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twenty years. He married in 1806, and in 1808 buried his first-born son. His ministry was not marked by any special success; but it was faithfully discharged. He preached the glorious doctrines of grace clearly and simply. He visited the people, exhorted and prayed in every house, and held regular diets of catechizing. He was specially solicitous about his own growth in grace, and sought to be more and more devoted to his work. Thus he was preparing for another sphere, where he required all his wisdom, and obtained all his desire. Nor were his labours without fruit in Dun.
In the year 1821, he was presented to the parish of Kilsyth—much more populous than Dun, and inhabited by a more intelligent people. Sin abounded in the district. "Intemperance was fearfully prevalent. Interwoven with all the immemorial customs, and familiar incidents of daily life, it had grown into a kind of institution--an integral element of the existing social system, all ranks and classes were more or less affected by it.”
Many did not go to church, and irregular attendance had grown to be a habit. “Oh,” said the factor one day to the minister, " that has always been the way here. The apostle Paul himself could not bring the people of Kilsyth out in a full meeting three Sabbaths running.” Mr. Burns mourned over the evils which he observed, and resolved, by the blessing of God, to attempt to remove them. He began a regular visitation of the families of the parish-a practice he continued as long as he was able. He instituted Sabbath schools, adult classes, prayer meetings, temperance societies,-of which he was himself a faithful member to his dying day,—and literary unions; and, to a faithful exposition of “the truth as it is in Jesus," added the powerful example of a holy life. He laboured in hope. Kilsyth had in the former century been the scene of a great awakening, when Mr. Robe was the minister. Many had been brought to the Lord in that memorable epoch, and prayer meetings instituted then remained to the time of Mr. Burns. This greatly encouraged the heart of the new pastor. He perused with deepest interest the Session records of the period of 1742 and succeeding years, and was stirred to hope and pray for a similar blessing on his own labours. While willing to wait, he was earnest in his work. In the year 1822, he preached upon the subject, when he had newly perused the MSS. records kept in the church. During the next sixteen years he introduced the same theme, and fixed the heart of faith and prayer on the desired object. In 1838, he resolved upon a most impressive experiment. He announced that on the anniversary of the death of the Rev. James Robe, who had been minister of the parish in the time of the great revival, he would stand on the grave, and preach from the Hebrew text engraven by their former pastor on the stone after he had buried his wife. The text was Isa. xxvi. 19. There was a great assembly on the occasion. Mr. Burns spoke with much fervour, and made a most solemn appeal to the audience. One of his highly honoured predecessors lay beneath his feet, the fathers of the people were beneath theirs. Soon they would all pass away. Now was the accepted time. Preaching the same doctrine as the minister whom the Lord had so signally blessed, he pressed them to accept that gospel and be saved. A deep impression was produced, and towards the close of 1838, anxious souls were finding their way to the manse inquiring, “What must we do to be saved ?"
In 1839, the shower of blessing fell more copiously than even the minister anticipated. At the communion season in July, his son, William, then taking charge of the congregation of the devoted M'Cheyne at Dundee, preached with extraordinary earnestness and power. At a special service designed for the market-place, but adjourned to the church on account of the rain, the people were melted under the word. Their strong emotions made the preacher's voice for a time quite inaudible. Many were awakened; all were serious. On succeeding days great crowds assembled to hear the word, and so intense was the spiritual concern, that they were unwilling to disperse. All the time between public services was occupied in conversing with inquirers. Religion became the only topic of interest in the parish. Many were brought to Christ. Many more were aroused; and sin for a time hid its face. At a special communion held three weeks after the awakening, about one hundred new communicants were admitted to the Lord's Table. The assembly on that occasion contained no fewer than from twelve thousand to fifteen thousand people. There were many eminent ministers present, and preaching was kept up for several days. The Lord wrought with the word, and persons from other localities returned to spread the reviving influence in their own neighbourhood.
What a marvellous answer was this to the faith and prayer that had laboured in hope so long! But the blessing was not confined to Kilsyth. All who have perused the memoir of the seraphic M‘Cheyne must be aware of the revival work in Dundee under the preaching (15)
of Mr. W. C. Burns. Similar awakenings took place in Perth and the neighbourhood, Aberdeen, Ancrum, Jedburgh, Kelso, and in various districts of the Highlands. It was specially remarked, that where the revival of the year 1742 and those which followed had occurred, this refreshing fell. Ministers received a new baptism, and very many persons were spiritually born to God throughout Scotland. The Spirit was preparing the Church there for the ordeal to be passed through in the memorable 1843
The test of time has been applied to the revival of 1839; and it is interesting in the present epoch of similar movements to know that the impressions then made, and the hopes then entertained, have been fulfilled to a most encouraging extent Mr. Burns continued in that parish for twenty years after that era, and his full conviction was, that there had been a great outpouring of the Spirit, of which the fruits remained in very many souls. But the whole history of revivals attests the same. Results have proved the genuineness of the Spirit's breathing upon souls on a large scale. It has been by these striking and sudden upheavals that the spiritual life of the Church has been aroused. These have been the revolutions which have reformed, purified, and extended Christ's cause in Christian lands. The present time is but the enlarged expression of periods of awakening from Pentecost downwards.
In the year 1843, Mr. Burns united with Dr. Chalmers and nearly five hundred of his brethren, in surrendering his benefice and connection with the Establishment. It was a trying experience to leave the church where he had preached for twenty-two years, and where he had seen so much of the Lord's power; nor was it less painful to leave the manse endeared by many domestic circumstances. But his mind was made up, and “without a murmur he laid his earthly all at the feet of that Master whose cause, as he believed, demanded the sacrifice, and signed the irrevocable deed of renunciation with a firm and unshaking hand.” On returning home after this, he went as usual to his manse, but found his family and furniture removed. A house in the village had been taken ; and his ever-thoughtful and anxious wife had sought to smooth his sorrows by a removal ere 'he returned. As he stood by the empty house, two of his faithful people met him, and led their attached pastor to his Disruption abode. The people rallied round their minister, and soon a new church and manse arose. He continued to labour with less parochial, but more pastoral care; and though he “cast sometimes a pensive, yet never a lingering look to the heritage he had left behind.”
In 1850, he reached his jubilee in the ministry, but he declined any public recognition. He was still able for his beloved work, though years were weakening his strength. A colleague was associated with him in the ministry in 1854, but he was able to preach even on the 27th March, 1859, in the sixtieth year of his ministry. On the 8th May—a sweet Sabbath morning—he fell asleep in Jesus. His last experience was the calm radiance of a sun that had shone almost without a cloud for eighty years. He had no doubt of his acceptance, and frequently exclaimed, “Let me away! Lord, take me home! I die in peace-I am willing-into thine hand I commit my spirit-thou hast redeemed me, O Lord