Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]

“ sermons there was a rare union of arguments and “ motives, to convince the mind, and gain the heart. “ All the fountains of reason and persuasion were open “ to the discerning eye. There was no resisting the “ force of his discourses, without denying reason and “ divine revelation. He had a marvellous facility “ and copiousness in speaking. There was a noble “ negligence in his style, for his great mind could “ not stoop to the affected eloquence of words; he “ despised flashy oratory; but his expressions were “ clear and powerful, so convincing the understand“ing, so entering into the soul, so engaging the affec“ tions, that those were as deaf as adders who were “ not charmed by so wise a charmer. He was aniinat“ ed with the Holy Spirit, and breathed celestial fire, “ to inspire heat and life into dead sinners, and to “ melt the obdurate in their frozen tombs. His “ books, for their number, (which it seems were more “ than one hundred and twenty,) and variety of mat“ ter in them, make a library. They contain a trea“ sure of controversial, casuistical, and practical divi“ pity. His books of practical divinity have been “ effectual for more numerous conversions of sinners “ to God, than any printed in our time; and, while “ the church remains on earth, will be of continual “ efficacy to recover lost souls. There is a vigorous “ pulse in them, that keeps the reader awake and attentive.” To these testimonies may not be improperly added that of the editors of his Practical Works, in four folio volumes; in the Preface to which they say, “ Perhaps there are no writings among us that “ have more of a true Christian spirit, a greater mix“ ture of judgment and affection, a greater tendency “ to revive pure and undefiled religion, that have “ been more esteemed abroad, or more blessed at home “ for the awakening the secure, instructing the igno“ rant, confirming the wavering, comforting the de“ jected, recovering the profane, or improving such w as are truly serious, than the practical works of this “ author.” Such were the apprehensions of eminent persons, who were well acquainted with Mr. Baxter and his writings. It is therefore the less remarkable that Mr. Addison, from an accidental and very imperfect acquaintance, but with his usual pleasantness and candour, sbould mention the following inci- dent: “I once met with a page of Mr. Baxter. “ Upon the perusal of it I conceived so good an idea “ of the author's piety, that I bought the whole “ book.”

Whatever other causes might concur, it must chiefly be ascribed to Mr. Baxter's distinguished reputation as a preacher and a writer, that presently after the Restoration he was appointed one of the chaplains in ordinary to King Charles II. and preached once before him in that capacity; as also he had an offer made him by the Lord Chancellor Clarendon, of the bishopric of Hereford, which, in a respectful letter to his lordship, he saw proper to decline.

The Saint's Rest is deservedly esteemed one of the most valuable parts of his practical works. He wrote it when he was far from home, without any book to consult but his Bible, and in such an ill state of health, as to be in continual expectation of death for many months; and therefore, merely for his own use, he fixt his thoughts on this heavenly subject, “ which (says he) hath more benefited me than all the studies of my life.” At this time he could be little more than thirty years old. He afterwards preached over the subject in his weekly lecture at Kidderminster, and in 1656 he published it; and indeed it appears to have been the first that ever he published of all his practical writings. Of this book Dr. Bates says, “ It “ was written by him when languishing in the sus“ pence of life and death, but has the signatures of his * holy vigorous mind. To allure our desires, he un“ vails the sanctuary above, and discovers the glories “ and joys of the blessed in the divine presence, by a “ light so strong and lively, that all the glittering va“ nities of this world vanish in that comparison, and a “ sincere believer will despise them, as one of mature “ age does the toys and baubles of children. To excite our fears, he removes the screen, and makes the

“ everlasting fire of hell so visible, and represents the “ tormenting passions of the damned in those dread“ ful colours, that, if duly considered, would check “ and control the unbridled licentious appetites of the “ most sensual wretches."

Heavenly rest is a subject, in its own nature so universally important and interesting, and at the same time so truly engaging and delightful, as sufficiently accounts for the great acceptance which this book has met with; and partly also for the uncommon blessing which has attended Mr. BAXTER's manner of treating the subject, both from the pulpit and the press. For where are the operations of divine grace more reasonably to be expected, or where have they in fact been more frequently discerned, than in concurrence with the best adapted means? And should it appear, that persons 'of distinguishing judgment and piety, have expressly ascribed their first religious impressions to the hearing or reading the important sentiments contained in this book; or, after a long series of years, have found it both the counterpart and the improvement of their own divine life, will not this be thought a considerable recommendation of the book itself?

Among the instances of persons that dated their true conversion from hearing the sermons on the Saint's Rest, when Mr. Baxter first preached them, was the Rev. Thomas Doolittle, M. A. who was a native of Kidderminster, and at that time a scholar, about seventeen years old; whom Mr. Baxter himself afterwards sent to Pembroke-hall, in Cambridge, where he took his degree. Before his going to the university, he was upon trial as an attorney's clerk, and under that character being ordered by his master to write something on a Lord's day, he obeyed with great reluctance, and the next day returned home, with an earnest desire that he might not apply himself to any thing as the employment of life, but serving Christ in the ministry of the gospel. His praise is yet in the churches, for his pious and useful labours, as a minister, a tutor, and a writer.

His praiserving Christ

ter, a turor or his pious ante

- 6 JUL 1965


R. RICHARD Baxter, the anthor of the Saint's 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 17th century. 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 in London, 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 Kidderminster.—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 over-run 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 accus

« НазадПродовжити »