Puritan writer/preacher, Richard Baxter was a powerful spiritual force in 17th Century England. J.I. Packer referred to him as “a man for all ministries.” In Kidderminster, there is a statue in memory of Baxter and this inscription appears at its base: ‘Between the years 1640 and 1660 this town was the scene of the labours of Richard Baxter, renowned equally for his Christian learning and his pastoral fidelity. In a stormy and divided age he advocated unity and comprehension, pointing the way to “the eternal”. Churchmen and Nonconformists united to raise this memorial AD 1865.’
Many books have been written about this man of God and it would be futile to attempt to provide a full bodied taste of the richness of Baxter’s spiritual life and ministry here on this page. Today, however, I stumbled upon a small crumb of special delight in that it almost overwhelms the spiritual tastebuds with a literal flood of refreshing taste that is a special treat to the spiritual palate.
In his little exposition of Philippians 1.23, “Dying Thoughts”, Baxter honestly examines the sinister and often unspoken doubts and fears that often plague even the earnest believer when facing the prospect of death and eternity. His purpose in doing so is to provide strength and comfort in a devotional format.
“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better …” – Phil. 1.23
“My Lord, I have nothing to do in this World, but to seek and serve thee; I have nothing to do with a Heart and its affections, but to breathe after thee. I have nothing to do with my Tongue and Pen, but to speak to thee, and for thee, and to publish thy Glory and thy Will. What have I to do with all my Reputation, and Interest in my Friends, but to increase thy Church, and propagate thy holy Truth and Service? What have I to do with my remaining Time, even these last and languishing hours, but to look up unto thee, and wait for thy Grace, and thy Salvation?”
Easy words and thoughts to say and write, perhaps. But who of us actually lives them out, weaving them into the warp and woof of the fabric of everyday life? Such is the secret of a powerful spiritual force in 21st Century America!
So say we all?