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[153] pious, sober, prayerful people, diligent readers of the Scriptures, who were derided by their neighbors as Puritans, precisians, and hypocrites. These were naturally drawn towards the new preacher, and he as naturally recognized them as ‘honest seekers of the word and way of God.’ Intercourse with such men, and the perusal of the writings of certain eminent Non-conformists, had the effect to abate, in some degree, his strong attachment to the Episcopal formula and polity. He began to doubt the rightfulness of making the sign of the cross in baptism, and to hesitate about administering the sacrament to profane swearers and tipplers.

But while Baxter, in the seclusion of his parish, was painfully weighing the arguments for and against the wearing of surplices, the use of marriage rings, and the prescribed gestures and genuflections of his order, tithing with more or less scruple of conscience the mint and anise and cummin of pulpit ceremonials, the weightier matters of the law, freedom, justice, and truth were claiming the attention of Pym and Hampden, Brook and Vane, in the Parliament House. The controversy between King and Commons had reached the point where it could only be decided by the dread arbitrament of battle. The somewhat equivocal position of the Kidderminster preacher exposed him to the suspicion of the adherents of the King and Bishops. The rabble, at that period sympathizing with the party of license in morals and strictness in ceremonials, insulted and mocked him, and finally drove him from his parish.

On the memorable 23d of tenth month, 1642, he

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