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The Reformed Pastor (Richard Baxter)

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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, worshiping 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.


‘A staple classic…you absolutely must have it. The passion, the love, for the souls of your people; this is the type of book you want to read once a year.’ — JOEL BEEKE

Table of Contents

Introduction: James I. Packer 9

Preface: William Brown 23

Dedication 37

Introduction note 51


The oversight of ourselves 53

Section 1

The nature of this oversight 53

1. See that the work of grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls 53

2. See that you be not only in a state of grace, but that your graces are in vigorous and lively exercise 61

3. See that your example contradicts not your doctrine 63

4. See that you live not in those sins against which you preach in others 67

5. See that you want not the qualifications necessary for the work 68

Section 2

The motives to this oversight

1. You have a heaven to win or lose as well as other men 72

2. You have a depraved nature as well as others 73

3. You are exposed to greater temptations than others 74

4. You have many eyes upon you, and there will be many to observe your falls 75

5. Your sins will have more heinous aggravations than other men's 76

6. Such great works as yours require greater grace than other men's 77

7. The honor of Christ lies more on you than on other men 78

8. The success of your labors materially depends on your taking heed to yourselves 80


The oversight of the flock

Section 1

The nature of this oversight 87


1. We must labor for the conversion of the unconverted 94

2. We must give advice to inquirers who are under conviction of sin 96

3. We must study to build up those who are already partakers of divine grace 97

4. We must exercise a careful oversight of families 100

5. We must be diligent in visiting the sick 102

6. We must be faithful in reproving and admonishing offenders 104

7. We must be careful in exercising Church discipline 104

Section 2

The manner of this oversight 111


1. Purely for God, and the salvation of souls 111

2. Diligently and laboriously 112

3. Prudently and orderly 112

4. Insisting chiefly on the greatest and most necessary things 113

5. With plainness and simplicity 115

6. With humility 116

7. With a mixture of severity and mildness 117

8. With seriousness, earnestness and Zeal 117

9. With tender love to our people 117

10. With patience 119

11. With reversal 119

12. With spirituality 120

13. With earnest desires and expectations of success 121

14. Under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our dependence on Christ 122

15. In unity with other ministers 123

Section 3

The motives to this oversight 124

1. From the relation in which we stand to the flock - we are overseers 124

2. From the efficient cause of this relation - The Holy Ghost 129

3. From the dignity of the object which is committed to our charge - The Church of God 130

4. From the price paid Joy the Church - which he hath purchased with his blood 131


Application 133

Section 1

The use of humiliation 133

1. On account of our pride 137

2. Our not seriously, unreservedly, and laboriously laying out ourselves in our work 146

(1) By negligent studies 146

(2) By dull, drowsy preaching 147

(3) By not compassionate and helping destitute congregations 150

3. Our prevailing regard to our worldly interests, in opposition to the interests of Christ 150

(1) By temporizing 150

(2) By too much thinking worldly things 151

(3) By barrenness in works of charity 152

4. Our undervaluing the unity and peace of the Church 156

5. Our negligence in exercising Church discipline 163

Section 2

The duty of personal catechizing and instructing the flock particularly recommended 172



Motives from the benefits of the work 173

1. It will be a most hopeful mean of the conversion of sinners 174

2. It will essentially promote the edification of saints 176

3. It will make our public preaching better understood by our people 177

4. It will make us more familiar with them, and assist us in winning their affections 177

5. It will make us better acquainted with their spiritual state, and enable us better to watch over them 178

6. It will assist us in the admission of persons to the sacraments 178

7. It will show men the true nature of the ministerial office 178

8. It will show our people the nature of their duty to their ministers 180

9. It will give the governors of the nation more correct views of the Christian ministry, and so may procure from them further help 182

10. It will exceedingly facilitate the ministerial work in succeeding generations 185

11. It will conduce to the better ordering of families, and the better spending of the Lord's day 186

12. It will help to preserve many ministers from idleness and mis-spending their time 186

13. It will contribute to subdue our own corruptions, and to exercise our own graces 187

14. It will withdraw both ourselves and our people from vain controversies, and the lesser matters of religion 187

15. It will extend these various benefits to all the people in our several parishes 188

16. It will not even stop here, but is like to be a work that will reach over the whole land 188

17. The weight and excellence of the duty recommended 189


Motives from the difficulties of the work 192

1. Difficulties in ourselves 192

2. Difficulties in our people 193


Motives from the necessity of the work 195

1. It is necessary for the glory of God 195

2. It is necessary for the welfare of our people 197

3. It is necessary for our own welfare 199


Application of these motives 200




Directions for bringing our people to submit to the exercise 232

1. Conduct yourselves in the general course of your life and ministry, so as to convince them of your ability, sincerity, and love to them 232

2. Convince them of the benefit and necessity of this exercise 233

3. Put catechisms into the hands of every family in your congregation, whether rich or poor 235

4. Deal gently with them, and avoid every kind of discouragement 236

5. Expostulate with such as are obstinate and disobedient 237


Directions for prosecuting the exercise with success 237

1. Address a few words to them in general to mollify their minds, and to remove all offense 238

2. Take them one by one, and deal with each of them apart 239

3. Take an account of what each of them has learned of the catechism 240

4. Try by further questions how far they understand what they have learned 240

5. When you have tried their knowledge, proceed next to instruct them yourselves 244

6. If they appear to be unconverted, make some prudent inquiry into their state 245

7. Endeavor to impress their heart with a sense of their deplorable condition 248

8. Conclude with an exhortation to them to believe in Christ, and to the diligent use of the external means of grace 250

9. At dismissing them, mollify their minds by a few words deprecating anything like offence, and endeavor to engage the masters of families to carry on the work you have begun 252

10. Keep a list of your people in a book, with notes of their character and necessities 253

11. Through the whole course of the exercise, see that the manner as well as the matter be suited to the end 254

12. If God enable you, extend your charity to those of the poorer sort, before they part from you 256

Product Details

Title: The Reformed Pastor

Author: Richard Baxter

Publisher: Banner of Truth

Pages: 312

Binding: Paperback

Size: 18.1 x 12.0 x 1.8 cm

ISBN: 9781848712119

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