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Trade and Manufactures can never render your Town so famous, as the Name and Writings of Mr. Baxter have already inade it, both in this Island, and in many remote Parts of the Protestant World. His intimate and important Relation to kidderminster, and the Years he abode in it, afforded him the most delightful Reflection as long as he lived.
LONG Experience has enabled me to telify for you, that, notwithstanding your Share in those common Distinctions which so unhappily divide Fellow-Protestants, you poffefs a most unusual Degree of Candor and Friendship for each other. Thus you shew, that Kidderminster has not totally lost the amiable Spirit which it imbibed more than a Century ago.
THERE are no Excellencies personal or relative, no Species of domestick or publick Happiness, no Beauties of civil or religious Life, but what will be naturally promoted by a Care to secure to ourselves an Interest in the Rest wbich remainetb to the People. cf. Ged. They are the People for whicm alone that Reft is designed, both by the Promises of God, and by the Purchale of the Son of God. A Care to re
cure that Rest to ourselves, is the one Thing necdful. But neither this people, nor this
well know, are the Peculiarities of any Age, or of any Party. "If the Inhabitants of Kidderminster formerly excelled in this Care, you muit allow, it was their greatest Glory, And this, more than any Improvements of Trade, or increasing Elegancies of Life, will be the greatest Glory of their Successors.
To excite this Care, is the noblest De sign of all religious Instruction. This, and nothing else, animates the following Pages. Here, God and Christ, Heaven and Holiness, invite your most attentive and affectionate Regards. Here, you may peruse, what Multitudes in the same Town have heard and read before you to their everlasting Joy, till your Blefing's prevail above the Blessings of your Progenitors. Here, by the Help of divine Grace, you may learn the heavenly Art of walking with God below, of living in a constant View and Foretaste of the Glories of the new Jerusalem, and of making all you say or do, suffer or enjoy, subservient to the brightening your immortal Crown.--Nothing has the Compiler of this Abridgment to wish like fuch Con
fequences as these; even, to see the fame holy and heavenly Conversation in hifelf, and in those around hiin, now, as Mr. Baxter saw in his Day. This would be the greatest Joy, and Thall be the constant and fervent Prayer, of
Your affectionate Friend,
And obedient Servant,
Τ Η Ε
By the Compiler of this ABRIDGMENT.
R. Richard Baxter, the Author of the Saints
Reff, so well known to the World by this, and many other excellent and useful Writings, was a learned, laborious, and cminently holy Divine of the last Age. He was born near Shrewsbury in 16151 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 no where 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 fixteen Years; nor was it by any Means the Result of his own Choice, or that of the Inhabitants of Kidderminster, that he never fettled there again, after his going from thence in 1660. Before his coming thither, the Place was overrun
with Ignorance and Profaneness; but, by a divine Blessing on his wife and faithful Cultivation, the Fruits of Righteousnefs sprung up in a 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 Tome Streets that continued to neglect it. And on Lord's Days, instead of the open Profanation to which they had been fo long accufiomed, a Person, in passing thro? the Town, in the Intervals of publick Worshiper might overhear hundreds of Families engaged in fing ing Psalms, reading the Scriptures, and other good Books, or fuch Sermons as they had wrote down, while they heard them from the Pulpit. His Care of the Souls committed to his Charge, and the Succefs, of his Labours among them, were truly remarkable ; for the Number of his flated Communicants rose to fix bundrell, of whom, he himself declared, there were not twelve concerning whose fincere Piety he had not Reason to entertain good Hopes. Blerted be God, the religious Spirit which was thus happily introduced, is yet to be traced in the Town and . Neighbourhood in fome Degree (Otht it were in a greater!) and in Proportion as that Spirit remains, the Name of Mr. Baxter continues in the most honourable and affectionate Remembrance.
As a IVriter, he has the Approbation of some of his greatest Coleniporaries, who best knew him, and were under no Temptations to be partial in his Favour.Dr. Barrow said, “ His practical Writings
were never mended, and his controversial ones fol. 6 dom confured." With a View to his caluistical Writings, the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq; declared, “ He was the fittelt Man of the Age for a Casuist, “ because he feared no Man's Displeasure, nor hoped « for any Mari's Prcferinent,". -Bishop Wilkins ob.