Baxter, Richard

Baxter, Richard, 1615–91, English nonconformist clergyman. Ordained in 1638, he began his ministry at Kidderminster in 1641. He sided with Parliament when the civil war broke out and served (1645–47) as a chaplain in Cromwell's army, where he urged moderation in both religious and political opinions. At the Restoration, Baxter was chosen by Charles II as one of the royal chaplains. He took a leading part at the Savoy Conference (1661), where he tried to provide means that would permit moderate dissenters to stay in the Church of England. He declined an offer of the bishopric of Hereford, and with the passage of the Act of Uniformity (1662) he left the Church of England. Despite the persecution of nonconformist ministers, Baxter continued to preach; his followers were known as Baxterians. After a trial conducted with great brutality by Judge Jeffreys, he was imprisoned for 18 months on the charge of having libeled the Church of England in his Paraphrase of the New Testament (1685). Among Baxter's voluminous works are The Saints' Everlasting Rest (1650), Gildas Salvianus, the Reformed Pastor (1656), and A Call to the Unconverted (1657). His autobiographical Reliquae Baxterianae (1696) was edited (1925) by J. M. L. Thomas.

See N. H. Keeble, Richard Baxter: Puritan Man of Letters (1982).

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