Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 97 town upon it, and went among them. When 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 offence 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 ablestof the people, that they never 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 themselves. "9. Our private meetings were a marvelous 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; and hereby knowledge was much increas- ed; and here the younger sort learned to pray by frequently hear- ing 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 meet- ings and loss of time were prevented ; and so fir 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 present with them, answering their doubts, and silencing objections, and moderating them 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 ready to run to such as were unlawful and hurtful. And by encouraging them here in the fit exercise of their parts, in repetition, prayer and asking questions, I kept them frarfl inclining to the disorderly exercise of them, as the sectaries do. We had no meetings in opposition to the public meetings, but all in subordination to them, and under my oversight and guidance, which proved a way profit- able to all. "10. Another thing which advantaged us, was some public disputations 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 opened 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. VOL. I. 13