Though I have a body that had languished under great weaknesses for many years, and my diseases have been such as require as much exercise as almost any in the world, and I have found exercise the principal means of my preservation till now, and, therefore, have as great reason to plead for it as any man that I know, yet I have found that the foresaid proportion hath been blessed to my preservation, though I know that much more had been like to have tended to my greater health. Indeed, I do not know one minister in a hundred that needs so much exercise as myself. Yea, I know abundance of ministers, that scarce ever use any exercise at all, though I commend them not in this. I doubt not but it is our duty to use so much exercise as is necessary for the preservation of our health, so far as our work requires; otherwise, we should, for one day’s work, lose the opportunity of many. But this may be done, and yet the work that we are engaged in, be done too.
Richard Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, theologian and controversialist, called by Dean Stanley “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the nonconformists, spending time in prison.
He wrote 168 or so separate works — such treatises as the Christian Directory, the Methodus Theologiae Christianae, and the Catholic Theology, might each have represented the life’s work of an ordinary man. His Breviate of the Life of Mrs Margaret Baxter records the virtues of his wife, and reveals Baxter’s tenderness of nature. Without doubt, however, his most famous and enduring contribution to Christian literature was a devotional work published in 1658 under the title Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live. This slim volume was credited with the conversion of thousands and formed one of the core extra-biblical texts of evangelicalism until at least the middle of the nineteenth century.