BOOK REVIEW | The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, by Richard Baxter
Updated and Abridged by Tim Cooper
In these days of perilous times and outward satanic devices of various kinds, “The Saints’ Everlasting Rest”, an original work by Richard Baxter in 1650, may very well be the edification and encouragement, the help and direction, the challenge and cutting, for the church today.
How can I sum up such a precious piece of gold? How can I give words and add to such beauty? Within this time of God’s providence of my life, and by His inspired words, Hosea seem to express this best – “…behold, I[God] will allure her, bringing her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” (Hosea 2:14; NASB) For it truly is “then I [God] will give her vineyards from there…” (Hosea 2:15)
I first became familiar with Richard Baxter about fifteen years ago when I picked up his work, “A Call to the Unconverted.” Baxter is a true wordsmith cutting down to the very quick the division of soul and spirit, leaving the reader fully exposed regarding one’s own profession to Christ.
Author Tim Cooper, PhD, University of Canterbury, serves as professor of church history at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I dare say Tim is the foremost historian of Richard Baxter. He skillfully and masterfully updated and abridged Baxter’s original work consisting of 853 pages down the purest of gold. Although I prefer to read original works, this updated printing is both beautiful and dangerous – beautiful in that every line begs that we draw nearer to God, and dangerous as each line cuts to the quick the reality of where we really lie in our daily spiritual exercise and profession of faith.
The wonderful context of Baxter’s life in the introductory pages, the pure gold embodied in Baxter’s work, and the appendix/outline in the back, make this compact version outstanding. Add to this, Joni Eareckson Tada’s beautiful testimony and encouragement for the believer to dive into Baxter and the puritans, makes this an essential for those who are desiring more than the typical book printed today. For those desiring the deeper joy and a closer walk with God, and a rest that lasts, this beautiful work is sure to bless you. There is little doubt that this publication is of a perfect and providential timing for the church corporately and the individual believer today.
Baxter’s work seems as if flaming arrows strike the heart with the accuracy of a highly skilled archer and impact with the force of a jackhammer. Baxter beautifully lays out our dutiful obedience as our means to attaining God’s blessings, yet, all within the love, grace and mercies of God. He literally drives the reader to the very Chief end of ends – this being God Himself.
On a personal note, in God’s providential timing and sovereign grace, He sent me the very words that I needed, words that send me directly back to Him, into deeper peace, love, and joy. In God’s economy He pours fourth His grace, and by His merciful hand, He ever so gently restores the bruised reed and fans into flame the smoldering wick. Oh! – to be found pressing further into the throne of God.
I cannot speak clearly enough in recommending this book for every professing Christian today. For truly, “He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God… for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…” (Rom. 8:26, 27; NASB)
Because “God first loved” me, I am able to respond in back to Him in faith, love, and desire. It is all His grace that enables me to say, and earnestly desire – “I want to be so full of Christ that there is no room for sin.” And yet, I lament like the Apostle Paul, “The good I wish I could do, I do not do.” Praise God that it is He, herein using Baxter, that He “allures me into the wilderness” of His presence, “outside the camp,” bringing the future eternal rest to the present, both here and now.
It is with absolute sincerity, concern for our souls, and for “The Saints’ Everlasting Rest,” that I commend this book to be not only read, but moreso digested. I urge the reader to dig deep into the Scriptures and thoughts Baxter presents. Get alone with God in the closet and bask in His intimate presence, meditating the heart, mind, and soul in the promises of God, the beauties of Christ, and the joy of the Spirit.
How rich a treasure we have in the writings of men who walked with God in their age, and left us such admonishment and encouragement to press on the narrow path and stay the narrow course in our age.
And although I speak highly of Richard Baxter, Tim Cooper, and Joni Earickson Tada, please hear me, it is the Lord of Glory who has chosen to use these dear saints. Therefore, let us make our hope, our rest, and our boast on the Lord alone. For any goodness in us is only that of Christ.
Reader, be blessed much in our great God alone.