Pastoral Book Reviews - The Reformed PastorTolle Lege - Take and Read Book Reviews
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Pastoral Book Reviews – The Reformed Pastor
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
The Reformed Pastor
By Richard Baxter
Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA: 1997.
256 Pages, Paperback.
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) 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.” We do not look to Baxter in help in theology – he was a poor theologian. We do, however, look to him for practical teaching surrounding the Christian life and experience – and in this case – for practical Pastoral theology. His ministry transformed the people of Kidderminster from “an ignorant, rude and reveling people”‘ to a godly, worshipping 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 re-applied in terms of modern circumstances, will provide both ministers and other Christians with challenge, direction and help.
To disregard the practical application and extension of the minister’s study into the homes of the people, will be to cause the ministry to cease. Churches today flourish with attendance, but not because of the blessings of God. They flourish because they are well equipped with the same tactics and strategy as Fortune 500 business. Baxter places the Minister, the Church and the People back in perspective. There is the constant need for Reformation of Pastoral Character.
“To bear with the vices of the ministry is to promote the ruin of the Church; for what speedier way is there for the depraving and undoing of the people , than the depravity of their guides?”
“Alas! It is the common danger and calamity of the church to have unregenerate and inexperienced pastors, and to have so many men become preachers before they are Christians; who are sanctified by dedication to the altar as priests of God, before they are sanctified by hearty dedication as the disciples of Christ; and so to worship an unknown God, and to preach an unknown Christ, to pray through an unknown Spirit, to recommend a state of holiness and communion with God, and a glory and a happiness which are all unknown, and like to be unknown to them forever.”
“It is blasphemy to bore people with the word of God.”
“How rare it is to meet with a man that smarteth or bleedeth with the Church’s wounds, or sensibly taketh them to heart as his own, or ever had solicitous thoughts of a cruel!”
“If men see that you are addicted to do good, they will the more easily believe that you are good, and it is good which you persuade them to.”
This is one of the most extraordinary works in print, besides the Bible, which treat of Pastoral Care and Ministry. Every “minister to be”, who desires the office, ought to read this before entering the office. If you read this after you have entered the ministry, you will have wished you had read it before you ever entered.