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[169] give the first intimation of the possibility of a more intimate relation.

It is easy to imagine with what mixed feelings of joy, surprise, and perplexity Baxter must have received the delicate avowal. There was much in the circumstances of the case to justify doubt, misgiving, and close searchings of heart. He must have felt the painful contrast which that fair girl in the bloom of her youth presented to the worn man of middle years, whose very breath was suffering, and over whom death seemed always impending. Keenly conscious of his infirmities of temper, he must have feared for the happiness of a loving, gentle being, daily exposed to their manifestations. From his well-known habit of consulting what he regarded as the divine will in every important step of his life, there can be no doubt that his decision was the result quite as much of a prayerful and patient consideration of duty as of the promptings of his heart. Richard Baxter was no impassioned Abelard; his pupil in the school of his severe and self-denying piety was no Heloise; but what their union lacked in romantic interest was compensated by its purity and disinterestedness, and its sanction by all that can hallow human passion, and harmonize the love of the created with the love and service of the Creator.

Although summoned by a power which it would have been folly to resist, the tough theologian did not surrender at discretion. ‘From the first thoughts yet many changes and stoppages intervened, and long delays,’ he tells us. The terms upon which he finally capitulated are perfectly in

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