Richard Baxter 15 June 1691
Richard Baxter was born in Shropshire in 1615, and died in London 8 December 1691. He is commemorated 15 June.
Throughout his life, Baxter worked as a peacemaker between factions. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1638, but by 1640 had allied himself with the Puritans, and was calling for the abolition of bishops in the Church of England. He was a believer in limited monarchy, and attempted to play a mediating role in the English Civil War. For a short time he was a chaplain to the Parliamentary Army, but he helped to bring about the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. After the monarchy was restored, he urged an expansion of the limits of tolerated dissent within the Church of England. In 1685-6 he was imprisoned for 18 months. The Revolution of 1688 largely freed him from further harassment.
Although circumstances thrust him into the political controversies of the day, his own chief calling, as he saw it, was to the parish ministry. From 1641 to 1660 he served the parish of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, a town where handloom weaving was the principal industry. Sunday after Sunday, he preached a doctrine of complete trust in God, and daily Christian obedience. His church had to be specially enlarged to accomodate the crowds who came to hear him speak. He was also deeply involved in personal pastoral counselling, making it his business to speak privately with every one in his parish on a regular basis.
His best known works are The Saints' Everlasting Rest and The Reformed Pastor. His autobiography, published after his death and edited by another hand, is called Reliquiae Baxterianae, or Mr. Richard Baxter's Narrative of the Most Memorable Passages of His Life and Times.
O heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Richard Baxter, who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock; and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life, we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
written by James Kiefer