Dr. Burton On Metaphysics -- By: Enoch Pond
BSac 32:128 (Oct 1875) p. 773
Dr. Burton On Metaphysics1
Most of the authorities speak of Dr. Burton as having been born at Preston, Conn. He was born at Stonington, in 1752; but at the age of two years removed, with his parents, to Preston, where he lived for the next ten or twelve years. He graduated at Dartmouth College in 1777, — only eight years after the founding of that institution. As the war of the Revolution was then in progress, much alarm was felt in college in expectation of an attack from hostile tories and Indians. Young Burton often spent his nights on guard; and when he graduated, the usual exercises were dispensed with, on account of the peculiar state of the country. It was during his college life that he became a subject of renewing grace, although he did not become satisfied on this point for several months. After he had graduated, he spent some considerable time at college reading and studying with a view to the ministry; when, with very little ceremony, he was licensed to preach by the Grafton Presbytery. In 1778 he received a call to settle with the church in Thetford, and was ordained the following year.
His field of labor was, at the time, very unpromising; but this was a recommendation of it, rather than otherwise, to Mr. Burton. He resolved to enter it, and to keep on laboring until he should see a brighter day. And here he continued to labor till the end of life. He witnessed several revivals of religion, one of them of years’ continuance, and of great power, which entirely changed the aspect of things about him, and transformed the desert into a fruitful field.
For thirty years together Dr. Burton had theological students under his care, in which time he must have assisted not less than sixty in their preparation for the gospel ministry. In general these were able and faithful men, a few of whom still remain; but the most have followed their beloved teacher to a better world. He continued sole pastor of the church in Thetford, until he had passed his threescore years and ten, and died, in 1836, at the age of eighty-four.
Dr. Burton was an instructive, though not an eloquent, preacher. His
BSac 32:128 (Oct 1875) p. 774
sermons were so neatly written and so full of thought, that upon the intelligent and reflecting hearer they could hardly fail of producing an effect. The late Dr. Channing of Boston, after hearing him on some public occasion, remarked: “With all his metaphysics, he is anything but a dry preacher.”
With regard to the character of his mind, we quote the following from one of his pupils: “Dr Burton was a man of uncommon intellectual powers. He had a clear, penetrating, comprehe...
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