Harris Lackey Burney

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1816 - 1898

This photograph appeared on the front cover of The Cumberland Presbyterian, March 24, 1898.

The Committee on Deceased Ministers submitted the following report, which was adopted by a rising vote:

. . .

Rev. Harris Lackrey Burney was born in Robertson county, Tenn., August 3, 1816, where he lived until after he entered the ministry, which was over 50 years ago. When he left Robertson county he went to White's Creek and was pastor of White's Creek Church, now Simpkins Chapel. And from there he went to McAdow, where he spent the remaining part of his ministerial life. Nearly fifty years of pastoral life with only two changes speaks volumes for him, and in the day of reckoning many will rise up and call him blessed. He was a very earnest and true man in all the relations of life, but especially in his ministerial duties, never failing to meet all of his appointments and attend the church courts when it was possible for him to do so. Full of years and ripe for the garner, he was gathered home to his fathers January 28, 1898. We are admonished by the death of these fathers in the ministry that another generation of ministers is passing away, and that others must take their places. May their mantles fall on consecrated sons of the Church.

Resolved, That we bow submissively to the will of God in his dealing with us, and pray the Master to call more consecrated men into the ministry. That we tender our sympathy to the bereaved families of deceased.

Respectfully submitted,

N. F. Gill,
J. H. Morton,
James Marshall.

[Source: Minutes of Lebanon Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, March 15, 1898, pages 12-11]




By J. M. Gill, D.D.

Rev. Harris L. Burney was born in Robertson County, Tenn., August 3, 1816, and died January 28, 1898. He professed faith in Christ in early life and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the old Ridge church of historic note. While yet quite young he was happily married to Miss Mary L. Vick, and they started the real journey of life together, sharing each other's burdens and mutually rejoicing in the happiness of each. To them were born two daughters and one son. The daughters married in early life and both died while yet young. His son, Robert Burney, a lawyer of distinction and of noble Christian character, yet survives him. He is descended from Scotch ancestry and so by inheritance and training his young mind received a moral and religious cast which shaped his after life. He was a brother of the late Dr. S. G. Burney, of sacred memory. These two brothers loved each other affectionately, and in the expression of opinion upon questions of religion and church interests, each showed the other deference. Brother Burney was taken under the care of Nashville Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry in 1843, and was licensed to preach the gospel in 1845, and he was set apart to the whole work of the ministry in 1848.

Although he then had the care of a family, he prosecuted the studies necessary for the work of the gospel ministry with untiring energy and great success. He has been heard to say, "Many of his sermons were heard by his plow-house before he delivered them to his people."

For several years he preached with good success in Robertson County, and in the meantime attended many camp meetings and was happy in his instructions to inquirers after the way of life. Very many were led to Christ by his personal teachings.

In the year 1857 he took charge of White's Creek congregation near Nashville and was its pastor for five years, during which time his labors were abundantly blest.

In 1852 he moved to Montgomery Co., Tenn., near Clarksville, where he served as pastor of McAdow congregation for 25 years in succession, during which time two new church houses were erected, which yet stand as monuments commemorative of his work, and both are occupied by separate and prosperous congregations.

Later in life he was bereft of the companion of his early life, and after some years of loneliness, he was married to Mrs. C. H. Montague, of Nashville, who shared with him the remaining toils of his life and who yet survives. Her tender sympathies and constant attentions to him were all he asked or desired and contributed much to smooth his latter life even to the end.

Living as he did, covering a period of time which forms a connecting link between the time of the fathers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the time of the present ministry, he imbibed much of the revival spirit characteristic of the fathers.

As a preacher he was eminently scriptural, logical in argumentation, earnest in manner, zealous in his devotion to his calling, and most impressive in his appeals to the unsaved.

As a pastor, he carried his flock upon his heart. He followed the wandering sheep into the wilderness, endeavoring to bring it back to the fold again. He cared tenderly for the little lambs and nurtured them into a healthful growth. He knew his flock by name, and they knew his voice and followed him.

As a citizen he sought to know his obligations and met them, always recording himself on the moral side of every question for the betterment of humanity.

In the full autumn of his life he could look back and see much of the rich fruits of his labors maturing all around him.

Such an aged, venerable saint, upon whose mild countenance is reflected the soft, holy dawn of heaven, we more than love, we reverence him. His very deadness to the affinities of earth makes us feel that he already belongs to a higher sphere. A thousand times blessed is the close of such a life. His child-like simplicity, sometimes called "dotage," is but the early infancy of a blessed immortality.

Elkton, Ky.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, March 24, 1898, page 1205]

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Updated May 20, 2013