I am reading The Reformed Pastor aloud to my husband and discussing Pilgrim’s Progress with my son. Although Baxter (1615-1691) and Bunyan (1628-1688) were contemporaries, I haven’t read anything that connected the two. Time seems to be less available to me these days; I haven’t found the leisure to follow fun little rabbit trails lately.
Baxter wrote The Reformed Pastor when he was too ill to speak at a ministerial conference. Reading the Puritans is like climbing upward through thick bramble bushes into a clearing with a fantastic vista. After reading through thick and creeping prose you come upon a clear and radiant sentence that rewards the effort. In truth, after reading a few pages, you find your feet and make your way with greater ease.
The Puritans were much closer to our tidy medieval fathers; they are fond of enumerations and list-making. There are handwritten notes in my copy which are sobering to read. My brother-in-law bought an entire library from a pastor who left his pastorate and his faith. His personal Ex Libris label is still in the flyleaf. Sigh…
I wanted to share some quotes about teaching that you might appreciate.
Be much at home, and be much with God. If it be not your daily business to study your own hearts, and to subdue corruption, and to walk with God–if you make not this a work to which you constantly attend, all will go wrong, and you will starve your hearers; or, if you have an affected fervency, you cannot expect a blessing to attend it from on high. Above all, be much in secret prayer and meditation. Thence you must fetch the heavenly fire that must kindle your sacrifices. p.62