Burns, Jabez (DNB00)

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BURNS, JABEZ, D.D. (1805–1876), nonconformist divine, was born 18 Dec. 1805, at Oldham in Lancashire, where his father was a chemist. He was educated at a school at Chester, and at the grammar school of Oldham, which he left to engage in commercial pursuits at York and Bradford. For about three years he managed a bookselling business at Keighley. His mother, who died in his early childhood, was a Wesleyan, and named him after Dr. Jabez Bunting. Burns early in life joined the Methodist New Connexion, and at the age of sixteen delivered his first public address in a methodist house near York. In 1824 Burns married Jane, the daughter of Mr. George Dawson of Keighley. He removed in 1826 to London. Here in the midst of hardship he commenced his career as a religious writer by the compilation of the ‘Christian's Sketch Book,’ 12mo, London, 1828, eighth edition 1835, &c., of which a second series, with the same title, was issued in 1835; and the ‘Spiritual Cabinet,’ 18mo, London, 1829, and other editions. Previously to this date he had been baptised by the Rev. Mr. Farrent, the pastor of a general baptist congregation at Suffolk Street Chapel, in the Borough; but he did not sever his relations with the Methodist New Connexion. After a few months spent in mission work on behalf of the general baptists in Edinburgh and Leith in 1829, he was from 1830 to 1835 the pastor of a congregation connected with that body in Perth. He travelled over a large extent of country during that period, preaching on temperance. While at Perth Burns edited the ‘Christian Miscellany.’ In May 1835 he accepted a call to the pastorate of the general baptist congregation assembling in Ænon Chapel, New Church Street, Marylebone, and in June finally removed with his family to London. His congregation at first was small, but owing to his enthusiasm it increased so much that twice in the first twenty-five years of his ministry at Paddington it was found necessary to enlarge the building in which it worshipped.

Burns had much influence as a preacher and public speaker, especially on temperance. He is said to have been the first clergyman of any denomination to preach teetotalism from the pulpit. He delivered thirty-five annual temperance sermons, beginning 16 Dec. 1839, many of which were published. He was one of the earliest members of the Evangelical Alliance, formed in 1845. In 1847 Burns paid his first visit to America, as one of the two delegates from the General Baptist Association of England at the triennial conference of the Freewill Baptists of the United States. He published ‘Notes of a Tour in the United States and Canada in the Summer and Autumn of 1847,’ 8vo, London, 1848. He visited America again in 1872. In 1869 he visited Egypt and Palestine, and prepared a ‘Helpbook for Travellers to the East; including Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, and Italy,’ 8vo, London, 1870. Burns died at his residence in Porteus Road, Paddington, on Monday, 31 Jan. 1876. The Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, conferred upon Burns in 1846 the honorary degree of D.D., to which the faculty of Bates' College, Lewiston, Maine, added that of LL.D. in 1872.

Burns wrote a vast number of religious books year by year. In 1837 he issued a very popular work, entitled ‘The Golden Pot of Manna; or Christian's Portion, containing Daily Exercises on the Person, Offices, Work, and Glory of the Redeemer,’ 2 vols. 8vo. In the fifth edition the title was altered to ‘The Christian's Daily Portion,’ 1848. Similar works were entitled ‘Christian Exercises for every Lord's Day, morning and evening, in the Year,’ 12mo, London, 1858, second edition 1859; ‘The Preacher's Magazine and Pastor's Monthly Journal,’ sixty-six parts, between April 1839 and September 1844; ‘One Hundred Sketches and Skeletons of Sermons,’ 4 vols., London, 1836–9, which have gone through fourteen editions; ‘Sketches of Discourses for Sunday Schools and Village Preaching,’ 12mo, London, 1838, revised edition, with three additional ‘Sketches,’ 1846, new edition, revised and enlarged, 1860; ‘Sermons, chiefly designed for Family Reading and Village Worship,’ 12mo, London, 1842; ‘One Hundred and Fifty Original Sketches and Plans of Sermons, comprising various Series on special and peculiar Subjects, adapted for Week Evening Services,’ 8vo, London, 1866; and finally ‘Two Hundred Sketches and Outlines of Sermons as preached chiefly in Church Street Chapel, Edgware Road, London, since 1866,’ 8vo, London, 1875. Burns prepared and edited the ‘Pulpit Cyclopædia and Christian Minister's Companion,’ 4 vols. 8vo, London, 1844.

Less important books by Burns were: ‘The Mothers of the Wise and Good, or select Essays on Maternal Duties and Influence,’ 12mo, London, 1846; ‘Christian Philosophy, or Materials for Thought,’ 12mo, London, 1845, second edition, revised and enlarged, 1849, ‘a book of ideas;’ ‘Doctrinal Conversations,’ &c., 12mo, London, 1849, new edition, revised and enlarged, under the title of ‘The Universal Love of God and Responsibility of Man,’ &c., 12mo, London, 1861; ‘Light for the Sick Room: a Book for the Afflicted,’ 12mo, London, 1850; ‘Light for the House of Mourning: a Book for the Bereaved,’ 12mo, London, 1850; ‘The various Forms of Religion,’ 12mo, London, 1851; ‘The Marriage Gift Book and Bridal Token,’ 8vo, London, 1863; ‘A Retrospect of Forty-five Years' Christian Ministry: Public Work in other Spheres of Benevolent Labour, and Tours in various Lands, with Papers on Theological and other Subjects in Prose and Verse,’ 8vo, London, 1875; and several works for the young.

[Perthshire Advertiser, 4 Feb. 1876; the Baptist, the Freeman, and the Christian World, 4 and 11 Feb. 1876; Burns's Retrospect of Forty-five Years' Christian Ministry, 1875; and an article entitled The Late Rev. Dr. Jabez Burns—Life and Labours, contributed by the Rev. Dawson Burns to the Baptist Magazine, March 1876, and reproduced in the Baptist Handbook, 1877.]

A. H. G.