Baxter, Richard, an eminent Puritan divine and voluminous author of the seventeenth century, is best known to Christians of the present day by his Call to the Unconverted and his Saint's Everlasting Rest. When about twenty-five years of age he entered the ministry, and was appointed to the parish of Kidderminster (1640). Here he remained until |for conscience' sake| he, along with many other Nonconformist divines, was driven out from his weeping flock by the |Act of Uniformity| passed in 1662. He now ceased to preach; but being caught holding family prayers |with more than four persons,| he was, under the conditions of the |Conventicle Act| (1564), arrested and imprisoned for six months. He lived in retirement until 1672, when the |Act of Indulgence| gave him liberty to preach and to publish. But in 1685 the infamous Jeffries had him arrested and shamefully convicted of sedition, the foundation for the charge being found in his Paraphrase of the New Testament, for which he was imprisoned two years. He endured this unjust and cruel imprisonment with Christian patience and resignation, which finds illustration in the hymn below. His pastorate of twenty-two years at Kidderminster was faithful and untiring in the ministry of the Word, and was followed by rich spiritual fruits in the improved lives and characters of his six hundred parishioners. He exemplified his own couplet:
I preached as though I ne'er should preach again,
And as a dying man to dying men.
In few hymns are the faith and fidelity of the author more truly expressed than in this hymn by Baxter.
Lord, it belongs not to my care 470