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and his writings. It is therefore the less remarkable that Mr. Addison, from an accidental and very imperfect acquaintance, but with his usual pleasantness and candour, should mention the following incident: “I once met with a page of Mr. Baxter. “ Upon the perusal of it I conceived so good an idea “ of the author's piety, that I bought the whole “ book.”
Whatever other causes might concur, it must chiefly be ascribed to Mr. Baxter's distinguished reputation as a preacher and a writer, that presently after the Restoration he was appointed one of the chaplains in ordinary to King Charles II. and preached once before him in that capacity; as also he had an offer made him by the Lord Chancellor Clarendon, of the bishopric of Hereford, which, in a respectful letter to his lordship, he saw proper to decline.
The Saint's Rest is deservedly esteemed one of the most valuable parts of his practical works. He wrote it when he was far from home, without any book to consult but his Bible, and in such an ill state of health, as to be in continual expectation of death for many months; and therefore, merely for his own use, he fixt his thoughts on this heavenly subject, " which (says he) hath more benefited me than all the studies of my life.” At this time he could be little more than thirty years old. He afterwards preached over the subject in his weekly lecture at Kidderminster, and in 1656 he published it; and indeed it appears to have been the first that ever he published of all his practical writings. Of this book Dr. Bates says, “ It
was written by him when languishing in the sus
pence of life and death, but has the signatures of his " holy vigorous mind. To allure our desires, he un“ vails the sanctuary above, and discovers the glories “ and joys of the blessed in the divine presence, by a “ light so strong and lively, that all the glittering va“ nities of this world vanish in that comparison, and a “ sincere believer will despise them, as one of mature
age does the toys and baubles of children. To ex“ cite our fears, he removes the screen, and makes the
"everlasting fire of hell so visible, and represents the “ tormenting passions of the damned in those dread“ ful colours, that, if duly considered, would check “ and control the unbridled licentious appetites of the “most sensual wretches."
Heavenly rest is a subject, in its own nature so universally important and interesting, and at the same time so truly engaging and delightful, as sufficiently accounts for the great acceptance which this book has met with; and partly also for the uncommon blessing which has attended Mr. BAXTER's manner of treating the subject, both from the pulpit and the press. For where are the operations of divine grace more reasonably to be expected, or where have they in fact been more frequently discerned, than in concurrence with the best adapted means? And should it appear, that persons of distinguishing judgment and piety, have expressly ascribed their first religious impressions to the hearing or reading the important sentiments contained in this book; or, after a long series of years, have found it both the counterpart and the improvement of their own divine life, will not this be thought a considerable recommendation of the book itself?
Among the instances of persons that dated their true conversion from hearing the sermons on the Saint's Rest, when Mr. Baxter first preached them, was the Rev. Thomas Doolittle, M. A. who was a native of Kidderminster, and at that time a scholar, about seventeen years old; whom Mr. Baxter himself afterwards sent to Pembroke-hall, in Cambridge, where he took his degree. Before his going to the university, he was upon trial as an attorney's clerk, and under that character being ordered by his master to write something on a Lord's day, he obeyed with great reluctance, and the next day returned home, with an earnest desire that he might not apply himself to any thing as the employment of life, but serving Christ in the ministry of the gospel. His praise is yet in the churches, for his pious and useful labours, as a minister, a tutor, and a writer.
In the life of the Rev. Mr. John Janeway, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, who died in 1657, we are told, that his conversion was, in a great measure, occasioned by his reading several parts of the Saint's Rest. And in a letter which he afterwards wrote to a near relative, speaking with a more immediate reference to that part of the book which treats of heavenly contemplation, he says, “There is a duty, which, “ if it were exercised, would dispel all cause of me“ lancholy; I mean heavenly meditation, and con"templation of the things which true Christian reli
gion tends to. If we did but walk closely with God
one hour in a day in this duty, oh what influence “ would it have upon the whole day besides, and,
duly performed, upon the whole life! This duty, “ with its usefulness, manner, and directions, I knew " in some measure before, but had it more pressed
upon me by Mr. Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest,
[a book] that can scarce be over-valued, for which I “ have cause for ever to bless God.”—This excellent young minister's life is worth reading, were it only to see how delightfully he was engaged in heavenly contemplation, according to the directions in the Saint's Rest.
It was the example of heavenly contemplation, at the close of this book, which the Rev. Mr. Joseph Allein, of Taunton, so frequently quoted in conversation, with this solemn introduction, “ Most divinely says that man of God, holy Mr. Baxter.”
Dr. Bates in his dedication of his funeral sermon for Mr. Baxter to Sir Henry Ashurst, Bart. tells that religious gentleman, and most distinguished friend and executor of Mr. Baxter, “ He was most worthy “ of your highest esteem and love; for the first im
pressions of heaven upon your soul were in read
ing his invaluable book of the Saint's Everlasting “ Rest."
In the life of the Rev. Mr. Matthew Henry, we have the following character given us of Robert Warburton, Esq. of Grange, the son of the eminently religious Judge Warburton, and father of Mr. Matthew Henry's second wife. “ He was a gentleman that "greatly affected retirement and privacy, especially “ in the latter part of his life: the Bible, and Mr. “ Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest, used to lie daily “ before him on the table in his parlour; he spent the "greatest part of his time in reading and prayer."
In the life of that honourable and most religious knight, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, we are told, that “ he was constant in secret prayer and reading the “ scriptures; afterwards he read other choice authors: “ but not long before his death, he took singular de“ light to read Mr. Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest, “ and Preparations thereunto; which was esteemed a
gracious event of Divine Providence, sending it as “ a guide to bring him more speedily and directly to « that rest."
Besides persons of eminence, to whom this book has been precious and profitable, we have an instance, in the Rev. Mr. Janeway's Tokens for Children, of a little boy, whose piety was so discovered and promoted by reading it, as the most delightful book to him next the Bible, that the thoughts of everlasting rest seemed, even while he continued in health, to swallow up all other thoughts; and he lived in a constant preparation for it, and looked more like one that was ripe for glory, than an inhabitant of this lower world. And when he was in the sickness of which he died before he was twelve years old, he said, “ I pray, let “ me have Mr. Baxter's book, that I may read a little “ more of eternity, before I go into it.”
Nor is it less observable, that Mr. Baxter himself, taking notice, in a paper found in his study after his death, what numbers of persons were converted by reading his Call to the Unconverted, accounts of which be had received by letter every week, expressly adds, “ This little book [the Call to the Unconverted] God “ hath blessed with unexpected success, beyond all " that I have written, except the Saint's Rest.” With an evident reference to this book, and even during the life of the author, the pious Mr. Flavel affectionately says, “ Mr. Baxter is almost in heaven; living
“ in the daily views, and cheerful expectation, of the “ Saint's everlasting Rest with God, and is left for a “ little while among us, as a great example of the life “ of faith.” And Mr. Baxter himself says, in his preface to his Treatise of Self-denial, “ I must say, that of all “ the books which I have written, 1 peruse none so “ often for the use of my own soul in its daily work
as my Life of Faith, this of Self-denial, and the last
part of the Sant's Rest.” On the whole, it is not without good reason that Dr. Calamy remarks concerning it, “ This is a book, for which multitudes “ will have cause to bless God for ever.'
This excellent and useful book now appears in the form of an abridgment, and therefore it is presumed will be the more likely, under a divine blessing, to diffuse its salutary influence among those that would otherwise have wanted opportunity or inclination to read over the large volume. In reducing it to this small size, I have been very desirous to do justice to the author, and at the same time promote the pleasure and profit of the serious reader. And, I hope, those ends are, in some measure, answered; chiefly by dropping things of a digressive, controversial, or metaphysical nature; together with prefaces, dedications, and various allusions to some peculiar circumstances of the last age; and particularly by throwing several chapters into one, that the number of them may better correspond with the size of the volume; and sometimes by altering the form, but not the sense, of a period, for the sake of brevity; and when an obsolete phrase occurred, changing it for one more common and intelligible. I should never have thought of attempting this work, if it had not been suggested and urged by others; and by some very respectable names, of whose learning, judgment, and piety, I forbear to avail myself. However defective this performance may appear, the labour of it (if it may be called a labour) has been, I bless God, one of the most delightful labours of my life.—Certainly the thoughts of everlasting rest may be as delightful to souls in the present day, as they have ever been to those of past