Robert Harris (1581-1658)

A Westminster puritan, one of the most eminent divines for preaching and practical theology, and who published powerful works on the beatitudes.

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

His Works:

The Works of Robert Harris available in old English:

a. Absaloms funerall: preached at Banburie by a neighbour minister: or the lamentation of a louing father for a rebellious child. London
b. Samuels funerall. Or A sermon preached at the funerall of Sir Anthonie Cope Knight, and Barronnet. By Mr. Robert Harrice. London: Printed by Felix Kyngston for Thomas Man, and are to be sold at the signe of the Talbot in Pater-noster row, 1618.
c. The drunkards cup. By Master Harris, Pastor of Hanwell, and Bachelor in Diuinitie. London: printed by Felix Kyngston for Thomas Man, and are to be sold at the signe of the Talbot in Pater-noster row, 1619.

d. Gods goodnes and mercie. Layd open in a sermon, preached at Pauls-Crosse on the last of Iune. 1622. By Mr. Robert Harris, pastour of the church of God in Hanwell in Orford-shire [sic]. London: Printed by Iohn Dawson for Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sould at the golden Cup in the Gold-smiths Rowe in Cheap-side, 1624.
e. Peters enlargement vpon the prayers of the Church. By Master Harris, London: Printed by I. D[awson] for Iohn Bartlett, and are to be sould at the golden Cup, in the Gold-smiths Rowe in Cheapside, 1624.
f. Hezekiah’s recovery. Or, A sermon, shevving what use Hezekiah did, and all should make of their deliverance from sickenesse. First preached, and now published by Robert Harris, pastor of Hanwell. London: Printed by R[obert] Y[oung] for Iohn Bartlet, at the golden Cup in the Goldsmiths Row in Cheape-side, Anno M.DC.XXVI.
g. Six sermons, preached on seuerall texts and occasions: by Robert Harris, pastor of Hanwell, in Oxford-shire. Viz. Absoloms funerall, Samuels funerall, Drunkards cup, Gods goodnesse, Peters enlargement, Hezekiahs recouery London: For Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sold at the signe of the Golden Cup in Cheap-side, 1627.
h. Davids comfort at Ziklag. A plaine sermon made in time of dearth and scarcitie of corne and worke. By Robert Harris. London: Printed [by R. Young] for Iohn Bartlet, at the gilt Cup in Cheape-side, 1628.
i. St. Pauls confidence. Deliuered in a sermon before the iudges of assise. By Robert Harris. London: Printed [by R. Young] for Iohn Bartlet, at the gilt Cup in Cheape-side, 1628.
j. The blessednesse of a sound spirit: vvith the misery of a vvounded spirit. VVhere first a sound spirit is described and differenced, and lets discouered, helpes prescribed. By Robert Harris. London: printed [at Eliot’s Court Press] for I. Bartlet, and are to be sold at his shop in Cheap-side, at the signe of the gilded Cup, 1628.
k. Two sermons: the one preached before the iudges of assize at Oxford. The other to the Vniuersitie. By Robert Harris London : Printed [at Eliot’s Court Press] for I. Bartlet, and are to be sold at his shop in Cheape-side, at the signe of the gilded Cup, 1628.
l. Sixe sermons of conscience viz. I. S. Pauls exercise …, II. Iudas his miserie …, III. S. Pauls confidence, IV. The blessednesse of a sound spirit, V. The miserie of a wounded spirit, VI. Dauids comfort at Ziklag by. M. Robert Harris, London: Printed by H.L. for Iohn Bartlett, at the signe of the gilt Cup in Cheape-side, 1630.
m. Two sermons: vvherein vve are taught, 1. Hovv to get, 2. How to keepe, 3. How to vse a good conscience. Preached in Alldermanbury Church, London. Not heretofore published. By Robert Harris. London: Printed by T. B[rudenell] for Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sold at his shop in Cheape-side at the Gilded-Cup, 1630.
n. The way to true happinesse. Deliuered in XXIV. sermons vpon the Beatitudes. By Robert Harris, B. in Diuinity, and pastor of Hanwell. Also, a treatise of the nevv couenant; set forth sermon-wise, on Ezechiel the XI. By the same authour. London: Printed [by R. Badger? and John Beale] for Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sold at his shop in Cheape-side at the Gilded Cup, 1632.
o. Abners funerall, or, a sermon preached at the funerall of that learned and noble knight, Sir Thomas Lucie. By Robert Harris, B.D. and Pastor of the Church at Hanwell, Oxon. London: printed for Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sould at the signe of the Gilt Cup by Saint Austins Gate, 1641.
p. A sermon preached to the honorable House of Commons assembled in Parliament, at a publike fast, May, 25. 1642. By Robert Harris, Batchelor of Divinity and Pastor of Hanwell. Oxon. Published by order of that House. London: printed by M. F[lesher]. for Iohn Bartlet, and are to be sold at the gilt Cup, neere S. Austins gate in Pauls Church-yard, M.DC.XLII. [1642] q. True religion in the old way of piety and charity. Delivered in a sermon to the Lord Major and Court of Aldermen of this city of London, at their anniversary meeting on Munday (commonly called Easter-Munday) at the Spittle, 1645. By Robert Harris B D. pastor of Hanwell, Oxon. and a member of the Assembly of Divines London: printed for John Bartlet, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of the Gilt Cup under Saint Austins Gate, 1645.
r. Two letters written by Mr Harris in vindication of himselfe from the known slanders of an unknown author. To my reverend friend M. Harris. Sir, it will not (I hope) offend you to see your private letters made publique, it concernes you, and others, to vindicate your selves in the catching age, and the sooner ’tis done the better, chide me if you will, yet I will be yours still, W.T. May 2. 1648. Oxford : Printed [by Leonard Lichfield], in the yeare. 1648.
s. A brief discourse of mans estate in the first and second Adam, shewing these six points. I Man had a glorious beginning. II Man is much varied from himself. III Mans sin was caused by himself. IV Mans misery followes his non-dependence on God. V Man once off from God, an left to himself wanders irrecoverably. VI Saints by Christ are in a very happy estate. By Robert Harris Doctor in Divinity, late Pastour of Hanwell, now President of Trinity College in Oxon. London: by J[ames]. Flesher for John Bartlet the elder, and John Bartlet the younger, and are to be sold at the Gilt-Cup neer Austins gate in the New Buildings, 1653.
t. Concio ad clerum 1. Oxoniæ jamdudum habita, 2. Dein posthabita & repudiata, 3. Nunc demum in lucem edita, London: excudebat G[eorge]. M[iller]. pro Johanne Bartlet, ad insigne poculi Aurati in Cæmiterio D. Pauli, M.DC.XLI.
u. Severall sermons of Robert Harris once of Hanwell, now president of Trinity College in Oxon, and Doctor of Divinity. Being a supplement to his works formerly printed in folio; intended for their supply, who have the other already. Containing I A brief treatise of the threefold state of man never before extant. II A sermon preached to the Honorable House of Commons. III A sermon touching prayer and mercy; and preached at the Spittle. IV Abners funerall, preached at the funerall of Sir Thomas Lucie knight. V Concio ad clerum. Preached to the University of Oxford Which were not in the former edition in folio. By Robert Harris, D.D. Oxon. London: printed by James Flesher, for John Bartlet the elder, and Jonh [sic] Bartlet the younger, and are to be sold at the Gilt Cup, on the South side of Pauls neer Austins Gate in the new Buildings, 1654.
v. The works of Robert Harris once of Hanwell, now president of Trinity College in Oxon, and Doctor of Divinity. Revised, corrected, and now collected into one volume. With an addition of sundry sermons: some, not printed in the former edition; others, never before extant. By Robert Harris, D.D. Oxon.” London: printed by James Flesher, for John Bartlet the elder, and John Bartlet the younger, and are to be sold at the Gilt Cup, on the south side of Pauls neer Austins Gate in the new buildings, 1654.

Biography of Robert Harris (1581-1658):

Robert Harris (1581-1658), president of Trinity College, Oxford, was born ‘in a dark time and place,’ at Broad Campden, Gloucestershire, in 1581. The received date of his birth, 1578, is incorrect. Harris was educated at the free schools of Chipping Campden and Worcester, matriculating, aged 15, at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, 10 June 1597, when his relative Robert Lyson was principal. His parents were poor, with a large family, and Harris, in order to obtain tuition in philosophy, taught Greek and Hebrew. He graduated B.A. on 5 June 1600, and though originally intended for the law decided to enter the church. When in 1604 the university was dissolved on account of the plague, Harris went home and preached his first sermon at Chipping Campden. Returning to Oxford he studied theology for ten years, and graduated B.D. on 5 May 1614 (Oxf. Univ. Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.). ii. ii. 220, iii. 220). Before his ordination he seems to have helped the rector of Chiselhampton, near Oxford. In 1614 Sir Anthony Coke offered him the living of Hanwell, Oxfordshire. Archbishop Bancroft had other nominees, and it was not till Harris had been examined in divinity by Barlow, bishop of Rochester, when ‘they Greeked it till they were both run aground for want of words, upon which they burst into a fit of laughter, and so gave it over,’ that the appointment was confirmed. Hanwell parsonage now became a favourite resort for Oxford students. Harris won fame as a preacher at St. Paul’s, St. Saviour’s Southwork, and other London churches, as well as in his own neighbourhood. He was a staunch puritan and parliamentarian. On 25 April 1642 he was chosen one of the puritan divines fit to be consulted by parliament, and on the occasion of a public fast (25 May) preached before the House of Commons. After Edgehill the royalist troopers quartered at Hanwell turned out Harris and his family, and he was finally ejected from his living and obliged to fly to London (September 1642). He was there made one of the assembly of divines, and received the living of St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate. In 1646 the committee of Hampshire presented him to Petersfield, but before he could take possession he was ordered to Oxford (10 Sept.) as one of the six divines commissioned to preach and invade any pulpit they pleased. From May 1647 to 1652, and again from 1654 to 1658, he was visitor to the university, and on 4 June 1647 preached at St. Mary’s his first visitation sermon, in which he defended himself from the charge of pluralism. On 12 April 1648 the chancellor, Lord Pembroke, admitted Harris to the degree of D.D., and at the same time he was made president of Trinity in the place of Hannibal Potter [q. v.], whom he had assisted to eject. The living of Garsington, Oxfordshire, went with the headship. Though advanced in years he seems to have conscientiously fulfilled all his duties, lecturing once a week at All Souls’ College, and preaching on Sundays at Garsington. He governed the college well for ten years, but exacted exorbitant fines for the renewal of leases. He died on 1 Dec. 1658, at the age of 77. Shortly before, he had written a letter of advice to his children, which is published in his biography. He was buried in the college chapel. Ralph Bathurst, a successor in the presidency, is said to have struck two words, ‘æternum celebrandus,’ out of Harris’s epitaph (Wharton, Life of Bathurst, ed. l761, p. 148). He was satirised and caricatured by the royalists as a notorious pluralist, but there is no proof that he enjoyed all his livings at the same time, and Grey, who calls him ‘a fanatical hero,’ acquits him of the charge (Grey, Examination, ii. 298). In 1648 Harris published two letters to vindicate himself from the slanders of an unknown writer (author of a Letter from Oxon.., 17 April 1648). He was liberal to the posterity of the founder of Trinity (Warton, Life of Pope, 1780. p. 446), was a good Hebrew scholar, and was well versed in church history. Bishop Wilkins (Tract on Preaching, pp. 82-3) describes him as one of the most eminent divines for preaching and practical theology. His wife suffered from religious mania.

He published a large number of separate sermons (see list in Wood, Athenæ, ed. Bliss; Catalogues British Museum and Bodleian). A ‘Concio ad Clerum,’ by him, was printed, with another by Dr. Featly, at Utrecht in 1657, under the title of ‘Pedum Pastorale &c.’ A collected edition of his works was first published in 1635, fol.; 2nd edit. London, 1654-5, fol.

[The chief authority is a eulogistic life ‘of that judicious Divine and accomplished Preacher, Robert Harris. D.D., collected by a joynt concourse of some who knew him well,’ by a friend, William Durham, Harris’s kinsman, minister of Tredington, 1660. fol. See also Wood’s Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 458; Neal’s Puritans, iii. 394, iv. 189; Brook’s Lives of the Puritans, iii. 303; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy, pp. 3, 125-6; Beesley’s Hist. of Banbury, pp. 79, 240, &c.; Burrows’s Visitation of University of Oxford (Camd. Soc.), 554, 565.]

 

 

Bible Verse:

“Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus,” (1 Peter 5:14).

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