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"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.
MR. RICHARD BAXTER, the author of the Saint's
Rest, so well known to the world by this, and many other excellent and useful writings, was a learned, laborious, and eminently holy divine, of the 17th century. He was born near Shrewsbury, in 1615, and died at London, in 1691.
His ministry, in an unsettled state, was for many years employed with great and extensive success, both in London, and in several parts of the country; but he was nowhere fixed so long, or with such entire satisfaction to himself, and apparent advantage to others, as at Kidderminster. His abode there was indeed interrupted partly by his bad health, but chiefly by the calamities of a civil war, yet in the whole it amounted to sixteen years; nor was it by any means the result of his own choice, or that of the inhabitants of Kidderminster, that he never settled there again, after his going from thence in 1660. Before his coming thither, the place was over-run with ignorance and profaneness; but, by the divine blessing on his wise and faithful cultivation, the fruits of righteousness sprung up in rich abundance. He at first found but a single instance or two of daily family prayer in a whole street, and, at his going away, but one family or two could be found in some streets that continued to neglect it. And on Lord's days, instead of the open profanation to which they had been so long accus
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 religion 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 impressions 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 he 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