Monday, November 20, 2017

Ealing's abortion clinic

Ealing has one of England's busiest abortion clinics and the local MP wants to curtail protests against it. The local press seems to be on her side as does the council so I wrote to the local paper and the internet forum for Ealing.

    I consider your November 17 coverage of Rupa Huq's campaign against the Mattock Lane protesters to be grossly unbalanced. 
   First the street has never become impassable. It is wide with a wide verge too. I have never seen protesters there. Friends have sometimes seen them but the problem seem exaggerated. 
   But the real imbalance is failure to present the other side of the argument as an MP related at the Westminster Hall debate. He read a letter from woman who on going to the clinic for an abortion was quietly handed a leaflet offering an alternative. She left the clinic and had the baby, now a healthy three year old. So good may come from opposition to terminations.

The changing world (12) 1969 - single

Five course New Year's lunch with wine and liqueur , a treat from dad at the Red Lion, South Stainley, the best restaurant in the area. The owners did racecourse catering Yorkshire. IMO never equalled there and perhaps elsewhere too. Family favourite.
   Back to Accrington. a second fortnight my longest locus and worst accommodation.. SUM prayer meeting at the Churchman's Preston. Bob was with SUM in Borno.. He was described to me by an old pastor as the first missionary who loved us. for he was the first to eat Nigerian chop. His predecessors were afraid lest they die said David Telta my informant. He also would have Nigerians in his house without removal of shoes and would give them lifts in his car. This marked Bob out in African eyes.
   Sunday in Colne, Dalbys the Independent Methodists, a small evangelical denomination strong there in Lancashire. £5/5/0 retention fee paid the The Pharmaceutical Society to keep me M.P.S. Heard from Anthony Robson who left ANMC last year. He was we said a rag bag of useless information, the railwayman who could spout out details of all manner of routes and timetables.
   Dick took me back to ANMC in his minivan, three and a half hours with fog on M1 and A5. Met Dele Onamusi at Welwyn, Yoruba bakery student from Kano, best friend in Nigeria. An inspirational Christian witness.
   ANMC practical courses included tropical hyena, car maintenance, radio, animal husbandry, book keeping, managemen, voice productiont, building. After I left it became ANCC as that was deemed more acceptable on certificates for overseas. They also merged with Mount Hermon Ladies Missionary College in Ealing and I believe Redcliffe Ladies too. New umbrella £2/19/11.
   Linguistics called from Bill Lees, OMF. Went to Spurs 0 Leeds 0. Katy and I went with my parents to Th Red lion at half term to celebrate their silver wedding. I continued to hitch hike and at Easter did a round trip from Skipton to ANMC and back, 420 miles in 13 hours of one day!
   At Easter my parents took Katy and I for a week in the Lakes at Howtown on Ullswater and we enjoyed climbing the fells. Concorde 002 maiden flight. Yakubu Yako stayed with us at Skipton. Hitched to central London in a little over four hours, very fast.  Leeds league champions.
    Fellowship of Faith For Muslims conference at Herne Bay with a very cold outdoor swimming pool.Lionel Gurney of Red Sea Mission Team speaking. Attended with Norman Norris, ANMC, bound for Pakistan. At SUM meeting, Wilf Bellamy and David Carling spoke.
  Watched investiture of the Prince of Wales on TV.  Started a year at Bruces Chemist, The Avenue, West Ealing lodging with Miss Riley by the gyrator while I flat hunt. A half hour walk to work. Wednesday half day. Found Kingsley Avenue flat at £7/17/6 a week out of my £40 pay.My wedding suit cost £24/10/-. Visited the Halletts for the first time with their eight children and granny. Katy recruited for girl's Crusaders.
   Argued with IanTait at Welwyn over his refusal to have the vow, With this ring I thee wed. A silly Puritan hangover.
   First moon landing, then Armstrong's first steps the next day. Katy passed her driving test first time. I found Ranald Macaulay and L'Abri Fellowship was ten minutes walk and they were about to start a church there. This was great news as so far Ealing churches had been Anglican or Baptist Union so not acceptable. Bought Morris 1100 which turned out to be a rust bucket for £300. Last day of old halfpennies as legal tender. Rioting in Belfast.

Top books to help prayer each day

These are in the chronological order I discovered them.

1. Psalms - all of life is there and prayer and praise for all occasions

2. The Valley of Vision  
- somewhat dated language. The author lectured when I was a student at All Nations. Much better than his lectures.,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

3. A Way to Pray: A Biblical Method for Enriching Your Prayer Life and Language by Shaping Your Words with Scripture 
 - Henry's commentary is famous but this is of more practical help

4.  Knowing God and Ourselves: Reading Calvin's Institutes Devotionally,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch Calvin's Institutes are the warmest of theologies and this is great on them.

How America got its Presbyterians

Waves of Presbyterians Arrive in America
by Rev. David T. Myers
An early American journal called the Pennsylvania Gazette put it succinctly for wave after wave of Scot-Irish from Ulster, Ireland to our shores. Published on this day, November 20, 1729, it stated, “Poverty, Wretchedness, Misery, and Want are become almost universal among them, . . . . so that there is not Corn enough rais'd for their Subsistence one Year with another; and at the same Time the Trade and Manufactures of the Nation being cramp'd and discourag'd, the laboring People have little to do, and consequently are not able to purchase Bread at its present Rate; That the Taxes are nevertheless exceeding heavy, and Money very scarce; and add to all this, that their griping, avaricious Landlords exercise over them the most merciless Racking Tyranny and Oppression. Hence it is that such Swarms of them are driven over into America.” To this listing of woes is the oppressive treatment of Irish Roman Catholics and the Anglican Church upon Ulster Presbyterians.
The first wave took place in the years of 1717 – 1718. Under the leadership of their pastor, the Rev. James McGregor, Presbyterian Covenanters from Aghadowey, Ulster shipped out for Boston, Massachusetts, expecting a warm welcome from the Puritans in that seaport town. However, this warm welcome was not forthcoming. In fact, those who followed this initial entrance were brought into the realization that they were unwelcome, period! But they persevered and ultimately settled throughout the New England colonies.
The second wave took place in the years from 1725 to 1729. The fact that the Pennsylvania Gazette recorded in our first paragraph of this post proves that this immigration was from Ulster to and through Pennsylvania. Indeed, the presence of many early Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania from this time period proves the point. It was so large in its day that the English Parliament searched for causes for the massive fleeing of Presbyterians to America.
The third wave of immigration was in 1740 – 1741. Famine was its main cause, as nearly half a million Irishmen died at this time. Beginning this year and in the next decade, there was a large percentage of Scot-Irish Presbyterians making their exodus. And as important as Pennsylvania was as an entry point, countless Irish families cast a vote by their feet as they followed the Great Wagon Road into the rich Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, and later on into the Carolina's, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Fifteen years later, in 1754 – 1755, invitations came from governors of North Carolina to Ulstermen which, added to a devastating droughts in the province, brought a fourth wave of immigrants to America. It wasn't easy to come over during these years either. The French and Indian War was raging in the colonies, and would for seven years. But they still came.
The last wave was 1771 – 1775, just prior to the Revolutionary War, in which a hundred ships brought to our shores, close to 25, 000 to 30, 000 immigrants, mostly Presbyterian.
Words to Live By:
The great majority of transfers were Presbyterian Scot-Irish immigrants. We can be thankful for their courage and convictions. They were to have a tremendous influence in the Revolutionary War as our Presbyterian forefathers had no problem fighting the British. But more than fighting for liberty was their desire to lay the spiritual foundations for historic Presbyterianism in the new land. We stand in their shadows as we seek to build Presbyterian churches to remain true to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Are you, the reader, in one of those congregations, supporting it by your membership, spiritual gifts, and tithes?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

On this day in 1672 Richard Baxter defies the English law forbidding him to preach, “preaching as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”

Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poethymn-writer,[1] theologian, and controversialistDean Stanley called him "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists, spending time in prison. His views on justification and sanctification are somewhat controversial within the Calvinist tradition because his teachings seem, to some, to undermine salvation by faith, in that he emphasizes the necessity of repentance and faithfulness.

Early life and education 

Baxter was born at Rowton, Shropshire, at the house of his maternal grandfather (probably on 12 November 1615),[2] and baptised at its then parish church at High Ercall.[3] In February 1626 he was removed to his parents' home (now called Baxter's House) in Eaton Constantine.[3] Richard's early education was poor, being mainly in the hands of the local clergy, themselves virtually illiterate. He was helped by John Owen, master of the free school at Wroxeter, where he studied from about 1629 to 1632, and made fair progress in Latin. On Owen's advice he did not proceed to Oxford (a step which he afterwards regretted), but went to Ludlow Castle to read with Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the Council of Wales and the Marches.[2]

He was reluctantly persuaded to go to court, and he went to London under the patronage of Sir Henry HerbertMaster of the Revels, with the intention of doing so, but soon returned home, resolved to study divinity. He was confirmed in the decision by the death of his mother.[2]
After three months spent working for the dying Owen as a teacher at Wroxeter, Baxter read theology with Francis Garbet, the local clergyman,[2] adding to his reading (initially in devotional writings, of Richard SibbesWilliam Perkins and Ezekiel Culverwell, as well as the Calvinist Edmund Bunny at age 14,[4] and then in the scholastic philosophers) orthodox Church of England theology in Richard Hooker and George Downham, and arguments from conforming puritans in John Sprint and John Burges. In about 1634, he met Joseph Symonds (assistant to Thomas Gataker) and Walter Cradock, two Nonconformists.[5][2]

Early ministry, 1638–1660

Dudley and Bridgnorth

n 1638, Baxter became master of the free grammar school at Dudley, where he commenced his ministry, having been ordained and licensed by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester. His success as a preacher was at first small; but he was soon transferred to Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, where, as assistant to a Mr Madstard, he established a reputation for vigorously discharging the duties of his office.[2]

Baxter remained at Bridgnorth for nearly two years, during which time he took a special interest in the controversy relating to Nonconformityand the Church of England. He soon became alienated from the Church on several matters; and after the requirement of the "et cetera oath", he rejected episcopacy in its English form. He became a moderate Nonconformist; and continued as such throughout his life. Though regarded as a Presbyterian, he was not exclusively tied to Presbyterianism, and often seemed prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism. All forms of church government were regarded by him as subservient to the true purposes of religion.[2]


One of the first measures of the Long Parliament was to reform the clergy; with this view, a committee was appointed to receive complaints against them. Among the complainants were the inhabitants of Kidderminster. The vicar George Dance agreed that he would give £60 a year, out of his income of £200, to a preacher who should be chosen by certain trustees. Baxter was invited to deliver a sermon before the people, and was unanimously elected as the minister of St Mary and All Saints' Church, Kidderminster. This happened in April 1641, when he was twenty-six.[2]

Title page of a 1657 edition of The Reformed Pastor.
His ministry continued, with many interruptions, for about 19 years; and during that time he accomplished many reforms in Kidderminster and the neighbourhood. He formed the ministers in the country around him into an association, uniting them irrespective of their differences as Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Independents. The Reformed Pastor was a book which Baxter published in relation to the general ministerial efforts he promoted.[2]

The English Civil War

On the outbreak of the First English Civil War, Baxter blamed both parties and recommended the Protestation; but Worcestershire was a Royalist stronghold, and he was exposed to annoyance and danger in Kidderminster.[2] He temporarily retired to Gloucester. On 23 October 1642, he was preaching at Alcester, during the Battle of Edgehill. He returned,[clarification needed] but only to be driven out again. He then moved to Coventry (a Parliamentary stronghold).[2] There he found himself with no fewer than 30 fugitive ministers, among whom were Richard Vines, Anthony Burges, John Bryan and Obadiah Grew. He officiated each Sunday as chaplain to the garrison, preaching a sermon each to the soldiery, and the townspeople and strangers. Including on the congregants were Sir Richard Skeffington, Colonel Godfrey Bosvile, George Abbot the layman scholar, and others.[6] After the Battle of Naseby he took the situation of chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley's regiment, and continued to hold it till February 1647. During these stormy years he wrote his Aphorisms of Justification, which on its appearance in 1649, excited great controversy.[7][5] Of numerous critics[a] the one with whom Baxter engaged most closely was Christopher Cartwright.[9]

Baxter's connexion with the Parliamentary army was a very characteristic one. He joined it that he might, if possible, contract the growth of sectaries in that field, and maintain the cause of constitutional government in opposition to republican tendencies of the time. He regretted that he had not previously accepted Oliver Cromwell's offer to become chaplain to the Ironsides. Cromwell avoided him; but Baxter, having to preach before him after he had assumed the Protectorship, chose for his subject the old topic of the divisions of the church, and in subsequent interviews argued with him about liberty of conscience, and even defended the monarchy he had subverted. This contact with Cromwell occurred when Baxter was summoned to London to assist in settling "the fundamentals of religion".[7][5]
In 1647, Baxter was staying at the home of Lady Rouse, wife of Sir Thomas Rouse, 1st Baronet, of Rous Lench in Worcestershire. There, though debilitated by illness, he wrote the most of a major work, The Saints' Everlasting Rest (1650).[7][5] During this period he was also an energetic campaigner for the establishment of a new University in Shrewsbury but lack of funding prevented success.

Return to Kidderminster

On his recovery he returned to Kidderminster, where he also became a prominent political leader. His sensitive conscience led him into conflict with almost all the contending parties in state and church.[7] An all-day debate on 1 January 1650, with John Tombes at Bewdleyended in confused disorder.[10]

Ministry following the Restoration, 1660–1691[edit]

18th-century engraving of Richard Baxter, after a 17th-century portrait by John Riley.After the Restoration in 1660, Baxter, who had helped to bring about that event, settled in London. He preached there till the Act of Uniformity 1662 took effect, and looked for such terms of comprehension as would have permitted the moderate dissenters with whom he acted to have remained in the Church of England. In this hope he was sadly disappointed. The goal of comprehension was obstructed by forces on both sides: by conforming churchmen and dissenters alike. The Savoy Conference resulted in Baxter's Reformed Liturgy, though it was cast aside without consideration. Baxter continued to advocate for a comprehensive "national church", off and on, until his death.[7]The same reputation which Baxter had obtained in the country he secured in London. The power of his preaching was universally felt, and his capacity for business placed him at the head of his party. He had been made a king's chaplain, and was offered the Bishopric of Hereford, but he could not accept the offer without assenting to things as they were. After his refusal, he was not allowed, even before the passing of the Act of Uniformity, to be a curate in Kidderminster, and Bishop George Morleyprohibited him from preaching in the Diocese of Worcester.[7]
On 10 September 1662,[11] Baxter married Margaret Charlton, a woman like-minded with himself. She died in 1681 and Baxter wrote the words for the hymn Ye Holy Angels Bright[12] in that year.[7]

Legal troubles[edit]

From 1662 until the indulgence of 1687, Baxter's life was constantly disturbed by persecution of one kind or another. He retired to Acton in Middlesex, for the purpose of quiet study, but was placed in prison for keeping a conventicle. Baxter procured a habeas corpus in the court of common pleas.[7]
He was taken up for preaching in London after the licences granted in 1672 were recalled by the King. The meeting house which he had built for himself in Oxendon Street was closed to him after he had preached there only once.[7]
In 1680, he was taken from his house; and though he was released that he might die at home, his books and goods were seized. In 1684, he was carried three times to the sessions house, being scarcely able to stand, and without any apparent cause was made to enter into a bond for £400 in security for his good behaviour.[7]
But his worst encounter was with the Chief Justice, Sir George Jeffreys, in May 1685. He had been committed to the King's Bench Prisonon the charge of libelling the Church in his Paraphrase on the New Testament, and was tried before Jeffreys on this accusation. No authoritative report of the trial exists; if the partisan account on which tradition is based is accepted, Jeffreys was infuriated. Baxter was sentenced to pay 500 marks, to lie in prison till the money was paid, and to be bound to his good behaviour for seven years. Jeffreys is even said to have proposed he should be whipped behind a cart. Baxter was now approaching 70 years old, and remained in prison for 18 months, until the government, hoping to win his influence, remitted the fine and released him.[7]

Later writings and last years

Baxter's health had grown even worse, yet this was the period of his greatest activity as a writer. He wrote 168 or so separate works, including major treatises such as the Christian Directory, the Methodus Theologiae Christianae, and the Catholic Theology. His Breviate of the Life of Mrs Margaret Baxter records the virtues of his wife and tenderness which otherwise might not have been known.[7] A slim devotional work published in 1658 under the title Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live[13] formed one of the core extra-biblical texts of evangelicalism until at least the middle of the 19th century.[citation needed]

The remainder of his life, from 1687 onwards, was passed peacefully. He died in London and his funeral was attended by churchmen as well as dissenters.[7]


Richard Baxter rejected the idea of a limited atonement in favour of a universal atonement, which drew him into a long debate with Calvinisttheologian John Owen. Interpreting the kingdom of God in terms of Christ as Christus Victor and Rector of all men, Baxter explained Christ's death as an act of universal redemption (penal and vicarious, though substitutionary in explication), in virtue of which God has made a new covenant offering pardon and amnesty to the penitent. Repentance and faith, being obedience to this covenant, are the conditions of salvation.

Baxter insisted that the Calvinists of his day ran the danger of ignoring the conditions that came with God's new covenant. Justification, Baxter insisted, required at least some degree of faith as the human response to the love of God.
Baxter's theology was set forth most elaborately in his Latin Methodus Theologiæ Christianæ (London, 1681); the Christian Directory (1673) contains the practical part of his system; and Catholic Theology (1675) is an English exposition. His theology made Baxter very unpopular among his contemporaries and even into the next century caused a split among the Dissenters.[14] As summarised by Thomas W. Jenkyn, it differed from the Calvinism on four points:[14]
  1. The atonement of Christ did not consist in his suffering the identical but the equivalent punishment (i.e., one which would have the same effect in moral government) as that deserved by mankind because of offended law. Christ died for sins, not persons. The benefits of substitutionary atonement are accessible and available to all men for their salvation.
  2. The atonement is not limited to a select few, but is available to all who will believe in Christ.
  3. The righteousness that is imputed to the believer in the work of justification is not the righteousness of Christ, but is by virtue of the faith of the believer himself in Christ.
  4. Every sinner has a distinct agency of his own to exert in the process of his conversion, which is to believe in Christ.


Richard Baxter is commemorated in the Calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with a feast day on 8 December, but his feast day in the Church of England's Calendar of Saints is 14 June.

Literary Legacy and Mentions

Geoffrey Nuttall lists 141 books written by Baxter in his biography of Baxter, published in 1965.[15]

In 1674, Baxter cast in a new form the substance of Arthur Dent's book The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven under the title, The Poor Man's Family Book. In this way, Arthur Dent of South Shoebury was a link between Baxter and another great Puritan John Bunyan.
In 1679 Baxter made one of the very few known allusions to Sir Thomas Browne's discourse The Garden of Cyrus, critically declaring to newly ordained priests, You shall have more.. solid truth than those in their learned Network treatises.
Baxter's influence in New England is referenced in the first chapter of the 19th century devotional work "I Will Be A Lady – a book for girls" by Mrs. Tuthill.
In George Eliot's Mill on the Floss Richard Baxter's "Saints Everlasting Rest" is listed as one of aunt Glegg's books.[16]
Max Weber (1864–1920), the German sociologist, made significant use of Baxter's works in developing his thesis for "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" (1904, 1920). Robert K. Merton (1910–2003), founder of the sociology of science and well known for the so-called Merton Thesis, also followed Weber in making use of Baxter's Christian Directory as "a typical presentation of the leading elements in the Puritan ethos."[17]

Richard Baxter Statue at St Mary's Church, Kidderminster


Baxter's House in Bridgnorth is still standing near the High Street with a name plaque on the front.

The Richard Baxter Monument in the civic parish of Wolverley and Cookley (neighbouring Kidderminster) was built around 1850 in memory of Baxter. It is a Grade II listed structure and resides on a hilltop on Blakeshall Common.[18]
The Baxter Monument is a Grade II listed structure in Kidderminster.[19] This tribute of general esteem was erected nearly two centuries after Baxter's death, sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock and unveiled 28 July 1875. Originally in the Bull Ring, it was moved to its present site outside St Mary's parish church in March 1967.[19][20][21]
The Baxter Monument in Rowton, Shropshire (the village of his birth) is a squat stone obelisk with a bronze plaque on which is written "Richard Baxter great divine author and eminent citizen of the 17th century. Son of Richard Baxter and Beatrice née Adney born here in Rowton AD 1615. Died in London 1691".[22] It resides on a triangle of grass at the centre of the village and is probably of late 19th century construction. It was designated a Grade II listed structure in 1983.[22] There is a portrait of Baxter in Dr Williams's LibraryGordon Square, London.
Baxter House, a boarding house at Old Swinford Hospital school in Stourbridge, is named after him. In Kidderminster, Baxter College(formerly Harry Cheshire High School), and a public park, Baxter Gardens, are both named after him. Until July 2011, Baxter's name was given to one of the six houses (the others Acton, Clive, Darwin, Houseman and Webb) at The Priory School, Shrewsbury. The houses were initially named after historical persons, but subsequently changed to tree names.
From Wiki