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FOR SEPTEMBER, 1842.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. MARTIN BURROWS:
BY THE REV. PETER C. HORTON.
“He lives long, who answers life's great end." This sentiment must be our apology, if any be required, for introducing to public notice the subject of the following memoir. . We are exhorted to imitate those “who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises ;" and although the course of some of them may have been soon fulfilled, and the incidents of their life only few, yet the biográphy of a youthful Timothy, or of an early-removed Stephen, may furnish valuable instruction, as well as the longer life, and the more abundant labours, of a Paul « the' aged.”. To some of the junior members of our ministry, and of our societies, it is hoped, the developement of character here presented will suggest hints for the more effectual “serving of their generation according to the will of God." They will here see the character of a young Minister, who, with but little of drawback, and that very "failing leaning to virtue's side," may safely be proposed to his surviving brethren as an “example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”..
Martin Burrows was born at Caistor, in the county of Lincoln, February 24th, 1818; but was removed to Rotherham when between two and three years old. Of his parents it would be unseemly to say much, as they. 'survive their son. It was almost his dying declaration, that he owed his all of spiritual as well as of temporal blessings, under God, to his excellent parents. Martin, their only son, in his 'infancy was taken to the house of God; and from his silent attention there, and his grave deportment afterwards, it was evident that the Spirit of God wrought upon his heart betimes.
At an early age he was impressed with the belief that God hears and answers prayer, from the following circumstance: One day, himself and his two sisters having become bewildered in a wood, he proposed that they should pray to their heavenly Father for direction. They immediately knelt down, and in simple language he made known their request unto God; and almost as soon as they had risen from their knees, they found a path which led them to their father's house. A straw upon the stream shows the direction of the current; and a
Vol. XXI. Third Series. SEPTEMBER, 1842. 3 C
circumstance almost as insignificant frequently exhibits the character, and sometimes tends towards its formation too. There is every reason to believe, that, from this time, Martin lived in the habit of prayer, and walked in the fear of the Lord. We do not mean to say, that at this period he was regenerated of the IIoly Ghost. There was the principle of grace ; which, it is evident, was implanted at an age so early, that its appearance was contemporaneous with the dawning of
This sacred germ, springing from the “incorruptible seed of the kingdom,” had been nourished by the dew of heaven evermore distilling upon it, in answer to the prayers of parents, and in honour of their vigilant and unceasing efforts to preserve it, and promote its growth; and then appeared the “ blade,” tender, but still verdant and beautiful; and this, by the blessing of God, soon fulfilled its promise, producing the “ ear, and the full corn in the ear.” “For when he was about twelve years of age,” says his father, “there was a gracious work on the minds of many of the children connected with our congregation, and my dear son at that time became convinced of his real state as a sinner before God.” Ile was by nature a child of wrath, even as others. “He then began to meet in class, and was directed to seek for mercy through the atoning sacrifice of Christ; and was soon made happy by an assurance from God, that he had blotted out all his sins." And as the child Samuel “grew,” in grace no doubt, as well as in stature, from the time of his receiving the thrice-repeated call, and
“ established to be a Prophet of the Lord ;” so did our young friend from that time become decided for God, and “grew in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Love to God and to the souls of men is the first-fruit of the Spirit ; and this divine passion immediately began to assert its supremacy in the renewed spirit of our youthful friend. Young as he was, he was anxious to do good. He soon became a Teacher in a Sabbath-school, then a Distributor of tracts, shortly after a Prayer-Leader; and in each of these offices proved himself to be an earnest, humble disciple of the Saviour. It is a distinguishing excellency of the Wesleyan constitution, that it can employ the talents of every one, and can furnish work for all who are disposed to work for God. None need be idle in our section of the vineyard. None are idle whose hearts are right with God, and of such none are useless. A “lad” even may have “ fire barley loaves and a few small fishes," that shall supply food for thousands. A child, whom“ knowledge of the Scriptures has made wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus," may tell his companions the story of the cross; and his simple word shall be as a “nail fastened in a sure place :” or may leave at the houses of his father's neighbours a tract, that shall be as “bread cast upon the waters, found after many days.” It is, moreover, by this early and regular training, that many a youthful soldier of the Lord becomes qualified for more arduous and honourable posts at an age which, had
such training been wanting, would be manifestly immature. There can be no question, that Timothy was better prepared for the public service of Christ, though but a “young man,” when Paul took him to be his companion in the toils of the Gospel, than he would have been, had he lived twice as long, before his conversion to the faith of Jesus, in ignorance of the Scriptures, and in contempt of God. And as there are still, in the church of Christ, parents and grand-parents, that can store the minds of children with the “truth in Jesus," and that do sometimes see the “ earthen vessel” readily receiving and happily retaining the “heavenly treasure ;" so we doubt not, that our churches will still send forth many youthful messengers, who will be “ vessels of honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use."
Martin Burrows began to preach when he was about eighteen years of age. He had for many months felt inwardly moved to this great work, as is evident from almost every entry in the diary which at this ime he began to keep. For a season he was silent on the subject, his mouth being stopped by a sense of weakness and of unworthiness, and by manifold and almost unceasing temptations. At last he ventured to open his mind to his father, and obtained a little relief. Still time glided on ; every day was he hearing the inward voice,“ Son, go work in my vineyard,"—the call of the church coinciding with the voice of the Spirit; and yet he hesitated, because of the importance of the work, and its awful responsibility. But whilst he resisted the impression, or obeyed reluctantly and seldom - although he used all the means of grace, meeting in band every week with one or two select associates, as well as in class, and attempting to “keep his heart with all diligence,"—he was by no means happy.
“ The word of the Lord was as fire in his bones." Under date of July 5th, 1836, he writes, “ The Lord has powerfully called me to preach his Gospel. I have for a long time neglected and slighted the call: and it has been hell upon earth. The misery I have felt I cannot describe. The Lord has used sickness, and a variety of other means. He has brought me to the verge of the grave, in order to humble my proud spirit. Preach I must, or else I shall be damned. I can be happy only in doing the will of God.” That very month he began in good earnest; and to himself the beginning was deliverance from bondage, as is evident from the following extract taken from his diary :-“ July 24th. I preached at Wombwell and Billingly. I went with much fear and trembling; but in the name of the Lord : and He was with me, and gave me great liberty. I feel that I am still in the liberty of God's dear children. I have heaven whilst upon earth. I would live to the glory of God more than ever. Lord, help me so to do, for Christ's sake. Amen. I have no doubts about my call to the ministry now: I think they are all gone."
His path was now the path of peace, and he “ went on his way rejoicing." For although the burden of souls soon became heavier