1615 - 1691
RICHARD BAXTER One
of The best known of the Puritan authors .
He has been called the most successful
preacher, winner of souls, and nurturer of
souls that England has ever had. Edmund
Calamy called him The most voluminous
theological writer in the English language.
Baxter wrote 160 books. George Whitefield,
John Wesley, C. H. Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones
regarded him highly.
Born in Shropshire into a
somewhat poor family, he never attended a
university and was always physically weak.
Yet he was self-taught, acquiring great learning
on his own. He became the pastor in Kidderminster,
a town near Birmingham, in 1647. The people
there were very wicked. The pastor he replaced
was a drunkard who preached only once every
three months! Hardly any of the church members
were converted when he became the pastor.
During his years at Kidderminster he visited
all of the 800 families in his church every
year, teaching each person individually. He
put forth his method of ministry in his well-known
book, The Reformed Pastor, the greatest book
on pastoring that has ever been written.
The outstanding feature of
Baxters preaching was his earnest zeal.
In his writing and preaching he shows his
belief that pastors need the skill necessary
to make plain the truth, to convince the hearers,
to let in the irresistible light into their
consciences, and to keep it there, and drive
all home; to screw truth into their minds
and work Christ into their affections.
He had no Calvinistic
axe to grind, and sought to mediate
between Arminianism and Calvinism. He attempted
to soften some points of Calvinism by advocating
free will. Baxters method
was a middle way, which he called mere
Christianity (C. S. Lewis used this
phrase from Baxter as the title of his famous
His great strength lay in
his pastoral ability and in his evangelistic
preaching. The main purpose of his sermons
was to see the lost converted. His book, A
Call to the Unconverted, is a hard-hitting
plea for the lost to come to Christ.
Although he preached before
the King, in Parliament, and in Westminster
Abbey, his favorite pulpit was in his own
church, speaking to the poor people of Kidderminster.
After the Act of Uniformity,
he was put in prison in the Tower of London
for eighteen months because he was unwilling
to stay in the Church of England. While in
prison, he was often visited by the great
commentator Matthew Henry.
Written in 1657, Baxters
Treatise on Conversion is a great book. But
it is too lengthy, and the wording is too
difficult, for most people today. I have condensed
it and rearranged it, and have changed difficult
words to simpler ones, to reach the less literate
mind of modern man. I hope these sermons from
Baxter are a blessing to you. They indeed
correct the shallow decisionism
of our day which is damning millions
to eternal torment.