It is no vain boast, through a fondness of our own nation, but is generally owned by our protestant brethren beyond the seas, that there is no language in which there are more valuable treatises of practical divinity to be met with, than in ours. And perhaps upon the strictest search and comparison, as far as there is any occasion for a decisive judgment, it might be found that there are no writings of that kind among us that have more of a true christian spirit, a greater mixture of judgment and affection, or a greater tendency to revive pure and undefiled religion; that have been more esteemed abroad, or more blessed at home, for the awakening the secure, instructing the ignorant, confirming the wavering, comforting the dejected, recovering the profane, or improving such as are truly serious; than the Practical Works of this author. Many of them have been often reprinted, and are as generally spread through the kingdom as any tracts whatever. Others of them have been printed but once, and are not so commonly known as they deserve. Others are small, and might in time be as good as lost, if not preserved by being joined with the rest of his works. This collection of them is designed for the benefit of the present age, and of posterity; to be a standing monument in our libraries of the unwearied endeavours of one to promote serious godliness in the land; who under a mean education made mighty improvements; who in a crazy body had a most active soul; and in a private sphere had a noble public spirit, that would have filled the most eminent station with advantage. It is also intended for the advantage of ministers and students in divinity, who will here have, at an easy rate, such a treasure of practical divinity as no other part of the christian church can furnish with. And for a help to families, who will here find what may suit them, in all their different relations, capacities, and circumstances, and under that vast variety of providential dispensations in which they may need assistance.
That great man, Bishop Wilkins, was used to say of Mr. Baxter, That if he had lived in the primitive times he had been one of the fathers of the church. What then more fit than a collection of his works, that posterity may be taught to do him justice? It was a great attempt in a time of war; and the going through with it at such a time is a hopeful prognostic, that the God of peace hath blessed ends to serve by it; a subserviency to which cannot but be a matter of comfortable reflection.