? - 1887
|Last August the Rev. William Logan Harris, D. D., LL. D., one of the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal, Church, passed from labor to reward, after a short but distressing illness. Short it was, although the disease—fatty degeneration of the heart—had been making steady invasion upon his vitality for some months. A season of travel in Europe, failed to recruit him, and not many days after his return home he bade farewell to family and friends and beloved work, and went up to receive his crown.
In his death we are bereaved. He presided at our session in 1880, moving among us as a father among his children, winning all our hearts. The Conference expressed its grateful regard in these words: “We feel that his coming among us was of the Lord, and that he has endeared himself to this Conference by his wise counsels, by his instructive sermons, and by his kindly yet dignified bearing among us socially. As he departs for Mexico from this city we will follow him with our prayers that he made kept, and be prospered on his Journey, and may return to his home.
Dr. Harris did much to advance the slavery sentiment in the Church in the times antecedent to the war. The influence of the Baltimore Conference for a long time kept the Church in the position of forbidding official members to hold slaves, while tolerating the holding by non-official members. The first General Conference of which Dr. Harris was a member — viz., that of 1860 — opened the flood-gates to the long pent-up anti-slavery feeling of the Church; every obstacle was cleared from the channels of ecclesiastical energy; and the General Rule took the shape in which it now stands, forbidding forever “the buying, selling, or holding of slaves.” No man in the Church was, probably, more jubilant over this result than our lamented, heroic Bishop. He hated slavery and rum with all his heart, but was moved to tears in conversing with a penitent. He struck quick blows at an antagonist, but melted quickly when he saw that he had spoken too soon, and tenderly righted a wrong. He wept and laughed at the’ same moment when- the tragic and the comic mingled in events. None ever loved his family more tenderly. No Methodist ever loved and served his Church more devotedly.
He was not a philosopher, nor in a scholastic sense a theologian. But with a sound common
sense and a practical, earnest theology he combined, in an eminent degree, the highest qualities of a canonical lawyer and a skillful ecclesiast. Perhaps no man in the history of American Methodism has so decidedly made his mark on the methods of business among the Bishops, on the rules of procedure of the General Conference, and on the jurisprudence of the Church at large.
He had great capacity for work, and fairly reveled in toilsome routine that other men called drudgery. The Missionary Society profited by his judicious and thorough methods of business; and in the discharge of episcopal duties at the conferences all felt that the rulings of Bishop Harris would stand the fire of criticism by the Committee on the Episcopacy.
His grand presence is among us no more. His feet- have already trod the golden streets. He has joined the shining company bf such splendid witnesses and heroes as Thomson, Janes, Simpson, Ames, Scott, -and Wiley. In communion with them are ‘doubtless found also the spirits of our own Scott Chinn, and that of Dr. Taylor. Happy company! May we greet them soon!
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference Methodist Episcopal Church, 1887|