Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Baxter on Man-pleasing

Richard Baxter's exposition of the sin of Man-pleasing is a fine example of his skill as a pastor and physician of souls. He is firmly in the Puritan tradition of calling sin what it is, but with clarity, balance, and compassion.

In this chapter of his Christian Ethics, Baxter does much more than censure Man-pleasing. He is very careful to say clearly what respect is due to men, to prevent his hearers from running to the opposite extreme. He then enters into a general discussion of the nature of man, which provides a background for the directions to follow. Baxter ends the chapter on several positive notes, listing the advantages, benefits, and marks of living a life to please God. This positive emphasis is similar to that of William Gouge.

In the middle of the chapter, Baxter makes a lengthly detour into the folly of attempting to please men. This section includes several personal references to his own ministry. It is interesting to compare the emotional intensity of this section with Baxter's overall positive presentation of his material.

Directions Against Inordinate Man-pleasing
Direction I. Do Not Run to the Opposite Extreme
     The Proper Respect We are to Have Towards Men
     Consider the Nature of Man in General
Direction II. The Favour of Men is a Snare
Direction III. Remember How Silly a Creature Man Is
Direction IV. Remember the Judgment of God
      The Judgement of God Compared to that of Men
Direction V. Why Honour Men so Much?
Direction VI. Men-Pleasing is Slavery
Direction VII. Remember what a pitiful reward you seek.
Direction VIII. The Fleeting Nature of Honour
Direction IX. Can You Please Men?
     The Folly of Trying to Please Men
Direction X. Men-Pleasing a Vexation
Direction XI. Remember Your True Business
The Advantages of Pleasing God Rather than Men
The Benefits of Seeking to Please God
Signs of Living to Please God

Index to Richard Baxter


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