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[181] His writings, like his sermons, were the earnest expostulations of a dying man with dying men. He tells us of no other amusement or relaxation than the singing of psalms. ‘Harmony and melody,’ said he, ‘are the pleasure and elevation of my soul. It was not the least comfort that I had in the converse of my late dear wife, that our first act in the morning and last in bed at night was a psalm of praise.’

It has been fashionable to speak of Baxter as a champion of civil and religious freedom. He has little claim to such a reputation. He was the stanch advocate of monarchy, and of the right and duty of the State to enforce conformity to what he regarded as the essentials of religious belief and practice. No one regards the prelates who went to the Tower, under James II., on the ground of conscientious scruples against reading the King's declaration of toleration to Dissenters, as martyrs in the cause of universal religious freedom. Nor can Baxter, although he wrote much against the coercion and silencing of godly ministers, and suffered imprisonment himself for the sake of a good conscience, be looked upon in the light of an intelligent and consistent confessor of liberty. He did not deny the abstract right of ecclesiastical coercion, but complained of its exercise upon himself and his friends as unwarranted and unjust.

One of the warmest admirers and ablest commentators of Baxter designates the leading and peculiar trait of his character as unearthliness. In our view, this was its radical defect. He had too little of humanity, he felt too little of the attraction of

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