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Daniel Burgess (1645-1713)

One of the most popular Presbyterian, Reformed, Calvinist puritan preachers after the Westminster Era.
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“Sin is never our master — until we consent to have it so.”

Biography of Daniel Burgess (1645-1713):

Daniel Burgess (1645-1713) was a Calvinistic Presbyterian minister. He was born at Staines, Middlesex, in 1645. His father, also named Daniel Burgess, who, after holding the livings of Staines and of Sutton Magna, Wiltshire, was appointed rector of Collingbourn Ducis, Wiltshire, through the influence of his brother Isaac Burgess, high sheriff of the county. He was ejected in 1662, and was probably the author of the sermon on Eccl. 12:1 (1660, fol.) mentioned by Watts and Allibone. Burgess was placed under Busby at Westminster School in 1654, and entered as a commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1660. He studied hard, but did not graduate, declining to conform. The statement that he took orders at Oxford needs confirmation; he may have had deacon’s orders, but more probably only the license of a presbytery.

Leaving the university, he acted as domestic chaplain to Foyl of Chute, Wiltshire, and afterwards to Smith of Tedworth. In 1667 Roger Boyle, first earl of Orrery, lord president of Munster, took him to Ireland, where he remained seven years. He was head master of the school founded by Lord Orrery at Charleville, Cork, and had pupils from the Irish nobility and gentry. He afterwards acted as chaplain to Lady Mervin, near Dublin.

Later, he was ordained by the Dublin presbytery. In Dublin he also married. In 1674 his father’s state of health took him to Marlborough; he preached there and in the neighborhood, and was sent to Marlborough jail. He came to London in his fortieth year (1685), and ministered to a large congregation at a hired meeting-place in Brydges Street, Covent Garden.

Burgess had influential friends; the Countess of Warwick chose him as tutor for her grandson, the future Lord Bolingbroke: in July 1688 Rotheram, one of the new barons of exchequer, took him as his chaplain on the Oxford circuit (in a letter in Rep. of Hist. Manuscripts Commission, p. 378, Burgess is described as “a man of extraordinary ripe parts”), and in 1695 he preached the funeral sermon for the Countess of Ranelagh.

His congregation moved in 1695 to a meeting-house in Russell Court, Drury Lane, and in 1705 a meeting-house was built for him in New Court, Carey Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Before it was paid for differences arose in his congregation, ending in a large secession from his ministry. On March 1, 1710 the Sacheverell mob gutted Burgess’s meeting-house, and made a bonfire of its pulpit and other fittings. The government offered a reward of 100£. for the apprehension of the rioters, and repaired the building.

Burgess’s fame as a preacher was great, and his exuberant animation was something new in the London pulpit. He was a conspicuous example of pith and vivacity at a time when a dry dignity was beginning to be exacted of preachers as a virtue. Mr. Swift, who admits his ability, unjustly taxes him with mixing unction with “incoherence and ribaldry.” Tom Brown, says of him in his sermons that he had a “pop-gun way of delivery” which was in harmony with his style of composition. It is full of epigram, terse, quaint, and clear, and never meaningless or dull.

Among current stories of his pulpit wit, the best is that which makes him say that the Jews were called Israelites because God did not choose that. His people should be called Jacobites. His very sensible discourse on “Foolish Talking and Jesting described and condemned” (on Eph. 5:4), 1694, 16mo, is in view of his own practice and repute. Briefly, he contends that “no jesting is lawful but what is medicinal, and restorative of spirits for nobler thoughts.”

In theology he was Calvinistic, following the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Burgess’s last years were damped by the defection from his flock and by sickness. “If I must be idle,” he said, “I had rather be idle underground than idle above ground.” He died on Jan. 26, 1713, and was buried on January 31 in the church of St. Clement Danes. Matthew Henry preached his funeral sermon. Burgess married a Mrs. Briscoe, and had two daughters and a son.

Of Burgess’ publications there is an imperfect list of thirty-two, beginning with “Soliloquies” which he printed in Ireland, and ending with a Latin defense of nonconformity, called “Appellatio ad Fratres exteros.”

For Further Study:

Henry’s Funeral Sermon for Burgess, 1713; Calamy’s Continuation, 1727, p. 872; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714. ii. 92 (wrongly numbered 94), 336, 373 ; Palmer`s Nonconf. Memorial, 1802, pp. 296, 330; Prot. Diss. Mag. vol. vi.; Bogus and Bennett’s Hist. of Dissenters, 1809, ii, 270 seq.; Salmon’s Chron. Hist. 1733, p. 320; T. Browtfs Works, 9th ed. 1760, iii. 100; Caufield’s Portraits, 1819, i. 52; Calamy’s Hist. Account of my own Life, 2nd ed. 1830, ii. 465 seq.; Walter Wilson’s MSS. in Dr. William’s Library.

His Works:

Directions for Daily Holy Living by Daniel Burgess – eBook
Buy the Print Book HERE

Foolish Talking and Jesting Described and Condemned by Daniel Burgess – eBook
Buy the Print Book HERE

The Marks of a Godly Man by Daniel Burgess – eBook
Buy the Print Book HERE

The Works of Daniel Burgess available in old English (Puritan Publications is working to publish all of Daniel Burgess’ works):

1. “A Call to Sinners,” 1689, 8vo (Written at the request of Baron Rotheram, for the use of condemned criminals).
2. “Seasonable Words for English Protestants,” 1690, 4to.
3. “The Characters of a Godly Man,” 1691, 8vo.
4. “Eighteen Directions for Saving Conversion to God,” 1691, 8vo.
5. “The Death and Rest, Resurrection and blessed Portion of the Saints” (Dan. 12:13), 1692, 12mo.
6. “A Discourse of the Death and Resurrection of good Men’s Bodies,” 1692, 8vo.
7. “The Confirming Work of Religion,” 1693, 5vo.
8. “The Sure Way to Wealth…even while Taxes rise and Trades sink,” 1693, 8vo.
9. “Rules for hearing the Word of God,” etc., 2nd ed. 1693, 8vo.
10. “Holy Union and Holy Contention, etc.” 1695, 8vo.
11. “Rules and Motives to Holy Prayer,” 1696, 8vo.
12. “Causa Dei; or Counsel to the Rich,” 1697, 8vo.
13. “The Golden Snuffers,” Exod. 37:23, 1697, 12mo (a favorite illustration with him, see Foolish Talking. This was the first sermon preached to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners). He superintended the third edition (?1681) of Robert Fleming”s “The Fulfilling of the Scripture,”
14. The famous whig tract, “The Craftsmen: a Sermon, composed by the late Daniel Burgess, and intended to be preached by him in the High Times, but prevented by the Burning of his Meeting House,” in “Indep. Whig,” ii. 236, and separate, 2nd ed. 1720, 8vo, is by Thomas Gordon.


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