Richard Baxter was born in 1615 and lived to the age of 77. He died as a pastor in Kidderminster, England.
He wrote some monumental books: The Reformed Pastor, A Call to the Unconverted and A Christian Directory. One of his tutors early in life was a man by the name of John Owen. And Owen’s Calvinism rubbed off on Baxter but not all of it, as Baxter remained a godly Arminian until he died.
One of Baxter’s favorite pastoral ministries was visiting the homes of his flock two nights a week. He would go through the streets of his city visiting as many homes as he could in a given evening. When he arrived, he would have a specific purpose: to teach. He would prepare lessons ahead of time and write tracts to deliver to them when he came into each of their homes. Some say every street in his home town had a member of his congregation living there, as a result of this home ministry. He remarked at the end of this life “On the Lord’s Day there was no disorder to be seen in the streets; but you might hear a hundred families singing psalms and repeating sermons as you passed through them.”
Baxter coined the phrase “preaching as a dying man to dying men” and was imprisoned on three different occasions and was publicly flogged during his life for preaching the Gospel. In his book Light from Old Times, J.C. Ryle had this praise for Baxter when he wrote, “While others were entangling themselves in politics, and burying their dead amidst the potsherds of earth, Baxter was living a crucified life, and daily preaching the Gospel. I suspect he was the best and wisest pastor that an English parish ever had, and a model that many a modern rector or vicar would do well to follow.”
He was one of the greatest pastors through church history since the apostle Paul and a secret to his ministerial impact could probably be found in a verse that was inscribed on his pulpit that he preached in for decades: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples” (Ps 105:1).