Baxter was ordained into the Church of England in 1638 after studying divinity. Within two years, however, he had allied himself with Puritans in opposition to the episcopacy established by his church. During his ministry at Kidderminster (1641-60) he made that Worcestershire town of handloom workers into a model parish. He preached in a church enlarged to accommodate the crowds that he drew. Pastoral [catechising and] counseling was as important to him as preaching, and his program for his parish came to serve as a pattern for many other ministers in the Church of England.
A believer in limited monarchy, Baxter attempted to play an ameliorative role during the English Civil Wars. He served briefly as a chaplain in the parliamentary army but then helped to bring about the restoration of the king (1660). After the monarchy was reestablished, he fought for toleration of moderate dissent within the Church of England. He was persecuted for his views for more than 20 years and was imprisoned (1685) for 18 months. The Revolution of 1688, replacing James II with William and Mary, brought in its wake an Act of Toleration that freed Baxter from most of the encumbrances he suffered for his opinions."