Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baxter on Evangelism

O sirs, surely if you had all conversed with neighbor Death as oft as I have done, and as often received the sentence in yourselves, you would have an unquiet conscience, if not a reformed life, as to your ministerial diligence and fidelity: and you would have something within you that would frequently ask you such questions as these: Is this all thy compassion for lost sinners? Wilt thou do no more to seek and to save them?… Shall they die and be in hell before thou wilt speak to them one serious word to prevent it? Shall they there curse thee for ever that thou didst no more in time to save them? Such cries of conscience are daily ringing in my ears, though, the Lord knows, I have too little obeyed them… How can you choose, when you are laying a corpse in the grave, but think with yourselves, ‘Here lieth the body; but where is the soul? And what have I done for it, before it departed? It was part of my charge; what account can I give of it?’ O sirs, is it a small matter to you to answer such questions as these? It may seem so now, but the hour is coming when it will not seem so… (TRP – p. 17)

Let [ministers] that have taken most pains in public, examine their people, and try whether many of them are not nearly as ignorant and careless as if they had never heard the gospel. For my part, I study to speak as plainly and movingly as I can…and yet I frequently meet with those that have been my hearers eight or ten years, who know not whether Christ be God or man, and wonder when I tell them the history of his birth and life and death as if they had never heard it before…But most of them have an ungrounded trust in Christ, hoping that he will pardon, justify and save them, while the world that their hearts, and they live to the flesh. And this trust they take for justifying faith. I have found by experience, that some ignorant persons, who have been so long unprofitable hearers, have got more knowledge and remorse in half an hour’s close discourse, than they did from ten years’ public preaching. I know that preaching the gospel publicly is the most excellent means, because we speak to many at once. But it is usually far more effectual to preach it privately to a particular sinner… (TRP – p. 18)