William Cunningham on the value of Richard Baxter as an apologist

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... The first English writer of eminence who has written fully and at length in defence of the truth of Christianity, and in opposition to the objections of infidels, is Richard Baxter, so well known and so deservedly esteemed for his numerous and multifarious writings, controversial and practical, and for the extraordinary services, which he has been honoured to render to the cause of religion and piety. ...

For more, see William Cunningham on the value of Richard Baxter as an apologist.
I am amazed at Baxter's ability to reason even from simple natural light. He could bring God as merely revealed in nature to bear down on the conscience, as natural revelation has the power to do (Romans 1). I feel like I'm reading Calvin's Institutes Book I applied to the unconverted.

I wrote out summaries of his reasonings from nature, found at the beginning of Christian Directory:

  • Assume man has rationality, capable of controlling himself and loving and serving God.
  • Assume man knows his flesh should not rule him, but is made to love and serve God.
  • Man is self-loving, and desires happiness over misery, and is not truly indifferent to being in either heaven or hell.
  • Man knows he did not give himself all that he has, it comes from somewhere, and that giver must be God, the one to whom nothing can be given.
  • Man knows that God has the right to command and forbid.
  • Man knows that His creator must have his supreme love and obedience from his creation.
  • No man can prove to another man a right to his obedience and love above God (Eg. Governors have no right to obedience of subjects above God).
  • Man knows God is just and faithful, and therefore does not promise reward or punishment deceitfully; and given that the wicked prosper now and the righteous suffer now, we know we cannot be deceived about the world to come.
  • Even if there were no world to come, service to God will still be the most reasonable since God has such an absolute right over us, and the costliest obedience would still more than repay us.
  • Hardly a man can deny that there is a world to come in which good will be rewarded and sin punished, thus man dare not deny a thing so probable and reasonable as the world to come.
  • Man knows that life is miserable and vain, and everything in this life is eventually lost; therefore, it makes incredible sense to live with thorough diligence for the happiness of the world to come, and to avoid the probable misery of the other world at whatever cost possible.
  • For all these reasons, for our obligations to God as our creator and for self-love, it is ten thousand times more reasonable to be concerned with the coming world of joy or torment than this life; and the God who made us to be concerned for that world proves by our concern that such a world exists, thus it is our inescapable duty to be concerned.
  • It therefore follows that this life is no more good than it helps us for the world to come, and anything that hurts our joy in the world to come is not good.
  • It makes sense then that a man can never be too holy, or be too careful about his salvation, or love God too much. He can have too much care about things in this world, but not about the world to come.
  • You may assume that man knows this life is a trial, and our happiness hereafter depends very much on life in the present.
  • If these things are true, then reasonably a man should give serious thought to these reasons, and to the world to come, even in personal and sober retirement.
  • If a man is reasonable so far, then he should be able to judge himself whether he is living for God or self, for this world or the next.
  • Nothing mentioned so far presupposes any grace or holiness of heart. Heathens will agree to these things. If any man disagrees with these, it shows that sin has made him an unreasonable brute. He has lost his reason.
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