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been to my near and dear relations, whose love abundantly obliged me. When such are dead, though we never differed in point of interest, or any other matter, every sour or cross, provoking word which I gave them, maketh me almost irreconcilable to myself, and tells me how repentance brought some of old to pray to the dead whom they had wronged, to forgive them, in the hurry of their passion.
That which I named before, by the by, is grown one of my great diseases; I have lost much of that zeal which I had to propagate any truths to others, save the mere fundamentals. When I perceive people or ministers to think they know what indeed they do not, which is too common, and to dispute those things which they never thoroughly studied, or expect that I should debate the case with them, as if an hour's talk would serve instead of an acute understanding and seven years' study, I have no zeal to make them of my opinion, but an impatience of continuing discourse with them on such subjects, and am apt to be silent or to turn to something else; which, though there be some reason for it, I feel cometh from a want of zeal for the truth, and from an impatient temper of mind. I am ready to think that people should quickly understand all in a few words; and if they cannot, to despair
a of them, and leave them to themselves. I know the more that this is sinful in me, because it is partly so in other things, even about the faults of my servants or other inferiors ; if three or four times warning do no good to them, I am much tempted to despair of them, turn them away, and leave them to themselves.
I mention all these distempers that my faults may be a warning to others to take heed, as they call on myself for repentance and watchfulness. O Lord! for the merits, and sacrifice, and intercession of Christ, be merciful to me, a sinner, and forgive my known and unknown sins.' (pp. 335–344.)
The writings of Baxter were very voluminous. It seems, indeed, to have been the principal employment of his whole life, to strive to edify the public through the medium of the press; and though it is stated that .no sculptured monument marks the spot where his ashes repose,' yet his name is immortalized by the monument which he himself erected by his pen. The reader may form some idea of the vastness of his labors in this department, when he is told, that if the works of Richard Baxter were printed in a uniform edition, they could not be comprised in less than sixty volumes, making from thirty to forty thousand closely printed octavo pages! In the chronological list which Mr. Orme has given of Baxter's works he gives the titles of no less than one hundred and sixty-eight volumes, exclusive of a huge mass of manuscripts, consisting of letters and other miscellaneous matters which have never been printed. This shows what may be achieved by a conscientious and diligent improvement of time and talent.
The following testimonies in favor of these writings are collected by his biographer:
• 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 no man's displeasure, nor hoped for any man's preferment.” Bishop Wilkins observed of him, that he had cultivated every subject he had handled ; that if he had lived in the primitive times, he would have been one of the fathers of the Church ; and that it was enough for one age to produce such a person as Mr. Baxter. Archbishop Usher's high thoughts of him appeared in his earnest importunity to induce him to write on the subject of conversion. Dr. Manton thought Mr. Baxter came nearer the apostolical writings than any man in the age. Dr. Bates' opinion of his eloquence has been given already. His books," he says, “ for
“ their number and variety of matter, make a library. They contain a
a treasure of controversial, casuistical, and practical divinity. 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."
Few men were capable of forming a better or more candid opinion of Baxter than Dr. Doddridge. He was well acquainted with his writings, very similar to him in his sentiments, and partook largely of his desire to be useful to all men. He thus expresses his opinion of his character as a writer :
“ His style is inaccurate, because he had no regular education; and because he wrote continually in the views of eternity : but judicious, nervous, spiritual, and remarkably evangelical : a manly eloquence, and the most evident proof of an amazing genius : with respect to which he may not improperly be called the English Demosthenes : exceeding proper for conviction : see his · Saint's Rest,' all his treatises on conversion, and especially his · Call to the Unconverted,' • Divine Life, and Counsels to Young Men:' few were ever more instrumental for awakening and converting more souls. His book of converse with God in solitude is a most sublime piece of devotion : his Gildas Salvianus is a most extraordinary piece, and should be read by every young minister before he takes a people under his stated care; and I think the practical part of it deserves to be read every two or three years : for nothing has a greater tendency to awaken the spirit of a minister to that zeal in his work, for want of which many good men are but-shadows of what by the blessing of God they might be, if the maxims and treasures laid down in that incomparable treatise were strenuously pursued."
In a letter to a friend, giving him some account of his studies, Doddridge says, “Baxter is my particular favorite. It is impossible to tell you
how much I am charmed with the devotion, good sense, and pathos, which is every where to be found in him. I cannot forbear look ing upon him as one of the greatest orators, both with regard to copiousness, acuteness, and energy, that our nation hath produced; and if he hath described, as I believe, the temper of his own heart, he appears to have been so far superior to the generality of those whom we chari
tably hope to be good men, that one would imagine that God raised him up to disgrace and condemn his brethren ; to show what a Christian is, and how few in the world deserve the character. I have lately been reading his Gildas Salvianus, which hath cut me out much work among my people. This will take me off from so close an application to my private studies, as I could otherwise covet, but may answer some valuable ends with regard to others and myself.”
But these commendatory opinions of Baxter have not been confined to evangelical churchmen and dissenters ; the literary men of the nation have not been backward to express their approbation of Baxter's talents and piety. Dr. Kippis, under the article "Doddridge” in the
“ “ Biographia Britannica," institutes a comparison between him and Job Orton, the author of “ Doddridge's Memoirs.” “ It has occurred,"
“to us, that Mr. Orton, who so long resided at Kidderminster, the principal seat of Mr. Baxter's ministerial usefulness, had a considerable resemblance in certain respects to that famous divine.In extent of abilities, Baxter was greatly superior to Mr. Orton, and he prodigiously exceeded him in the multiplicity of his writings ; but with regard to the nature of their practical works and the strictness, we had almost said the rigidness, of their personal piety, there was no small degree of similarity. Both of them display in their productions the same ardent zeal to excite the attention of men to their eternal concerns,
and urge these concerns with peculiar energy and pathos. Both of them were animated with a seriousness of spirit which seems never to have forsaken them in the most ordinary occurrences of life ; nor could either of them bear to be much interrupted in their sacred employments. When some visiters to Mr. Baxter, after having sitten awhile with him, said, “ We are afraid, sir, that we break in upon your time? His answer was, “ To be sure you do.'"
While this passage shows the high idea which Kippis entertained of Baxter's character, I conceive that the points of resemblance between him and Orton were very few. Orton was stiff, formal, and cautious to a fault, not to mention other particulars ; qualities the very opposite of those which distinguished Baxter, whose warmth and energy often involved him in difficulties, which the timid prudence of the other was sure to prevent. The souls of the two men were cast in totally different moulds. Baxter would have set the world on fire, while Orton was lighting a match.
Orton himself held Baxter in the highest veneration. In one of his letters to the Rev. Mr. Hughes, he says, “ I would recommend you to read some practical divinity every day; especially the works of Howe, Henry, Watts, Doddridge, and writers of that strain and spirit, whom God eminently honored as instruments of great usefulness in his Church. Above all, Baxter, who was, with regard to the success of his labors and writings, superior to them all." 66 Addison
says, 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.' Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his · Rambler,' has quoted Baxter twice, (No. 71 and 196,) in such a manner as to show that he considered his name to be worthy of a place among the highest authorities. He is also frequently mentioned in Johnson's con
versations with Boswell : and once, when Boswell asked him what works of Richard Baxter he should read ? • Read any of them,' said
• for they are all good.'” But no writer has more accurately or candidly sketched the character of Baxter than Grainger, whose invaluable Biographical History supplies information about numerous individuals, of whom no account is any where else to be found ; and who rarely distorts his portraits under the influence of personal or professional prejudice.
6. Richard Baxter," he says, was a man famous for weakness of body and strength of mind; for having the strongest sense of religion himself, and exciting a sense of it in the thoughtless and the profligate; for preaching more sermons, engaging in more controversies, and. writing more books, than any other nonconformist of his age. He spoke, disputed, and wrote with ease; and discovered the same intrepidity when he reproved Cromwell and expostulated with Charles II. as when he preached to a congregation of mechanics. His zeal for religion was extraordinary; but it seems never to have prompted him to faction, or carried him to enthusiasm. This champion of the Presbyterians was the common butt of men of every other religion, and of those who were of no religion at all, But this had very little effect upon him : his presence and his firmness of mind on no occasion forsook him. He was just the same man before he went into a prison, while he was in it, and when he came out of it; and hé maintained a uniformity of character to the last gasp of his life. His enemies have placed him in hell ; but every man who has not ten times the bigotry that Mr. Baxter himself had, must conclude that he is in a better place. This is a very faint and imperfect sketch of Mr. Baxter's character. Men of his size are not to be drawn in miniature. His portrait, in full proportion, is in his . Narrative of his own Life and I'imes,' which though a rhapsody, composed in the manner of a diary, contains a great variety of memorable things, and is, in itself, as far as it goes, a history of nonconformity."
I cannot close this collection of testimonies to the merits of Baxter, without adding that of Mr. Wilberforce, a name which will ever be dear to every friend of religion and humanity. I cannot help saying, however, he ought not to have considered Baxter as exclusively the property of the Church of England. Baxter, though not properly a dissenter, was, in the strictest sense of the term, a nonconformist. “I must beg,” says Mr. Wilberforce, "to class among the brightest ornaments of the Church of England, this great man, who, with his brethren, was so shamefully ejected from the Church in 1662, in violation of the royal word, as well as of the dear principles of justice. With his controversial pieces I am little acquainted; but his practical writings, in four massy folios, are a treasury of Christian wisdom. It would be a most valuable service to mankind to revise them, and, perhaps, to abridge them, to render them more suited to the taste of modern readers. This has been already done in the case of his · Dying Thoughts,' a beautiful little piece, and of his Saint's Rest. His
Life, also, written by himself, and in a separate volume, contains much useful matter, and many valuable particulars of the history of the times of Charles I., Cromwell,” &c.' (Vol. ii, pp. 324-327.)
We close our extracts with the following very just remarks of Baxter's biographer :
• When he did write, it was with a pointed pen, which is never chargeable with obscurity or feebleness. The extent of his knowledge and his command of language, betrayed him into exuberance and redundancy. He heaps up arguments, and raises piles of reasons, scarcely knowing when to stop, or what limits to prescribe to a discussion. Though a lover of order, he had no time to arrange or select his thoughts when he sat down to write, so that he poured them forth with all the copiousness of his mind, but often with an irregularity and incongruity that materially injured their beauty and effect. He belabors an adversary till he has destroyed not only his existence but his very form. Not content with disarming him, and using his arms against himself, he seems to take pleasure in having him an object of pity, if not of scorn. His metaphysics and refinements have frequently been
. referred to. These constituted both his power and his weakness as a controversialist. They enabled him to discover any assailable points in the positions of his adversaries; to penetrate into every crevice, and to lay open every mistake. They at the same time supplied an almost invulnerable protection to himself. He had always ground on which he could retreat with advantage, so that he was frequently left in quiet possession of the field. This style of debate, however, enfeebled the cause, while it appeared to constitute the strength of its advocate. It rarely produced conviction of the truth, but often induced suspicion that error was lurking under the forms and behind the battlements of logic and metaphysics.
The style of Baxter is considerably diversified. It is often incorrect, rugged, and inharmonious, abounding in parentheses and digressions, and enfeebled by expansion. It is happiest when it is divested entirely of a controversial character, and the subject relates to the great interests of salvation and charity. It then flows with a copiousness and purity to which there is nothing superior in the language in which he wrote. The vigorous conceptions of his mind are then conveyed in a corresponding energy of expression ; so that the reader is carried along with a breathless impetuosity, which he finds it impossible to resist. Baxter knew nothing of that vice of learning which Bacon so beautifully describes, as consisting “more in hunting after words than matter; more after the choiceness of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of the sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses, and the varying and illustration with tropes and figures, than after the weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, life of invention, or depth of judgment." Baxter was superior to all this. Truth in all its majesty and infinite importance alone occupied the throne of his spirit, and dictated the forms in which its voice should be uttered. And when it spoke, it was in language divinely suited to its ture, never distracting by its turgidness, or disgusting by its regularity. He could be awful or gentle, pathetic or pungent, at pleasure ; always suiting his words to his thoughts, and dissolving his audience in tenderness, or overwhelming them with terror, as heaven or hell, the mercies of the Lord, or the wrath to come, was the topic of discourse. It may confidently be affirmed, that from no author of