Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE ÓP RICHARD BAXTER. 29 all these impediments; and being conscious of a thirsty desire of men's conversion and salvation, and of some competent persuading faculty of expression, which fervent affections might help to actu- ate, I resolved that if one or two souls only might be won to God, it would easily recompense all the dishonor which, for want of titles, I might undergo from men. And indeed j had suchclear convictionsof the madness ofsecure, presumptuous sinners, and the Unquestionable reasons which should induce men to a holy life, and of the unspeakable greatness of that work which in this hasty inch oftime we have all to do, that I thought that a man that could be ungodly ifhe did but hear these things, was fitter for Bedlam than for the reputationof a sober, rational man. " The man who un- dertakes the ministry with such views, and has a fair opportunity to exercise that ministry, never will fail to be successful, so long as the gospel is the wisdom of God and the power of God to salvation. As yet, he had not entered into the questions on which the churchof England wasdivided. Whileyoung, he had never been acquainted with any who refused to conform to the established order and ceremonies of the church. He was twenty years of age when he first formed an acquaintance with a few zealous and de- voted non-conforming ministers in Shrewsbury and the 'vicinity, whose fervent prayers, and spiritual conversation, and holy lives, were highly profitable to him; and when he found that these men were troubled and vexed by the ecclesiastical authorities, he could not but be somewhat prejudiced in their favor, andbegan to doubt whether their opposers "could be the genuine followers of the Lord of love." Yet he resolved to hold his judgment in suspense till he should have anopportunity to investigate the subject. And his prepossessions, generally, were in favor ofconformity. He had been educated in that way. Mr. Garbet and the other ministers with whomhe was most intimate, on whom he depended for direc- tion in his studies, and to whom he looked with much deference to their learning, as well as with respect for their piety, were decid- ed conformists. The only Puritan books which he had read had been books of practical religion; for books against the order and ceremonies of the church were in those days not easily circulated. But, on the other hand, his instructers and friends had put into his hands all the works which were then considered the best in defense oftheir opinions and practice. Thus being led to think in general that the conformists had the better side of the question, he had no scruple aboutthe subscription required at ordination. At about twenty-three years of age, he was ordained, in due form, according to the ritual of the churchof England, by the bishopofWorcester. * Narrative, Part I. p. 12.