A 1,000 Thoughts

Lifelong, serious Bible study pays its greatest dividends on the deathbed, for only the authority of the Word of God can brace the soul for its upward flight. For Richard Baxter, the comforting passage was Hebrews 12:22–24.

Baxter was a seventeenth-century Puritan whose sermons and writings established him as one of the most powerful men of his era. His book, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, is beloved to this day. But Baxter tended to be sickly, and in 1662 he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his Puritan views. The imprisonment further damaged his health, and Baxter returned home weakened.

He was able to temporarily continue public ministry, then infirmity confined him to his rented house where, according to an old, undated biography, he opened his doors, morning and evening, to all that would join in family worship with him; to whom he read the Holy Scriptures and taught those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. But, alas, his growing diseases and infirmities soon forbade this also, confining him first to his chamber, and after to his bed. There, through pain and sickness, his body wasted; but his soul abode strong.

The description in Hebrews 12:22–24 was most animating to him, that he was going to the innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and church of the First-Born whose names are written in heaven; to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. “That scripture,” he said, “deserves a thousand thousand thoughts.”

On Monday, December 7, 1691, Baxter was seized by trembling and chill and began crying to God for pity; which cries and agony continued for some time, till at length he ceased those cries, and so lay in patient expectation of his change.

About four the next morning, Richard Baxter was promoted to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, to that heavenly Jerusalem, and to the Saint’s Everlasting Rest.

Robert J. Morgan

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

%d bloggers like this: