THE REFORMED PASTOR, by Richard Baxter

Published on May 9, 2024 by Eugene Ho

Banner of Truth, 2020 | 310 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books at a Glance

by Steve West


This book is part of the Banner of Truth’s box set of Puritan Classics. Baxter’s original work was first published in 1656.



“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

Take heed that you do not preach the gospel and yet not know saving grace; do not set out food and starve. No man is saved because he is a preacher, so make sure you know Christ and are justified. “O miserable life! That a man should study and preach against himself, and spend his days in a course of self-condemning!” Make sure you preach to yourself before preaching to others. All knowledge is related to God, and unless we know God we know nothing aright. Theology is the foundation of every subject, and every subject reveals something of God. Preachers must not only be in a state of saving grace, they must be exercising grace and growing in righteousness. If you are cold or undernourished, so will your people become through your preaching.

It is a terrible thing for the preacher’s example to contradict their own doctrine: Do not pull down with your hands what you try to build with your words! It is scandalous when people will give great thought to their sermon but will not study how to live properly before God. Our lives must be composed with more care than our messages: we must be doers, not merely hearers of the word. Keep your lives free from sin and walk in purity. Humility, meekness, and self-denial are great virtues, and we must not fight or contend as others do or show favoritism. Abound in charitable works and benevolence, seeking out the poor. Rather than growing rich, be generous and give away. Ensure especially that you do not practice the sins you condemn in others. Ministry requires knowledge, so work hard to know theology and how to expound the Bible. Sinners oppose God’s truth with their minds and hearts, so we must be tireless and exact. Do not indulge your own weakness but work as hard as you can to be equipped. Grow, study, pray, confer, and practice.

Be motivated to take oversight of your own soul by the fact that you will either experience heaven or hell. Many have warned people of God’s wrath but have themselves ended up living under it eternally. Preachers as well as anyone have depraved and corrupted souls, and so they need grace and to take heed as much as others. As a preacher, Satan will assail and tempt you more than others, so you have special reason for caution. Satan has long attacked shepherds as a way to scatter the flock. There are many eyes upon the preacher, and when he falls the ruin affects a multitude. The business and work of the preacher aggravate his sins, since they are against greater knowledge and are more hypocritical. To be a minister requires more grace than that required by other people in other callings and walks of life, and the minister has a higher responsibility to honor and glorify God in every way. Because ministers can give God such honor, they also risk dishonoring him and bringing reproach to his name. You must take heed of yourself because God blesses the labors of those who are in spiritual trim in their ministries. How can God bless those who work in ministry for their own reputation or gain, or who are not faithful and diligent? Those who are in league with Satan will not truly fight against him, since they are his subjects. When people see that the minister does not live by his own doctrine, they will not listen. Every blessing and all real assistance in the ministry rests on the grace of the Lord, so make sure you are walking closely with him. . . .

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THE REFORMED PASTOR, by Richard Baxter

Banner of Truth, 2020 | 310 pages

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