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Biographical Sermon on Richard Baxter

Biographical Sermon on Richard Baxter

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Published by glennpease
BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.

I HAVE BEEN YOUNG AND NOW AM OLD; YET HAVE
I NOT SEEN THE RIGHTEOUS FORSAKEN.

PSALM xxxvii. 25.

BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.

I HAVE BEEN YOUNG AND NOW AM OLD; YET HAVE
I NOT SEEN THE RIGHTEOUS FORSAKEN.

PSALM xxxvii. 25.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 14, 2013
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BIOGRAPHICAL SERMO O RICHARD BAXTER BEJAMI JOWETT, M.A.I HAVE BEE YOUG AD OW AM OLD; YET HAVEI OT SEE THE RIGHTEOUS FORSAKE.PSALM xxxvii. 25.A GREAT man, Richard Baxter, who died abouttwo hundred years ago, towards the close of his lifedrew up a narrative of the errors into which uponreflection he seemed to himself to have fallen in thecourse of it. This is not the exact anniversary of his death, which took place on Dec. 8, 1691. ButI may, perhaps, without impropriety, speak to youof him on this day. The lives of great and goodmen are the best sermons which we ever read orhear; and the preacher may do well sometimes toshield himself behind them, and so to speak withgreater authority than his own words could fairlyclaim. It is probable that the name of Baxter hasnever been celebrated before within these walls ; forhe was the leader of the onconformists of his day ;and it is not to be supposed that perfect justice wasdone him in a later generation any more than in his1 Preached in Westminster Abbey, July 4, 1891.F66 SERMOS, BIOGRAPHICAL [iv.own by his opponents. But now that both he andthey are gone to their account, we can think of them only as the servants of God who by somestrange accident were parted from one another here,
 
but have now entered into common rest and dwelltogether in His presence.I propose in this sermon to do three things First,I shall give a brief account of the life of this remark able man ; one of the greatest of Englishmen, notonly of his own, but of any time. Secondly, I shallenumerate a few particulars remarked by him abouthimself in that singular review of his own errors andmisconceptions to which I have already referred, andwhich may with truth be said to be unique inEnglish literature. Thirdly, I shall ask you toconsider how you or I or any of us may, in a humbleway, either towards the end of life or in the middleof it, examine our own lives in a similar spirit andsee ourselves as we truly are, not gilded by self-loveor self-conceit, but as we appear in the sight of othermen and women of sense and in the sight of God.The life of Richard Baxter coincides with a longperiod of political trouble. He was born in the year1615, and died about three years after the Revolutionof 1688. Both he and his father, who was anexcellent man, seem to have passed through theawakening of Puritanism. In 1641 we find himsettled at Kidderminster, in which town he continuedto minister, with some interruptions, for seventeeniv.] BAXTER 67years. Wonderful stories are told of the effects of his preaching. It might be said of him that as thepeople of ineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, so did the people of Kidderminster at thepreaching of Richard Baxter. or was he moreoccupied in preaching the Gospel to his own flock than in opposing the Anabaptists and other sectaries,including the soldiers of Cromwell s army, with in
 
exhaustible energy and irresistible logic. He wason the side of the Parliament, but believed for a timethat both he and they were loyal subjects of the king.Under the Commonwealth he was appointed chaplainto Cromwell, and seems to have spoken his mind tohim with astonishing freedom about King Charlesthe First. either of them liked or trusted theother.After the Restoration, during the short periodwhen it was the policy of the Court to conciliate theonconformists, he was offered the Bishopric of Hereford. The offer was declined. Baxter continued to struggle for peace and toleration until,on Aug. 22, 1662, the onconformist ministers werefinally expelled by the Act of Uniformity. Thatwas the greatest misfortune that has ever befallen thiscountry, a misfortune which has never been retrieved.For it has made two nations of us instead of one, inpolitics, in religion, almost in our notion of rightand wrong : it has arrayed one class of society permanently against another. And many of the politicalF 268 SERMOS, BIOGRAPHICAL [iv.difficulties of our own time have their origin in theenmities caused by the rout of Aug. 22, 1662, calledBlack Bartholomew s Day, which Baxter vainly stroveto avert.When the policy of the Church and the Courtcould no longer be resisted, Baxter, who might havebeen Bishop of Hereford, thought only of retiring tohis beloved Kidderminster. He was not permittedto do so. For the next twenty-six years his lifewas that of an exile in his own land and a prisoner

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