Paul Baynes

Paul Baynes (c.1573-1617) was born in London, and educated in Christ’s college, Cambridge, where he was chosen fellow. His conduct at the university was, at first, so exceedingly irregular, that his father was much displeased with him; and, at his death, left forty pounds a year to the disposal of his friend Mr. Wilson of Irchin-lane, desiring, that if his son should forsake his evil ways and become steady, he would give it to him; but if he did not, that he should withhold it from him. Not long after his father’s death, it pleased God to convince him of his sins, and bring him to repentance. He forsook the paths of vice, and soon became eminent for piety and holiness. Much being forgiven him, he loved much.

Mr. Wilson, being taken dangerously ill, and having heard what the Lord had done for Mr. Baynes, sent for him, whereupon he was much delighted and profiled by his fervent prayers and holy conversation. Therefore, according to the trust reposed in him, he made known to Mr. Baynes the agreement into which he had entered with his father, and delivered to him the securities of the above annuity.

Mr. Baynes, it is said, was inferior to none in sharpness of wit, in depth of judgment, in variety of reading, in aptness to teach, and in holy, pleasant, and heavenly conversation. Indeed, his fame was so great at Cambridge that upon the death of the celebrated Mr. Perkins, no one was deemed so suitable to succeed him in the lecture at St. Andrew’s. In this public situation, he was much admired and followed; multitudes rejoiced under his ministry, and he so conducted himself, that impiety alone had cause to complain. Here he was instrumental, under God, in the conversion of many souls. Among these was the holy and celebrated Dr. Sibbes.

His excellent endowments, together with his extensive usefulness, could not screen him from the oppressions of the times. Dr. Harsnet, chancellor to Archbishop Bancroft, visiting the university, silenced him and put down his lecture for refusing subscription. Mr. Baynes was required to preach at this visitation, when his sermon was sound and unexceptionable. But being of a weak constitution, he retired at the close of the service for some refreshment. And being called during his absence, and not answering, he was immediately silenced. Nor were his enemies satisfied with this, but, to make sure work of it, the reverend chancellor silenced him over again; all of which Mr. Baynes received with a pleasant smile on his countenances. Having received the ecclesiastical censure, he appealed to the archbishop; but his grace stood inflexible to the determination of his chancellor, and threatened to lay the good old man by the heels for appearing before him with a little black edging on his cuffs.

After receiving the above censure, Mr. Baynes preached only occasionally, as he found opportunity, and was reduced to great poverty and want. Notwithstanding this, he never blamed himself for his nonconformity. But of the persecuting prelates he used pleasantly to say, “They are a generation of the earth, earthly, and savour not the ways of God.” He was an excellent casuist, and great numbers under distress of conscience resorted to him for instruction and comfort. This the bishops denominated keeping conventicles; and for this marvellous crime, Bishop Harsnet, his most furious persecutor, intended to have procured his banishment. He was therefore called before the council and, being allowed to speak in his own defence, he made so admirable a speech, that before he had done, one of the lords stood up, and said, “He speaks more like an angel than a man, and I dare not stay here to have a hand in any sentence against him.” Upon this he was dismissed, and heard no more of it.

Though Mr. Baynes’s natural temper was warm and irritable, no one was more ready to receive reproof, when properly administered. Indeed, by the power of divine grace, the lion was turned into a lamb; and he was become of so holy and humble a spirit, that he was exceedingly beloved and revered by all who knew him. During the summer season, after he was silenced, he usually visited gentlemen in the country; and they accounted it a peculiar felicity to be favoured with his company and conversation.

In his last sickness, the adversary of souls was permitted to disturb his peace. He laboured to the last under many doubts and fears, and left the world less comfortable than many others greatly inferior to him in Christian faith and holiness. He died at Cambridge, in the year 1617. [From The Lives of the Puritans, by Benjamin Brook, volume 2]

The Works of Paul Baynes:

Brief Directions unto a Godly Life. (738 pages)
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This volume also contains:

  1. The Christian Letters of Mr. Paul Baynes
  2. Holy Soliloquies (or, A Holy Helper in God’s Building)
  3. Comfort and Instruction in Affliction
  4. The Trial of a Christian’s Estate

A Caveat for Cold Christians. (40 pages)
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A sermon on Revelation 2:4-5.

The Christian Letters of Mr. Paul Baynes. (492 pages)
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This volume also contains “The Trial of a Christian’s Estate”.

The Christian’s Garment.
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Commentary on the First and Second Chapters of Colossians.
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Commentary on Ephesians. (432 pages) -popular-
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A Counterbane Against Earthly Carefulness.
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The Diocesans’ Trial. (108 pages)
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An Epitomy of Man’s Misery and Delivery.
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A Help to True Happiness.
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The Mirror or Miracle of God’s Love unto the World of his Elect.
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A sermon on 3 John 16.

The Spiritual Armour.
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Two Godly and Fruitful Treatises.
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