A Man of His Word.
Isaac G. Burnet was born in Newark, New Jersey, on July 17, 1784. He was the son of Dr. William. Burnet, of Newark, New Jersey, who was Surgeon-general in the Army of the Revolution. Isaac prepared for his life’s work with education at the College of New Jersey, and after studying law, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1804. After working in his brother Jacob’s law office for a time, Isaac was admitted to the Ohio bar. With gainful employment in hand, he turned his mind to other matters and was married to Kitty Gordon, daughter of Captain George Gordon, on October 8, 1807. The young couple soon relocated to Dayton, Ohio, where Isaac worked in earnest at developing his legal practice. Then in 1816, he moved his family back to Cincinnati, partnering there with Nicholas Longworth. His connections and abilities led in turn to his being elected mayor of Cincinnati in 1819. Burnet was re-elected to this office five times, holding the office until 1831, at which time he decided not to stand for re-election.
Prior to his retirement from that office, Burnet had become one of the owners of The Cincinnati Gazette, in 1817. His interest in that firm did not last long, but for many years he continued to write, both for the secular and the religious press. In 1833 he was appointed Clerk of the Supreme Court of Hamilton County, and he continued to hold that office until the Supreme Court upon the circuit was superseded by the District Court, under the constitution of 1851.
Apparently Isaac Burnet made his public profession of faith somewhat later in life, since he was baptized by the Rev. John Boyd, pastor of the Enon Baptist Church, in Cincinnati, sometime around 1826. Then in about 1831 or 1832, he became a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. In 1834, Judge Burnet was elected to serve as a ruling elder in this church, and he remained active in this office for almost twenty years.
Two years before his death, he moved to Walnut Hills, Ohio and joined the Lane Seminary Church, and was immediately elected to serve there as an elder. He died on March 11, 1856.
Judge Burnet was eminently exemplary as a Christian, and faithful as an officer of the Church. He was a man of great decision and earnestness. During the time that he was mayor of Cincinnati, he stood alone against a mob “in the flush of their riotous and revengeful triumph” and with a few short words, brought them to their senses. In a similar way, in all his dealings within the Church, no one who ever came into contact with him ever doubted where he stood on a matter. He died as he lived. For years, he had suffered from a mounting disease, but looking to the Lord, had no fear of death, for Christ had already given him the victory.
Words to Live By:
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but [a]your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”—(James 5:12, NASB)
“Stand to your word, and be true to it, so as to give no occasion for your being suspected of falsehood; and then you will be kept from the condemnation of backing what you say or promise by rash oaths, and from profaning the name of God to justify yourselves. It is being suspected of falsehood that leads men to swearing. Let it be known that you keep to truth, and are firm to your word, and by this means you will find there is no need to swear to what you say.”–Matthew Henry.