Monday, May 11, 2020

Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter (1615―1691) is an English poet, theologian and Puritan church leader. His ministry in the English town of Kidderminster, where he was vicar from 1641 to 1661, was transformative.

He was an advisor to Oliver Cromwell and served as chaplain to Parliamentary soldiers in the English Civil War. Although he was an Anglican minister, he became a nonconformist, and was forbidden to preach. In 1685, even though he was suffering from tuberculosis, he was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.

His autobiography, The Reformed Pastor (1656), is Baxter’s encouragement to other pastors, and his guidance to them. His book, whose title I’ll shorten to simply call Poetical Fragments appeared in 1681.

He wants not friends that hath thy love

He wants not friends that hath thy love,
And may converse and walk with thee
And with thy saints, here and above,
With whom forever I must be.

Within the fellowship of saints
Is wisdom, safety and delight;
And when my heart declines and faints,
It’s raisèd by their heat and light.

As for my friends, they are not lost:
The several vessels of thy fleet
Though parted now, by tempests tossed,
Shall safely in the haven meet.

We still are centred all in thee,
Though distant, members of one Head;
Within one family we be,
And by one faith and spirit led.

Before thy throne we daily meet
As joint-petitioners to thee;
In spirit each the other greet,
And shall again each other see.

The heavenly hosts, world without end,
Shall be my company above;
And thou, my best and surest Friend,
Who shall divide me from thy love?

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.