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SELECT PRACTICAL WRITINGS OF RICHARD BAXTER, WITH A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR. BY LEONARD BACON, PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN NEW HAVEN. IN TWO VOLUMES. VOLUME I. SECOND EDITION WITH ADDITIONS. NEW HAVEN: PUBLISHED BY DUBBIE & PECK. 1935.
Entered according toAct of Congress, in theyear 1634, by DURRIE & PECK, in the Clerk's office, of the District Court of Connecticut. Yrtntat by í1eZ°kiah Howe& Co-
PREFACE. Ix making the following selections, I have, for obvious 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 respecting 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 lived, 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 un- learned 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 the more extensive and la- bored 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
4 PREFACE. pastor, my studies were interrupted by a signal revival of the work of God among the people of my charge. Whatever delay has attended the publication, has been caused by this happy inter- ruption. Now reader, let these devout and searching treatises 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. NewHAVEN, Oct. 28, 1831. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. Grateful for the favor with which these volumes have been re- ceived, I have endeavored tomake them in this second edition more worthy of that favor. TheLife has been carefully revised, and has been somewhat enlarged by more copious extracts from Baxter's own records. Additions have been made to the selections, amount- ing in all to nearly three hundred pages. New HAVEN, Dec. 9, 1834,
CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME. THE LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. Page. PART I. From his birth, to thebeginning of thecivil war in 1641, 9 PART II. From the beginning of the war, to the time of his leaving the army, 56 PART III. From his return to Kidderminster, to the year 1660, . 79 PART IV. From theyear 1660, to the year 1665, . . . 138 PART V. From the year 1665, to his death, . . . 188 THE RIGHT METHOD FOR ASETTLED PEACE OF CONSCIENCE AND SPIRITUAL COMFORT. Epistle Dedicatory, . . . . 229 To the Poor in Spirit, . , . . . . . 233 The Case to'be Resolved, . . . . 242 DIRECT. I. Discover the cause of your trouble, 243 DIRECT. II. Discover well howmuch of your trouble is frommelancholy or from outward crosses, and apply the remedy accordingly, 244 DIRECT. III. Lay first in your understanding sound and deep apprehensions of God's nature. 248 DIRECT. IV. Getdeep apprehensions of the gracious nature andoffice of the Mediator, . 253 DIRECT. V. Believe and consider the full sufficiencyof Christ's sacrifice and ransom for all, 255 DIRECT. VI. Apprehend the freeness, fullness and universality of the law of grace,or conditional grant of pardon and salvation to all men, . 255 DIRECT. VII. Understand the difference between general grace and special; . and between the possibility, probability, conditional certainty, and abso- lute certainty of your salvation ; and so between the several degrees of comfort that these may afford, . . . 256 DIRECT. VIII. Understand the nature of saving faith, . 262 DIRECT. IX. Next, performthe condition, by actual believing, 265 DIRECT. X. Next, review your own believing, and thence gather farther assurance, . . 269 DIRECT. XI. Make use, in trial, of nonebut infallible signs, 278 DIRECT. XII. Knowthat assurance of justification cannot begathered from the least degree of saving grace, . . . 293 DIRECT. XIII. The first time of our receiving or acting saving grace, cannot ordinarily be known, 300 DIRECT. XIV. Know thatassurance is not theordinary lot oftrue christians, but only of a few of thestrongest, most active, watchful andobedient, 304 DIRECT. XV. Know that even many of the stronger and more obedient, are yet unassured of salvation for want of assurance topersevere, . 310 DIRECT. XVI. There are many grounds to discover a probability of saving grace whenwe cannot yet discover a certainty; and youmust learn, next to the comforts of general grace, to receive the comfortsof the probability of special grace, before you expect or are ripe for the comforts of assurance, 312 DIRECT. XVII. Improve your own and other'sexperiences to strengthen your probabilities, . . . . . 316 DIRECT. XVIII. Know that Godbath not commanded you to believe that you do believe, nor that you arejustified, or shall be saved (but onlyconditional- ly,) and therefore your assurance is not acertainty properlyof Divine faith, 319 DIRECT. XIX. Know that those few that do attain to assurance, have it not constantly, . . . 327 DIRECT. XX. Never expect somuch assurance on earth asshall set you above all possibility of the loss of heaven, and above all apprehensions ofdanger, 328 DIRECT. XXI. Be glad of a settled peace, and look not too much after rap- tures and strong feelings of comfort; and if you have such, expect not a constancyofthem, . . . . . . , 335
CONTENTS. Page. DIRECT. XXII. Spendmore time and care about your duty than your comforts, and to get, and exercise and increase grace thantodiscern the certainty ofit, 337 DIRECT. XXIII. Thinknot that those doubts and troubles which are causedby disobedience will be ever wellhealed but by the healing ofthat disobedience, 342 DIRECT. XXIV. Content not yourself with a cheap religiousness, and to serve God with that whichcosts you little ornothing; and take every call to costly duty or suffering for Christ, as a price put intoyour hand for advan- cing your comforts, 370 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, 378 DIRECT. XXVI. Trouble not your soul with needless scruples, nor make yourself more work.than God has made you, 384 DIRECT. XXVII.. When God hash discovered your sincerity to you, fix it in your memory; and leave not your soul open to new apprehensions, except in caseof notable declinings or gross sinning, 397 DIRECT. XXVIII. Beware ofperplexing misinterpretations ofsciptures, pro- vidences, or sermons, . 402 DIRECT. XXIX. Distinguish carefully between causes ofdoubting, and causes of mere humiliation and amendment, 409 Diseco. XXX. Discern whether your doubts are such as mustbe cured by the consideration of generalor of special grace; and be sure that, when you lose the sight of certain evidences, you let, not goprobabilities; or at the worst, when you are beaten fromboth, and judge yourself graceless, yet lose not the comforts of general grace, . - 444 DIRECT. XXXI. In all pressing necessities take advice from your pastors, 448 DIRECT. XXXII. Understand that the height ofa christian life, and the great- est part of your duty, lieth in a loving delight in God and a thankful and cheerful obedience tohis will, . . . 459 THE CHARACTER OF A SOUND, CONFIRMED CHRISTIAN. Preface, . . . . . 469 To the Reader, - . 471 The Characters of a strong, confirmed Christian. I. He livethby sucha faith of unseen things that governeth his soul instead of sight, 478 2. He bath cogent reasons for his religion, 479 3. He seeth the well-ordered frame of sacred verities, and the integral parts in their harmony or dancers; and setteth not up one truth against another, 480 4. He adhereth to them, and practiceth them, from aninward con-natural principle, called " the Divine nature," and " the Spirit of Christ," . 481 5. He serveth notGod for fear only, but for love, 483 6. He loveth God, 1. Much for hisgoodness to himself. 2. Andmore for his goodness to the church. 3. And mostof all for his essential goodness and perfection, . . . . . 484 7. He taketh this love and its expressions, for the heart and height of all his religion, . 485 8. He bath absolutelyput his soul, and all hishopes into the hand of Christ, and livethby faith upon him as his Savior, 487 9. He taketh Christ as the Teacher sent from God, and his doctrine for the truest wisdom, andlearneth of none but in subordination tohim, . 488 10. His repentance is universal and effectual, and bath gone to the root of every sin, . . . 489 11. He loveth the light, as it sheweth -himhis sin and duty, and is willing to know.the worst of sin, and the most of duty, 490 12. He desireth the highest degree of holiness, and hash no sin which hehad not rather leave than keep, and had rather be the best, though in poverty, than the greatest in prosperity, . . . . . 492 13. He livethupon God and heavenas the end, reward, andmotive of his life, 493 14. He counteth no cost or pains too great for the obtaining it, and hath no- thing so dear which he cannot part with for it, .- 494 15. He is daily exercised in the practice of self denial, as (next to the love of God) the second half of his religion, 496 16. He had) mortified his fleshly desires, and so far mastereth his senses and appetite, that theymake nothis obediencevery uneasy or uneven, . 499 °Ss
CONTENTS. 7 Page. 17. He preferreth the means ofhis holiness and happiness,incomparably be- fore all provisions and pleasures of the flesh, . 501 18. He is crucified to the world, and the world tohim, by the cross of Christ, and contemneth it through the belief of the greater things of the life to come, 502 19. He foreseeth the end in all his ways, and judgeth of all things as theywill appear at last, 503 20. He liveth upon God alone, and is content with hisfavor and approbation, without the approbation and favor of men, . 505 21. Hehath absolutely devoted himself, and all that he bath, to God, tobe used according to his will, . . . . . . 507 22. Hehath a readiness to obey, and a quick and pleasant compliance of his will to the will of God, 508 23. He delighteth himself more inGod, and heaven, and Christ, and holiness, than in all the world ; religion is not tedious and grievous to him, 509 24. He is conscious of his own sincerity, and assured of his justification,and title toeverlasting joys, . . 513 25. This assurancedothnot make him more careless and remiss,but increas- eth hislove and holy diligence, . 514 26. Yet he abhorreth pride as the first-born of the devil, and is very Iow and vile in his own eyes,and can easily endure to be low and vile in the eyes of others, , 515 27. Being acquainted with the deceitfulness of the heart, and the methods of temptation, he liveth asamong snares, and enemies, and dangers, in a con- stant watch; and can conquer many and subtle, and great temptations (through grace), 516 28. He path counted what it may cost him to be saved, and hath resolved not tostick at suffering, but to bear the cross and be conformed tohis crucified Lord, and hath already in heart forsaken all for him, . 517 29. He is not a Christian only for company or carnal ends, or upon trust of other men's opinions, and therefore wouldbe true to Christ, if his rulers, his teachers, his company, and all that heknoweth should forsake him, 520 30. He can digest thehardest truths of Scripture, and the hardestpassages of God'sprovidence, 521 31. He can exercise allhis graces in harmony, without neglecting one to use another, or setting one against another, 521 32. He ismore in getting andusing grace, than in inquiring whether he have it, (though he do that also in its place), 522 33. He studieth duty more than events, and is more careful what he should be towards God, thanhow heshall herebe used by him, 523 34. He ismore regardful of his duty to others, than of theirs to him, and had much rather suffer wrong than do it, . 523 35. He keepeth up a constant government of his thoughts, restraining them from evil, and using themupon God, and for him, . . 525 36. He keepeth a constant government over his passions, so far as that they pervert not his judgment, his heart, his tongue or actions, . 526 37. He governethhis tongue, employing it for God, andrestraining it from evil, 527 38. Heart-work and heaven -work are the principal matters of his religious discourse, and not barren controversiesor impertinences, . 528 39.' He liveth upon the common great substantialsof religion, and yetwill not deny the smallest truth, or commit the smallest sin, for any price that man can offer him, 529 40. He is a high esteemer, and careful redeemer of time, andabhorreth idle- ness and diversions which would robhim of it, 532 41. His heart isset upondoing all the good in the world that heis able: it is his dailybusiness and delight, . . 533 42. He truly loveth his neighbor ashimself, . 534 43. He hatha special love toall godly Christians as such, and such aswillnot stick at cost in its duc expressions; nor be turnedinto bitternessby tolera- ble differences 535 . 44. He forgiveth injuries, and loveth his enemies, and doth them all the good he can: from the senseofthe loveof Christ to him, . 536 45. He dothas he wouldbe doneby; andis as precise in the justice of his deal- ings with men, as in acts of piety to God, . 537
'8 CONTENTS. 46. He is faithful and laborious in hisoutward trade orcalling, not out ofcov- Page. etousness, but obedience to God, 539 47. Heis very conscionable in the duties ofhis several relations, in his family orother society, as a superior, inferior, or equal, 540 48. He is the best subject, whether his rulers be good orbad, though infideland ungodly rulers may mistake, and use him as the worst, 540 49. His trust in God doth overcome the fear of man, and settlehim in a con- stant fortitude for God, 545 50. Judgment and zeal conjunct are his constitution; bis judgment kindleth zeal, and his zeal is still judicial, 546 51. Hecan bear the infirmities of the weak, and their censures and abuses of himself; and requiteth themnot with uncharitable censure or reproach, 548 52. He is a high esteemerof the unity of Christians, and abhorreth the prin- ciples, spirit, and practices of division, 549 53. He seeketh the church's unity and concord, not upon partial, unrighteous, or impossible, but upon, the possible, righteous termshere mentioned, 556 54. He is ofa mellow, peaceable spirit; not masterly, domineering, hurtful, unquiet, or contentious, 560 55. Hemost highly regardeth the interestof God, and men's salvation in the world; and regardeth no secular interest ofhis own, or any man's, but in subserviency thereto, . 563 56. He is usually hated for his holiness by the wicked, and censured for his charity and peaceableness by thefactious and the weak; and is moved by neither from the way of truth,.. . 566 57. Thoughhe abhor ungodly, soul-destroying ministers, yet he reverenceth the office as necessary to the church and world; and highly valueth the holy, faithful laborers, 667 58. He bath great experience of the providence, truth, and justice of God, to fortify him against temptationsto unbelief, 569 59. Though he greatly desireth lively affections and gifts, yet he much more valueth the three essential partsof holiness, I. A high estimation in theun- derstanding, ofGod, Christ, holiness, and heaven, above all that be set in any competition. 2. A resolved choice and adhesion ofthe will, to these above and against all competitors. 3. The seeking them first, in the en- deavors of the life. And by these he judgeth of the sincerity of his heart, . 569 60. He is all his life seriously preparing for his death, as ifit were at hand; and is ready'to receive the sentencewith joy; but especially he longeth for the blessed day of Christ's appearing, as the answer of all his desires and hopes, . 571 Six usesof these characters, 574 MAKING LIGHT OF CHRIST ; A sermon, . . 583
THE LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. PART FIRST. FROM HIS BIRTH TO THE BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL WAR IN 1641. THE life of Richard Baxter extends over a little more than threg 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 gratifyhis own passions. Henry VIII. renounced the supremacyof the pape, 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 có-ordinate with that of the crown. And though, in effecting these changes, he was under the necessity of employing the agency of some true reform- ers, 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 church. During the short reign of Edward VI. the reformation was carried on with a hearty good will, by Cranmer and his asso- VOL. I. 2
1t) LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. elates 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. Wor- ship was performed in a language. "understanded of the people." The liturgy, first translated and established in the second year of this reign, was revised and purged from some of its imperfections three years afterwards, and then assumed nearly the form under which it is now used in the churches of the English Establishment and in the Episcopal Churches of America. , The design of the leadingreformers in this reign was to carry the workof reformation as far as the circumstances- in which they were placed would permit. They had their eye on the more perfect reformation of foreign churches; they were in the .full confidence of foreign reformers ; and their aim was tobring back the Church of England not only to the purity of scriptural doctrine, but to the simplicity of scriptural worship, and the strictness of scriptural discipline. In pursuance of this aim, foreign divines of eminence, hearty dis- ciples of the Swiss reformers, in discipline as well-as in doctrine, were made professors oftheologyin 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 presumptive to the throne, manyof the bishops, the mass of the clergy, and perhaps the numerical majority of the people ; and its consummation was defeated by the premáture 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 1553. This princess inherited a gloomy temper and the circumstances ofher early life, while they inspired her with a bigoted 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 fewmonths 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, foreseeing the tem- pest, saved their lives by a timely flight to foreign countries. But God made the wrath of manto praise him ; for the six years ofthis reign contributed more, perhaps, thanall the labors ofCranmer and his associates, during the six years of Edward, to open the eyes and quicken the sluggish minds ofthe people, and to inspire them
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 11 at once with a warm affection for the Protestant faith, and with a hearty 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 thechildren ofHenry VIII., inherited most largely the spirit of her father. She was against the pope, because the pope's supremacywas 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, thereformation, 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 primitive sim- plicity in doctrine and in order,found that the queen'smarch of im- provement was retrograde, and that the church, under her suprem- acy, was to be carried back towards the stately and ceremonious superstitionof Romanism. But the popular mind bad 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 ; andthe peo- ple began to apprehend that religious truth and duty might be somethingindependent ofthe throneand the parliament; something which law could not fix, nor revolution overturn. Thosewho 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 cirèumstances, there sprung up anew party, the party of the PURITANS. Under King Edward, there had been dissen- sion 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 itwas deemed important to continue 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 idolatry ; and the disuse of themwas insisted on, inasmuch as the
12 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. people had been taught to regard themwith a superstitious feel- ing, and to believe that they were essential to the validity of all religious administrations. What was at first little else than a question of expediency, 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 compromised 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 after- wards labored with the same zeal for the truth, and at last suffered with the same patience the pains:of martyrdom. Duringthe per- secution in Queen Mary's time, the controversy was revived in another form. Of the exile's who fled to the Protestant countries on the continent, -many admired; and were disposed to copy, the discipline and worship of the reformed 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 ne- cessities ; but afterwards, a new company having arrived, who brought with them a zealous attachment to the liturgy, a schism arose, and a considerable portion of the congregation, with the ministers, left the field to the new corners, and took up their resi- dence in Geneva. On returning to their native country, many of those who had approved the constitution of the Swiss and French Protestant churches, exerted themselves topromote a further refor- mation in England, or at least to secure some libertyin regard to matters which were acknowledged to be indifferent. Their influ- ence as individuals, some of thempersonally connected -with men high in rank and authority, their influence in the universities, where some of them occupied important stations, and their influ- ence 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, unifor- mity, 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
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 13 the most able disputants of the age. Thomas Cartwright, Marga- ret professor of divinity in the university of Cambridge, of whom Beza said that " there was not a more learnedman 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 Box, whose historyof the martyrs was held in such veneration that it was ordered to be set up in the churches, was aPuritan, and shared the lot of Cover- dale. 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, thenin many instancesimprisoned. When such men were thus turned out of their employments, and prohibited the exercise of their gifts, they found refuge and employment in the houses of many of the nobil- ity 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.odcupy the places of the ejected and silenced Puritans. Men without learning and without character 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 between the pious and zealous preachers who were deprived fornon -conformity, and the ignorant and sometimes profligate readers who were put in their places, called the latter "dumb dogs," (in allusion to the language ofscripture,) and were themore 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 Puritanismwas making constant prog- ress 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
14 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. was more strict than they in his obedience to the precepts of the gospel, or who exhibited any faith in the principles of experimen- tal religion, was called, byway of reproach, a Puritan. Elizabeth died after a reign of forty -four years, and was suc- ceeded by James I. in 1683. 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 ofEngland, that "their ser- vice was an evil-said mass in English," would decidedly favor a more complete reformation. Accordingly he wasmet, on his prog- ress towards London, with numerous petitions, one of which was signed by nearly eight hundred clergymen, '5 desiring reformation of certain ceremonies and abuses of the church." But the king whom they addressed was atonce a vainglorious, foolish pedant, and an arbitrary, treacherous prince ; and the first year ofhis 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 system, 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 dignitaries of the church, nine of wham 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 reason, 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 discipline, 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 directionof their ecclesiastical superiors, for mutual assistance and improve- ment, he replied'peremptorily, in language characteristically coarse and profane, that their plans tended to the subversion ofmonarchy, 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."
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 15 There were many things in the policy of the government, and in the character ofthe times, which promoted, duringall this reign, the cause of Puritanism. The king, with nothing of the mascu- line energy by which Elizabeth controlled her parliaments, had the most extravagant notions of his own divine right to govern with- out 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. Jamesin his folly, gave the name of Puritanism to every movement and every principle;wherever manifested, which breathed of popular privilege, or implied the existence of any limit to his prerogative. Thus the causeof the Puritans was associated, in the estimation both of court and country, with the cause of English freedom, and of resistance to the encroachments of arbi- trary power; and the caúse of the prelates was equally associated with all those measures of the government that were odious to the friends of liberty, 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 prel- ates, 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 fedhis orien- tal notions of royalty with strainsof 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 classes ; while prelacy was espoused chiefly by the luxurious and unprincipled nobility on the one hand, and by their degraded and dependent peasantry on the other. At the same time, with a folly ifpossible still greater, the king deserted the Protestant interest in Europe, of whichboth policy and principle ought to have made him the head ; sought first a Spanish, and afterwards a French alliance for his son ; entered into treaties binding himself to protect and favor the Papists in his own kingdom; and in many ways showed 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 rejoicings 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 introduc- tion topopular favor ; for theywere cordial and zealous Protestants, hating the very garments spotted with the pollutions of Rome; and what could their enemies be but secret Papists ? Another in- stance of the infatuation of this reign was the marked favor shown
16 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. to the newly-broached doctrines of Arminianism. Abbot, the archbishop of Canterbury, was indeed an opposer of those novel- ties, and promoted, to the extent ofhis influence, the preachingof evangelical truth, deeming it far more important than all the cere- monies; but the king introduced into several of the most impor- tant bishoprics men of another stamp, whose views were known to be at war with the doctrines of the reformers-; and all who held the Calvinisticconstructionof the Articles, howeverstrict their con- formity, were branded as " doctrinal Puritans," and for them there was no road to preferment. No wonder that, under such influences, dissatisfaction 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 ,Rowton, a village in Shropshire, November 12, 1615. His father (whose name was also Richard) was a freeholder, possessed of a moderate estate at Eaton Constan- tine, another village in the same county, about five miles from Shrewsbury. His infancywas spent under the care and in the house of his maternal grandfather at Rowton. At about ten years ofage, he was taken home by his parents to their residence at Eaton Constantine. His 'father. had been in youth so much addicted.to gaming, as to have involved,his property in very considérable embarrassments; but, at a later period, the blessing of God on the simplereading of the Scriptures, without any other religious advantages, hadmade him a devout and godly man. The influence ofa father's example and serious instructions, early affected the mindof 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 countrythat 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 ofthem 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 eyesight 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
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 17 ofhis places. After himanother 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 wouldneeds go further than the rest, ventured topreach, (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 hadbeen a while an attorney's clerk, and a common drunkard, and tippled himself 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 schoolmasters 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 aboutus were near a dozen more ministers that were near eighty years old apiece, and never preached ; poor ignorant readers, and most of them of scandalous 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 themwhen he had no preaching at home, was made the derision, ofthe vulgar rabble, under the odious name of a Puritane." The state of society in which . his early years were spent, he describes in the same style. The character of the people corre- sponded 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 maypole 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 disturbance of the taber and pipe and noise in the street. Many times my mind was inclined to be among them, and sometimes I broke loose from 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 onby oilmen at the last ; and I considered what it was for which he and others were thus derided. When I heard them VOL. I. *Narrativeof his life and times. Part I. p. 2. 3
18 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. speak scornfully of others as Puritans, whom I never knew, I was at first apt tobelieve all the lies and slanders wherewith they load- ed 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 neverscrupled common prayer or ceremonies, nor spake against bishops, nor even so much as prayed 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 talk- ing 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 permanentlyaffected 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 sensibility 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 hadbeen lent to his father by a poor dap-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 cor- rected 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 misery of the wicked, and the Narrative, Part I, pp.2, 3.
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 19 inexpressible weight of things eternal, and the necessity of resolv- ing on a holy life, more than I was ever acquainted with before. The same things which I knew before, came now in another manner, with light, and sense, and seriousness, to my heart. This cast me at first into fears of my condition ; 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 matters to mind, and another work to do in the world, than Ihad minded 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 bywhom 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 special need of him; for all Papists almost are too short upon this subject."I- At this time his father bought of a pedler 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, another ancient and eminentPuritan divine ; the reading of which instructed him further, andgave new strength to his determination. " Thus," he says, "without anymeans 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 that they had never heard an extemporaneous prayer. " My prayers," says Baxter, " were theconfession in thecommon prayer book, and sometimes one of Mr. Bradford's prayers in a book called his ' Prayers and Meditations,' and sometimesa prayer out of another prayer book which we had." The ignorant and tippling schoolmasters, under whom he ac- quired the earliest rudiments of education, have already been described. Of a Mr. John Owen, master of a considerable free school at Wroxeter, near his father's residence, he speaks with a Written in 1664, thirty-four years afterwards. t Narrative, Part I. p. 3.
20 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. respect. 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 established seats of learning. His teacher proposed that, in- stead ofgoing 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 arrangement their only son would still be kept near them. Accordingly 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 theprogress of the active and powerful young mind which he had undertaken to in- struct; 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 apostatized, 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 higher pitch of excitement than they had ever attained before. After a year anda half spent at Ludlow Castle, he returned to his father's house. His former teacher Owen being sick with consumption, he, at the request ofLord' Newport, the patron, took charge of the school for a fewmonths. The death of Owen, and the appointment of a successor; soon left him at liberty ; and, having resolved to enter the ministry, he put himself under the instruction 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 pur- suits 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, whoseems tohave regarded him with a friend- ly interest, proposed that he shouldgo 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-
LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. Ql 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 toLondon, and, by the friendly aid of Mr. Wickstead, was introduced to the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, then master of the revels, He staid with Sir Henry at Whitehall about a month ; and in that short time had enoughof the court. For when he saw, as he says, "a stage play instead of a sermon on the Lord's days in theafter- 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 hismother, 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 Puritans. 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 ofMay, 1635. More than a year afterwards, his father married Mary the daughter of Sir Thomas Hurkes, a woman of eminent excellence, whose "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 ofhis constitution, and the repeated attacksof disease. His physical frame, though naturally sound, wasnever firm or vigorous ; and from childhoodhewas 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 spittingof blood and other symptoms of consumption ; and from this time to the extremeold 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 vari- ation, 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 ;" hisblood in such a state as to occasion the fre- quent excoriation ofhis fingers' ends; and his excessive bleedings at the nose, both periodical, every spring and autumn, and occa-allisonlibrary.regent-college.edu