Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. sional, whenever hewas subjected to any unusual heat, explain his intervals of melancholy, afford an apology for the alledged acerbity of his temper, and make the industry of his life, especially when viewed in connectionwith the results, almost miraculous. This livingcontinually at thegate of death, andas it were within sight of an immediate retribution, had much to do in the formation of his character as a Christian, and as aminister of the gospel. When he was thought tobe sinking in a consumption, at the age of seventeen, the nearness of death set him on a close and trem- bling examination of his fitness to die. Thus was he "longkept 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 humbledhim, and led him to abasing views of himself. It restrained him from the levity and vanity of youth, and helped him tomeet temptations to sensuality with the greatest fear. It made the doctrine of redemption the more delightful tohim ; andthe studies and considerations to which it led him, taught him how to live by faith on Christ. It made the world seem to him like " a carcass that had neither life nor loveliness." " 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 academicaldegrees and reputation of learning, and to have chosen out my studies accord- ingly; 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 ofmy studies, which since then Ihave 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. Thereforedivinity was not only carriedon with the rest of mystud- ies with an equal hand, but alwayshad the first and chiefest place. And it caused me to study practical divinity first, and in the most practical books, in apractical order, doing allpurposely 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 Amesiùs, or two or three more. Bywhich means my affection was carried on with A new day will dawn on the church, when all students oftheology adoptthis principle.