by Richard Baxter


(edited by William Brown)


Preface: William Brown


Introductory note


CHAPTER I:  The oversight of ourselves

Section 1: The nature of this oversight

1. See that the work of grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls
2. See that you be not only in a state of grace, but that your graces are in vigorous and lively exercise
3. See that your example contradict not your doctrine
4. See that you live not in those sins against which you preach in others
5. See that you want not the qualifications necessary for the work

Section 2 The motives to this oversight

1. You have a heaven to win or lose as well as other men
2. You have a depraved nature as well as others
3. You are exposed to greater temptations than others
4. You have many eyes upon you, and there will be many to observe your falls
5. Your sins will have more heinous aggravations than other men's
6. Such great works as yours require greater grace than other men's
7. The honour of Christ lieth more on you than on other men
8. The success ofyour labours materially depends on your taking heed to yourselves

CHAPTER II:  The oversight of the flock

Section 1 The nature of this oversight


1. We must labour for the conversion of the unconverted
2. We must give advice to inquirers who are under conviction of sin
3. We must study to build up those who are already partakers of divine grace
4. We must exercise a careful oversight of families
5. We must be diligent in visiting the sick
6. We must be faithful in reproving and admonishing offenders
7. We must be careful in exercising Church discipline

Section 2 The manner of this oversight


1. Purely for God, and the salvation of souls
2. Diligently and laboriously
3. Prudently and orderly
4. Insisting chiefly on the greatest and most necessary things
5. With plainness and simplicity
6. With humility
7. With a mixture of severity and mildness
8. With seriousness, earnestness and zeal
9. With tender love to our people
10.With patience
11.With reverence
12.With spirituality
13. With earnest desires and expectations of success
14. Under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our dependence on Christ
15. In unity with other ministers

Section 3 The motives to this oversight

1. From the relation in which we stand to the flock--we are overseers
2. From the efficient cause of this relation--The Holy Ghost
3. From the dignity of the object which is committed to our charge--The Church of God
4. From the price paid for the Church--which he hath purchased with his blood

CHAPTER III:  Application

Section 1The use of humiliation

1. On account of our pride

2. Our not seriously, unreservedly, and laboriously laying out ourselves in our work
(1) By negligent studies
(2) By dull, drowsy preaching
(3) By not compassionating and helping destitute congregations
3. Our prevailing regard to our worldly interests, in opposition to the interests of Christ
(1) By temporizing
(2) By too much minding worldly things
(3) By barrenness in works of charity

4. Our undervaluing the unity and peace of the Church

5. Our negligence in exercising Church discipline

Section 2The duty of personal catechizing and instructing the flock particularly recommended


ARTICLE I:  Motives from the benefits of the work

1. It will be a most hopeful mean of the conversion of sinners
2. It will essentially promote the edification of saints
3. It will make our public preaching better understood by our people
4. It will make us more familiar with them, and assist us in winning their affections
5. It will make us better acquainted with their spiritual state, and enable us better to watch over
6. It will assist us in the admission of persons to the sacraments
7. It will show men the true nature of the ministerial office
8. It will show our people the nature of their duty to their ministers
9.It will give the governors of the nation more correct views of the Christian ministry, and so may procure from them further help
10. It will exceedingly facilitate the ministerial work in succeeding generations
11. It will conduce to the better ordering of families, and the better spending of the Lord's day
12. It will help to preserve many ministers from idleness and misspending their time
13. It will contribute to subdue our own corruptions, and to exercise our own graces
14. It will withdraw both ourselves and our people from vain controversies, and the lesser matters of religion
15. It will extend these various benefits to all the people in our several parishes
16. It will not even stop here, but is like to be a work that will reach over the whole land
17. The weight and excellence of the duty recommended

ARTICLE 2:  Motives from the difficulties of the work

1. Difficulties in ourselves
2. Difficulties in our people

ARTICLE 3:  Motives from the necessity of the work

1. It is necessary for the glory of God
2. It is necessary for the welfare of our people
3. It is necessary for our own welfare

ARTICLE 4:  Application of these motives



ARTICLE I:  Directions for bringing our people to submit to the exercise

1.Conduct yourselves in die general course of your life and ministry, so as to convince them of your ability, sincerity, and love to them
2. Convince them of the benefit and necessity of this exercise
3. Put catechisms into the hands of every family in your congregation, whether rich or poor
4. Deal gently with them, and avoid every kind of discouragement
5. Expostulate with such as are obstinate and disobedient

ARTICLE 2:  Directions for prosecuting the exercise with success

1. Address a few words to them in general to mollify their minds, and to remove all offence
2. Take them one by one, and deal with each of them apart
3. Take an account of what each of them has learned of the catechism
4. Try by further questions how far they understand what they have learned
5. When you have tried their knowledge, proceed next to instruct them yourselves
6. if they appear to be unconverted, make some prudent inquiry into their state
7. Endeavour to impress their heart with a sense of their deplorable condition
8. Conclude with an exhortation to them to believe in Christ, and to the diligent use of the external means of grace
9. At dismissing them, mollify their minds by a few words deprecating anything like offence, and endeavour to engage the masters of families to carry on the work you have begun
10. Keep a list of your people in a book, with notes of their character and necessities
11. Through the whole course of the exercise, see that the manner as well as the matter be suited to the end
12. If God enable you, extend your charity to those of the poorer sort, before they part from you

iweb analytics