Richard Baxter on God’s Love

Richard Baxter on God’s Love for the saints: Baxter (1615 – 1691) is well known for his monumental work “The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.” This work was a product of the turmoil the Puritan experienced throughout his life.

There was civil war and disease. Some 868,000 people died through battle and disease over three countries. At one point, Baxter, who was a chaplain for the Parliamentary forces, walked through a field where he saw “about a thousand dead bodies” and perhaps many more buried there. On top of all this, the frail Baxter was plagued with infirmities and was imprisoned. He was a man who lived under the expectation of death.

Nevertheless, he comforted himself with the truth of heaven and God’s everlasting love for the saint. Surely he has worthy lessons for modern Christians!

Snippets from Baxter

The following is gleaned from the The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, updated and abridged by Tim Cooper. While this is not a review, I recommend the book. It begins with a Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada which is, in itself, a treasure to read.

Baxter reminds us that our senses will be perfected. We cannot possibly imagine the joy of experiencing the eternal love of God any more than one can describe the world and its colors to someone born blind.

I’ve always had the notion that we can’t take in God’s love with our fallen bodies as the experience would unmake us (recall Moses, Isaiah and John). He says the spiritual body will exceed even the sun in surpassing our current frail and diseased bodies. It will be capable of constant joy and love.

Perfect love

Many Christians have a strong sense of their sins and wonder how God can possibly love a loathsome sinner like them. Listen to Richard Baxter as he reminds us that God is love (1 John 4:8). He writes,

What a great favor it is that God will give us leave to love him, that he will graciously allow himself to be embraced by such arms that have embraced lust and sin before him. But that is not all! He returns love for love, no, a thousand times more. As perfect as we will be, we cannot reach his measure of love…

Did he not love you while you were an enemy and a sinner (Rom. 5:6, 8), while you even loathed yourself? Will he not now immeasurably love you as a son, as a perfect saint, and as one who now returns pure love for his love?

Christ has not bought you at so dear a price to trust you with yourself anymore. His love to you will not be as yours was on earth to him: seldom and cold, up and down, mixed with burning and quaking, with a good day and a bad.

Pastoral concern

Baxter’s pastoral concern assures us that Christ’s love is not dissuaded by our loathsome and hateful natures; our unwillingness, neglect and grudging resistance. He cites Rom 8:38-39,

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loved us while we were still enemies and sinners (Rom 5:6-8), and while we still loathed ourselves. Accordingly,

Will he not now immeasurably love you as a son, as a perfect saint, and as one who now returns pure love for his love?

Christian, believe this, and think on it: You will be eternally embraced in the arms of that love that is from everlasting to everlasting, of that love that brought the Son of God’s love from heaven to earth, from earth to the cross, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to glory…

Thank God for Richard Baxter, and Tim Cooper’s toils in making this work more accessible.

Maranatha

Alf Cengia bio


Alf Cengia has a keen interest in politics (especially the Middle East), is a collector of books and dabbles in weight training. He is stepfather to Michelle, Sammy’s chief walker and his wife’s favorite coffee maker. He blogs at Zeteo316 and Thoughts on Eschatology.

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