Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

106 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. with those of a middle state, usually they had amiddle 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 been for the faction ofthe prelatists on one side, that drew men off, and the factions of the giddy and turbu- lent sectaries on the other side, ". "together with some laziness and selfishness in many of theministry, 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 thenational church of England, other than thatwhich was exercised by the civil government for the time being. The abolition of Epis- copacy had not been succeeded by the establishment of the Presby- terian platform, or any other national system. Themodel framed by theWestminster assemblyhad indeed been adopted in London ; 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 advice and assistance in all matters relating to their official work, resembling very closely the associations of the Congregational ministers in this country. Their example was followed in other parts of England. In effecting this organization, Baxter seems to have had an impor- tant agency, both in his own county and elsewhere. Respecting the men who united in the Worcestershire association, he says, "Though we made our terms large enough for all, Episcopal, Pres- byterians and Independents, there wasnot 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 newprelatical way, but three or four moderate conformists that were for the old Episcopacy: and all the rest were mere catholics, men of no faction, nor siding 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 ministrrC, the people's edification." 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 remem- * He uses this word here in the party sense common in those times. He means men of the Scottish party, zealous for the covenant and the exclusive di- vine right of presbytery. `