We have four names picked out for our children, two of each gender. If our first is a boy (we will, Lord willing, find out next Monday), we will name him Baxter. When we told Pat, he was like, “Oh, like Richard Baxter!”
In addition to the fact that we love the name, there are additional reasons why Baxter is cool.
Jonathan Edwards is one of my favorite authors, mainly because of his influence in John Piper’s life, but also because I have found his thought in A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will, Which Is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Vertue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame (Freedom of the Will, for short) to be so compelling. The quotes below are from the Speaker Interviews session at the 2003 Desiring God Conference on Jonathan Edwards and a God-Entranced Vision of All Things. I highly recommend downloading the audio from all the sessions.
Mark Dever asks, “If having a God-enthralled life is what we’re about as Christians, can you suggest one other author that’s been helpful to you in helping to accomplish that in your life and heart, and that you would commend to people, Jim?”
J.I. Packer’s response:
Richard Baxter, most definitely. He actually wrote a treatise on delighting in God, and it’s rich and thrilling stuff, as is The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, as is The Reformed Pastor, as is just about everything contained in his enormous Christian directory. I root for Baxter as a writer on practical religion. People like William Wilberforce never tired of reading Baxter, and he’s not the only one. I don’t tire of reading him. I recommend him very strongly to you. He is very much–at least on practical religious reality terms–he’s very much on the Edwards wavelength.
From the Reliquiae Baxterianae, quoted in the introduction in Richard Baxter and Conversion, by Timothy K. Beougher:
On the Lord’s Days there was no disorder to be seen in the streets, but you might hear an hundred families singing Psalms and repeating sermons as you passed through the streets. In a word, when I came thither first, there was about one family in a street that worshipped God and called on his name, and when I came away there were some streets where there was not passed one family in the side of a street that did not so; and that did not by professing serious godliness, give us hopes of their sincerity. (p. 13)
Baxter had a God-enthralled vision of life, and it overflowed in his powerful influence as a winner of souls in the towns in which he labored, to the point that you could walk to church and every single home you passed on the way there belonged to one of your members who would be on their way shortly. Could you imagine?