James O. (James Ormsbee) Murray.

Rev. William Harris, entered into rest March 23rd, 1885 online

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< " OCT M 1952


Rev. William Harris.



Rev. William Harris.




Reading of the Scriptures. . , . Dk. Duffield.

Address Dk. J, O. Murray. W*r44 U

Prayer Dr. McCosh.


Benediction. Dr. Maclean.


High in yonder realms of light

Dwell the raptured saints above,
Far beyond our feeble sight,

Happy in Ininianuel's love ;
Pilgrims in this vale of tears,

Once they knew, like us below,
Gloomy doubts, distressing fears,

Torturing pain and heavy woe.

'Mid the chorus of the skies,

'Mid th' angelic lyres above,
Hark ! their songs melodious rise —

Songs of praise to Jesus' love ;
Happy spirits, they are fled

Where no grief can entrance tind.
Lulled to rest the aching head,

Soothed the anguish of the mind.

All is tranquil and serene.

Calm and undisturbed repose ;
There no cloud can intervene,

There no angry tempest blows ;
Every tear is wiped away,

Sighs no more shall heave the breast
Night is lost in endless day.

Sorrow in eternal rest.


We gather in the house of God under circumstances of
unusual solemnity and unusual grief. Death is always solemn
— the most solemn thing on earth. When the soul passes
from the seen and temporal to the unseen and eternal, and
from probation to award, the solemnity of the event, come
in what form it may, is always to a thoughtful mind, dense
and subduing. But coming so suddenly, so unexpectedly,
coming when to our view the work of life still had its tasks
to fulfill, its burdens to carry, its christian ends to meet and
satisfy, we are arrested by the thought, and must ask each
for himself solemn questions as to our personal fitness for
life or death, as the Great Arbiter may appoint.

But if possible the grief of the hour appeals to our sym-
l)athies evtn more strongly than its solemnity appeals to
conscience. A few weeks since our friend left his home
here for a few week's sojourn in the South. What appre-
hensions may have dwelt in his own heart we know not. If
they were grave, in thoughtful love for those whom they
would have distressed, he kept them fast locked in his own
bosom. But that he had fully anticipated resuming his life
and work here, his thought was only of a brief rest, and


then new devotion to his labors with recuperated energy,
is clear beyond a doubt. And so his visit finished, he set
his face gladly homeward, and his last letter, not yet one
week old, was full of longing to be once more at home.
But as we all know, it was ordered otherwise. He was
suddenly seized with a mortal illness. It came on him
like a flash. Alone he entered the valley of the shadow.
In the land of the stranger, he sank under the sudden
stroke. A few moments of sickness, then unconsciousness,
then death,

"By foreign bands his dying eyes were closed,
By foreign hands his decent limbs composed."

Scarcely less sudden to those of his household, and to
his friends and acquaintances was the shock. It smote us
all dumb with astonished sorrow. There was but one voice
from all hearts, " The Will of God, let us bow silently and
humbly ! His ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts
our thoughts. The cup that He giveth shall we not drink
it." I speak then in assurance of a most uncommon sym-
pathy, a few words in regard to the life and character
of Mr. Harris.

He was born Dec. 20, 1831. His father, Dr. William
Harris, was a physician in Philadelphia, fiivorably known in
his profession, and also in the church, having been chosen
an elder in the 10th church under Dr. Boardman's ministr3\
He came from a good lineage on both the paternal and ma-
ternal side, for integrity of character, and for a staunch god-
liness of life.

Mr. Harris was graduated at the University of Pennsyl-
vania in 1850. His first purpose was to devote himself to a

business career. In pursuance of this design he entered a
business house in ISTew York city. Then, if I mistake not, he
joinedhimself to aband of earnest Christian young men under
the honored ministry of Dr. J. W. Alexander, and gained that
impulse for Christian work among young men which never
left him. In 1858, he gave up flattering business prospects
to enter the Theological Seminary at Princeton, and was
graduated from the Seminary here in 1861. The war was
then upon us and he became a chaplain in the 106th Penn-
sylvania Volunteers, remaining in this position for one year.
Another year of service to his country he gave in the work
of the Sanitary Commission. Much of his time during this
period was given to visiting and comforting the sick and
dying in hospitals. It seems an affecting coincidence that
he himself in his last hours should have received from the
hands of strangers in the St. Joseph's Hospital at Savannah,
the same kind ministries he himself had so often rendered
the sick and the d^ing. He had however consecrated him-
self to the Christian ministry and in 1864 he became pastor
of the church in Towanda, Pennsylvania, where he remain-
ed for six years. That ministry was marked by the confi-
dence and affection of his people. It is not long since he by
a visit there renewed the sacred memories of those years,
and came back from it, happy in the assurances freely given
that his work there was still kindly treasured in his old peo-
ple's memories. From that position, he was called to be
Treasurer of Princeton College in 1870.

It is due the memory of Mr. Harris to say that, in ac-
cepting this position, he had no idea of secularizing himself,
and laying aside all his oflices as a Christian minister. He


has from the beginning taken his phace as preacher in the
College Chapel. While fnltilling sedulously all the manifold
duties of his office as Treasurer of the college, he has from
first to last manifested the warmest interest in the religious
Avelfare of the institution. No one has co-operated more
heartily with tlie Philadelphian Society in its religious work
than he. It is owing largely to his spirit and his endeavors
that the movement was begun here, which has I'esulted in
the Inter-Collegiate Young Men's Christian Association.

Always interested in this field of christian work among
young men, he took an active part in the affiliation of our
Philadelphian Society with the Young Men's Christian As-
sociation. And whatever may have been the misgivings of
some of us at first as to the wisdom of the movement, none
who are now familiar with what has been accomplished will
hesitate to own, that the work of christian young men in our
College has been greatly helped by this organization. While
however Mr. Harris was giving himself to such efforts here,
he was interested in a wider field of Christian efiort. He
was a leader in the Sabbath School Work of the State. I
am glad to give the following testimony furnished by Dr.
Worden, his co-laborer, to his zeal and efficiency here : —

" The eminence which Mr. Harris attained in this de-
partment of church work may be estimated by considering
the following facts :

" Mr. Harris was so favorite a leader of Sabbath School
Conventions' and Institutes that he was sought for by all de-
nominations, and by all parts of the country. He could ac-
cept but a few of the many pressing invitations to conduct
the meetings.

" For several successive years he was unanimously elect-
ed President of the New Jersey Sahbath School Association,
embracing all denominations. ISTot only did he ably and
successfully preside at the Annual Conventions of this Asso-
ciation, but he systematized and extended the work of Bible
instruction throughout the State.

" For years he was the associate conductor of the Sab-
bath School Assembly at Ocean Grove.

"In 1878 Mr. Harris was elected by the International
Sabbath School Convention, then meeting in Atlanta, Geor-
gia, to represent New Jersey on its Executive Committee.
On account of declining health the Chairman of that com-
mittee, Mr. Franklin Allen, retired, and Mr. Harris took
his place.

" The Triennial Convention was approaching; it was to
meet in Toronto, Canada. Upon Mr. Harris rested the re-
sponsibility of preparing a programme of that most import-
ant gathering of Sabbath School workers in the world. The
programme of subjects, and speakers, which he arranged
and published, and which was carried out at Toronto, June
22-24, 1881, was one of the most satisfactory ever produced.

" Time would fail to give further details of a work of
such distinguished importance and success.

" There were three characteristics in the Sabbath School
work of Rev. Mr. Harris :

1st. His high appreciation of the importance of Bible
study, his view of the Scriptures as God's Word, and his
persistent effort to render more thorough the study of the
Bible in these schools.

2nd. His superb executive ability was shown in his suc-
cess in systematizing the details of this work.


Srd. His constant and conscientious endeavor to keep
the Sabbath School work to its true aim — the complete sal-
vation of the scholar, his immediate conversion to Christ
and his after-training in Christ.

" On these accounts, thousands of earnest Sabbath
School superintendents and teachers blessed God for his as-
sistance to them, and cherish the memory of Mr. Harris, as
that of a Christian leader and helper."

And so for fifteen years he has been among us filling
up his record of Christian endeavor. Holding the position
he did, he was made aware of many opportunities of per-
sonal kindness to students. ISTot a few of the graduates of
the fifteen years past will gladly testify to such acts of
consistent kindness on his part. For he was a man of gen-
erous and kindly nature. Quick and impulsive in tempera-
ment, he was also quick and impulsive in his readiness to
give a helping hand when it was needed. Letters which
have come to condole with and comfort his sorrowing house-
hold, show how warm and true his friendships were. Of
the home and its loss it is not for me to speak. That grief
is too deep and too sacred for any unveiling to the public
eye. The happy and blessed memories of the past; the
bright anticipations of reunion beyond the grave, are now
its only heritage. May God uphold and comfort all in this
hour of dreadful loneliness and sorrow !

It is now recalled with more and more distinctness that
for two years past, his health has been failing. He sought
needed rest in a voyage to Europe in the Summer of 1883.
It was hoped that would secure him complete restoration.
But it was seemingly only a temporary relief. He has kept


at his work, at times prostrated, but bravely struggling and
never for a moment allowing his friends to think any serious
calamity impended over him. And the end has come at
last, has come suddenly. Not however without alleviations.
It was no long decay of impaired powers. It was no sharp
and painful struggle. He had turned his face toward his
beloved earthly home. But he was nearer to his Father's
home, than he thought. The summons came.

Then with no tiery throbbing pain,

No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once tlie vital chain

And freed his soul the nearest way.

For so sometimes it pleases God " to give his beloved


" Forever with the Lord ! "
Amen ! so let it be ;
Life from the dead is iu that word,
' Tis immortality.

Here, in the body pent,

Absent from him I roam ;

Yet nightly pitch ray moving tent
A day's march nearer home.

" Forever with the Lord ! "

Father ! if 'tis thy will,
The promise of that faithful word
E'en here to me fulfill.

So when my latest breath

Shall rend the veil in twain,

By death I shall escape from death.
And life eternal gain.

Knowing as I am known.

How shall I love that word !

And oft repeat before the throne,
" Forever with the Lord ! "


Online LibraryJames O. (James Ormsbee) MurrayRev. William Harris, entered into rest March 23rd, 1885 → online text (page 1 of 1)