About the Author
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) is chiefly remembered for the transformation his pastoral ministry effected on the town of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, during two periods of pastoral ministry there (interrupted by the English Civil War, in which he served as chaplain to the Parliamentary forces) between 1641 and 1661.
Born in Rowton, Shropshire, Baxter attended Wroxeter Grammar School but most of his study was done through his own private reading. He was ordained by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester, in 1638, and after a short time as a school-master in Dudley, became an assistant minister in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, before moving to Kidderminster in 1641. After leaving there in 1661, he preached in London, but was ejected from the Church of England the following year.
When almost fifty, Baxter married Margaret Charlton, one of his converts, who was in her early twenties. In spite of the difference in ages, they had an excellent marriage, and Margaret shared her husband's passion for Christ and the salvation of souls. Baxter suffered much ill-health, and the last twenty-nine years of his life were further 'embittered by repeated prosecutions, fines, imprisonment, and harassing controversies' (Ryle), but there was some respite with the accession of William and Mary in 1689, just two years before his death.
Richard Baxter was vicar of Kidderminster from 1647 to 1661. In an introduction to this reprint, Dr. J.I. Packer describes him as ‘the most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced’. His ministry transformed the people of Kidderminster from ‘an ignorant, rude and revelling people’ to a godly, worshipping community. These pages, first prepared for a Worcestershire association of ministers in 1656, deal with the means by which such changes are ever to be accomplished. In his fervent plea for the discharge of the spiritual obligations of the ministry, Baxter, in the words of his contemporary, Thomas Manton, ‘came nearer the apostolic writings than any man in the age’. A century later Philip Doddridge wrote, ‘The Reformed Pastor is a most extraordinary book…many good men are but shadows of what (by the blessing of God) they might be, if the maxims and measures laid down in that incomparable Treatise were strenuously pursued’.
Today, Baxter’s principles, drawn from Scripture, and reapplied in terms of modern circumstances, will provide both ministers and other Christians with challenge, direction and help.
From the heart of a tender, yet fiery leader flows the unchanging word of the Lord. Untainted by flowery expressions and sugary words, Richard Baxter pens a message to the preacher's abroad. His only intention, in the book, is restoration and instruction. Every person who has heard the call of the Lord, to lead the people of God, should read this writing. It will change your life forever.