Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. I 0 ber that sects have most abounded when the gospel bath most prospered, and God bath been doing the greatest works in the world : as first in the apostles' and the primitive times ; and then, when Christian emperors were assisting the church ; and then, when reformation prospered in Germany ; and lately in New England, where godlinessmost flourished ; and last ofall, here, when so pleas- ant a spring lad raised all our hopes. And our impatience of weak people's errors and dissent did make the business worse ; while every weak minister, that could not, or would not, do that for his people, which belonged to his place, was presently cry= ing out against the magistrates for suffering these errors, and think- ing the sword must do that which the word shoulddo. 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 thanmistake in some few points ; and to be more troubled that a mail contradicteth us in the point of infant baptism or church government, than that many ofthe people are sottis(ily careless of their own salvation. He that never regardeth the word of God, is not like to err much about it. Men will sooner fall out about gold or pearls, than swine will."* In 1654, probably in November, Baxter was called to Loudon 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 thepublic peace." In the first parliament that was convened under this constitution, the entire " instrument of government" was examined and discussed. On the point of religious liberty, the majority in parliament were evidently less enlightened than were the men who framed the constitution. A profession of faith in God by Jesus Christ, it was said, implied a profession of the fundamentals of Christianity ; and therefore alarge 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 invited by the committee to this consultation, was the venerable Archbishop Usher; and when he had declined the service, Baxter was called in his room. Dr. Owen was one of the most respected and able members of this committee of divines; and though Owen and *Narrative, Part I. pp. 96, 97.