The Reformed Pastor

Weight 0.33 kg
Dimensions 18.1 × 12.1 × 1.8 cm
ISBN 9781848712119

Paperback, Bonded Leather, eBook (ePub & Kindle), Paperback & eBook (ePub & Kindle)






Puritan Paperbacks


Pastoral Theology/Pastoral Helps

Original Pub Date


Banner Pub Date

Jul 1, 1974

This Edition



‘…A staple classic…you absolutely must have it. The passion, the love, for the souls of your people; this is the type of book you want to read once a year.’ — JOEL BEEKE

Book Description

Richard Baxter was vicar of Kidderminster from 1647 to 1661. In an introduction to this reprint, Dr. J.I. Packer describes him as ‘the most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced’. His ministry transformed the people of Kidderminster from ‘an ignorant, rude and revelling people’ to a godly, worshipping community. These pages, first prepared for a Worcestershire association of ministers in 1656, deal with the means by which such changes are ever to be accomplished. In his fervent plea for the discharge of the spiritual obligations of the ministry, Baxter, in the words of his contemporary, Thomas Manton, ‘came nearer the apostolic writings than any man in the age’. A century later Philip Doddridge wrote, ‘The Reformed Pastor is a most extraordinary book…many good men are but shadows of what (by the blessing of God) they might be, if the maxims and measures laid down in that incomparable Treatise were strenuously pursued’.

Today, Baxter’s principles, drawn from Scripture, and reapplied in terms of modern circumstances, will provide both ministers and other Christians with challenge, direction and help.

Table of Contents Expand ↓

Introduction: James I. Packer 9
Preface: William Brown 23
Dedication 37
Introductory note 51
The oversight of ourselves 53
Section 1
The nature of this oversight 53
1. See that the work of grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls 53
2. See that you be not only in a state of grace, but that your graces are in vigorous and lively exercise 61
3. See that your example contradict not your doctrine 63
4. See that you live not in those sins against which you preach in others 67
5. See that you want not the qualifications necessary for the work 68
Section 2
The motives to this oversight
1. You have a heaven to win or lose as well as other men 72
2. You have a depraved nature as well as others 73
3. You are exposed to greater temptations than others 74
4. You have many eyes upon you, and there will be many to observe your falls 75
5. Your sins will have more heinous aggravations than other men’s 76
6. Such great works as yours require greater grace than other men’s 77
7. The honour of Christ lieth more on you than on other men 78
8. The success of your labours materially depends on your taking heed to yourselves 80
The oversight of the flock
Section 1
The nature of this oversight 87
1. We must labour for the conversion of the unconverted 94
2. We must give advice to inquirers who are under conviction of sin 96
3. We must study to build up those who are already partakers of divine grace 97
4. We must exercise a careful oversight of families 100
5. We must be diligent in visiting the sick 102
6. We must be faithful in reproving and admonishing offenders 104
7. We must be careful in exercising Church discipline 104
Section 2
The manner of this oversight 111
1. Purely for God, and the salvation of souls 111
2. Diligently and laboriously 112
3. Prudently and orderly 112
4. Insisting chiefly on the greatest and most necessary things 113
5. With plainness and simplicity 115
6. With humility 116
7. With a mixture of severity and mildness 117
8. With seriousness, earnestness and Zeal 117
9. With tender love to our people 117
10. With patience 119
11. With reverence 119
12. With spirituality 120
13. With earnest desires and expectations of success 121
14. Under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our dependence on Christ 122
15. In unity with other ministers 123
Section 3
The motives to this oversight 124
1. From the relation in which we stand to the flock – we are overseers 124
2. From the efficient cause of this relation – The Holy Ghost 129
3. From the dignity of the object which is committed to our charge – The Church of God 130
4. From the price paid Joy the Church – which he hath purchased with his blood 131
Application 133
Section 1
The use of humiliation 133
1. On account of our pride 137
2. Our not seriously, unreservedly, and laboriously laying out ourselves in our work 146
(1) By negligent studies 146
(2) By dull, drowsy preaching 147
(3) By not compassionating and helping destitute congregations 150
3. Our prevailing regard to our worldly interests, in opposition to the interests of Christ 150
(1) By temporizing 150
(2) By too much minding worldly things 151
(3) By barrenness in works of charity 152
4. Our undervaluing the unity and peace of the Church 156
5. Our negligence in exercising Church discipline 163
Section 2
The duty of personal catechizing and instructing the flock particularly recommended 172
Motives from the benefits of the work 173
1. It will be a most hopeful mean of the conversion of sinners 174
2. It will essentially promote the edification of saints 176
3. It will make our public preaching better understood by our people 177
4. It will make us more familiar with them, and assist us in winning their affections 177
5. It will make us better acquainted with their spiritual state, and enable us better to watch over them 178
6. It will assist us in the admission of persons to the sacraments 178
7. It will show men the true nature of the ministerial office 178
8. It will show our people the nature of their duty to their ministers 180
9. It will give the governors of the nation more correct views of the Christian ministry, and so may procure from them further help 182
10. It will exceedingly facilitate the ministerial work in succeeding generations 185
11. It will conduce to the better ordering of families, and the better spending of the Lord’s day 186
12. It will help to preserve many ministers from idleness and mis-spending their time 186
13. It will contribute to subdue our own corruptions, and to exercise our own graces 187
14. It will withdraw both ourselves and our people from vain controversies, and the lesser matters of religion 187
15. It will extend these various benefits to all the people in our several parishes 188
16. It will not even stop here, but is like to be a work that will reach over the whole land 188
17. The weight and excellence of the duty recommended 189
Motives from the difficulties of the work 192
1. Difficulties in ourselves 192
2. Difficulties in our people 193
Motives from the necessity of the work 195
1. It is necessary for the glory of God 195
2. It is necessary for the welfare of our people 197
3. It is necessary for our own welfare 199
Application of these motives 200
Directions for bringing our people to submit to the exercise 232
1. Conduct yourselves in the general course of your life and ministry, so as to convince them of your ability, sincerity, and love to them 232
2. Convince them of the benefit and necessity of this exercise 233
3. Put catechisms into the hands of every family in your congregation, whether rich or poor 235
4. Deal gently with them, and avoid every kind of discouragement 236
5. Expostulate with such as are obstinate and disobedient 237
Directions for prosecuting the exercise with success 237
1. Address a few words to them in general to mollify their minds, and to remove all offence 238
2. Take them one by one, and deal with each of them apart 239
3. Take an account of what each of them has learned of the catechism 240
4. Try by further questions how far they understand what they have learned 240
5. When you have tried their knowledge, proceed next to instruct them yourselves 244
6. If they appear to be unconverted, make some prudent inquiry into their state 245
7. Endeavour to impress their heart with a sense of their deplorable condition 248
8. Conclude with an exhortation to them to believe in Christ, and to the diligent use of the external means of grace 250
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 252
10. Keep a list of your people in a book, with notes of their character and necessities 253
11. Through the whole course of the exercise, see that the manner as well as the matter be suited to the end 254
12. If God enable you, extend your charity to those of the poorer sort, before they part from you 256


2 testimonials for The Reformed Pastor

Submit your testimonial

  1. Bob

    Richard Baxter’s, “The Reformed Pastor” published by, “The Banner of Truth” is just as relevant today as it was in 1651. It is a timeless classic of Christian writing and should be in every Pastor’s library and read by every Christian. This book was written to address problems Baxter saw with his contemporaries. He was going to address them with a speech, but fell ill. Instead, he wrote to them, the words recorded in this book. Some Pastors were unbelievers, some were, cold intellectuals with great educations, others were passionate, but not qualified to serve as Pastors, yet still others were just as crass and base as the carnal world they wallowed in. Baxter took them all to task, and not just them, but himself also.

    Don’t be mistaken. This book is not a polemic, but a call to repent and be a loyal and true servant of God. The work is broken down into three chapters. Chapter one, “The oversight of ourselves” starts as a check up or a self-diagnostic per se. Baxter effectively brings to light the necessity of a Pastor being truly regenerated. Then, he warns Pastors about pitfalls of bad practices, as well encourages them. Chapter two, “The oversight of the flock” is just that. Instruction on how to perform the vocation dutifully for the Lord’s service and man’s benefit. If it weren’t full enough of good applicable information, then comes chapter three, “Application.” This Chapter is the largest of the book, and encompasess the most direclty applicable information for Pastors. The book in its entirety, convicts, informs, and exhorts.

    Some of you might be concerned that this book will be difficult to read due to it being in Modern English. (like the King James) I want to assure you that it was not a difficult read. Baxter put much emphasis on being comprehensible. He encourage the Pastors of the time to employ language and nomenclature that the common man would readily understand. With that in mind, Baxter wrote. This book, at times might slow you down, but not excessively or without easy remedy.

    One of the points that grabbed my attention and seemed anachronistic was his preaching against Pastors using their positions as a means to easy and comfortable lives. It brought to mind many of the Television Pastors living in sixteen thousand square foot palatial homes, while owning fleets of private jets. I guess bilking the hurting and needy in the name of God has been around for a long time. That is why it, “seemed” anachronistic when it actually wasn’t.

    There is so much in this book to like. I found myself underlining and highlighting entire sections. It is extremely relevant for today, just as I am sure it was for the time in which Baxter wrote. It reminds me of, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, but only for Pastors and from the perspective of a Pastor. That being said, there are theological notions that Baxter held that I do not affirm. He held to a sort of middle way when it came to soteriology. He wasn’t Arminian and he wasn’t Reformed. While I may not hold to Baxter’s theological convictions, I did thoroughly enjoy this book and will probably read it again and again over the years to come.

  2. Gavin Delap

    The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter is the result of a Pastoral concern for the personal catechising of all ages, each individual within a congregation. As a result, we are blessed with an outstanding work, which is an exposition and application of Acts 20:28: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” It was Baxter’s hope that his treatise would ‘reform’ – hence the title – the practice of catechising, which would result in more people getting saved, growing in faith and eventually a reformed understanding of doctrine.

    His treatise begins, as it should, with an ‘oversight of ourselves.’ Baxter exhorts the Pastor to “take heed to yourself” and look inward at the state and motives of oneself, reflecting on his own failures throughout. To him there was no higher calling and no greater privilege than to
    oversee God’s Church, though he acknowledges that this is no small task; yet still, one that can and should be exercised joyfully, by a man fit for the position, being under grace with a fruitful confession, who is well studied, and has an awareness of his own sin given the exposure to great temptations, for “the honour of your Lord and Master, and of His holy truth and ways, doth lie more on you than on other men.”

    He then moves on to an ‘oversight of the flock.’ Baxter laboured under the belief that “a man’s soul is worth more than a world.” His focus isn’t so much on preaching or doctrinal distinctives, but ensuring everything is in place for spiritual growth, starting with a greater knowledge of the Gospel, namely by private instruction man by man; acknowledging the different needs of classes of people, from the unconverted up to the stronger Christian. This included, where necessary, a careful exercise of Church discipline, with an address of the manner to which all tasks must be carried out, and the purpose thereof.

    Baxter’s exhortation is beyond persuasive, to the point where I would argue that if one isn’t convicted by the neglect of such duties and moved to action by the desperate needs of souls that shall never cease to exist, and stirred with a passion and energy that would sooner see themselves removed from the land of the living, rather than a soul under their keep not be found in the Lamb’s book of life, then consideration is necessary as to whether one is qualified for the privileged title and role of Pastor. This gracious rebuke and call to reform, which contains as much love and concern for the Pastor as it does for the flock, fulfils Baxter’s intention perfectly, and is as relevant today for Pastors, those aspiring to Ministry, and sheep alike, as it was when first published in 1656. Full of wisdom and practical application, this really is a book you should read once a year.

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