Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

90 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. thanksgiving with someof their neighbors, with them, praising God, and singing psalms, and soberly feasting together. Two days every week, my assistant and myself took fourteenfamilies between us, for private catechising and conference ; he going through the parish, and the town coming to me. I first heard them recite the words of the catechism, and then examined them about the sense; and lastly, urged them, with all possible engaging reason and ve- hemency, to answerable affection and practice. If any of them were stalled through ignorance or bashfulness, I forbore to press them any farther to answers, but made them hearers, and either examined others, or turned all into instruction and exhortation. But this I have opened more fully in my. Reformed Pastor. I spent about an hour with each family, and admitted no others to be present ; lest bashfulness should make it burthensome, or any should talk of the weaknessesof others : so that all the afternoons on Mondays and Tuesdays I spent in this, after I had begun it, (for it was many years before I did attempt it,) and my assistant spent the morningof the same day in the same employment. Be- fore that, I only catechised them in the church, and conferred with now and then one, occasionally. Beside all this, I was forced, five or six years, by the people's necessity, to practice physic. A common pleurisy happening one year, and no physician being near, I was forced to advise them, to save their lives ; and I could not afterwards avoid the importunity of the town and country round about. And because I never tooka penny of any one, I was crowded with patients; so that almost twenty would be at my door at once : and though God, by more success than I expected, so long encouraged me, yet, at last, I could endure it no longer; partlybecause it hindered my other stud- ies, and partly because the very fear ofmiscarrying and doing any one harm, did make it an intolerable burden to me. So that, af- ter some years' practice, I procureda godly, diligent physician to come and live in the town, and bound myself, by promise, to prac- tice no more, unless in consultation with him, in case ofany seem- ing necessity ; and so with that answer I turned them all off, and never meddled with it more. "But all these my labors, (except my private conference with the families,) even preaching and preparing for it, were but my recreations, and, as it were, the work of my spare hours ; for my writings were my chiefest daily labor; which yet went the more slowly on, that I never one hour had an amanuensis to dictate to, and especially because my weakness took up so much of my time. For all the pains that my infirmities ever brought upon me, were never half so grievous an affliction as the unavoidable loss ofmy time which they occasioned. I could not bear, through the weak-