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consecrated to the service of God, are under a moral perpetual obligation of preaching the saving truths of the Gospel, as they have opportunity. There needs no miraculous testimony of their commission from heaven, to authorize the doing their ordinary duty.
In some points of modern controversy, he judiciously chose the middle way, and advised young divines to follow it. His reverence of the divine purity, made him very shy and jealous of any doctrine that seemed to reflect a blaim and stain upon it. He was a clear asserter of the sovereign freeness, and infallible efficacy of divine grace, in the conversion of souls. In a sermon reciting the words of the covenant of grace, I will put my fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from me, Jer. xxxii. 40. he observes the tenor of it was, " I will, and “ you shall.” Divine grace makes the rebellious will obedient, but does not make the will to be no will. * By the illumination of the mind, the will is inclined to obedience, according to the words of our Saviour, All that have heard, and learned of the Father, come unto me. He preached, that the death of Christ was certainly effectual for all the elect, to make them partakers of grace and glory; and that it was so far beneficial to all men, that they are not left in the same desperate state with the fallen angels, but are made capable of salvation by the grace of the Gospel: Not capable as efficients to convert themselves, but as subjects to receive saving grace. He did so honour the sincerity of God, as entirely to believe his will declared in his word: He would not interpret the promises of the gospel in a less gracious sense than God intended them : Therefore if men finally perish, it is not for want of mercy in God, nor merits in Christ, but for wilful refusing salvation.
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
* If a meaner pen may be allowed to attempt an eclaircissement, this profound subject may be stated tbus :--Divine grace gives freedom to the will, by taking off the weighty prejudices and oppressions of sin, which bore it down or carried it away from its own original liberty and happiness. When these fetters were removed, the illumination of grace presented to the will all the beauty of holiness, which could not but close with it both in admiration and desire. Thus sinners are saved freely by grace, and yet in their own free-will: 'not that which is corrupted and enslaved, but that which is liberated and renewed. Every reader will remember, how analogous this is to the representation of the Seriptures, which describes natural men in a state of bondage under sin and Satao.
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. His book of “ The Saints' “ Everlasting Rest,” was written by him when languishing in the suspense of life and death, but has the signatures of his holy and vigorous mind. To allure our desires, be unveils the sanctuary above, and discovers the glory and joys of the blessed in the divine presence, by a light so strong and lively, that all the glittering vanities 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 fear, he removes the screen, and makes the everlasting fire of hell so visible, and represents the tormenting passions of the damned in those dreadful colours, that if, duly considered, would check and controul the unbridled licentious appetites of the most sensual wretches.
His Call to the Unconverted,” how small in bulk, but how powerful in virtue! Truth speaks in it with that authority and efficacy, that it makes the reader lay his hand upon his heart, and find he has a soul and a conscience, though he lived before as if he had none. He told some friends, that six brothers were converted by reading that Call; and that every week he received letters of some converted by his books. This he spake with most humble thankfulness, that God was pleased to use him as an instrument for the salvation of souls.
He that was so solicitous for the salvation of others, was not negligent of his own; but as regular love 'equires, his first care was to prepare himself for heaven. In him the virtues of the active and contemplative life were eminently united. His time was spent in communion with God, and in charity to men.
He lived above the sensible world, and in solitude and silence conversed with Gon. The frequent and serious meditation of eternal things, was the powerful means to make his heart holy and heavenly, and from thence his conversation. His life was a practical sermon, a drawing example. There was an air of humility and sanctity in his mortified countenance; and his deportment was be. coming a stranger upon earth, and a citizen of heaven.
Though all divine graces, the fruit of the Spirit, were visible in his conversation, yet some were more eminent.
Humility * The eminent Mr. Eliot of New England, translated this tract into the lodian tongue: a young Indian prince was so takeg with it, that he read it will tears, and died with it in bis hand.
Humility is to other graces, as the morning star is to the sun, that goes before it, and follows it in the evening: Humility prepares us for the receiving of grace; God gives grace to the humble: And it follows the exercise of grace; not I, says the apostle, but the grace of God in me. In Mr. Baxter there was a rare union of sublime knowledge, and other spiritual excellencies, with the lowest opinion of himself. He wrote to one that sent a letter to him full of expressions of honour and esteem : “ You “ do admire one you do not know; knowledge will cure “ the error. The more we know of God, the more rea“ son we see to admire him; but our knowledge of the “ creature discovers its imperfections, and lessens our “ esteem.” To the same person, expressing his veneration of him for his excellent gifts and graces, he replied with heat, “ I have the remainders of pride in me; * how dare you blow up the sparks of it ?" He desired some ministers, his chosen friends, to meet at his house, and spend a day in prayer, for his direction in a matter of moment: Before the duty was begun, he said, “ I have desired your assistance at this time, because I “ believe GOD will sooner hear your prayers than “ mine.” He imitated St. Austin both in his penitential confessions and retractations. In conjunction with humility he had great candour for others. He could willingly bear with persons of different sentiments: He would not prostitute his own judgment, nor ravish another's. He did not over-esteem himself, nor undervalue others. He would give liberal encomiums of many conforming divines.* He was severe to himself, but candid in ex. cusing the faults of others. Whereas, the busy enquirer, and censurer of the faults of others, is usually the easy neglecter of his own.
Self-denial, and contempt of the world, were shining graces in him. I never knew any person less indulgent to himself, and more indifferent to his temporal interest. The offer of a bishoprie was no temptation to him: For his exalted soul despised the pleasure and profits which others so earnestly desire ; he valued not an empty title upon his tomb.
* As he gave encomiums of others, he had much said to his honor by manv. Sir Matthew Hale spake bigbly of bis piety and learning, befo:e all the judges at the table at Serjeant's Inn, at the time when he was in prison upon the Oxford act. And see the testimony of others at the close of the account of his life, prefixed to his practical works in folio.
His patience was truly Christian. God does often try his children by afflictions to exercise their graces, to occasion their victory, and to entitle them to a triumphant felicity.
This Saint was tried by many aMictions. We are very tender of our reputation : His name was obscured under a cloud of detraction. Many slanderous darts were thrown at him. He was charged with schism and sedi
He was accused for his paraphrase on the New Testament, as guilty of disloyal aspersions upon the government, and condemned, unheard, to a prison, where he remained for some years. But he was so far from being moved at the unrighteous prosecution, that be joyfully said to a constant friend, “ What could I de“sire more of God, than after having served him to my power,
I should now be cailed to suffer for him ?” One, who had been a fierce dissenter, was afterward rankled with an opposite heat, and very contumeliously in his writings reflected upon Mr. Baxter, who calmly endured his contempt: And when the same person published a learned discourse in defence of Christianity, Mr. Baxter said, " I forgive him all for his writing that book.” Indeed he was so much the more truly honourable, as he was thought worthy of the hatred of (some) persons.
It is true, the censures and reproaches of others, whom he esteemed and loved, touched him in the tender part. But he, with the great Apostle, counted it a small thing to be judged by man's day. He was entire to his conscience, and independent upon the opinion of others. * But his patience was more eminently tried by his continual pains and languishing. Martyrdom is a more easy way of dying, when the combat and the victory are finished at once, than to die by degrees every day. His complaints were frequent; but who ever heard an unsubmissive word drop from his lips? He was not put out of bis patience, nor out of the possession of himself. In his sharp pains he said, “ I have a rational patience, and "a believing patience, though sense would recoil."
His pacific spirit was a clear character of his being a child of God. How ardently he endeavoured to ce
ment * The honourable Mr. Boyle declared Mr. Baxter to be the fittest man of the age to be a casuist, because be feared no man's displeasure, por hoped for any man's preferment.
Bishop Burnet, in his life of Sir Matthew Hale, records it, that - He beld great conversation with Mr. Baxter, who was his neigh. • bour at Acton, on whom he looked as a person of great devotion and
piery, and of a very subtle and quick apprehension.'—Burnet's Life, &c. p. 75.
ment the breaches among us, which others widen and keep open, is publicly known. He said to a friend, “ I “ can as willingly be a martyr for love as for any article “ of the creed.” It is strange to astonishment, that those who agree in the substantial and great points of the reformed religion, and are of differing sentiments only in things not so clear, nor of that moment as those wherein they consent, should still be opposite parties. Methinks, the remembrance how our divisions lately exposed us to our watchful adversary, and were almost fatal to the interest of religion, should conciliate our affections. Our common danger and common deliverance, should
prepare our spirits for a sincere and firm union: When our sky was so without a glimmering horizon, then by a new dawning of God's wonderful providence, a deliverer appeared, our gracious sovereign, King William the III. who has the honour of establishing our religion at home, and gives us hopes of restoring it abroad, in places from whence it has been so unrighteously and cruelly expelled. May the union of his protestant subjects in religious things, so desired by wise and good men, be accomplished by his princely counsel and authority. Integrity with charity would remove those things that have so long disunited us. I return from this digression.
Love to the souls of men, was the peculiar character of Mr. Baxter's spirit. In this he imitated and honoured our Saviour, who prayed, died, and lives for the salvation of souls. All his natural and supernatural endowments were subservient to this blessed' end. It was his meat and drink, the life and joy of his life, to do good to souls. His industry was almost incredible in his studies : He had a sensitive nature desirous of ease as others have, and faint faculties, yet such was the continual application of himself to his great work, as if the labour of one day had supplied strength for another, and the wil. lingness of the spirit had supported the weakness of the fiesh. In his usual conversation, his serious, frequent, and delightful discourse was of divine things, to enflame his friends with the love of heaven. He received with tender compassion and condescending kindness, the meanest that came io him for counsel and consolation. He gave, in one year, a hundred pounds to buy bibles for the poor. He has, in his will, disposed of all that remains of his estate, after the legacies to his kindred, for the benefit of the souls and bodies of the poor. He continued to preach so long, notwithstanding his wasted languishing body, that, the last time, he almost died in the pulpit.