Author: Baxter, Richard, 1615-1691
A Christian Directory, Part 4: Christian Politics
The text of Part IV of A Christian Directory has been transcribed from pages 737 to 948 of Volume I of Richard Baxter’s Practical Works, as lithographed from the 1846 edition.
The greater part comprises 34 chapters that mostly address duties to rulers and to neighbours. These are followed by a “Moral Prognostication” on the future of the churches, and by a “Reformed Liturgy” that Baxter proposed. A table of contents has been inserted to assist the reader.
In the Liturgy all sub-headings, commentary and instructions to the Minister have been italicised and indented. The Liturgy includes a large number of sidenotes citing relevant biblical passages. In the interests of legibility these have been consolidated into footnotes at the end of each paragraph.
Inconsistencies in hyphenation, and apparent typographical errors, have been corrected. The anchors for footnotes 5 and 8, in chapter I, have been inserted after consulting another edition of the text.
Table of Contents
|To the reader||737|
|I.||General rules for an upright conversation.||737|
|II.||Memorandums to civil rulers for the interest of Christ, the church, and men’s salvation.||741|
|III.||Directions for subjects concerning their duty to their rulers.||744|
|IV.||Directions to lawyers about their duty to God.||769|
|V.||The duty of physicians.||771|
|VI.||Directions to schoolmasters about their duty for their children’s souls.||773|
|VII.||Directions for soldiers, about their duty in point of conscience.||774|
|VIII.||Advice against murder.||778|
|IX.||Directions for the forgiving of enemies, and those that injure us; against wrath, and malice, and revenge, and persecution.||782|
|X.||Cases resolved about forgiving injuries and debts, and about self-defence, and seeking right by law or otherwise.||785|
|XI.||Special directions to escape the guilt of persecuting. Determining also the case about liberty in matters of religion.||790|
|XII.||Directions against scandal as given.||800|
|XIII.||Directions against scandal taken, or an aptness to receive hurt, by the words or deeds of others.||807|
|XIV||Directions against soul murder, and partaking of other men’s sins.||810|
|XV.||General directions for the furthering of the salvation of others.||813|
|XVI.||Special directions for christian conference, exhortation, and reproof.||814|
|XVII.||Directions for keeping peace with all men.||819|
|XVIII.||Directions against all theft and fraud, or injurious getting and keeping that which is another’s, or desiring it.||823|
|XIX.||General directions and particular cases of conscience, about contracts in general, and about buying and selling, borrowing and lending, usury, &c. in particular.||827|
|XX.||Directions against oppression.||846|
|XXI.||Cases about, and directions against, prodigality and sinful wastefulness.||851|
|XXII.||Cases and directions against injurious law-suits, witnessing, and judgment.||855|
|XXIII.||Cases of conscience, and directions against backbiting, slandering, and evil speaking.||858|
|XXIV.||Cases and directions against censoriousness and unwarrantable judging.||861|
|XXV.||Cases and directions about trusts and secrets.||861|
|XXVI.||Directions against selfishness as it is contrary to the love of our neighbour.||868|
|XXVII.||Cases and directions for loving our neighbour as ourselves.||870|
|XXVIII.||Special cases and directions for love to godly persons as such.||873|
|XXIX.||Cases and directions for loving and doing good to enemies.||883|
|XXX.||Cases and directions about works of charity.||885|
|XXXI.||Cases and directions about confessing sins and injuries to others.||895|
|XXXII.||Cases and directions about satisfaction and restitution.||896|
|XXXIII.||Cases and directions about our obtaining pardon from God.||899|
|XXXIV.||Cases and directions about self-judging.||901|
|A moral prognostication.||905|
|To the reader.||905|
|Of what must be expected in the churches of christendom, till the golden age returns, or till the time of true reformation and unity.||906|
|Of the changes that will be in christendom in the golden age, and time of true reformation and unity.||914|
|The reformed liturgy.||922|
|The ordinary public worship on the Lord’s day.||922|
|The order of celebrating the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.||930|
|The celebration of the sacrament of baptism.||934|
|Of catechising, and the approbation of those that are to be admitted to the Lord’s supper.||936|
|Of the celebration of matrimony.||937|
|The visitation of the sick, and their communion.||938|
|The order of solemnizing the burial of the dead.||938|
|Of extraordinary days of humiliation and thanksgiving, and anniversary festivals.||939|
|Of prayer and thanksgiving for particular members of the church.||939|
|Of pastoral discipline, public confession, absolution, and exclusion from the holy communion of the church.||941|
|Appendix: prayers to be used at discretion.||945|
Think not by the title of this part, that I am doing the same work which I lately revoked in my “Political Aphorisms;” though I concluded that book to be quasi non scriptum, I told you I recanted not the doctrine of it, which is for the empire of God, and the interest of government, order, and honesty in the world. This is no place to give you the reasons of my revocation, besides that it offended my superiors, and exercised the tongues of some in places, where other matters would be more profitable: pass by all that concerneth our particular states and times, and you may know by that what principles of policy I judge divine. And experience teacheth me, that it is best for men of my profession, to meddle with no more, but to leave it to the Contzeu’s, the Arnisæus’s, and other Jesuits, to promote their cause by voluminous politics. The pope’s false-named church is a kingdom, and his ministers may write of politics more congruously, and (it seems) with less offence, than we. Saith the “Geographia Nubiensis” aptly, “There is a certain king dwelling at Rome called the pope,” &c. when he goeth to describe him. Nothing well suits with our function, but the pure doctrine of salvation; let statesmen and lawyers mind the rest.
Two things I must apologize for in this part. 1. That it is maimed by defect of those directions to princes, nobles, parliament men, and other magistrates, on whose duty the happiness of kingdoms, churches, and the world dependeth. To which I answer, That those must teach them whom they will hear; while my reason and experience forbid me, as an unacceptable person, to speak to them without a special invitation, I can bear the censures of strangers, who knew not them or me. I am not so proud as to expect that men so much above me, should stoop to read any directions of mine; much less to think me fit to teach them. Every one may reprove a poor servant, or a beggar (it is part of their privilege). But great men must not be so much as admonished by any but themselves, and such as they will hear. At least nothing is a duty which a man hath reason to think is like to do much more harm than good. And my own judgment is much against pragmatical, presumptuous preachers, who are over-forward to meddle with their governors, or their affairs, and think that God sendeth them to reprove persons and things that are strange to them, and above them; and vent their distastes upon uncertain reports, or without a call.
2. And I expect both to be blamed and misunderstood, for what I here say in the confutation of Master Richard Hooker’s “Political Principles,” and my own citation of Bishop Bilson, and such others. But they must observe, 1. That it is not all in Master Hooker’s first and eighth book, which I gainsay; but the principle of the people’s being the fountain of authority, or that kings receive their office itself from them, with the consequents hereof. How far the people have, in any countries, the power of electing the persons, families, or forms of government, or how far nature giveth them propriety, and the consequents of this, I meddle not with at all. 2. Nor do I choose Master Hooker out of any envy to his name and honour, but I confess I do it, to let men know truly whose principles these are. And if any (causelessly) question, whether the eighth (imperfect) book be in those passages his own, let them remember that the sum of all that I confute, is in his first book, which is old, and highly honoured, by——you know whom. And I will do him the honour, and myself the dishonour, to confess, that I think the far greater number of casuists and authors of politics, papists, and protestants, are on his side, and fewest on mine: but truth is truth.
On the subjects’ duty I am larger, because, if they will not hear, at least I may boldly and freely instruct them.
If in the latter part there be any useful cases of conscience left out, it is because I could not remember them. Farewell.
GENERAL RULES FOR AN UPRIGHT CONVERSATION.
Solomon saith, Prov. x. 9, “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.” And perfection and uprightness are the characters of Job, Job i. 1, 8; ii. 3. And in the Scripture to be upright or righteous, and to walk uprightly, and to do righteously, are the titles of those that are acceptable to God. And by uprightness is meant not only sincerity as opposed to hypocrisy; but also rectitude of heart and life, as opposed to crookedness or sin; and this as it is found in various degrees: of which we use to call the lowest degree that is saving by the name of sincerity, and the highest by the name of perfection.
Concerning uprightness of life, I shall, I. Briefly tell you some of those blessings that should make us all in love with it, and, II. Give you some necessary rules of practice.
1. Uprightness of heart and life is a certain fruit of the Spirit of grace, and consequently a mark of our union with Christ, and a proof of our acceptableness with God. “My defence is of God, who saveth the upright in heart,” Psal. vii. 10. “For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and his countenance doth behold the upright,” Psal. xi. 7. It is a title that God himself assumeth; “Good and upright is the Lord,” Psal. xxv. 8. “To show that the Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and no unrighteousness is in him,” Psal. xcii. 15. And God calleth himself the Maker, the Director, the Protector, and the Lover of the upright. “God made man upright,” Eccl. vii. 29. “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,” Psal. i. 6. “What man is he that feareth the Lord? him will he teach in the way that he shall choose,” Psal. xxv. 12. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous; he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly,” Prov. ii. 7.
2. The upright are the pillars of human society, that keep up truth and justice in the world: without whom it would be but a company of liars, deceivers, robbers, and enemies, that live in constant rapine and hostility. There were no trust to be put in one another, further than self-interest did oblige men. “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart,” Psal. xv. 1, 2. Therefore the wicked, and the enemies of peace, and destroyers of societies, are still described as enemies to the upright. “For lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psal. xi. 2, 3. “The just and upright man is laughed to scorn,” Job xii. 4. “The wicked have drawn out the sword to slay such as be of upright conversation,” Psal. xxxvii. 14. And indeed it is for the upright’s sake that societies are preserved by God, as Sodom might have been for ten Lots. At least they are under the protection of omnipotency themselves. “He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hand from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ear from hearing of blood, that shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off,” Isa. xxxiii. 15, 16. “The upright shall have good things in possession,” Prov. xxviii. 10. “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown; but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish,” Prov. xiv. 11.
3. Uprightness affordeth peace of conscience, and quietness and holy security to the soul. This was Paul’s rejoicing, the testimony of his conscience, that “in simplicity and godly sincerity he had had his conversation in the world, and not in fleshly wisdom,” 2 Cor. i. 12. And this was David’s comfort: “For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God; for all his judgments were before me, and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness;—with the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, and with the upright thou wilt show thyself upright,” 2 Sam. xxii. 22-24. Yea, peace is too little; exceeding joy is the portion, and most beseeming condition of the upright. “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart,” Psal. xxxii. 11. “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for praise is comely for the upright,” Psal. xxxiii. 1. “The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in him, and all the upright in heart shall glory,” Psal. lxiv. 10. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart,” Psal. xcvii. 11. The Spirit that sanctifieth them, will comfort them.
4. As the upright, so their upright life and duties are specially delightful and acceptable to God, Prov. xv. 8. The prayer of the upright is his delight, Psal. xv. 2. Therefore God blesseth their duties to them, and they are comforted and strengthened by experience of success. “The way of the Lord is strength to the upright, but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity,” Prov. x. 29. “Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly,” Micah ii. 7.
5. No carnal policies, no worldly might, no help of friends, nor any other human means, doth put a man in so safe a state, as uprightness of heart and life. To walk uprightly, is to walk surely, because such walk with God, and in his way, and under his favour, and his promise; and if God be not sufficient security for us, there is none. “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence,” Psal. cxl. 13. “The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them, but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness,” Prov. xi. 3, 6.
6. Lastly, the failings and weaknesses of the upright are pardoned, and therefore they shall certainly be saved, Rom. vii. 24, 25; viii. 1. The upright may say in all their weaknesses as Solomon; “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness; as for me, in the uprightness of my heart, I have willingly offered all these things,” 1 Chron. xxix. 17. “God will do good to them that are good, and to them that are upright in their hearts,” Psal. cxxv. 4. The upright love him, Cant. i. 4, and are loved by him. “No good thing will he withhold from them,” Psal. lxxxiv. 11. The way to right comforting the mind of man, is to show to him his uprightness, Job xxxiii. 23. “And whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved,” Prov. xxviii. 18. “For the high way of the upright is to depart from evil; and he that keepeth his way, preserveth his soul,” Prov. xvi. 17. I conclude with Psal. xxxvii. 37, “Mark the upright man, and behold the just, for the end of that man is peace.”
II. The true rules of an upright life are these that follow.
1. He that will walk uprightly must be absolutely devoted and subjected unto God: he must have a God, and the true God, and but one God; not notionally only, but in sincerity and reality: he must have a God whose wor