Real Zeal


Richard Baxter, perhaps best known for his work, The Reformed Pastor, was also one of the few pastors in history to write pastoral directives for political action. In A Christian Directory, he included a practical guide on the nature of political life and how to engage with it. His counsel: understand as much as possible about the issue before acting publicly; passion alone is simply not enough.

There is no walking uprightly in the dark. Zeal will cause you to go apace [quickly]; but not at all to go right, if judgment guide it not. Erroneous zeal will make you to do evil with double violence . . . No man can do well which he understandeth not well. Therefore you must study and take unwearied pains for knowledge; wisdom never grew up with idleness, though the conceit of wisdom doth no where more prosper. This age hath told us to what dangerous precipices men will be carried by an ignorant zeal.1


1 Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory, in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, vol. 1 (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 739.

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