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Thomas Harrison D.D. (1618–1682)

A strong but tender preacher of the word and sucessor to Thomas Goodwin.
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“Good arguments in prayer know the necessity of prayer as well as the great equity we have for obtaining the things prayed for.”

Works of Harrison:

1. Topica Sacra: Spiritual Logick: some brief Hints and Helps to Faith, Meditation, and Prayer, Comfort and Holiness. Communicated at Christ Church, Dublin, in Ireland, London, 1658, 12mo. This was dedicated to Henry Cromwell. It became extremely popular during the end of the seventeenth century, especially among the poorer classes in Scotland. A second part was added in 1712 by John Hunter, minister of Ayr. This was frequently reprinted. A revised and corrected edition of the first part, under the title of ‘Spiritual Pleadings and Expostulations with God in Prayer,’ was published by the Rev. Peter Hall in 1838 in 16mo.

2. “Old Jacob’s Account Cast up, etc.,” a Funeral Sermon for Lady Susannah Reynolds, preached at Lawrence Jewry, February 13, 1654.

3. “Threni Hibernici, or Ireland sympathising with England and Scotland in a sad Lamentation for the Loss of their Josiah;” a Sermon preached at Christ Church, Dublin, on the Death of Oliver Cromwell, London, 1659, 4to; dedicated to ‘the most illustrious Richard, Lord Protector, etc.

Biography of Thomas Harrison D.D. (1618–1682):

Thomas Harrison D.D. (1618–1682) was a nonconformist divine, born at Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire, and was taken by his parents while a youth to New England, and there trained up to the ministry. He became chaplain to the governor of Virginia, an enemy of the puritans. The governor, with the involvement of Harrison, expelled from Virginia certain ministers who held extreme views, and their expulsion was followed by a disastrous rising among the Indians. This was held by many, Harrison included, to be a judgment of Providence against the persecutors of the expelled preachers. Harrison’s change of views occasioned his dismissal, upon which he came to London, and, obtaining some fame as a preacher, was chosen about 1650 to succeed Dr. Thomas Goodwin in his “gathered church” at St. Dunstan’s-in-the-East. Here he remained for a few years, after which he removed to Brombrough Hall, Wirrall, Cheshire.

In 1657 he accompanied Henry Cromwell, when he went to Ireland as lord-lieutenant. He lived in Cromwell’s family, and preached at Christ Church, Dublin. At the Restoration he left Ireland, and settled in Chester, preaching to large congregations in the cathedral, until he was silenced by the Act of Uniformity.

From a list of graduates at Cambridge from October 10, 1660 to October 10, 1661, it appears that Harrison earned his doctorate there; but according to Edmund Calamy[1] he received it at Dublin. After the passing of the Act of Uniformity he returned to Dublin and founded a flourishing dissenting church of congregational views.

Harrison’s eloquence and fluency both in prayer and preaching brought him great notoriety, and Calamy states that “he was a complete gentleman, much courted for his conversation.” When he died there was a general mourning in Dublin. He left behind him a valuable library, containing many manuscripts, among them a “System of Divinity” in a large folio written by himself.

[1] Account, p. 607


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