Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, hymnodist and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists, spending time in prison, his views on justification and sanctification are somewhat controversial and unconventional within the Calvinist tradition because his teachings seem, to some, to undermine salvation by faith, in that he emphasizes the necessity of repentance and faithfulness. Baxter was born at Rowton, Shropshire, at the house of his maternal grandfather, baptised at its parish church at High Ercall. In February 1626 he was removed to his parents' home in Eaton Constantine. Richard's early education was poor, being in the hands of the local clergy, themselves illiterate.

He was helped by John Owen, master of the free school at Wroxeter, where he studied from about 1629 to 1632, made fair progress in Latin. On Owen's advice he did not proceed to Oxford, but went to Ludlow Castle to read with Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the Council of Wales and the Marches, he was reluctantly persuaded to go to court, he went to London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, with the intention of doing so, but soon returned home, resolved to study divinity. He was confirmed in the decision by the death of his mother. After three months spent working for the dying Owen as a teacher at Wroxeter, Baxter read theology with Francis Garbet, the local clergyman, adding to his reading orthodox Church of England theology in Richard Hooker and George Downham, arguments from conforming puritans in John Sprint and John Burges. In about 1634, he met Walter Cradock, two Nonconformists. In 1638, Baxter became master of the free grammar school at Dudley, where he commenced his ministry, having been ordained and licensed by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester.

His success as a preacher was at first small. Baxter remained at Bridgnorth for nearly two years, during which time he took a special interest in the controversy relating to Nonconformity and the Church of England, he soon became alienated from the Church on several matters. He became a moderate Nonconformist. Though regarded as a Presbyterian, he was not tied to Presbyterianism, seemed prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism, he regarded all forms of church government as subservient to the true purposes of religion. One of the first measures of the Long Parliament was to reform the clergy. Among the complainants were the inhabitants of Kidderminster; the vicar George Dance agreed that he would give £60 a year, out of his income of £200, to a preacher who should be chosen by certain trustees. Baxter was invited to deliver a sermon before the people, was unanimously elected as the minister of St Mary and All Saints' Church, Kidderminster; this happened in April 1641. His ministry continued, for about 19 years.

He formed the ministers in the country around him into an association, uniting them irrespective of their differences as Presbyterians and Independents. The Reformed Pastor was a book which Baxter published in relation to the general ministerial efforts he promoted. On the outbreak of the First English Civil War, Baxter blamed both parties and recommended the Protestation, he temporarily retired to Gloucester. On 23 October 1642, he was preaching during the Battle of Edgehill, he returned. He moved to Coventry. There he found himself with no fewer than 30 fugitive ministers, among whom were Richard Vines, Anthony Burges, John Bryan and Obadiah Grew, he officiated each Sunday as chaplain to the garrison, preaching a sermon each to the soldiery, the townspeople and strangers. Included among the congregants were Sir Richard Skeffington, Colonel Godfrey Bosvile, George Abbot the layman scholar, others. After the Battle of Naseby he took the situation of chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley's regiment, continued to hold it till February 1647.

During these stormy years he wrote his Aphorisms of Justification, which on its appearance in 1649, excited great controversy. Of numerous critics the one with whom Baxter engaged most was Christopher Cartwright. Baxter's connexion with the Parliamentary army was a characteristic one, he joined it that he might, if possible, contract the growth of sectaries in that field, maintain the cause of constitutional government in opposition to republican tendencies of the time. He regretted that he had not accepted O


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Race to Prince's Bridge

The Race To Prince's Bridge was an annual swimming race in the Yarra River, Australia. The race was "one of the chief swimming events in the world", with a world record 623 entrants in 1929; the race ceased running in 1991 due to high levels of pollution in the Yarra River. However, the race was cancelled due to pollution concerns from 1963 until 1987; the three mile course runs from the old Twickenham Ferry crossing downstream to Princes Bridge in the heart of Melbourne. The race has changed course several times throughout history, starting from as far upstream as Macaulay's boatsheds, Studley Park; the race attracted a large number of spectators, who were able to cheer on competitors from the banks of the river or from floating crafts among the swimmers. The high popularity of the event as a spectator friendly occasion is well documented: "It is without a doubt the most popular aquatic event of the season... The banks of the river for the whole three miles were lined with groups of interested spectators, over the last two miles hundreds of motor-cars followed the race" The Australasian, 8 March 1930."Now regarded as the most important long distance swim in Australia..."

The Referee, 11 March 1931"The race was followed with great attention by many spectators, the contests were keen", The Bathurst Times, Jan 29, 1913."A great crowd of persons of both sexes assembled at the wharf at Grange-road to witness the start of the race, other spectators were in motor or other boats on the river... The banks of the river on either side of the different bridges were lined with sightseers... On arriving at Princes-bridge there was a large concourse of people to witness the finish." The Age, Jan 27, 1914. The first event was held on January 27, 1913, in which 44 swimmers completed the race conducted by the Victorian Amateur Swimming Association. In following years, the race soon grew to become a premier swimming event with the inclusion of high-profile competitors, notably Ivan Stedman and Frank Beaurepaire; the earliest known footage of the race is from the 1932 event. The swim began with a team category to cater for the local swimming clubs; the Race to Prince's Bridge was held from 1913 - 1963.

The annual race was revived in 1987 for two years by Swimming Victoria along with sponsorship from Manchester Unity, the race has not run since 1989. The race has been referred to by the media as the Annual Three Mile Yarra River Swim and other variations of this name; the Annual Three Mile Yarra River Swim has changed course throughout history and been cancelled due to pollution, a continuing problem faced by the Yarra River downstream. The Yarra River is polluted after heavy rain events that wash debris and pollutants into the flow. Reporting of the swim in local media and newspapers mentions the courage of competitors tackling the pollution and debris: "After the heavy rains of Friday night the colour of the water was chocolate, with a considerable amount of debris floating about." The Australasian, 10 March 1928. "Channel Two technical producer Steve Pickering is indulging in a bit of understatement when he says the water in the Yarra River is a bit murky" Discussions with The Age's Ron Carter regarding the filming of the 1988 event.

Race Official:"How was the Yarra?" Miss Gill, 1932 female winner: "Pretty dirty" From the 1932 footage of the race. While the colour of the river is referenced when describing the state of the river by swimmers, this is not a major indicator of pollution; the muddy colour of the downstream portions of the Yarra is instead caused by suspended sediment and clay particles resulting from the high turbidity of the Yarra. The Environment Protection Authority delivers regular reports to warn recreational river users of current pollution levels. A historical event since the early 20th Century, the Race to Prince's Bridge is a part of Melbourne history. In the 1914 race, 11-year-old Thomas Holland received a special medal for a plucky race; the young boy's performance received "great applause" at the landing stage. The prizes for the 1914 event were. In 1928, " more than 1.5cwt of grease and cocoa-nut oil was applied to the competitors to keep out the cold..." In 1931, J. Campbell, aged above 55 years, finished all 15 3-mile Yarra River Swim events.

J. P Sheedy used a rubber breathing apparatus for the 1931 event; the Twickenham Ferry service was closed after the completion of the MacRobertson Bridge in 1934. R. Woods, a legless Melburnian came 3rd in the 1946 event, only 50 yards behind the winner The race held in January 1987, which offered AUD$7000 prizemoney, was the first race since 1963 due to pollution in the Yarra The 1947 race began from Macaulay's boatsheds in Studley Park. Oldest race winner: Ivan Stedman 1952, aged 56 years. In his 29th three mile Yarra swim race, Roy Lander finished 75th in the 1952 event. In the late 1950s and early 1960s there were incidents of cheating that caused an increase in the frequency of officials along the course: "Those in charge of the race wondered how had swam so far and still been so fresh in beating home the 300 or so other contestants. Officials soon discovered that the winner had hopped out of the river during the race, jumped on the back of a motor bike and sneaked into the water again just before the finish.

He was disqualified after an inquiry."