Jonathan Burr.—-This truly pious divine was bom at Redgrave in Suffolk, in the year 1604, and educated at one of our universities. He was the son of pious parents, and, from a child, was trained up in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, which made him wise unto salvation. While a boy at school, he lived in the fear of God, and in the constant exercises of private devotion. Having spent four years at the university, he was unexpectedly called away by the death of his pious father. This painful dispensation was, however, sanctified to his good. He used afterwards to admire the wisdom and goodness of God, in preserving him by this means from those alluring preferments, for which he had a particular fondness. His first ministerial exercises were at Horningsheath in Suffolk, then at Rickingshal in the same county. In the latter situation, he had the pastoral charge, was presented to the rectory, and, with great exactness, performed his numerous pastoral duties.
God. Though what he delivered to the people in public, he previously applied to himself in private, he sometimes complained, saying, " Alas! I preach not what I am, but what I ought to be." Indeed, he was so deeply sensible of his own unworthiness, and of the numerous imperfections attending his best performances, that he often laboured under painful despondency. He was constant and laborious in the work of the Lord; and when desired to spare himself, he used to say, " It is better to wear out with work, than be eaten out with rust." It was his highest joy to spend his life for the honour of God and the welfare of souls. When be found, at any time, that the Lord had been pleased to bless his labours, he would say, " Lord, I have given of thine own; take thou the glory to thyself. As for me, let me have my portion in thyself, and not in the things of this world." He was remarkably charitable to the poor; and when requested to be more sparing in his liberality, he replied, " I often think on those words, He that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly." He was of a meek and lowly spirit, and so patient under injuries, that when he was told how meanly other persons thought of him, he used to say, " I think as meanly of myself, and, therefore, am content for them to think thus of me." And when he was charged with evil, he meekly replied, u If men see so much evil, how much docs God sec?" He was always sorry to hear himself applauded, and called his reproaches his gains.
solemn covenant with
All his excellent endowments could not screen him from the severities of the times. He felt the iron hand of Bishop Laud, when, on account of his conscientious nonconformity, he was suspended from his beloved work. His mouth being stopped, he was like the fish out of water. His body even languished under the painful cross; and he said,M My preaching is my life. If I be laid aside from that, I shall quickly die."» Mr. Burr, rinding himself totally disabled from preaching in his native country, without a conformity to the ecclesiastical impositions, contrary to the convictions of his conscience, renounced all prospects of worldly advantage, and retired to New England; where he could enjoy the ordinances of the gospel without the inventions and impositions of men. On his arrival in the new colony, he was chosen assistant to Mr. Richard Mather, pastor of the church at Dorchester. The year following, he was taken ill of the small-pox; but, through divine goodness, he recovered, and came forth as gold tried in the fire. On this occasion, he renewed his devotedness to God, and entered into a covenant with the Lord, to walk before him with
Himself in the following manner:
" I, Jonathan Burr, being brought in the arms of Almighty " God over the vast ocean, with my family and friends; " and graciously provided for in a wilderness; and being " sensible of my own unworthincss and self-seeking; yet " of infinite mercy, being called to the tremendous work " of feeding souls; and being of late with my family, " delivered out of a great affliction of the small-pox: and " found the fruit of that affliction, God tempering, order" ing, and mitigating the evil thereof; so that I have been u graciously and speedily delivered; I do promise and vow " to Him, who hath done all these things for me:—1. That " I will aim only at his glory and the good of souls, and u not my own glory.—2. That I will walk humbly, with " lower thoughts of myself, considering that I am a puff K of breath sustained by the power of his grace alone.— 44 3. That I will be more watchful over my heart, to keep " it in a due frame of holy obedience, without running out " so far after the creature: for I have seen that he is my " only help in time of need.—4. That I will put more " weight in that firm promise, and sure truth, that he is a " God hearing prayer.—5. That I will set up God more in
In this covenant he expressed
" my family, more in myself, wife, children, and servants, " conversing with them in a more serious manner. For this " God aimed at by sending this affliction into my family. " I will remember death. In myself I am nothing, in " Christ all things."*
The future deportment of this worthy servant of Christ was happily conformable to his holy resolutions. His public ministry and his whole behaviour in life savoured much of a spirit of holiness, and afforded unspeakable comfort to the flock of Christ. He was greatly admired among his brethren. Having preached to a crowded congregation at Charlestown, the celebrated Mr. Thomas Hooker was led to say, " Surely, this man will not be long out of heaven. He preaches as if he were there already."
Mr. Burr, immediately after his last sermon, preached on redeeming the time, was seized by an affliction of about ten days continuance. During this period, he discovered the
God. His wife, perceiving his willingness to die, inquired whether he wished to leave her and their children; to which he readily answered, " Do not mistake me," said he, " I am not desirous of that. But, I bless God, that now my will is the Lord's will. If he will have me yet to live with my dear wife and children, I am willing. It is better for you that I abide with, you; but it is bt tter for me to be dissolved, and to be with Christ." His affectionate wife intimating how hard a thing it was to be separated, he exhorted her to acquiesce in the will of God: and added, " Our parting is but tor a time. I am sure we shall one day meet again." Observing her very kind attention in waiting on him, he said, " Do not spend so much time with me; but go thy way, and spend some time in prayer. Thou knowest not what thou mayest obtain of God. I feat lest thou look too much upon this affliction." The night preceding his death, he said, " I will wait until my change come. Why art thou loath to die ?" A few hours previous to his departure, he had a sore conflict with the enemy; and his friends reminding him that this was one of Satan's last assaults, that he was a subtle enemy, and would, if it were possible, deceive the very elect, he immediately said, " If it were possible; but, blessed be God, it is not possible." Before he departed, he most affectionately addressed his wife, saying, " Cast thy care upon God; for he careth for
submission to the will of
thee:" then added, " Hold fast, hold fast," and closed his eyes in peace, August 9,1641, aged thirty-seven years.*