Baxter - BV4831 84 F3 1830

THE COMPILER'S PREFACE. MR. RICHARD BAXTER, the author of the Saints' Rest, so well known to the world by this, and many other excellent and useful writings, was a learned, laborious, and eminently holy divine of the last age. He was born near Shrewsbury in 1615, and died at London in 1691. His ministry, in an unsettled state, was for many years employed with great and extensive success, both inLondon and in several parts of the country ; but he was nowhere fixed so long, or with such entire satisfaction to himself, and apparent advantage to others, as at Kidder- minster. His abode there was indeed interrupted, partly by his bad health, but chiefly by the calamities of a civil war, yet in the whole it amounted to sixteen years ; nor was it by any means the result of his own choice, or that of the inhabitants of Kidderminster, that he never settled there again, after his going from thence in 1660. Before his coming thither, the place was overrun with ignorance and profaneness ; but, by the divine blessing on his wise and faithful cultivation, the fruits of righteousness sprung up in rich abundance. He at first found but a single instance or two of daily family prayer in a whole street; and, at his going away, but one family or two could be found in some streets, that continued to neglect it. And on Lord's days, instead of the open profanation to which they had been so long accustomed, a person, in passing through the town, in the intervals of public worship, might overhear hundreds of families,,.engaged in singing psalms, read- ing the Scriptures and other good books, or such sermons as they had wrote down while they heard them from the pulpit. His care of the souls committed to his charge, and the success of his labors among them, were truly remarkable ; for the number of his stated communi- cants rose to six hundred, of whom he himself declared, there were not twelve concerning whose sincere piety he had not reason to enter- tain good hopes. Blessed be God, the religious spirit, which was thus happily introduced, is yet to be traced in the town and neighborhood in some degree; (O that it were in a greater!) and in proportionas that spirit remains, the name of Mr. Baxter continues in the most honorable and affectionate remembrance. As a writer, he has the approbation of some of his greatest contem- poraries, who best knew him, and were under no temptations to be partial in his favor. Dr. Barrow said, " His practical writings were never mended, and his controversial ones seldom confuted." With a view to his casuistical writings, the honorable Robert Boyle declared, " He was the fittest man of the age for a casuist, because he feared