This week, we're featuring the book A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope, written by Richard Baxter and edited by J.I. Packer. Look for the orange sign in the church bookstore labeled "Book of the Week" if you're interested!
Upon the death of his wife, the Puritan pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691) honored a request from her to reprint some five hundred funeral sermons that he had written. But not wanting to do so without honoring the companion whose death pierced his soul so deeply, he wrote a short memoir of his wife's life and death.
He explains: "Being thus obliged by her request, mine own affections urged me to prefix this Breviate of her own life, written, I confess, under the power of melting grief, and therefore perhaps with the less prudent judgment; but not with the less, but the more truth; for passionate weakness poureth our all, which greater prudence may conceal" (pg. 47).
Baxter's description of his life with his wife is a rich expression of Christian grief. He delights in the truly wonderful memories of his departed spouse, and rests confidently in the providential care of his Heavenly Father.
This book not only features Baxter's own expression of grief (part 2), it includes J.I. Packer's reflections upon Baxter's work (parts 1 & 3). In editing this volume for publication, Packer writes about Puritanism more generally, and Baxter's grief in particular, helping readers to see in this book a relevant work to read while facing grief of their own.
The Puritans were masters of language and expression. Their writings masterfully draw together the great theological truths of God's word, and the way those theological truths play out in this, our pilgrim journey. A Grief Sanctified is a wonderful reflection upon a very difficult topic.
Rev. Andrew Compton