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have involved his property in very considerable embarrassments ; but, at a later period, the blessing of God on the simple reading of the scriptures, without any other religious advantages, had made him a devout and godly man. The influence of a father's example and serious instructions early affected the mind of the son with religious impressions, and gave him a remarkable tenderness of conscience. In subsequent years, the father expressed a strong belief that his son Richard was converted in infancy.

Respecting the religious advantages of his childhood, aside froni domestic example and instruction, Baxter gives the following testimony. “We lived in a country that had but little preaching at all. In the village where I was born, there were four readers successively in six years time, ignorant men, two of them immoral in their lives, who were all my schoolmasters. In the village where my father lived, there was a reader of about eighty years of age that never preached, and had two churches about twenty miles distant. His eye sight failing him, he said common prayer without book ; but for the reading of the Psalms and chapters, he got a common thresher, and day-laborer one year, and a taylor another year; for the clerk could not read well. And at last he had a kinsman of his own, (the excellentest stage-player in all the country, and a good gamester and good fellow,) that got orders and supplied one of his places. After him another younger kinsman that could write and read, got orders. And at the same time another neighbor's son that had been a while at school, turned minister, and, who would needs go further than the rest, ventured to preach, (and after got a living in Staffordshire) and when he had been a preacher about twelve or sixteen years, he was fain to give over, it being discovered that his orders were forged by the first ingenious stage-player, After him another neighbor's son took orders, when he had been a while an attorney's clerk, and a common drunkard, and tippled himself into so great poverty that he had no other way to live. It was feared that he and more of them came by their orders the saine way with the forementioned person. These were the schoolmasters of my youth, (except two of them) who read common prayer on Sundays and holy-days, and taught school and tippled on the week days, and whipped the boys when they were drunk, so that


we changed them very oft. Within a few miles about us were near a dozen more ministers that were near eighty years old apiece, and never preached; poor ignorant readers, and most of them of scandalous lives. Only three or four constant competent preachers lived near us, and those (though conformable all save one) were the common marks of the people's obloquy and reproach, and any that had but gone to hear them when he had no preaching at home, was made the derision of the vulgar rabble, under the odious name of a Puritane."*

The state of society in which his early years were spent, he describes in the same style. The character of the people corresponded with the character of their religious privileges. “In the village where I lived,” he says, “ the reader read the common prayer briefly, and the rest of the day, even till dark night almost, except eating time, was spent in dancing under a may-pole and a great tree, not far from my father's door ; where all the town did meet together. And though one of my father's own tenants was the piper, he could not restrain him nor break the sport; so that we could not read the scripture in our family without the great disturbance of the taber and pipe and noise in the street. Many times my mind was inclined to be among them, and sometimes I broke loose from conscience and joined with them; and the more I did it the more I was inclined to it. But when I heard them call my father, Puritan, it did much to cure me and alienate me from them; for I considered that my father's exercise of reading the scripture, was better than their's, and would surely be better thought on by all men at the last ; and I considered what it was for which he and and others were thus derided.

When I heard them speak scornfully of others as Puritans, whom I never knew, I was at first apt to believe all the lies and slanders wherewith they loaded them. But when I heard my own father so reproached, and perceived the drunkards were the forwardest in the reproach, I perceived that it was mere malice. For my father never scrupled common prayer or ceremonies, nor spake against bishops, nor even so much as prayed

* Narrative of his life and times. Part I. p. 2.

but by a book or form, being not even acquainted with any that did otherwise. But only for reading scripture when the rest were dancing on the Lord's day, and for praying (by a form out of the end of the common prayer book) in his house, and for reproving drunkards and swearers, and for talking sometimes a few words of scripture and the life to come, he was reviled commonly by the name of Puritan, Precisian, and Hypocrite; and so were the godly conformable ministers that lived any where near us, not only by our neighbors, but by the common talk of all the vulgar rabble of all about us. By this experience I was fully convinced that godly people were the best, and those that despised them and lived in sin and pleasure, were a malignant, unhappy sort of people ; and this kept me out of their company, except now and then when the love of sports and play enticed me."*

About the age of fifteen, the mind of Baxter was more deeply and permanently affected with the things that pertain to salvation. That tenderness of conscience, which has already been described as characteristic of his early childhood, made him feel with much sensibility the guilt of some boyish crimes into which he had been led by his ruder companions. In this distress, he met with an old torn book which had been lent to his father by a poor day-laborer. The book, though now obsolete, seems to have been blessed in its day to the conversion of many. It was written originally by a Jesuit

a on Roman Catholic principles, but had been carefully corrected by Edmund Bunny, a Puritan of Queen Elizabeth's time, after whom it was entitled “Bunny's Resolution.” The reading of this book was attended with the happiest effects on his mind. “I had before heard,” he says, some sermons, and read a good book or two, which made me more love and honor godliness in the general; but I had never felt any other change by them on my heart. Whether it were that till now I came not to that maturity of nature, which made me capable of discerning; or whether it were that this was God's appointed time, or both together, I had no lively sight or sense of what I read till now. And in the reading of this book, it pleased God awaken my soul, and show me the folly of sinning, and the tion;

* Narrative, Part I, pp. 2, 3.

misery of the wicked, and the inexpressible weight of things eternal, and the necessity of resolving on a holy life, more than I was ever acquainted with before. The same things which I knew before, came now in another manner, with light and sense and seriousness to my heart. This cast me at first into fears of my condi

and those drove me to sorrow and confession and prayer, and so to some resolution for another kind of life. And many a day I went with a throbbing conscience, and saw that I had other matters to mind, and another work to do in the world, than I had minded well before.

“ Yet whether sincere conversion began now, or before, or after, I was never able to this day* to know; for I had before had some love to the things and people which were good, and a restraint from other sins except those forementioned; and so much from those that I seldom committed most of them, and when I did, it was with great reluctance. And both now and formerly I knew that Christ was the only Mediator by whom we must have pardon, justification and life. But even at that time, I had little lively sense of the love of God in Christ to the world in me, nor of my special need of him ; for all Papists almost are too short upon this subject.”+

At this time his father bought of a pedlar at the door, another book, "The Bruised Reed," by Dr. Richard Sibbs. This he found adapted to the state of bis mind in those circumstances. It disclosed to him more clearly the love of God towards him, and gave him livelier apprehensions of the mystery of Redemption, and of his obligations to the Savior. Afterwards a servant came into the family with a volume of the works of William Perkins, another ancient and eminent Puritan divine; the reading of which instructed him further, and gave new strength to his determination. “ Thus,” he says, “ without any means but books, was God pleased to resolve me for himself.” During all this period of his education and of his christian experience, neither his father nor himself had any acquaintance with a single individual better instructed than themselves on the subject of religion. It is also worthy of notice that they had never heard an extemporaneous prayer. "My prayers,” says Baxter, “ were the confession in the common prayer book and sometimes one of Mr. Bradford's prayers in a book called his Prayers and Meditations, and soinetimes a prayer out of another prayer book which we had."

* Written in 1664, thirty-four years afterwards.

+ Narrative, Part I. p. 3.

The ignorant and tippling schoolmasters, under whom he acquired the earliest rudiments of education, have already been described. Of a Mr. John Owen, master of a considerable free school at Wroxeter, near his father's residence, he speaks with respect. In that school he was fitted for the university. But when his studies were advanced to that point, he was diverted from his original design of obtaining a regular education at one of the established seats of learning. His teacher proposed that instead of going to the university, he should be put under the tuition of a Mr. Wickstead chaplain to the council at Ludlow, who was allowed to have a single pupil. This situation, he was made to believe, was much more favorable to study than the university; and his parents regarded the new proposal with much partiality, as by such an arrangement their only son would still be kept near them. Accordingly he went to Ludlow Castle. But his new instructor taught him nothing. The chaplain to the council was too much engaged with his efforts “to please the great ones and to seek preferment;" he had no time or attention to bestow on his single pupil. Yet he did nothing to hinder the progress of the active and powerful young mind which he had undertaken to instruct; and with time enough and books, such a mind could not fail to make progress. .

In his new circumstances he was exposed to many temptations, the Castle and town being full of idleness and dissipation. But while there, he formed an intimate acquaintance with a man who though he afterwards apostatised, was then distinguished by strong and fervid religious feelings. His intercourse with his friend not only kept him on his guard, but kindled his own feelings to a higher pitch of excitement than they had ever attained before.

After a year and a half spent at Ludlow Castle, he returned to his father's house. His former teacher Owen being sick with consumption, he, at the request of Lord Newport the patron, took charge of the school for a few months. The death of Owen and


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