The Masterpiece

From The Causes and Dangers of Slighting Christ and His Gospel, 4 (ca. 1680)

As men, what are you but worms to God? As sinners you are far more vile than toads. Yet Christ was so far from making light of you, and of your happiness, that he humbled himself to put on mortal flesh, lived a life of suffering, and offered himself a sacrifice to the justice which you had provoked, that your miserable souls might have a remedy. No less has he showed to us than miracles of love and mercy, and yet shall we slight them?…

Consider, the work of man’s salvation by Jesus Christ is the masterpiece of all the works of God, in which he designs his love and mercy to be magnified, as his wisdom and power were in creation. For this reason the name of Jesus is Wonderful. Greater Love could none show than this.

How great was the evil and misery from which he delivered us and the good he procured for us? All are wonders, from his birth to his ascension. And from our new birth to our entrance into our master’s joy, all are wonders of matchless mercy. And do you make light of them?…

As for myself, I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, of my slow and unprofitable course of life, and of every sermon I preach, to think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and how much the salvation or damnation of men is concerned in it. I am ready to tremble, lest God should judge me as a slighter of his word; and of the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood. I think we should not speak a word to men, in matters of such consequence, without tears, or without the greaten possible earnestness; and we do not so, because we are too much guilty of the sin which we reprove.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691) was an English Puritan minister and theologian, notable for his long and devoted parish ministry at Kidderminster, and for his writings on controversial topics. He was also a noted poet and hymnwriter.

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