Believing that such visitation was too time-consuming and intrusive, he was initially reluctant to call on families. But after initiating the program he wrote, "I find the difficulties to be nothing to what I imagined, and I experience the benefits and comforts of the work to be such that I would not wish to have neglected it for all the riches in the world. I cannot say that one family hath refused." In the following years he scheduled yearly visits to each of the some eight hundred homes in the parish. With his assistant, he offered catechism to dozens each week, using a standard question-answer format for continued use within the family. Approaching fifty, the bachelor preacher married a woman in her early twenties who heartily joined in the work. When she died nineteen years later, he wrote: "I never knew her equal." She was "better at resolving a case of conscience than most Divines that ever I knew."
Baxter was twice incarcerated for his Nonconformist beliefs, but he refused to be intimidated and remained active in political affairs. Also high on his agenda was ecumenical unity, a stand that placed him virtually alone among Puritans in his desire to join with all those who subscribed to the Apostles' Creed. A prolific writer, he produced massive volumes, including his Christian Directory (1673) on Christian conduct, which ran some one million words. Most often quoted is his classic volume, The Reformed Pastor, but he was first and foremost an evangelist, as expressed in The Saint's Everlasting Rest, A Call to the Unconverted. Two years before his death at seventy-six, William and Mary introduced the Toleration Act of 1689, protecting him and his fellow Nonconformists from persecution.