Jeremiah Burroughs

Jeremiah Burroughs, A.M. — This very amiable divine was born in the year 1599, and educated at Cambridge, but was obliged to quit the university, and afterwards the kingdom, on account of nonconformity. After he had finished his studies at the university, he entered upon the ministerial work, and was chosen colleague to Mr. Edmund Calamy at Bury St. Edmunds.* In the year 1631, he became rector of Titshall, in the county of Norfolk; but upon the publication of Bishop Wren's articles and injunctions, in 1636, he was suspended and deprived of his living.+ He sheltered himself for some time under the hospitable roof of the Earl of Warwick ;t but, on account of the intolerant and oppressive proceedings of the ecclesiastical rulers, the noble earl at length found it w:as impossible to protect him any longer; and shortly after, to escape the fire of persecution, he fled to Holland, and settled at Rotterdam, where he was chosen teacher to the congregational church, of which Mr. William Bridge was pastor.^ After his suspension, he is charged with attempting to bribe the bishop's chancellor, by an offer of forty pounds; and going beyond seas, and returning disguised in a soldier's habit, with many libellous pamphlets, when, it is said, the sentence of deprivation was pronounced against him for nonresidence.U Of this circumstance, however, Mr. Edwards gives a very different account. He says, " that Mr Burroughs, for some speeches spoken against the Scotch war, in company not to be trusted, for fear fled in all haste to Rotterdam; at which he very much stumbled.l Mr. Burroughs, in his animadversion upon this misrepresentation, observes as follows: "Had Mr. Edwards been willing to have conferred with me about this, as I desired, before he printed, I should have so fully satisfied him about my going out of the kingdom, that he could never have stumbled, nor have caused others to stumble. How does he know there were speeches delivered, for fear of which I fled? It may be there was only an accusation. In his bold assertion there is held forth to the world, at least some indiscretion in me, that I should speak words of a high nature, in company not to be trusted. I am so fully clear in that business, that I wiped off before my lord of Warwick whatsoever might have seemed indiscretion, not by mine own assertion only, but by the testimony of two gentlemen, being all the company, besides the accuser, who were present while we discoursed of that matter. The truth is, there were no such speeches; there was only some accusation of speeches. What man can free himself from accusation?" This ungenerous accuser afterwards recanted, and expressed his great sorrow for having aspersed the character of our pious and worthy divine.*

* Calamy's Account, vol. ii. p. 5.

+ Blomefield's Hist, of Norfolk, tol. i. p. 138.

t This noble person was a great friend and patron of the persecuted puritans, and one of their constant hearers. He was not content with only hearing long sermons in the congregation, hut would have them repeated in his own house.—Granger's Biog. Hist, vol. ii. p. 116.

S Edwards's Antapologia, p. 18, 19.

|| Wren's Parentalia, p. 95.

t Edwards's Au(apologia, p. 16.

Mr. Burroughs replies to the charge that he fled in all haste to Rotterdam, by saying, " It was four or five months after this accusation before I went to Rotterdam. Had not the prelatical faction been incensed against me, for standing out against their superstitions, I should have ventured to have stood to what I had spoken, for all I said was by way of

Suery, affirming nothing. I knew how dangerous the times len were. I knew what the power of the prelatical party at that time was, who were extremely incensed against me. A man's innocency, then, could not be his safety. A mere accusation was enough then, to cause me to provide for my security. I was, by Bishop Wren, deprived of my living in Norfolk, in which, I believe, I endured as great a brunt as almost any of those who stayed in England; though Mr. Edwards is pleased to say, we fled that we might be safe upon the shore, while our brethren were at sea in the storm. I believe neither he, nor scarcely any of our presbyterian brethren, endured a harder storm at sea, than I did before I went out of England. Yet, I bless God, he stirred up noble friends to countenance and encourage me in my sufferings; for which I will not cease to pray that the blessing of God may be upon them and their families. For some months I lived with my lord of Warwick, with whom I found much undeserved love and respect, and was in the midst of as great encouragements to stay in England, as a man deprived, and under the bishop's rage, could expect; when I set myself in as a serious a manner us ever I did in my life, to examine my heart about my staying in England; whether some carnal respects, that countenance I had from divers noble friends, the offers of livings, did not begin to prevail too far with me. My spirit was much troubled with these thoughts, Why do I still linger in England, where I cannot with peace enjoy

• Burroughs's Vindication, p. 18, 81. Edit. 1646.

what my soul longs after? Did I not formerly think, that if ever God took me clearly from my people, 1 would hasten to be where I might be free from such mixtures in God's worship, without wringing my conscience any more? Why do I, therefore, now stay? Am I not under temptation? God knows these were the sad and serious workings of my spirit, and these workings were as strong as ever I felt them in my life.

"While I was thus musing," says Mr. Burroughs, " thus troubled in my spirit, and lifting up my heart to God to help me, and set me at liberty, leaning upon my chamber window, I spied a man, in a citizen's habit, coming in the court-yard towards my chamber; and upon his coming near, I knew him to be formerly a citizen of Norwich, but, at that time, one of the church at Rotterdam. When this man came near to me, he told me that he came lately from Rotterdam; and that he was sent there by the church to give me a call to join with Mr. Bridge in the work of the Lord, in that church. When I heard him say this, I stood awhile amazed at the providence of God; that, at such a time, a messenger should be sent to me upon such an errand. My heart, God knows, exceedingly rejoiced in this call. I presently told the man I saw God much in it, and dared not in the least to gainsay it. My heart did much close with it; yet I desired to see the hand of God a little further. I required him to return my answer to the church, with a desire, that, as most of them knew me, they should give me their call under their own hands; then there would be nothing wanting, but I should be theirs; and thus we parted."*

Mr. Burroughs, having vindicated his own character against the aspersions of his adversaries, further observes, that, "after this I hoped all would blow over, when my lord of Warwick, falling sick in London, sent for me, and I came up to him and continued with him about three weeks, going freely up and down the city. My lord knew all the business, and made no question but all was over. Being now, as I hoped, set free from my accuser, the messenger from Rotterdam came to me again, with an answer to what I had desired, shewing me how the church there had assembled, and had sent a call to mc in writing, under the hands of the elders, with many other hands, in the name of the church; on which we agieed upon the day when, and the place

• Burroughs VuUU^tion, p. 18 -21.

where, we should meet in Norfolk, to make a full conclusion and prepare for our voyage."*

Our divine has thus favoured us with a circumstantial account of his invitation to Rotterdam. Upon his arrival, he was cordially received by the church; and he continued a zealous and faithful labourer several years, gaining a very high reputation among the people. After the commencement of the civil war, when the power of the bishops was set aside, he returned to England, says Granger, "not to preach sedition, but peace; for which he earnestly prayed and laboured."t

Mr. Burroughs was a person highly honoured and esteemed, and he soon became a most popular and admired preacher. After his return, his popular talents and great worth presently excited public attention, and he was chosen preacher to the congregations of Stepney and Cripplegate, London, then accounted two of the largest congregations in England. Mr. Burroughs preached at Stepney at seven o'clock in the morning, and Mr. William Greenhill at three in the afternoon. These two persons, stigmatized by Wood as notorious schismatics and independents, were called in Stepney pulpit, by Mr. Hugh Peters, one the morning star, the other the evening star of' Stepnej/4 Mr. Burroughs was chosen one of the assembly of divines, and was one of the dissenting' brethren, but a divine of great wisdom and moderation. He united with his brethren, Messrs. Thomas Goodwin, Philip Nye, William Bridge, and Sydrach Sympson, in publishing their " Apologetical Narration," in defence of their own distinguishing sentiments. The authors of this work, who had been exiles for religion, to speak in their own language, "consulted the scriptures without any prejudice. They con"sidered the word of God as impartially as men of flesh and "blood are likely to do, in any juncture of time; the place "they went to, the condition they were in, and the company "they were with, affording no temptation to any bias." They assert, that every church or congregation has sufficient power within itself for the regulation of religious government, and is subject to no external auUiority whatever. The principles upon which they founded their church government, were, to confine themselves in every thing to what the scriptures prescribed, without paying any regard to the opinions or practice of men; nor to tie themselves down so strictly to their present resolutions, as to leave no room for alterations upon a further acquaintance with divine truth. They steered a middle course between Presbyterianism and Brownism: the former they accounted too arbitrary, the latter too rigid; deviating from the spirit and simplicity of the gospel.* These are the general principles of the independents of the present day.

• Burroughs'* Vindication, p. 22.

t Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. ii. p. 193, 191.

t Wood's Athena, vol. ii. p. 113.

Mr. Burroughs, in conformity with the above principles, united with his brethren in writing and publishing their "Reasons against certain Propositions concerning Presbyterial Government."t In the year 1645, he was chosen one of the committee of accommodation, and was of great service in all their important deliberations.* He was a divine of great piety, candour, and moderation; and during their debates, he generously declared, in the name of the independents, "That if their congregations might not be exempted from the coercive power of die classis; and if they might not have liberty to govern themselves in their own way, so long as they behaved themselves peaceably towards the civil magistrate, they were resolved to suffer, or go to some other part of the world, where they might enjoy their liberty. But," said he, " while men think there is no way of peace but by forcing all to be of the same mind; while they think the civil sword is an ordinance of God to determine all controversies in divinity; and that it must needs be attended with fines and imprisonment to the disobedient; while they apprehend there is no medium between a strict uniformity and a general confusion of all things: while these sentiments prevail, there must be a base subjection of men's consciences to slavery, a suppression of much truth, and great disturbances in the christian world."S

After his return from exile, he never gathered a separate congregation, nor accepted of any parochial benefice, but continued to exhaust his strength by constant preaching, and other important services, for the advantage of the church of God. He was a divine of a most amiable and peaceable spirit; yet he had some bitter enemies, who,'to their own disgrace, poured upon him their slander and falsehood. Mr. Edwards, whose pen was mostly dipped in gall, pours-; upon him many reproachful and unfounded reflections. He charges Mr. Burroughs, and some others, with having held a

* Biog. Britan. vol. ii. p. 630.

+ Reasons of Dissenting Brethren, p. 40, 133, 193.

*. Papers of Accom. p. 13.

^ Burroughs's Vindication, p. 30.—Neat's Puritans, vol. iii. p. 886.

meeting with one Nichols, a man of vile and dangerous sentiments: whereas Mr. Burroughs thus declared, " I know no such man as this Nichols. I never heard there was such a man in the world, till I read it in Mr. Edwards's book. I, to this day, know of no meeting about him, or any of his opinions, either intended, desired, or resolved upon; much less that there was any such meeting."' What he thus declared under his own hand, he afterwards proved from the1 most correct and substantial evidence, casting all the reproach upon the false statement of his bitter adversary.t

This peevish and bigotted writer, indeed, warmly censures Mr. Burroughs for endeavouring to propagate his own sentiments upon church discipline; and even for pleading the cause of a general toleration. But our pious divine, with his usual christian meekness, repelled the foolish charges, proved his own innocence, and exposed the rancour of his enemy.{ Being charged with conformity in the time of the bishops, he says, " Though I did conform to some of the old ceremonies, in which I acknowledge my sin; I do not cast those things off as inconvenient or discountenanced by the state only, but as sinful against Christ; yet I think there can hardly be found a man in that diocese where I was, that was so eyed, who conformed Jess than I did, if he conformed at all. As for the new conformity, God kept me from it; and my sin in the old makes me be of a more forbearing spirit towards those who now differ from me. I see now what I did not; and I bless God I saw it before the times changed: and others, even some who scorn at new light, must acknowledge they see now what a while since they saw not. Why then should they or I fly upon our brethren, because they see not what we think we see? O, how unbecoming is it for such who conformed to old and new ceremonies, now to be harsh and bitter in the least degree against their brethren, who differ from them, when they differ so much from what they were not long since themselves! Some of them know I loved them as brethren, when they conformed to what I could not, but was suspended for refusing it. Let me have the same love from them as brethren, though I cannot now conform to all they now do."$

Mr. Edwards and old Mr. John Vicars were his most bitter and furious enemies. The latter he addressed in the language of meekness and conciliation, as follows: "I reverence, and teach others to reverence old age; but," says he, " it must know there are many infirmities attending it; and is fitter for devotion, than lor matters of contention. If Mr. Vicars had told me some experience of the work of God upon his soul, or of the good providence of God towards his people and himself, I should have diligently observed it, and, 1 hope, I might have got good by it. But, oh, how unbecoming old age is that spirit of contention which appears in his books! If he think those places he has cited will serve his turn, surely his skill in presbytery is not great. My pen was running into a hard expression, but I will not provoke the old man: yet I must be plain with him. How uncomely is it for an old professor of piety and religion, to be found jeering and scorning at piety and religion.' Who would have thought that ever Mr. Vicars should have lived to that day? The chief scope of his book is to cast dirt upon tin' apologists. Certainly the spirit of the man is much altered from what he once seemed to be. Is it becoming the gravity and wisdom of old age to charge his brethren publicly, of unworthy double dealing, and of unfaithfulness i The Lord, I hope, will cause Mr. Vicars to see cause to be humbled for this."*

* Edwards's Gangraena, part i. p. 25. Third Edit.—part ii. p. 71. + Burroughs'! Vindication, p. 5—8.

% Edwards's Antapologia, p. 216.—Gangracna, part i. p. 78. ii. 86.— Burroughs'! Vindication, p. 5—12. ', Ibid. p. 17, 18.

When Mr. Burroughs and his brethren were stigmatized as schismatics, he discovered his great mildness and forbearance. "I profess, as in the presence of God," says he, " that upon the most serious examination of my heart, I find in it, that were my judgment presbyterial, yet I should preach and plead as much for the forbearance of brethren differing from me, not only in their judgment, but in their practice, as I have ever done. Therefore, if I should turn presbyterian, I fear I should trouble Mr. Edwards and some others more than I do now: perhaps my preaching and pleading for forbearance of dissenting brethren would be of more forca than it is now."t

Dr. Grey, who has called our divine " an ignorant, factious, and schismatical minister," has certainly imitated too much, in rancour and misrepresentation, the example of his predecessors.* Mr. Baxter, who knew his great worth, said, "If all the episcopalians had been like Archbishop Usher; all the presbyterians like Mr. Stephen Marshall; and all the independents like Mr. Jeremiah Burroughs, the breaches of the church would soon have been healed." The last subject

• Burroughs'! Vindication, p. 24, 25. + Ibid. p. 14.

$ Grej'i Examination, vol. ii. p. 91.

Mr. Burroughs preached upon, which he also published, was his " Irenicum," or an attempt to heal the divisions among christians. His incessant labours, and his grief for the distractions of the times, are said to have hastened his end; He died of a consumption, November 14, 1646, in the fortyseventh year of his age. Granger says, " he was a man of learning, candour, and modesty, and of an exemplary and irreproachable life."* Fuller has classed him among the learned writers of Emanuel college, Cambridge.t Dr. Williams says, that his " Exposition of Hosea" is a pleasing specimen, to shew how the popular preachers of his time applied the scriptures, in their expository discourses, to the various cases of their hearers.} He published several of his writings while he lived, and his friends sent forth many others after his death, most of which were highly esteemed by all pious christians.

His Works.—1. Moses's Choice, 1641.—2. Sion's Joy, a Sermon preached to the Honourable House of Commons, at their public Thanksgiving, Sept. 7, 1641—1641.—3. An Exposition of the Prophesy of Hosea, 1643.—4. The Lord's Heart opened, 1643.— 5. A Vindication of Mr- Burroughs, against Mr. Edwards his font aspersions, in his spreading Gangnena, and his angry Antapologia: concluding with a brief Declaration what the Independents would have, 1646.—6. Ireiiiotim, io the Lovers of Truth and Peace, 1646.— 7. Two Treatises: The first, of Earthlymindedness; the second, of Conversing in Heaven and Walking with God, 1649.—8. An Exposition upon 4, 5, 6, and 7th Chapters of Hosea, 1650.—0. An Exposition upon 8 and 9th Chapters of Hosea, 1660.—10. The rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 1650.—11. Gospel Worship, 1660.— 12. Gospel Conversation, 1650.—13. The Evil of Evils: or, the exceeding Sinfulness of Sin, 1664.—14. The Saints Treasury, 1664.— 15. Three Treatises, of Hope, of Faith, and of the Saints Walk by Faith, 1665.—16. Reconciliation, or Christ's Trumpet of Peace, 166.. 17. The Saints Happiness, 1660.—18. A Treatise of Holy Courage in Evil Times, 1661.—19. True Blessedness consists in Pardon of Sin, 1668.—20. Four useful Discourses, 1675,