Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
[Table of Contents]  [Fast Index]  [Site Map] 

The Proper Respect We are to Have Towards Men

by Richard Baxter

1. Our parents, rulers, and superiors must be honoured, obeyed, and pleased in all things which they require of us, in the several places of authority which God hath given them over us; and this must be not merely as to man, but as to the officers of God, from whom, and for whom, (and not against him,) they have all their power, Rom. xiii.; Exod. xx. 12; Titus iii. 1; I Pet. ii. 13; 2 Pet. ii. 10.

2. We must in charity, and condescension, and meekness of behaviour, seek to please all men in order to their salvation. We must so thirst for the conversion of sinners, that we must become all things (lawful) to all men, that we may win them. We must not stand upon our terms, and keep at a distance from them, but condescend to the lowest, and bear the infirmities of the weak; and in things indifferent not take the course that pleaseth ourselves, but that which, by pleasing him, may edify our weak brother. We must forbear and forgive, and part with our right, and deny ourselves the use of our christian liberty, were it as long as we live, if it be necessary to the saving of our brethren's souls, by removing the offence which hindereth them by prejudice. We must not seek our own carnal ends, but the benefit of others, and do them all the good we can.

3. As our neighbour is commanded to love us as himself, we are bound by all lawful means to render ourselves amiable to him, that we may help and facilitate this his love, as it is more necessary to him than to us: for to help him in obeying so great a command must needs be a great duty. And therefore if his very sin possess him with prejudice against us, or cause him to distaste us for some indifferent thing, we must as far as we can lawfully, remove the cause of his prejudice and dislike; though he that hateth us for obeying God, must not be cured by our disobeying him. Wee are so far from being obliged to displease men by surliness and morosity, that we are bound to pleasing gentleness, and brotherly kindness, and to all that carriage which is necessary to cure their sinful hatred or dislike.

4. We must not be self-conceited, and prefer a weak, unfurnished judgment of our own, before the greater wisdom of another; but in honour must prefer each other: and the ignorant must honour the knowledge and parts of others that excel them, and not be stiff in their own opinion, nor wise in their own eyes, nor undervalue another man's reasons or judgment; but be glad to learn of any that can teach them, in the humble acknowledgment of their own insufficiency.

5. Especially we must reverence the judgment of our able, faithful teachers, and not by pride set up our weaker judgment against them, and resist the truth which they deliver to us from God. Neither must we set light by the censures or admonitions of the lawful pastors of the church: when they are agreeable to the word and judgment of God, they are very dreadful. As Tertullian saith, If any so offend as to be banished from communion of prayer, and assembly, and all holy commerce, it is a judgment foregoing the great judgment to come. Yea, if the officers of Christ should wrong you in their censures by passion or mistake, while they act in their own charge about matters belonging to their cognisance and judgment, you must respectfully and patiently bear the wrong, so as not to dishonour and contemn the authority and office so abused.

6. If sober, godly persons, that are well acquainted with us, do strongly suspect us to be faulty where we discern it not ourselves, it should make us the more suspicious and fearful: and if judicious persons fear you to be hypocrites, and no sound christians, by observing your temper and course of life, it should make you search with the greater fear, and not to disregard their judgment. And if judicious persons, especially ministers, shall tell a poor, fearful, doubting christian, that they verily think their state is safe, it may be a great stay to them, and must not be slighted as nothing, though it cannot give them a certainty of their case. Thus far man's judgment must be valued.

7. A good name among men, which is the reputation of our integrity, is not to be neglected as a thing of nought; for it is a mercy from God for which we must be thankful, and it is a useful means to our successful serving and honouring God. And the more eminent we are, and the more the honour of God and religion is joined with ours, or the good of men's souls dependeth on our reputation, the more careful we should be of it; and it may be a duty sometimes to vindicate it by the magistrate's justice, against a slander. Especially preachers (whose success for the saving of their hearers depends much on their good name) must not despise it.

8. The censures of the most petulant, and the scorns of enemies, are not to be made light of, as they are their sins, which we must lament; nor as they may provoke us to a more diligent search, and careful watchfulness over our ways. Thus far man's judgment is regardable.
Consider the Nature of Man in General
Previous Page
Richard Baxter on Man-pleasing


Table of Contents Main Page Quote of the Week
History & Biography Poetry If You're Looking For...
New & Favourite Reformed Links Fast Index
Site Map Frivolous Search
About the Puritans Our Church