My dear and loving wife Lydia was reading a great paper on the ethics behind Christian marriage. The article dealt especially with the ways in which two people, who are both tainted by sin, are to live in harmonious unity.
The article was one that she printed, but had never seen the original source called "The Christian Directory". The book was a ten year enterprise by the Pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691). Richard Baxter was a Puritan minister of great ability and love for the people to whom he ministered. He had some errors that were not excusable (he was known to be a neonomian in his view of justification), but we are to follow him as he follows Christ.
The Directory had come to be known as a great source of practical counsel and application for many Christians around England and even in the Colonies at that time. When a Christian had a question on how to apply a doctrine or how to behave in a certain moral situation they would look to the Directory for biblical counsel. It is much like having a counselor on hand at all times to walk you through difficulties of life and faith.
The Directory was written at the request of the Bishop Hall from the Church of England. Hall knew that this was something that Protestantism needed and knew of no other man as pastoral and practical as Richard Baxter.
There had been other directories written, but this one takes a special place as being thorough and complete. (More complete than Perkins or Ames 'Cases of Conscience' that were predecessors in this type of counseling manual.) In this time period there were also directories written by the Jesuits (a religious and militant order of priests that were set up to destroy the Reformed faith) and as the non-Protestant manual popularity grew, the need for a Reformed and evangelical directory grew alongside of it.
This is the result of this work.
"It is possible to see clearly the difference between the 'how-to' books of today's evangelicals and the 'how-to' teaching of the Directory, which is so much wiser and digs so much deeper. The sheer brilliance of Baxter's achievements in crystallizing a proper form for the life of faith, at a high level of intelligent, Bible-based, theologically-integrated wisdom, and with unfailing compressed clarity, is dazzling to the mind." - J.I. Packer