Jesus Christ

Growing in Christ - Meditation


"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) is well-known as a Puritan pastor. J.I. Packer has written extensively about the Puritans, and has stated:


...Richard Baxter convinced me long ago that regular discursive meditation, in which, as he quaintly put it, you 'imitate the most powerful preacher you ever heard' in applying spiritual truth to yourself, as well as turning that truth into praise, is a vital discipline for spiritual health.[1]


There may be fine distinctions in how one understands the meaning of meditation or contemplation, as Packer goes on to discuss, but it is safe to say that some thoughtful introspection is not inappropriate for the Christian, nor is it a new idea.


There is perhaps an easy way to begin to understand the thoughts of a pastor that lived almost four hundred years ago. Richard Baxter was not famous as a poet, but was in fact a very capable writer of devotional verse. For example:


            All nations of the earth

Extol the world's great King;

With melody and mirth

His glorious praises sing.


For he still reigns;

And will bring low

The proudest foe

That him disdains.

(from a Psalm of Praise, To the Tune of the 148th Psalm).[2]


"Melody and mirth" tells us that even Puritan pastors did not see the life of faith as all burden and toil-we can lighten up and feel true joy as we praise and serve God.


In another verse, Baxter reminds us of the cross:


My soul, bear thou thy part!

Triumph in God above!

With a well-tuned heart

Sing thou the songs of love.


Thou art his own

Whose precious blood,

Shed for thy good,

His love made known.


In these lines the personal nature of relationship with God is demonstrated. We are God's "own."


In a different verse, the author appears to pray for the strength to sustain faith:


Though human help depart

And flesh draw near to dust,

Let faith keep up my heart

To love God true and just;


And all my days

Let no disease

Cause me to cease

this joyful praise.


Baxter wants to "go the distance" whatever happens. He succeeded in living a long life of faithful service to God.


The author also acknowledges the seeming difficulties of the life of faith:


Though sin would make me doubt,

And fill my soul with fears,

Though God seem to shut out

My daily cries and tears,


By no such frost

Of sad delays

Let thy sweet praise

Be nipped and lost.


Praise God even in the midst of trials. This will confuse some, inspire others, and please God.


Why hesitate to praise God when we have the promises of God for our future?


Away, distrustful care!

I have thy promise, Lord.

To banish all despair,

I have thy oath and word


And therefore I

Shall see thy face

There thy grace

Shall magnify.


Our hope and trust in eternal life should motivate us to live the best life we can, here and now. Our atheist friends have no vision for the future other than emptiness and nothingness. We will do our best to offer our alternative vision to them, a vision based on historical evidence, logical reasoning, intuitive understanding, and diverse experience. With the blessing of the Holy Spirit, we will see wonderful results.


Contemplation of eternal life is a worthwhile activity:


With thy triumphant flock

Then I shall numbered be;

Built on the eternal rock

This glory we shall see.


The heavens so high

With praise shall ring.

And all shall sing in harmony.


"Singing in harmony" should mean more than musical harmony. It should mean the end of petty disputes that hinder unity and fellowship. Think of the grandeur of what we have in common with fellow Christians-it is so much more important than the secondary things upon which we differ. Never before in history have Christians been so boldly confronted with the real challenge: namely, widespread, unthinking atheism.


In easy-to-understand language, Richard Baxter has lifted our spirits with rhyme and reason. Now, let us treat ourselves to the first part of Psalm 148:


Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

praise him in the heights!

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,

praise him, all you shining stars!

Praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens! (ESV).


Praise God as we ply our way through this short but precious mortal life. Praise God as we discover and re-discover the joyful heart of our faith!


In faith and fellowship,

Patrick McKitrick

Outreach Canada - more...

[1] J.I. Packer, A Quest for Holiness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books) 1990, p.13.

[2] Donald Davie, ed. The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press) 1981, pp. 108-110.