Richard Baxter

Priest, Theologian

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Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Richard Baxter was one of the outstanding Puritan leaders in the Church of England in the 17th century. He was born to a farming family. Although an able pupil, Richard was persuad-ed not to go to university, a decision he later regretted. He gained some further education at Ludlow Castle, and then in London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert. Richard was disgusted by the frivolity of the court and returned home to study theology, where he devel-oped strong Puritan sympathies. He was ordained in 1638 and became curate to the rector of Kidderminster in 1641, a position he retained until 1660.

He proved to be an energetic and faithful parish priest. He was especially strong in the area of pastoral care. While some of his parishioners found his forthright advice and admonitions un-palatable, he ministered with remarkable success among the hand-loom weavers of the district. The parish grew and the church had to be enlarged. In his sermons he set a pattern for evangelical preaching in the next century, with an emphasis on personal conversion and commitment to Christ.

In the turbulent religious debates of the Commonwealth period in England, Baxter adopted a non-partisan approach, ignoring denominational differences where possible. He continued to support the idea of a national Church of England, but was highly critical of the episcopate of the day. In his classic, The Reformed Pastor, he advocated small episcopal units in which the clergy could meet for mutual support. The work drew on his own careful pastoral practice. He spent some time in the parliamentary army during the civil war. Though a Puritan, his sense of moderation led him to be critical of the Solemn League and Covenant (1643), and of Oliver Cromwell. He disliked the sectarian tendencies then in evidence. In 1647 he left the army and wrote his devotional classic, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest. The work breathes a spirit of deep piety and warm moderation. He also wrote a number of hymns, of which “Ye holy angels bright” is probably now the best known.

At the Restoration in 1660, Baxter supported the return of Charles II and offered a reformed Puritan liturgy to the Savoy Conference of 1661 on the Prayer Book. The Restoration howev-er was determinedly traditional and had no interest in Baxter’s broad sympathies. When of-fered the bishopric of Hereford, Baxter declined it in protest at the sweeping powers of the Restoration episcopate. His writings caused some concern in official circles, and the authori-ties forbade his return to Kidderminster and banned him from preaching. Baxter spoke at pub-lic gatherings, and was imprisoned, suffering also at the hands of the notorious Judge Jeffreys. He took part in the overthrow of James II, welcomed William and Mary, and warmly support-ed the Toleration Act of 1689

BORN: 12 November 1615, Rowton, Shropshire, England.

DIED: 8 December 1691, London, England.


Hanukkah – The Jewish Festival of Lights.

Girl lighting the candles

Picture courtesy of Phillip Martin Clipart

This is the 7th Night of Hanukkah the Jewish Festival of Lights. because it is Shabbat (Sabbath) the Jews are not allowed to light candles, so today they do the closing of the Sabbath before lighting the Hanukkah candles. So I will reverse things today and the Closing of the Sabbath will be at Vespers and Hanukkah at Compline.

Since we as Christians don't have to be legelistic about it we can choose to do things around the other way and take into account children's dinnertime's, and bedtimes for those of us who have young ones - I don't think God will mind. Just enjoy the holiday. On most holidays, women bear the brunt of the special cooking and the clean-up etc afterwards but on Hanukkah women are not supposed to do any work while the candles are burning.....I think that is a very nice custom.