the world 
with all that I took to be the truth, and to assault those hooks by 
name which I thought did tend to deceive -them, and did contain 
unsound and dangerous doctrine ; and the reason of all this was, 
that I was then in the vigor of my youthful apprehensions; and at the 
new appearance of any sacred truth, it was more apt to affect me 
and be highlier valued than afterwards, when commonness had 
dulled my delight ; and I did not sufficiently discern then how much, 
in most of our controversies, is verbal, and upon mutual mistakes. 
And, withal, I knew not how impatient divines were of being con- 
tradicted, nor how it would stir up all their powers to defend what 
they have once said, and to rise up against the truth which is thus 
thrust upon them as the morial enemy of their honor : and I knew 
not how hardly men's minds are changed from their former appre- 
hensions, be the evidence never so plain." 

" 3. In my youth, I was quickly past my fundamentals, and was 
running up into a multitude of controversies, and greatly delighted 
with metaphysical and scholastic writings, (though, I must needs 
say, my preaching was still on the necessary points ;) but the elder 
I grew, the smaller stress I laid upon these controversies and cu- 
riosities, though still my intellect abhorreth confusion." 

" As the stock of the tree affordeth timber to build houses and 
cities, when the small though higher multifarious branches are but to 
make a crow's nest or a blaze, so the knowledge of God and of 
Jesus Christ, of heaven and holiness, doth build up the soul to 
endless blessedness, and affordeth it solid peace and comfort ; 
when a multitnde of school niceties serve but for vain janglings and 
hurtful diversions and contentions. And yet I would not dissuade 
my reader from the perusal of Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, Armini- 
ensis, Durandus, or any such writer ; for much good may be got- 
ten from them : but I would persuade him to study and live upon 
the essential doctrines of Christianity and godliness, incomparably 
above them all. And that he may know that my testimony is some- 


what regardable, I presume to say that in this, I as much gainsay 
my natural inclination to subtilty and accurateness in knowing, as 
he is like to do by his if he obey my counsel." 

" 4. This is another thing which I am changed in, that where- 
as in my younger days I never was tempted to doubt of the truth 
of Scripture or Christianity, but all my doubts and fears were ex- 
ercised at home, about my own sincerity and interest in Christ, 
and this was it which I called unbelief; since then my sorest as- 
saults have been on the other side, and such they were, that had I 
been void of internal experience and the adhesion of love, and the 
special help of God, and had not discerned more reason for my re- 
ligion than I did when I was younger, I had certainly apostatized 
to in6delity. I am now, therefore, much more apprehensive than 
heretofore of the necessity of well grounding men in their religion, 
and especially of the witness of the indwelling Spirit." " For my 
part, I must profess, that when my belief of things eternal and of the 
Scripture is most clear and firm, all goeth accordingly in my soul, 
and all temptations to sinful compliances, worldliness, or flesh-pleas- 
ing, do signify worse to me than an invitation to the stocks or Bed- 
lam. And no petition seemeth more necessary to me than, — Lord, 
increase our faith ; I believe, help thou my unbelief. 

" 5. Among truths certain in themselves, all are not equally 
certain to me ; and even of the mysteries of the gospel I must 
needs say, with Mr. Richard Hooker, that whatever men may pre- 
tend, the subjective certainty cannot go beyond the objective evi- 
dence. Therefore I do, more of late than ever, discern a ne- 
cessity of a methodical procedure in maintaining the doctrine of 
Christianity, and of beginning at natural verities as presupposed fun- 
damentally to supernatural truths ; though God may when he 
please reveal all at once, and even natural truths by supernatural 
revelation. And it is a marvellous great help to my faith, to find 
it built on so sure foundations, and so consonant to the law of na- 

" 6. In my younger years, my trouble for sin was most about ' 
my actual failings ; but now I am much more troubled for inward 
defects, and omission or want of the vital duties or graces in the 
soul." " Had I all the riches of the world, how gladly would I 

Vol.T. 29 


give them for a fuller knowledge, belief, and love, of God and ev- 
erlasting glory ! These wants are the greatest burden of my life, 
which oft maketh my life itself a burden. 1 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 attained ; which maketh me the 
wearier of this sinful world, that is honored with so little of the 
knowledge of God. 

"7. Heretofore, I placed much of my religion in tenderness of 
heart, and grieving for sin, and penitential tears ; and less of it in 
the love of God, and studying his love and goodness, and in his 
joyful praises, than now I do. Then I was little sensible of the 
greatness and excellency of love and praise ;" " but my conscience 
now looketh at love and delight in God, and praising him, as the 
top of all my religious duties ; for which it is that I value and use 
the rest. 

"8. My judgment is much more for frequent and serious medi- 
tation on the heavenly blessedness than it was in my younger days. 
I then thought that a sermon of the attributes of God, and the joys 
of heaven, was not the most excellent ; and was wont to say, ' Ev- 
ery body knovveth that God is great and good, and that heaven is 
a blessed place ; I had rather hear how I may attain it.' And no- 
thing pleased me so well as the doctrine of regeneration and the 
marks of sincerity, which was because it was suitable to me in that 
state ; but now I had rather read, hear, or meditate, on God and heav- 
en, than on any other subject : for I perceive that it is the object 
which altereth and elevateth the mind ; which will resemble that 
which it most frequently feedeth on. 

" 9. 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 examining 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, and that I should 
look often upon Christ and God and heaven. 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 delight 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 ami- 
able and beatifying objects. 

" 10. Heretofore I 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 of the light which 
shined in upon me, like a man that cometh 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, or how much might be said against them, or how many things 
I was yet a stranger to." 

"11. Accordingly I had then a far higher opinion of learned 
persons and books than I now have ; for what I wanted myself, I 
thought every reverend divine had attained, and was familiarly ac- 
quainted with. And what books I understood not, by reason of 
the strangeness of the terms or matter, I the more admired, and 
thought that others understood their worth. But now experience 
hath constrained me against my will to know, that reverend learn- 
ed men are imperfect, and know but little as well as I, especially 
those that think themselves the wisest." 

" 12. And at first I took more upon my author's credit than now 
I can do: and when an author was highly commended to me by 
others, or pleased me in some part, I was ready to entertain the 
whole ; whereas now I take and leave in the same author, and 
dissent in some things from him that I like best, as well as from 

" 13. At first, I was greatly inclined to go with the highest in 
controversies on one side or other ; as with Dr. Twisse and Mr. 
Rutherford, and Spanhemius de Providentia et Gratia, &c. But 
now I can so easily see what to say against both extremes, that I 
am much more inclinable to reconciling principles. 

" 14. At first, the style of authors took as much with me as the 
argument, and made the arguments seem more forcible, but now I 
judge not of truth at all by any such ornaments or accidents, but 
by its naked evidence. 

"15. I now see more good and more evil in all men, than hereto- 
fore 1 did. I see that good men are not so good as [once thought they 
were, but have more imperfections ; and that nearer approach and 


fuller trial do make the best appear more weak and faulty than 
l heir admirers at a distance think. And I find that few are so bad 
as either malicious enemies, or censorious separating professors do 

" 10. I less admire gifts of utterance and the bare profession of 
religion than I once did; and have much more charity for many 
who by the want of gifts do make an obscurer profession." "Ex- 
perience hath opened to me what odious crimes may consist with 
high profession ; and I have met with clivers obscure persons, not 
indeed noted for any extraordinary profession 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 acci- 
dent, kept secret from other men's observation. Yet he that upon 
this pretence would confound the godly and the ungodly, may as 
well go about to lay heaven and hell together. 

"17. I am not so narrow in my special love as heretofore: be- 
ing less censorious, and taking more than I did for saints, it must 
needs follow that I love more as saints than I did formerly." 

" ' 8. I am not so narrow in my principles of church communion 
as once I was." " I am not for narrowing the church more than 
Christ himself alloweth us ; nor for robbing him of any of his flock." 

" 19. Yet I am more apprehensive than ever of the great use 
and need of ecclesiastical discipline." 

"20. I am much more sensible of the evil of schism, and of 
the separating humor, and of gathering parties and making several 
sects in the church, than I was heretofore. For the effects have 
showed us more of the mischiefs. 

"21. I am much more sensible how prone many young pro- 
fessors are to spiritual pride, and self-conceitedness, and unruli- 
ness, and division, and so to prove the grief of their teachers, and 
fire-brands in the church ; and how much of a minister's work li- 
eth in preventing this, and humbling and confirming such young 
inexperienced professors, and keeping them in order in their prog- 
ress in religion. 

"22. Yet I am more sensible of the sin and mischief of using 
men cruelly in matters of religion, and of pretending men's good 


sad the order of the church, for acts of inhumanity or uncharita- 

"23. My soul is much more afflicted with the thoughts of this 
miserable world, and more drawn out in desire of its conversion, 
than heretofore. I was wont to look but little further than Eng- 
land in my prayers, not considering the state of the rest of the 
woild ; or if I prayed for the conversion of the Jews, that was al- 
most all. But now, as I better understand the case of the world, 
and the method of the Lord's prayer ; there is nothing in the 
world that lieth 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 forsaketh almost all the 
world, and confineth his special favor to so few ; that so small a 
part of the world hath the profession of Christianity, in compari- 
son of heathens, Mahometans, and other infidels; that among pro- 
fessed Christians there are 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 who truly set their hearts 
on heaven. I cannot be affected so much with the calamities of 
my own relations or the land of my nativity, as with the case of 
the heathen, Mahometan, and ignorant nations of the earth. No 
part of my prayers are so deeply serious as that for the conversion 
of the infidel and ungodly world, that God's name may be sanctifi- 
ed, 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 di- 
vision of languages is, which hindereth our speaking to them for 
their conversion; nor what a great sin tyranny is, which keepeth 
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 Scotland, and in Ireland ; there being 
no employment in the world so desirable in my eyes as to labor for 
the winning of such miserable souls ; which maketh me greatly 
honor Mr. John Elliot, the apostle of the Indians in New-England, 
and whoever else have labored in suck work. 

" 24. Yet am I not so much inclined to pass a peremptory sen- 


tence of damnation upon all that never heard of Christ ; having 
some more reason than I knew of before, to think that God's deal- 
ing with such is unknown to us; and that the ungodly here among 
us Christians, are in a far worse case than they. 

" 25. My censures of the Papists do much differ from what they 
were at first. I then thought that their errors in the doctrine of 
faith were their most dangerous mistakes." " But the great and 
irrcconcileable differences lie in their church tyranny and usurpa- 
tions, and in their great corruptions of God's worship, together 
with their befriending of ignorance and vice." 

"2G. I am deeplier afflicted for the disagreements of Christians 
than I was when I was a younger Christian. Except the case of 
the infidel world, nothing is so bad and grievous to my thoughts as 
the case of the divided churches." 

" 27. I have spent much of my studies about the terms of Chris- 
tian concord, etc." 

11 28. I am farther than ever I was from expecting great matters of 
unity, splendor, or prosperity, to the church on earth, or that saints 
should dream of a kingdom of this world, or flatter themselves with 
the hope of a golden age, or reigning over the ungodly, till there 
be a new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 
On the contrary, I am more apprehensive that suffering must be 
the church's most ordinary lot; and indeed Christians must be 
self-denying cross bearers, even where there are none but formal, 
nominal Christians to be the cross-makers; and though, ordinarily, 
God would have vicissitudes of summer and winter, day and night, 
that the church may grow extensively in the summer of prosperity, 
and intensively and radically in the winter of adversity; yet, usu- 
ally their night is longer than their day, and that day itself hath its 
storms and tempests." 

"29. 1 do not lay so great a stress upon the external modes and 
forms of worship, as many young professors do." " I cannot be 
of their opinion, that think God will not accept him that prayeth by 
the Common Prayer-book ; and that such forms are a self-invent- 
ed worship, which God rejecteth ; nor can I be of their mind that 
say the like of extemporary prayers. 

" 30. I am much less regardful of the approbation of man, and 


cet much lighter by contempt or applause, than I did long ago. I 
am oft suspicious that this is not only from the increase of self-de- 
nial and humility, but partly from my being glutted and surfeited 
with human applause. All worldly things appear most vain and 
unsatisfactory when we have tried them'most. But though I feel 
that this hath some hand in the effect, yet, 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 morosity, 

"31. lam 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 requireth it, and would not be 
unprofitable, that I might be private ; yet I confess it is much more 
pleasing 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. 

"32. Though I was never much tempted to the sin of covet- 
ousness, yet my fear of dying was wont to tell me that I was not 
sufficiently loosened from this world : but I find that it is compara- 
tively 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 ; but to get satisfying 
apprehensions of the other world is the great and grievous diffi- 

" 33. I am much more apprehensive than long ago of the odL 
ousness and danger of the sin of pride. Scarcely any sin appear- 
eth more odious to me." " I think so far as any man is proud, he is 
kin to the devil, and utterly 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 reme- 
dy as we all do. 

" 34. I more than ever lament the unhappiness of the nobility, 
gentry, and great ones of the world, who live in such temptations 

2o2, LIFE OF KICIIAHl) L5AXTr.ll. 

to sensuality, curiosity, and wasting of their time about a nuiltiiud < 
of little things." 

"35. I am much more sensible than heretofore, of the breadth, 
and length, and depth, of the radical, universal, odious sin of sel- 
fishness, and therefore have written so much against it; and of the 
excellency and necessity of self-denial, and of a public mind, and 
of loving our neighbor as ourselves. 

"3G. I am more and more sensible that most controversies have 
more need of right staling than of debating; and if my skill be in- 
creased in any thing it is in that, in narrowing controversies by ex- 
plication, and separating the real from the verbal and proving to 
many contenders that they differ less than they think they do. 

"37. I am more solicitous than I have been about my duty to 
God, and less solicitous about his dealings with me." 

" 38. Though my works were never such as could be any 
temptation to me to dream of obliging God by proper merit in 
commutative justice, yet one of the most ready, cons ant, undoubt- 
ed evidences of my uprightness and interest in his covenant, is, 
the consciousness of my living devoted to him. I the more easily 
believe the pardon of my failings through my Redeemer, while I 
know that 1 serve no other master, and that I know no other end, 
or trade, or business, but that I am employed in his work, and 
make it the object of my life to live to him in the world, notwith- 
standing my infirmities. This bent and business of my life, with 
my longing desires after perfection, in the knowledge and love of 
God, and in a holy and heavenly mind and life, are the two stand- 
ing, constant, discernible evidences which most put me out of doubt 
of my sincerity." 

" 39. Though my habitual judgment, resolution, and scope of 
life, be still the same, yet I find a great mutability as to the 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. When I have been seriously musing upon the 
reasons of Christianity, with the concurrent evidences methodically 
placed in their just advantages before my eyes, I am so clear in my 
belief of the Christian verities, that Satan hath little room for a 
temptation : but sometimes when he hath on a sudden set some 


temptation before me, when the foresaid evidences have been out 
of the way, or less upon my thoughts, he hath, by such surprises, 
amazed me, and weakened my faith in the present act. So also as 
1o the love of God, and trusting in him; sometimes when the mo- 
tives are clearly apprehended, the duty is more easy and delightful; 
and at other times I am merely passive and dull, if not guilty of 
actual despondency and distrust. 

"40. 1 am much more cautelous in my belief of history than hereto- 
fore. Not that I run into their extreme, that will believe nothing, 
because they cannot believe all things. But I am abundantly sat- 
isfied by the experience of this age, that there is no believing two 
sorts of men, ungodly men, and partial men, though an honest 
heathen of no religion may be believed, where enmity against re- 
ligion biasseth him not ; yet a debauched Christian, besides his 
enmity to the power and practice of his own religion, is seldom 
without some further bias of interest and faction, especially when 
these concur, and a man is both ungodly and ambitious, espousing 
an interest contrary to a holy, heavenly life, and also factious, era- 
bodying himself with a sect or party suited to his spirit and de- 
signs, there is no believing his word or oath." 

"Having transcribed thus much of a life which God hath read, and 
conscience hath read, and must further read, I humbly lament it, and 
beg pardon of it, as sinful, and too unequal and unprofitable. I warn 
the reader to amend that in his own, which he findeth to have been 
amiss in mine ; confessing, also, that much hath been amiss which 
I have not here particularly mentioned, and that I have not lived 
according to the abundant mercies of the Lord. But what I have 
recorded hath been especially to perform my vows, and declare 
his praise to all generations, who hath filled up my days with his 
invaluable favors, and bound me to bless his name forever." 

" Having mentioned the changes which I think were for the bet- 
ter, I must add, that as I confessed many of my sins before, so I 
have been guilty of many since 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 igno- 
rance." " To have sinned while I preached and wrote against 
sin, and had such abundant and great obligations from God, and 

Vol. I. 30 


made so many promises against it, doth lay me very low : not so 
much in fear of hell, as in great displeasure against myself, and 
such self-abhorrence as would cause revenge upon myself, were it 
not forbidden. When God forgiveth me, I cannot forgive myself; 
especially for my 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 abundantly obliged me. When 
such are dead, though we never differed in point of interest, or 
any other matter, every sour or cross provoking word which I 
gave them, maketh me almost irreconcilable to myself, and tells 
me how repentance brought some of old to pray to the dead whom 
they had wronged, to forgive them, in the hurry of their passion. 
" And though I before told the change of my judgment against 
provoking writings, I have had more will than skill since to avoid 
such. I must mention it by way of penitent confession, that I am 
too much inclined to such words in controversial writings, which are 
too keen and apt to provoke the person whom I write against." "I 
have a strong natural inclination to speak of every subject just as it 
is, and to call a spade a spade, and verba rebus aptare ; so as that 
the thing spoken of may be fullest known by the words; which me- 
thinks is part of our speaking truly. But I unfeignedly confess that 
it is faulty, because imprudent ; for that is not a good means which 
doth harm, because it is not fitted to the end ; and because, whilst 
the readers think me angry, though I feel no passion at such times 
in myself, it is scandalous, and a hindrance to the usefulness of 
what I write : and especially, because though I feel no anger, yet 
which is worse, I know that there is some want of honor and love, 
or tenderness to others; or else I should not be apt to use such 
words as open their weakness and offend them." " And I must 
say as the New England synodists, in their Defense against Mr. 
Davenport : ' We heartily desire, that as much as may be, all ex- 
pressions and reflections may be forborne that tend to break the 
bond of love. Indeed, such is our infirmity, that the naked dis- 
covery of the fallacy or invalidity of another's allegations or argu- 
ings is apt to provoke. This in disputes is unavoidable.' And, there- 
fore, I am less for a disputing way then ever, believing that it 


tempteth men to bend their wits to defend their errors, and oppose 
the truth, and hindereth usually their information." 

" That which I named before, on the by, is grown one of my 
great diseases ; I have lost much of that zeal which I had to propa- 
gate any truths to others, save the mere fundamentals." " I am 
ready to think that people should quickly understand all in a few 
words ; and if they cannot, lazily to despair of them, and leave them 
to themselves. I know the more that this is sinful in me, because it 
is partly so in other things, even about the faults of my servants or 
other inferiors ; if three or four times warning do no good to them, 
I am much tempted to despair of them, turn them away, and leave 
them to themselves. 

" I mention all these distempers that my faults 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 oi Christ, be merciful to me, a sinner, and forgive 
my known and unknown sins !" 

It might have been supposed that so great a national calamity as 
" the plague in London," which in a few months swept to the grave 
one hundred thousand people in that city alone, would have brought 
the rulers of the nation, in church and state, to another temper. 
But as the monarch, while the pestilence was desolating his king- 
dom, was the same lustful and profligate wretch that he ever had 
been ; so the prelates and their partizans, amid the terrors of that 
visitation, were as intent as ever on the oppression and extirpation 
of those whom they hated and feared as Puritans. 

" The ministers that were silenced for Nonconformity, had ever 
since 1662 done their work very privately and to a few:" But 
" when the plague grew hot, most of the conformable ministers 
fled, and left their flocks in the time of their extremity ; whereupon 
divers Nonconformists, pitying the dying and distressed people, 
who had none to call the impenitent to repentance, or to help men 
to prepare for another world, or to comfort them in their terrors, 
when about ten thousand died in a week, resolved that no obedi- 
ence to the laws of mortal men whatsoever, could justify them in 
neglecting men's souls and bodies in such extremities." " There- 
fore, they resolved to stay with the people, and to go into the for- 


saken pulpits, though prohibited, and to preach to the poor people 
before they died ; also to visit the sick and get what relief they 
could for the poor, especially those that were shut up. The face of 
death did so awaken both the preachers and the hearers, that the 
preachers exceeded themselves in lively, and fervent preaching, 
and the people crowded constantly to hear them ; and all was done 
with so great seriousness, that through the blessing of God, abun- 
dance were converted from their carelessness, impenitency, and 
youthful lusts and vanities ; and religion took that hold on many 
hearts, as could never afterwards be loosed." 

At this time it was, the parliament being assembled at Ox- 
ford, whither the king had removed his court on account of the 
plague, that it seemed good in the eyes of Lord Clarendon, Arch- 
bishop Sheldon, and their associates, to visit the ejected ministers 
with new persecutions. A law was therefore enacted, Oct. 1G65, 
entitled M an act to restrain nonconformists from inhabiting corpora- 
tions." By this act every nonconforming minister was required to 
profess with a solemn oath, the unlawfulness of taking arms, against 
the king or those commissioned by him, upon any pretence what- 
soever ; and to promise, with the same solemnity, never at any time 
to endeavor any alteration of government in church or state. After 
the 24th of the following March no nonconforming minister should 
be allowed, unless in passing the road to " come or be within five 
miles of any city, town corporate, or borough that sends burgess- 
es to parliament, or within five miles of any parish, town or place 
wherein they had, since the act of oblivion, been parson, vicar, or 
lecturer, or where they had preached in any conventicle on any 
pretence whatsoever," without having first publicly taken and sub- 
scribed this oath. Every offense against this act was to be punish- 
ed with a fine of forty pounds, one third of which should be for the 
informer ; and any two justices of the peace, upon oath made be- 
fore them, were empowered to commit the offender to prison for 
six months without bail. 

The ingenuity which framed this act was equal to the cruelty 
which inspired it. The oath prescribed was, upon the face of it, 
a denial of all the liberties of Englishmen ; insomuch that without 
much explanation no honest man could take it. The refusal of this 


oath by any of those against whom the provisions of the act were 
directed, it was designed, should drive them from all those places, 
where they were known, or had any possible means of subsist- 
ence, either by their personal exertions or by the contributions of 
their friends. " In this strait," says Baxter, " those ministers that 
had any maintenance of their own, did find out some dwellings in 
obscure villages, or in some few market towns which were no cor- 
porations. And those that had nothing did leave their wives and 
children, and hid themselves abroad, and sometimes came secretly 
to them by night. But (God bringing good out of man's evil) 
many resolved to preach the more freely in cities and corporations 
till they went to prison." "Those ministers that were unmarried 
did easilier bear their poverty ; but it pierceth a man's heart to 
have children crying, and sickness come upon them for want of 
wholesome food, and to have nothing to relieve them." " I heard 
but lately of a good man that was fain to spin as women do to get 
something towards his family's relief (which could be but little,) 
and being melancholy and diseased, it was but part of the day that 
he was able to do that. Another, for a long time had but little but 
brown rye bread and water, for himself, his wife, and many chil- 
dren, and when his wife was ready to lie in was to be turned out 
of door, for not paying his house rent. Yet God did mercifully 
provide some supplies, that few of them either perished or were 
exposed to sordid unseemly begging." 

Baxter, notwithstanding the severity of this law, returned to Ac- 
ton, just before it was to take effect. He found the church-yard like 
a plowed field with graves and many of his neighbors dead ; but 
his own house, near the church-yard, uninfected, and that part of 
his family which he left there, all safe. 

Just six months after his return, London was visited with anoth- 
er great calamity. On the third of Sept. 1666, commenced the 
" great fire." "The best and one of the fairest cities in the world 
was turned into ashes and ruins in three days space, with many 
score churches and the wealth and necessaries of the inhabitants." 
" But some good rose out of all these evils. The churches being 
burnt, and the parish ministers gone for want of places and main- 
tenance, the non-conformists were now more resolved than ever 


lo preach till they were imprisoned." Many of them kept their 
meetings very openly, " and prepared large rooms, and some of 
them plain chapels, with pulpits, seats, and galleries, for the re- 
ception of as many as could come. The people's necessity was 
now unquestionable. They had none other to hear, save in a few 
churches that would hold no considerable part of them ; so that to 
forbid them to hear the Nonconformists, was all one as to forbid 
them all public worship ; to forbid them to seek heaven when they 
had lost almost all that they had on earth ; to take from them their 
spiritual comforts after all their outward comforts were gone." 

During the following year, the public calamities, including the ill- 
success of the war in which the king was engaged with the Dutch, 
conspired with some other causes to effect the overthrow of Lord 
Clarendon, the prime minister who had been the author of the act 
of uniformity, and the great enemy of the Puritans from the hour 
of the restoration. He was impeached in parliament, and barely 
escaping with his life, was condemned to perpetual banishment. He 
was honestly a protestant ; and with a true dignity he always frown- 
ed on the unspeakable profligacy of the king and his minions. At 
the same time, his talents, his experience, and his influence with 
parliament, made his services for a long time indispensable. But 
when popular indignation began to turn against the chancellor, 
Charles was glad to be rid of him ; nor is it probable that the mon- 
arch's joy was at all checked by any feeling of gratitude toward the 
man to whose almost superstitious loyalty he owed so much. " It 
was a notable providence of God" says Baxter, " that this man, 
who bad been die great instrument of state, and had dealt so cru- 
elly with the nonconformists, should thus, by his own friends, be 
cast out and banished, while those that he had persecuted were 
the most moderate in his cause, and many of them for him. It 
was a great ease that befel good people throughout the land by his 
dejection. For his way had been to decoy men into conspiracies, 
or to pretend plots, upon the rumor of which the innocent people 
of many counties were laid in prison ; so that no man knew when 
he was safe. Since then, the laws have been made more and more 
severe, yet a man knoweth a little better what to expect, when it 
is by a law that he is to be tried." 


Clarendon was succeeded as prime minister by the Duke of 
Buckingham, a man as unprincipled and profligate as the king 
himself. Yet he having formerly out of opposition to Clarendon 
been a favorer of the nonconformists, that persecuted party found 
under his administration some temporary relief. The act for the 
suppression of conventicles, by which the hearers were made liable 
to fine and imprisonment was suffered to expire, and the ejected 
ministers began in many parts of the country to imitate the bold- 
ness which their brethren in the city had practiced since the fire, and 
for a while were connived at by the government beyond their own 
expectations. Baxter, from the beginning of his residence at Ac- 
ton, had uniformly preached to his own family on the sabbath at 
such hours as did not interfere with the established worship ; and 
now he had his house full of the people of the place. 

At this period, some of the leading Presbyterians were consult- 
ed by some of the more moderate among the bishops and some of 
the most eminent members of the administration, about a new scheme 
of comprehension and toleralion for the protestant dissenters. Bax- 
ter has given a detailed account of this negotiation. It was defeat- 
ed by the management of Archbishop Sheldon and his party, who 
contrived to get a proclamation from the king commanding the 
laws against the non-conformists to be put in execution, and espe- 
cially the law banishing the ejected ministers from all corporate 

Thus the persecution was renewed, in the beginning of the year 
16G9; and the prisons again began to be filled with ministers of 
the gospel. Baxter mentions several of his neighbors who were 
among the sufferers, one " for teaching a few children," another 
" for teaching two knights sons in his own house ;" though he him- 
self still escaped. Possibly one reason of this indulgence was the 
intimacy which he had formed about this time with one of the most 
illustrious men of that or any other age, whose relations to the gov- 
ernment, as well as his personal character, might have checked 
for a while the malice of informers. 

" The last year of my abode at Acton," he says, "I had the 
happiness of a neighbor whom I cannot easily praise above his 
worth. This was Sir Matthew Hale, lord chief baron of the ex- 


chequer, whom all the judges and lawyers of England admired for 
his skill in law, and for his justice, and scholars honored for his 
learning, and I highly valued for his sincerity, mortification, self- 
denial, humility, conscientiousness, and his close fidelity in friend- 
ship. When he came first to town, ] came not near him, (lest be- 
ing a silenced and suspected person with his superiors, I should 
draw him also under suspicion, and do him wrong) till I had no- 
tice round about of his desire of my acquaintance. And I scarce 
ever conversed so profitably with any other person in my life." 

" The conference which I had frequently with him, mostly 
about the immortality of the soul, and other philosophical and 
foundation points, was so edifying, that his very questions and ob- 
jections did help me to more light than other men's solutions. 
Those who take none for religious, who frequent not private meet- 
ings, &ic, took him for an excellently righteous, moral man : but 
T, who heard and read his serious expressions of the concernments 
of eternity, and saw his love to all good men, and the blameless- 
ness of his life, thought better of his piety than of my own. When 
the people crowded in and out of my house to hear, he openly 
showed me so great respect before them at the door, and never 
spake a word against it, -as was no small encouragement to the 
common people to go on ; though the other sort muttered that a 
judge should seem so far to countenance that which they took to be 
against the law." 

The arm of the law however soon fell heavily on Baxter, not- 
withstanding this intimacy of his with the most illustrious of its min- 
isters. The king himself — so Dean Ryves the parson of the par- 
ish afterwards said by way of apology — sent a message to the bish- 
op of London, ordering him to see that Baxter's meeting was sup- 
pressed. Hereupon Baxter was apprehended ; and having refus- 
ed to take the Oxford oath, he was without any form of trial, com- 
mitted by two justices of the peace to Clerkenwell prison for six 

As he went to prison, he called on his friend Sergeant Fountain 
for legal advice, who on an examination of the mittimus advised 
him to seek for a habeas corpus, in the court ol Common-pleas. 
On this subject he remained sometime in suspense. " My impris- 


eminent, he says, " was at present no great suffering to me, for I 
had an honest jailor, who showed me all the kindness he could. I 
had a large room, and the liberty of walking in a fair garden. My 
wife was never so cheerful a companion to me as in prison, and was 
very much against my seeking to be released. She had brought so 
many necessaries, that we kept house as contentedly and comforta- 
bly as at home, though in a narrow room, and I had the sight of 
more of my friends in a day, than 1 had at home in half a year. 
And I knew that if I got out against their will, my sufferings would 
be never the nearer to an end. But yet, on the other side, it was 
in the extremest heat of summer, when London was wont to have 
epidemical diseases. The hope of my dying in prison, I have 
reason to think was one great inducement to some of the instru- 
ments to move to what they did." Beside all this, his chamber 
was in a noisy place, so that he had little hope of sleeping but by 
day, and his strength was already so little that such a change would 
soon destroy his life. The number of his visitors too, made it im- 
possible for him to do any thing but to entertain them. And after 
all he was in prison, with no leave at any time to go out ol doors, 
much less to attend public worship, or to preach to any body but 
the inmates of his narrow chamber. 

He was advised by some to petition the king ; but he declined 
any such movement. His friends at court, the earl of Manches- 
ter, the earl of Orrerry and others, exerted their influence with the 
king in vain. Charles only assured them that he would not be of- 
fended if Baxter sought a remedy at law. So an appeal to the 
law was resolved upon ; and when the question came before the 
Court of Common-pleas, he was released on the ground of some 
informalities in the commitment. 

But here, according to his own statement, was but the begin- 
ning of his sufferings. His enemies were exasperated, and he 
was still in their power. He had an expensive hired house on his 
hands, which he could no longer occupy. He knew not what to 
do with his goods and his family. He must go out of the coun- 
ty of Middlesex ; and must go nowhere within five miles of any 
city or corporate town. " Where to find such a place, and there- 
in a house, and how to remove my goods thither," he says, 

Vol. I. 31 


" and what to do with my house till my time expired, were more 
trouble than my quiet prison by far." 

" The next habitation," he adds, " which God chose for me, 
was at Totteridge, near Barnet, where for a year, I was fain with 
part of my family separated from the rest, to take a few mean 
rooms, which were so extremely smoky, and the place withal so 
cold, that I spent the winter in great pain ; one quarter of a year 
by a sore sciatica, and seldom free from such anguish." 

This removal was in the summer of 1C69. Soon afterwards 
the act against conventicles was renewed by parliament, with new 
and more severe provisions, one of which was that no fault of the 
mittimus should make it void. 

In the following summer, the duke of Lauderdale, who was 
proceeding to Scotland to effect some ecclesiastical changes there, 
sought an interview with Baxter, and offered him any situation in 
Scotland which he might choose, a church, a bishopric, or a place 
in one of the universities. Baxter declined this offer for several 
reasons ; his infirmities of body were such that his life, he was con- 
fident must be short, and would be shortened by a more northern 
climate ; he was employed in writing his Meihodus Theologian, and 
expected that the remainder of his life which he estimated at about 
one year, would be barely sufficient to finish that work ; he had 
understood that Scotland was well supplied with preachers, and 
he apprehended the people there would have jealous thoughts of a 
stranger ; and finally the idea of removing his family, including an 
aged mother-in-law too infirm to travel, with all their goods and 
books to such a distance, deterred him from such an undertaking. 
" All this," he says in his letter to the duke on the occasion, 
" concurreth to deprive me of this benefit of your lordship's favor. 
But, my lord, there are other fruits of it which I am not altogeth- 
er hopeless of receiving. — I am weary cf the noise of contentious 
revilers, and have oft had thoughts to go into a foreign land, 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 wanteth preferment, his way is to preach 


or write a book against the nonconformists, and ine by name." 
" I expect not that any favor or justice of my superiors should cure 
any of this, but (1.) if I might but be heard for myself before 1 be 
judged by them : (2.) if I might live quietly to follow my private 
studies, and might have once again the use of my books (which I 
have not seen for these ten years, and pay for a room for their stand- 
ing at Kidderminster, where they are eaten by worms and rats, 
having no security for any quiet abode in any place enough to en- 
courage me to send for them :) and if I might have the liberty that 
every beggar hath 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 Christ's gos- 
pel, if I may have the favor 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 procure them ; for 
I will not so much injure you as to desire, nor my reason as to ex- 
pect, any greater matters.* 

During all these years, while protestant dissenters were, so hotly 
persecuted, the papists had been comparatively at ease ; and the 
king and his most confidential servants had been pursuing the 
design of subverting the constitutional liberties and the protestant 
religion of the English nation. They favored the persecution of 
the nonconformists, hoping thus to bring about a general toleration 
which might be preparatory to the reestablishment of popery. They 
were willing to see the protesiants divided, and each party more 
and more alienated from the other, that there might be no united 
opposition to their scheme. They knew that the puritans were of 
old the most uncompromising opposers of popery and the sturdiest 
asserters of liberty ; and they hoped that this party humbled by 
persecution might at last take shelter under the throne, and finding 
in the royal prerogative that protection which laws and parliaments 
had denied, might become the partisans of the power to which 
they owed their liberties. The first parliament elected after the 
king's return, had proved thus far sufficiently venal and obsequious 
to answer all the purposes of the court, and had therefore been con- 

*Narrative, Part III. pp. 75,76. 


tinued by successive prorogations ever since May, 1661. It is said 
that more than one hundred members of this body were kept in 
pay by the court. It is certain that a more infamous assembly 
under that name never disgraced the annals of England. The na- 
tion's money was given to the king almost without limit ; and had 
the force of Charles' character been equal to the wickedness of 
his heart, the monarchy of England might have been made as ab- 
solute as that of France. But the profligacy of the king was in this 
instance the safety of the people. The millions which Charles re- 
ceived from parliament, and the treasures acquired by the sale of 
Dunkirk, and by a secret treaty with France, which had for its ob- 
ject the establishment of an absolute monarchy and of the Roman 
Catholic religion in Great Britain, were lavished on harlots and 
parasites ; and the king was still kept in a state of dependence. 
Meanwhile the impiety and shameless debaucheries of the court, 
spread through all the orders of society. Drunkenness and impuri- 
ty were the honored badges of loyalty; not only seriousness, but 
even temperance and chastity, were signs of nonconformity, and 
prognostics of rebellion ; and the nation, in spite of all God's judg- 
ments, seemed ripening for the doom of Sodom. 

At this time [1671] the scheme of the court was so far advanced, 
that it was judged safe to offer the persecuted nonconformists some 
sort of shelter under the wing of the prerogative. " The ministers 
in several parties," as Baxter informs us, " were oft encouraged 
to make their addresses to the king, only to acknowledge his clem- 
ency, by which they held their liberties, and to profess their loy- 
alty. The king told them, that though such acts were made, he 
was against persecution, and hoped ere long to stand on his own 
legs, and then they should see how much he was against it." 

About the first of January, 1672, the Exchequer was shut up ; 
" so that," in the words of Baxter, " whereas a multitude of mer- 
chants and others had put their money into the bankers' hands, and 
the bankers lent it to the king, and the king gave orders to pay out 
no more of it for a year, the murmur and complaint in the city 
were very great, that their estates should be, as they called it, so 
surprised." " Among others, all the money and estate, except 
ten pounds per annum, for eleven or twelve years, thai I had in the 


world, of my own, was there. Indeed it was not my own, which 
I will mention to counsel those that would do good, to doit speedi- 
ly, and with all their might. I had got in all my life the just sum 
of one thousand pounds. Having no child, I devoted almost all 
of it to a charitable use, a free-school ; I used my best and ablest 
friends for seven years, with all the skill and industry I could, to 
help me to some purchase of house or land to lay it out on, that it 
might be accordingly settled. And though there were never more 
sellers, I could never, by all these friends, hear of any that reason 
could encourage a man to lay it out on, as secure, and a tolerable 
bargain ; so that 1 told them, I did perceive the devil's resistance 
of it, and did verily suspect that he would prevail, and I should 
never settle, but it would be lost. So hard is it to do any good, 
when a man is fully resolved." 

This wholesale plunder, by which the king gained £1,400,000, 
was the first decided step in the development of his plan for the es- 
tablishment of arbitrary power and the return of popery. The sec- 
ond step was the renewal of war, in alliance with France, against 
the Dutch republic, with the intent of blotting out that prosperous, 
free and protestant government from among the nations. The third 
movement, was the king's declaration published March 16, 1672, 
in which by virtue of his supreme power in all ecclesiastical mat- 
ters, he suspended the execution of all penal laws in relation to re- 
ligion ; and established at a word a system of toleration, under 
which a convenient number of places was to be licensed with cer- 
tain restrictions, as places of public worship, for the use of protes- 
tant dissenters, while the papists were only to be indulged with the 
liberty of holding meetings for worship at their own discretion, in 
their own houses. The face of the declaration seemed to frown 
on the papists ; but it was instantly discovered that the operation of 
the system would be to give the Roman Catholics much more lib- 
erty than was offered to the protestants. 

The nonconformists saw through this scheme ; and yet determin- 
ed to avail themselves of whatever advantages it offered them. 
Some of the ministers waited on the king to thank him for the in- 
dulgence ; and many of them took out licenses and began to preach 
publicly. Baxter delayed for a while, till the ministers in the city 


had opened their respective places of worship, and had gathered 
their congregations. After that, lie consented to take a license, 
on condition he might have it " without the .title of Independent, 
Presbyterian, or any other party, but only as a nonconformist." 
Such a license was obtained for him ; and " the 19th of Novem- 
ber," he writes, " my baptism-day, was the first day after ten 
years silence that I preached in a tolerated public assembly, though 
not yet tolerated in any consecrated church, but only against law in 
my own house." In January, he began a week-day lecture in the 
chapel of a brother minister. On the Lord's days, he had no con- 
gregation of his own, but preached occasionally and gratuitously 
where he was invited. The next spring he removed his family in- 
to the city, having resided at Totteridge three years. 

But the progress of the court towards arbitrary power, had rous- 
ed something of the English spirit even in that degenerate age. 
When the parliament assembled, corrupt and venal as it was, the 
declaration of indulgence was voted illegal, and after much debat- 
ing and resistance on the part of the administration, was finally 
given up by the king. The dissenters themselves were known to 
be against the declaration. One of the representatives of the city 
of London, speaking in the name of the nonconformists, declared 
that they would rather not have their liberty than have it at the ex- 
pense of the constitution. The overthrow of the declaration was 
followed by the Test act, which though leveled against the designs 
of the court and the catholics, bore hard on the interests of protes- 
tant dissenters. Yet this act, the dissenters, in their zeal against 
the common enemy, heartily promoted ; trusting that the parlia- 
ment would immediately honor their integrity, and relieve their 
burthens. A bill for their relief was brought into the house of 
Commons ; but was defeated by the united management of the 
court and the bishops. 

The court seeing that the Puritans were not to be enticed into a 
conspiracy against the constitution, now let loose upon them the 
whole pack of informers, and determined to make them feel the 
weight of the law. A number of infamous persons in London and 
elsewhere followed the trade of informers, and shared with justices 
of the same stamp, the fines imposed on dissenters for the exercise 


of their worship. By such informers and magistrates, Baxter was 
persecuted above most of his brethren. Prosecution was heaped 
on prosecution ; but he escaped imprisonment, and while he was 
permitted to go at large he was resolved to purjue his work of 
preaching. At last, he says, " I was so long wearied with keep- 
ing my doors shut against them that came to distrain on my goods 
for preaching, that I was fain 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 now been without a treasure. For about twelve years, 
I was driven a hundred miles from them ; and when I had paid 
dear for the carriage, after two or three years, J was forced to sell 
them. 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 this world, and we must carry 
nothing out. The loss is very tolerable." 

In this way he lived for several years, driven from one refuge 
to another, having no certain dwelling place, and yet preaching 
with the boldness and perseverance of a martyr. Once with the 
aid of his friends, he built a chapel. But after preaching there a 
single sermon, he was obliged to flee into the country to escape 
imprisonment. When he attempted to occupy it again, the meet- 
ing was repeatedly broken up by the king's drums beaten under the 
windows. In the end, he was glad to dispose of it at a great pecu- 
niary sacrifice, that it might become a chapel of ease to the parish 
within which it was built. All this while he was " in deaths oft," 
groaning under almost incredible anguish as his complicated diseas- 
es gained on his declining strength : and yet so intense and inde- 
fatigable was the energy of his mind, he was producing volume af- 
ter volume, as rapidly as if he had been a man of perfect health and 
unbroken literary leisure. 

Id 167S, the jealousy and alarm in respect to popery which had 
long been rising, and for which the proceedings of the Court and 
of the Catholics had given abundant cause, broke out into a sud- 
den and irresistible panic. The whole nation was thrown into a 
ferment by the alleged discovery of a " popish plot," the purpose 
of which was said to be to murder the king, to put the duke of 


York on the throne, and to suppress the protestant heresy by fire 
and sword. That the papists were at that time extensively con- 
sulting and plotting for the restoration of their religion in Great 
Britain, and were hoping great things from the expected succes- 
sion of the duke of York, who was one of them, is unquestiona- 
ble. That the discoveries of Oates and others, by which the na- 
tion was thrown into so terrible a panic, were false, is equally be- 
yond dispute. But such was the excitement of all sorts of people, 
that many papists of distinction, priests and laymen, were put to 
death under the forms of law for a supposed participation in the 
" bloody and hellish plot." In connection with this excitement, a 
desperate effort was made in parliament to secure the liberties and 
protestant religion of the nation, by excluding the duke of York from 
his succession to the crown. This emergency united in one pha- 
lanx, the more moderate and liberal members of the established 
church and the protestant dissenters. Several parliaments endea- 
vored the relief of the persecuted protestants ; but the bishops in 
the house of Lords, generally voted against such measures, and 
the king was willing to have a body of men so uncompromising, 
still at his mercy. The persecution still went on, with occasional 
intervals of partial repose, till the death of the king in 1685. 

James II. a professed and bigotted papist, succeeded to the 
throne ; and though at first all was tranquility and confidence, as 
is usual with the English people at the accession of a new sove- 
reign, soon the fears which had formerly agitated the nation began 
to revive ; and it was evident that all those fears were now to be 
realized. The universities and the great body of the clergy still 
professed the utmost obsequiousness, and preached, as they had 
long done, the doctrine of unlimited obedience. Encouraged by 
such demonstrations of loyalty, James went on the more rapidly 
and madly with his designs. His court and council were filled with 
papists ; parliaments w 7 ere dispensed with ; laws were set aside by 
the royal prerogative ; and a government in all respects arbitrary, 
was attempted. The established church was at last invaded. 
Some important livings in the universities and elsewhere were 
seized by the king for the popish priests. On such an occasion, 
nature was too strong for principle ; the favorite doctrine of passive 


obedience was forgotten ; and the established clergy and the king 
were arrayed against each other. The king had now no friends 
but the Catholics ; and the nation was ripe for revolution. Urged 
by many invitations, the prince of Orange, who had married James' 
eldest daughter, invaded the kingdom ; and a revolution was ef- 
fected without a battle and almost without bloodshed, in 1689. 
James, after an disgraceful reign of four years, abdicated the crown 
by flight ; and was succeeded by William and Mary. 

The concluding part of Baxter's narrative of his own life and 
times, is mostly occupied with notices of the state of public affairs 
during the latter years of Charles's reign, and at the accession of 
James to the throne. The friends and associates of his earlier years 
were departing in rapid succession to the " everlasting rest." His 
wife, who had for twenty years cheered him with affectionate and 
cheerful assiduity under his many afflictions, died on the 14th of 
June, 1681. Thus left alone in his old age, with infirmities and 
pains upon him, the recital of which would be distressing, he was 
still followed by his persecutors. On the 24th of August, 1682, 
just twenty years after the ejection, he preached in great weakness, 
and expecting to preach no more, " took his leave of the pulpit 
and public work in a thankful congregation." " But after this," 
he says, " when I had ceased preaching, I was suddenly surprised 
by a poor, violent informer, and many constables and officers, who 
had rushed in, 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, when I contentedly went 
with them towards the justice to be sent to jail, and left my house 
to their will. But Dr. Thomas Cox, meeting me, forced me in 
again to my couch and bed, and went to five justices, and took 
his oath, without my knowledge, that I could not go to prison with- 
out danger of death. On that the justices delayed a day, till they 
could speak with the king, and told him what the doctor had sworn : 
so the king consented that, for the present, 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, 

Vol. I. 32 


and sold them all. Some friends paid them as much money as they 
were prized at, which I repaid, and was fain to send them away." 
" 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 that life which needeth books, and so I easily let go 
all. Naked came ] 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 strangers, were so liberal, that I was 
fain to restrain their bounty. Their kindness was a surer and 
larger revenue to me than my own. But God was pleased quick- 
ly to put me past all fear of men, and all desire of avoiding suffer- 
ing from them by concealment, by laying on me more himself than 
man can do. Then imprisonment, with tolerable health, would 
have seemed a palace to me ; and had they put me to death for 
such a duty as they persecute me for, it would have been a joyful 
end of my calamity : but day and night I groan and languish under 
God's just afflicting hand. The pain which before only tired my 
reins, and tore my bowels, now also fell upon my bladder, and 
scarce any part, or hour, is free. As waves follow waves in the 
tempestuous seas, so one pain followeth another in thissinfnl, mis- 
erable flesh. I die daily, and yet remain alive. God, in his great 
mercy, knowing my dullness in health and ease, doth make it 
much easier to repent and hate my sin, loathe myself, contemn 
the world, and submit to the sentence of death with willingness, 
than otherwise it was ever likely 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 the 
best and kindest of friends can do for a pained body, or a guilty, 
sinful soul, in comparison of one gracious look or word from 
God ! Wo be to him that hath no better help than man : and 
blessed is he whose help and hope are in the Lord !" 

In 1684, he was again apprehended. Expecting to be impris- 
oned for residing in London, he refused to open his chamber door, 
the officers having no warrant to enter by violence ; but six offi- 
cers besieged his study, watching all night, and keeping him from his 
bed and food, till on the second day he surrendered, and scarcely 
able to stand, was carried to the sessions and " bound in four bun- 


drud pounds bond to his good behavior." He desired to know 
what his crime was ; and was told that he was thus dealt with only 
to secure the government in evil times, and "that they had a list of 
many suspected persons whom they must do the like with." The 
same process was repeated thrice in the course of a few months. 
On one of these occasions, Dec. 11th, he was told that the main 
object was to restrain him from writing. 

On the 28ih of February following, a few days after the acces- 
sion oi James, he was committed to prison by a warrant from the 
infamous Chief Justice Jefferies, for his Parapbrase on the New 
Testament, then just published, which was denominated a scanda- 
lous and seditious book against the government. On the 18th of 
May, bis counsel, on account of his illness, moved that his trial might 
be postponed. " I will not give him a minute's time more, to save 
his life," was the answer of the Chief Justice. On the 30th he 
came to his trial in Guildhall. Eminent counsel had been em- 
ployed in his behalf by his friends. But the arbitrary and brutal 
Chief Justice would allow no argument to be made in his defense. 
One after another of those who attempted to speak, was interrupted 
and overborne by the violence of the bench. The coarsest and 
most rabid abuse was heaped on the prisoner. At last, Baxter him- 
self offered to speak. " My lord," said he, " 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 lit- 
tle by testimony." But not a word would the judge hear ; and 
the witnesses who had been cited in behalf of the prisoner, were 
prevented from testifying. At length Jefferies summed up the 
cause, in the same style in which he had conducted it. " Does 
your lordship think," said Baxter, " that any jury will pretend to 
pass a verdict upon me, on such a trial ?" " I'll warrant you, Mr. 
Baxter," was the reply, " don't trouble yourself about that." The 
jury immediately laid their heads together, and found him guilty. 
He was fined five hundred marks, condemned to lie in prison till 
he paid it, and bound to his good behavior for seven years.'' 

An account of this trial is given in Calamy's life of Baxter, and is copied, 
wuli some authentic additions, by Orme. Baxter's own narrative terminate^ just 
befbrc'the date of his 


Nearly two years afterwards, James, having found that the es- 
tablished clergy would not stand by their favorite doctrine of obe- 
dience, undertook once more to court the dissenters. Many who 
were imprisoned were set at liberty. Among these was Baxter. 
His fine was remitted ; but he was still under bonds for his good 
behavior, it being expressly stipulated that he might continue to re- 
side in London. He was released November 2 1, 1686. 

Soon afterwards the king, pursuing his mad project, publi- 
a declaration, stronger than that on which Charles had ventured in 
1G72, offeringthe most unlimited religioos liberty, and suspending 
all the laws against any s<-it of d Some of the ministers 

united in addresses <>i" thanks lor this liberty, but Baxter and many 
of his brethren stood aloof, test tiny should seem to approve so 
manifest an usurpation. None however scrupled to enjoy the liber- 
ty while it lasted. Baxter, though in his seventy second year, 
resumed once more his public labors, assisting his friend Mr. Syl- 
vester, in the charge of a congregation, lour years and a half, 
he preached once every Lord's day, and once on every other 
Thursday. After his growing diseases had disabled him from 
preachimr, he was wont to open his doors every morning and eve- 
ning, for all that would worship with him in his family. He con- 
tinued to write and publish after all his other labors were at an 

And here the catalogue of his publications may be brought down 
from the year 1GG5* to the end. 

53. " The Reasons of the Christian Religion. The first part, 
of godliness ; proving by natural evidence the being of God, the 
necessity of holiness, and a future lile of retribution, &c. The 
second part, of Christianity ; proving by evidence, supernatural and 
natural, the certain truth of the Christian belief, and answering the 
objections of unbelievers." 4to. published in 1G67. This is a sys- 
tematic and elaborate work of six hundred pages. 

54. " Directions for weak distempered Christians, to grow up 
to a confirmed state of grace ; with Motives opening the lamenta- 
ble effects of their weaknesses and distempers." 8vo. 1 G S . 

»p. J 17. 220. 


55. " The character of a sound Confirmed Christian ; as also 
of a weak Christian, and of a seeming Christian." 8vo. published 
in 1669. 

56. " The Life of Faith ; in three parts." 4to. published 
in 1670. The first part of this work, is his sermon formerly 
preached before the king, with large additions. The other two 
parts are instructions and directions on the same subject. The 
whole is a volume of more than five hundred pages. 

57. " The Cure of Church Divisions." 8vo. published in 1671. 

58. " Defense of the principles of love which are necessary to 
the unity and concord of Christians, and are delivered in a book 
called The Cure of Church Divisions. By Richard Baxter, one 
of the mourners for a self-dividing and self-afflicting land." 8vo. 
published in 1671. The Cure of Church Divisions, was thought 
by many nonconformists to reflect unjustly on them and their cause ; 
and on that account it was severely handled by some of them, and 
particularly by Edward Bagshaw, an Independent, of a warm and 
hasty spirit. To his ' Antidote', Baxter replied in this ' Defense.' 

59. " The Divine appointment of the Lord's Day, proved, as 
a separated day for holy worship, especially in Church-Assemblies : 
and consequently the cessation of the seventh-day Sabbath." Svo. 
published in 1671. 

60. " The Duty of Heavenly Meditation reviewed, in answer to 
the Exceptions of Mr. Giles Firmin." 4to. 1671. This pamph- 
let was a reply to a brother who had animadverted gently on some 
passages in the Saint's Rest. 

61. " How far Holiness is the design of Christianity," 4to. a 
pamphlet, published in 1671. 

62. " God's goodness vindicated," he. 12mo. 1671. 

63. " A second Admonition to Mr. Edward Bagshaw, written 
to call him to repentance, &c." 4to. published in 1671. 

64. " More Reasons for the Christian Religion and no Reasons 
against it." 12mo. published in 1672. This was an Appendix to 
the work numbered 53. 

65. " The Church told of Mr. Edward Bagshaw's Scandal, and 
warned of the dangerous snares of Satan now laid for them in his 
love-killing principles." lto. published in 1672. This was the 


end of the controversy. Bagshaw, long a sufferer in the cause of 
righteousness and liberty, whom his opponent characterizes as a 
man of a Roman spirit, died, a prisoner, just as this pamphlet 
came from the press j — a circumstance which Baxter records as 
one that gave him great pain. 

66. " A Christian Directory ; or, A Sum of Practical Theolo- 
gy, and Cases of Conscience," etc. folio, 1673. This work was 
written in 1664 and 1665. In the recent octavo edition, it fills 
live large volumes. 

67. " The poor man's Family Book." 8vo. published in 1674. 

68. - l Catholic Theology — plain, pure, peaceable : for pacifica- 
tion of the dogmatical word-warriors ; who, by contending about 
things unrevealed, or not understood, and by putting verbal dif- 
ferences for real, and their arbitrary notions for necessary sacred 
truths, deceived and deceiving by ambiguous, unexplained words, 
have long been the shame of the Christian religion, a scandal and 
hardening to unbelievers, the incendiaries, dividers, and distracters 
of the church ; the occasion of state discords and wars ; the cor- 
rupters of the Christian faith, and the subverters of their own souls, 
and those of their followers ; calling them to a blind zeal and wrath- 
ful warfare against true piety, love, aud peace, and teaching them 
to censure, backbite, slander, and prate against each other, for 
things which they never understood. In three books. I. Pacify- 
ing Principles about God's decrees, foreknowledge, providence, 
operations, redemption, grace, man's power, free will, justifica- 
tion, merits, certainty of salvation, perseverance, &c. II. A Pa- 
cifying Praxis, or dialogue about the five articles, justification, &c, 
proving that men here contend almost only about ambiguous words 
and unrevealed things. III. Pacifying Disputations against some 
real errors which hinder reconciliation, viz., about physical pre- 
determinations, original sin, the extent of redemption, sufficient 
grace, imputation of righteousness, &tc. Written chiefly for pos • 
terity, when sad experience hath taught men to hate theological 
wars, and to love, and seek, and call for peace." folio. 1675. 

69. " More Proofs of Infants' Church-membership, and conse- 
quently their rights to Baptism ; or a second Defense of our Infan 


Rights and Mercies," Svo. published in 1675. This was the re- 
vival of his old dispute with Mr. Tombes. See pp. 145. 146. 

70. "Two disputations of original Sin." 12mo. 1675. 

71. " Treatise of Justifying Righteousness," Svo. 1676. 

72. Omitting, for the present, any mention of a large class of 
controversial writings which occupied much of his time, we notice 
next a small tract published in ] 676, entitled " Reasons for Min- 
isters' using the greatest plainness," etc. 

73. " Review of the state of Christian Infants," Svo. 1676. 

74. " A Moral Prognostication ; first, What shall befall the 
Churches on earth, till their concord by the restitution of their 
primitive purity, simplicity and charity : secondly, How that res- 
titution is likely to be made, if ever, and what shall befall them 
thenceforth unto the end, in that golden age of love." 4lo. published 
in 1 '80. This work was written in 1661. 

75. " Poetical Fragments : Heart Employment with God and 
itself. The concordant discord of a broken healed heart; sorrow- 
ing, rejoicing, fearing, hoping, living, dying." 12mo. 1681. 

76. " Methodus Theologian Christiana?, naturae rerum congrua, 
sacras scripturae conformis, praxi adaptata," etc. folio, 1681. 
There could hardly have been a more striking illustration of the 
versatility of Baxter's talents, than the fact that the same year wit- 
nessed the publication of his Methodus Theologia?, and his Poetical 
Fragments ; the one (nearly 900 pages) full of all the logic, learn- 
ing, and metaphysics of the schoolmen ; the other (as insignificant 
in bulk as any modern volume of poems) containing some truly 
beautiful specimens of devotional poetry. 

77. " A Breviate of the Life of Mrs, Margaret Baxter, with 
some account of her mother, Mrs. Hanmer." 4to. 1681. 

78. " Of the Immortality of Man's Soul ; and of the nature of 
it, and of other spirits." 12mo. 1682, 

79. "Compassionate Counsel to all Young Men; especially 
London apprentices; students of divinity, physic, and law; and the 
sons of magistrates and rich men." 12mo. 1682. 

80. "The Catechising of Families: A Teacher of Household- 
ers how to teach their Households," etc. Svo. published in 1683. 
This is a large catechism of nearly three hundred pn^es. 


81. " Additions to the Poetical Fragments ; written for himself, 
and communicated to such as are more for serious verse than 
smooth." 12mo. published in 1683. 

82. " Obedient Patience : its nature in general, and its exercise," 
etc. 8vo. published in J 683. 

83. " Mr. Baxter's Dying Thoughts upon Philippians i. 23," etc. 
8vo. published in 16S3. 

84. "The one Thing Necessary; or Christ's Justification of 
Mary's choice," etc. 8vo. 1686. 

85. " Paraphrase on the New Testament, with Notes," etc. 4to. 
16S5. This book — for which the author suffered so much — was 
designed as a Family Expositor. 

86. "Knowledge and Love Compared," etc. 4to. 1689. 

87. " Cain and Abel Malignity, that is, Enmity to serious Godli- 
ness, that is to a holy and heavenly state of heart and life : lament- 
ed, described, detected, and unanswerably proved lobe the devil- 
ish nature ; and the militia of the Devil against God, and Christ, 
and the church and kingdoms ; and the surest sign of a state of 
damnation." 8vo. 1689. 

88. "The Scripture Gospel defended, and Christ, grace, and free 
justification vindicated against the libertines." 8vo. 1690. This 
work was occasioned by a new breaking out of the antinomian con- 

89. "An End of Doctrinal Controversies which have lately trou- 
bled the churches, by reconciling explication, without much dis- 
puting." 8vo. 1691. 

90. 91. In 1691, he published two pamphlets in opposition to 
some extravagances then broached, by an unfortunate interpreter of 
the apocalypse. 

92. "Of National Churches ; their description, institution," etc. 
4to. 1691. 

93. "Richard Baxter's Penitent Confession and Necessary 
Vindication." 4to. 1691. 

94. " The Certainty of the World of Spirits, fully evinced by 
unquestionable histories of apparitions," etc. 12mo. 1691. When 
such men as Matthew Hale and Robert Boyle were firm believers 


oi the doctrine contained in this volume, a similar belief can by no 
means be set down to the prejudice of Baxter's intellect. 

95 — 103. Between 1674, and 1682, he published nine separate 
sermons, several of them funeral discourses, and few of them infe- 
rior to the best productions of any other preacher. 

104 — 111. During the period from 1671 to 1691, he produced 
eight different works against popery ; some of them, light tracts to 
instruct and guard the uneducated reader; and some, elaborate 
treatises for men of learning. 

112 — 135. His publications in connection with the great con- 
troversy between the establishment and the dissenters, from the 
year 1676 to the end of his life, are also too numerous to be sepa- 
rately mentioned here. Twenty-three different pamphlets and 
volumes, some of them among his most labored productions, con- 
stitute this series. His part in this controversy was altogether his 
own. On the one hand he attempted to restrain the zeal of his 
suffering brethren ; and on the other he showed himself more than 
a match for the most learned and able of their ecclesiastical op- 

136 — 140. This enumeration may be carried still farther, by 
adding five posthumous volumes, the most considerable of which, 
entitled " Reliquiae Baxterianae ; Mr. Richard Baxter's Narrative," 
etc. was published in 1696. Another was a metrical "Paraphrase 
on the Psalms of David, with other Hymns." 

We have followed the good man to the end of all his labors. 
After having seen how he lived, we hardly need to be told how he 
died ; the death of such a man could not but be peace. 

With what temper he approached the final hour may be seen 
from a letter of his to the venerable Increase Mather of Boston, 
which though dated about four months before his death, was doubt- 
less among the last productions of his pen. The book referred to, 
is Cotton Mather's life of Eliot. 
" Dear Brother, 

" I thought I had been near dying at twelve o'clock in bed : but 
your book revived me ; I lay reading it until between one and two. 
I knew much of Mr. Eliot's opinions, by many letters which I had 

Vol. I. 33 


from him. There was no man on earth whom 1 honored above 
him. It is his evangelical work that is the apostolical succession 
which I plead for. 1 am now d)ing I hope as he did. It pleased 
me to read from him my case. ' My understanding faileth, my 
memory faileth, and my hand and pen fail, but my charity faileth 
not.' That word much comforted mc. I am as zealous a lover 
of the New England Churches as any man, according to Mr. Noyes', 
Mr. Norton's and Mr. Mitehel's, and the Synod's model. I love 
your father upon the letters I received from him. 1 love you bet- 
ter for your learning, labors, and peaceable moderation. I love 
your son better than either ol you, lor the excellent temper that 
appeared) in his writings. O that godliness and wisdom may in* 
crease in all families. He hath honored himself half as much as 
Mr. Eliot ; I say hall as much, for deeds excel words. God pre- 
serve you and New England. Pray for your fainting languishing 
friend, Ri. Baxter." 

"Aug. 3, 1091." 

The sermon at Baxter's funeral, was preached, as he had him- 
self requested, by his old and tried friend, Dr. Bates. Another 
sermon on the same occasion was preached to the congregation to 
which he had last ministered, by his associate in the ministry, Syl- 
vester. From these sermons the following particulars are selected. 

"He continued to preach so long," says Bates, "notwithstanding his 
wasted, languishing body, that the last time he almost died in the pulpit. 
It would have been his joy to have been transfigured in the mount. 
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 less affectation. This excellent 
saint 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, heaven 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.' 


" Never was penitent sinner more humble and debasing himself, 
never was a sincere believer more calm and comfortable." " Ma- 
ny 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 ; and all my hopes are from the free mercy of God in 
Christ,' which he often prayed for." 

" His resigned submission to the will of God in his sharp sickness 
was eminent. When extremity of pain constrained 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 unsearchable are 
his ways, and his paths past finding out ; the reaches of his providence 
we cannot fathom !' And to his friends, 'Do not think the worse 
of religion for what you see mo 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 peace and comfort within.' But it 
was his trouble 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 judgment submitted, yet sense 
would still make him groan.' 

" Being asked by a person of quality, whether he bad not great 
joy from his believing apprehensions of the invisible stale, he replied, 
' What else, think you, Christianity serves for ?' He said, the con- 
sideration of the Deity in his glory and greatness, was too high for 
our thoughts ; but the consideration of the Son of God in our nature, 
and of the saints in heaven whom we knew and loved, did much 
sweeten and familiarize heaven to him. The description of heaven, 
in Heb. xii. 22, was most comfortable to him ; "that he was go- 
ing to the innumerable company of angels, and to the general as- 
sembly 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, which speaketh better things than the 
blood of Abel.' That scripture, he said, ' deserved a thousand 


thousand thoughts." He said, ' Oh, how comfortable is that pro- 
mise; Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into 
the heart of man to conceive, the things God hath laid up for those 
who love him.' 

"At another time, he said, that he found great comfcrt and 
sweetness in repeating the Lord's Prayer, and was sorry some good 
people were prejudiced against the use of it, for there were all ne- 
cessary petitions for soul and body contained in it. 

"At other times, he gave excellent counsel to young ministers 
that visited him ; and earnestly prayed to God to bless their labors, 
and make them very successful in converting many souls to Christ; 
and expressed great joy in the hopes that God would do a great 
deal of good by them ; and that they were of moderate, peace- 
ful spirits. 

" He did often pray that God would be merciful to this miserable, 
distracted world, and that he would preserve his church and inter- 
est in it. He advised his friends to beware of self-conceitedness, 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 in controversial 
points, he said, ' Those that please, may know my mind in my wri- 
tings ; 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. Mather, 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 told him, ' You are now- 
approaching to 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 a great willingness to die ; and during his sickness, 
when the question was asked, ' How he did?' his reply was, 'Almost 
well.'' His joy was most remarkable, when, in his own apprehen- 
sions, death was nearest ; and his spiritual joy was at length con- 
summate in eternal joy."* 

* Bates' Works, Vol. iv. pp. 3.37, 340. 


" While pain and sickness wasted his body," says Sylvester, " his 
soul abode rational, strong in faith and hope, arguing itself into, and 
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." 

" Even to the last, 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 appeared 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 refreshments of it, 
he clearly saw what ground he had to rejoice in God ; he doubted 
not of his right to heaven. He told me he knew it should be well 
with him when he was gone. He wondered to hear others speak 
of their sensible, passionately strong desires to die, and of their 
transports of spirit, when sensible of their approaching death ; 
whereas he himself thought he knew as much as they, and had as 
rational satisfaction as they could have that his soul was safe, and 
yet could never feel their sensible consolations. I asked him, 
whether much of this was not to be resolved into bodily constitu- 
tion ; he told me he thought it might be so." 

" On Monday, Dec. 7, about five in the evening, death sent his 
harbinger to summon him away. A great trembling and coldness 
extorted strong cries from him, for pity and redress from heaven ; 
which cries and agonies continued for some time, till at length he 
ceased and lay in an observant, patient expectation of his change. 
Being once asked, by his faithful friend, and constant attendant in 
his weakness, Mrs. Bushel, his house-keeper, whether he knew 
her or not, requesting some sign of it if he did, he softly cried, 
1 Death, death !' He now felt the benefit of his former preparations 
for the trying time. The last words that he spake to me, on being 
informed that I was come to see him, were, 'Oh I thank him, I 
thank him,' and turning his eye to me, he said, ' The Lord teach 
you how to die.'" 

" He expired on Tuesday morning, about four o'clock, Dec. 
8, 1691. Though he expected and desired his dissolution to 
have been on the Lord's- day before, which with joy to me, he 
called a high day, because of his desired change expected then by 


Sylvester thus describes the person and manners of his venerable 
friend. " He was tall and slender, and stooped much. His coun- 
tenance was composed and grave, somewhat inclining to smile. He 
had a piercing eye, a very articulate speech, and his deportment 
was rather plain than complimentary. He had a great command 
over his thoughts, and had that happy faculty, according to the 
character which was given of him by a learned man dissenting from 
him, that 'he could say what he would, and he could prove what 
he said.' He was pleasingly conversible, save in his studying hours, 
wherein he could not bear with trivial disturbances. He was spar- 
ingly facetious, but never light or frothy. He was unmoveable where 
apprehensive of his duty ; yet affable and condescending where 
there was a likelihood of doing good. His personal abstinence, 
severities, and labors, were exceeding great. He kept his body 
under, and always feared pampering his flesh too much." 

" His prayers," says Bates, " were an effusion of the most lively 
melting expressions, and his intimate ardent affections to God ; from 
the ' abundance of the heart his lips spake.' His soul took wing for 
heaven, and rapt up the souls of others with him. Never did T 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 re- 
quests ; nor with more filial affiance in the divine mercy. 

" In his sermons there was a rare union of arguments and mo- 
tives 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 marvellous 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 des- 
pised flashy oratory : but his expressions were clear and powerful, 
so convincing the understanding, so entering into the soul, so en- 
gaging the affections, that those were as deaf as adders, who were 
not ' charmed by so wise a charmer.' He was animated with the 
Holy Spirit, and breathed celestial fire, to inspire heat and life into 
dead sinners, and to melt the obdurate in the frozen tombs. Me- 
thinks 1 still hear him speak those powerful words : ' A wretch that 


is condemned to die to-morrow cannot forget it : and yet poor sin- 
ners, that continually are uncertain to live an hour, and certain 
speedily to see the majesty of the Lord to their inconceivable 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 poorest glow- worm. O 
wonderful folly and distractedness of the ungodly ! That ever men 
can forget, I say again, that they can forget, eternal joy, eternal 
woe, and the eternal God, and the place of their eternal unchangea- 
ble abodes, when they stand even at the door ; and there is but a 
thin veil of flesh between them and that amazing sight, that eter- 
nal gulf, and they are daily dying and stepping in.' " 

" Though all divine graces, the ' fruit of the Spirit,' were visi- 
ble in his conversation, yet some were more eminent. Humility 
is to other graces, as the morning-star is to the sun, that goes be- 
fore it, and follows it in the evening : humility prepares us for the 
receiving of grace, " God gives grace to the humble :" and it fol- 
lows the exercise of grace ; " Not I," says the apostle, " but the 
grace of God in me." In Mr. Baxter, there was a rare union of 
sublime knowledge, and other spiritual excellencies, with the low- 
est opinion of himself." 

" Self-denial and contempt of the world were shining graces in 
him. I never knew any person less indulgent to himself, and more 
indifferent to his temporal interest. The offer of a bishopric was 
no temptation to him ; for his exalted soul despised the pleasures 
and profits which others so earnestly desire ; he valued not an 
empty title upon his tomb." 

" This saint was tried by many afflictions. We are very tender 
of our reputation : his name was obscured under a cloud of de- 
traction. Many slanderous darts were thrown at him. He was 
charged with schism and sedition. He was accused for his para- 
phrase upon the New Testament, as guilty of disloyal aspersions 
upon the government, and condemned, unheard, to a prison, where 
he remained for some years. But he was so far from being mov- 
ed at the unrighteous prosecution, that he joyfully said to a constant 
friend, ' What could I desire more of God, than after serving him 
to my power, I should now be called to suffer for him.' " 


« But bis patience was more eminently tried by his continual 
uaiQS and | tyrdom is a more easy way of dying, 

when the combat and the victory are finished at once, than to die 
by degrees every day. His complaints were frequent, but who 
ever heard an unsubmissive word drop from his lips ? He was not 
put out of his patience, nor out of the possession ot hunselt. In 
his sha^pa ins, he said, ■ I have a rational patience, and a behev- 
in* patience thouj ouid recoil.' 

« H . spirit was a clear character of his being a child ot 

God How ardently he endeavored to cement the breaches among 
as which others widen and keep open, is publicly kuowu. lie 
said to a friend, ■ I can as willingly be a martyr Tor love, as lor any 
article of the creed.' It is strange to astonishment, that those who 
a-ree in the substantial and great points of the reformed religion, 
and are of diflering sentiments only in.things not so clear, nor ot 
that moment as those wherein they consent, should still be oppo- 

site parties." _ __ 

« Love to the souls of men was the peculiar character ol Mr. 
Baxter's spirit In this he imitated and honored our Savior, who 
praved. died, and lives for the salvation of souls. All his natural 
and supernatural endowments were subservient to this blessed end 
It wa= his ' meat and drink,' the life and joy of his life to do good 
tosoub. In his usual conversation, his serious, Irequent and de- 
lightful discourse was of divine things, to inflame his Iriends with 
the love of heaven. He received with tender compassion and con- 
de^cendin, kindness, the meanest that came to him for counsel 
and consolation. He gave in one year a hundred pounds to boy 
bible, for the poor. He has in his will disposed ol all that remains 
of nil Estate after the legacies to his kindred, for the benefit ol the 
oouls and bodies of the poor." 

Who wiU not join i. the prayer with which Bate, conclude, b.s 

■■ Ma. I live .be short remainder of my life, as ennrely 
the dory of bod, as he lived; and when I shall come to the 

period of mv life, may I die in the same blessed peace wherein 
he died i may I be with him in the kingdom ol bg™ and lote lor 








" God is love." 1 John iv. 16. 

"Come, for all things are now ready." Luke xir.17. Mat. xxii. 4. 

Vol. I 

" Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy-laden, and I will give 
you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and 
lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is ea- 
sy, and my burden is light." Mat. xi. 28. 

" For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: 
and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the 
things that ye would." Gal. v. 17. 

" Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his 
servants ye are to whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of obedi- 
ence unto righteouness ?' T Rom. vi. 16. 

" Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." 

Rom. xiii. 14. 

" For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : but if ye through the Spi- 
rit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." RoM.viii. 13. 

u While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of 
corruption : for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in 
bondage." 2 Pet. ii. 19. 

" Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, 
and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As 
I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, 
but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from 
your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?" 

Ezek. xxxiii. 10, 11. 

" Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech 
you by us : we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God." 

2 Cor. v. 20. 

" Trust in the Lord, and do good, &c Delight thyself also in the Lord, 
and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Ps. xxxvii. 3, 4. 

Sound doctrine makes a sound judgment, a sound heart, a sound conver- 
sion, and a sound conscience. 


To my much valued, beloved, and honored Friends, Colonel 
John Bridges, with Mrs. Margaret Bridges, his wife, and 
Mr. Thomas Foley, with Mrs. Anne Foley, his wife. 

Though in publishing our writings, we intend them for the good 
of all : yet custom, not without reason, doth teach us, sometimes 
to direct them more especially to some. Though one only had 
the original interest in these papers, yet do I now direct them to 
you all, as not knowing how in this to separate you. You dwell 
together in my estimation and affection : one of you a member of 
the church which I must teach, and legally the patron of its 
maintenance and minister : the other, a special branch of that fami- 
ly which I was first indebted to in this county. You lately joined 
in presenting to the parliament, the petition of this county for the 
Gospel and a faithful ministry. When I only told you of my in- 
tention, of sending some poor scholars to the university, you freely 
and jointly offered your considerable annual allowance thereto, 
and that for the continuance of my life, or their necessities there. 
I will tell the world of this, whether you will or no j not for your 
applause, but for their imitation ; and the shame of many of far 
greater estates, that will not be drawn to do the like. The season 
somewhat aggravates the goodness of your works. When satan 
hath a design to burn up those nurseries, you aire watering God's 
plants ; when the greedy mouth of sacrilege is gaping for their 
maintenance, you are voluntarily adding for the supply of its de- 


feet. Who knows how many souls they may win to Christ (if God 
shall send them forth into his harvest) whom you have thus as- 
sisted ? And what an addition to your comfort this may be ? 
When the Gospel is so undermined, and the ministry so maligned, 
and their maintenance so envied, you have, as the mouth of this 
county, appeared for them all. What God will yet do with us, we 
cannot tell ; but if he will continue his Gospel to us, you may have 
the greater comfort in it. If he will remove it, and forsake a 
proud, unworthy, false-hearted people, yet may you have the com- 
fort of your sincere endeavors ; you (with the rest that sincerely 
furthered it) may escape the gnawings of conscience, and the pub- 
lic curse and reproach which the history of this age may fasten 
upon them, who after all their engagements in blood and covenants, 
would either in ignorant fury, or malicious subtlety, or base tempo- 
rizing cowardice, oppugn or undermine the Gospel, or in perfidi- 
ous silence look on whilst it is destroyed. But because it is not 
the work of a flatterer that I am doing, but of a friend, I must 
second these commendations with some caution and counsel, and 
tell yourselves of your danger and duty, as I tell others of your 
exemplary deeds. Truly, the sad experiences of these times, have 
much abased my confidence in man, and caused me to have lower 
thoughts of the best than sometime I have had. I confess I look on 
man, as such a distempered, slippery and inconstant thing, and of 
such a natural mutability of apprehensions and affections, that as I 
shall never more call any man on earth my friend, but with a sup- 
position that he may possibly become mine enemy ; so I shall never 
be so confident of any man's fidelity to Christ, as not withal to sus- 
pect that he may possibly forsake him. Nor shall I boast of any 
man's service for the Gospel, but with a jealousy that he may be 
drawn to do as much against it (though God, who knows the heart, 
and knows his own decrees, may know his sincerity, and foreknow 
his perseverance.) Let me therefore remember you, that had you 
expended your whole estates, and the blood of your hearts for 
Christ and his Gospel, he will not take himself beholden to you. 
He oweth you no thanks for your deepest engagements, highest 
adventures, greatest cost, or utmost endeavors. You are sure be- 
forehand that you shall be no losers by him : your seeming hazards 


increase your security : your losses are your gain : your giving is 
your receiving : your expenses are your revenues : Christ returns 
the largest usury. The more you do and suffer for him, the more 
you are beholden to him. I must also remember you, that you 
may possibly live to see the day, when it will cost you dearer to 
shew yourselves faithful to the Gospel, ordinances and ministers of 
Christ, than now it doth ; and that many have shrunk in greater 
trials, that past through lesser with resolution and honor. Your 
defection at the last, would be the loss of all your works and hopes. 
If any man draw back, Christ saith, his soul shall have no plea- 
sure in him. Even those that have endured the great fight of af- 
fliction, being reproached and made a gazing stock, and that having 
taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods, in assurance of a better 
and enduring substance, have yet need to be warned that they cast 
not away their confidence, and draw not back to perdition, and 
lose not the reward for want of patience and perseverance; Heb. 
x. 22. to the end. That you may escape this danger and be hap- 
py forever, take this advice. 1 . Look carefully to the sincerity 
of your hearts, in the covenant-closure with Christ. See that you 
take him with the happiness he hath promised for your all. Take 
heed of looking after another felicity ; or cherishing other hopes ; 
or esteeming too highly any thing below. Be jealous, and very 
jealous, lest your hearts should close deceitfully with Christ, main- 
taining any secret reserve for your bodily safety ; either resolving 
not to follow him, or not resolving to follow him through the most 
desolate distressed condition that he shall lead you in. Count 
what it may cost you to get the crown ; study well his precepts of 
mortification and self-denial. There is no true hopes of the glory- 
to come, if you cannot cast over-board all worldly hopes, when the 
storm is such that you must hazard the one. O how many have 
thought that Christ was most dear to them, and that the hopes of 
heaven were their chiefest hopes, who have left Christ, though 
with sorrow, when he bid them let go all ? 2. Every day renew 
your apprehensions of the truth and worth of the promised felicity, 
and of the delusory vanity of all things here below : let not heaven 
lose with you its attractive force, through your forgetfulness or un- 
belief. He is the best Christian that knows best why he is a Chris- 


tian, and he will most faithfully seek and suffer, that best knows for 
what he doth it. Value not wealth and honor above that rate, 
which the wisest and best experienced have put upon them, and al- 
low them no more of your affections than they deserve. A mean 
wit may easily discover their emptiness. Look on all present ac- 
tions and conditions with a remembrance of their end. Desire not 
a share in their prosperity, who must pay as dear for it as the loss 
of their souls. Be not ambitious of that honor which must end in 
confusion nor of the favor of those that God will call enemies. 
How speedily will they come down, and be levelled with the dust, 
and be laid in the chains of darkness, that now seem so happy to 
the purblind world, that cannot see the things to come ? Fear not 
that man must shortly tremble before that God whom all must fear. 
3. Be more solicitous for the securing of your consciences and sal- 
vation, than of your honors or estates : in every thing that you are 
put upon, consult first with God and conscience, and not with flesh 
and blood. It is your daily and most serious care and watchful- 
ness that is requisite to maintain your integrity, and not a few care- 
less thoughts or purposes, conjunct with a minding of earthly 
things. 4. Deal faithfully with every truth which you receive. 
Take heed of subjecting it to carnal interests : if once you have af- 
fections that can master your understandings, you are lost, and know 
it not. For when you have a resolution to cast off any duty, you 
will first believe it is no duty : and when you must change your 
judgment for carnal advantages, you will make the change seem 
reasonable and right : and evil shall be proved good when you have 
a mind to follow it. 5. Make Gospel-truths your own, by daily 
humble studies, arising to such a soundness of judgment, that you 
may not need to take too much upon trust, lest if your guides 
should miscarry, you miscarry with them. Deliver not up your 
understanding in captivity to any. 6. Yet do not over-value your 
own understandings. This pride hath done that in church and state, 
which all discerning men are lamenting. They that know but lit- 
tle, see not what they want, as well as what they have ; nor that 
imperfection in their knowledge, which should humble them, nor 
that difficulty in things which should make them diligent and mo- 
dest. 7. Apprehend the necessity and usefulness of Christ's offi- 


cers> order, and ordinances, for the prosperity of his church : pas- 
tors must guide you, though not seduce you, or lead you blindfold. 
But choose (if you may) such as are judicious and not ignorant, 
not rash but sober, not formal, but serious and spiritual ; not of 
carnal, but heavenly conversations : especially avoid them that di- 
vide and follow parties, and seek to draw disciples to themselves, 
and can sacrifice the church's unity and peace to their proud hu- 
mors or carnal interests. Watch carefully that no weaknesses of 
the minister, do draw you to a disesteem of the ordinances of God ; 
nor any of the sad miscarriages of professors, should cause you to 
set less by truth or godliness. Wrong not Christ more, because 
other men have so wronged him. Quarrel more with your own 
unfitness and unworthiness in ordinances, than with other men's. 
It is the frame of your own heart that doth more to help or hinder 
your comforts, than the quality of those you join with. To these 
few directions, added to the rest in this book, I shall subjoin my 
hearty prayers, that you may receive from that Gospel, and minis- 
try which you have owned, such stability in the faith, such victory 
over the flesh and the world, such apprehensions of the love of 
God in Christ, such direction in every strait and duty, that you 
may live uprightly, and die peaceably, and reign gloriously. Amen. 

Your servant in the faith 

and Gospel of Christ, 


May 9, 1653. 


Mr dearly beloved fellow christians, whose souls are taken up 
with the careful thoughts of attaining and maintaining peace with 
God, who are vile in your own eyes, and value the blood and 
Spirit, and word of your Redeemer, and the hope of the saints in 
their approaching blessedness, before all the pomp and vanities of 
this world, and resolve to give up yourselves to his conduct, who 
is become " the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey 
him :" for you do I publish the following directions, and to you it 
is that I direct this preface. The only glorious and infinite God f 
who made the worlds and upholdeth them by his word, who is at- 
tended with millions of his glorious angels, and praised continually 
,by his heavenly hosts; who pulleth down the mighty from their 
seats, and scattereth the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, 
maketh his enemies lick the dust ; to whom the kings and con- 
querors of the earth are as the most silly worms, and the whole world 
is nothing, and lighter than vanity, which he will shortly turn into 
flames before your eyes ; this God hath sent me to you, with that 
joyful message, which needs no more but your believing entertain- 
ment, to make it sufficient to raise you from the dust, and banish 
those terrors and troubles from your hearts, and help you to live 
like the sons of God. He commandeth me to tell you, that he 
takes notice of your sorrows. lie stands by when you see him not, 
and say, he hath forsaken you. He minds you with the greatest 
tenderness, when you say, he hath forgotten you. He numbereth 
your sighs, He bottles up your tears. The groans of your heart 


do reach his own. He takes it unkindly, that you are so sus- 
picious of him, and that all that he hath done for you in the work 
of redemption, and all the gracious workings of his Spirit on your 
souls, and all your own peculiar experiences of his goodness, can 
raise you to no higher apprehensions of his love ! Shall not love 
be acknowledged to be love, when it is grown to a miracle ? When 
it surpasseth comprehension ! Must the Lord set up love and 
mercy in the work of redemption, to be equally admired with his 
omnipotency manifested in the creation ? And call forth the world 
to this sweet employment, that in secret and in public it might be 
the business of our lives? And yet shall it be so overlooked or ques- 
tioned, as if you lived without love and mercy in the world ? Pro- 
vidence doth its part, by heaping up mountains of daily mercies ; 
and these it sets before your eyes. The gospel hath eminently 
done its part by clearly describing them, and fully assuring them, 
and this is proclaimed frequently in your ears. And yet is there 
so little in your hearts and mouths? Do you see, and hear, and 
feel and taste mercy and love ? Do you live wholly on it ? And 
yet do you still doubt of it? and think so meanly of it, and so hard- 
ly acknowledge it? God takes not this well; but yet he consider- 
ed) your frailty, and takes you not at the worst. He knows that 
flesh will play its part, and the remnants of corruption will not be 
jdle. And the serpent will be suggesting false thoughts of God, 
will be still striving most to obscure that part of his glory which is 
dearest to him, and especially which is most conjoined with the 
happiness of man. He knows also, that sin will breed sorrows 
and fears ; and that man's understanding is shallow, and all his 
conceivings of God are exceeding low. And that we are so far 
from God as creatures, and so much further as sinners, and espe- 
cially as conscious of the abuse of his grace, that there must needs 
follow such a strangeness as will damp and dull our apprehensions 
of his love ; and such an abatement of our confidence, as will 
make us draw back, and look at God afar off. Seeing therefore 
that at this distance no full apprehensions of love can be expected, 
it is the pleasure of our Redeemer shortly to return, with ten thou- 
sand of his saints, with the noble army of his martyrs, and the at- 
tendance of his ansels, and to give you such a convincing demon- 
Vol. I. 35 


stration of his love, as shall leave no room for one more doubt. 
Your comforts are now but a taste, they shall be then a feast. 
They are now but intermittent, they shall be then continual. How 
soon now do your conquered fears return ; and what an incon- 
stancy and unevenness is there in our peace. But then our peace 
must needs be perfect and permanent, when we shall please God, 
and enjoy him in perfection to perpetuity. Certainly, christians, 
your comforts should be now more abundant, but that they are not 
ripe. Tt is that, and not this, that is your harvest. I have told 
you in another book, the mistake and danger of expecting too 
much here, and the necessity of looking and longing for that rest, 
if we will have peace indeed ! But, alas, how hard is this lesson 
learned ! Unbelievers would have happiness, but how fain would 
they have it in the creature rather than in God ! Believers would 
rather have their happiness in God than in the creature, but how 
fain would they have it without dying ! And no wonder, for when 
sin brought in death, even grace itself cannot love it, though it may 
submit to it. But though churlish death do stand in our way, why 
look we not at the souls, admittance into rest, and the body's resur- 
rection that must shortly follow ? Doubtless that faith by which we 
are justified and saved, as it sits down on the word of truth as the 
present ground of its confident repose, so doth it thence look with 
one eye backward on the cross, and the other forward on the 
crown. And if we well observe the scripture descriptions of that 
faith, we shall find them as frequently magnifying it, and describing 
it, from the latter, as from the former. As it is the duty and 
glory of faith to look back with thankful acknowledgment to a cru- 
cified Christ, and his payment of our ransom, so it is the duty and 
glory of that same justifying faith to look forward with desire and hope 
to the return of king Jesus, and the glorious celebration of the mar- 
riage of the Lamb, and the sentential justification and the glorification 
of his saints. To believe these things unfeignedly which we never 
saw, nor ever spoke with man that did see, and to hope for them so 
really as to let go all present forbidden pleasures, and all worldly 
hopes and seeming happiness, rather than to hazard the loss of them ; 
this is an eminent part of that faith by which the do live, and 
which the scriptures do own as justifying and saving. For it never 


distinguishes between justifying faith, as to their nature. It is there- 
fore a great mistake of some to look only at that one eye of justify- 
ing faith which looks back upon the cross, and a great mistake of 
them on the other hand that look only at that eye of it which beholds 
the crown. Both Christ crucified, and Christ interceding, and 
Christ returning to justify and glorify, are the objects even of jus- 
tifying, saving faith, most strictly so called. The scripture oft ex- 
presseth the one only, but then it still implieth the other. The So- 
cinians erroneously therefore from Heb. xi. where the examples and 
eulogies of faith are set forth, do exclude Christ crucified, or the 
respect to his satisfaction, from justifying faith, and place it in a 
mere expectation of glory. And others do as ungroundedly affirm, 
that it is not the justifying act of faith which Heb. xi. describeth, 
because they find not the cross of Christ there mentioned. For 
as believing in Christ's blood comprehendeth the end, even the 
expectation of remission and glory merited by that blood, so the be- 
lieving of that glory doth always imply that we believe and expect 
it as the fruit of Christ's ransom. It is for health and life that we 
accept and trust upon our physcian. And it is for justification and 
salvation that we accept and trust on Christ. The salvation of our 
souls is the end of our faith. They that question whether we may 
believe and obey for our own salvation, do question whether we may 
go to the physician and follow his advice for health and life. Why 
then do you that are believers so much forget the end of your faith, 
and tbat for which it is that you believe ? Believing in Christ for 
present mercies only, be they temporal or spiritual, is not the true 
believing. They are dangerously mistaken that think the thoughts 
of heaven to be so accidental to the nature and work of faith, as that 
they tend only to our comfort, and are not necessary to salvation it- 
self. It is upon your apprehensions and expectations of that un- 
seen felicity that both your peace and safety do depend. How 
contrary therefore is it to the nature of a believer, to forget the 
place of his rest and consolation ! And to look for so much of these 
from the creatures, in this our present pilgrimage and prison, as, 
alas, too commonly we do ! Thus do we kill our comforts, and 
then complain for want of them. How should you have any life 
or constancy of consolations, that are so seldom, so slight, so unbe- 


lieving, and so heartless, in your thoughts of heaven ! You know 
what a folly it is to expect any peace, which shall not come from 
Christ as the fountain. And you must learn as well to understand 
what a folly it is to expect any solid joys, or stable peace, which is 
not fetched from heaven, as from the end. O that christians were 
careful to live with one eye still on Christ crucified, and the 
other on Christ coming in glory ! If the everlasting joys were more 
in your believing thoughts, spiritual joys would more abound at 
present in your hearts. It is no more wonder that you are com- 
fortless when heaven is forgotten, or doubtingly remembered, than 
you are faint when you eat not, or cold when you stir not, or 
when you have not fire or clothes. 

But when christians do not only let fall their expectations of the 
things unseen, but also heighten their expectations from the crea- 
ture, then do they most infallibly prepare for their fears and troub- 
les, and estrangedness from God, and with both hands draw calami- 


ties on their souls. Who ever meets with a distressed, complai 
soul, where one or both of these is not apparent ; their low ex- 
pectations from God hereafter, or their high expectations from the 
creature now ? What doth keep us under such trouble and disquiet- 
ness, but that we will not expect what God hath promised, or we 
will needs expect what he promised not ? And then we complain 
when we miss of those expectations which we foolishly and un- 
groundedly raised to ourselves. We are grieved for crosses, for 
losses, for wrongs from our enemies, for unkind or unfaithful deal- 
ings of our friends, for sickness, for contempt and disesteem in the 
world ! But who bid you look for any better ? Was it prosperity and 
riches, and credit, and friends, that God called you to believe for ? 
or that you became christians for? or that you had an absolute prom- 
ise of in the word ? If you will make promises to yourself, and then 
your own promises deceive you, whom should you blame for that ? 
Nay, do we not, as it ;were, necessitate God hereby to embitter all 
our comforts here below, and to make every creature as a scorpion 
to us, because we will needs make them our petty deities ? We 
have less comfort in them than else we might have, because we 
must needs have more than we should have. You might have 
more faithfulness from your friends, more reputation in the world, 


more sweetness in all your present enjoyments, if you looked for 
less. Why is it that you can scarce name a creature near you, 
that is not a scourge to you, but because you can scarce name one 
that is not your idol, or at least which you do not expect more 
from than you ought ? Nay, (which is one of the saddest consider- 
ations of this kind that can be imagined) God is fain to scourge us 
most even by the highest professors of religion, because we have 
most idolized them, and had such excessive expectations from 
them. One would have thought it next to an impossibility, that 
such men, and so many of them, could ever have been drawn to 
do that against the church, against that gospel-ministry and ordi- 
nances of God (which once seemed dearer to them than their 
lives) which hath since been done, and which yet we fear. But a 
believing eye, can discern the reason of this sad providence in part. 
Never men were more idolized, and therefore no wonder if were 
never so afflicted by any. Alas, when will we learn by scripture 
and providence so to know God and the creature, as to look for 
far more from him, and less from them ! We have looked for won- 
ders from Scotland, and what is come of it ? We looked that war 
should have even satisfied our desires, and when it had removed all 
visible impediments, we thought we should have had such a glo- 
rious reformation as the world never knew! And now behold 
a Babel, and a mangled deformation ! What high expectations 
had we from an assembly ! What expectations from a parliament ! 
And where are they now ? O hear the word of the Lord, ye 
low-spirited people ! " Cease ye from man, whose breath is in 
his nostrils : for wherein is he to be accounted of;" Isa. ii. 22. 
" Cursed be the man that trusted) in man, and maketh flesh his arm, 
and whose heart departeth from the Lord ; for he shall be like the 
heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comelh. Blessed 
is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For 
he shall be as a tree planted by the waters," &c. ; Jer. xvii. 5 — 8. 
"Surely men of low degree are vanity ; and men of high degree 
are a lie. To be laid in the balance they are altogether lighter 
than vanity ;" Psal. Ixii. 9. Let me warn you all, for the time 
to come, to take the creature as a creature ; remember its frailty ; 
look for no more from it than its part. If you have the nearest, 


dearest, godly friends, expect to feel the sting of their corruptions, 
as well as to taste the sweetness of their grace. And they must ex- 
pect the like from you, 

If you ask me why I speak so much of these things here ? It is, 
1 . Because I find that much of the trouble of ordinary Christians 
comes from their crosses in the creature, and the frustration ol 
these their sinful expectations. 2. And because I have said so lit- 
tle of it in the following directions, they being intended for the cure 
of another kind of trouble, therefore I have said thus much here of 

Having premised this advice, I take myself bound to add one 
thing more ; that is, an apology for the publication of this imper- 
fect piece, whether just or insufficient other men must judge. I 
confess I am so apprehensive of the luxuriant fertility, or licentious- 
ness of the press of late, as being a design of the enemy to bury 
and overwhelm in a crowd those judicious, pious, excellent writ- 
ings, that before were so commonly read by the people, that I 
think few men should now print without an apology, much less such 
as 1. Who hath more lamented this inundation of impertinencies ? 
or more accused the ignorance and pride of others, that must needs 
disgorge themselves of all their crudities, as if they were such pre- 
cious conceptions proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that the world 
might not, without very great injury, be deprived of ; and it were 
pity that all men should not be made partakers of them ? And 
how come I to go on in the same fault myself? Truly I have 
no excuse or argument, but those of the times, necessity, and provi- 
dence ; which how far they may justify me, I must leave to the 
judge. Being in company with a troubled, complaining friend, I 
perceived that it must be some standing counsel which might be 
frequently perused, that must satisfactorily answer the complaints 
that I heard, and not a transient speech, which would quickly slip 
away. Being therefore obliged as a pastor, and as a friend, and 
as a Christian, to tender my best assistance for relief, I was sud- 
denly, in the moment of speaking, moved to promise one sheet of 
paper, which might be useful to that end. Which promise, when 
I attempted to perform, the one sheet lengthened to thirty, and 
my one day's (intended) work was drawn out to a just month. I 


went on far before 1 had the least thought to let any eye behold it, 
except the party for whom I wrote it. But at last I perceived an 
impossibility of contracting, and I was presently possessed with con- 
fident apprehensions, that a copy of those directions might be use- 
ful to many other of my poor neighbors and friends that needed 
them as much. Upon which apprehension I permitted my pen to 
run more at large, and to deviate from the case of the party that I 
wrote for, and to take in the common case of most troubled, doubt- 
ing souls. By that time that I had finished it, I received letters 
from several parts, from learned and judicious divines importuning 
me to print more, having understood my intentions to desist, as hav- 
ing done too much already, even at first. I confess I was not 
much moved by their importunity, till they seconded it with their 
arguments ; whereof one was, the experience of the success of 
former writings, which might assure me it was not displeasing to 
God. I had many that urged me, 1 had no one but myself to draw 
me back. I apprehended that a writing of this nature might be 
useful to the many weak, perplexed Christians through the land. 
Two reasons did at first come in agains;u. The first was, that if 
there were no more written on this subject than Dr. Sibbs' " Bruis- 
ed Reed, and Soul's Conflict," and Mr. Jos. Symonds' " Deserted 
Soul's Case and Cure," there need no more. Especially'there 
being also Dr. Preston's Works, and many of Perkins', to this use ; 
and Mr. Ball, and Mr. Culverwell of Faith, and divers the like. 
To this my own judgment answered, that yet these brief directions 
might add somewhat that might be useful to the weak, as to the 
method of their proceedings, if not to the matter. And my breth- 
ren stopped my mouth by telling me, that others had written be- 
fore me of heaven and baptism, and yet my labours were not lost. 
Next this, I thought the crudity and weakness of the writing was 
such, as should prohibit the publication, it being unfit to thrust upon 
the world the hasty, undigested lines, that were written for the use 
of one person. To this my thoughts replied, that, 1. For all that, 
it might be useful to poor women, and country people, who most 
commonly prove the troubled spirits, for whose sakes I wrote it. 
Had T writ for the use of learned men, 1 would have tried to make 


it fitter for their use ; and if 1 could not, I would have suppressed 
it. 2. It was my pride that nourished this scruple, which moved 
me not to appear so homely to the world, and therefore I cast it 
by-. One thing more I confess did much prevail with me to make 
these papers public, and that is, the Antinomians' common confident 
obtrusion of their anti-evangelical doctrines and methods for com- 
forting troubled souls. They are the most notorious mountebanks 
in this art, the highest pretenders, and most unhappy performers, 
that most of the reformed churches ever knew. And none usually 
are more ready to receive their doctrines, than such weak women, 
or unskilful people, that being in trouble, are like a sick man in 
great pain, who is glad to hear what all can say, and to make trial 
of every thing by which he hath any hope of ease. And then there 
is so much opium in these mountebanks' Nepenthes, or Antidote of 
rest : so many principles of carnal security and presumption, which 
tend to the present ease of the patient, whatever follow, that it is 
no wonder if some well-meaning Christians do quickly swallow the 
bait, and proclaim the rare effects of this medicament, and the ad- 
mirable skill of this unskilful sect, to the ensnaring of others, espe- 
cially that are in the like distress. Especially when they meet 
with some divines of our own, who do deliver to them some master- 
points of this system of mistakes, which are so necessarily concate- 
nated to the rest, that they may easily see, if they have one, they 
must have all, unless they hold contradictions. As to instance in 
the doctrine of justification before faith, or the dissolving the obli- 
gation to punishment, which is nothing but the remission of sin be- 
fore faith. So that nothing remains since Christ's death (as some) 
or since God's decree (as others) but only to have your pardon 
manifested, or to be justified in conscience, or (as some phrase it) 
to have that justification which is terminated in conscience. There 
is a very judicious man, Mr. Benjamin Woodbridge, of Newbury, 
hath written so excellent well against this error, and in so small 
room, being but one sermon, that 1 would advise all private Chris- 
tians to get one of them, and peruse it, as one of the best, easiest, 
cheapest preservatives against the contagion of this part of Antino- 


I had not troubled the reader with this apology, had I thought 
so well of this writing, as to be sufficient apology for itself; or had 
I not taken it for a heinous crime to speak idly in print. 

For the doctrine here contained, it is of a middle strain, between 
(I think) the extremes of some others. I have labored so to build 
up peace as not thereby to fortify presumption. And perhaps in 
some points you may see my meaning more plainly, which through 
the obscurity of former writings, I was misunderstood in. As for 
the manner of this writing, I must desire them that expect learning 
or exactness, to turn away their eyes, and know, that I wrote it not 
for such as they. I use not to speak any thing but plain English 
to that sex, or to that use and end, for which I wrote these lines. 
I wrote to the utmost verge of my paper, before I thought to make 
it public, and so had no room for marginal quotations, (nor time 
to transcribe that copy, that I might have room,) nor indeed much 
mind of them, if I had both room and time. 

As in all the removes of my life I have been still led to that place 
or state which was farthest from my own thoughts, and never de- 
signed or contrived by myself; so all the writings that yet I have 
published, are such as have been by some sudden, unexpected 
occasion extorted from me, while those that I most affected have 
been stifled in the conception ; and those I have most labored in, 
must lie buried in the dust, that I may know it is God that is the 
disposer of all. Experience persuadeth me to think, that God, 
who hath compelled me hitherto, intendeth to make this hasty 
writing a means for the calming of some troubled souls ; which if 
he do, 1 have my end. If I can do nothing to the church's public 
peace, either through my own unskilfulness and unworthiness, or 
through the prevalency of the malady ; yet will it be my comfort, 
to further the peace of the poorest Christian. (Though to the for- 
mer also I shall contribute my best endeavors, and am with this 
sending to the press some few sheets to that end, with our " Wor- 
cester-shire Agreement.") The full accomplishment of both ; the 
subduing of the prince of darkness, confusion, and contention ; the 
destroying of that pride, self-esteem, self-seeking, and carnal- 
mindedness, which remaining even in the best, are the disturbers 

Vol. I. 36 


of all peace ; the fuller discovery of the sinfulness of unpeaceable 
principles, dispositions, and practices ; the nearer closure of all 
true believers, and the hastening of the church's everlasting 
peace ; — these are his daily prayers, who is 

A zealous desirer of the peace of the 
church, and of every faithful soul, 

May 7, 1653. 




It must be understood, that the case here to be resolved is not, 
How an unhumbled, profane sinner, that never was convinced of 
sin and misery, should be brought to a settled peace of conscience. 
Their carnal peace must first be broken, and they must be so far 
humbled, as to find the want and worth of mercy, that Christ and 
his consolations may not seem contemptible in their eyes. It is 
none of my business now, to give any advice for the furthering of 
this conviction or humiliation. But the case in hand is, ' How a 
sinner may attain to a settled peace of conscience, and some com- 
petent measure of the joy of the Holy Ghost, who hath been con- 
vinced of sin and misery, and long made a profession of holiness, 
but liveth in continual doubtings of their sincerity, and fears of 
God's wrath, because of an exceeding deadness of spirit, and a 
want of that love to God, and delight in him, and sweetness in duty, 
and witness of the Spirit, and communion with God, and the other 
like evidences which are found in the saints.' How far the party 
is right or wrong in the discovery of these wants, I now meddle not. 


Whether they judge rightly or wrongly, the Directions may be 
useful to them. And though I purposely meddle not with the un- 
humbled, that feel not the want of Christ and mercy, yet most that 
falls may be useful to all that profess the Christian faith. For I 
shall study so to avoid the extremes in my doctrinal directions, as 
may conduce to your escaping the desperate extremes of unground- 
ed comforts, and causeless terrors in your own spirit. 

Of my directions, the first shall be only general, and the rest 
more particular. And all of them I must entreat you, 1. To ob- 
serve the order and method, as well as the matter ; and that you 
would practise them in the same order as I place them. 2. And 
to remember that it is not only comfortable words, but it is direc- 
tions foryour own practice, which here I prescribe you ; and there- 
fore that it is not the bare reading of them that will cure you ; but 
if you mean to have the benefit of them, you must bestow more time 
in practising them, than I have done in penning them ; yea, you 
must make it the work of your life. And let not that startle you, 
or seem tedious to you, for it will be no more grievous a work to a 
well-tempered soul, than eating or drinking, or sleep, or recreation 
is to an healthful body ; and than it is to an honest woman to love 
and delight in her husband and her children, which is no grievous 

Direction I. ' Get as clear a discovery as you can of the true 
cause of your doubts and troubles ; for if you should mistake in 
the cause, it would much frustrate the most excellent means for 
the cure.' 

The very same doubts and complaints, may come from several 
causes in several persons, and therefore admit not of the same way 
of cure. Sometimes the cause begins in the body, and thence 
proceedeth to the mind ; sometimes it begins in the mind, and 
thence distempereth the body. Sometimes in the mind, it is most, 
or first, from worldly crosses, and thence proceedeth to spiritual 
things. And of spiritual matters, sometimes it begins upon scru- 
ples or differences in religion, or points of doctrine ; sometimes 
and most commonly, from the sense of our own infirmities ; some- 
times it is only from ordinary infirmities ; sometimes from some 
extraordinary decays of inward grace; sometimes from the neglect 


of some weighty duty ; and sometimes from the deep wounds of 
some heinous, secret, or scandalous sin ; and sometimes it is mere- 
ly from the fresh discovery of that which before we never did dis- 
cern ; and sometimes from the violent assault of extraordinary 
temptations. Which of these is your own case, you must be care- 
ful to find out, and to apply the means for cure accordingly. Even 
of true Christians, the same means will not fit all. The difference 
of natures, as well as of actual cases, must be considered. One 
hath need of that tender handling, which would undo another ; and 
he again hath need of that rousing which another cannot bear. And 
therefore understand, that when I have given you all the directions 
that I can, I must, in the end hereof, advise you to take the coun- 
sel of a skilful minister, in applying and making use of them : for 
it is in this, as in the case of physic, when we have written the best 
books of receipts, or for methodical cures ; yet we must advise peo- 
ple to take heed how they use them, without the advice of a learned 
and faithful physician ; for medicines must not be only fitted to dis- 
eases, but to bodies : that medicine will kill one man, which will 
cure another of the same distemper; such difference there may be 
in their age, strength, complexion, and other things. So is it much 
in our present case. And therefore, as when all the physic books 
in the world are written, and all receipts known, yet will there be 
still a necessity of physicians : so when all discoveries and direc- 
tions are made in divinity, there will still be a necessity of a con- 
stant standing ministry. And as ignorant women and empirics do 
kill ofttimes more than they cure, though they have the best re- 
ceipts, for want of judgment and experience to use them aright ; 
so do ignorant teachers and guides by men's souls, though they can 
say the same words as a judicious pastor, and repeat the same texts 
of Scripture. Not that I mean, that such can do no good : yes, 
much no doubt, if they will humbly, compassionately, and faithfully 
improve their talents within the verge of their own calling ; which 
if they go beyond, ordinarily a remarkable judgment followeth their 
best labors ; both to the churches, and particular souls that make 
use of them. And therefore because (if my conjectural prognos- 
tics fail not, as I daily pray they may) we are like to be more tried 
and plagued in this way, than ever were any of our forefathers, since 


Adam's days, till now : and seeing this is the hour of our tempta- 
tion, wherein God is purposely separating the chaff, and discover- 
ing to the world the dangers of injudicious, misguided zeal ; I shall 
therefore both first and last advise you, as ever you would have a 
settled peace of conscience, keep out of the hand of vagrant and 
seducing mountebanks, under what names, or titles, or pretences 
soever they may assault you. Especially suspect all that bestow as 
much pains to win you to their party, as to win you to Christ. 

Direct. II. ' Make as full a discovery as you can, how much of 
the trouble of your mind doth arise from your melancholy and bodi- 
ly distempers, and how much from discontenting afflictions in your 
worldly estate, or friends, or name, and according to your dis- 
covery make use of the remedy.' 

I put these two causes of trouble here together in the beginning, 
because I will presently dismiss them ; and apply the rest of these 
directions only to those troubles that are raised from sins and 
wants in grace. 

1 . For melancholy, I have by long experience found it to have 
so great and common a hand in the fears and troubles of mind, that 
I meet with not one of many, that live in great troubles and fears 
for any long time together; but melancholy is the main seat of 
them; though they feel nothing in their body, but all in their mind. 
I would have such persons make use of some able godly physician, 
and he wdl help them to discern how much of their trouble comes 
from melancholy. Where this is the cause, usually the party is 
fearful of almost every thing; a word, or a sudden thought will 
disquiet them. Sometimes they are sad, and scarce know why : 
all comforts are of no continuance with them ; but as soon as you 
have done comforting them, and they be never so well satisfied, 
yet the trouble returns in a few days or hours, as soon as the dark 
and troubled spirits return to their former force : they are still ad- 
dicted to musing and solitariness, and thoughts will run in their 
minds, that they cannot lay them by : if it go any thing far, they 
are almost always assaulted with temptations to blasphemy, to 
doubt whether there be a God, or a Christ, or the scriptures be 
true ; or whether there be a heaven or a hell ; and oft tempted to 
speak some blasphemous words against God ; and this with such 


importunity, that they can hardly forbear ; and ofttimes they are 
tempted to make away themselves. When it goes so far, they are 
next the loss of the use of reason, if it be not prevented. 

Now to those that find that melancholy is the cause of their 
troubles, I would give this advice. 1. Expect not that rational, 
spiritual remedies, should suffice for this cure : for you may as 
well expect that a good sermon, or comfortable words, should cure 
the falling sickness, or palsy, or a broken head, as to be a sufficien 
cure to your melancholy fears; for this is as real a bodily disease 
as the other ; only because it works on the spirits and fantasy, on 
which words of advice do also work, therefore such words, and 
scripture and reason, may somewhat resist it, and may palliate or 
allay some of the effects at the present; but as soon as time hath 
worn off the force and effects of these reasons, the distemper pre- 
sently returns. 

For the humor hath the advantage; (1.) Of continual presence. 
(2.) Of a more necessary, natural, and sensible way of working. As 
if a man be in an easy lethargy, you may awake him so long as 
you are calling on him aloud ; but as soon as you cease, he is asleep 
again. Such is the case of the melancholy in their own sorrows; 
for it is as natural for melancholy to cause fears and disquietness of 
mind, as for phlegm in a lethargy to cause sleep. 

Do not therefore, lay the blame on your books, friends, counsels, 
instructions (no nor all on your soul) if these troubles be not cured 
by words : but labor to discern truly how much of your trouble 
comes this way, and then fix in your mind in all your inquiries, 
reading, and hearing, that it is the other part of your trouble 
which is truly rational, and not this part of it which is from melan- 
choly, that these means were ordained to remove (though God may 
also bless them extraordinarily to do both.) Only constant impor- 
tunate prayer is a fit and special means for the curing of all. 

2. When you have truly found out how much of your disquiet- 
ness proceeds from melancholy, acquit your soul from that part oi 
it ; still remember in all your self-examinations, self-judgings, and 
reflections on your heart, that it is not directly to be charged with 
those sorrows that come from your spleen ; save ouly remotely, as 
all othrr disease* are the fruit? nf sin ; as a lethargic dulncss is the 


deserved fruit of sin ; but he that should charge it immediately on 
his soul, should wrong himself, and he that would attempt the 
cure, must do it on the body. 

3. If you would have these fears and troubles removed, apply 
yourself to the proper cure of melancholy. (1.) Avoid all passion 
of sorrow, fear, and anger, as much as you can ; and all occasions, 
and discontents and grief. (2.) Avoid much solitariness, and be 
most commonly in some cheerful company. Not that I would 
have you do as the foolish sinrers of the world do, to drink away 
melancholy, and keep company with sensual, vain, and unprofitable 
persons, that will draw you deeper into sin, and so make your 
wound greater instead of healing it, and multiply your troubles 
when forced to look back on your sinful loss of time. But keep 
company with the more cheerful sort of the godly. There is no 
mirth like the mirth of believers, which faith doth fetch from the 
blood of Christ, and from the promises of the word, and from ex- 
periences of mercy, and from the serious fore-apprehensions of our 
everlasting blessedness. Converse with men of strongest faith, 
that have this heavenly mirth, and can speak experimentally of the 
joy of the Holy Ghost ; and these will be a great help to the reviving 
of your spirit, and changing your melancholy habit, so far as without a 
physician it may be expected. Yet sometimes it may not be amiss 
to confer with some that are in your own case, that you may see 
that your condition is not singular. For melancholy people, in 
such distresses, are ready to think, that never any was in the case 
as they are in ; or at least, never any that were truly godly. When 
you hear people of the most upright lives, and that truly fear God, 
to have the same complaints as you have yourself, it may give you 
some hopes that it is not so bad as you before did imagine. How- 
ever be sure that you avoid solitariness as much as you well can. 
(3.) Also take heed of too deep, fixed, musing thoughts; studying 
and serious meditating be not duties for the deeply melancholy (as 
1 shall shew more in the following directions); you must let those 
alone till you are better able to perform them, lest by attempting 
those duties which you cannot perform, you shall utterly disable 
yourself from all : therefore I would advise you by all means, to 
^hake and rouse yourself out of such musings, and suddenly to 


turn your thoughts away to something else. (4.) To this end, be 
sure that you avoid idleness and want of employment ; which as it 
is a life not pleasing to God, so it is the opportunity for melancholy 
thoughts to be working, and the chiefest season for satan to tempt 
you. Never let the devil find you unemployed, but see that you 
go cheerfully about the works of your calling, and follow it with dil- 
igence; and that time which you redeem for spiritual exercises, 
let it be most spent in thanksgiving, and praises, and heavenly con- 

These things may do much for prevention and abating your 
disease, if it be not gone too far; but if it be, you were best have 
recourse to the physician, and expect God's blessing in the use of 
means ; and you will find when your body is once cured, the dis- 
quietness of your mind will vanish of itself. 

2. The second part of this direction was, that you take notice 
how much - of your disquietness may proceed from outward cross- 
es; for it is ordinary for these to lie at the root, and bring the heart 
into disquiet and discontent, and then trouble for sin doth follow 
after. Alas, how oft have I seen verified that of the apostle ; 2, 
Cor. vii. 10. "The sorrow of the world worketh death." How 
many, even godly people have I known, that through crosses in 
children, or in friends, or losses in estates, or wrongs from men, 
or perplexities that through some unadvisedness they were cast in- 
to, or the like, have fallen into mortal disease, or into such a fixed 
melancholy, that some of them have gone beside themselves ; and 
others have lived in fears and doubting ever after, by the removal 
of the disquietness to their consciences? How sad a thing is it, that 
we should thus add to our own afflictions ? And the heavier we 
judge the burden, the more we lay on ! As if God had not done 
enough, or would not sufficiently afflict us. We may more com- 
fortably bear that which God layeth on us, than that which we im- 
mediately lay upon ourselves! Crosses are not great or small, ac- 
cording to the bulk of the matter, but according chiefly to the mind 
of the sufferer. Or else, how could holy men " rejoice in tribula- 
tion, and be exceeding glad that they are accounted worthy to 
suffer for Christ?" Reproaches, wrongs, losses, are all without 
you ; unless you open them the door willfully vourself, they cannot 
Vol. I. 37 


come into the heart. God hath not put the joy or grief of your 
heart in any other man's power, but in your own. It is you there- 
fore that do yourselves the greatest mischief. God afflicts your 
body, or men wrong you in your state or name (a small hurt if it 
go no further) and therefore you will afflict your soul ! But a sadder 
thing yet is it to consider of, that men fearing God should so highly 
value the things of the world. They who in their covenants with 
Christ, are engaged to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil ! 
They that have taken God in Christ for their portion, for their 
all ; and have resigned themselves and all that they have to Christ's 
dispose! Whose very business in this world, and their christian life, 
consisteth so much in resisting the devil, mortifying the flesh, and 
overcoming the world! And it is God's business in his inward 
works of grace, and his outward teachings, and sharp afflictions, 
and examples of others, to convince them of the vanity and vexa- 
tion of the world, and thoroughly to wean them from it ; and yet 
that it should be so high in their estimation, and sit so close to their 
hearts, that they cannot bear the loss of it without such discontent, 
disquiet, and distraction of mind ! Yea, though when all is gone, 
they have their God left them, they have their Christ still, whom 
they took for their treasure ;. they have opportunities for their souls, 
they have the sure promise of glory, yea, and a promise, that 
"all things shall work together for their good ;" yea, and for that 
one thing that is taken from them, they have yet an hundred out- 
ward mercies remaining, that yet even believers should have so 
much unbelief! and have their faith to seek, when they should use 
it, and live by it ! And that God should seem so small in their eye, 
as not to satisfy or quiet them, unless tbey have the world with 
him ; and that the world should still seem so amiable, when God 
hath done so much to bring it into contempt ! Truly this (and mor.e) 
shews that the work of mortification is very imperfect in professors, 
and that we bend not the force of our daily strivings and endeavors 
that way. If christians did bestow as much time and pains in mor- 
tifying the flesh, and getting down the interest of it in the soul, 
that Christ's interest may be advanced, as they do about contro- 
versies, external duties,, formalities, tasks of devotion, and self-tor- 
menting fears, O what excellent christians should we then be ! And 


how happily would most of our disquiets be removed ; Alas, if we 
are so unfit to part with one outward comfort now, upon the dispo- 
sal of our Father's providence, how should we forsake all for 
Christ? O what shall we do at death, when all must be parted 
with ! As ever therefore you would live in true christian peace, set 
more by Christ, and less by the world, and all things in it; and 
hold all that you possess so loosely, that it may not be grievous to 
you when you must leave them. 

So much for the troubles that arise from your body and outward 
state. All the rest shall be directed for the curing of those trou- 
bles that arise immediately from more spiritual causes. 

Direct. III. ' Be sure that you first lay sound apprehensions of 
God's nature in your understanding, and lay them deeply.' 

This is the first article of your creed, and the first part of " life 
eternal, to know God !" His substance is quite past human un- 
derstanding ; therefore never make any attempt to reach to the 
knowledge of it, or to have any positive conceivings of it, for they 
will be all but idols, or false conceptions ; but his attributes are 
manifested to our understandings. Well consider, that even un- 
der the terrible law, when God proclaims to Moses his own name, 
and therein his nature, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. the first and greatest 
partis, " The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, 
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, 
forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." And he hath sworn, 
" That he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that 
he return and live." Think not therefore of God's mercifulness, 
with diminishing, extenuating thoughts, nor limit it by the bounds 
of our frail understandings ; For the heavens are not so far above 
the earth, as his thoughts and ways are above ours. Still remem- 
ber that you must have no low thoughts of God's goodness, but 
apprehend it as bearing proportion with his power. As it is blas- 
phemy to limit his power, so it is to limit his goodness. The ad- 
vantages that your soul will get by this right knowledge, and estima- 
tion of God's goodness, will be these. 

1. This will make God appear more amiable in your eyes, and 
then you will love him more readily and abundantly. And love, (I.) 
Is effectually consolatory in the very working ; so much love, usu- 


ally so much comfort, (I mean this love of complacency ; for a 
love of desire there may be without comfort). (2.) It will breed 
persuasions of God's love to you again, and so comfort. (3.) It 
will be an unquestionable evidence of true grace, and so comfort. 

The affections follow the understanding's conceptions. If you 
think of God as one that is glad of all advantages against you, and 
delighteth in his creatures' misery, it is im possible you should love 
him. The love of yourselves is so deeply rooted in nature, that 
we cannot lay it by, nor love any thing that is absolutely and di- 
rectly against us. We conceive of the devil as an absolute enemy 
to God and man, and one that seeks our destruction, and therefore 
we cannot love him. And the great cause why troubled souls do 
love God no more, is because they represent him to themselves in 
an ugly odious shape. To think of God as one that seeks and de- 
lighteth in man's ruin, is to make him as the devil. And then what 
wonder if instead of loving him, and delighting in him, you trem- 
ble at the thoughts of him, and fly from him. As I have observed 
children, when they have seen the devil painted on the wall, in an 
ugly shape, they have partly feared, and partly hated it. If you 
do so by God in your fancy, it is not putting the name of God on 
him when you have done, that will reconcile your affections to him 
as long as you strip him of his divine nature. Remember the Ho- 
ly Ghost's description of God, 1 John iv. 16. " God is love." — 
Write these words deep in your understanding. 

2. Hereby you will have this advantage also, that your thoughts 
of God will be more sweet and delightful to you. For as glorious 
and beautiful sights to your eyes, and melodious sounds to your 
ears, and sweet smells, tastes, he. are all delightful : when things 
deformed, stinking, &tc. are all loathsome, and we turn away from 
one with abhorrency, but for the other, we would often see, taste, 
&c. and enjoy them. So it is with the objects of our mind ; God 
hath given no command for duty, but what most perfectly agreeth 
with the nature of the object. He hath therefore bid us love God 
and delight in him above all, because he is above all in goodness; 
even infinitely and inconceivably good ; else we could not love him 
above all, nor would he ever command us so to do. The object is 
as ever exactly fitted to its part, as to draw out the love and delight 


of our hearts, as the precept is on its part, to oblige us to it. And 
indeed the nature of things is a precept to duty, and it which we 
call the law of nature. 

3. Hereupon will follow this further advantage, that your 
thoughts will be both more easily drawn toward God, and more 
frequent and constant on him ; for delightful objects draw the heart 
to them, as the loadstone doth the iron. How gladly, and freely, 
and frequently do you think of your dearest friends. And if you 
did firmly conceive of God, as one that is ten thousand times more 
gracious, loving and amiable than any friend you have in the world, 
it would make you not only to love him above all friends, but also 
more freely, delightfully, and unweariedly to think of him. 

4. And then you would hence have this further advantage, that 
you would have less backwardness to any duty, and less weariness 
in duty ; you would find more delight in prayer, meditation, and 
speech of God, when once God himself were more lovely and de- 
lightful in your eyes. 

5. All these advantages would produce a further, that is, the 
growth of all your graces. For it is impossible, but this growth of 
love, and frequent and delightful thoughts of God, and addresses to 
him, should cause an increase of all the rest. 

6. Hereupon your evidences would be more clear and discerni- 
ble. For grace in strength and action would be easily found ; and 
would not this resolve all your doubts at once ? 

7. Yea, the very exercise of these several graces would be com- 

8. And hereupon you would have more humble familiarity and 
communion with God ; for love, delight, and frequent addresses, 
would overcome strangeness and disacquaintance, which make us 
fly from God, as a fish, or bird, or wild beast, will from the face of 
a man, and would give us access with boldness and confidence. 
And this would banish sadness and terror, as the sun dispelleth 
darkness and cold. 

9. At least you would hence have this advantage, that the fixed 
apprehension of God's goodness and merciful nature, would cause 
a fixed apprehension of the probability of your happiness, as long as 
you arc willing to be happy in God's way. For reason will tell you, 


that he who is Jove itself, and whose goodness is equal to his al- 
mightiness, and who hath sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the 
death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live, will not de- 
stroy a poor soul that lieth in submission at his feet, and is so far 
from resolved rebellion against him, that he grieveth that it is no 
better, and can please him no more. 

10. However, these right apprehensions of God would overcome 
those terrors which are raised only by false apprehensions of him. 
And doubtless a very great part of men's causeless troubles, are 
raised from such misapprehensions of God. For Satan knows, that 
if he can bring you to think of God as a cruel tyrant and blood- 
thirsty man-hater, then he can drive you from him in terror, and 
turn all your love and cheerful obedience into hatred and slavish 
fear. I say therefore again do not only get, but also fix deep in 
your understanding, the highest thoughts of God's natural goodness 
and graciousness that you possibly can raise. For when they are 
at the highest, they come short ten thousand fold. 

Object. ' But God's goodness lieth not in mercy to men, as I 
have read in great divines ; he may be perfectly good, though he 
should for ever torment the most innocent creatures.' 

Answ. These are ignorant, presumptuous intrusions into that 
which is unsearchable. Where doth scripture say as you say ? 
Judge of God as he revealeth himself, or you will but delude your- 
self, and abuse him. All his works represent him merciful ; for 
"his mercy is over all his works," and legible in them all. His 
word saith, " he is good, and doth good ;" Psalm cxix. 68. cxlv. 
9. How himself doth proclaim his own name, (Exod. xxxiv. 
6. 7,) I told you before. The most merciful men are his liveliest 
image; and therefore he plants mercy in them in their conversion, 
as a principal part of their new nature. And commands of merci- 
fulness are a great part of his law ; and he bids us " be merciful, as 
our heavenly Father is merciful ;" Luke vi. 36. Now if this were 
none of his nature, how could he be the pattern of our new nature 
herein ? And if he were not infinitely merciful himself, how could 
we be required to be merciful as he is ? Who dare say, ' I am 
more merciful than God ?' 

Object. ' But God is just as well as merciful ; and for all his 
merciful nature, he will damn most of the world forever in hell.* 


Answ. 1. But James saith, "Mercy rejoiceth against judg- 
ment j" James ii. 13. 2. God is necessarily the governor of the 
world (while there is a world,) and therefore must govern it in 
justice, and so must not suffer his mercy to be perpetually abused 
by wicked, wilful, contemptuous sinners. But then consider two 
things: (l.)That he destroyeth not humble souls that lie at his feet, 
and are willing to have mercy on his easy terms, but only the stub- 
born despisers of his mercy. He danmeth none but those that will 
not be saved in his way ; that is, that will not accept of Christ and 
salvation freely given them. (I speak of those that hear the gos- 
pel ; for others, their case is more unknown to us.) And is it any 
diminution to his infinite mercy, that he will not save those that will 
not be entreated to accept of salvation? (2.) And consider how long 
he useth to wait on sinners, and even beseech them to be reconciled 
to him, before he destroyeth them ; and that he heapeth up multi- 
tudes of mercies on them, even in their rebellion, to draw them to 
repentance, and so to life. And is it unmercifulness yet if such 
men perish? 

Object. ' But if God were so infinite in mercy, as you say, why 
doth he not make all these men willing, that so they may be saved?' 

Answ. God having created the world and all things in it, at first, 
did make them in a certain nature and order, and so establish them 
as by a fixed law ; and he thereupon is their governor, to govern 
every thing according to its nature. Now man's nature was, to be 
principled with an inclination to his own happiness, and to be led to 
it by objects in a moral way, and in the choice of means to be a 
free agent, and the guider of himself under God. As governor of 
the rational creature, God doth continue that same course of ruling 
them by laws, and drawing them by ends and objects as their na- 
tures do require. And in this way he is not wanting to them ; his 
laws are now laws of grace, and universal in the tenor of the free 
gift and promise, for he hath there given life in Christ to all that will 
have it ; and the objects propounded are sufficient in their kind, to 
work even the most wonderful effects on men's souls, for they are 
God himself, and Christ and glory. Besides, God giveth men na- 
tural faculties, that they may have the use of reason ; and there is 
nothing more unreasonable than to refuse this offered mercy. He 


giveth inducing arguments in the written word, and sermons, and 
addeth such mercies and afflictions, that one should think should bow 
the hardest heart. Besides, the strivings and motions of his Spirit 
within, are more than we can give an account of. Now is not this 
as much as belongs to God as governor of the creature according 
to its nature ? And for the giving of a new nature, and creating new 
hearts in men, after all their rebellious rejecting of grace, this is 
a certain miracle of mercy, and belongs to God in another relation 
(even as the free chooser of his elect) and not directly as the gov- 
ernor of the universe. This is from his special providence, and 
the former from his general. Now special providences are not to 
be as common as the general, nor to subvert God's ordinary, es~ 
tablished course of government. If God please to stop Jordan, 
and dry up the Red Sea for the passage of the Israelites, and to 
cause the sun to stand still for Joshua, must he do so still for every 
man in the world, or else be accounted unmerciful? The sense of 
this objection is plainly this, God is not so rich in mercy, except he 
will new make all the world, or govern it above its nature. Sup- 
pose a king know his subjects to be so wicked, that they have eve- 
ry one a full design to famish or kill themselves, or poison them- 
selves with something which is enticing by its sweetness, the king 
not only makes a law, strictly charging them all to forbear to touch 
that poison, but he sendeth special messengers to entreat them to if, 
and tell them the danger. If these men will not hear him, but 
wilfully poison themselves, is he theretore unmerciful ? But sup- 
pose that he hath three or four of his sons that are infected with 
the same wickedness, and he will not only command and entreat 
them, but he will lock them up, or keep the poison from them, or 
will feed them by violence with better food, is he unmerciful unless 
he will do so by all the rest of his kingdom ? 

Lastly. If all this will not satisfy you; consider, (1.) That it is 
most certain God is love, and infinite in mercy, and hath no pleas- 
ure in the death of sinners. (2.) But it is utterly uncertain to us 
how God worketh on man's will inwardly by his Spirit. (3.) Or yet 
what intolerable inconvenience there may be if God should work 
in other ways; therefore we must not upon such uncertainties deny 
certainties, nor from some unreasonable scruples about the manner 


of God's working grace, deny the blessed nature of God, which 
himself hath most evidently proclaimed to the world. 

I have said the more of this, because I find Satan harp so much 
on this string with many troubled souls, especially on the advantage 
of some common doctrines. For false doctrine still tends to the 
overthrow of solid peace and comfort. Remember therefore before 
all other thoughts for the obtaining of peace, to get high thoughts of 
the gracious and lovely nature of God. 

Direct. IV. Next this, ' Be sure that you deeply apprehend 
the gracious nature, disposition, and office, of the Mediator Jesus 

Though there can no more be said of the gracious nature of the 
Son than of the Father's, even that his goodness is infinite ; yet 
these two advantages this consideration will add unto the former. 
1. You will see here goodness and mercy in its condescension, and 
nearer to you than in the divine nature alone it was. Our thoughts 
of God are necessarily more strange, because of our infinite distance 
from the Godhead ; and therefore our apprehensions of God's good- 
ness will be the less working, because less familiar. But in Christ, 
God is come down into our nature, and so Infinite goodness and 
mercy is incarnate. The man Christ Jesus is able now to save to 
the utmost all that come to God by him. We have a merciful 
High-Priest that is acquainted with our infirmities. 2. Herein we 
see the will of God putting forth itself for our help in the most as- 
tonishing way that could be imagined. Here is more than merely 
a gracious inclination. It is an office of saving and shewing mercy 
also that Christ hath undertaken ; even " to seek and to save that 
which was lost;" to bring home straying souls to God ; to be 
the great Peace-maker between God and man, to reconcile God 
to man, and man to God ; and so to be the Head and Husband of 
his people. Certainly the devil strangely wrongeth poor, troubled 
souls in this point, that he can bring them to have such hard, suspi- 
cious thoughts of Christ, and so much to overlook the glory of mer- 
cy which so shineth in the face of the Son of Mercy itself. How 
can we more contradict the nature of Christ, and the Gospel de- 
scription of him, than to think him a destroying hater of his crea- 
tures, and one that watcheth for our halting, and hath more mind to 

Vol. I. 38 


hurt us than to help us ? How could he have manifested more 
willingness to save, and more tender compassion to the souls of 
men, than he hath fully manifested ? That the Godhead should 
condescend to assume our nature is a thing so wonderful, even to 
astonishment, that it puts faith to it to apprehend it ; for it is ten 
thousand times more condescension than for the greatest king to 
become a fly or a toad to save such creatures. And shall we ever 
have low and suspicious thoughts of the gracious and merciful na- 
ture of Christ, after so strange and full a discovery of it ? If twen- 
ty were ready to drown in the sea, and if one that were able to swim 
and fetch all out, should cast himself into the water, and ofFer them 
his help, were it not foolish ingratitude for any to say, ' I know not 
yet whether he be willing to help me or not ;' and so to have jeal- 
ous thoughts of his good will, and so perish in refusing his help ? 
How tenderly did Christ deal with all sorts of sinners. He pro- 
fessed that he " came not into the world to condemn the world, 
but that the world through him might be saved." Did he weep 
over a rejected, unbelieving people, and was he desirous of their 
desolation ? " How oft would he have gathered them as a hen 
gathereth her chickens under her wings (mark, that he would have 
done this for them that he cast off) and they would not ?" When 
his disciples would have had " fire come down from heaven to con- 
sume those that refused him," he reproves them, and tells them, 
" They knew not what spirit they were of," (the common case of 
them that miscarry, by suffering their zeal to overrun their Christian 
wisdom and meekness). Yea, he prayeth for his crucifiers, and 
that on the cross, not forgetting them in the heat of his sufferings. 
Thus he doth by the wicked ; but to those that follow him, his ten- 
derness is unspeakable, as you would have said yourself, if you had 
but stood by and seen him washing his disciples' feet, and wiping 
them ; or bidding Thomas put his finger into his side, " and be 
not faithless, but believing." Alas ! that the Lord Jesus should 
come from heaven to earth, from glory into human flesh, and pass 
through a life of misery to a cross, and from the cross to the grave, 
to manifest openly to the world the abundance of his love, and the 
tenderness of his heart to sinners ; and that after all this, we should 
suspect him of cruelty, or hard-heartedness and unwillingness to 


shew mercy ; and that the devil can so far delude us, as to make 
us think of the Lamb of God as if he were a tiger or devourer ! 

But I will say no more of this, because Dr. Sibbs, in his " Bruis- 
ed Reed," hath said so much already. Only remember, that if 
you would methodically proceed to the attaining of solid comfort, 
this is the next stone that must be laid. You must be deeply pos- 
sessed with apprehensions of the most gracious nature and office of 
the Redeemer, and the exceeding tenderness of his heart to lost 

Direct. V. The next step in right order to comfort is this : 
1 You must believe and consider the full sufficiency of Christ's sac- 
rifice and ransom for all.' 

The controversies about this you need not be troubled at. For 
as almost all confess this sufficiency, so the Scripture itself, by the 
plainness and fulness of its expression, makes it as clear as the light, 
that Christ died for all. The fuller proof of this I have given 
you in public, and shall do yet more publicly, if God will. If Sa- 
tan would persuade you either that no ransom or sacrifice was ever 
given for you, or that therefore you have no Redeemer to trust in, 
and no Saviour to believe in, and no sanctuary to fly to from the 
wrath of God, he must first prove you either to be no lost sinner, or 
to be a final, impenitent unbeliever ; that is, that you are dead al- 
ready ; or else he must delude your understanding, to make you 
think that Christ died not for all ; and then I confess he hath a sore 
advantage against your faith and comfort. 

Direct. VI. The next thing in order to be done is this : ' Get 
clear apprehensions of the freeness, fulness, and universality of the 
new covenant or law of grace." 

I mean the promise of remission, justification, adoption, and sal- 
vation to all, so they will believe. No man on earth is excluded 
in the tenor of this covenant. And therefore certainly you are not 
excluded ; and if not excluded, then you must needs be included. 
Shew where you are excluded if you can ! You will say, ' But 
for all this, all men are not justified and saved.' Jlnsvj. True, be- 
cause they will not be persuaded to accept the mercy that is freely 
given them. 

The use that I would have you make of this, I will shew in the 


Direct. "VII. 'You must get the right understanding of the dif- 
ference between general grace and special. And between the pos- 
sibility, probability, conditional certainty, and absolute certainty 
of your salvation. And so between the comfort on the former 
ground and on the latter.' 

And here I shall open to you a rich mine of consolation. 

Understand, therefore, that as every particular part of the house 
is built on the foundation, so is every part of special grace built on 
general grace. Understand also, that all the four last mentioned 
particulars do belong to this general grace. As also, that though no 
man can have absolute certainty of salvation, from the consideration 
of this general grace alone, yet may it afford abundance of relief to 
distressed souls, yea, much true consolation. Lastly, Understand 
that all that hear the Gospel may take part in this consolation, though 
they have no assurance of their salvation at all, no nor any special, 
saving grace. 

Now when you understand these things well, this is the use that 
I would have you make of them. 

1. Do not begin the way to your spiritual peace by inquiring af- 
ter the sincerity of your graces, and trying yourselves by signs. 
Do not seek out for assurance of salvation in the first place, nor do 
not look and study after the special comforts which come from cer- 
tainty of special grace, before you have learned, (1.) To perform 
the duty. (2.) And to receive the comforts which general grace 
affordeth. Such unmethodical, disorderly proceedings keep 
thousands of poor, ignorant Christians in darkness and trouble al- 
most all their days. Let the first thing you do, be to obey the voice 
of the Gospel, which calleth you to accept of Christ and special 
mercy. " This is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, 
and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life." Fix 
this deep in your mind, that the nature of the Gospel is first to de- 
clare to our understandings the most gracious nature, undertakings, 
and performances of Christ for us, which must be believed to be 
true : and secondly to offer this Christ with all his special mercy to 
every man to whom this Gospel comes, and to entreat them to ac- 
cept Christ and life, which is freely given and offered to them. Re- 
member then y«u ure a Inst sinner- For certain Christ and life in 


him is given and offered to you. Now your first work is, presently 
to accept it; not to make an unseasonable inquiry, whether Christ 
be yours, but to take him that he may be yours. If you were 
condemned, and a pardon were freely given you, on condition you 
would thankfully take it, and it were offered to you, and you en- 
treated to take it, what would you do in this case ? Would you 
spend your time and thoughts in searching whether this pardon be 
already yours ? Or would you not presently take it that it may he 
yours ? Or if you were ready to famish, and food were offered 
you, would you stand asking first, ' How shall I know that it is 
mine ?' Or rather take and eat it, when you are sure it may be 
yours if you will. Let me entreat you therefore, when the devil 
clamors in your ears, ' Christ and salvation is none of thine,' sup- 
pose that this voice of God in the Gospel were still in your ears, 
yea, let it be still in your memory, ' O take Christ, and life in him, 
that thou mayest be saved :' still think that you hear Paul follow- 
ing you with these words : " We are ambassadors for Christ, as 
though God did beseech you by us. We pray you in Christ's stead, 
be reconciled to God." Will you but remember this, when you 
are on your knees in sorrow ; and when you would fain have Christ 
and life, and you are afraid that God will not give them to you ? I 
say, remember then, God stands by, beseeching you to accept the 
same thing which you are beseeching him to give. God is the first 
suitor and solicitor. God prays you to take Christ, and you pray 
him to give you Christ. What have you now to do but to take 
him ! And here understand, that this taking is no impossible busi- 
ness; it is no more but your hearty consenting, as 1 shall tell you 
more anon. If you did but well understand and consider, that be- 
lieving is the great duty that God calls you t© perform, and promis- 
eth to save you if you do truly perform it ; and that this believing 
is to take, or consent to have the same mercy which you pray for, 
and are troubled for fear lest you shall miss of it, even Christ and 
life in him ; this would presently draw forth your consent, and that 
in so open and express a way, as you could not but discover it, and 
have the comfort of it. Remember this then, That your first work 
is to believe, or accept an offered Saviour. 

2, You must learn (as I told you) to receive the comforts of uni- 


versal or general grace, before you search after the comforts of 
special grace. I here suppose you so far sound in the doctrine of 
the Gospel, as neither with some on one hand, to look so much at 
special grace, as to deny that general grace, which is the ground of 
it, or presupposed to it. Nor with others, so far to look at univer- 
sal mercy, as to deny special. Satan will tell you, that all your du- 
ties have been done in hypocrisy, and you are unsound at the heart, 
and have not a drop of saving grace. You are apt to entertain this, 
and conclude that all this is true : ' If I had any grace, I should 
have more life, and love, and delight in God ; more tenderness of 
heart, more growth in grace. I should not carry about such a rock 
in my breast ; such a stupid, dull, insensible soul,' &tc. 

At the present, let us suppose that all this be true : yet see what 
a world of comfort you may gather from universal or general mer- 
cy. I have before opened to you four parts of it, in the cause of 
your happiness, and three in the effect, which may each of them 
afford much relief to your troubled soul. 

1 . Suppose you are yet graceless, is it nothing to you that it is a 
God of infinite mercy that you have to do with, whose compassions 
are ten thousand times greater than your dearest friends', or your 
own husband's ? 

Object. • O but yet he will not save the graceless.' 

Jlnsw. True, but he is the more ready to give grace, that you 
may be saved. " If any of you (mark, any of you) do lack wis- 
dom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally (with- 
out desert) and upbraideth not (with our unworthiness or former 
faults), and it shall be given him ;" James i. 4. " If you that are 
evil can give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your 
heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask it ?" Luke 
xi. 13. Suppose your life were in the hands of your own hus- 
band, or your children's life in your hands, would it not exceed- 
ingly comfort you or them, to consider whose hands they are in, 
though yet you had no further assurance how you should be used ? 
It may be you will say, 'But God is no Father to the graceless.' 
I answer, He is not their Father in so near and strict a sense as he 
is the Father of believers ; but yet a Father he is, even to the wick- 
ed ; and to convince men of his fatherlv mercy to them, he often 


sostileth himself. He saith by Moses, Deut. xxxii. G, to a wicked 
generation, whose spot was not the spot of his children, " Do ye 
thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise ? Is not he thy 
Father that bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and establish- 
ed thee ?" And the prodigal could call him Father for his en- 
couragement before he returned to him ; Luke xv. 16 — 18. For 
my own part I must needs profess, that my soul hath more frequent 
support from the consideration of God's gracious and merciful na- 
ture, than from the promise itself. 

2. Furthermore, Suppose you were graceless at the present ; 
yet is it not an exceeding comfort, that there is one of such infinite 
compassion as the Lord Christ, who hath assumed our nature, and 
is come down to seek and save that which was lost ; and is more 
tender-hearted to poor sinners than we can possibly conceive ? Yea, 
who hath made it his office to heal, and relieve, and restore, and 
reconcile. Yea, that hath himself endured such temptations as 
many of ours ; " For we have not a High-priest which cannot be 
touched with the feelings of our infirmities ; but was in all points 
tempted like as we are, without sin. Let us therefore, (saith the 
Holy Ghost) come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may 
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need ;" Heb. iv. 
15, 16. " Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and 
blood, he also himself likewise took part with them, that he might 
destroy, through death, him that had the power of death, that is, 
the devil ; and deliver them, who through fear of death, were all 
their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily, he took not on him 
the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his 
brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest in 
things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the 
people. For that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is 
able to succor them that are tempted;" Heb. ii. 14 — 18. Have 
you discountenance from men ? Christ had much more. Doth 
God seem to forsake you ? So he did by Christ. Are you fain 
to lie on your knees crying for mercy ? Why Christ in the days 
of his flesh was fain to offer up " strong cries and tears, to him that 
was able to save him. And was heard in that he feared." It 


seems that Christ had distressing fears as well as you, though not 
sinful fears. Have you horrid temptations? Why Christ was 
tempted to cast himself headlong, and to worship the devil, for 
worldly preferment; yea, the devil had power to carry his body 
up and down to the pinnacle of the temple, and the lop of a moun- 
tain. If he had such power of you, would you not think yourself 
certainly his slave? I conclude, therefore, as it is an exceeding 
ground of comfort to all the sick people in a city, to know that there 
is a most merciful and skilful physician, that is easily able to cure 
them, and hath undertaken to do it freely for all that will take him 
for their physician ; so is it a ground of exceeding comfort to the 
worst of sinners, to all sinners that are yet alive, and have not blas- 
phemed the Holy Ghost, to know what a merciful and efficient 
Savior hath undertaken the work of man's redemption. 

3. Also, suppose that you are graceless, is it nothing that a suf- 
ficient sacrifice and ransom is given for you ? This is the very 
foundation of all solid peace. I think this is a great comfort, to 
know that God looks now for no satisfaction at your hand ; and 
that the number or greatness of your sins, as such, cannot now be 
your ruin. For certainly no man shall perish for want of the pay- 
ment of his ransom, or of an expiatory sacrifice for sin, but only 
for want of a willing heart to accept him that hath freely ransomed 

4. Also, suppose you are graceless, is it nothing that God hath 
under his hand and seal made a full and free deed of gift, to you 
and all sinners, of Christ, and with him of pardon and salvation ! 
And all this on condition of your acceptance or consent? I know 
the despisers of Christ shall be miserable for all this. But for you 
that would fain have Christ, is it no comfort to know that you shall 
have him if you will ? And to find this to be the sum of the Gos- 
pel? I know you have often read those free offers, Rev. xxii. 17. 
" Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." " Ho, 
every one that thirsteth, come and drink," &.c. Almost all that I 
have hitherto said to you is comprised in that one text, John iii. 16. 
" God so loved the word, that he gave his only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting 


And as I have shewed it you in the causes, what comfort even 
general mercy may afford, so let me a little shew it you in the ef- 
iects. I mean, not only in that God is now satisfied ; but as to 
yourself and every sinner, these three things are produced hereby. 

1. There is now a possibility of salvation to you. And certain- 
ly even that should be a very great comfort. I know you will 
meet with some divines, who will tell you that this is no effect of 
Christ's death ; and that else Christ should die for God, if he pro- 
cured him a power to save which he had not before. But this is 
no better, than a reproaching of our Redeemer. Suppose that a 
traitor had so abused a king, that it will neither stand with his own 
honor, nor justice, nor laws to pardon him; if his compassions were 
so great, that his own son shall suffer for him, that so the king might 
be capable of pardoning him, without any diminution of his honor 
or justice; were it not a vile reproach, if this traitor should tell the 
prince that suffered for him, • It was for your father that you suffer- 
ed to procure him a power of pardoning, it was not for me ?' It is 
true, the king could not pardon him, without satisfaction to his hon- 
or and justice. But this was not through any impotency, but be- 
cause the thing was not fit to be done, and so was morally impos- 
sible. For in law we say, dishonest things are impossible. And 
it had been no less to the king if the traitor had not been pardoned. 
So it is in our case. And therefore Christ's sufferings could not 
be more eminently for us, than by enabling the offended Majesty 
to forgive us ; and so taking the greatest impediment out of the 
way. For when impediments are once removed, God's nature is 
so gracious and prone to mercy, that he would soon pardon us 
when once it is fit to be done, and so morally possible in the fullest 
sense ; only men's own unwillingness now stands in the way, and 
makes it to be not fully fit to be yet done. It is true, in a remote 
sense, the pardon of sin was always possible ; but in the nearest 
sense it was impossible, till Christ made it possible by his satisfac- 

2. Nay, though you were yet graceless, you have now this com- 
fort, that your salvation is probable as well as possible. You are 
very fair for it. The terms are not hard in themselves, on which 
it is tendered. For Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden is light, 

Vol. 1, 39 


and his commands are not grievous. " The word is nigh you," 
even the offer of grace. You need not say, " Who shall ascend to 
heaven, or go down to hell?" Rom. x. But this will appear in 
the next. 

3. Yea, this exceeding comfort there is, even for them that are 
graceless, that their salvation is conditionally certain, and the con- 
dition is but their own willingness. They may all have Christ and 
life if they will. Now I desire you in all your doubts, that you will 
well consider and improve this one truth and ground of comfort. 
Would you, in the midst of your groans, and complaints and fears 
take it for a small mercy, to be certain that you shall have Christ 
if you will ? When you are praying for Christ in fear and anguish 
of spirit, if an angel or voice from heaven should say to you ' It shall 
be unto thee according to thy will, if thou wilt have Christ and live 
in him, thou shalt :' Would this be no comfort to you? Would it 
not revive you and overcome your fears ? 

By this time, I hope you see what abundance of comfort gene- 
ral mercy or grace may afford the soul, before it perceive, (yea, or 
receive) any special grace ; though few of those that receive not 
special grace can make use of general, yet it is propounded to them 
as well as others. 

1. All the terrifying temptations which are grounded on misrep- 
resentations of God, as if he were a cruel destroyer to be fled from, 
are dispelled by the due consideration of his goodness, and the 
deep settled apprehensions of his gracious, merciful, lovely nature, 
(which indeed is the first work of true religion, and the very master 
radical act of true grace, and the chief maintainer of spiritual life 
and motion.) 

2. All these temptations are yet more effectually dispelled, by 
considering this merciful divine nature dwelling in flesh, becoming 
man, by condescending to the assumption of our human nature ; 
and so come near us, and assuming the office of being the Media- 
tor, the Redeemer, the Saviour of the world. 

3. All your doubts and fears that proceed from your former 
sins, whether of youth or of age, of ignorance or of knowledge, 
and those which proceed from your legal unworthiness, have all 
a present remedy in the fullness and sufficiency of Christ's satisfac- 


lion, even for all the world ; so that no sin (except the excepted 
sin) is so great, but it is fully satisfied for ; and though you are 
unworthy, yet Christ is worthy ; and he came into the world to 
save only the unworthy (in the strict and legal sense.) 

4. All your doubts and fears that arise from an apprehension of 
God's unwillingness to shew you mercy, and to give you Christ and 
life in him, arise from the misapprehensions of Christ's unwilling- 
ness to be yours ; or at least from the uncertainty of his willing- 
ness ; these have all a sufficient remedy in the general extent, and 
tenor of the new covenant. Can you doubt whether God be wil- 
ling to give you Christ and life, when he had given them already, 
even by a deed of gift under his hand, and by a law of grace ? 1 
John v. 10—12. 

Object. * But yet all are not pardoned, and possessed of Christ, 
and so saved.' 

Answ. I told you, that is because they will not ; so that (I pray 
you mark it well) God hath in these four means before mentioned, 
given even to the graceless so much ground of comfort, that noth- 
ing, but their unwillingness to have Christ, is left to be their terror. 
For though sin be not actually remitted to them, yet it is condi- 
tionally remitted, viz. If they will but accept of Christ offered them. 
Will you remember this, when your doubts are greatest, and you 
conclude, that certainly Christ is not yours, because you have no 
true grace ? Suppose it to be true, yet still know, that Christ may 
be yours if you will, and when you will. This comfort you may 
have when you can find no evidences of true grace in yourself. So 
much for that direction. 

Direct. VIII. The next thing that you have to do, for building 
up a stable comfort, and settling your conscience in a solid peace, 
is this, ' Be sure to get and keep a right understanding of the na- 
ture of saving faith.' 

As you must have right thoughts of the covenant of grace (of 
which before,) the want thereof doth puzzle and confound very ma- 
ny Christians ; so you must be sure to have right thoughts of the 
condition of the covenant. For indeed that grace which causeth 
you to perform this condition, is your first special saving grace, 
which you may take as a certain evidence of your justification. And 


this condition is the very link which conjoineth all the general fore- 
going grace to all the rest of the following special grace. The 
Scripture is so full and plain in assuring pardon and salvation to all 
true believers, that if you can be sure you are a believer, you need 
not make any doubt of your interest in Christ, and your salvation. 
Seeing therefore that all the question will be, Whether you have 
true faith ? Whether you do perform the condition of the new 
covenant? (for all other doubts God hath given you sufficient 
ground to resolve, as is said) how much then doth it concern you to 
have a right understanding of the nature of this faith. Which that 
you may have, let me tell you briefly what it is. Man's soul hath 
two faculties, understanding and will : accordingly the objects of 
man's soul (all beings which it is to receive) have two modifica- 
tions ; truth and goodness (as those to be avoided are evil.) Ac- 
cordingly God's word or Gospel hath two parts ; the revelation of 
truth, and the offer and promise of some good. This offered good 
is principally and immediately Christ himself to be joined to us by 
covenant, as our head and husband. The secondary consequen- 
tial good, is pardon, justification, reconciliation, adoption, further 
sanctification and glorification, which are all offered with Christ. 
By this you may see what saving faith is ; it is first, a believing that 
the Gospel is true ; and then an accepting of Christ therein offer- 
ed to us, with his benefits ; or a consenting that he be ours, and we 
be his ; which is nothing but a true willingness to have an offered 
Christ. Remember this well, that you may make use of it, when 
you are in doubt of the truth of your faith. Thousands of poor 
souls have been in the dark, and unable to see themselves to be 
believers, merely for want of knowing what saving faith is. The 
Papists place almost all in the mere assent of the understanding. 
Some of the Reformers made it to be either an assurance of the 
pardon of our own sins, or a strong persuasion of their pardon, ex- 
cluding doubting; or (the most moderate) a persuasion of our par- 
ticular pardon, though mixed with some doubting. The Antino- 
mians strike in with them, and say the same. Hence some divines 
conclude, that justification and remission go before faith, because 
the act doth always suppose its object. For they thought that re- 
mission already past was the object of justifying faith, supposing 


faith to Ue nothing else but a belief that we are pardoned. Yea, or- 
dinarily, it hath been taught in the writings of our greatest refuters 
of the Papists, ' That this belief is properly a divine faith, or the 
belief of a divine testimony, as is the believing of any proposition 
written in the Scripture (a foul error, which I have confuted in my 
Book of Rest, part iii. chap, vii.) Most of late have come nearer 
the truth, and affirmed justifying faith to consist in affiance, or re- 
cumbency, or resting on Christ for salvation. No doubt this is one 
act of justifying faith, but not that which a poor troubled soul should 
first search after and try itself by (except by affiance, any should 
mean as Amesius doth, election of Christ, and then it is the same 
act which I am asserting, but very unfitly expressed.) For, (1.) 
Affiance is not the principal act nor that wherein the very life of jus- 
tifying faith doth consist, but only an imperate allowing act, and an 
effect of the vital act, (which is consent, or willing, or accepting 
Christ offered ;) for it lieth mainly in that which we call the sensi- 
tive part, or the passions of the soul. (2.) It is therefore less con- 
stant, and so unfitter to try by. For many a poor soul that knows 
itself unfeignedly willing to have Christ, yet feeleth not a resting on 
him, or trusting in him, and therefore cries out, ' O I cannot be- 
lieve ;' and think they have no faith. For recumbency, affiance, 
or resting on Christ, implieth that easing of themselves, or casting 
off their fears, or doubts, or cares, which true believers do not al- 
ways find. Many a poor soul complains, ' O I cannot rest on Christ ; 
I cannot trust him !' who yet would have him to be their Lord and 
Saviour, and can easily be convinced of their willingness. (3.) 
Besides affiance is not the adequate act of faith, suited to the object 
in that fulness as it must be received, but willingness or acceptance 
is. Christ is rested on not only for ourselves as our deliverer, but 
he is accepted also for himself as our Lord and Master. The full 
proof of these I have performed in other writings, and oft in your 
hearing in public, and therefore omit them now. Be sure then to 
fix this truth deep in your mind, ' That justifying faith is not an as- 
surance of our justification; no, nor a persuasion or belief that we 
are justified or pardoned, or that Christ died more for us than for 
others. Nor yet is affiance or resting on Christ the vital principle, 
certain, constant, full act ; but it is the understanding's belief of 


the truth of the Gospel, and the will's acceptance of Christ and life 
offered to us therein ; which acceptance is but the hearty consent 
or willingness that he be yours, and you his. This is the faith which 
must justify and save you. 

Object. But, < May not wicked men be willing to have Christ ? 
And do not you oft tell us that justifying faith comprehends 
love to Christ and thankfulness, and that it receiveth him as a Lord 
to be obeyed, as well as a deliverer ? And that repentance and sin- 
cere obedience are parts of the condition of the new covenant?' 

Answ. I will give as brief a touch now on these as may be, be- 
cause I have handled them in fitter places. 

1. Wicked men are willing to have remission, justification, and 
freedom from hell (for no man can be willing to be unpardoned, or 
to be damned ;) but they are not willing to have Christ himself in 
that nature and office which he must be accepted ; that is, as an ho- 
ly head and husband to save both from the guilt and power, and all 
defilement and abode of sin, and to rule them by his law, and guide 
them by his Spirit, and to make them happy by bringing them to 
God, that being without sin, they may be perfectly pleasing and 
amiable in his sight, and enjoy him for ever. Thus is Christ offered, 
and thus to be accepted of all that will be saved ; and thus no wick- 
ed man will accept him (but when he ceaseth to be wicked.) 2. 
To cut all the rest short in a word, I say, That in this fore-des- 
cribed willingness or acceptance, repentance, love, thankfulness, 
resolution to obey, are all contained, or nearly implied, as I have 
elsewhere manifested ; so that the heart of saving faith is this ac- 
ceptance of Christ, or willingness to have him to justify, sanctify, 
guide, and govern you. Find but this willingness, and you find all 
the rest, whether you expressly see them or not. So much for 
that direction. 

Direct. IX. Having thus far proceeded, in discovering and im- 
proving the general grounds of comfort, and then in discovering the 
nature of faith, which gives you right to the special mercies of the 
covenant following it ; your next work must be, ' To perform this 
condition by actual believing.' 

Your soul stands in extreme need of a Saviour. God offereth 
you a Saviour in the Gospel. What then have you next to do but 


to accept him ? Believe that this offer is general, and therefore to 
you. And that Christ is not set to sale, nor doth God require you 
to bring a price in your hand, but only heartily and thankfully to 
accept of what he freely giveth you. This must be done before 
you fall on trying your graces to get assurance, for you must have 
grace before you can discover it ; and this is the first proper special 
saving grace (as it compriseth that knowledge and assent which ne- 
cessarily go before it.) This is not only the method for those that 
yet never believed, but also for them that have lost the sense of 
their faith, and so the sight of their evidence. Believe again, that 
you may know you do believe ; or at least may possess an accepted 
Saviour. When God in the Gospel bids you take Jesus Christ, and 
beseecheth you to be reconciled to him, what will you say to him ? 
If your heart answer, ' Lord I am willing, I will accept of Christ 
and be thankful ;' why then the match is made between Christ and 
you, and the marriage-covenant is truly entered, which none can 
dissolve. If Christ were not first willing, he would not be the sui- 
tor, and make the motion ; and if he be willing, and you be willing, 
what can break the match ? If you will say, 'I cannot believe ;' 
if you understand what you say, either you mean that you 
cannot believe the gospel is true, or else that you cannot be 
willing that Christ should be yours. If it be the former, and 
speak truly, then you are a flat infidel (yet many temptations to 
doubt of the truth of Scripture, a true believer may have, yea, and 
actual doubtings ; but his faith prevaileth, and is victorious over 
them) ; but if you really doubt whether the Gospel be true, use 
God's means for the discovery of its truth. Read what I have writ- 
ten in the second part of my Book of Rest. I will undertake now 
more confidently than ever I did, to prove the truth of Scripture by 
plain, full, undeniable force of reason. But I suppose this is none 
of your case. If therefore when you say, that you cannot believe, 
you mean, that you cannot accept an offered Christ, or be willing 
to have him ; then I demand, ( 1 .) What is your reason ? The will 
is led by the reason of the understanding. If you be not willing, 
there is something that persuades you to be unwilling. This rea- 
son must be from something real, or else upon a mistake, upon sup- 
posal of something that is not in being. If it be upon mistake, eith- 
er it is that you be not convinced of Christ's willingness to be 


yours ; and if you thought he did consent, you would consent 
willingly ; if this be it, you do truly believe while you think you do 
not ; for you do consent (and that is all on your part to make the 
match) and Christ doth certainly consent, though you do not under- 
stand it. In this case it concerneth you, to understand better the 
extent of the new covenant, and then you will be past doubt of the 
willingness of Christ, and see that wherever the match breaks, it is 
only for want of consent in men ; for Christ is the first suitor, and 
hath long ago in the covenant proclaimed his consent, to be the 
head and husband of every sinner, on condition they will but con- 
sent to be his. 

If your mistake be from any false apprehension of the nature of 
Christ, as if he were not a sufficient Saviour, or were an enemy to 
your comfort, that he would do you more harm than good ; if these 
mistakes are prevalent, then you do not know Christ, and therefore 
must presently better study him in the Gospel, till you have pre- 
vailed over such ignorant and blasphemous conceits (but none of 
this I suppose is your case.) 

If then the reason why you say you cannot believe, be from any 
thing that is really in Christ (and not upon mistake,) then it must 
be either from some dislike of his saving work, by which he would 
pardon you, and save you from damnation (but that is impossible, 
for you cannot be willing to be damned or unpardoned, till you lose 
your reason :) or else it is from a dislike of his work of sanctifica- 
tion, by which he would cleanse your heart and life, by saving you 
from your sinful nature and actions ; some grudging against Christ's 
holy and undefiled laws and ways will be in the best, while there is 
that flesh in them which lusteth against the Spirit, so that they can- 
not do the things they would. But if truly you have such a dislike 
of a sinless condition, through the love of any sin or creature, that 
you cannot be willing to have Christ to cure you, and cleanse you 
from that sin, and make you holy : I say, if this be true, in a pre- 
vailing degree, so that if Christ and holiness were offered you, you 
would not accept them, then it is certain you have not true faith. 
And in this case it is easily to discern, that your first work lieth not 
in getting comfort or ease to your troubled mind ; but in getting 
better conceits of Christ and a holy state and life, that so you may 


be willing of Christ, as Christ i&ofyou, and so become a true be- 
liever. And here I would not leave you at that loss as some do, as 
if there were nothing for you to do for the getting of faith ; for cer- 
tainly God hath prescribed you means for that end. " Faith Com- 
eth by hearing, and hearing by the word of God preached ;" Rom. 
x. 17. i. Therefore see that you wait diligently on this ordi- 
nance of God. Read the Scriptures daily, and search them to see 
whether you may not there find that holiness is better than sin. ii. 
And however some seducers may tell you, that wicked men ought 
not to pray, yet be sure that you lie on your knees before God, and 
importunately beg that he would open your eyes, and change your 
heart, and shew you so far the evil of sin, and the want and worth 
of Christ and holiness, that you may be unfeignedly glad to accept 
his offer. 

Object. ' But the prayers of the wicked are an abomination to 
the Lord.' 

Answ. (1.) You must distinguish between wicked men, as ac- 
tually wicked, and going on in the prosecution of their wickedness; 
and wicked men, as they have some good in them, or are doing 
some good, or are attempting a return to God. (2.) You must dis- 
tinguish between real prayer and seeming prayer. (3.) You must 
distinguish between full acceptance of prayer, when God delighteth 
in them, and an acceptance only to some particular end, not intima- 
ting the acceptance of the person with his prayer : and between ac- 
ceptance fully promised (as certain) and acceptance but half prom- 
ised (as probable). And upon these distinctions I shall answer 
your objections in the conclusion. 

1 . When wicked men pray to God to prosper them in their 
wickedness, yea, or to pardon them while they intend to go on in 
it, and so to give them an indulgence in sin ; or when they think 
with a few prayers for some good, which they can endure, to put by 
that holiness which they cannot endure, and so to make a cloak for 
their rebellion, these prayers are all an abomination to the Lord. 

2. When men use the words of a prayer, without the desire of 
the thing asked, this is no prayer, but equivocally so called, as a 
carcase is a man ; and therefore no wonder if God abhor that 
prayer, which is truly no prayer. 

Vol. I. 40 


3. God hath not made a full promise, ascertaining any wicked 
man, while wicked, that he will hear his prayer ; for all such prom- 
ises are made to believers. 

4. God doth never so hear an unbeliever's prayer, as to accept 
his person with his prayer, or to take a complacency in them. So 
much for the negative. 

Nor for the affirmative, I add ; 1. Prayer is a duty which God 
enjoined even wicked men (I could prove it by an hundred Scrip- 
ture texts.) 

2. There may be some good desires in unbelievers, which they 
may express in prayer, and these God may so far hear as to grant 
them, as he did in part to Ahab. 

3. An unbeliever may lie under preparing grace, and be on his 
way in returning towards God, though yet he be not come to saving 
faith ; and in this state he may have many good desires, and such 
prayers as God will hear. 

4. Though God have not flatly engaged himself to unbelievers, so 
as to give them a certainty of hearing their prayers, and giving them 
true grace on the improvement of their naturals, yet he hath not only 
appointed them this and other means to get grace, but also given 
them half promises, or strong probabilities of speeding, so much 
as may be a sufficient encouragement to any such sinner to call on 
God, and use his means. For as he appointeth not any vain means 
to man, so no man can name that man who did improve his naturals 
to the utmost, and in particular, sought God in prayer, so far as a 
natural man may do, who yet missed of grace, and was rejected 
(this is the true mean between Pelagianism and Antinomianism in 
this point). 

5. When God calls unbelievers to prayer, he withal calls them 
to believe. And when he works their heart to prayer by that call, 
he usually withal works them to believe, or at least towards believ- 
ing. If he that was unwilling to have Christ, do pray God to make 
him willing, it is a beginning of willingness already, and the way to 
get more willingness. In prayer God useth to give in the thing 
prayed for, of this kind. 

6. Prayer is the soul's motion God-ward : and to say an unbe- 


liever should not pray, is to say he should not turn to God ; who yet 
saith to the wicked, " Seek the Lord whi'e he may be found, and 
call upon while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way ;" &c. 
Isaiah lv. 6, 7. 

7. Prayer hath two parts ; desire is the soul of it, and expression 
is the body. The soul can live separated from the body, but so 
cannot the body separated from the soul. So can desire without 
expression, but not expression without desire. When our blind 
Antinomians (the great subverters of the Gospel, more than the 
law) do rail against ministers for persuading wicked men to pray, 
they are against us for persuading men to desire that they pray for ; 
prayer having desire for its soul. And do not those men deserve 
to be exterminated the churches and societies of the saints, who 
dare say to a wicked unbeliever, ' Desire not faith ? Desire not to 
leave thy wickedness ? Desire not grace ? or Christ ? or God ? 
And that will proclaim abroad the word (as I have oft heard of them 
with zealous reproaches) that our ministers are legalists, seducers, 
ignorant of the mysteries of the Gospel, because they persuade 
poor sinners to pray for faith, grace, and Christ ; that is to desire 
these, and to express their desires ; which in effect is to persuade 
them to repent, believe, and turn to God. Indeed, if these blind 
seducers had ever heard our ministers persuading wicked men to 
dissemble and lie to God, and ask faith, grace and Christ with their 
tongues, but not desire them in their hearts, then had they sufficient 
grounds for their reviling language. But I have been too long on 
this. I may therefore boldly conclude, that they that find them- 
selves unbelievers, that is, unwilling to have Christ to deliver them 
from sin, must use this second means to get faith, even earnest fre- 
quent prayer for it to God. 

iii. Let such also see that they avoid wicked seducing company 
and occasions of sin ; and be sure that they keep company with 
men fearing God, especially joining with them in their holy duties. 

iv. Lastly, let such be sure that they use that reason which God 
hath given them, to consider frequently, retiredly, seriously, of the 
vanity of all those diings that steal away their hearts from Christ ; 
and of the excellency of holiness, and how blessed a state it is to 
have nothing in us of heart or life that is displeasing to God, but to 


be such as he taketh full delight in ; also of the certainty of the 
damnation ot unbelievers, and the intolerableness of their torments ; 
and of the certainty and inconceivable greatness of believers' ever- 
lasting happiness. If wicked unbelievers would but do what they 
can in daily, serious, deep considering of these things, and the like, 
they would have no cause to despair of obtaining faith and sanctifi- 
cation. Believing is a rational act. God bids you not to believe 
any thing without reason, nor to accept or consent to any thing 
without full reason to cause you to consent. Think then often and 
soberly of those reasons that should move you to consent, and of 
the vanity of these that hinder you from consenting, and this is 
God's way for you to obtain faith or consent. 

Remember then, that when you have understood and improved 
general grounds of comfort (nay before you can come to any full 
improvement of them) your next business is to believe ; to consent 
to the match with Christ, and to take him for your Lord and Sav- 
iour. And this duty must be looked to and performed, before you 
look after special comfort. But I said somewhat of this before un- 
der the sixth head, and therefore will say no more now. 

Direct. X. When you have gone thus far, your soul is safe, and 
you are past your greatest dangers, though yet you are not past 
your fears ; your next work therefore for peace and comfort is 
this ; ' To review and take notice of your own faith, and thence to 
gather assurance of the certainty of your justification, and adoption, 
and right to glory.' 

The sum of this direction lieth in these things : 

1. See that you do not content yourself with the forementioned 
general comforts, without looking after assurance and special com- 
forts. The folly of this I have manifested in the third part of my 
Book of Rest, about Self-examination. 

2. See that you dream not of finding assurance and special com- 
fort from mere general grounds. This is the delusion of many 
Antinomians, and most of our profane people (who I find are com- 
monly of the Antinomian faith naturally, without teaching.) For 
men to conclude that they shall certainly be saved, merely because 
God is merciful, or Christ is tender-hearted to sinners, and would 
not that any should perish, but all should come to repentance ; or 


because God delights not in the death of him that dieth, but rather 
that he repent and live ; or because Christ died for them ; or be- 
cause God hath given Christ and life in the Gospel to all, on con- 
dition of believing ; these are all but mere delusions. Much com- 
fort, as I have shewed you, may be gathered from these generals ; 
but no certainty of salvation, or special comfort can be gathered 
from them alone. 

3. See that you reject the Antinomian doctrine or dotage, which 
would teach you to reject the trial and judging of your state by signs 
of grace in yourself, and tell you that it is only the Spirit that must 
assure, by witnessing your adoption ; I will further explain this cau- 
tion when I have added the rest. 

4. And on the other extreme, do not run to marks unseasonably, 
but in the order here laid down. 

5. Nor trust to unsafe marks. 

6. And therefore do not look at too many ; for the true ones are 
but few. I do but name these things to you, because I have more 
fully handled them in my Book of Rest, whither I must refer you. 
And sol return to the third caution. 

I have in the forementioned book told you, what the office of the 
Spirit is in assuring us, and what the use of marks are. The Spir- 
it witnesseth first objectively, and so the Spirit and marks are all 
one. For it is the Spirit dwelling in us that is the witness or proof 
that we are God's sons ; for he that hath not his Spirit is none of 
his. And the Spirit is not discerned by us in its essence, but in 
its workings ; and therefore to discern these workings, is to discern 
the Spirit, and these workings are marks that we speak of: so that 
the Spirit witnesseth our sonship, as a reasonable soul witnesseth 
that you are a man and not a beast. You find by the acts of reas- 
on, that you have a reasonable soul, and then you know, that having 
a reasonable soul, you certainly are a man. So you find by the 
works or fruits of the Spirit, that you have the Spirit (that is, by 
marks ; and Paul enumerates the fruits of the Spirit to that end,) 
and then by finding that you have the Spirit you may certainly 
know that you are the child of God. Also, as the reasonable 
soul is its own discerner by the help of the body (while it is in it) 
and so witnesseth our humanity effectively as well as objectively 


(but first in order objectively, and next effectively ;) so doth the 
Spirit effectively discover itself to the soul, by illuminating us to 
discern it, and exciting us to search, and giving us that spiritual 
taste and feeling of its workings, and so of its presence, by which it 
is best known. But still it witnesseth objectively, first, and its 
effective witnessing is but the causing us to discern its objective 
witness. Or (to speak more plainly,) the spirit witnesses first and 
principally, by giving us those graces and workings which are our 
marks; and then, secondly by helping us to find and feel those 
workings or marks in ourselves ; and then, lastly, by raising com- 
forts in the soul upon that discovery. Take heed therefore of ex- 
pecting any such inward witness of the Spirit, as some expect, viz- 
a discovery of your adoption directly, without first discovering the 
signs of it within you, as if by an inward voice he should say to 
you, * Thou art a child of God and thy sins are pardoned.' 

This that I described to you, is the true witness of the Spirit. 
This mistake is so dangerous, that I had thought to have made it a 
peculiar direction by itself, to warn you of it ; and now I have gone 
so far I will despatch it here. Two dangerous consequents I 
find do follow this unwarrantable expectation of the first immediate 
efficient revelation that we are adopted. 

1. Some poor souls have languished in doubting and trouble of 
mind almost all their days, in expectation of such a kind of witness 
as the Spirit useth not to give ; when in the meantime they have 
sufficient means of comfort, and knew not how to improve them ; 
yea, they had the true witness of the Spirit in his inhabitation and 
holy workings, and did not know it; but run as Samuel did to Eli, 
not knowing the voice of God; and look for the Spirit's testimony 
when they had it, as the Jews for Elias and the Messias. 

2. Others do more dangerously err, by taking the strong con- 
ceit of their own fantasy for the witness of the Spirit ; as soon as 
they do but entertain the opinion that it must be such a witness 
of the Spirit, without the use of marks, that must assure men of their 
adoption, presently they are confident that they have the witness 
in themselves. It is scarce likely to be God's Spirit that is so ready 
upon the mere change of an opinion. The devil useth to do as 
much to cherish presumption, as to destroy true faith and assu- 


ranee. It is a shrewd sign that our persuasions of our truth of 
grace is a delusion, when we find the devil a friend to it, and help- 
ing it on. And it is a probable sign it is a good persuasion, when 
we find the devil an enemy to it, and still troubling us and endeav- 
oring our disquiet. 

And here I remember the scruple that troubleth some about the 
spirit of bondage, and the spirit of adoption. But you must under- 
stand, that by the spirit of bondage is meant that spirit, and those 
operations on the soul which the law of works did naturally beget 
in those that were under it ; which was to be partly in bondage, to 
a task of ceremonious duties, and partly to the curse and obliga- 
tion to punishment for disobedience, without any power to justify. 
They were said therefore to be in bondage to the law ; and the 
law was said to be a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers 
were able to bear : Acts xv. 

And by the spirit of adoption is meant, 1 . That spirit, or those 
qualifications or workings in their souls, which by the Gospel God 
giveth only to his sons. 2. And which raise in us some childlike 
affections to God inclining us in all our wants to run to him in prayer, 
as to a Father, and to make our moan to him, and open our griefs, 
and cry for redress, and look to him, and depend on him as a child 
on the father. This spirit of adoption you may have, and yet not 
be certain of God's special love to you. The knowledge only of 
his general goodness and mercy, may be a means to raise in you 
true childlike affections. You may know God to have fatherly 
inclinations to you, and yet doubt whether he will use you as a 
child, for want of assurance of your own sincerity. And you may 
hope God is your Father, when yet you may apprehend him to 
be a displeased, angry father, and so he may be more your terror 
than your comfort. Are you not ready in most of your fears, and 
doubts, and troubles, to go to God before all other for relief? And 
doth not your heart sigh and groan to him, when you can scarcely 
speak ? Doth not your troubled spirit there find its first vent ? And 
say, ' Lord kill me not ; forsake me not ; my life is in thy hands ; 
O soften this hard heart ; make this carnal mind more spiritual ! 
O be not such a stranger to my soul ! Wo to me that I am so igno- 
rant of thee ! so disaffected to thee ! so backward and disinclined 


to holy communion with thee ! Wo to me, that can take no more 
pleasure in thee ! and am so mindless and disregarded of thee ! 
O that thou vvouldst stir up in me more lively desires, and workings 
of my soul towards thee ! and suffer me not to lie at such a distance 
from thee !' Are not such as these the breathings of your spirit ? 
Why these are childlike breathings after God ! This is crying ' Ab- 
ba, Father.' This is the work of the spirit of adoption, even when 
you fear God will cast you off. You much mistake (and those 
that tell you so) if you think that the spirit of adoption lieth only in 
a persuasion that you are God's child, or that you may not have 
the spirit of adoption, without such a persuasion of God's adopting 
you. For God may adopt you, and give you that spirit which he 
gives only to his children, and possess you with true filial affections 
towards him, before ever you know yourself to be adopted ; much 
more, though you may have frequent returning doubts of your 

Having thus shewed you how far you may expect the witness of 
the Spirit, and how far you may and must make use of marks and 
qualifications, or actions of your own, for the obtaining of assurance 
and settled peace, I shall add an answer to the principal objections 
of the Antinomians against this. 

Object. They say, This is to draw men from Christ to them- 
selves, and from the gospel to the law ; to lay their comforts, and 
build their peace upon any thing in themselves, is to forsake Christ, 
and make themselves their own saviors : and those teachers that 
persuade them to this, are teachers of the law, and false prophets, 
who draw men from Christ to themselves. All our own righteous- 
ness is as filthy rags, and our best works are sin ; and ther- 
efore we may not take up our assurance or comforts from them. 
We shall be always at uncertainties, and at a loss, or inconstant, up 
and down in our comforts, as long as we take them from any signs 
in ourselves : also our own graces are imperfect, and therefore un- 
fit to be the evidences for our assurance. 

Answ. Because I am not now purposely confuting the Antino- 
mians, but only forearming you against their assaults ; I shall not 
therefore give you half that I should otherwise say, for the explica- 
tion of this point, and the confutation of their errors, but only so 


much as is. necessary to your preservation: which I do, because 
they pretend to be the only preachers of free grace, and the only 
right comforters of troubled consciences ; and because they have 
written so many books to that end, which if they fall into your 
hands may seem so specious, as that you may need some preserva- 
tive. I suppose you remember what I have taught you so oft, con- 
cerning the difference of the law of works, and the law of grace, 
with their different conditions. Upon which supposition I explicate 
the point thus. 1. No man may look at his own graces or duties 
as his legal righteousness ; that is, such as for which the law of 
works will pronounce him righteous. 2. Nor yet may he take them 
for part of his legal righteousness, in conjunction with Christ's right- 
eousness, as the other part ; but here we must go wholly out of our- 
selves, and deny and disclaim all such righteousness of our own. 
We have no works which make the reward to be not of grace but 
of debt. 3. We must not once think that our graces, duties, or suf- 
ferings, can make satisfaction to God's justice for our sin and un- 
righteousness ; nor yet that they are any part of that satisfaction. 
Here we ascribe all to Christ, who is the only sacrifice and ran- 
som. 4. Nor must we think that our duties or graces are proper- 
ly meritorious ; this also is to be left as the sole honor of Christ. 
5. Yet that we may and must raise our assurance and comforts 
from our own gracps and duties, shall appear in these clear reasons 
following, which shew also the grounds on which we may do it. 

1 . Pardon, justification, and adoption, and salvation, are all given 
to us in the Gospel only conditionally (if we believe), and the con- 
dition is an act, or rather several acts of our own. Now till the 
condition be performed, no man can have any certainty that the 
benefit shall be his, nor can he by any other means (ordinarily) be 
certain of the benefit, but by that which ascertains him that he hath 
performed the condition. God saith, "He that believeth shall be 
saved." No man can know then that he shall be saved, till he first 
know that he believeth. Else he should know either contrary to 
that which is written, or more than that which is written ; and justi- 
fication and adoption should be given some other way than by the 
gospel promise, for that promise giveth them only conditionlly, and 
so suspended) the actual right, upon the performance cf the condi- 

Vol. 1. 41 


lion. But if any can shew any other way, by which God maketh 
over pardon and adoption, besides the gospel promise, let them do 
it ; but I will not promise suddenly to believe them, for it was nev- 
er yet shewed as I know of. Also, if men must not look at their 
own performance of the condition, to prove their right to the bene- 
fit, then either all or none must believe that they have that right J 
for the promise saith, " He that believeth shall be saved." And 
this is a promise of life conditionally to all. If all must believe 
that they shall be saved, then most of the world must believe a lie. 
If the true believer may not therefore conclude that he shall be sa- 
ved, because he performeth the condition of the promise, then no 
man may believe it. And for that absolute promise of the new 
heart, no man can, or may believe that it is his, till he have that 
new heart which it promiseth ; that is, till it be fulfilled. For there 
is no mark by which a man can know whether that promise belong 
to him or no beforehand, and if all should believe that it belongs to 
them, most would find it false. 

2. God hath not redeemed us by his Son to be lawless. To be 
without law is to be without government. We are without the law ; 
that is, of works or of Moses, but not without law; Jesus Christ 
s our ruler, and he hath made us a law of grace; an easy yoke, 
and commands that are not grievous. This law hath precepts, 
promises and threats; it must needs be either obeyed or disobey- 
ed ; and so the penalty must be due or not due ; and the reward 
due or not due. He that performs the condition, and so to whom 
the reward is due, and not the penalty, is righteous in the sense of 
this law. As when we are accused to be sinners against the law of 
works, and so to deserve the penalty of that law, we must confess 
all, and plead the righteousness of Christ's satisfaction for our justi- 
fication. So when we are accused to be final unbelievers or im- 
penient, and so not to have performed the conditions of the new 
covenant, we must be justified by our own faith and repentance, 
the performance of that condition ; and must plead not guilty. 
And so far our own acts are our evangelical righteousness, and that 
of such necessity, that without it no man can have part in Christ's 
righteousness, nor be saved. I would desire any man eke to tell 
me, what else he will plead at judgment, when the accuser 


chargeth him (or if he do so charge him) with final unbelief? Will 
he confess it, and say, ' Christ hath believed and repented for me?' 
That is as much as to say, ' Christ was a believer for infidels, that 
he might save infidels.' All false. If he will not say thus (and 
lying will do no good) then must he plead his own believing and 
repenting, as his righteousness, in opposition to that accusation. 
And if it be of such use then, and be called a hundred times in 
scripture, " our righteousness," and we righteous for it, then doubt- 
less we may accordingly try by it now, whether we shall then be 
able to come off and be justified, or no; and so may buiLd our 
comfort on it. 

3. Conscience is a witness and judge within us, and doth, as 
under God, accuse and condemn, or excuse and acquit. Now if 
conscience must absolve us only so far as we are innocent, or do 
well, or are qualified with grace, then it is impossible but these our 
qualifications and actions should be some ground of our comfort. 
See Acts xxiv. 16. xxiii. 1. Rom. ii. 15, 16. 

4. Those which are our graces and works, as we are the sub* 
jects and agents, are the graces and works of God, of Christ, of 
the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. If therefore we may not rejoice in 
our own works, or graces, then we may not rejoice in the works 
or gifts of God, Christ, or the Holy Ghost. And, 

5. Our graces are the spiritual life or health of the soul, and our 
holy actions are the vital operations. Now life and health are ne- 
cessary ; rejoicing, delighting things of themselves ; and vital ac- 
tions are necessarily pleasant and delectable. 

6. Our graces and holy actions must needs rejoice us in respect 
of their objects ; for the object of our love, trust, hope, meditation, 
prayer, conference, &c. is God himself, and the Lord Jesus, and 
the joys of heaven. And how can such actions choose but rejoice us! 

7. Yea, rejoicing itself, and delighting ourselves in God is not 
only one part of our duty, but that great duty wherein lieth the 
height of our Christianity. And how vain a speech is it to say, 
that we may not lake up our comforts from our own works, nor re* 
joice in any thing of our own ; when even rejoicing itself, and de- 
lighting, and comforting ourselves, is one part of our duty ? 

8. As God in Christ is the chief object and ground of our com 


fort (so that we must rejoice in nothing but God, and the cross ef 
Christ, in that kind, or in co-ordination with them ;) so it is the of- 
fice of every grace and holy work, and ordinance, and means, to be 
subservient to Christ, either for the attaining of Christ, or applying 
his merits, or they are the effects of his merits. Now if we must 
love and rejoice in Christ principally, then must we needs love and 
rejoice in all those things that stand in a necessary subordination to 
him, in their places. And therefore to say, ' We must rejoice in 
Christ only, and therefore not in any graces or duties of our own,' 
is as wise, as if a wife should cast her husband's clothes and meat 
out of doors and say, 'You charged me to admit none into my 
chamber but yourself.' Or as if a physician, having told his pa- 
tients, ' I will cure you, if you will trust me only for the cure ;' 
thereupon the patients should cast away his medicines, and shut 
the doors against his servants and apothecaries, and say, ' We must 
trust none but the physician.' 

9. All the failings of our duties are pardoned, and they accepted 
in Christ ; and therefore we may rejoice in them. 

10. Our duties have a double tendency to our salvation. (1.) As 
the condition to which God hath promised it as the crown and re- 
ward (in a hundred texts of Scripture,) and may we not comfort 
ourselves in that which God promiseth heaven to ? (2.) As a natural 
means to our obedience and further protection (as watchfulness, 
meditation, &tc. tend to destroy sin,) as Paul saith to Timothy, 
" Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine, and in so doing, thou 
shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee ;" 1 Tim. iv. 16. 
and may we not take comfort in that which tends to save our own 
and our brethren's souls ? 

11. We shall be judged according to our works ; therefore we 
must judge ourselves according to our works ; and so must judge 
our state good or bad, according to our works. For can man judge 
by a righter way than God will ? At least is it not lawful for man 
to judge as God doth ? 

12. We must judge of others in probability, according to their 
external works, even the tree by the fruits ; therefore we must judge 
of ourselves in certainty, according to our internal and external 
works together, which we may certainly know. 


13. If we may not rejoice in any of our graces, then we may not 
be thankful for them, for thankfulness is accompanied with joy ; 
but we must be thankful. 

14. If we may not rejoice in our duties, we may not repent or 
sorrow for the neglect of them ; and if we may not rejoice in our 
graces, we may not lament the want of them (for these are as the 
two ends of the balance, that one goes down when the other goes 
up ; or as day and night, light and darkness.) But the consequent 
is intolerable. 

15. This would overthrow all religion. For what a man cannot 
rejoice in, he cannot love, he cannot esteem, regard, be careful to 
obtain, be fearful of losing, &.c. 

16. God delighteth in our graces and holy duties, and is well 
pleased with them ; and therefore it is lawful and needful that we 
do as God doth; Jer. ix. 2 / l. Htb. xi. 5. Abel's sacrifice by 
faith obtained testimony that he pleased God. " To do good, and 
to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well 
pleased ;" Heb. xiii. 16. 

17. The saints of God have not only tried themselves by their 
graces and duties, and commanded others to try by them, but have 
gloried and rejoiced in their duties and sufferings. " This is our 
rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and 
godly sincerity, we have had our conversation among you ;" 2 Cor, 
i. 12. " They gloried that they were counted worthy to suffer for 
Christ;" Acts v. 41. "I have therefore whereof I may glory in 
Jesus Christ, in those things which pertain to God ;" Rom. xv. 17. 
" We glory in tribulation," &c. ; chap. v. 3. " Though I should 
desire to glory, I should not be a fool. I glory in mine infirmities ;" 
2 Cor. xii. 6. 9. " Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he un- 
derstandeth and knoweth me ; Jer. ix. 24. " I had rather die than 
any should make my glorying void ;" 1 Cor. ix. 15. " Let every 
man prove his own work, so shall he have rejoicing in himself 
alone, and not in another ;" Gal. vi. 4. 

18. Scripture nameth many of our own graces and duties, as the 
certain marks of our justification and right to glory. Even Christ 
with his own mouth, gives trs many ; " Where your treasure is, 
there will your heart be also ;" Matt. vi. 21. " He that doth 


evil hatetli the light," &ic. John iii. 1 0. Matt. v. is full of such ; 
" Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure in heart," &.c. 

19. We may rejoice in other men's good works and graces 
(and do, if we be true Christians,) therefore in our own. 

20. We may rejoice in God's outward mercies ; therefore much 
more in inward, and such as accompany salvation. All these argu- 
ments prove, that We may take up our comfort from our own gra- 
cious qualifications and actions (not in opposition to Christ, hut in 
subordination to him,) and most of them prove that we may fetch 
our assurance of salvation from them, as undoubted evidences 

1 have said the more in answer to these objections, (1.) Because 
never any came with fairer pretences of exalting Christ, and main- 
taining the honor of his righteousness and free grace, and of deny- 
ing ourselves and our own righteousness. (2.) And yet few doc- 
trines more dishonor Christ, and destroy the very substance of re- 
ligion. Even as if a man should cry down him that would praise 
and commend obedience to the king, and say, ' You must praise 
nothing but the king. So do these cry down our looking at, and 
rejoicing in our love to Christ, and our thankfulness to him, and 
our obedience, and all under pretense of honoring him. Nay, they 
will not have us rejoice in one part of Christ's salvation (his saving 
us from the power of sin, and his sanctifying us) under pretence 
that we dishonor the other part of his salvation (his justifying us.) 
If ever Satan transformed himself into an angel of light, and his min- 
isters into ministers of light, it is in the mistakes of the Antinomians ; 
and no people in the world (except carnal libertines, whom this 
doctrine fits to a hair are in more danger of them, than poor, doubt- 
ing Christians, under trouble of conscience ; especially if they be 
not judicious, and skilled in the doctrine of Christ. For the very 
pretence of extolling Christ and free grace, will take much with 
such ; and any new way will sometimes seem to give them com- 
fort, upon the very novelty and sudden change. 

Having thus proved that you may, and must fetch your special 
comfort and assurance from evidences, and that your first evidence 
is your faith, I shall open this more fully under the next Direction. 

Direct. XI. In the trial of your state, ' Be sure that you make 


use of infallible signs of sincerity, and take not those for certain 
which are not.' 

And to that end remember what 1 said before, that you must 
well understand wherein the nature of saving faith, and so of all 
saving grace doth consist. And when you understand this, write 
it down in two or three lines ; and both at your first trial, and af- 
terward, whenever any doubts do drive you to a review of your 
evidence, still have recourse only to those signs, and try by them. 
What these signs are, I have shewed you so fully in the forecited 
place in my Book of Rest, that I shall say but little now. Remem- 
ber that infallible signs are very few ; and that whatsoever is made 
the condition of salvation, that is the most infallible evidence of 
our salvation, and therefore the fittest mark to try by ; and there- 
fore faith in God the Father and the Redeemer, is the main evi- 
dence. But because I have elsewhere shewed you, that this faith 
is comprehensive of love, gratitude, resolution to obey, and repent- 
ance, let me more particularly open it to help you in the trial. To 
prove any grace to be saving, it is necessary that you prove that 
salvation is fully promised to him that hath it. Now if you will 
know what it is that hath this promise, I will tell you, 1. As to the 
object. 2. The act. 3. The degree or modification of the act. 
For all these three must be inquired after if you will get assurance. 
1 . The object is principally God, and the Redeemer Christ. And 
secondarily the benefits given by Christ ; and under that, the 
means to attain the principal benefits, &tc. 2. The act hath many 
names drawn from respective and moral differences in the object, as 
faith, desire, love, choosing, accepting, receiving, consenting, &tc. 
But properly all are comprised in one word, ' willing.' The un- 
derstanding's high estimation of God, and Christ, and grace, is a 
principal part of true saving grace ; but yet it is difficult, and scarce 
possible to judge of yourself by it rightly, but only as it discovers 
itself by prevailing with the will. 3. The degree of this act must 
be such, as ordinarily prevaileth against its contrary ; I mean, both 
the contrary object, and the contrary act to the same object. But 
because I doubt school-terms do obscure my meaning to you 
though they are necessary for exactness,) I will express the nature 
of saving grace in two or three marks as plain as I can. 


I. Are you heartily willing to take God for your portion ? And 
had you rather live with him in glory in his favor and fullest love, 
with a soid perfectly cleansed from all sin, and never more to offend 
him, rejoicing with his saints in his everlasting praises, than to en- 
joy the delights of the flesh on earth, in a way of sin and without 
the favor of God ? 

II. Are you heartily willing to take Jesus Christ as he is offered 
in the Gospel ? that is, to be your only Saviour, and Lord, to give 
you pardon by his bloodshed, and to sanctify you by his word and 
Spirit, and to govern you by his laws ? 

Because this general contained) and implieth several particulars, 
I will express them distinctly. 

Here it is supposed that you know this much following of the na- 
ture of his laws. For to be willing to be ruled by his laws in gene- 
ral, and utterly unwilling when it comes to particulars, is no true 
willingness or subjection. 1. You must know that his laws reach 
both to heart and outward actions. 2. That they command a holy, 
spiritual, heavenly life. 3. That they command things so cross 
and unpleasing to the flesh, that the flesh will be still murmuring 
and striving against obedience.- Particularly, (1.) They command 
things quite cross to the inclinations of the flesh ; as to forgive 
wrongs, to love enemies, to forbear malice and revenge, to restrain 
and mortify lust and passion, to abhor and mortify pride, and be 
low in our own eyes, and humble and meek in spirit. (2.) They 
command things that cross the interest of the flesh and its inclina- 
tion both together ; I mean which will deprive it of its enjoyments, 
and bring it to some suffering ? As to perform duties even when 
they lay us open to disgrace and shame, and reproach in the world ; 
and to deny our credit, rather than forsake Christ or our duty. 
To obey Christ in doing what he commandeth us, though it would 
hazard or certainly lose our wealth, friends, liberty and life itself; 
forsaking all rather than to forsake him ; to give to the poor, and 
other good uses, and that liberally, according to our abilities'. To 
deny the flesh all forbidden pleasures, and make not provisions to 
satisfy its lusts, but to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts 
thereof; and in this combat to hold on to the end, and to overcome. 
These are the laws of Chribt, which you must know, before you 


can determine whether you are indeed unfeignedly willing to obey 
them. Put therefore these further questions to yourself, for the 
trial of your willingness to be ruled by Christ according to his laws. 

III. Are you heartily willing to live in the performance of those 
holy and spiritual duties of heart and life, which God hath abso- 
lutely commanded you ? And are you heartily sorry that you per- 
form them no better ? With no more cheerfulness, delight, suc- 
cess, and constancy ? 

IV. Are you so thoroughly convinced of the worth of everlasting 
happiness, and the intolerableness of everlasting misery, and the 
truth of both; and of the sovereignty of God the Father, and Christ 
the Redeemer, and your many engagements to him ; and of the 
necessity and good of obeying, and the evil of sinning, that you are 
truly willing, that is, have a settled resolution to cleave to Christ, 
and obey him in the dearest, most disgraceful, painful, hazardous, 
flesh-displeasing duties ; even though it should cost you the loss of 
all your worldly enjoyments, and your life ? 

V. Doth this willingness or resolution already so far prevail in 
your heart and life, against all the interest and t omp (cttions of the 
world, the devil, and your flesh, that you do ordinarily practise 
the most strict and holy, the most self-denying, costly, and hazar- 
dous duties that you know God requireth of you, and do heartily 
strive against all known sin, and overcome all gross sins ; and 
when you fall under any prevailing temptation, do rise again by re- 
pentance, and begging pardon of God, through the blood of Christ, 
do resolve to watch and resist more carefully for the time to come ? 

In these five marks is expressed the Gospel-description of a true 

Having laid down these marks, I must needs add a few words 
for the explaining of some things in them, lest you mistake the 
meaning, and so lose the benefit of them. 

i. Observe that it is your willingness, which is the very point to 
be tried. And therefore, 1. Judge not by your bare knowledge. 
2. Judge not by the stirring or passionate workings of your affec- 
tions. I pray you forget not this rule in any of your self-examin- 
ings. It is the heart that God requireth. " My son, give me thy 
heart;" Prov. xxiii. 2G. If he hath the will, he hath the heart- 

Vol. 1. 42 


He may have much of our knowledge, and not our heart. But 
when we know him so thoroughly as to will him unfeignedly, then 
he hath our heart. Affectionate workings of the soul to God in 
Christ, are sweet things, and high and nohle duties and such as all 
Christians should strive for. But they are not the safest marks to 
try our states by. (1.) Because there may be a solid, sincere in- 
tention and choice in and of the will, where there is little stirring 
perceived of the affections. (2.) Because the will is the master- 
commanding faculty of the rational soul ; and so if it be right, that 
man is upright and safe. (3.) Because the passions and affections 
are so mutable and uncertain. The will can command them but 
imperfectly ; it cannot perfectly restrain them from vanities ; much 
less can it perfectly raise them to that height, as is suitable to the 
excellency of our heavenly objects. But the object itself, with its 
sensible manner of apprehension, moves them more than all the 
command of the will. And so we find by experience, that a god- 
ly man, when with his utmost private endeavor, he cannot command 
one stirring pang of divine love or joy in his soul, yet upon the hear- 
ing of some movir>5 ootmnn, or the sudden receiving of some ex- 
traordinary mercy, or the reading of some quickening book, he 
shall feel perhaps some stirring of that affection. So when we can- 
not weep in private one tear for sin, yet at a stirring sermon, or 
when we give vent to our sorrows, and ease our troubled hearts into 
the bosom of some faithful friend, then we can find tears. (4.) 
Because passions and affections depend so much on the temperature 
of the body. To one they are easy, familiar, and at command ; to 
another (as honest) they are difficult and scarce stirred at all. 
With most women, and persons of weaker tempers, they are easier 
than with men. Some cannot weep at the death of a friend, 
though never so dear, no, nor perhaps feel very sensible, inward 
grief; and yet perhaps would have redeemed his life at a far dear- 
er rate (had it been possible) than those that can grieve and weep 
more abundantly. (5.) Because wordly things have so great an ad- 
vantage on our passions and affections. 1. They are sensible 
and near us, and our knowledge of them is clear. But God is not 
to be seen, heard, or felt by our senses, he is far from us, though 
locally present with us; we are capable of knowing but little, very 


little of him. 2. Earthly things are always before our eyes, their 
advantage is continual. 3. Earthly things being still the ob- 
jects of our senses, do force our passions, whether we will or not, 
though they cannot force our wills. (6.) Because affections and 
passions rise and fall, and neither are nor can be in any even and 
constant frame, and therefore are unfit to be the constant or certain 
evidence of our state ; but the will's resolution, and choice may be 
more constant. So that I advise you rather to try yourself by your 
will, than by your passionate stirrings of love or longing, of joy or 

Objec. ' But doth not the Scripture lay as much on love, as on 
any grace ? And doth not Christ say, That execpt we love him above 
all, we cannot be his disciples ?' 

Arts. It is all very true. But consider, love hath two parts; the 
one in the will, which is commonally called a faculty of the soul, 
as rational ; and this is the same thing that I call willing, accepting, 
choosing, or consenting. This complacency is true love to Christ ; 
and this is the sure standing mark. The other is the passionate 
part, commonly said to be in the soul, as sensitive ; and this, 
though most commonly called love, yet is less certain and constant, 
and so unfitter to try your state by, though a great duty, so far as 
we can reach it. 

ii. You must understand and well remember, that it is not every 

willingness that will prove your sincerity : for wicked men may 

have slight apprehensions of spiritual things, which may produce 

some slight desires and wishes, which are yet so feeble and 

heartless, that every lust and carnal desire overcomes them ; and 

it will not so much as enable them to deny the grossest sin. But it 

must be the prevalent part of your will that God must have. I 

mean a great share, a deeper and larger room than any thing in the 

world ; that is, you must have a higher estimation of God, and 

everlasting happiness, and Christ, and a holy life, than of any thing 

"7 the world ; and also your will must be so disposed hereby, and 

inc * ed to God, that if God and glory, to be obtained through 

Chris . . a j io |^ self-denying life, were set before you on the one 

' • '?. pleasure, profits, and honors of the world to be en- 

l°y e J f sin, on the other hand, you would resolvedly 


take the former, and refuse the latter. Indeed they are thus set 
before you, and upon your choice dependeth your salvation or dam- 
nation, though that choice must come from the grace of God. 

hi. Yet must you well remember, that this willingness and choice 
is still imperfect, and therefore when I mention a hearty willing- 
ness, I mean not a perfect willingness. There may be, and is 
in the most gracious souls on earth, much indisposedness, back- 
wardness, and withdrawing of heart, which is too great a measure 
of unwillingness to duty j especially to these duties which the flesh 
is most averse from, and which require most of God and his Spirit 
to the right performance of them. 

Among all duties, I think the soul is naturally most backward to 
these following. 1. To secret prayer, because it is spiritual, and 
requires great reverance, and hath nothing of external pomp or 
form to take us up with, and consisteth not much in the exercise 
of common gifts, but in the exercise of special grace, and the 
breathings of the Spirit, and searchings, pantings, and strivings of 
a gracious soul towards God. (I do not speak of the heartless re- 
peating of bare words, learned by rote, and either not understood, 
or not uttered from the feeling of the soul.) 2. To serious medita- 
tion also is the soul very backward ; that is, either to meditate on 
God, and the promised glory, or any spiritual subject, to this end 
that the heart may be thereby quickened and raised, and graces ex- 
ercised (though to meditate on the same subject, only to know or 
dispute on it, the heart is nothing near so backward ;) or else to 
meditate on the state of our own hearts, by way of self-examina- 
tion, or self-judging, or self-reprehension, or self-exciting. 3. Al- 
so to the duty of faithful dealing with each other's souls, in secret 
reproof and exhortation, plainly (though lovingly) to tell each other 
of our sins and danger, to this the heart is usually very backward ; 
partly through a sinful bashfulness, partly for want of more believ- 
ing, lively apprehensions of our duty, and our brother's danger 
and partly because we are loath to displease men and lose the'' ' a ~ 
vor, it being grown so common for men to fall out with the ^ not 
hate them) that deal plainly and faithfully with the- " AJso 
to take reproof, as well as to give it, the heart 'v>. " ' C waT< *- 
Even godly men, through the sad remainders U ness -' "° 


too commonly frown, and snarl, and retort our reproofs, and study 
presently how to excuse themselves, and put it by, or how to charge 
us with something that may stop our mouths, and make the repro- 
ver seem as bad as themselves. Though they dare not tread our 
reproofs under feet, and turn again, and all to rend us, yet they oft 
shew the remnants of a dogged nature, though when they review 
their ways it costs them sorrow. We must sugar and butter our 
words, and make them liker to stroking than striking, liker an ap- 
proving than a reproving them, liker a flattery than faithful dealing, 
and yet when we have all done, they go down very hardly, and 
that but half way, even with many godly people when they are un- 
der a temptation. 5. The like may be said of all those duties 
which do pinch upon our credit or profit, or tend to disgrace us, or 
impoverish us in the world ; as the confessing of a disgraceful 
fault; the free giving to the poor or sacred uses, according to our 
estates ; the parting with our own right or gain for peace ; the pa- 
tient suffering of wrong, and forgiving it heartily, and loving bitter, 
abusive enemies, especially the running upon the stream of men's 
displeasure, and incurring the danger of being utterly undone in our 
worldly state (especially if men be rich, who do therefore as hard- 
ly get to heaven as a camel through a needle's eye ;) and above 
all, the laying down of our lives for Christ. It cannot be expected, 
that godly men should perform all these with perfect willingness ; 
the flesh will play its part, in pleading its own cause, and will strive 
hard to maintain its own interests. O the ^^mraaictionsthat 
ments, or at least the clamorpjtf the "best, so far as they are re " ew ' 
all these duties ^ , " £ that you may well hence conclude that 
^ ^ graces weak So h y j^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ 

you are a sinner, but you may i t0 duty . 

because of a backwardness and > „n ^ J n unwi ,lin g ness, 

Yet your willingness must be p eater y ^ 

Jso Christ musthavethe ^f^^Z Scripture useth 

that ^ denomination is ^^a .hen they fail in the ex- 

rrx;::^-:,-:™. -4-.— 


and fervently ; not to subdue passions and lusts so thoroughly ; 
not to watch our thoughts, and words, and ways so narrowly, and 
order them so exactly, as the bent of his will did consent to. And 
lest any Arminian should pretend (as they do) that Paul speaks 
here in the person of an unregenerate man, as under the convic- 
tions of the law, and not as a man regenerate; it is plain in the 
text that he speaks of himself in the state which he was then in, 
and that the state was a regenerate state. He expressly saith, it is 
thus, and thus with me ; " So then I myself with my mind do serve 
the law of God, but with my flesh do serve the law of sin ;" ver. 
25. And to put it out of doubt, the apostle speaks the like of all 
christians, Gal. v. 17. " For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and 
the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the 
other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This is 
the plain exposition of Rom. vii. Here scripture maketh the god- 
ly willing to do more than they do or can do, but yet it is not a 
perfect willingness, but it is the prevailing inclination and choice of 
the will, and that gives the name. 

iv. Observe further, that I add your actual performance of duty ; 
because true hearty willingness will shew itself in actions and en- 
deavors. It is but dissembling, if 1 should say I am willing to 
perform the strictest, holiest duties, and yet do not perform them ; 
to say I am willing to pray, and pray not ; or to give to the poor, 
~~~ *-tt~« "we not ; or to perform the most self-denying costly duties, 
ded or drawn to tijeA^uie to the practice, I will not be persua- 
further a good cause to my danger, "<5o# ss a disgraceful sin, nor 
nor submit to reproof, nor turn from the way offer,?)? 1 reF ° Ve ' 
ike Acnon must discover true wilhngness T T ? T~ ~ *■ 
Ins father, " I E0 Sir » h„t A * Lm ^s. l ne son that said to 

not accep'ted oTusL.TlT, '° '^ ''* *° **■*. « 
your willingness be mcere ^ "" in doub < "heme,- 
^ance. " O od coZZZ'^TZ ZT T°* "* *~ 
to be merciful to the nocr .„ r ■ P , Y ' ,nstruct y°"r family, 
T»e nesb a„ d ^t^^^Z^ Z? *** 
them, or do you not > Though , , °- VOU P erfo ™ 


could do it better, and lament your misdoing it ? And endeavor to 
do it better than you have formerly done ? This shews then that 
the Spirit prevaileth, though the flesh do contradict it. 

v. Yet here you must carefully distinguish of duties ; for God hath 
made some to be secondary parts of the condition of the covanant, 
and so of flat necessity for the continuance 01 our justification, and 
for the attaining of glorification. Such are confessing Christ be- 
fore men when we are called to it ; confessing sin, praying, shew- 
ing mercy to the poor, forgiving wrongs, hearing and yielding to 
God's word, &tc. still supposing that there be opportunity and ne- 
cessities for the performance of these. But some duties there are 
that God hath not laid so great a stress or necessity on, though yet 
the wilful resolved omission in ordinary, of any known duty, is con- 
trary to the nature of true obedience. 

Also, the case may much differ with several persons, places and 
seasons, concerning duty ; that may be a duty to one man, that is 
not to another ; and at one place which is not at another ; and at 
one season, which is not at another. And that may be a greater 
duty, and of indispensable necessity to one, which to another is 
not so great. It may stand with true grace, to omit that duty 
which men know not to be a duty, or not to be so to them (except 
where the duty is such, as is itself of absolute necessity to salva- 
tion ;) but it cannot so stand with grace in those that know it, ordi- 
narily to reject it. 

vi. Also you must understand, that when I say, that true willing- 
ness to be ruled by Christ, will shew itself in actual obedience ; I 
do not mean it of every particular individual act which is our duty, 
as if you should judge yourself graceless for every particular omis- 
sion of a duty ; no, though you knew it to be a duty ; and though 
you considered it to be a duty. For, 1. There may be a true ha- 
bituated inclination and willingness to obey Christ rooted in the 
heart, when yet by the force of a temptation, the actual prevalency 
of it at that time, in that act, maybe hindered and suppressed. 
2 . And at the same time, you do hold on in a course of obedience 
in other duties. 3. And when the temptation is overcome, and 
grace hath been roused up against the flesh, and you soberly recol- 
lect your thoughts, you will return to obedience in that duty also. 


Yea, how many days, or weeks, or months, a true Christian may 
possibly neglect a known duty, I will not dare to determine, (of 
which more anon.) Yet such omissions as will not stand with a 
sincere resolution and willingness to obey Christ universally (I mean 
an habitual willingness) will not consist with the truth of grace. 

vii. I know the fourth mark, about forsaking all for Christ, may 
seem somewhat unseasonable and harsh to propound for the quiet- 
ing of a troubled conscience. But yet, I durst not omit it, seeing 
Christ hath not omitted it ; nay, seeing he hath so urged it, and 
laid such a stress on it in the Scripture as he hath done, I dare not 
daub, nor be unfaithful, for fear of troubling. Such skinning over 
the wound will but prepare for more trouble and a further cure. 
Christ thought it meet even to tell young beginners of the worst, 
(though it might possibly discourage them, and did turn some back) 
that they might not come to him upon mistaken expectations, and 
he requireth all that will be Christians, and be saved, to count their 
cost beforehand, and reckon what it will stand them in to be 
Christ's disciples ; and if they cannot undergo his terms (that is, 
to deny themselves, take up their cross, forsake all and follow him) 
they cannot be his disciples. And Christ had rather they knew it 
beforehand, than to deceive themselves, or to turn back when they 
meet with what they never thought of, and then to imagine that 
Christ had deceived them, and drawn them in, and done the 

vii. When I say in the fourth mark, that you must have a settled 
resolution, I mean the same thing as before I did by hearty wil- 
lingness. But it is meeter here to call it resolution, because this 
is the proper name for that act of the will, which is a determination 
of itself upon deliberation, after any wavering, to the doing or sub- 
mitting to any thing as commanded. I told you it mnst be the 
prevailing act of the will that must prove you sincere : every cold 
ineffectual wish will not serve turn. Christ seeks for your heart on 
one side, and the world with its pleasures, profits, and honors on 
the other side. The soul, which upon consideration of both, doth 
prefer Christ in his choice, and reject the world (as it is competitor 
with him) and this not doubtingly and with reservation for further 
deliberation or trial, but presently passeth his consent for better and 


worse, this is said to be a resolving. And I know no one word 
that more fitly expresseth the nature of that grace which differ- 
encetli a true Christian from all hypocrites, and by which a man 
may safely judge of his estate. 

ix. Yet I here add, that it must be a settled resolution ; and that 
to intimate, that it must be an habitual willingness or resolution. 
The prevalency of Chiist's interest in the soul must be an habitual 
prevalency. If a man that is terrified by a rousing sermon, or that 
lieth in expectation of present death, should actually resolve to for- 
sake sin, or perform duty, without any further change of mind, or 
habit, or fixedness of tiiis resolution, it would be of no great value, 
and soon extinguished. Though yet I believe that no unsanctified 
man doth ever attain to that full resolution for Christ, which hath a 
complacency in Christ accompanying it, and which may be termed 
the prevailing part of the will. Those that seem resolved to day to 
be for Christ, and to deny the world and the flesh, and the next day 
are unresolved again, have cause to suspect that they were never 
truly resolved. Though the will of a godly man may lie under 
declinings in the degrees of resolution, yet Christ hath always his 
habitual resolutions, and usually his actual in a prevalent degree. 

x. I add also the grounds (in the fourth mark) on which this 
resolution must be raised. For false grounds in the understanding 
will not bear up a true resolution in the will. And therefore we put 
the articles of our creed before our profession of consent and obe- 
dience. Sound doctrine and sound belief of it breeds a sound reso- 
lution, and makes a sound heart and life. If a man resolve to 
obey Christ, upon a conceit that Christ will never put him upon any 
suffering (else he would not resolve it) and that he will give him 
such brutish pleasures when he is dead, as Mahomet hath promised 
to his disciples, this resolution were not sound, yet in many lesser 
points of doctrine a true Christian may be unsound, and yet sound- 
ly cleave to the foundation. He may build hay and stubble possi- 
bly ; but the foundation must be held. 

xi. Observe well (lest you mistake me) that I speak only of the 
necessity of your present resolving to forsake all for Christ, if he 
call you to it ; but I speak not of your absolute promise or predic- 
tion, that eventually you shall not deny or forsake him. You may 

Vol. I. 43 


be uncertain how you shall be upheld in a day of trial, and yet 
you may now be resolved or fully purposed in your own mind what 
to do. To say, ' I will not consent, purpose or resolve, unless I 
were certain to perform my resolutions, and not to flag or change 
again ;' this is but to say, J I will be no Christian, unless I were sure 
to persevere. I will not be married to Christ, lest I should be 
drawn to break my covenant with him.' 

xii. Also observe, that when I speak of your resolving to forsake 
all for Christ, it is not to cast away your state or life, but to sub- 
mit it to his dispose, and to relinquish it only in case that he com- 
mand you so. 

xiii. And I do not intend that you should be able thus to resolve 
of yourself without the special grace of God ; nor yet without it to 
continue those resolutions, much less to perform them by actual 

Object. l But I cannot be sure that God will give me grace to 
persevere, or at least not to deny him, as Peter did ; and there- 
fore I should neither promise nor resolve what I cannot be certain 
to perform.' 

Ansio. 1 . I suppose you have read the many Scriptures and ar- 
guments which our divines ordinarily use to prove that the true be- 
lievers shall not fall quite away. And I know not how the oppos- 
ers can answer that text which themselves use to allege for the con- 
trary ; Matt. xiii. 6. 21. Those that believe for a time, and in 
the time of persecution fall away, it is because the seed had not 
depth of earth, the word never took rooting in their hearts. Whence 
it seems that it may be well inferred, that those shall not fall away 
in time of temptation, in whom the word of God hath taken deep 
rooting. And that is, in them in whose hearts or wills Christ hath 
a stronger interest than the creature, or those that have a well- 
grounded, unreserved, habituated or settled resolution to be for 
Christ. 2. However, your present resolution, and your covenant- 
ing with Christ, is no more but this ; to say, ' I do consent ;' or 
' This I am resolved to do, by the help of God's grace.' 3. Else 
no man should be baptized or become a Christian, because he is 
uncertain to keep his covenants : for all that are baptized, do cove- 
nant and vow. "to forsake the world, flesh, devil," and fight under 


Christ's banner to their lives' end. Understand me therefore, that 
you are not to promise to do this by your own strength, but by the 
strength of Christ, as knowing that he hath promised his Spirit and 
grace for the aid of every true believer. 

xiv. If your resolution at present be hearty, you ought not to vex 
and disquiet your mind, with doubtful tormenting fears what you 
should do, if you be put to it to forsake all, and suffer death for 
Christ, for he hath promised to lay no more on us than we can 
bear, but with the temptation will make us a way to come forth ; 
1 Cor. x. 13; either he will not bring us into trials beyond our 
strength ; or else he will increase our strength according to our tri- 
als. He hath bid us pray, " Lead us not into temptation, but de- 
liver us from evil :" and he hath promised, that " whatsoever we 
ask in the name of Christ according to his will, he will give us." 
So that if once you can but truly say, that it is your full resolution 
to forsake all for Christ if he call you to it, and that on the fore- 
mentioned grounds, you ought not then to vex your soul with fears 
of the issue ; for that is but to distrust God your Father and your 
strength. Only you must be careful to do your duty to the keeping 
up of your present resolutions, and to wait obediently on God for 
the help of his Spirit, and to beg it earnestly at his hands. 

xv. Much less is it lawful for men to feign and suppose such ca- 
lamities to themselves, as God doth never try men by, and then to 
ask themselves, ' Can I bear these for Christ ?' And so to try 
themselves on false and dangerous grounds. Some use to be trou- 
bled, lest if they were put to long and exquisite torments for Christ, 
they should renounce him. One saith, ' I cannot endure the tor- 
ments of hell for Christ ;' another saith, ' Could I endure to be 
roasted, or torn in pieces so many weeks or days together ?' Or 
* Could I endure to die so many times over ?' These are foolish, 
sinful questions, which Christ never desired you to put to your- 
selves. He never tries men's faith on this manner. Tormentors 
cannot go beyond his will. Nay, it is but very few he tries by 
death, and fewer by an extreme tormenting death. All this there- 
fore proceeds from error. 

xvi. Observe from the fifth mark, that the present prevalency of 
your resolutions now against those temptations which you encoun- 


ter with, may well encourage you to expect that they should pic- 
vail hereafter, if God bring you into greater trials. Can you now 
follow Christ in a holy life, though your flesh repine, and would 
have its liberties and pleasures ; and though the world deride or 
threaten you, or great ones turn against you and threaten your un- 
doing ? Can you part with your money to the poor, or to the pro- 
moting of any work of Christ, according to the measure of estate 
that God hath allotted you, notwithstanding all temptations to the 
contrary ? Some trials you have now ; if you can go well through 
these, you have no cause to disquiet your mind with fears of falling 
in greater trials. But he that cannot now deny his greedy appe- 
tite in meats and drink, so far as to forbear excess : nor can deny 
his credit with men, nor bear the scorns or frowns of the world, but 
be on the stronger side, and decline his duty to avoid danger, what- 
ever become of conscience or God's favor, this man is not like to 
forsake and lay down his life for Christ and his cause. 

Object. ' But though I break through lesser trials, I am not sure 
to overcome in greater, for the same measure of grace will not ena- 
ble a man to forsake all, which will enable him to forsake a little. 
Many have gone through smaller trials, and after forsaken Christ in 
greater. And Christ makes it the property of temporaries that are 
not rooted in the faith, that they fall when tribulation and persecu- 
tion for the Gospel ariseth, and therefore it seems they may stand 
till then ; and if trial never come, they may never fall, and yet be 
unsound in the mean time.' 

Ansiv. 1. If your trial now be considerable, the truth of grace 
may be manifested in it, though it be none of the greatest, and 
though in striving against sin you have not yet resisted unto blood. 
2. If you carefully observe your own heart, you may discern wheth- 
er the Spirit and your resolutions be prevalent, by their daily sub- 
duing and mortifying the flesh and its lusts. Nay, let me tell you, 
the victory of God's Spirit over the flattering, enticing world in 
prosperity, is as great and glorious, if not more, than that over the 
frowning, persecuting world in adversity. And therefore find the 
one, and you need not fear the other. Though I confess that hy- 
pocrites do not fall so visibly and shamefully always in prosperity 
as in adversity ; for they have more pretences, advantages, and car- 


nal shifts, to hide the shame of their falls. And for that in the par- 
able in Matt. xiii. I pray you mark one thing. Christ seems to 
speak of every several sort of hearers by a gradation, speaking last 
of those that go farthest. The first sort, are the common, ignorant, 
negligent hearers, in whom the word takes no root at all. The se- 
cond sort are those that give it a slight and shallow rooting, but 
no deep rooting at all; these are they that fall away in tribulation. 
By falling away, is meant the plain deserting Christ or the sub- 
stance of his cause. These men till this falling away, though they 
professed Christ, and heard the word with joy, yet no doubt did 
not crucify the flesh and the world, whereby they might have dis- 
covered their unsoundness if they would, before tribulation came. 
First, by discerning that the word was not deep rooted : 1. In their 
judgment and estimation. 2. Or in their wills and settled resolu- 
tion. Secondly ; and by discerning the unmodified lusts of their 
hearts in the mean time. But it seems the third sort of hearers, 
likened to the thorny ground, went further than these 5 for here it 
is only said by Luke, viii. 14, " That they bring no fruit to perfec- 
tion." However, whether these went farther than the other, or not, 
it is certain that these also had their trial, and fell in the trial. The 
deceitfulness of riches overturned these, as the heat of persecution 
overturned the other. So that it is evident that prosperity puts 
faith to the trial, as well as adversity. But mark the different man- 
ner of their falls and overthrows. They that are overthrown by 
adversity, are said to fall away, that is, to forsake Christ openly ; 
but they that fall by prosperity, are not said to fall away ; but only 
that the " deceitfulness of riches, and cares of the world, choke the 
word, so that it becomes unfruitful ;" that is, brings no fruit to per- 
fection. For usually these do not openly forsake Christ, but continue 
oft an unfruitful and hypocritical profession ; insomuch that at that 
very time, when the word is choked and fruitless, yet the blade of 
profession may be as green as ever, and they may be so much in 
some duties, and have such golden words, and witty shifts to plead 
for every covetous practice, and put so fair a gloss on all their ac- 
tions, that they may keep up the credit of being very eminent 
Christians. So that if your grace can carry you well through pros- 
perity, you may be confident of the truth of it. 3. And then if it 


be thus proved true and saving, you have cause to be confident that 
it will hold out in adversity also, and cause you to overcome the 
shake of tribulation. I think most men are better in adversity than 
in prosperity, though I confess no adversity is so shaking, as that 
which leaves it in a man's choice to come out of it by sinning. As 
for a man in health to be persecuted, and the persecutor to say, ' If 
thou wilt turn to my side and way, I will give thee thy life and pre- 
ferment with it ;' but sickness or other sufferings imposed only by 
God, and which only God can take off, are nothing so shaking. 
For as the former draws us to please men, that they may deliver 
us, so this draws even the wicked to think of pleasing God, that he 
may deliver them. 

xvii. Observe that when I ask ' whether this resolution do already 
prevail,' I do not mean any perfect prevailing ; nay, sin may pre- 
vail to draw you to a particular act (and how many I will not 
undertake to tell you) and yet still grace and the Spirit do conquer 
in the main. For you will say, that general and army get the vic- 
tory who vanquish the other, and win the field, though yet perhaps 
a troop or regiment may be routed, and many slain. 

xviii. When I speak of your ' overcoming all gross sins,' as I mean 
in ordinary, not doubting but it is too possible for a believer to com- 
mit a gross sin ; so I confess that it is hard to tell just which sins 
are to be called gross, and which infirmities only ; or (as some 
speak) which are mortal, and which not. And therefore this mark 
hath some difficulties, as to the right trying of it (of which more 

xix. Yet I desire that you join them all together in trial, seeing 
it is in the whole that the true and full description of a Christian 
is contained. The same description of a true Christian (pre- 
supposing his right belief) I have drawn up in our public church 
profession, which in this county, the ministers have agreed on ; 
in the profession of consent in these words ; ' I do heartily take this 
one God for my only God and chief good ; and this Jesus Christ 
for my only Lord, Redeemer and Savior ; and this Holy Ghost 
for my Sanctifier; and the doctrine by him revealed and sealed by 
his miracles, and now contained in the Holy Scriptures, do I take 
for the law of God, and the rule of my faith and life : and repent- 


ing unfeignedly of my sins, I do resolve through the grace of God 
sincerely to obey him, both in holiness to God, and righteousness 
to man, and in special love to the saints, and communion with them, 
against all the temptations of the devil, the world, and my own flesh, 
and this to death.' He that sincerely can speak these words, is a 
sincere Christian. 

xx. Lastly, that you may see that those five which I laid you 
down are all true marks, do but peruse these texts of Scripture fol- 
lowing. For the first, Psalm xvi. 5. 2. lxxiii. 24 — 28. iv. 6. 7. 
i. 1— 3. Josh. xxiv. 16— 18. 21— 24. Matt. vi. 19— 21. Rom. 
vii. 24. viii. 17. 18.23. Heb.xi. 10. 15, 16.25—27. Psalm 
xvi. 5 — 8. For the second, see John i. 10 — 12. iii. 16. Mark 
xvi. 16. Acts xvi. 31. John xi v. 21. xvi. 27. Rom. xiv. 9. 
Luke xvi. 27. James i. 12. Matt. xxii. 37. 1 Cor. xvi. 22. 
Matt. x. 37. Rev. xxii. 14. Heb. v. 9. For the third, most of 
the same will serve, and Heb. xii. 14. Matt. vii. 24. Psalm i. 
2, 3. Matt. v. 20. Acts x. 35. Rom. vii. 22. For the two 
last besides the former, see Heb. xi. 6. Rom. viii. 1 — 14. Gal. 
v. 17.24. vi. 8. 1 9. Luke viii. 13. 1 Johnii. 15. 
v. 4, 5. James i. 27. iv. 4. Gal. vi. 14. i. 4. Rom. xii. 2. 
Titus ii. 14. Matt. x. 37. Rom. ii. 5— 7. Rev. xiv. 13. Phil, 
ii. 14. Col. iii. 23, 24. 1 Cor. iii. 8. 14. John xii. 16. 1 
John iii. 22, 23. Gen. xxii. 16. Matt. x. 22. xxiv. 13. Heb. 
iii. 6. 14. vi. 11. Rev. ii. 26. 10. xii. 11. Matt. xvi. 25. x. 
39. Mark xvii. 33. Rom. viii. 9. 13. Luke xiii. 3. 5. Rom. 
v i. 4 __6. 12. 14. 16, 17. 22. 

And thus I have given you such marks as you may safely try 
yourself by, and cleared the meaning of them to you. Now let me 
advise you to this use of them. 1 . In your serious self-examina- 
tion, try only by these, and not by any uncertain marks. I know 
there be promises of life made to some particular duties and single 
qualifications in Scripture, as to humility, meekness, alms-deeds, 
love to the godly, etc. j but it is still both on supposition that they 
be not single in the person, but are accompanied with, and flow 
from that faith and love to God before-mentioned ; and also that 
they are in a prevailing degree. 

2. Whenever any fresh doubtings arise in you upon the stirrings 


of corruption, or debility of graces, still have recourse to these for- 
mer marks ; and while you find these, let not any thing cause you 
to pass wrong judgments on yourself. Lay these now to your own 
heart, and tell me. ' Are you not unfeignedly willing to have Christ 
on the terms that he is offered ? Are you not willing to be more 
holy ? And beg of him to make you so ? Would you not be glad 
if your soul were more perfectly sanctified, and rid of that body of 
sin, though it were to the smart and displeasing of your flesh ? 
Are you not willing to wait on God, in the use of his ordinances, 
in that poor weak measure as you are able to perform them ? Durst 
you, or would you quit your part in God, heaven, Christ, and for- 
sake the way of holiness, and do as the profane world doth, though 
it were to please your flesh, or save your state or life ? Do you 
not daily strive against the flesh and keep it under, and deny its 
desires ? Do you not deny the world when it would hinder you 
from works of mercy or public good, according to your ability ? Is 
it not the grief of your soul when you fall, and your greatest trou- 
ble that you cannot walk more obediently, innocently and fruitfully ? 
And do you not after sinning resolve to be more watchful for the 
time to come ? Are you not resolved to stick to Christ and his 
holy laws and ways, whatever changes or dangers come, and rather 
to forsake friends and all that you have, than to forsake him ? Yet 
in a godly jealousy and distrust of your own heart, do renounce 
your own strength, and resolve to do this only in the strength of 
Christ, and therefore daily beg it of him? Is it not your daily 
care and business to please God and do his will, and avoid sinning 
in your weak measure ?' I hope that all this is so, and your own 
case ; which, if it be, you have infallible evidences, and want but 
the sight and comfort of them ; you have the true grounds for as- 
surance, though you want assurance itself ; your chief danger is 
over, though your trouble remain. Your soul is at the present in 
a safe condition, though not in the sense of it. You are in the state 
of salvation, though not of consolation. It must be your next work 
therefore to study God's mercies, and take notice what he hath 
done for your soul. Let not so blessed a guest as the Holy Ghost 
dwell in you unobserved. Shall he do such wonders in you, and 
for you, and you not know it, or acknowledge it ? Shall he new- 


beget you, and new-make you, and produce a spiritual and heaven- 
ly nature in you, who of yourself were so carnal and earthly, and 
will you not observe it ? Had you any of these holy desires, en- 
deavors, or resolutions of yourself by nature ? Or have the un- 
godly about you any of them ? O that you knew what a work of 
wonderful mercy, wisdom and power, the Spirit performeth in the 
renewing of a soul ; then sure you would more observe and ad- 
mire his love to you herein ! 

Direct. XII. The next rule for your direction for the right set- 
tling of your peace is this. 'You must know, that assurance of 
justification, adoption, and right of salvation, cannot be gathered 
from the smallest degree of saving grace.' 

Here I must say something for explaining my meaning to you ; 
and then give you my reasons of this assertion. 

1. Understand that I speak of God's ordinary working by means, 
not denying but God may, by a voice from heaven, or an angel, or 
other supernatural revelation, bestow assurance on whom he pleas- 
eth. But I hope all wise Christians will take heed of expecting 
this, or of trusting too much to seeming revelations, unless they 
could prove that God useth to confer assurance in this way ; which 
I think they cannot. 

2. By the smallest degree of grace, I mean, of faith, love, obe- 
dience, and those saving graces, whose acts are the condition of our 
salvation, and which in the fore-expressed marks I laid down to 
you. Do not therefore so mistake me, as to think that I speak of a 
small measure of those common gifts which are separable from true 
sanctification ; such as are extensive knowledge, memory, ability 
of utterance in preaching, repeating, exhorting or praying ; an or- 
nate, plausible winning deportment before men, such as is com- 
monly called good breeding or manners ; an affected, humble, com- 
plimental familiarity and condescension, to creep into men's estima- 
tion and affections, and steal their hearts, he. Many a one that is 
strong in saving grace, is weak in all these, and other the like. 

Now for my reasons. 

1. I conceive that it is not possible for any minister punctually 
to set down a discernible difference between the least measure of 
true saving grace, and the highest degree of common a:race ; and to 

Vol.I. 44 


say, just here it is that they part, or by this you may discern them. 
I do but say, I think so, because other men may know far more than 
I do ; but I will say it is as certain, that I am not able to do it, for 
my own part. This much I can tell, that the least degree of grace 
that is saving, doth determine the soul for God and Christ, against 
the world and flesh, that stand as competitors ; and so where 
Christ's interest prevaileth in the least measure, there is the least 
measure of saving grace. As when you are weighing two things in 
the balance, and at last make it so near even weight, that one end 
is turned and no more : so when you are considering whether to be 
for Christ, or for the flesh and the world, and your will is but even 
a very little determined to Christ, and preferreth him ; this i3 the 
least measure of saving grace. But then how a poor soul should 
discern this prevalent choice and determination of itself is all the 
question. For there is nothing more easy and common than for 
men to think verily, that they prefer Christ above the creature, as 
long as no temptation doth assault them, nor sensual objects stand 
up in any considerable strength to entice them. Nay, wicked 
men do truly, ofttimes, purpose to obey Christ before the flesh, and 
to take him for their Lord, merely in the general, when they do 
not know or consider the quality of his laws ; that they are so strict 
and spiritual, and contrary to the flesh, and hazardous to their 
worldly hopes and seeming happiness. But when it comes to par- 
ticulars, and God saith, ' Now deny thyself, and thy friend, and 
thy goods, and thy life for my sake ;' alas, it was never his resolu- 
tion to do it ; nor will he be persuaded to it. But he that said to 
God, who sends him to labor in his vineyard, " I go, Sir," when 
he comes to find the unpleasingness of the work, he goes not, nor 
ever sets a hand to it. So that it is evident, that it is no true, saving 
resolution or willingness, which prevaileth not for actual obedience. 
Now here comes in the unresolvable doubt. What is the least 
measure of obedience, that will prove a man truly willing and re- 
solved, or to have truly accepted of Christ for his Lord ? This 
obedience lieth in performing what is commanded, and avoiding 
what is forbidden. Now it is too certain, that every true believer is 
guilty of a frequent neglect of duty, yea, of known duty. We 
know we should love God more abundantly, and delight in him, 


and meditate more on him, and pray more oft and earnestly than 
we do, and instruct our families more diligently, and speak against 
sin more boldly, and admonish our neighbors more faithfully, with 
many the like. " The good that we would do, we do not ;" Rom. 
vii. 19. Nay, the flesh so striveth against the Spirit, that " we 
cannot do the good we would ;" Gal. v. ^7. Nay, many a true 
Christian in time of temptation, hath been drawn to omit secret 
prayer, or family duties, almost wholly for a certain space of time ; 
yea, and perhaps to be so corrupted in his judgment for a time, as 
to think he doth well in it, as also in forbearing praising God by 
psalms, receiving the sacraments, and communicating with the 
church, hearing the word publicly, etc. (for what duty almost is not 
denied of late ?) and perhaps may not only omit relieving the poor 
for a time, but excuse it. Now what man can punctually deter- 
mine just how often a true Christian may be guilty of any such 
omission ? and just how long he may continue it ? and what the du- 
ties be which he may possibly so omit, and what not ? 

So also in sins of commission. Alas, what sins did Noah, Lot, 
David, Solomon, Asa, Peter, etc. commit ! 

If we should say as the Papists and Arminians, that these being 
mortal sins, do for the time, till repentance restore him, cast a true 
Christian out of God's favor into a state of damnation ; then what 
man breathing is able to enumerate those mortal sins, and tell us 
which be so damning, and which not ? Nay, if he could say, 
drunkenness is one, and gluttony another, who can set the punctual 
stint, and say, ' Just so many bits a man must eat before he be a 
glutton; or just so much he must drink before he be a drunkard ? 
or by such a sign the turning point may be certainly known ?' We 
may have signs by which we may be tried at the bar of man ; but 
these are none of them taken from that smallest degree, which spe- 
cifieth and denominates the sin before God. If we avoid the fore- 
said opinion that one such sin doth bring us into the state of dam- 
nation, yet is the difficulty never the less ; for it is certain, that 
" he that commits sin is of the devil ;" 1 John iii. 8. and there 
are spots, which are not the spots of God's children ; and all true 
faith will mortify the world to us, and us to it, (Gal. vi. 14.) and 
" he that is in Christ hath crucified the flesh, with the affections 


and lusts thereof," (chap. v. 24. ;) and that " if wc live after the 
flesh we shall die ;" Rom. viii. 13. And " his servants we are to 
whom *ve obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto 
righteousness ;" chap. vi. 1C. And " if we delight in iniquity, or 
regard it, God will not hear our prayers ;" Psal. lxvi. 18. And 
that " he that nameth the name of Christ must depart from iniqui- 
ty ;" 1 Tim. ii. 19. And that " God will judge all men accord- 
ing to their works," and bid the workers of iniquity depart from 
him ; Matt. vii. 23. Now can any man on earth tell us just how 
great, or how often sinning will stand with true grace, and how 
much will not ? Who can find those punctual bounds in the word 
of God? I conclude, therefore, that no minister, or at least, none 
who is no wiser than 1 am, can give a true, discernible difference 
between the worst of saints, and the best of the unsanctificd, or the 
weakest degree of true grace, and the highest of common grace ; 
and so to help such weak Christians to true assurance of their sal- 

2. But as this is impossible to be declared by the teachers, so 
much more is it impossible to be discerned by the persons them- 
selves, yea, though it could possibly be declared to them ; and that 
for these reasons. 

1. From the nature of the thing. Small things are hardly dis- 
cerned. A little is next to none. 2. From the great darkness of 
man's understanding, and his unacquaintedness with himself (both 
the nature, faculties, and motions of his soul, naturally considered, 
and the moral state, dispositions, and motions of it,) and is it likely 
that so blind an eye can discern the smallest thing, and that in so 
strange and dark a place? Every purblind man cannot see an 
atom, or a pin, especially in the dark. 3. The heart is deceitful 
above all things, as well as dark; full of scemings, counterfeits, 
and false pretences. And a child in grace is not able to discover 
its jugglings, and understand a book, where almost every word is 
equivocal or mysterious. 4. The heart is most confused, as well 
as dark and deceitful; it is like a house, or shop of tools, where all 
things are thrown together on a heap, and nothing keeps its own 
place. There are such multiplicity of cogitations, fancier, and pas- 
sions, and such irregular iteonging in of them, and viieh a confused 


reception, and operation of objects and conceptions, that it is a won- 
derful difficult thing for the best Christian to discern clearly the 
bent and actions, and so the state of his own soul. For in such a 
crowd of cogitations and passions, we are like men in a fair or crowd 
of people, where a confused noise may be heard, but you cannot 
well perceive what any of them say, except either some one near you 
that speaks much louder than all the rest, or else except you single 
out some one from the rest, and go close to him to confer with him 
of purpose. Our intellect and passions are like the lakes of water 
in the common roads, where the frequent passage of horses doth so 
muddy it, that you can see nothing in it, especially that is near 
the bottom; when in pure untroubled waters you may see a small 
thing. In such a confusion and tumult as is usually in men's souls, 
for a poor weak Christian to seek for the discovery of his sincerity, 
is according to the proverb, to seek for a needle in a bottle of hay. 
5. Besides all this, the corrupt heart of man is so exceedingly 
backward to the work of self-examination, and the use of other 
means, by which the soul should be familiarly acquainted with itself, 
that in a case of such difficulty it will hardly ever overcome them, 
if it were a thing that might be done. In the best, a great deal of 
resolvedness, diligence, and unwearied constancy in searching into 
the state of the soul, is necessary to the attainment of a settled as- 
surance and peace. How much more in them that have so small, 
and almost undiscernible a measure of grace to discover. G. Yet 
further, the conceptions, apprehensions, and consequently the sen- 
sible motions of the will, and especially the passions, are all naturally 
exceeding mutable ; and while the mobile, agile spirits are any way 
the instruments, it will be so ; especially where the impression 
which is made in the understanding is so small and weak. Natur- 
ally man's mind and will is exceeding mutable, and turned into a 
hundred shapes in a few days, according as objects are presented to 
us, and the temperature of the body disposeth, helps, or hinders the 
mind. Let us hear one man reason the case, and we think he 
makes all as clear as the light ; let us hear another solve all his ar- 
guments, and dispute for the contrary, and then we see that our ap- 
prehensions were abused. Let us hear him reply and refute all 
again, and confirm his cause, and then we think him iu the right 


again. Nothing more changeable than the conceivings and mind 
of man, till he be thoroughly resolved and habituated. Now in this 
case, how shall those who have but little grace, be able to discern 
it ? It will not keep the mind from fluctuating. If they seem re- 
solved for obedience to Christ to-day, to-morrow they are so sha- 
ken by some enticing object, and force of the same temptation, that 
their resolution is undiscernible ; nay, actually they prefer sin at 
that time before obedience. It is impossible then but the soul 
should stagger and be at a loss ; for it will judge of itself as it finds 
itself, and it cannot discern the habitual prevalency of Christ's in- 
terest, when they feel the actual prevalency of the flesh's interest. 
For the act is the only discoverer of the habit. And if Peter him- 
self should have fallen to the examination of his heart, whether he 
preferred Christ before his life, at the same time when he was de- 
nying and forswearing Christ to save his life, do you think he could 
have discerned it? And yet even then Christ's interest was greatest 
in him habitually. If David should have gone to search, whether he 
preferred obedience to God, before his fleshly pleasure, when he 
was committing adultery ; or before his credit, when he was plot- 
ting the death of Uriah, what discovery do you think he would have 
made? 7. Add to all these, that as these several distempers, were 
they but in the same measure in a weak Christian, as they are 
in the best or in most, would yet make the smallest measure of 
grace undiscernible (if we might suppose the smallest grace to be 
consistent with such a frame ;) so it is certain, that whoever he be 
that hath the least measure of grace to discover in himself, he hath 
porportionably the least measure of abilities and helps to discover 
it, and the greatest measure of all the forementioned hindrances. 
He that hath but a very little repentance, faith, love, and obedi- 
ence sincere, when he goeth to find it out, he hath in the same 
measure, a darker understanding to discern it than others have ; 
and a greater strangeness and disacquaintance with himself; and 
more deceitfulness in his heart, and a greater confusion and hurly- 
burly in his thoughts and affections, and all more out of order and 
to seek. Also he hath a greater backwardness to the work of 
self-examination, and can hardly get his heart to it, and more hardly 
to do it thoroughly, and search to the quick, and most hardly to 


hold on against all withdrawing temptations, till he have made a 
clearer discovery. And lastly, his soul is more mutable than strong- 
er Christians are ; and therefore when cross actings are so frequent, 
he cannot discern the smallest prevailing habit. If (when you are 
weighing gold) the scales be turned but with one grain, every little 
jog, or wind, or unsteadfast holding, will actually lift up the heavier 
end ; and its preponderation is with great wavering and mobility. 
8. Yet further, consider, that those that have least grace, have 
most sin, habitual and actual ; and they are so frequent in trans- 
gressing, that their failings are still in their eye, and thereby the 
pre valency of Christ's interest is made more doubtful and obscure. 
For when he asketh his own conscience, ' Do I will or love most 
the world and my fleshly delights, or Christ and his ways ?' — pre- 
sentl) conscience rememberethhim. At such a time, and such a time 
thou didst choose thy fleshly pleasures, profits, or credit, and re- 
fuse obedience : and it is so oft, and so foully, that the soul is ut- 
terly at a loss, and cannot discern the habitual prevalent bent and 
resolution of the will. 9. Besides, conscience is a judge in man's 
soul, and will be accusing and condemning men so far as they are 
guilty. Now, they that make work for the most frequent and ter- 
rible accusations of conscience that will stand with true grace, are 
unlikely to have assurance. For assurance quiets the soul, and 
easeth it ; and a galled conscience works the contrary way. They 
that keep open the wound, and daily fret off the skin more, and 
are still grating on the galled part, are unlikely to have assurance. 
10. Again, these weakest Christians being least in duty, and most 
in sinning (of any in whom sin reigneth not,) they are consequently 
most in provoking and displeasing God. And they that do so shall 
find that God will show them his displeasure, and will displease 
them again. They must not look to enjoy assurance, or see the 
pleased face of God, till they are more careful to please him, and 
are more sparing, and seldom in offending him. As God's univer- 
sal justice in governing the world, will make as great a difference 
between the sincerely obedient, and disobedient, as there is be- 
tween heaven and hell, so God's paternal justice in governing his 
family, will make as wide a difference between the more obedient 
children, and the less obedient, as is between his dreadful frowns, 


and his joyous, reviving smiles; or between the smarting rod, or 
his encouraging rewards. 11. If God should give assurance and 
peace to the sinning and least obedient believers, he should not fit 
his providential disposals to their good. It is not that which their 
state requires, nor would it tend to their cure any more than a heal- 
ing plaister to a sore that is rotten in the bottom, or a cordial to the 
removal of a cacochymy, or the purging out of corrupt, redundant 
humors. They are so inclined to the lethargy of security, that they 
have need of continual pinching, striking, or loud calling on, to 
keep them waking ; still remember that by this weak Christian, I 
mean not every doubting, distressed soul that is weak in their own 
apprehension, and little in their own eyes, and poor in spirit; but I 
mean those that have the least measure of sincere love to Christ, 
and desire after him, and tenderness of conscience, and care to 
please God, and the greatest measure of security, worldliness, 
pride, flesh-pleasing, and boldness in sinning, which is consistent 
with sincerity in the faith. I believe there is no father or mother, 
that hath children to govern, but they know by experience, that 
there is a necessity of frowns and rods for the more disobedient ; 
and that rewards and smiles are no cure for stubbornness or con- 
tempt. 12. Lastly, do but well consider, what a solecism in gov- 
ernment it would be, and what desperate inconveniences it would 
have brought into the world, if God should have set such a punc- 
tual land-mark between his kingdom and the kingdom of satan, as 
we are ready to dream of. If God should have said in his word, 
just so oft a man may be drunk, or may murder, or commit adul- 
tery, or steal, or forswear himself, and yet be a true Christian and 
be saved ! Or just so far a man may go, in neglecting duty to God 
and man, and in cherishing his flesh, hiding his sin, &c, and yet be 
a true believer and be saved. This would embolden men in 
sinning, and make them think, I may yet venture, for I stand on 
safe ground. And it would hinder repentance. Indeed it 
would be the way to rob God of his honor, and multiply provoca- 
tions against him, and keep his children in disobedience, and hin- 
der their growth in holiness, and cause a deformity in Christ's 
body, and a shame to his religion and sacred name. As for 
those that say, assurance never encourageth men in sin, but 


tends to destroy it; I answer, it is true of God's assurance, season- 
ably given to those that are fit for it, and used by them accordingly. 
But if God should have told all the world, just how far they may 
sin, and yet be certain of salvation, this would have bred assurance 
in those that- were unfit for it ; and it would have been but the 
putting of new wine into old cra"cked bottles; or a new piece into 
an old garment, that would break them, or make worse the rent. 
I must therefore tell these objectors (I am sorry that so many of 
my old acquaintance now harp so much on this Antinomian string,) 
that ignorance or error hath so blinded them, that they have for- 
gotten, or know not, I . What an imperfect piece the best is in this 
life, much more the worst true Christian. 2. Nor what a subtle 
devil we have to tempt us. 3. Nor what an active thing corrup- 
tion is, and what advantage it will take on unreasonable assurance. 
4. Nor what the nature of grace and sanctification is ; and how 
much of it lies in a godly jealousy of ourselves, and apprehension 
of our danger, and that " the fear of God is the beginning of wis- 
dom :" see Heb. iv. 1. Nay, 5. They have forgotten what a 
man is, and how inseparable from his nature is the principle of self- 
preservation, and how necessary the apprehension of danger, and 
the fear of evil to himself, is to the avoiding of that evil, and so to 
his preservation. C. Yea, if they knew but what a commonwealth 
or a family is, they would know that fear of evil, and desire of 
self-preservation, is the very motive to associations, and the ground- 
work of all laws and government, and a great part of the life of all 

And thus 1 have fully pioved to you, that the smallest measure 
of grace cannot help men to assurance in God's ordinary way. 

Perhaps you will say, ' What comfort is there in this to a poor 
weak christian ?' This is rather the way to put him quite out of 
heart and hope. I answer, no such matter. I shall shew the uses 
of this observation in the following Directions. In the meantime I 
will say but this, The expectation of unseasonable assurance, and 
out of God's way, is a very great cause of keeping many in lan- 
guishing and distress, and of causing others to turn Antinomians, 
and snatch at comforts which God never gave them, and to feign 
and frame an assurance of their own making, or build upon the de- 

Vol. 1. 45 


lusions of the great deceiver, transforming himself into angel of 

Direct. XIII. From the last mentioned observation, there is 
one plain consectary arising, which I think you may do well to note 
by the way, viz. ' That according to God's ordinary way of giving 
grace, it cannot be expected that christians should be able to know 
die very time of their first receiving or acting true saving grace, 
or just when they were pardoned, justified, adopted, and put into a 
state of salvation.' 

This must needs be undeniable, if you grant the former point, 
That the least measure of grace yieldeth not assurance of its sin- 
cerity, (which is proved ;) and withal, if you grant this plain truth, 
That it is God's ordinary way, to give a small measure of grace at the 
first. This I prove thus : 1. Christ likeneth God's kingdom of 
grace to a grain of mustard-seed, which is at the first, the least of 
all seeds, but after cometh to a tree : and to a little leaven, which 
leaveneth the whole lump. I will not deny, but this may be ap- 
plied to the visible progress of the gospel, and increase of the church. 
But it is plainly applicable also to the kingdom of Christ within us. 
2. The scripture oft calleth such young beginners, babes, children, 
novices, &c. 3. We are all commanded to grow in grace ; which 
implieth, that we have our smallest measure at the first. 4. Heb. 
v. 12. sheweth that strength of grace should be according to time 
and means, ft. Common experience is an invincible argument for 
this. Men are at a distance from Christ, when he first calleth them 
to come to him ; and many steps they have toward him before they 
reach to him. We are first so far enlightened as too see our sin 
and misery, and the meaning and truth of the gospel, and so roused 
out of our security, and made to look about us, and see that we 
have souls to save or lose, and that it is no jesting matter to be a 
christian. And so we come to understand the tenor of this cove- 
nant, and Christ's terms of saving men. But, alas, how long is it 
usually after this, before we come sincerely to yield to his terms, 
and take him as he is offered, and renounce the world, flesh, and 
the devil, and give up ourselves to him in a faithful covenant ! We 
are long deliberating, before we can get our backward hearts to re- 
solve. How then should a man know just when he was past the 


highest step of common or preparative grace, and arrived at the 
first step of special grace ? 

Yet mark, that I here speak only of God's ordinary way of giving 
grace; for I doubt not, but in some God may give a higher degree 
of grace at the first day of conversion, than some others do attain in 
many years. And those may know the time of their true con- 
version, both because the effect was discernible, and because the 
suddenness makes the change more sensible and observable. 

But this is not the ordinary course. Ordinarily convictions lie 
long on the soul before they come to a true conversion. Con- 
science is wounded, and smarting long, and long grudging against 
our sinful and negligent courses, and telling us of the necessity 
of Christ and a holy life, before we sincerely obey conscience, and 
give ourselves up to Christ. We seldom yield to the first convic- 
tion or persuasion. The flesh hath usually too long time given it 
to plead its own cause, and to say to the soul, ' Wilt thou forsake 
all thy pleasure and merry company, and courses? Wilt thou beg- 
gar thyself? or make thyself a scorn or mocking-stock to the world ? 
Art thou ever able to hold out in so strict a course ? and to be un- 
done? and to forsake all, and lay down thy life for Christ? Is it not 
better to venture thyself in the same way as thou hast gone in, as 
well as others do, and as so many of thy forefathers have done be- 
fore thee ?' Under sucli sinful deliberations as these we usually 
continue long before we fully resolve ; and many demurs and de- 
lays we make before we conclude to take Christ on the terms that 
he is offered to us. Now I make no doubt but most or many 
christians can remember how and when God stirred their con- 
sciences, and wakened them from their security, and made them 
look about them, and roused them out of their natural lethargy. 
Some can tell what sermon first did it ; others can remember by 
what degrees and steps God was doing it long. The ordinary way 
appointed by God for the doing of it first, is the instruction of pa- 
rents. And (as I have more fully manifested in my Book of In- 
fant Baptism) if parents would do their duties, they would find that 
the word publicly preached was not appointed to be the first ordi- 
nary means of conversion and sanctification ; but commonly, grace 
would be received in childhood ; I speak not of baptismal relative 


grace, consisting in the pardon of original sin, nor yet any infusion 
of habits before they have the use of reason (because I suppose it is 
hid from us, what God doth in that,) but I speak of actual conver- 
sion ; and I prove that this should be the first ordinary way and 
time of conversion to the children of true christians, because it is 
the first means that God hath appointed to be used with them ; 
Deut. vi. 6 — 8. Eph. vi. 4. Parents are commanded to teach 
their children the law of God urgently at home, and as they walk 
abroad, lying down, and rising up ; and to bring them up in the 
admonition and nurture of the Lord, and to "train up a child in 
the way he should go and when they are old they will not depart 
from it ;" Pro v. xxii. G. And children are commanded to " re- 
member their Creator in the days of their youth ; Eccles. xii. 1. 
And if this be God's first great means, then doubtless he will 
ordinarily bless his own means here, as well as in the preaching of 
the word . 

From all this I would have you learn this lesson, That you 
ought not trouble yoursell with fears and doubts, lest you are not 
truly regenerate, because you know not the sermon or the very time 
and manner of your conversion ; but find that you have grace, and 
then, though you know not just the time or manner of your receiv- 
ing it, yet you may nevertheless be assured of salvation by it. 
Search therefore what you are, and how your will is disposed, and 
resolved, and how your life is ordered, rather than to know how 
you became such. I know the workings of the Spirit on the soul 
may be discerned, because they stir up discernible actings in our 
own spirits. The soul's convictions, considerations, resolutions and 
affections, are no insensible things. But yet the work of grace 
usually begins in common grace, and so proceeds by degrees till it 
come to a special saving grace, even as the work of nature doth, first 
producing the matter, and then introducing the form ; first produ- 
cing the embryo, before it introduce a rational soul. And as no 
child knows the time or manner of its own formation, vivification or 
reception of that soul, so I think few true believers can say, just 
such a day, or at such a sermon I became a true justified, sancti- 
fied man. That was the hour of your true conversion and justifi- 
cation, when you first preferred God and Christ, and grace before 


nil things in this world, and deliberately and seriously resolved to 
take Christ for your Savior and Governor, and give up yourself to 
him to be saved, taught and governed, and to obey him faith fully 
to the death against all temptations, whatsoever you shall lose or 
suffer by it. Now I would but ask those very christians that think 
they do know the very sermon that converted them ; Did that ser- 
mon bring you to this resolution ? Or was it not only some troub- 
ling rousing preparation hereto ? I think some desperate sickness or 
the like affliction is a very usual means to bring resolutions to be 
downright and fixed, with many souls that long delayed and fluctu- 
ated in unresolvedness, and lay under mere ineffectual convictions. 

Object. ' But this runs on your own grounds, that saving grace 
and common grace do but differ in degrees.' 

Ansic. I think most will confess that, as to the acts of grace, 
and that is it that we are now inquiring after; and that is all the 
means that we have of discerning the habits. Yet remember that 
I still tell you, ' That there is a special moral difference, though 
grounded but in a gradual natural difference.' Yea, and that one 
grain of the Spirit's working, which turns the will in a prevalent 
measure for Christ, (together with the illumination necessary there- 
to) deserves all those eulogies and high titles that are given it in 
the word ; so great a change doth it make in the soul ! Well may 
it be called 'The new creature:' 'Born of the Spirit:' 'The 
new life:' Yea, 'The image of God, and 'The Divine Nature.' 
(If that text be not meant of the Divine Nature in Christ which we 
are relatively made partakers of in our union with him.) When 
you are weighing things in the balance, you may add grain after 
grain, and it makes no turning or motion at all till you come to the 
very last grain, and then suddenly that end which was downward is 
turned upward. When you stand at a loss between two high ways, 
and know not which war to go, as long as you are deliberate, you 
stand still : all the reasons that come into your mind do not stir 
you ; but the last reason which resolves you, setteth you in motion. 
So is it in the change of a sinner's heart and life ; he is not changed 
(but preparing towards it) while he is but deliberating, whether he 
should choose Christ or the world ? But the last reason that comes 
in and ueteimineth his will to Christ, and makes him resolve and 


enter a firm covenant with Christ, and say, ' I will have Christ 
for better or worse ;' this maketh the greatest change that ever is 
made by any work in this world. For how can there be greater 
than the turning of a soul from the creature to the Creator ? So 
distant are the terms of this change. After this one turning act 
Christ hath that heart, and the main bent and endeavors of the life, 
which the world had before. The man hath anew end, a new rule 
and guide, and a new master. Before the flesh and the devil were 
his masters, and now Christ is his master. So that you must not 
think so meanly of the turning, determining, resolving act of grace, 
because it lieth but in a gradual difference naturally from common 
grace. If a prince should offer a condemned beggar to marry her, 
and to pardon her, and make her his queen, her deliberation may 
be the way to her consent, and one reason after another may bring 
her near to consenting. But it is that which turns her will to con- 
sent, resolve, covenant and deliver herself to him, which makes the 
great change in her state. Yet all the foregoing work of common 
grace hath a hand in the change, though only the turning resolution 
do effect it : it is the rest with this that doth it : as when the last 
grain turns the scales, the former do concur. I will conclude with 
Dr. Preston's words, in his " Golden Sceptre," page 210 : Object. 
1 It seems then that the knowledge of a carnal man, and of a re- 
generate man, do differ but in degrees and not in kind.' Answ. 
' The want of degrees here alters the kind, as in numbers, the addi- 
tion of a degree alters the species and kind.' Read for this also, 
Dr. Jackson " Of Saving Faith," sect. iii. chap. iii. pp. 297, 298. 
and frequently in other places. So much for that observation. 

Direct. XIV. Yet further I would have you to understand this : 
1 That as the least measure of saving grace is ordinarily undiscerni- 
ble from the greatest measure of common grace, (notwithstanding 
the greatness of the change that it makes) so a measure somewhat 
greater is so hardly discernible, that it seldom brings assurance : 
and therefore it is only the stronger Christians that attain assurance 
ordinarily ; even those who have a great degree of faith and love, 
and keep them much in exercise, and are very watchful and care- 
ful in obedience : and consequently (most Christians being of the 


weaker sort) it is but few that do attain to assurance of their justifi- 
cation and salvation.' 

Here are two or three points which I would have you distinctly 
to observe, though I lay them all together for brevity. 1. That it 
is only a greater measure of grace that will ordinarily afford assur- 
ance. 2. That therefore it is only the stronger, and holier, and 
more obedient sort of Christians that usually reach to a certainty of 
salvation. 3. That few Christians do reach to a strong or high de- 
gree of grace. 4. And therefore it is but few Christians that reach 
to assurance. 

For the two first of these it will evidently appear that they are 
true, by reviewing the reasons which I gave of the last point save 
one. He that will attain to a certainty of salvation, must, 1. Have 
a large measure of grace to be discerned. 2. He must have that 
grace much in action, and lively action ; for it is not mere habits that 
are discernible. 3. He must have a clear understanding to be acquaint- 
ed with the nature of spiritual things ; to know what is a sound evidence, 
and how to follow the search, and how to repel particular temptations. 
4. He must have a good acquaintance and familiarity with his own 
heart, and to that end must be much at home, and be used some- 
times to a diligent observation of his heart and ways. 5. He must 
be in a good measure acquainted with, and a conqueror of contra- 
dicting temptations. 6. He must have some competent cure of 
the deceitfulness of the heart, and it must be brought to an open, 
plain, ingenuous frame, willing to know the worst of itself. 7. He 
must have some cure of that ordinary confusion and tumultuous dis- 
order that is in the thought and affections of men, and get things in- 
to an order in his mind. 8. He must be a man of diligence, reso- 
lution, and unwearied patience, that will resolvedly set on the work 
of self-examination, and painfully watch in it, and constantly follow 
it from time to time till he attain a eertainty. 9. He must be one 
that is very fearful of sinning, and careful in close obedient walking 
with God, and much in sincere and spiritual duty, that he keep not 
conscience still in accusing and condemning him, and God still of- 
fended with him, and his wounds fresh bleeding, and his soul still 
smarting. 10. He must be a man of much fixedness and constan- 


cy of mind, and not of the ordinary mutability of mankind ; that so 
he may-notby remitting his zeal and diligence, lose the sight of his 
evidences, nor by leaving open his soul to an alteration by every 
new intruding thought and temptation, let go his assurance as soon 
as he -attain eth it. All these things in a good degree are necessary 
to the attaining of assurance of salvation. 

And then do 1 need to say any more to the confirmation of the 
third point, That few Christians reach this measure of grace ? O 
that it were not as clear as the light, and as discernible as the earth 
under our feet, that most true Christians are weaklings, and of the 
lower forms in the school of Christ ? Alas, how ignorant are most 
of the best, how little love, or faith, or zeal, or heavenlymindedness, 
or delight in God have they ? How unacquainted with the way of 
self-examination ? And how backward to it ? And how dull and 
careless in it ? Doing it by the halves as Laban searched Rachel's 
tent? How easily put off with an excuse ? How little acquainted 
with their own hearts ? Or with satan's temptations and ways of 
deceiving ? How much deceitfulness remaineth in their hearts ? 
How confused are their minds ? And what distractions and tu- 
mults are there in their thoughts ? How bold are they in sinning p 
And how little tenderness of conscience, and care of obeying have 
they ? How frequently do they wound conscience, provoke God, 
and obscure their evidences ? And how mutable their apprehen- 
sions ? And how soon do they lose that assurance which they once 
attained ? And upon every occasion quite lose the sight of their 
evidences ? Yea, and remit their actual resolutions, and so lose 
much of the evidence itself ? Is not this the common case of godly 
people ? O that we could truly deny it. Let their lives be witness, 
let the visible neglects, worldliness, pride, impatiency of plain re- 
proof, remissness of zeal, dulness and customariness in duty, strange- 
ness to God, unwillingness to secret prayer and meditation, unac- 
quaintedness with the Spirit's operations and joys, their unpeacea- 
bleness one with another, and their too frequent blemishing the 
glory of their holy profession by the unevenness of their walking, 
let all these witness, whether the school of Christ have not most 
children in it ; and very few of them ever go to the university of 


riper knowledge : and how few of those are fit to begin here the 
works of their priestly office, which they must live in for ever, in 
the high and joyful praises of God, and of the Lamb, who hath re- 
deemed them by his blood, and made them kings and priests to 
God, that they may reign with him for ever. I am content to stand 
to the judgment of all humble, self-knowing Christians, whether 
this be not true of most of themselves ; and for those that deny it, 
I will stand to the judgment of their godly neighbors, who perhaps 
know them better than they know themselves. 

And then this being all so, the fourth point is undeniable, That 
it is but very kw Christians that reach to assurance of salvation. 
If any think (as intemperate hot-spirited men are like enough to 
charge me) that in all this I countenance the popish doctrine of 
doubting and uncertainty, and contradict the common doctrine of 
the reformed divines that write against them ; I answer, 1 . That 
I do contradict both the Papists that deny assurance, and many 
foreign writers, who make it far more easy, common, and necessa- 
ry than it is (much more both them and the Antinomists, who place 
justifying faith in it.) But I stand in the midst between both ex- 
tremes ; and I think I have the company of most English divines. 
2. I come not to be of this mind merely by reading books, but 
mainly by reading my own heart, and consulting my own expe- 
rience, and the experience of a very great number of godly people 
of all sorts, who have opened their hearts to me, for almost twenty 
years time. 3. I would entreat the gainsayers to study their own 
hearts better for some considerable time, and to be more in hear- 
ing the case and complaints of godly people ; and by that time they 
may happily come to be of my mind. 4. See whether all those di- 
vines that have been very practical and successful in the work of 
God, and much acquainted with the way of recovery of lost souls, 
be not all of the same judgment as myself in this point, (such as 
T. Hooker, Jo. Rogers, Preston, Sibbs, Bolton, Dod, Culverweil, 
etc.) And whether the most confident men for the contrary be 
not those that study books more than hearts, and spend their clays 
in disputing, and not in winning souls to God from the world. 

Lastly, Let me add to what is said, these two proofs of this fourth 
point here*asserted. 

Voi,. I. 4G 


1. The constant experience of the greatest part of believers tells 
us that certainty of salvation is very rare. Even of those that live 
comfortably and in peace of conscience, yet very few of them do 
attain to a certainty. For my part, it is known that God in unde- 
served mercy hath given me long the society of a great number of 
godly people, and great interest in them, and privacy with them, 
and opportunity to know their minds, and this in many places (my 
station by providence having been oft removed,) and I must needs 
profess, that of all these I have met with few, yea very few indeed, 
that if I seriously and privately asked them, ' Are you certain that 
you are a true believer, and so are justified, and shall be saved,' 
durst say tome, ' I am certain of it.' But some in great doubts 
and fears : most too secure and neglective of their states without 
assurance, and some in so good hopes (to speak in their own lan- 
guage) as calmeth their spirits, that they comfortably cast them- 
selves on God in Christ. And those few that have gone so far be- 
yond all the rest, as to say, ' They were certain of their sincerity 
and salvation,' were the professors, whose state I suspected more 
than any of the rest, as being the most proud, self-conceited, cen- 
sorious, passionate, unpeaceable sort of proiessors ; and some of 
them living scandalously, and some fallen since to more scandalous 
ways than ever ; and the most of their humble, godly acquaintance 
and neighbors suspected them as well as I. Or else some very few 
of them that said they were certain, were honest godly people 
(most women) of small judgment and strong affections, who de- 
pended most on that which is commonly called, ' The sense or 
feeling of God's love ;' and were the lowest at some times as they 
were the highest at other times ; and they that were one month 
certain to be saved, perhaps the next month were almost ready to 
say, they should certainly be damned. So that taking out all these 
sorts of persons, the sober, solid, judicious believers that could 
groundedly and ordinarily say, ' T am certain that I shall be saved,' 
have been so few, that it is sad to me to consider it. If any other 
men's experience be contrary, I am glad of it, so be it they be so- 
ber, judicious men, able to gather experiences ; and so they live 
not among mere Antinomians, and take not the discc^ery of their 
mere opinion, for a discovery of experience. For I have seen in 


divers professors of my long acquaintance, the strange power of 
opinion and fancy in this thing. I have known those that have liv- 
ed many years in doubting of their salvation, and all that while 
walked uprightly : and in the late wars, falling into the company 
of some Anabaptists, they were by them persuaded that there was 
no right way to their comfort, but by being re-baptized, and asso- 
ciating themselves with the re-baptized church, and abstaining from 
the hearing of the unbaptized parish-priests (as they called them.) 
No sooner was this done, but all their former doubtings and trou- 
bles were over, and they were as comfortable as any others (as 
themselves affirmed) which no doubt proceeded from partly the 
strength of fancy, conceiting it should be so, and partly from the 
novelty of their way which delighted them, and partly from the 
strong opinion they had that this was the way of salvation, and that 
the want of this did keep them in the dark so long ; and partly 
from satan's policy, who troubleth people least, when they are in a 
way that pleaseth him ; but when these people had lived a year or 
two in this comfortable condition, they fell at last into the society 
of some Libertines or Familists, who believe that the Scriptures are 
all but a dream, fiction, or allegory ; these presently persuaded 
them, that they were fools to regard baptism or such ordinances, 
and that they might come to hear again in our congregations, see- 
ing all things were lawful, and there was no heaven or hell but 
within men, and therefore they should look to their safety and 
credit in the world, and take their pleasure. This lesson was 
quickly learned, and then they cried down the Anabaptists, and 
confessed they were deluded, and so being grown loose while they 
were Anabaptists, to mend the matter, they grew Epicures when 
they had been instructed by the Libertines ; and this was the end 
of their new-gotten comfort. Others I have known that have want- 
ed assurance, and falling among the Antinomians, were told by 
them that they undid themselves by looking after signs and marks 
of grace, and so laying their comforts upon something in them- 
selves ; whereas they should look only to Christ for comfort, and 
not at any thing in themselves at all ; and for assurance, it is only 
the witness of the Spirit without any marks that must give it them ; 
and to fetch comfort from their own graces and obedience, was to 


make it themselves instead of Christ and the Holy Ghost, and was 
a legal way. No sooner was this doctrine received, hut the re- 
ceivers had comfort at will, and all was sealed up to them presently 
by the witness of the Spirit in their own conceits. Whence this 
came, judge you. I told you my judgment before. Sure I am 
that the sudden looseness of their lives, answering their ignorant, 
loose, ungospel-like doctrine, did certify me that the Spirit of com- 
fort was not their comforter ; for he is also a Spirit of holiness, 
and comforteth men by the means of a holy gospel, which hath 
precepts and threatenings as well as promises. 

2. And as the experience of the state of believers assureth us 
that few of them attain to certainty ; so experience of the imper- 
fection of their understanding shews us, that few of them are im- 
mediately capable of it. For how few believers be there that un- 
derstand well what is sound evidence and what not? Nay, how 
many learned men have taught them, that the least unfeigned de- 
sire of grace, is the grace itself, as some say, or at least a certain 
evidence of it, as others say. Whereas, alas ! how many have 
unfeignedly desired many graces, and yet have desired the glory 
and profits of the world so much more, that they have miscarried 
and perished. How many have taught them, that the least un- 
feigned love to God or to the brethren, is a certain mark of saving 
grace; whereas many a one hath unfeignedly loved God and the 
brethren, who yet have loved house, land, credit, pleasure, and 
life so much more that God hath been thrust as it were into 
a corner, and hath had but the world's leavings. And the poor 
saints have had but little compassion or relief from them, nor would 
be looked on in times of danger and disgrace. As Austin and the 
schoolmen used, to say, " Wicked men do, ' uti Deo, et frui crea- 
turis,' Use God and enjoy the creatures ; godly men do ' frui Deo, 
et uti creaturis,' enjoy God and use the creatures." The mean- 
ing is, both regenerate and unregenerate have some will or love, 
both to God and to the creature : but the wicked do will or love 
the creature as their chief good, with their chiefest love, and they 
only love God as a means to help them to the creature, with a love 
subordinate to their love to the creature : whereas the godly do 
will or love God as their chief uood, with their chiefest love or com- 


placency ; and love the creature but as the means of God, with an 
inferior love. 

If then the nature of sincerity be so little known, then the as- 
surance of sincerity cannot be very common. More might be said 
to prove that certainty of salvation is not common among true 
Christians; but that it is labor in vain, as to them, seeing experi- 
ence and their own ready confession doth witness it. 

Now what is the use that I would have you make of this ? Why 
it is this. If assurance of sincerity and justification (much more of 
salvation) be so rare among true Christians, then you have no 
cause to think that the want of it proveth you to be no true Chris- 
tian. You see then that a man may be in a state of salvation with- 
out it ; and that it is not justifying faith, as some have imagined, 
nor yet a necessary concomitant of that faith. You see that you 
were mistaken in thinking that you had not the spirit of adoption, 
because you had no assuring witness within you effectively testify- 
ing to you that you are the child of God. All God's children have 
the Spirit of adoption. (For because they are sons, therefore hath 
God sent the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, whereby they cry, 
'Abba, Father;' Gal. iv. 6.) But all God's children have not 
assurance of their adoption, therefore the Spirit of adoption doth 
not always assure those of their adoption in whom it abideth. It 
is always a witness-bearer of their adoption ; but that is only ob- 
jectively by his graces and operations in them, as a land-mark is 
a witness whose land it is where it standeth ; or as your sheep- 
mark witnesseth which be your sheep ; or rather as a sensible soul 
witnesseth a liviujg creature, or a rational soul witnesseth that we 
are men. But efficiently it doth not always witness ; as a land- 
mark or sheep-mark is not always discerned ; and a brute knows 
not itself to be a brute ; and a man is not always actually knowing 
his own humanity, nor can know it at all in the womb, in infancy, 
in distraction, in an epilepsy, apoplexy, or the hke disease, which 
deprives him of the use of reason. Besides, it is no doubt but the 
apostle had some respect to the eminent gift of the Spirit, for 
tongues, prophecies, miracles, and the like, which was proper to 
that age ; though still as including the Spirit of holiness. 

You see then that you need not be always in disquiet when you 


want assurance. For else how disquiet a life should most Chris- 
tians live ! I shall shew you more anon, that all a man's comforts 
depend not so on his assurance, but that he may live a comfortable 
life without it. Trouble of mind may be overcome ; conscience 
may be quieted ; true peace obtained ', yea, a man may have that 
joy in the Holy Ghost, wherein the kingdom of God is said to con- 
sist, without certainty of salvation. (If there be any passages in 
my Book of Rest, part iii. pressing to get assurance, which seem 
contrary to this, I desire that they may be reduced to this sense, 
and no otherwise understood.) This shall be further opened anon, 
and other grounds of comfort manifested, besides assurance. 

Direct. XV. Yea thus much more I would here inform you of, 
" That many holy, watchful and obedient Christians, are yet uncer- 
tain of their salvation, even then when they are certain of their jus- 
tification, and sanctification ; and that because they are uncertain of 
their perseverance and overcoming ; for a man's certainty of his sal- 
vation can be no stronger than is his certainty of enduring to the 
end and overcoming.' 

That you may not misunderstand me in this, observe, 1 . That 
I do not say perseverance is a thing uncertain in itself. 2. Nor 
that it is uncertain to all Christians. 3. But that it is uncertain to 
many, even strong and self-knowing Christians. Divines use to 
distinguish of the certainty of the object and of the subject ; and 
the former is either of the object of God's knowledge, or of man's. 
I doubt not but God knows certainly who shall be saved, which } 
with his decree, doth cause that which we call certainty of the ob- 
ject as to man's understanding ; but men themselves do not always 
know it. 

If a man have the fullest certainty in the world that he is God's 
child, yet if he be uncertain whether he shall so continue to the 
end, it is impossible that he should have a certainty of his salva- 
tion ; for it is he only that endureth to the end that shall be saved. 

Now that many eminent Christians of great knowledge, and 
much zeal and obedience, are uncertain of their perseverance, is 
proved by two infallible arguments. 1. By experience : if any 
should be so censorious as to think that none of all those nations 
and churches abroad, that deny the doctrine of certain persevcr- 


ance of all believers, have any strong Christians among them, yet 
we have had the knowledge of such at home. 2. Besides the dif- 
ficulty of the subject is a clear argument that a strong Christian 
may be uncertain of it. God hath made all those points plain in 
Scripture, which must be believed as of necessity to salvation ; but 
the certainty of all believers' perseverance, is not a point of flat ne- 
cessity to salvation to be believed. Otherwise it would be a hard 
matter to prove, that any considerable number were ever saved till 
of late ; or are yet saved, but in a very few countries. It is a point 
that the churches never did put into their creed, where they sum- 
med up those points that they held necessary to salvation. There 
are a great number of texts of Scripture, which seeming to inti- 
mate the contrary, do make the point of great difficulty to many of 
the wisest ; and those texts that are for it, are not so express as 
fully to satisfy them. Besides, that the examples of these ten 
years last past have done more to stagger many sober wise Chris- 
tians in this point, than all the arguments that were ever used by 
Papists, Arminians, or any other, to see what kind of men in some 
places have fallen, and how far, as I am unwilling further to men- 

But I think by this time I have persuaded you, that a proper 
certainty of our salvation is not so common a thing as some con- 
troversial doctors, or some self-conceited professors do take it to 
be ; and therefore that you must not lay all your comfort on your 
assurance of salvation. As for them who are most highly confi- 
dent both of the doctrine of the certain perseverance of every be- 
liever, merely upon tradition and prejudice, or else upon weak 
grounds, which will not bear them out in their confidence ; and are 
as confident of their own salvation on as slender grounds, having 
never well understood the nature of saving grace, sincerity, exam- 
ination, nor assurance ; nor understood the causes of doubting, 
which else might have shaken them ; I will not call their greatest 
confidence by the name of assurance or certainty of salvation, 
though it be accompanied with never so great boastings, or pre- 
tences, or expressions of the highest joys. And for yourself, I ad- 
vise you first use those comforts which those may have who come 
short of assurance. 


Direct. XVI. The next thing which I would have you learn is 
this, ' That there are several grounds of the great probability of our 
salvation, besides the general grounds mentioned in the beginning : 
and by the knowledge of these, without any further assurance, a 
Christian may live in much peace and comfort, and in delightful, 
desirous thoughts of the glory to come. And therefore the next work 
which you have to do, is to discover those probabilities of your sin- 
cerity and your salvation, and then to receive the peace and com- 
fort which they may afford you, before you can expect assurance in 

I shall heie open to you the several parts of this proposition and 
direction distinctly. 1. I told you in the beginning of the four 
grounds of probability which all may have in general ; from 1. The 
nature of God. 2. And of the Mediator and his office. 3. And 
the universal sufficiency of Christ's satisfaction. 4. And the gen- 
eral tenor of the promise, and offer of pardon and salvation. Now 
I add, that besides all these, there are many grounds of strong prob- 
ability, which you may have of your own sincerity, and so of your 
particular inierest in Christ and salvation, when you cannot reach 
to a certainty. 

1. Some kind of probability you may gather by comparing your- 
self with others. Though this way be but delusory to unregener- 
ate men, whose confidence is plainly contradicted by the Scrip- 
tures, yet may it be lawful and useful to an humble soul that is wil- 
ling to obey and wait on God : I mean to consider, that if such as 
you should perish how few people would God have in the world ? 
Consider first in how narrow a compass the church was confined be- 
fore Christ's coming in the flesh ; how carnal and corrupt even that 
visible church then was ; and even at this day, the most learned do 
compute, that if you divide the world into thirty parts, nineteen of 
them are heathenish idolators, six of them are Mahometans, and 
only five of them are Christians. And of these five that are Chris., 
tians, how great a part are of the Ethiopian, Greek, and Popish 
churches? So ignorant, rude, and superstitious, and erroneous, 
that salvation cannot be imagined to be near so easy or ordinary 
with them as with us : and of the reformed churches, commonly 
called Protestants, how small is the number ? And even among 


these, what a number are grossly ignorant and profane ? And of 
those that profess more knowledge and zeal, how many are grossly 
erroneous, schismatical and scandalous? How exceeding small 
a number is left then that are such as you? I know this is no as- 
suring argument, but I know withal that Christ died not in vain, but 
he will see the fruit of his sufferings to the satisfaction of his soul ; 
and the God of Mercy, who is a lover of mankind, will have a mul- 
titude innumerable of his saved ones in the earth. 

2. But your strongest probabilities are from the consideration of 
the work of God upon your souls, and the present frame and inclin- 
ation of your soul to God. You may know that you have work- 
ings above nature in you ; and that they have been kept alive and 
carried on these many years against all opposition of the flesh and 
the world ; it hath not been a mere flash of conviction which hath 
been extinguished by sensuality, and left you in the darkness of 
security and profaneness as others are. You dare not give up 
your hopes of heaven for all the world. You would not part with 
Christ, and say, ' Let him go,' for all the pleasures of sin, or treas- 
ures of the earth. If you had (as you have) an offer of God, 
Christ, grace, and glory on one side, and worldly prosperity in sin 
on the other side, you would choose God, and let go the other. 
You dare not, you would not give over praying, hearing, reading 
and Christian company, and give up yourself to worldly, fleshly 
pleasures ; yet you are not assured of salvation, because you find 
not that delight and life in duty, and that witness of the Spirit, and 
that communion with God, nor that tenderness of heart as you de- 
sire. It is well that you desire them ; but though you be not cer- 
tain of salvation, do you not see a great likelihood, a probability in 
all this ? Is not your heart raised to a hope, that yet God is merci- 
ful to you, and means you good ? Doubtless, this you might easily 

The second thing that I am to show you, is, that there may 
much spiritual comfort and peace of conscience be enjoyed, with- 
out any certainty of salvation, even upon these forementioned prob- 
abilities. Which I prove thus, 1. No doubt but Adam in inno- 
nency, had peace of conscience, and comfort, and communion with 
God, and yet he had no assurance of salvation ; I mean, either of 

Vol. I. 47 


continuing in paradise, or being translated to glory. For if he had, 
either he was sure to persevere in innocency, and so to be glorified 5 
(but that was not true,) or else he must foreknow both that he 
should fall and be raised again, and saved by Christ. But this he 
knew not at all. 2. Experience tells us, that the greatest part of 
Christians on earth do enjoy that peace and comfort which they 
have, without any certainty of their salvation. 3. The nature of 
the thing telleth us, that a likelihood of so great a mercy as ever- 
lasting glory, must needs be a ground of great comfort. If a poor 
condemned prisoner do but hear that there is hopes of a pardon, 
especially if very probable, it will glad his heart. Indeed, if an 
angel from heaven were brought into this state, it would be sad to 
him ; but if a devil or condemned sinner have such hope, it must 
needs be glad news to them. The devils have it not, but we have. 
Let me next, therefore, entreat you to take the comfort of 
your probabilities of grace and salvation. Your horse or dog know 
not how you will use them certainly ; yet will they lovingly follow 
you, and put their heads to your hand, and trust you with their lives 
without fear, and love to be in your company, because they have 
found you kind to them, and have tried that you do them no hurt, 
but good : yea, though you do strike them sometimes, yet they 
find that they have their food from you, and your favor doth sus- 
tain them. Yea, your little children have no certainty how you 
will use them, and yet finding that you have always used them 
kindly, and expressed love to them, though you whip them some- 
times, yet are glad of your company, and desire to be in your lap, 
and can trust themselves in your hands, without tormenting them- 
selves with such doubts as these, ' I am uncertain how my mother 
will use me, whether she will wound me, or kill me, or turn me out 
of doors, and let me perish.' Nature persuades us not to be too 
distrustful of those that have always befriended us, and especially 
whose nature is merciful and compassionate ; nor to be too suspi- 
cious of evil from them that have always done us good. Every 
man knows that the good will do good, and the evil will do you 
evil ; and accordingly we expect that they should do to us. Nat- 
urally we all fear a toad, a serpent, an adder, a mad dog, a wicked 
man, a madman, a cruel, blood-thirsty tyrant, and the devil. But 


no one fears a dove, a lamb, a good man, a merciful, compassionate 
governor, except only the rebels or notorious offenders that know 
he is bound in justice to destroy or punish them. And none should 
fear distrustfully the wrath of a gracious God, but they who will 
not submit to his mercy, and will not have Christ to reign "over 
them, and therefore may know that he is bound in justice, if they 
come not in, to destroy them. But for you that would be obedient 
and reformed, and are troubled that you aie no better, and beg of 
God to make you better, and have no sin, but what you would be 
glad to be rid of, may not you, at least, see a strong probability 
that it shall go well with you ? O make use therefore of this prob- 
ability ; and if you have but hopes that God will do you good, re- 
joice in those hopes till you can come to rejoice in assurance. 

And here let me tell you, that probabilities are of divers degrees, 
according to their divers grounds. Where men have but little 
probability of their sincerity, and a greater probability that they are 
not sincere in the faith, these men may be somewhat borne up, 
but it behoves them presently to search in fear, and to amend that 
which is the cause of their fear. Those that have more probability 
of the sincerity of their hearts than of the contrary, may well have 
more peace than trouble of mind. Those that have yet a higher 
degree of probability, may live in more joy, and so according to 
the degree of probability may their comforts still arise. 

And observe also, that it is but the highest degree of this proba- 
bility here which we call a certainty : for it is a moral certainty, 
and not that which is called a certainty of divine faith, nor that 
which is called a certainty of evidence in the strictest sense, though 
yet evidence there is for it. But it is the same evidences materi- 
ally, which are the ground of probability and of certainty ; only 
sometimes they differ gradually (one having more grace and an- 
other less,) and sometimes not so neither ; for he that hath more 
grace, may discern but a probability in it, (through some other de- 
fect,) no more than he that hath less. But when one man discerns 
his graces and sincerity but darkly, he hath but a probability of sal- 
vation manifested by them ; and when another discerneth them 
more clearly^ he hath a stronger probability ; and he that discern- 
eth them most clearly (if other necessaries concur) hath that which 
we call a certaintv, 


Now I am persuaded that you frequently see a strong probability 
of your sincerity ; and may not that be a very great stay and com- 
fort to your soul ? Nay, may it not draw out your heart in love, de- 
light and thankfulness ? Suppose that your name were written in a 
piece of paper, and put among a hundred, or fifty, or but twenty 
other like papers into a lottery, and you were certain that you should 
be the owner of this whole land, except your name were drawn 
the first time, and if it were drawn you should die, would your joy 
or your sorrow for this be the greater ? Nay, if it were but ten to 
one, or but two to one odds on your side, it would keep you from 
drooping and discouragement ; and why should it not do so in the 
present case ? 

Direct. XVII. My next advice to you is this, ' For the strength- 
ening your apprehensions of the probability of your salvation, gath- 
er up, and improve all your choicest experiences of God's good 
will and mercy to you ; and observe also the experiments of others 
in the same kind.' 

We do God and ourselves a great deal of wrong by forgetting, 
neglecting, and not improving our experiences. How doth God 
charge it on the Israelites, especially in the wilderness, that they 
forgot the works of God, by which he had so often manifested his 
power and goodness ! Psalm Ixxviii. cvii. See cv. cvi. When God 
had by one miracle silenced their unbelief, they had forgotten it in 
the next distress. It was a sign the disciples' hearts were hardened, 
when they forgot the miracles of the loaves, and presently after were 
distrustful and afraid ; Mark vi. 52. God doth not give us his 
mercies only for the present use, but for the future : nor only for 
the body, but for the soul. I would this truth were well learned 
by believers. You are in sickness, and troubles, and dangers, and 
pinching straits, in fears and anguish of mind : in this case you cry- 
to God for help, and he doth in such a manner deliver you as si- 
lenceth your distrust, and convinceth you of his love ; at least, of 
his readiness to do you good. What a wrong is it now to God and 
yourself, to forget this presently, and in the next temptation to 
receive no strengthening by the consideration of it ? Doth 
God so much regard this dirty flesh, that he should do all 
this merely for its ease and relief? No, he doth it to kill your un- 
belief, and convince you of his special providence, his care of you. 


and love to you, and power to help you, and to breed in you more 
loving, honorable and thankful thoughts of him. Lose this benefit, 
and you lose all. You may thus use one and the same mercy an 
hundred times : though Jt be gone as to the body, it is still fresh in 
a believing, thankful, careful soul. You may make as good use of 
it at your very death, as the first hour. But O, the sad forgetful- 
ness, mutability and unbelief of these hearts of ours ! What a 
number of these choice experiences do we all receive ! When we 
forget one, God giveth another, and we forget that too. When un- 
belief doth blasphemously suggest to us, Such a thing may come 
once or twice by chance. God addeth one experience to another, 
till it even shame us out of our unbelief, as Christ shamed Thomas, 
and we cry out, " My Lord and my God." Hath it not been thus 
oft with you ? Have not mercies come so seasonably, so unex- 
pectedly, either by small means, or the means themselves unex- 
pectedly raised up; without your designing or effecting; and plain- 
ly in answer to prayers, that they have brought conviction along 
with them ; and you have seen the name of God engraven on 
them ? Sure it is so with us, when through our sinful negligence 
we are hardly drawn to open our eyes, and see what God is doing. 
Much more might we have seen, if we had but observed the 
workings of Providence for us ; especially they that are in an af- 
flicted state, and have more sensibly daily use for God, and are 
awakened to seek him, and regard his dealings. I know a mercy 
to the body is no certain evidence of God's love to the soul. But 
yet from such experiences a Christian may have very strong prob- 
abilities. When we find God hearing prayers, it is a hopeful sign 
that we have some interest in him. We may say as Manoah's wife 
said to him, "If the Lord had meant to destroy us, he would not 
have received a sacrifice at our hands, nor have done all this for 
us;" Judges xiii. 23. To have God se near to us in all that we 
call upon him for, and so ready to relieve us, as if he could not de- 
ny an earnest prayer, and could not endure to stop his ears against 
our cries and groans, these are hopeful signs that he meaneth us 
good. I know special grace is the only certain evidence of special 
love : but yet these kind of experiences are many times more ef- 
fectual to refresh a drooping, doubting soul, than the first evidences : 


for evidences may be unseen, and require a great deal of holy skill 
and diligence to try them, which few have ; but these experiences 
are near us, even in our bodies, and shew themselves ; they make 
all our bones say, " Lord, who is like unto thee ?" And it is a 
great advantage to have the help of sense itself for our consolation. 
I hope you yet remember the choice particular providences, by 
which God hath manifested to you his goodness, even from your 
youth till now : especially his frequent answering of your prayers ! 
Methinks these should do something to the dispelling of those black, 
distrustful thoughts of God. I could wish you would write them 
down, and oft review them : and when temptations next come, 
remember with David, who helped you against the lion and the 
bear, and, therefore, fear not the uncircumcised Philistine. 

2. And you may make great use also of the experiences of 
others. Is it not a great satisfaction to hear twenty, or forty, or an 
hundred christians, of the most godly lives, to make the very same 
complaints as you do yourself? The very same complaints have I 
heard from as many. By this you may see your case is not singu- 
lar, but the ordinary case of the tenderest consciences, and of ma- 
ny that walk uprightly with God. And also is it not a great help 
to you, to hear other christians tell how they have come into those 
troubles, and how they have got out of them ? What hurt them ? 
And what helped them ? And how God dealt with them, while they 
lay under them? How desirous are diseased persons to talk with 
others that have had the same disease ? And to hear them tell how 
it took them, and how it held them, and especially what cured them ? 
Besides, it will give you much stronger hopes of cure and recove- 
ry to peace of conscience, when you hear of so many that have 
been cured of the same disease. Moreover, is it not a reviving 
thing, to hear christians open the goodness of the Lord ? And that 
in particular, as upon experience they have found him to their own 
souls? To hear them tell you of such notable discoveries of God's 
special providence and care of his people, as may repel all temp- 
tations to atheism and unbelief? To hear them give you their fre- 
quent and full experiences of God's hearing and answering their 
prayers, and helping them in their distresses ? Though the carnal 
part of the mercy were only theirs, yet by improvement, the spirit- 


ual part may be yours : you may have your faith, and love, and 
joy, confirmed by the experience of David, Job, Paul, which are past 
so long ago; and by the experiences of all your godly acquaintance 
as if they were your own. This is the benefit of the unity of the 
church ; the blessings of one member of the body are blessings to 
the rest; and if one rejoice the rest may rejoice with them, not only 
for their sakes, but also for their own. Such as God is to the rest of 
his children,such is he and will be to you. He is as ready to pity you 
as them, and to hear your complaints and moans as theirs. And lest 
we should think that none of them were so bad as we, he hath left us 
the examples of his mercies to worse than ever we were. You 
never were guilty of witchcraft, and open idolatry, as Manasses was, 
and that for a long time, and drawing the whole nation, and chief 
part of the visible church on earth, into idolatry with him. You 
never had your hand in the blood of a saint, and even of the first 
martyr (Stephen) as Paul had. You never hunted after the blood 
of the saints, and persecuted them from city to city as he did ; and 
yet God did not only forgive him, but was found of him when he 
never sought him, yea, when he was persecuting him in his mem- 
bers, and kicking against the pricks ; yea, and made him a chosen 
vessel to bear about his name, and a noble instrument of the propa- 
gation of his gospel, as if he had never been guilty of any such 
crimes, that he might be an encouraging example to the unworthiest 
sinners, and in him might appear to the riches of his mercy ; 1 Tim. 
iii. 13. 16. See also Titus iii. 3 — 7. Is there no ground of com- 
fort in these examples of the saints? The same we may say of the 
experiences of God's people still ; and doubtless it were well if 
experimental christians did more fully and frequently open to one 
another their experiences ; it were the way to make private par- 
ticular mercies to be more public and common mercies ; and to 
give others a part in our blessings, without any diminution of them 
to ourselves. Not that I would have this openly and rashly done 
(by those, who through their disability to express their minds, do 
make the works and language of the Spirit seem ridiculous to car- 
nal ears,) as I perceive some in a very formality would have it (as 
if it must be one of their church customs, to satisfy the society of 
the fitness of each member before they will receive them :) but I 


would have christians that are fit to express their minds, to do it in 
season and with wisdom ; especially those to whom God hath given 
any more eminent and notable experiments, which may be of pub- 
lic, use. Doubtless, God hath lost very much of the honor due to 
his name, and poor christians much of the benefit which they might 
have received, (and may challenge by the mutual interest of fellow 
members) for want of the public communication of the extraordi- 
nary and more notable experiences of some men. Those that 
write the lives of the holiest men when they are dead, can give 
you but the outside and carcase of their memorials ; the most ob- 
servable passages are usually secret, known only to God and their 
own souls, which none but themselves are able to communicate. 
For my own part, I do soberly and seriously profess to you, that 
the experiences I have had of God's special providences, and fa- 
therly care, and specially of his hearing prayers, have been so 
strange, and great, and exceeding numerous, that they have done 
very much to the quieting of my spirit, and the persuading of my 
soul of God's love to me, and the silencing and shaming of my un- 
believing heart, and especially for the conquering of all tempta- 
tations that lead to atheism or infidelity, to the denying of special 
providence, or of the verity of the gospel, or of the necessity of 
holy prayer and worshipping of God. Yea, those passages that in 
the bulk of the thing seem to have no great matter in them, yet have 
come at such seasons, in such a manner, in evident answer to 
prayers, that they have done much to my confirmation. O happy 
afflictions and distresses ! Sufferings and danger force us to pray, 
and force the cold and customary petitioner to seriousness and im- 
portunity. Importunate prayers bring evident returns; such re- 
turns give us sensible experiences ; such experiences raise faith, 
love and thankfulness, kill unbelief and atheism, and encourage the 
soul in all distresses, go the same way as when it sped so well. 
I often pity the poor seduced infidels of this age, that deny scripture 
and Christ himself, and doubt of the usefulness of prayer and holy 
worship ; and I wish that they had but the experiences that I have 
had. O how much more might it do than all their studies and dis- 
putes ! Truly I have once or twice had motions in my mind, to 
have publicly and freely communicated my experiences in a rela- 


tl'on of the more observable passages of my life ; but I found that 
1 was not able to do it to God's praise, as was meet, without a 
shew of ostentation or vanity, and therefore I forbore. 

Direct. XVIII. Next, that you may yet further understand the 
true nature of assurance, faith, doubting and desperation, I would 
have you observe this, ' That God doth not command every man, 
nor properly any man, ordinarily, by his word, to believe that his 
sins are forgiven, and himself is justified, adopted, and shall be 
saved. But he hath prescribed a way by which they may attain 
to assurance of these, in which way it is men's duty to seek it : so 
that our assurance is not properly that which is called a certainty of 

I have said enough for the proof of this proposition in the third 
part of my Book of Rest, chap. ii. whither I must refer you. But 
there is more to be said yet for the application of it. But first I 
must briefly tell you the meaning of the words. 1 . God command- 
eth us all to believe (wicked and godly,) that our sins are made par- 
donable by the sufficient satisfaction of Christ for them ; and that 
God is very merciful and ready to forgive; and that he hath con- 
ditionally forgiven us all in the new covenant, making a deed of gift 
of Christ, and pardon, and life in him, to all, on condition they be- 
lieve in him, and accept what is given. 2. But no man is com- 
manded to believe that he is actually forgiven. 3. Therefore I 
say our assurance is not strictly to be called belief, or a certainty 
of belief; for it is only our certain belief of those things which we 
take on the mere credit of the witnesser or revealer, which we 
call certainty of faith. Indeed, we commonly in English use the 
word ' belief,' to express any confident, but uncertain, opinion or 
persuasion ; and if any will so take it, then I deny not but our assu- 
rance is a belief. But it is commonly taken by divines for an as- 
sent to any thing on the credit of the word of the revealer, and so 
is distinguised both from the sensible apprehension of things, and 
from principles that are known by the mere light and help of nature; 
and from the knowledge of conclusions, which by reasoning we 
gather from those principles. Though yet one and the same thing 
may be known, as revealed in nature, and believed as revealed im- 
mediately or supernaturally ; and so we both know and believe that 
Vol. 1. : 


there is one only God, who made and preserveth all things : 4. 
But our assurance is an act of knowledge, participating of faith 
and internal sense or knowledge reflect. For divine faith saith, 
" He that believeth is justified, and shall be saved." Internal 
sense and knowledge of ourselves saith, ' But I believe.' Reason^ 
or discursive knowledge saith, 'Therefore I am justified and shall 
be saved.' 

Only I must advise you, that you be not troubled when you meet 
with that which is contrary to this in any great divines : for it is 
only our former divines, whose judgments were partly hurt by hot 
disputations with the Papists herein, and partly not come to that 
maturity as others since then have had opportunity to do. And 
therefore in their expositions of the creed, and such like passages 
in the text, they eagerly insist on it, that when we say, ' We be- 
believe the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting,' every man is to 
profess that he believeth that his own sins are forgiven, and he shall 
have life everlasting himself. But our later divines, and especial- 
ly the English, and most especially those that deal most in practi- 
cal, do see the mistake, and lay down the same doctrine which I 
teach you here ; God bids us not believe as from him, more 
than he hath revealed. But only one of the propositions is reveal- 
ed by God's testimony, " He that believeth shall be saved." But 
it is no where written that you do believe, nor that you shall be sav- 
ed ; nor any thing equivalent. And therefore you are not com- 
manded to believe either of these. How the Spirit revealeth these, 
I have fully told you already. In our creed therefore we do pro- 
fess to believe remission of sins to be purchased by Christ's death, 
and in his power to give, and given in his Gospel to all, on condi- 
tion of believing in Christ himself for remission : but not to believe 
that our own sins are actually and fully pardoned. 

My end in telling you this again (which I have told you else- 
where) is this, That you may not think (as I find abundance of 
poor troubled souls do) that faith (much less justifying faith) is a 
believing that you have true grace, and shall be saved ; and so fall 
a condemning yourself unjustly every time that you doubt of your 
own sincerity, and think that so much as you doubt of this, so much 
unbelief you have : and so many poor souls complain that they have 


no faith, or but little, and that they cannot helieve, because they 
believe not their own faith to be sincere : and when they wholly 
judge themselves unsanctified, then they call that desperation, 
which they think to a sin inconsistent with true grace. These are 
dangerous errors, all arising from that one error which the heat of 
contention did carry some good men to, that faith is a belief that 
our sins are forgiven by Christ. Indeed all men are bound to ap- 
ply Christ and the promise to themselves. But that application 
consisteth in a belief that this promise is true, as belonging to all, 
and so to me, and then in acceptance of Christ and his benefits as 
an offered gift ; and after this, in trusting on him for the full per- 
formance of this promise. Hence therefore you may best see what 
unbelief and desperation are, and how far men may charge them- 
selves with them. When you doubt whether the promise be true, or 
when you refuse to accept Christ and his benefits offered in it, and 
consequently to trust him as one that is able and willing to save you', if 
you do assent to his truth, and accept him, this is unbelief. But if 
you do believe the truth of the Gospel, and are heartily willing to 
accept Christ as offered in it, and only doubt whether your belief 
and acceptance of him be sincere, and so whether you shall be sav- 
ed ; this is not unbelief, but ignorance of your own sincerity and its 
consequents. Nay, and though that affiance be wanting, which is 
a part of faith, yet it is but an hindering of the exercise of it, for 
want of a necessary concomitant condition ; for the grace of affi- 
ance is in the habit, and virtually is there, so that it is not formally 
distrust or unbelief any more, than your not trusting God in your 
sleep is distrust. If a friend do promise to give you an hundred 
pounds, on condition that you thankfully accept it : if you now do 
believe him, and do thankfully accept it ; but yet through some 
vain scruple shall think, my thankfulness is so small, that it is not 
sincere, and therefore I doubt I do not perform his condition, and 
so shall never have the gift j in this case now you do believe your 
friend, and you do not distrust him properly ; but you distrust 
yourself, that you perform not the condition ; and this hindereth 
the exercise of that confidence or affiance in your friend which is 
habitually and virtually in you. Just so is it in our present case. 
The same may be said of desperation, which is a privation of 


hope ; when we have believed the truth of the Gospel, and ac- 
cepted Christ offered, we are then bound to hope that God will 
give us the benefits promised : so hope is nothing but a desirous 
expectation of the good so promised and believed. Now if you 
begin to distrust whether God will make good his promise or no, 
either thinking that it is not true, or he is not able, or hath changed 
his mind since the making of it, and on these grounds you let go* 
your hopes, this is despair. If because that Christ seems to delay 
his coming, we should say, I have waited in hope till now, but now 
I am out Of hope that ever Christ will come to judge the world, and 
glorify believers, I will expect it no longer ; this is despair. And 
it hath its several degrees more or less as unbelief hath. Indee<l 
the schoolmen say that affiance is nothing but strengthened hope. 
Affiance in the properest sense is the same in substance as hope ; 
only it more cxpresseth a respect to the promise and promiser, and 
indeed is faith and hope expressed in one word. So that what I 
said before of distrust is true of despair. If you do continue to be- 
lieve the truth of the Gospel, and particularly of Christ's coming 
and glorifying his saints, and yet you think he will not glorify you,. 
because you think that you are not a true believer or saint; this is 
not desperation in the proper sense. For desperation is the priva- 
tion of hope, where the formal cause, the heart and life of it, is 
wanting. But you have here hope in the habit, and virtually do 
hope in Christ ; but the act of it, as to your own particular salva- 
tion is hindered, upon an accidental mistake. In the foremention . 
ed example, if your friend promise to give you an hundred pounds 
on condition of your thankful acceptance, and promiseth to come 
at such an hour and bring it you : if now you stay till the hour be 
almost come, and then say, ' I am out of hope of his coming 
now ; he hath broke his word ;' this is properly a despair in your 
friend. But if you only think that you have overstaid the time, 
and that it is past, and therefore you shall not have the gift, this 
may be called a despair of the event, and a despair in yourself, but 
not properly a despair of your friend ; only the act of hoping in 
God is hindered, as is said. So it is in our present case. Men 
may be said to despair of their salvation, and to despair in them- 
selves, hut not to despair in God, except the formal cause of such 


despair were there present ; and except they are drawn to it, by 
not believing his truth and faithfulness. The true nature of despair 
is expressed in that of the apostles, Luke xxiv. 21. "We trusted 
that that was he that should redeem Israel ;" only it was but imperfect 
despair, else it had been damnable. Their hopes were shaken. 
And for my part, I am persuaded that it is only this proper despair 
in God, which is the damnable desperation, which is threatened in 
the Scripture, and not the former. And that if a poor soul should 
go out of this world without any actual hope of his own salvation, 
merely because he thinks that he is no true believer, that this soul 
may be saved, and prove a true believer for all this. Alas ! the 
great sin that God threateneth is our distrust of his faithfulness, 
and not the doubting of our own sincerity and distrust of ourselves. 
We have great reason to be very jealous of our own hearts, as 
knowing them to be deceitful above all things, and desperately 
wicked, who can know them ? But we have no reason to be jeal- 
ous of God. Where find you in Scripture that any is condemned 
ior hard thoughts of themselves, or for not knowing themselves to 
have true grace, and for thinking they had none ? It is true, un- 
belief in God's promise is that men are condemned for, even that 
sin which is an aversion of the soul from God. But perhaps you 
will ask, Is doubting of our own sincerity and salvation no sin ? I 
answer, doubting is either taken in opposition to believing, or in op- 
position to knowing, or to conjecturing. 

1 . Doubting as it signifieth only a not believing that our sins are 
pardoned, and we shall be saved, is no sin, (still remember that I 
take believing in the strict, proper sense of the crediting of a di- 
vine testimony or assertion.) For God bath no where commanded 
us ordinarily to believe either of these. I say ordinarily (as I did 
in the proposition before) because when Christ was on earth he told 
a man personally, " Thy sins are forgiven thee j" (whether he 
meant only as to the present disease inflicted for them, or also all 
punishment temporal and eternal, I will not now discuss) so Na- 
than from God told David, his sin was forgiven. But these were 
privileges only to these persons, and not common to all. God hath 
no where said, either that all men's sins are actually forgiven ; or 
that yours or mine by name are forgiven : but only that all that be- 


lieve are forgiven, which supposeth them to believe before they are 
forgiven, and that they may be forgiven, and therefore it is not 
true that they are forgiven j before they believe. And therefore this 
faith is not a believing that they are forgiven, but a believing on 
Christ for forgiveness. Else men must believe an untruth, to make 
it become true by their believing it. 

2. But now doubting, as it is opposed to the knowledge of our 
remission and justification, in those that are justified is a sin. For 
it can be no sin for an unjustified person to know that he is unjustifi- 
ed. But then I pray you mark how far it is a sin in the godly, and 
what manner of sin it is. 1. It is a sin, as it is part of our natural 
ignorance, and original depravedness of our understandings, or a 
fruit hereof, and of our strangeness to our own hearts, and of 
their deep deceitfulness, confusion, mutability, or negligence. 2. 
And further, as all these are increased by long custom in sinning, 
and so the discerning of our states is become more difficult, it is 
yet a greater sin. 3. It is a sin as it is the fruit of any particular 
sin by which we have obscured our own graces, and provoked God 
to hide his face from us. And so all ignorance of any truth which 
we ought to know, is a sin ; so the ignorance of our own regenera- 
tion and sincerity is a sin, because we ought to know it. But this 
is so far from being the great condemning sin of unbelief which 
Christ threateneth in his new law, that it is none of the greatest or 
most heinous sort of sins, but the infirmity in some measure of every 

And let me further acquaint you with this difference between 
these doubtings, and your fears and sorrows that follow thereupon. 
Though the doubtings itself be your sin, yet I suppose that the 
fears, and sorrows, and cares that follow it may be your duty. Yet 
respectively, and by remote participation, even these also must be 
acknowledged sinful; even as our prayers for that pardon which we 
have received and knew it not, may by remote participation be 
called sinful ; because if we had not sinned we should not have 
been ignorant of our own hearts. And if we had not been igno- 
rant, we should not have doubted of the least true grace we have. 
And if we had not so doubted, we should not have feared, or sor- 
rowed, or prayed for that remission in that sense. But yet, though 


these may be called sinful, as they come from sin, yet more nearly 
and in themselves considered, on supposition of our present estate, 
they are all duties, and great duties necessary to our salvation. 
You may say to a thief that begs for pardon, ' If thou hadst not 
stolen, thou hadst not need to have begged pardon.' Yet sup- 
posing that he hath stolen, it may be his duty to beg pardon. And 
so you may say to a poor, fearing soul, that fears damnation and 
God's wrath, ' Thou needst not fear if thou hadst not sinned.' But 
when he hath once by sin obscured his evidences, and necessitated 
doubting, then is fear, and sorrow, and praying for justification and 
pardon, his duty, and indeed not fitly to be called sin, but rather a 
fruit of sin in one respect (and so hath some participation in it) but 
a fruit of the Spirit, and of Christ's command in another respect, 
and so a necessary duty. For else we should say, that it is a sin 
to repent and believe in Christ, and to love him as our Redeemer ; 
for you may say to any sinner, 'Thou needst not to have repented, 
believed in a Redeemer, &c. but for thy sin ;' yet I hope none 
will say, that so doing is properly a sin, though doing them defect- 
ively is. God doth not will and approve of it, that any soul that 
can see no signs of grace and sincerity in itself should yet be as 
confident, and merry, and careless, as if they were certain that all 
were well. God would not have men doubt of his love, and yet 
make light of it. This is a contempt of him. Else what should 
poor, carnal sinners do that find themselves unsanctified. No, nor 
doth God expect that any man should judge of himself better than 
he hath evidence to warrant such a judgment. But that every man 
should " prove his own work, that so he may have rejoicing in him- 
self alone, and not in another. For he that thinketh he is some- 
thing when he is nothing, deceiveth himself;" Gal. vi. 3 — 6. And 
no man should be a self-deceiver, especially in a case of such in- 
expressible consequence. It is therefore a most desperate doctrine of 
the Antinomians (as most of theirs are) that all men ought to be- 
lieve God's special love to them, and their own justification. And 
that they are justified by believing that they were justified before, 
and that no man ought to question his faith (saith Saltmarsh, any 
more than to question Christ.) And that all fears of our damna- 
ion, or not being justified after this believing, are sin ; and those 


that persuade to them, are preachers of the law. (How punctually 
do the most profane, ungodly people, hold most points of the An- 
tinomian belief, though they never knew that sect by name !) God 
commandeth no man to believe more than is true, nor immediately 
to cast away their doubts and fears, but to overcome them in an or- 
derly methodical way ; that is, using God's means till their graces 
become more discernible, and their understandings more clear and 
fit to discern them, that so we may have assurance of their sincer- 
ity, and thereby of our justification, adoption, and right to glo- 
rification. " Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left ot 
entering into his rest any of us should seem to come short of it ;" 
Heb. iv. 1 . " Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before him 
in trembling ; kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish ;" Psal. 
ii. 11. " Work out your salvation with fear and trembling;" Phil. 
ii. 12. Not only, 1. A reverent fear of God's majesty. 2. And 
a filial fear of offending him. 3. And an awful fear of his judg- 
ments, when we see them executed on others, and hear them 
threatened. 4. And a filial fear of temporal chastisements are 
lawful and our duty ; but also, 5. A fear of damnation exciting to 
most careful importunity to escape it; whenever we have so far ob- 
scured our evidences, as to see no strong probability of our sincer- 
ity in the faith, and so of our salvation. The sum of my speech 
therefore is this : Do not think that all your fears of God's wrath 
are your sins ; much of them is your great duty. Do you not feel 
that God made these fears at your first conversion, the first and a 
principal means of your recovery ? To drive you to a serious con- 
sideration of your state and ways, and to look after Christ with more 
longing and estimation? And to use the means with more resolu- 
tion and diligence? Have not these fears been chief preservers 
of your diligence and integrity ever since ? I know love should do 
more than it doth with us all. But if we had not daily use for 
both (love and fear) God would not, 1. Have planted them both 
in our natures. 2. And have renewed them both by regenerating 
grace. 3. And have put into his word the objects to move both, 
{viz. threatenings as well as promises.) That fear of God which 
is the beginning of wisdom, includeth the fear of his threatened 
wrath. I could say abundance more to prove this, that I know as 


to you it is needless for conviction of it ; but remember the use of 
it. Do not put the name of unbelief upon all your fears of God's 
displeasure. Much less should you presently conclude that you 
have no faith, and that you cannot believe, because of these fears. 
You may have much faith in the midst of these fears j and God 
may make them preservers of your faith, by quickening you up to 
those means that must maintain it, and by keeping you from those 
evils that would be as a worm at the root of it, and eat out its pre- 
cious strength and life. Security is no friend to faith, but a more 
deadly enemy than fear itself. 

Object. • Then Cain and Judas sinned not by despairing, or at 
least not damnably.' 

An$w. 1. They despaired not only of themselves, and of the 
event of their salvation, but also of God ; of his power or goodness, 
and promise, and the sufficiency of any satisfaction of Christ. 
Their infidelity was the root of their despair. 2. Far it is from me 
to say or think that you should despair of the event, or that it is no 
sin ; yea, or that you should cherish causeless and excessive jeal- 
ousies and fears. Take heed of all fears that drive you from God, 
or that distract or weaken your spirit, or disable you from duty, or 
drown your love to God, and delight in him, and destroy your ap- 
prehensions of God's loveliness and compassion, and raise black, 
and hard, and unworthy thoughts of God in your mind. Again, I 
entreat you, avoid and abhor all such fears. But if you find in you 
the fears of godly jealousy of your own heart, and such moderated 
fears of the wrath of God, which banish security, presumption, and 
boldness in sinning, and are (as Dr. Sibbs calls them) the awe- 
band of your soul ; and make you fly to the merits and bosom of 
the Lord Jesus, as the affrighted child to the lap of the mother, 
and as the man-slayer under the law to the city of refuge, and as a 
man pursued by a lion, to his sanctuary or hold j do not think you 
have no faith, bscause you have these fears, but moderate them by 
faith and love, and then thank God for them. Indeed perfect love 
(which will be in heaven when all is perfected) will cast out this 
fear ; and so it will do sorrow and care, and prayer and means. 
But see you lay not these by till perfect love cast them out. 
See Jer. v. 22, 23. Heb. xii. two last verses. " Wherefore we 

Vol. I. 49 


receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us serve God ac- 
ceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a con- 
suming fire." 

I am sensible that I am too large on these foregoing heads ; 
I will purposely shorteathe rest, lest I weary you. 

Direct. XIX. Further understand, ' That those few who do at- 
tain to assurance, have it not either perfectly or constantly (for the 
most part) but mixed with imperfection, and oft clouded and inter- 

That the highest assurance on earth is imperfect, I have showed 
you elsewhere. If we be imperfect, and our faith imperfect, and 
the knowledge of our own hearts imperfect, and all our evidences 
and graces imperfect j then our assurance must needs be imper- 
fect also. To dream of perfection on earth, is to dream of heaven 
on earth. And if assurance may be here perfect, why not all our 
graces? Even when all doubtings are overcome, yet is assurance 
far short of the highest degree. 

Besides, that measure of assurance which godly men do partake 
of, hath here its many sad interruptions, in the most. Upon the 
prevalency of temptations, and the hidings of God's face, their 
souls are oft left in a state of sadness, that were but lately in the 
arms of Christ. How fully might this be proved from the exam- 
ples of Job, David, Jeremy, and others in Scripture ? And much 
more abundantly by the daily complaints and examples of the best 
of God's people now living among us. As there is no perfect even- 
ness to be expected in our obedience while we are on earth, so 
neither will there be any constant or perfect evenness in our com- 
forts. He that hath life in one duty, is cold in the next. And 
therefore he that hath much joy in one duty, hath little in the next. 
Yea, perhaps duty may but occasion the renewal of his sorrows ; that 
the soul who before felt not its own burden at a sermon, or in prayer, 
or holy meditation, which were wont to revive him, now seems to 
feel his miseries to be multiplied. The time was once with David, 
when thoughts of God were sweet to him, and he could say, " In 
the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my 
soul." And yet he saw the time also when he remembered God 
and was troubled ; he complained, and his spirit was overwhelmed. 


God so held his eyes waking, that he was troubled and could not 
speak. He considered the days of old, and the years of ancient 
time ; he called to remembrance his song in the night, he com- 
muned with his own heart, and his spirit made diligent search. 
° Will the Lord (saith he) cast off forever? And will he be favorable 
no more ? Is his mercy [clean gone forever ? Doth his promise fail for 
evermore ? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger 
shut up his lender mercy ?" Was not this a low ebb, and a sad case 
that David was in ? Till at last he saw, this was his infirmity ; Psal. 
Ixxii. 1 — 10. Had David no former experiences to remind ? No ar- 
guments of comfort to consider of ? Yes, but there is at such a 
season an incapacity to improve them. There is not only a want 
of comfort, but a kind of averseness from it. The soul bendeth 
itself to break its own peace, and to put away comfort far from it. 
So saith he in ver. 2. " My soul refuseth to be comforted." In 
such cases men are witty to argue themselves into distress ; that it 
is hard for one that would comfort them to answer them ; and they 
are witty in repelling all the arguments of comfort that you can of- 
fer them ; so that it is hard to fasten any thing on them. They 
have a weak wilfulness against their own consolations. 

Seeing then that best have such storms and sad interruptions, 
do not you wonder or think your case strange if it be so with you ? 
Would you speed better than the best ? Long for heaven then, 
where only is joy without sorrow, and everlasting rest without in- 

Direct. XX. Let me also give you this warning, « That you 
must never expect so much assurance on earth, as shall set you 
above the possibility of the loss of heaven ; or above all apprehen- 
sions of real danger of your miscarrying.' 

I conceive this advertisement to be of great necessity. But I 
must first tell you the meaning, and then the reasons of it. Only 
I am sorry that I know not how to express it fully, but in school- 
terms, which are not so familiar to you. That which shall 
certainly come to pass, we call a thing future. That which may 
and can be done we call possible. All things are not future which 
are possible. God can do more than he hath done or will do. He 
could have made more worlds, and so more were possible than 


were future. Moreover a thing is said to be possible, in reference 
to some power which can accomplish it ; whether it be God's power 
or angel's or man's. God hath decreed that none of his elect shall 
finally or totally fall away and perish ; and therefore their so fall- 
ing and perishing is not future ; that is, it is a thing that shall nev- 
er come to pass. But God never decreed that it should be utter- 
ly impossible, and therefore it still remaineth possible, though it 
shall never come to pass. 

Object. * But it is said, ' They shall deceive, if it were possible, 
the very elect.' 

Jlnsw. A most comfortable place, which many oppposers of 
election and free grace do in vain seek to obscure. But let me 
tell you for the right understanding of it, That as I said, possi- 
ble and impossible are relative terms, and have relation to the pow- 
er of some agent, as proportioned to the thing to be done. Now 
this text speaks only of the power of false Christs, and false pro- 
phets and the devil by them. Their power of deceiving is exceeding 
great, but not great enough to deceive the elect ; which is true in 
two respects, 1. Because the elect are guided and fortified by 
God's Spirit. 2. Because seducers work not efficiently, but final- 
ly, by propounding objects ; or by a moral, improper efficiency 
only. All their seducement cannot force or necessitate us to be de- 
ceived by them. But though it be impossible to them to do it, 
yet it is possible to God to permit (which yet he never will,) and 
so possible for ourselves to be our own deceivers, or to give de- 
ceivers strength against us, by a wilful receiving of their poisoned 
baits. 3. Besides Christ spoke not in Aristotle's school, but among 
the vulgar, where words must be used in the common sense, or 
else they will not be understood. And the vulgar use to call that 
impossible which shall never come to pass. 

There is a consequential impossibility of the event, because it is 
directly impossible that God should be mutable or deceived j even 
as contingents may be consequentially and accidentally necessary. 
But in its own nature, alas our apostacy is more than possible. 

And indeed when we say that it is possible or impossible for a 
man to sin or fall away, there is some degree of impropriety in the 
terms, because possible and impossible are terms properly relating 


to some power apportioned to a work ; but sinning and falling away 
thereby, are the consequents of impotency, and not the effects of 
power ; except we speak of the natural act, wherein the sin abid- 
eth. But this must be borne with, for want of a fitter word to ex- 
press our meaning by. But I will leave these things which are not 
fit for you, and desire you to leave them and overpass them, if you 
understand them not. 

I here told you also, that you must not look to be above all 
apprehension of danger of your miscarrying. The grounds of this 
are these : 1. Because as is said, our miscarrying remaineth still 
possible. 2. Because the perfect, certain knowledge of our elec- 
tion, and that we shall not fall away, is proper to God only ; we 
have ourselves but a defective, interrupted assurance of it. 3. The 
covenant gives us salvation but on condition of our perseverance, 
and perseverance on condition that we quench not the Spirit, which 
we shall do if we lose the apprehension of our danger. 4. Ac- 
cordingly there is a connexion in our assurance, between all the 
several causes of our salvation, and necessaries thereto ; whereof the 
apprehension of danger is one. We are sure we shall be saved, if 
we be sure to persevere ; else not. We are sure to persevere, if 
we be sure faithfully to resist temptations. We can be no surer of 
faithful resisting of temptations, than we are sure to be kept in an 
apprehension of our danger. 

I still say therefore, that the doctrine of Antinomians is the most 
ready way to apostacy and perdition ; and no wonder if it lead to 
licentiousness and scandals, which our eyes have seen to be its 
genuine fruits ! They cry down the weakness, unbelief, and folly 
of poor Christians, that will apprehend themselves in danger of 
falling away, and so live in fear, after they are once justified ; and 
that if they fall into sin (as whoredom, drunkenness, murder, per- 
jury, destroying the ministry, and expelling the Gospel, &c), will 
presently question or fear their estates and their justification. Such 
like passages I lately read in some printed sermons of one of my 
ancient acquaintance, who would never have come to that pass 
that he is at now, if his judgment and humility had been as great 
as his zeal. I entreat you therefore never to expect such an as- 
surance as shall extinguish all your apprehensions of danger. He 


that sees not the danger, is nearest it, and likely to fall into it. 
Only he that seeth and apprehendeth it, is likely to avoid it. He 
that seeth no danger of falling away, is in greatest danger of it. I 
doubt not but that is the cause of the seditions, scandals, heresies, 
blood-guiltliness, destroyers of the churches of Christ, and most 
horrid apostacies, hypocrisy, and wickedness, which these late 
times have been guilty of; and they apprehended not the danger of 
ever coming into such a state, or ever doing such things, but would 
have said, ' Am I a dog ?' to him that should have foretold them 
what is come to pass. Wonderful ! that men should be so blinded 
by false doctrine, as not to know that the apprehension of danger 
is made in the very fabrication of the nature of man, to be the very 
engine to move his soul in all ways of self-preservation and salva- 
tion ! Yea, it is that very supposed principle upon which all the 
government of the world, and the laws and order of every nation, 
are grounded. We could not keep the very brutes from tearing 
us in pieces, but for their own safety, because they apprehended 
themselves to be in danger by it. The fear of man is that restrain- 
eth them. But for this, no man's life would be in any safety, for 
every malicious man would be a murderer. He that feareth not the 
loss of his own life, is master of another man's. Do these men 
think that the apprehension of bodily dangers may carry them on 
through all undertakings, and be the potent string of most of their 
actions, and warrant all those courses that else would be unwar- 
rantable, so that they dare plead necessity to warrant those fearful 
things which by extenuating language (like Saul's) are called ir- 
regularities ! And yet that it is unlawful or unmeet for a Christian, 
yea the weakest Christian, to live in any apprehensions of danger 
to their soul : either danger of sinning, or falling away, or per- 
ishing for ever ? No wonder if such do sin, and fall away and per- 
ish. Would these men have fought well by sea or land, if they had 
apprehended no danger ? Would the earth have been so covered 
with carcasses, and with blood (yea, even of saints) and the world 
filled with the doleful calamities that accompanied and have follow- 
ed, if there had been no apprehensions of danger ? Would they 
take physic when they are sick ? Would they avoid fire or water, 
or thieves, but through an apprehension of danger ? Let them talk 


what they please, if ever they escape hell, without a deep appre- 
hension of the danger of it, it must be in a way not known by 
Scripture, or by nature. Sure I am Paul did tame his body, and 
bring it into subjection, through an apprehension of this danger, 
lest when he had preached to others, himself should be a castaway 
or reprobate? 2 Cor. ix. 27. And Christ himself, whenhebid- 
deth us " fear not them that can kill the body," (whom yet these 
men think it lawful to fear and fight against) yet chargeth us with a 
double charge, to " fear him that is able to destroy both body and 
soul in hell : yea, I say unto you, (saith Christ,) fear him ;" Luke 
xii. 5. What can be plainer ? and to his disciples ? My detesta- 
tion of these destructive Antinomian principles, makes me to run 
out further against them than I intended ; though it were easy more 
abundantly to manifest their hatefulness. But my reasons are 
these : 1. Because the mountebanks are still thrusting in them- 
selves, and impudently proclaiming their own skill, and the excel- 
lency of their remedies for the cure of wounded consciences, and 
the settling of peace ; when indeed their receipts are rank poison, 
gilded with the precious name of Christ, and free grace. 2 . Be- 
cause T would not have your doubtings cured by the devil ; for he 
will but cure one disease with another, and a lesser with a far great- 
er. If he can so cure your fears and doubtings, as to bring you 
into carnal security and presumption, he will lose nothing by the 
cure, and you will get nothing. If he can turn a poor, doubting, 
troubled Christian to be a secure Antinomian, he hath cured the 
smart of a cut finger by casting them into a lethargy, or stupefac- 
tion by his opium. To go to Antinomian receipts to cure a trou- 
bled soul, is as going to a witch to cure the body. 3. I would have 
you sensible of God's goodness to you, in these very troubles that 
you have so long laid under. Your blessed physician knew your 
disease, and the temperature of your soul. Perhaps he saw that 
you were in some danger of being carried away with the honors, 
profits, or treasures of this world; and would have been entangled 
in either covetousness, pride, voluptuousness, or some such despe- 
rate sin. And now by these constant and extraordinary apprehen- 
sions of your danger, these sins have been much kept under, temp- 
tations weakened, and your danger prevented. If you have found 


no such inclinations in yourself, yet God might find them. Had 
it not been far worse for you to have lain so many years in pride, 
sensuality, and forgetfulness of God, and utter neglect of the state 
of your soul, than to have lain so long as you have done in the ap- 
prehensions of your danger ? O love and admire your wise Phy- 
sician ! Little do you know now what he hath been doing for 
you ; nor shall you ever fully know it in this life ; but hereafter 
you shall know it, when your sanctification, and consolation and his 
praises shall be perfected together. 4. If you should for the time 
to come, expect or desire that God should set you out of all appre- 
hension of danger, you know not what it is that you desire. It 
were to desire your own undoing. Only see that you apprehend 
not your danger to be greater than it is ; nor so apprehend it as to 
increase it, by driving you from Christ, but as to prevent it by driv- 
ing you to him. Entertain not fancies and dreams of danger, in- 
stead of right apprehensions. Apprehend your happiness and 
grounds of hope and comfort, and safety in Christ, and let these 
quite exceed your apprehensions of the danger. Look not on it as a 
remediless danger, or as greater than the remedy. Do not con- 
clude that you shall perish in it, and it will swallow you up. But 
only let it make you hold fast on Christ, and keep close to him in 
obedience. Shall I lay open all the matter expressed in this sec- 
tion, by familiar comparison ? 

A king having many subjects and sons, which are all beyond sea, 
or beyond some river, they must needs be brought over to him be- 
fore they can live or reign with him. The river is frozen over at 
the sides, till it come almost to the middle. The foolish children 
are all playing on the ice, where a deceiving enemy enticeth them 
to play on till they come to the deep, where they drop in one by 
one and perish. The eldest son, who is with the father on the other 
side, undertaketh to cast himself into the water, and swim to the 
further side, and break the ice, and swim back with them all that 
will come with him and hold him. The father bids him, ' Bring 
all my subjects with you, if they will come and hold by you ; but 
be sure you fail not to bring my sons.' This is resolved on ; the 
prince casteth himself into the water, and swimmeth to the further 
side. He maketh a way through the ice, and ofiereth all of them 


his safe carriage, if they will accept him to be their bearer and 
helper, and will trust themselves on him, and hold fast by him till 
they come to the further side. Some refuse his help, and think 
he would deceive them, and lead them into the deep, and there 
leave them to perish. Some had rather play on the ice, and will not 
hearken to him. Some dare not venture through the streams, or 
will not endure the coldness of the water. Some waveringly agree 
to him, and hold faintly by his skirt; and when they feel the cold 
water, or are near the deep, or are weary of holding, they lose him ; 
either turning back, or perishing suddenly in the gulf. The child- 
ren are of the same mind with the rest ; but he is resolved to lose 
none of them, and therefore he chargeth them to come with him, 
and tells them fully what a welcome they shall have with their fa- 
ther; and ceaseth not his importunity till he persuade them to con- 
sent. Some of them say, ' How shall we ever get over the river ? 
we shall be drowned by the way.' He tells them, 'I will carry 
you safe over, so you will but hold fast by me. Never fear, 1 
warrant you.' They all lay hold on him, and venture in with him. 
AVhen they are in the midst some are afraid, and cry out, ' We 
shall be drowned.' These he encourageth, and bids them trust 
him ; hold fast, and fear not. Others, when they hear these words, 
that they need not fear, grow so bold and utterly secure, as to 
lose their hold. To these he speaketh in other language, and 
chargeth them to hold fast by him ; for if they lose their hold, they 
will fall into the bottom, and if they stick not to him they will be 
drowned. Some of them upon this warning hold fast ; others are 
so boldly confident of his skill, and good will, and promise, that 
they forget or value not his warning and threatening, but lose their 
hold. Some through laziness and weariness do the like. Where- 
upon he lets them sink till they are almost drowned, and cry out 
for help, " Save us or we perish," and think they are all lost ; and 
then he layeth hold of them and fetcheth them up again, and chid- 
eth them for their bold folly, and biddeth them look better to them- 
selves, and hold faster by him hereafter, if they love them- 
selves. Some at last, through mere weariness and weakness, be- 
fore they can reach the bank, cry out, ' O I am tired, I faint, I shall 
never hold fast till I reach the shore, I shall be drowned.' These 
Vol. I. 50 


he comforteth, and gives them cordials, and holdelh them by the 
hand, and bids them, Despair not : Do your best : Hold fast,' and 
I will help you. And so he brings them all safe to the haven. 

This king is God ; heaven is his habitation ; the subjects are all 
men ; the sons, who are part of the subjects, are the elect ; the 
rest are the non-elect ; the river or sea is the passage of this life. 
The further side is all men's natural, sinful distance and separation 
from God and happiness ; the ice that bears them, is this frail life 
of pleasures, profits, and honors, which delight the flesh; the depth 
unfrozen is hell ; he that enticeth them thither is the devil. The 
eldest son that is sent to bring them over, is Jesus Christ; his com- 
mission and undertaking is, to help all over that refuse not his help; 
and to see that the elect be infallibly recovered and saved. Do 
I need to go over the other particulars ? I know you see my mean- 
ing in thern all : especially that which I aim at is this ; that as 
Paul had a promise of the life of all that were with him in the ship, 
and yet when some would have gone out, he told them, " Except 
these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved," Acts xxvii. 31. (so 
that he makes their apprehension of danger in a possibility of being 
drowned, to be the means of detaining them in the ship till they 
came all safe to land) so Jesus Christ who will infallibly save all 
his elect (they being given him by his Father to be infallibly 
saved) will do it by causing them to hold fast by him through all the 
troubles, and labors, and temptations of this tumultuous, tempestu- 
ous world, and that till they come to land ; and the apprehension 
of their dangers shall be his means to make them hold fast; yet is 
not their safety principally in themselves, but in him : nor is it their 
holding fast by him that is the chief cause of their difference from 
those that perish, but that is his love and resolution to save them. 
And therefore when they do let go their hold, he will not so lose 
them, but will fetch them up again ; only he will not bring thern 
through the sea of danger as you would draw a block through the 
water ; but as men that must hold fast, and be commanded and 
threatened to that end ; and therefore when they lose their hold, 
it is the fear of drowning which they felt themselves near, which 
shall cause them to hold faster the next time ; and this must needs 
be the fear of a possible danger. And for those that perish, they 
have none to blame but themselves. They perish not for want of 


a Savior, but because they would not lay hold on him, and follow 
him through the tempests and waves of trial. Nor can they quar- 
rel at him because he did more for others, and did not as much foe 
them as long as he offered them so sufficient help, that only their 
own wilful refusal was their ruin, and their perdition was of them- 

I conclude therefore, that seeing our salvation is laid by God, up- 
on our faithful holding fast to Christ through all trials and difficul- 
ties, and our holy fear is the means of our holding fast (Christ be- 
ing still the principal cause of our safety,) therefore never look for 
such a certainty of salvation, as shall put you above such fears and 
moderated apprehensions of danger ; for then it is ten to one you 
will lose your hold. You read in Scripture very many warnings 
to take heed lest we fall, and threatenings to those that do fall away 
and draw back. What are all these for, but to excite in us those 
moderate fears, and cares, and holy diligence, which may prevent 
our falling away ? And remember this, that there can be no such 
holy fears, and cares, and diligence, where there is no danger or 
possibility of falling away ; for there can be no act without its 
proper object ; and the object of fear is a possible hurt, at least 
in the apprehension of him that feareth it. No man can fear the 
evil which he knoweth to be impossible. 

Direct. XXI. The next advice which I must give you, is this, 
' Be thankful if you can but reach to a settled peace, and com- 
posure of your mind, and lay not too much on the high raptures and 
feelings of comfort which some do possess : and if ever you enjoy 
such feeling joys, expect not that they should be either long or 

It is the cause of miserable languishing to many a poor soul, to 
have such importunate expectations of such passionate joys, that 
they think without these they have no true comfort at all ; no wit- 
ness of the Spirit, no spirit of adoption, no joy in the Holy Ghost. 
Some think that others have much of this, though they have not, 
and therefore they torment themselves because it is not with them 
as with others ; when, alas, they little know how it goes with oth- 
ers. Some taste of such raptures sometimes themselves have had, 
and therefore when they are gone, they think they are forsaken, 


and that all grace, or peace at least is gone with them. Take heed 
ol these expectations. And to satisfy you, let me tell you these 
two or three things : 1. A settled calm and peace of soul is a great 
mercy, and not to be undervalued as nothing. 2. The highest rap- 
tures and passionate feeling joys, are usually of most doubtful sin- 
cerity. Not that I would have any suspect the sincerity of them 
without cause ; but such passions are not so certain signs of grace, 
as the settled frame of the understanding and will ; nor can we so 
easil) know that they are of the Spirit, and they are liable to more 
questioning, and have in them a greater possibility of deceit. 
Doubtless it is very much that fancy and melancholy, and especial- 
ly a natural weakness and moveable temper will do in such cases. 
Mark whether it be not mostly these three sorts of people that have 
or pretend to have such extraordinary raptures and feelings of joy. 
(I.) Women and others that are most passionate. (2.) Melancholy 
people. (3.) Men that by erroneous opinions have lost almost all 
their understandings in their fancies, and live like men in a con- 
tinual dream. Yet I doubt not but solid men have oft high joys ; 
and more we might all have, if we did our duty. And I would have 
no Christian content himself with a dull quietness of spirit, but by 
all means possible to be much in laboring to rejoice in God and 
raising their souls to heavenly delights. O what lives do we lose, 
which we might enjoy ! But my meaning is this ; look at these 
joys and delights as duties and as mercies, but look not at them as 
marks of trial, so as to place more necessity in them than God hath 
done, or to think them to be ordinary things. If you do but feel 
such a high estimation of Christ and heaven, that you would not 
leave him for all the world, take this for your surest sign. And if 
you have but so much probability or hope of your interest in him, 
that you can think of God as one that loveth you, and can be thank- 
ful to Christ for redeeming you, and are more glad in these hopes 
of your interest in Christ and glory, than if you were owner of all 
the world ; take this for a happy mercy, and a high consolation. 
Yet I mean not that your joy in Christ will be always so sensible, 
as for worldly things ; but it will be more rational, solid and deeper 
at the heart. And that you may know by this, you would not for all 
the pleasure?, honors or profits in the world, be in the same case 


as once you were (supposing that you were converted since you 
had the use of reason and memory,) or at least as you see the un~ 
godly world still lie in. 

3. And let me add this : commonly those that have the highest 
passionate joys, have the saddest lives ; for they have withal, the 
most passionate fears and sorrows. Mark it, whether you find not 
this prove true. And it is partly from God's will in his dispensa- 
tions ; partly from their own necessities, who after their exaltations 
do usually need a prick in the flesh, and a minister of satan to buf- 
fet them, lest they be exalted above measure ; and partly, and 
most commonly ; it is from the temperature of their bodies. Weak, 
passionate women, of moveable spirits and strong affections, when 
they love, they love violently, and when they rejoice, especially in 
such cases, they have most sensible joys, and when any fears arise, 
they have most terrible sorrows. I know it is not so with all of 
that sex ; but mark the same people that usually have the highest 
joys, and see whether at other times they have not the greatest 
troubles. This week they are as at the gates of heaven, and the 
next as at the doors of hell : I am sure, with many it is so. Yet 
it need not be so, if Christians would but look at these high joys 
as duties to be endeavored, and mercies to be valued ; but when 
they will needs judge of their state by them, and think that God is 
gone from them or forsaken them, when they have not such joys, 
then it leaves them in terror and amazement. Like men after a 
flash of lightning, that are left more sensible of the darkness. For 
no wise man can expect that such joys should be a Christian's or- 
dinary state ; or God should so diet us with a continual feast. It 
would neither suit with our health, nor the condition of this pil- 
grimage. Live therefore on your peace of conscience as your or- 
dinary diet ; when this is wanting, know that God appointeth you 
a fast for your health ; and when you have a feast of high joys, 
feed on it and be thankful ; but when they are taken from you, 
gape not after them as the disciples did after Christ at his ascen- 
sion ; but return thankfully to your ordinary diet of peace. 
And remember that these joys, which are now taken from you, 
may so return again. However, there is a place preparing for 
you, where your joys shall be full. 


Direct. XXII. My next Direction is this, ' Spend more of your 
lime and care about your duty than about your comforts : and for 
the exercise and increase of your graces, than for the discovery of 
them : and when you have done all that you can for assurance and 
comfort, you shall find that it will very much depend on your ac- 
tual obedience.' 

This Direction is of as great importance as any that I have yet 
given you ; but I shall say but little of it, because I have spoke of 
it so fully already in my Book of Rest, Part iii. Chap. 8 — 11. My 
reasons for what I here assert are these : 1. Duty goeth in order 
of nature and time, before comfort, as the precept is before the 
promise : comfort is part of the reward, and therefore necessarily 
supposeth the duty. 2. Grace makes men both so ingenious and 
divine, as to consider God's due as well as their own ; and what 
they should do, as well as what they shall have, still remembering 
that our works cannot merit at God's hands. 3. As we must have 
grace before we can know we have it, so ordinarily we must have 
a good measure of grace, before we can so clearly discern it as to 
be certain of it. Small things, I have told you, are next to none, 
and hardly discernible by weak eyes. When all ways in the world 
are tried, it will be found that there is no way so sure for a doubt- 
ing soul to be made certain of the truth of his graces, as to keep 
them in action and get them increased. And it will be found that 
there is no one cause of Christians doubting of the truth of their 
faith, love, hope, repentance, humility, &c. so great or so common 
as the small degree of these graces. Doth not the very language 
of complaining Christians shew this ? One saith, • 1 have no faith ; 
I cannot believe ; I have no love to God ; 1 have no delight in du- 
ty.' Another saith, ' I cannot mourn for sin, my heart was never 
broken ; I cannot patiently bear an injury ; I have no courage in 
opposing sin, &c.' If all these were not in a low and weak degree, 
men could not so ordinarily think they had none. A lively, strong, 
working faith, love, zeal, courage, Stc. would shew themselves, as 
do the highest towers, the greatest mountains, the strongest winds, 
the greatest flames, which will force an observance by their great- 
ness and effects. 4. Consider also that it is more pleasing to God 
to see his people study him and his will directly, than to spend the 


first and chiefcst of their studies about the attaining of comforts to 
themselves. 5. And it is the nature of grace to tend first and chief- 
ly toward God ; and but secondarily to be the evidence of our own 
happiness. We have faith given us principally that we might be- 
lieve, and live by it in daily applications of Christ : we have re- 
pentance, that it might break us off from sin, and bring us back to 
God ; we have love, that we might love God and our Redeemer, 
his saints, and laws, and ways ; we have zeal, that we might be 
quickened in all our holy duties ; and we have obedience, to keep 
us in the way of duty. The- first thing we have to do with these 
graces, is to use them for those holy ends which their nature doth 
express : and then the discerning of them that we may have as- 
surance, followeth after this both in time and dignity. 6. And it 
is a matter of far greater concernment to ourselves to seek after the 
obtainingTof Christ and grace, than after the certain knowledge 
that we have them. You may be saved though you never get as- 
surance here, but you cannot be saved without Christ and grace. 
God hath not made assurance the condition of your salvation. It 
tends indeed exceedingly to your comfort, and a precious mercy 
it is ; but your safety lieth not on it. It is bettero t go sorrowful 
and doubting to heaven, than comfortably to hell. First therefore 
ask what is the condition of salvation and the way to it, and then 
look that you do your best to perform it, and to go that way, and 
then try your performance in its season. 7. Besides, as it is a 
work of far greater moment, so also of quicker dispatch, to believe 
and love Christ truly, than to get assurance that you do truly be- 
lieve and love him. You may believe immediately, (by the help 
of God's grace,) but getting assurance of it may be the work of a 
great part of your life. Let me therefore entreat this one thing of 
you, that when you feel the want of any grace, you would not 
presently bend all your thoughts upon the inquiry, whether it be 
true or no ; but rather say to yourself, ' I see trying is a great and 
difficult, a long and tedious work : I may be this many years about 
it, and possibly be unresolved still. If I should conclude that I 
have no grace, I may be mistaken ; and so I may if I think that I 
have it. I may inquire of friends and ministers long, and yet be 
left in doubt ; it is therefore my surest way to seek presently to ob- 


tain it, if I have it not, and to increase it if I have it. And I am 
certain none of that labor will be lost ; to get more is the way to 
know I have it.' 

But perhaps you will say, ' How should I get more grace ? 
That is a business of greater difficulty than so." I answer, Under- 
stand what I told you before, that as the beginning of grace is in 
your understanding, so the heart and life of it is in your will ; and 
the affections and passionate part are but the fruits and branches. 
If therefore your grace be weak, it is chiefly in an unwillingness to 
yield to Christ, and his word and Spirit. Now, how should an 
unwilling soul be made willing? Why thus, 1. Pray constantly 
as you are able, for a willing mind, and yielding, inclinable heart 
to Christ. 2. Hear constantly those preachers that bend their 
doctrine to inform your understanding of the great necessity and 
excellency of Christ, and grace, and glory ; and to persuade the 
will with the most forcible arguments. A persuading, quickening 
ministry, that helps to excite your graces, and draw up your heart 
to Christ, is more useful than they that spend most of their time 
to persuade you of your sincerity, and give you comfort. 3. But 
especially lay out your thoughts more in the most serious considera- 
tions of those things which tend to breed and feed those particular 
graces which you would have increased. Objects and moving rea- 
sons kept much upon the mind by serious thoughts, are the great 
engine appointed both by nature and by grace, to turn about the 
soul of man. Thoughts are to your soul, as taking in the air, and 
meat and drink to your body. Objects considered, do turn the 
soul into their own nature. Such as are the things that you most 
think and consider of (I mean in pursuance of them,) such will you 
be yourself. Consideration, frequent serious consideration, is God's 
great instrument to convert the soul, and to confirm it ; to get 
grace, and to keep it, and increase it. If any soul perish for want 
of grace, it is ten to one it is mainly for want of frequent and seri- 
ous consideration. That the most of us do languish under such 
weaknesses, and attain to small degrees of grace, is for want of so- 
ber, frequent consideration. We know not how great things this 
would do, if it were but faithfully managed. This then is my ad- 
vice, when you feel so great a want of faith and love (for those be 


the main graces for trial and use,) that you doubt whether you have 
any or none, lay by those doubting thoughts awhile, and presently 
go and set yourself to consider of God's truth, goodness, amiable- 
ness, and kindheartedness to miserable, unworthy sinners ; think 
what he is in himself, and what he is to you, and what he hath done 
for you, and what he will do for you if you will but consent. And 
then think of the vanity of all the childish pleasures of this world ; 
how soon, and in how sad a case they will leave us ; and what silly, 
contemptible things they are, in comparison of the everlasting glory 
of the saints ! By that time you have warmed your soul a little 
with such serious thoughts, you will find your faith and love revive, 
and begin to stir and work within you ; and then you will feel that 
you have faith and love. Only remember what I told you before, 
that the heart and soul of saving faith and love (supposing a belief 
that the Gospel is true,) is all in this one act of willingness and con- 
bent to have Christ as he is offered. Therefore if you doubt of 
your faith and love, it is your own willingness that you doubt of, or 
else you know not what you do. Now methinks, if you took but a 
sobei view of the goodness of God, and the glory of heaven on one 
side, and of the silly, empty, worthless world on the other side ; and 
then ask your heart which it will choose ; and say to yourself, ' O 
my soul, the God of glory offers thee thy choice of dung and van- 
ity for a little time, or of the unconceivable joys of heaven for ever : 
which wilt thou choose ?' I say, methinks the answer of your soul 
should presently resolve you, that you do believe, and that you love 
God above this present world ! For if you can choose him before 
the world, then you are more willing of him than the world : and 
if he have more of your will, for certain that he hath more of your 
faith and love. Use, therefore, instead of doubting of your faith, 
to believe till you put it out of doubt. And if yet you doubt, study 
God and Christ, and glory yet better, and keep those objects by- 
consideration close to your heart, whose nature is to work the heart 
to faith and love. For certainly objects have a mighty power on 
the soul ; and certainly God, and Christ, and grace, and glory, are 
mighty objects ; as able to make a full and deep impression on 
man's soul, as any in the world ; and if they work not, it is not 
through any imperfection in them, but because they be not well ap- 
Vol. 1. 51 


plied, and by consideration held upon the heart, that they may 
work. Perhaps you will say, that meditation is too hard a work 
for you, and that your memory is so weak that you want matter to 
meditate upon ; or if you do meditate on these, yet you feel no 
great motion or alteration on your heart. To this I answer ; if 
you want matter, take the help of some book that will afford you 
matter ; and if you want life in meditation, peruse the most quick- 
ening writings you can get. If you have not better at hand, read 
over (and seriously consider as you read it,) those passages in the 
end of my Book of Rest, which direct you in the exercises of these 
graces, and give you some matter for your meditation to work up- 
on : and remember, that if you can increase the resolved choice of 
your will, you increase your love, though you feel not those affec- 
tionate workings that you desire. 

Let me ask you now whether you have indeed taken this course 
in your doubtings ? If not, how unwisely have you done. Doubt- 
ing is no cure, but actual believing and loving is a cure. If faith 
and love were things that you would fain get, but cannot, then you 
had cause enough to fear, and to lie down and rise up in trouble of 
mind from one year to another. But it is no such matter ; it is so 
far from being beyond your reach or power to have these graces, 
though you would, that they themselves are nothing else but your 
very willingness; at least your willingness to have Christ, is both 
your faith and love. It may be said therefore to be in the power 
of your will, which is nothing else but that actual willingness which 
vou have already. If therefore you are unwilling to have him, 
what makes you complain for want of the sense of his presence, 
and the assurance of his love, and the graces of his Spirit, as you 
frequently do ? It is strange to me, that people should make so 
many complaints to God and men, and spend so many sad hours 
in fears and trouble, and all for want of that which they would not 
have. If you be not willing, be willing now. If you say you can- 
not, do as I have before directed you. One hour's sober, serious 
thoughts of God and the world, of Christ and satan, of sin and holi- 
ness, of heaven and hell, and the differences of them, will do very 
much to make you willing. Yet mistake me not ; though I say you 
may have Christ if you will, and faith and love if you will, and no 


man can truly say, * I would be glad to have Christ (as he is offered) 
but cannot ;' yet this gladness, consent, or willingness which I men- 
tion, is the effect of the special work of the Spirit, and wasnot in your 
power before you had it ; nor is it yet so in your power as to be- 
lieve, without God's further helping you. But he that hath made 
you willing, will not be wanting to maintain your willingness. Though 
I will say to any man, You may have Christ if you will ; yet J will 
say to no man, You can be willing of yourself, or without the spe- 
cial grace of God. 

Nay, let me further ask ; Have you not darkened, buried, or 
weakened your graces, instead of exercising and increasing them, 
even then when you complained for want of assurance of them? 
When you found a want of faith and love, have not you weakened them 
more, and so made them less discernible ? Have you not fed your 
unbelief, and disputed for your doubtings, and taken Satan's part 
against yourself; and (which is far worse) have you never, through 
these doubtings, entertained hard thoughts of God, and presented 
him to your soul, as unwilling to shew you mercy, and in an un- 
lovely, dreadful, hideous shape, fitter to affright you from him, than 
to draw you to him and likelier to provoke your hatred than your 
love ? If you have not done thus, I know too many troubled souls 
that have. And if you have, you have taken a very unlikely way 
to get assurance. If you would have been certain that you loved 
God in sincerity, you should have labored to love him more, till 
you had been certain; and that you might do so, you should have 
kept better thoughts of God in your mind. You will hardly love 
him while you think of him as evil, or at least as hurtful to you. 
Never forgot this rule which I lay you down in the beginning, that 
He that will ever love God, must apprehend him to be good. And 
the more large and deep are our apprehensions of his goodness, 
the more will be our love. For such as God appears to be to men's 
fixed conceivings, such will their affections be to him. For the 
fixed, deep conceptions, or apprehensions of the mind, do lead 
about the soul, and guide the life. 

I conclude therefore with this important and importunate request 
to you, that, Though it be a duty necessary in its time and place, 
to examine ourselves concerning our sincerity, in our several graces 


and duties to God j yet be sure that the first and far greater part of 
your time, and pains, and care, and inquiries, be for the getting and 
increasing of your grace, than for the discerning it ; and to perform 
your duty rightly, than to discern your right performance. And 
when you confer with ministers, or others, that may teach you, see 
that you ask ten times at least, • How should I get or increase my 
faith, my love to Christ, and to his people ?' for once that you 
ask, ' How shall I know that I believe or love ?' Yet so contrary 
hath been, and still is, the practice of most Christians among us in 
this point, that I have heard it twenty times asked, ' How shall I 
know that I truly love the brethren ?' for once that I have heard 
it demanded, ' How should I bring my heart to love them better ? 
And the like I may say of love to Christ himself. 

I should next have spoken of the second part of the Direction, 
How much our assurance and comfort will still depend on our ac- 
tual obedience. But this will fall in* in handling the two or three 
next following Directions. 

Direct. XXIII. My next advice is this, ' Think not those doubts 
and troubles of mind, which are caused and continued by wilful dis- 
obedience, will ever be well healed but by the healing of that dis- 
obedience ; or that the same means must be used, and will suffice 
to the cure of such troubles ; which must be used, and will suffice 
to cure the troubles of a tender conscience, and of an obedient 
Christian, whose trouble is merely through mistakes of their con- 

I will begin with the latter part of this Direction. He that is 
troubled upon mere mistakes, may be quieted upon the removal of 
them. If he understood not the universal extent of Christ's satis- 
faction, or of the covenant or conditional grant of Christ and life in 
him ; and if upon this he be troubled, as thinking that he is not in- 
cluded, the convincing him of his error may suffice to the removal 
of his trouble. If he be troubled through his mistaking the nature 
of true faith, or true love, or other graces, and so think that he hath 
them not, when he hath them, the discovery of his error may be 
the quieting of his soul. The soul that is troubled upon such mis- 
takes, must be tenderly dealt with. Much more they that are dis- 
quieted by groundless fears, or too deep apprehensions of the wrath 


or justice of God, of the evil of sin, and of their unworthiness, and 
for want of fuller apprehensions of the loving kindness of God, and 
the tender, compassionate nature of Christ. We can scarce handle 
such souls too gently. God would have all to be tenderly dealt 
with, that are tender of displeasing and dishonoring him by sin. 
God's own language may teach all ministers what language we 
should use to such, Isa. lvii. 15 — 21. " Thus saith the high and 
lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy ; I dwell 
in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and 
humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the 
heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither 
will I be always wroth. For the spirit should fail before me, and 
the souls which I have made, &c. But the wicked are like the 
troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and 
dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Much 
more tender language may such expect from Christ in the Gospel, 
where is contained a fuller revelation of his grace. If Mary, a 
poor, sinful woman, lie weeping at his feet, and washing them with 
her tears, he hath not the heart to spurn her away ; but openly 
proclaims the forgiveness of her many sins. As soon as ever the 
heart of a sinner is turned from his sins, the heart of Christ is turn- 
ed to him. The very sum of all the Gospel is contained in those 
precious words, which fully express this : " Come unto me all ye 
that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my 
yoke upon you, and learn of me ; for I am meek and lowly in 
heart ; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is 
easy and my burden is light ;" Matt. xi. 2S — 30. When the 
prodigal (Luke xv. 20.) doth once come home to his father, with 
sorrow and shame, confessing his unworthiness, yea, but resolved 
to confess it ; his father preventeth him, and sees him afar off, and 
stays not his coming, but runs and meets him. And when he comes 
to him, he doth not upbraid him with his sins, nor say, Thou rebel, 
why hast thou forsaken me, and preferred harlots and luxury before 
me ? Nay, he doth not so much as frown upon him, but compas- 
sionately falls on his neck and kisseth him. Alas, God knows that 
a poor sinner in this humbled, troubled case, hath burden enough 
on his back already, and indeed more than he is able of himself to 


bear. The sense of his own sinful folly and misery is burden 
enough. If God should add to this his frowns and terrors, and 
should spurn at a poor sinner that lies prostrate at his feet, in tears 
or terrors, who then should be able to stand before him, or to look 
him in the face ? But he will not break the bruised reed ; he will 
not make heavier the burden of a sinner. He calls them to come 
to him for ease and rest, and not to oppress them, or kill them with 
terrors. We have not a king like Itehoboam, that will multiply 
our pressures ; but one whose office it is to break our yokes, and 
loose our bond?, and set us free. When he was a preacher him- 
self on earth, you may gather what doctrines he preached by his 
text, which he chose at one of his first public sermons ; which, as 
you may find in Luke iv. 18, 19. was this, " The Spirit of the 
Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gos- 
pel to the poor ; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted ; to 
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the 
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised ; to preach the accept- 
able year of the Lord." O if a poor, bruised, wounded soul, had 
but heard this sermon from his Saviour's own mouth, what heart- 
meltings would it have caused ? What pangs of love would it have 
raised in him ? You would sure have believed then that the Lord 
is gracious, when " all (that heard him) bare him witness, and won- 
dered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth ;" 
Luke iv. 22. I would desire no more for the comfort of such a 
soul, than to see such a sight, and feel such a feeling as the poor 
penitent prodigal did, when he found himself in the arms of his fa- 
ther, and felt the kisses of his mouth, and was surprised so unex- 
pectedly with such a torrent of love. The soul that hath once seen 
and felt this, would never sure have such hard and doubtful 
thoughts of God, except through ignorance they knew not whose 
arms they were that thus embraced them, or whose voice it was 
that thus bespoke them ; or unless the remembrance of it were 
gone out of their minds. You see then what is God's own lan- 
guage to humbled penitents, and what is the method of his deal- 
ings with them ; and such must be the language and dealing of his 
ministers : they must not wound when Christ would heal ; nor 


make sad the heart that Christ would comfort, and would not have 
made sad ; Ezek. xiii. 22. 

But will this means serve turn, or must the same course be 
taken to remove the sorrows of the wilfully disobedient ? No . 
God takes another course himself, and prescribes another course 
to his ministers; and requires another course from the sinner him- 
self. But still remember who it is that I speak of: it is not the 
ordinary, unavoidable infirmities of the saints that I speak of; such 
as they cannot be rid of, though they fain would ; such as Paul 
speaks of, Rom. vii. 19. " The good that I would do, I do not :" 
and " when I would do good, evil is present with me." And Gal. 
v. 17. " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, &c. so that we can- 
not do the things we would." A true Christian would love God 
more perfectly, and delight in him more abundantly, and bring 
every thought in subjection to his will, and subdue the very rem- 
nants of carnal concupiscence, that there should be no stirrings of 
lust or unjust anger, or worldly desires, or pride within him ; and 
that no vain word might pass his lips : all this he would do, but he 
cannot. Striving against these unavoidable infirmities, is conquer- 

But though we cannot keep under every motion of concupis- 
cence, we can forbear the execution. Anger will stir up provoca- 
tions ; but we may restrain it in degree, that it set us not in a flame, 
and do not much distemper or discompose our minds. And we 
can forbid our tongues all raging, furious, or abusive words in our 
anger ; all cursing, swearing, or reproachful speaking. If an en- 
vious thought against one brother do arise in our hearts, because 
he is preferred before us, we may hate it and repress it, and chide 
our hearts for it, and command our tongues to speak well of him, 
and no evil. Some pride and self-esteem will remain and be stir- 
ring in us, do what we can ; it is a sin so deeply rooted in our cor- 
rupt natures. But yet we can detest it, and resist it, and meet it 
with abhorrence of our self-conceited thoughts, and rejoicings in 
our own reputations and fame, and inward heart-risings against those 
that undervalue us, and stand in the way of our repute ; and we 
may forbear our boasting language, and our contestings for our 
credit, and our excuses of our sins, and our backbitings and secret 


defaming of those that cross us in the way of credit. We m y for- 
bear our quarrels, and estrangements, and dividings from our breth- 
ren, and stiff insisting on our own conceits, and expecting that oth- 
ers should make our judgments their rule, and say and do as we 
would have them, and all dance after our pipe ; all which are the 
effects of inward pride. We cannot, while we are on earth, be 
free from all inordinate love of the world, and the riches and hon- 
ors of it ; but we may so watch against and repress it, as that it shall 
neither be preferred before God, nor draw us to unlawful ways of 
gain, by lying, deceit, and overreaching our brethren ; by stealing, 
unjust or unmerciful dealings; oppressing the poor, and insulting 
over those that are in the way of our thriving, and crushing them 
that would hinder our aspiring designs, and treading them down 
that will not bow to us, and taking revenge of them that have cross- 
ed or disparaged us, or cruelly exacting all our rights and debts of 
the poor, and squeezing the purses of subjects or tenants, or those 
that we bargain with, like a sponge, as long as any thing will come 
out. Yea, we may so far subdue our love of the world, as that it 
shall not hinder us from being merciful to the poor, compassionate 
to our servants and laborers, and bountiful to our power in doing 
good works ; nor yet shut out God's service from our families and 
closets ; nor rob him of our frequent, affectionate thoughts, espe- 
cially on the Lord's day. So for sensuality, or the pleasing of our 
flesh more immediately; we shall never on earth be wholly freed from 
inordinate motions, and temptations, and fleshly desires, and urgent 
inclinations and solicitations to forbidden things. But yet we may 
restrain our appetite by reason, so far that it brings us not to glut- 
tony and drunkenness, and a studying for our bellies, and pamper- 
ing of our flesh, or a taking care for it, and making provision to sat- 
isfy its lusts; Rom. xiii. 14. We may forbear the obeying it, in 
excess of apparel, in indecent, scandalous, or time-wasting recrea- 
tions, in uncleanness, or unchaste speeches or behavior, or the read- 
ing of amorous books and sonnets, or feeding our eyes or thoughts 
on filthy or enticing objects, or otherwise wilfully blowing the fire 
of lust. So also for the performance of duty. We shall never in 
this life be able to hear or read so diligently, and understanding^, 
or affectionately, as we would do ; nor to remember or profit by 


what we hear, as we desire. But yet we can bring ourselves to the 
congregation, and not prefer our ease, or business, or any vain 
thing before God's word and worship, or loathe or despise it, be- 
cause of some weakness in the speaker. And we may in a great 
measure restrain our thoughts from wandering, and force ourselves 
to attend ; and labor when we come home to recal it to mind. 
We cannot call on God so fervently, believingly, or delightfully, as 
we would ; but yet we may do it as sincerely as we can, and do it 
constantly. We cannot instruct our children and servants, and re- 
prove or exhort our neighbors, with that boldness, or love, and 
compassion, and discretion, and meet expressions, as we would ; 
but yet we may do it faithfully and frequently as we are able. 

So that you may see in all this, what sin it is that Paul speaks 
of, Rom. vii. when he saith, When he would do good, evil is pres- 
ent with him ; and that he is led captive to the law of sin, and 
serves the law of sin with his flesh. And Gal. iv. 17. when he 
saith, " We cannot do the things that we would," he speaks not of 
wilful sinning or gross sin, but of unavoidable infirmities; whereby 
also we are too often drawn into a committing of many sins which 
we might avoid (for so the best do.) 

And because you may often read and hear of sins of infirmity, as 
distinguished from other sins, let me here give you notice, that 
this word may be taken in several senses, and that there are three 
several sorts of infirmity in the godly. 

1. There are those sins which a man cannot avoid though he 
would ; which are in the gentlest sense called sins of infirmity * 
Here note, first, that Adam had none such : and socondly, that the 
reason of them is, because, 1. Our reason which should direct, and 
our wills themselves which should command, are both imperfect. 2. 
And our faculties that should be commanded and directed, are by 
sin grown impotent and obstinate, and have contracted a rebelling, 
disobedient disposition. 3. And that degree of grace, which the 
best attain to in this life, is not such as wholly to overcome either 
the imperfection of the guiding and commanding faculty, or the re- 
bellion of the obeying faculties : otherwise if our own wills were 
perfect, and the rebellion of the inferior faculties cured, no man 
could then sav, " The good that I would, I do not, and the evil 

Vol. I. " 52 


that I would not, that I do.' For the will would so fully command, 
that all would obey, and itself being perfect, all would be perfect. 
And therefore in heaven it is and will be so. 

I know philosophers conclude, that all acts of the inferior facul- 
ties are but acts commanded by the will ; it should be so I confess. 
It is the office of the will to command, and the understanding to 
direct, and the rest to obey. But in our state of sinful imperfec- 
tion, the soul is so distempered and corrupted, that the will cannot 
fully rule those faculties that it should rule ; so that it may be said, 
' I would forbear sin, but cannot.' For, 1 . The understanding is 
become a dark, imperfect director. 2. The will is become an 
imperfect receiver of the understanding's directions ; yea, an op- 
poser, as being tainted with the neighborhood of a distempered 
sense. 3. When the will is rectified by grace, it is but in part ; 
and therefore when Paul, or any holy man saith, ' I would do 
good,' and ' I would not do evil,' they mean it not of a perfect 
willingness, but of a sincere ; to wit, that this is the main bent of 
their will, and the resolved prevalent act of it is for good. 4. 
When the will doth command, yet the commanded faculties do re- 
fuse to obey, through an unfitness of impotency and corruption. 
1. The will hath but an imperfect command of the understanding. 
(I mean as to the exercise of the act, in which respect it command- 
ed! it, and not as to the specification of the act.) A man may tru- 
ly and strongly desire to know more, and apprehend things more 
clearly, and yet cannot. 2. The will hath but an imperfect com- 
mand of the fancy or thoughts ; so that a man may truly say, ' I 
would think more frequently, more intensely, and more orderly of 
good, and less of vanity, and yet I cannot.' For objects and pas- 
sions may force the fancy and cogitations in some degree. 3. The 
will hath but an imperfect command of the passions ; so that a 
man may truly say, ' I would not be troubled, or afraid, or grieved, 
or disquieted, or angry, but I cannot choose, and I would mourn 
more for sin, and be more afraid of sinning, and of God's displea- 
sure, and more zealous for God, and more delighted in him, and 
joy more in holy things, but I cannot.' For these passions lie so 
open to the assault of objects, (having the senses for their inlet, 
and the moveable spirits for their seat or instruments) that even 


when the will commands them one way, an object may force them 
in part against the will's command, as we find sensibly in cases of 
fear, and sorrow 01 anger, which we can force a man to whether 
he will or no. And if there be no contradicting object, yet cannot 
the will excite these passions to what height it shall command ; for 
their motion depends as much (and more) on the lively manner of 
representing the object, and the working nature and weight of the 
object represented, and upon the heat and mobility of the spirits, 
and temparature of the body, as upon the command of the will. 
4. Much less can the will command out all vicious habits, and sen- 
sual or corrupt inclinations ; and therefore a true Christian may well 
say in respect of these, that he would be more holy, heavenly, and 
disposed to good, and less to evil, but he cannot. 5. As for com- 
placency and displacency, liking or disliking, love and hatred, so 
far as they are passions, I have spoke of them before : but so far 
as they are the immediate acts of the will (willing and nilling) they 
are not properly said to be commanded by it, but elicited, or acted 
by it ; (wherein, how far it hath power is a most noble question, 
but unfit for this place or your capacity.) And thus you see that 
there are many acts of the soul, beside habits, which the will can- 
not now perfectly command, and so a Christian cannot be what he 
would be, nor do the things that he would. And these are the first 
sort of sins of infirmity. 

If you say, ' Sure these can be no sins, because we are not wil- 
ling of them, and there is no more sin than there is will in it ;' I 
answer, 1. We were in Adam willing of that sin which caused 
them. 2. We are in some degree inclining in our wills to sin, 
though God have that prevalent part and determination, which in 
comparative cases doth denominate them. 3. The understanding 
and will may be most heinously guilty where they do not consent, 
in that they do not more strongly dissent, and more potently and 
rulingly command all the subject faculties ; and so a negation of 
the will's act, or of such a degree of it as is necessary to the regi- 
ment of the sensual part, is a deep guilt and great offence ; and it 
may be said, that there is will in this sin. It is morally or reputa- 
tively voluntary, though not naturally ; because the will doth not 
its office when it should : as a man is guilty of voluntary murder 


of his own child, that stands by and seeth his servant kill him, and 
doth not do his best to hinder him. I would this were better un- 
derstood by some divines ; for I think that the commonest guilt of 
the reason and will in our actual sins, is by omission of the exercise 
of their authority to hinder it ; and that most sins are more brutish, 
as to the true efficient cause, than many imagine ; and yet they 
are human or moral acts too, and the soul nevertheless guilty ; 
because the commanding faculties performed not their office, and 
so are the moral or imputative causes, and so the great culpable 
causes of the fact. But I am drawn nearer to philosophy and 
points beyond your reach than I intended ; a fault that I must be 
still resisting in all my writings, being upon every occurring diffi- 
culty carried to forget my subject, and the capacity of the mean- 
est to whom I write : but what you understand not, pass over, and 
go to the next. 

2. The second kind of sins of infirmity, are, The smaller sort of 
sins, which we may forbear if we will ; that is, If we be actually, 
though not perfectly, yet prevalently willing ; or if our will be de- 
termined to forbear them ; or if the chief part of the will actually 
be for such forbearance. The first sort are called sins of infirmi- 
ty in an absolute sense. These last, I call sins of infirmity in both 
an absolute and comparative sense : that is, both as they proceed 
from our inward corruption, which through the weakness of the 
soul having but little grace, is not fully restrained, and also as they are 
compared with gross sins : and so we may call idle words, and rash 
expressions in our haste, and such like, sins of infirmity, in com- 
parison of murder, perjury, or the like gross sins, which we com- 
monly call crimes or wickedness, when the former we use to call 
but faults. These infirmities are they which the Papists (and some 
learned divines of our own, as Rob. Baronius in his excellent trac- 
tate " De peccat. Mortali et Veniali,") do call venial sins ; some 
of them in a fair and honest sense, viz. Because they are such 
sins as a true Christian may live and die in, though not unre- 
pented or unresisted, yet not subdued so far as to forsake or cease 
from the practice of them, and yet they are pardoned. But other 
Papists call them venial sins in a wicked sense, as if they needed 
no pardon, and deserved not eternal punishment. (And why 


should they call them venial if they need not pardon ?) A justified 
man liveth in the daily practice of some vain thoughts, or the fre- 
quent commission of some other sins, which by his utmost dili- 
gence he might restrain ; but he liveth not in the frequent practice 
of adultery, drunkenness, falsewitnessing, slandering, hating his 
brother, &tc. 

Yet observe, that though the forementioned lesser sins are call- 
ed infirmities, in regard of the matter of them, yet they may be so 
committed in regard of the end and manner of them, as may make 
them crimes or gross sins. As for example, if one should use idle 
words wilfully, resolvedly, without restraint, reluctance or tender- 
ness of conscience, this were gross sinning ; or the nearer it comes 
to this, and the more wilfulness, or neglect, or evil ends there is in 
the smallest forbidden action, the worse it is, and the grosser. 
And observe (of which more anon) that the true bounds or differ- 
ence between gross sins, and those lesser faults, which we call in- 
firmities, cannot be given ; (I think by any man, I am sure not by 
me,) either as to the act itself, to say, just what acts are gross 
sins, and what not ; or else as to the manner of committing them ; 
as to say, just how much of the will must go to make a gross sin ; 
or just how far a man may proceed in the degree of evil intents ; 
or how far in the frequency of sinning, before it must be called a 
gross sin. 

3. The third sort of sins, which may be called sins of infirmity, 
are these last mentioned gross sins themselves, so far as they are 
found in the regenerate : these are gross sins put in opposition to 
to the former sort of infirmities; but our divines use to call them all 
sins of infirmity, in opposition to the sins of unbelievers, who are 
utterly unholy. And they call them sins of infirmity, 1. Because 
the person that committeth them is not dead in sins, as the unre- 
generate are, but only diseased, wounded and infirm. 2. Because 
that they are not committed with so full consent of will, as those of 
the unregenerate are ; but only after much striving, or at least con- 
trary to habitual resolutions, though not against actual. 

Here we are in very great difficulties, and full of controversies : 
some say that these gross sins do extinguish true grace, and are in- 
consistent with it : and that David and Peter were out of the state 


of grace till they did again repent. Others say, that they wore in 
the state of grace, and not at all so liable to condemnation, but that 
if they had died in the act, they had been saved, because "there 
is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus ;" and that 
therefore al! the sins of believers are alike sins of infirmity, pardon- 
ed on the same terms : and therefore as a rash word may be par- 
doned without a particular repentance, so possibly may these gross 
sins. To others this seems dangerous and contrary to Scripture, 
and therefore they would fain find out a way between both ; but 
how to do it clearly and satisfactorily is not easy (at least to me, 
who have been long upon it, but am yet much in the dark in it.) 
I think it is plain that such persons are not totally unsanctified by 
their sin ; I believe that Christ's interest is habitually more in their 
wills than is the interest of the flesh or world, at that very time 
when they are sinning, and so Christ's interest is least as to their 
actual willing ; and so sin prevaileth for that time against the act of 
their faith and love, but not wholly against the prevalent part of the 
habit. And therefore when the shaking wind of that stormy temp- 
tation is over, the soul will return to Christ by repentance, love and 
renewed obedience. But then to know what state he is relatively in, 
this while, as to his justification, and reconciliation, and right to 
glory, is the point of exceeding difficulty. Whether as we distin- 
guish of habitual faith, and love, and obedience, which he hath not 
lost ; and actual, which he hath lost ; so we must make some an- 
swerable distinction of justification (habitual and actual it cannot be) 
into virtual justification which he hath not lost, and actual justifica- 
tion which he hath lost : or into plenary justification (which he hath 
not) and imperfect justification, wanting a further act to make it 
plenary (which may remain.) But still it will be more difficult to 
shew punctually what this imperfect or virtual justification is: and 
most difficult to shew, whether with the loss of actual plenary justi- 
fication, and the loss of a plenary right to heaven, a man's salva- 
tion may consist; that is, whether if he should die in that condi- 
tion, he should be saved or condemned ? Or if it be said, that he 
shall certainly repent, 1 . Yet such a supposition may be put, while 
he vet repenteth not ; for the inquiry into his state, how far there 
is any intercession of his justification, pardon, adoption or right to 


salvation? 2. And whether it can fully be proved that it is impos- 
sible (or that which never was or shall be) for a regenerate man to 
die in the very act of a gross sin (as self-murder or the like?) For 
my part I think God hath purposely left us here in the dark, that we 
may not be too bold in sinning, but may know that whether the 
gross sins of believers be such as destroy their justification and 
the right to glory, prevalently or not, yet certainly they leave them 
in the dark, as to any certainty of their justification or salvation. 

And then more dark is it and impossible to discover, how far a 
man may go in these grosser sins, and yet have the prevalent hab- 
its of grace. As to the former question about the intercession of 
justification, I am somewhat inclinable to think, that the habit of 
faith hath more to do in our justification than I have formerly 
thought, and may as properly be said to be the condition as the 
act : and that as long as a man is (in a prevalent degree) habitually 
a believer, he is not only imperfectly and virtually justified, but so 
far actually justified, that he should be saved, though he were cutoff' 
before he actually repent : and that he being already habitually pen- 
itent, having a hatred of all sin as sin, should be saved if mere want 
of opportunity do the act : and that only those sins do prevent bring 
a man into a state of condemnation, prove him in such, which consist 
not with the habitual preeminence of Christ's interest in our souls, 
above the interest of the flesh and world : and that David's and Pe- 
ter's were such as did consist with the preeminence of Christ's inter- 
est in the habit. But withal, that such gross sins must needs be ob- 
servable, and so the soul that is guilty doth ordinarily know its 
guilt, yea, and think of it : and that it is inconsistent with this ha- 
bitual repentance, not to repent actually as soon as time is afford- 
ed, and the violence of passion is so far allayed, as that the soul 
may recollect itself, and reason have its free use : and that he that 
hath this leisure and opportunity for the free use of reason, and 
yet doth not repent, it is a sign that the interest of the flesh is ha- 
bitually as well as actually stronger than Christ's interest in him. 
I say, in this doubtful case, I am most inclining to judge thus : but 
as I would have no man take this as my resolved judgment, much 
less a certain truth, and least of all, to venture on sin and impeni- 
tency ever the more for such a doubtful opinion, which doth not 


conclude him to be certainly unjustified ; so I am utterly ignorant 
both how long sensual passions may possibly rage, and keep the 
soul from sober consideration : or how far they may interpose in 
the very time of consideration, and frustrate it, and prevail against 
it, and so keep the sinner from actual repenting, or at least, from a 
full ingenuous acknowldgement and bewailing of the sin, which is 
necessary to full repentance ; and how long repentance may be so 
far stifled, as to remain only in some inward grudgings of con- 
science, and trouble of mind, hindered from breaking out into free 
confession (which seemeth to have been David's case long.) Nay, 
it is impossible to know just how long a man may live in the very 
practice of such gross sin, before Christ's habitual interest above 
the flesh be either overthrown, or proved not to be there ; and how 
oft a man that hath true grace may commit such sins : these things 
are undiscernible, besides that none can punctually define a gross 
sin, so as to exclude every degree of infirmities, and include every 
degree of such gross sin. 

Perhaps you will marvel why I run so far in this point : it is both 
to give you as much light as I can, what sins they be which are to 
be called infirmities, and so what sins they be that do forbid that 
gentle, comforting way of cure, when the soul is troubled for them, 
which must be used with those that are troubled more than needs, 
or upon mistakes ; and also to convince you of this weighty truth, 
That our comfort, yea, and assurance, hath a great dependance on 
our actual obedience : yea, so great, that the least obedient sort of 
sincere Christians cannot by ordinary means have any assurance : 
and the most obedient (if other necessaries concur) will have the 
most assurance : and for the middle sort, their assurance will rise 
or fall, ordinarily with their obedience, so that there is no way to 
comfort such offending Christians, but by reducing them to fuller 
obedience by faith and repentance, that so the evidences of their 
justification may be clear, and the great impediments of their as- 
surance and comfort be removed. 

This I will yet make clearer to you by its reasons, and then tell 
you how to apply it to yourself. 

1 . No man can be sure of his salvation or justification, but he 
that is sure of his true faith and love. And no man can be sure 


of his true faith and love, but he that is sure of the sincerity of his 
obedience. For true faith doth ever take God for our great Sove- 
reign, and Christ for our Lord Redeemer, and containeth a cove- 
nant-delivery of a man's self to God and the Redeemer, to be ru- 
led by him, as a subject, child, servant and spouse. This is not 
done sincerely and savingly, unless there be an actual and habitual 
resolution to obey God and the Redeemer, before all creatures, 
and against all temptations that would draw us from him. To obey 
Christ a little and the flesh more, is no true obedience : if the flesh 
can do more with us to draw us to sin, than faith and obedience do 
to keep us from sin, ordinarily, this is no true faith or obedience. 
If Christ have not the sovereignty in the soul, and his interest be 
not the most predominant and potent, we are no true believers. 
Now it is plain, that the interest of the world and flesh doth actu- 
ally prevail, when a man is actually committing a known sin, and 
omitting a known duty ; and then it is certain that habits are known 
but by the acts. And therefore it must needs be that the soul that 
most sinneth, must needs be most in doubt whether the interest of 
Christ or the flesh be predominant, and so whether his obedience 
be true or no ; and so whether he did sincerely take Christ for his 
Sovereign : and that is, whether he be a true believer; for when 
a man is inquiring into the state of his soul, whether he do subject 
himself to Christ as his only Sovereign ; and whether the author- 
ity and love of Christ will do more with him than the temptations 
of the world, flesh and devil : he hath no way to be resolved but 
by feeling the pulse of his own will. And if he say, ' I am willing 
to obey Christ before the flesh,' and yet do actually live in an obe- 
dience to the flesh before Christ, he is deceived in his own will ; 
for this is no saving willingness. A wicked man may have some 
will to obey Christ principally ; but having more will to the contra- 
ry, viz. to please the flesh before Christ, therefore he is wicked still ; 
so that you see in our self-examination, the business is for the 
most part finally resolved into our sincere actual obedience. For 
thus we proceed : we first find, He thatbelieveth and loveth Christ 
sincerely, shall be saved. Then we proceed, He that believeth 
sincerely taketh Christ for his Sovereign. Then, He that truly ta- 
keth Christ for his Sovereign, doth truly resolve to obey him and 
Vol. 1. 53 


his laws, before the world, flesh or devil. Then, He that truly re- 
solveth thus to obey Christ before all, doth sincerely perform his 
resolution, and doth so obey him. For that is no true reso- 
lution ordinarily, that never comes to performance. And here 
we are cast unavoidably to try whether we do perform our resolu- 
tions by actual obedience, before we can sit down with settled 
peace ; much more before we get assurance. Now those that are 
diligent and careful in obeying, and have greatest conquest over 
their corruptions, and do most seldom yield to temptations, but do 
most notably and frequently conquer them, these have the clearest 
discovery of the performance of their resolutions by obedience, 
and consequently the fullest assurance : but they that are oftencst 
overcome by temptations, and yield most to sin, and live most diso- 
bediently, must needs be furthest from assurance of the sincerity of 
their obedience, and consequently of their salvation. 

2. God himself hath plainly made our actual obedience, not on- 
ly a sign of a true faith, but a secondary part of the condition of 
our salvation, as promised in the new covenant. And therefore it 
is as impossible to be saved without it, as without faith, supposing 
that the person have opportunity to obey, in which case only it is 
made necessary, as a condition. This I will but cite several Scrip- 
tures to prove, and leave you to peruse them if you be unsatisfied ; 
Rom. viii. 1 — 14. They that are in Christ Jesus, are they that 
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. " If ye live after the 
flesh ye shall die, but if ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of 
the body ye shall live." " Blessed are they that do his command- 
ments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter 
in by the gate into the city ;" Rev. xxii. 14. " He is become the 
author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him ;" Heb. v. 9. 
"Take my yoke upon you, for it is easy, and my burden, for it is 
light. Learn of me to be meek and lowly, &c. and ye shall find 
rest," &c. ; Matt. xi. 28 — 30. John xvi. 27. Luke xiii. 24. 
Phil. ii. 12. Rom. ii. 7. 10. John xv. 12. 17. xii 21. Matt. 
v. 44. Luke vi. 27. 35. Prov. viii. 17.21. Matt. x. 37. 1 
Tim. vi. 18, 19. 2 Tim. ii. 5. 12. Matt. xxv. 41, 42. James 
ii.21— 24. 26. i. 22. ii. 5. Prov. i. 23. xxviii. 13. Luke 
xiii. 3. 5. Matt. xii. 37. xi. 25,26. vi. 12. 14, 15. 1 John 
i. 9. Acts viii. 22. iii. 19. xxii. 16. Luke vi. 37. 1 Pet. 


iv. 18. i. 2. 22. Rom. vi. 1G. ; with abundance more the like. 
Now when a poor sinner that hath oft fallen into drunkenness, 
railing, strife, envying, &c. shall read that these are the works of 
the flesh, and that for these things' sake the wrath of God cometh 
on the children of disobedience ; and that every man shall be judg- 
ed according to his works, and according to what he hath done 
in the flesh ; and that they that do such things shall not inherit the 
kingdom of God ; it cannot be but that his assurance of salvation 
must needs have so great a dependance on his obedience, as that 
these sins will diminish it. When he reads Rom. vi. 16., "Hi: 
servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of 
obedience unto righteousness," he must needs think, how such a 
lime, and such a time, he obeyed sin ; and the oftener and the more 
wilfully he did it, the more doubtful will his case be ; especially if 
he be yet in a sinful course, which he might avoid, whether of 
gross sin, or of any wilful sin, it cannot be but this will obscure the 
evidence of his obedience. Men cannot judge beyond evidence ; 
and he that hath not the evidence of his true obedience, hath not 
the evidence of the sincerity of his faith. 

3. Moreover, assurance and comfort are God's gifts, and without 
his gracious aid we cannot attain them. But God will not give 
such gifts to his children, while they stand out in disobedience, but 
when they carefully please him. Paternal justice requires this. 

4. And it would do them abundance of hurt, and God much dis- 
honor, if he should either tell them just how oft, or how far they 
may sin, and yet be saved ; or yet should keep up their peace and 
comforts, as well in their greatest disobedience, as in their tenderest 
careful walking with him. But these things I spoke of before, and 
lormerly elsewhere. 

You see then, that though some obedient, tender Christians 
may yet on several occasions be deprived of assurance ; yet ordi- 
narily no other but they have assurance ; and that assurance and 
comfort will rise and fall with obedience. 

And for all the Antinomian objections against this, as if it were a 
leading men to their own righteousness from Christ, I refer }ou to 
the twenty arguments which I before laid you down, to prove that 
we may and must fetch our assurance and comfort from our own 


works and graces ; and so from our own evangelical righteousness, 
which is subordinate to Christ's righteousness, (which he speaks of, 
Matt. xxv. last, and in forty places mo;e) though we must have no 
thoughts of a legal righteousness (according to the law of works or 
ceremonies) in ourselves. They may as well say, that a woman 
doth forsake her husband, because she comforteth herself in this* 
that she hath not forsaken him, or been false and unchaste, thence 
gathering that he will not give her a bill of divorce. Or that a ser- 
vant forsakes his master, or a subject his prince, or a parent is for- 
saken by his child ; because they comfort themselves in their obe- 
dience and loyalty, gathering thence that they are not flat rebels, 
and shall not be used as rebels. Or that any that enter covenant 
with superiors do forsake them, because they comfort themselves 
in their keeping covenant, as a sign that the covenant shall be kept 
with them : all these are as wise collections, as to gather, that a 
man forsakes Christ and his righteousness, and setteth up his own 
instead of it, because he looks at his not forsaking, refusing and 
vilifying of Christ, his love and faithful obedience to Christ, as com- 
fortable signs that Christ will not forsake and reject him. Do these 
men think that a rebel may have the love of his prince, and as 
much comfort from him as a loyal subject? Or a whorish woman 
have as much love and comfort from her husband, as a faithful wife ? 
Or a stubborn, rebellious son or servant have as much love and 
comfort from their father or mother as the dutiful ? If there be so 
near a relation as hitherto we have supposed, between a sovereign 
and subjection to him, and a husband and marriage-faithfulness to 
him, and a master and service to him, and a father and loving obe- 
dience to him, it is strange that men should suppose such a strange 
opposition, as these men do. Certainly God doth not so, when he 
saith, " If I be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master 
where is my fear?" Mai. i. 6. And Isaiah i. 3, 4. "Hear O 
heavens, and give ear, O earth ; for the Lord hath spoken, I have 
nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against 
me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but 
Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful na- 
tion, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children 
that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have pro- 


vakeel the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away back- 
ward." And Jer. iii. 19. " Thou shah eall me, My father, and 
shalt not depart away from me." And 2 Tim. ii. 19. "The 
Lord knoweih who are his. And let him that nameth the name of 
Christ depart from iniquity." And Psalm lxvi. 18. "If I delight 
in iniquity, or regard it, God will not hear my prayers," saith Da- 
vid himself. Doubtless Paul did not forsake Christ's righteous- 
ness by confidence in Ins own, when he saith, " This is our re- 
joicing, the testimoi^' of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly 
sincerity we have had our conversation among you ; 2 Cor. i. 12. 
with many the like which I before mentioned. Nor doth the Lord 
Jesus at the day of Judgment turn men off from his righteousness, 
when he saith, " Well done, good and faithful servant, because 
thou hast been faithful in a very little, I will make thee ruler over 
much ;" Luke xix. 17. Matt. xxv. 23. and calls them thereupon 
righteous, saying, " And the righteous shall go into life everlasting;" 
Matt. xxv. last. 

It remains now that I further acquaint you what use you should 
make of this observation, concerning the dependance of assurance 
upon actual obedience. And first, I advise you, if your soul remain 
in doubts and troubles, and you cannot enjoy God in any way of 
peace and comfort, nor see any clear evidence of the sincerity of 
your faith, take a serious view of your obedience, and faithfully 
survey your heart and life, and your daily carriage to God in both. 
See whether there be nothing that provokes God to an unusual 
jealousy ; if there be, it is only the increase of somj carnal interest 
in your heart, or else the wilful or negligent falling into some actual 
sin, of commission or ol omission. In the making of this search, 
you have need to be exceeding cautious ; for if I have any ac- 
quaintance with the mystery of this business, your peace or trouble, 
comfort or discomfort, will mainly depend on this. And your care 
must lie in this point, that you diligently avoid these two extremes : 
first, That you do not deal negligently or unfaithfully with your 
own soul, as either unwilling to know the truth, or unwilling to 
be at that labor which you must needs be at before you can 
know it. Secondly, That you do not either condemn yourself 
when your conscience doth acquit you ; or vex your soul with need- 
less scruples, or make unavoidable or ordinary infirmities to seem 


such' wilful heinous sins, as should quite break your settled 
peace. O how narrow is the path between these two mistaken 
roads, and how hard a thing, and how rare is it to find it and to 
keep it ! For yourself, and all tender-conscienced Christians, that 
are heartily willing to be ruled by Christ, I would persuade you 
equally to beware of both these ; because some souls are as in- 
clinable to the latter extreme as to the former (during their troubles.) 
But for the most Christians in the world, I would have them first 
and principally avoid the former, and that with far greater diligence 
than the latter. For, 1. Naturally all men's hearts are far more 
prone to deal too remissly, yea, unfaithfully with themselves, in 
searching after their sins, than too scrupulously and tenderly. The 
best men have so much pride and carnal self-love, that it will 
strongly incline them to excuse, or mince, or hide their sins, and to 
think far lighter and more favorably of it than they should do, be- 
cause it is theirs. How was the case altered with Judah towards 
Thamar, when he once saw it was his own act! How was David's 
zeal for justice allayed, as soon as he heard, " Thou art the man !" 
This is the most common cause why God is fain to hold our eyes 
on our transgressions by force, because we are so loath to do it more 
voluntarily ; and why he openeth our sin i« such crimson and scar- 
let colors to us ; because we are so apt either to look on them as 
nothing, or to shut our eyes and overlook them : and why God 
doth hold us so long on the rack, because we would still ease our- 
selves by ingenious excuses and extenuations : and why God doth 
break the skin so oft, and keep open our wounds ; because we are 
still healing them by such carnal shifts. This proud, sin-excusing 
distemper needs no other proof or discovery, than our great tender- 
ness and backwardness in submitting to reproofs : how long do we 
excuse sin, and defend our pretended innocency, as long as we can 
find a word to say for it. Doth not daily experience of this sad 
distemper, even in most of the godly, discover fully to us, that most 
men (yea naturally all) are far more prone to overlook their sins, 
and deal faithlessly and negligently in the trial ; than to be too 
tender, and to charge themselves too deeply. 

Besides, if a Christian be heartily willing to deal impartially, 
and search to the quick, yet the heart is lamentably deceitful, that 


he shall overlook much evil in it, when he hath done his best. 
And the devil will be far more industrious to provoke and help you 
to hide, excuse, and extenuate sin, than to open it, and see it as 
it is. His endeavor to drive poor souls into terrors, is usually but 
when he can no longer keep them in presumption. When he can 
hide their sin no longer, nor make it seem small, to keep them in 
impenitency, then he will make it seem unpardonable and remedi- 
less if he can ; but usually not before. So that you see the frame 
of most men's spirits doth require them, to be rather over-jealous 
in searching after their sins, than over-careless and confident of 

2. Besides this, I had rather of the two that Christians would 
suspect and search too much than too little, because there is a 
hundred times more danger in seeing sin less than it is, or over- 
looking it, than in seeing it greater than it is, and being over-fear- 
ful. The latter mistake may bring us into sorrow, and make our 
lives uncomfortable to us (and therefore should be avoided ;) but 
usually it doth not endanger our happiness ; but is often made a 
great occasion of our good. But the former mistake may hazard 
our everlasting salvation, and so bring us to remediless trouble. 

3. Yea, lest you should say, ' This is sad language to comfort a 
distressed wounded soul,' let me add this one reason more. So 
far as I can learn by reading the Scriptures, and by long experi- 
ence of very many souls under troubles of conscience, It is most 
commonly some notable cherished corruption, that breedeth and 
feedeth the sad, uncomfortable state of most professors, except 
those who by melancholy or very great ignorance, are so weak in 
their intellectuals, as that they are incapable of making any true 
discovery of their condition, and of passing a right judgment upon 
themselves thereupon. 

Lest I should make sad any soul that God would not have sad, 
let me desire you to observe, 1. That I say but of most professors, 
not all ; for I doubt not but God may hide his face for some time 
from some of the holiest and wisest of believers, for several and 
great reasons. 2. Do but well observe most of the humble, obe- 
dient Christians, that you know to lie under any long and sad dis- 
tress of mind, and you will find that they are generally of one of 


tlie two forementioned sorts : either so ignorant as not to know 
well what faith is, or what the conditions of the covenant are, or 
what is the extent of the promise, or the full sufficiency of Chrit's 
satisfaction for all sinners, or what are the evidences by which they 
may try themselves : or else they are melancholy persons, whose 
fancy is still molested with these perturbing vapours, and their un- 
derstandings so clouded and distempered, that reason is not free. 
And so common is this latter, that in my observation of all the 
Christians that have lived in any long and deep distress of mind, 
six, if not ten for one, have been deeply melancholy ; except 
those that feed their troubles by disobedience. So that besides 
these ignorant and melancholy persons, and disorderly, declining 
Christians, the number of wounded spirits I think is very small, in 
comparison of the rest. Indeed it is usual for many at, or shortly 
after, their first change, to be under trouble and keep fears; but 
that is but while the sense of former sin is fresh upon their hearts. 
The sudden discovery of so deep a guilt, and so great a danger, 
which a man did never know before, must needs amaze and af- 
fright the soul : and if that fear remain long, where right means are 
either not known, or not used for the cure, it is no wonder; and 
sometimes it will be long, if the rightest means be used. But for 
those that have been long in the profession of holiness, and yet lie, 
or fall again under troubles of soul (except those before excepted,) 
I would have them make a diligent search, whether God do not ob- 
serve either some fleshly interest encroach upon his right, or some 
actual sin to be cherished in their hearts or conversations. 

And here let me tell you, when you are making this search, 
what particulars they be which I would have you to be most jealous 
of. i. The former sort, which T call contrary carnal interest, en- 
croaching on Christ's right, are they that you must look after with 
far more diligence than your actual sins. 1. Because they are 
the far greatest and most dangerous of all sins, and the root of all 
the rest : for as God is the end and chief good of every saint, so 
these sins do stand up against him, as our end and chief good, and 
carry away the soul by that act which we call simply willing, or 
complacency, and so these interests are men's idols, and resist 
God's very sovereignty and perfect goodness ; that is, they are 


against God himself as our God. Whereas those which I now call 
actual sins, as distinct from these, are but the violation of particu- 
lar precepts, and against God's means and laws directly, and but 
remotely, or indirectly against his Godhead : and they have but 
that act of our will, which we call election, consent or use, which 
is proper to means, and not to the end. (2.) Because, as these 
sins are the most damnable, so they lie deepest at the heart, and 
are not so easily discovered. It is ordinary with many, to have a 
covetous, worldly, ambitious heart, even damnably such, that yet 
have wit to carry it fairly without ; yea, and seem truly religious to 
themselves and others. (3.) Because these sins are the most 
common : for though they reign only in hypocrites and other un- 
sanctified ones, yet they dwell too much in all men on earth. 

If you now ask me what these sins are, I answer, They are, as de- 
nominated from the point or term from which men turn, all com- 
prised in this one,' unwillingness of God, or the turning of the heart 
from God, or not loving God.' But as we denominate them from 
the term or object to which they run, they are all comprised in 
this one ; 'carnal self-love, or turning to, and preferring our carnal self 
before God :' and as it inclineth to action, all, or most of it, is com- 
prehended in this one word, ' Fleshpleasing.' But because there 
are a trinity of sins in this unity, we must consider them distinctly. 
Three great objects there are, about which this sin of fleshpleas- 
ing is exercised : 1. Credit or honor. 2. Profit or riches. 3. 
Sensual pleasure, more strictly so called, consisting in the more 
immediate pleasing of the senses ; whereas the two first do more 
remotely please them, by laying in provision to that end ; other- 
wise all three are in the general but fleshpleasing. The three 
great sins therefore that do most directly fight against God himself 
in his sovereignty, are, 1. Pride or ambition. 2. Worldliness, or 
love of riches. 3. Sensuality, voluptuousness, or inordinate love 
of pleasures. There are in the understanding indeed other sins, as 
directly against God as these, and more radical: as, 1. Atheism, 
denying a God. 2. Polytheism, denying our God to be the alone 
God, and joining others with him. 3. Idolatry, owning false Gods. 
4. Infidelity, denying Jesus Christ our Lord Redeemer. 5. Own- 
ing false Saviors and prophets, in his stead, or before him, as do 

Vol. I. 54 


the Mahometans. 6. Joining other Redeemers and Saviors with 
him, as if he were not the alone Christ. 7. Denying the Holy- 
Ghost, and denying credit to his holy and miraculous testimony to 
the Christian faith, and blasphemously ascribing all to the devil ; 
which is the sin against the Holy Ghost. 8. Owning and believing 
in devils, or lying spirits instead of the Holy Ghost ; as the Monta- 
nists, Mahometans, Ranters, Familists do. 9. Owning and ad- 
joining devils, or lying spirits, in co-ordination or equality with the 
Holy Ghost, and believing equally his doctrine and theirs ; as if 
he were not sole and sufficient in his work. All these are sins di- 
rectly against God himself, and if prevalent, most certainly damn- 
ing ; three against the Father, three against the Son, and three 
against the Holy Ghost. But these be not they that I need now to 
warn you of. These are prevalent only in pagans, infidels, and 
blasphemers. Your troubles and complaints shew that these are 
not predominant in you. It is therefore the three forementioned 
sins of the heart or will, that 1 would have you carefully to look 
after in your troubles, to see whether none of them get ground and 
strength in you. 

1. Inquire carefully into your humility. It is not for nothing that 
Christ hath said so much of the excellency and necessity of this 
grace ; when he bids us learn of him to be meek and lowly ; when 
he blesseth the meek and poor in spirit : when he setteth a little 
child in the midst of them, and telleth them, except they become 
as that child, they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven : 
when he stoopeth to wash and wipe his disciples' feet, requiring 
them to do so by one another. How oft doth the Holy Ghost press 
this upon us ? Commanding us to submit ourselves to one another, 
and not to mind high things ; but to condescend to men of low es- 
tate ; Rom.xii. 16. and not to be wise in our own esteem, but in 
honor prefer others before ourselves ; Rom. xii. 10. How oft 
hath God professed to resist and take down the proud, and to give 
grace to the humble, and dwell with them ? Search carefully, 
therefore, lest this sin get ground upon you. For though it may 
not be so predominant and raging as to damn you, yet may it cause 
God to afflict you, and hide his face from you, and humble you 
by the sense of his displeasure, and the concealment of his love. 


And though one would think that doubting, troubled souls should 
be always the most humble and freest from pride, yet sad expe- 
rience hath certified me, that much pride may dwell with great 
doubtings and distress of mind. Even some of the same souls that 
cry out of their own unworthiness, and fear lest they shall be fire- 
brands of hell, yet cannot endure a close reproof, especially for 
any disgraceful sin, nor bear a disparaging word, nor love those, 
nor speak well of them, who do not value them, nor endure to be 
crossed or contradicted in word or deed, but must have all go their 
way, and follow their judgment, and say as they say, and dance 
after their pipe, and their hearts rise against those that will not do 
it ; much more against those that speak or do any thing to the di- 
minishing of their reputation : they cannot endure to be low, and 
passed by, and overlooked, when others are preferred before them, 
or to be slighted and disrespected, or their words, or parts, or 
works, or judgments to be contemned or disparaged. Nay, some 
are scarce able to live in the same house, or church, or town, in 
love and peace, with any but those that will humor and please 
them, and speak them fair, and give them smooth and stroking 
language, and forbear crossing, reproving, and disparaging them. 
Every one of these singly is an evident mark and fruit of pride ; 
how much more all jointly. I seriously profess it amazeth me to 
consider how heinously most professors are guilty of this sin ! even 
when they know it to be the devil's own sin, and the great abomi- 
nation hated of God, and read and hear so much against it as they 
do, and confess it so oft in their prayers to God, and yet not only 
inwardly cherish it, but in words, actions, gestures, apparel, ex- 
press it, and passionately defend these discoveries of it. The con- 
fusions and distractions in chu