Mr Baxter was a renowned English Puritan preacher. He is famous for such books as Call to the Unconverted, Dying Thoughts, The Divine Life, and The Saint's Everlasting Rest. This short excerpt from The Reformed Pastor. written in 1656, was compiled by W.F. Bell.
How few ministers do preach with all their might! Alas, we speak so drowsily or gently, that sleepy sinners cannot hear. The blow falls so light that hard-hearted sinners cannot feel. The most of ministers will not so much as exert their voice, and stir up themselves to an earnest utterance. But if they do speak loud and earnestly, how few do answer it with weight and earnestness of matter! And yet without this, the voice does little good.
It would grieve one to the heart to hear what excellent doctrine some ministers have in hand, while yet they let it die in their hands for lack of close and lively application. In the name of God, brethren, labor to awaken your own hearts, before you go into the pulpit. A sleepy preacher will hardly awaken drowsy sinners. Though you give the holy things of God the highest praise in words, yet, if you do it coldly, you will seem by your manner to unsay what you said in the matter.
Though I move you not to constant loudness in your delivery (for that will make your fervency contemptible), yet see that you have a constant seriousness; and when the matter requires it, then lift up your voice, and spare not your spirits. Oh, speak not one cold or careless word about so great a business as heaven or hell.
I confess I must speak it by lamentable experience, that I publish to my flock the distempers of my own soul. When I let my heart go cold, my preaching is cold. And so I can oft observe also in the best of my hearers that when I have grown cold in preaching, they have grown cold too. Oh brethren, watch therefore over your own hearts: keep out lusts and passions, and worldly inclinations; keep up the life of faith, and love, and zeal; be much at home, and much with God. A minister should take special pains with his heart, before he is to go to the congregation; if it be cold, how is he likely to warm the hearts of his hearers? Therefore, go then specially to God for life!
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:3-5). THE APOSTLE PAUL
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed to thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:15-16). THE APOSTLE PAUL
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). THE APOSTLE PAUL