Licensed by Logan Presbytery 14 October 1821
Ordained by Logan Presbytery 8 October 1829
Being conscious, almost from the commencement of his sickness, that he would not recover, his time was principally employed in retrospecting his past life. Being satisfied with the review, and feeling that God approbated his labor of love, although performed in much weakness and with many imperfections, he then told his companion he would not recover, and commenced giving her some charges respecting his children &c. But perceiving his companion too much affected to bear up under the idea of a separation so near at hand, he said no more on the subject at that time; but finding in the course of several days his end fast approaching, on Thursday before his death he made his will, gave directions to his companion about some matters, embraced each of his children tenderly, told them how to act &c. His soul was so filled with the prospect of glory and a home in heaven, that he rejoiced aloud and praised God for redeeming grace and dying love. From that period till Saturday evening, he remained in a state of quiet, so far as acute pains caused by palpitation of the heart would admit. During this time he was almost constantly employed in fervent prayer. At length we heard him exclaim plainly, for he could not often speak above his breath--"O Lord, I want, as good old Stephen, to see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God. I want to see angels about my bed." He then requested us all to pray that he might enjoy more fully the smiles of his heavenly Father. We all knelt and prayed most devoutly. After prayer he was still solemnly engaged. We commenced singing "How firm a foundation," &c. While we were trying to sing, his soul was filled to overflowing; he rejoiced and praised God, and with a smiling countenance, looked at his companion and children and friends, feeling perfectly willing to submit them to the care of his heavenly Father. He exclaimed--"O Jesus, why tarry thy chariot wheels so long!"
But he said, "I am afraid I shall become impatient: for why should I shrink from suffering? Paul says, our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." We spent the night principally in singing, praying, rejoicing and conversation. While singing
"If I must die, O let me die
With hope in Jesus' blood--
That blood that saves from guilt and sin,
And reconciles to God.
If I must die, O let me die
At peace with all mankind."
He observed, "that is my sincere desire."
We then sang--
"O, when shall I see Jesus." &c.
At the commencement of the second verse he joined in with us, and helped sing the rest of the song. Although, very weak he sang distinctly, but with a tremulous voice; when the song was ended, he remarked--"It is enough. Grace to conquer--then take us home to rest. O how sweet is a rest to the afflicted and worn out pilgrim." The palpitation of the heart was again very hard. What he endured, no tongue can tell. But he bore it with composure. He was asked, if he thought he would ever recover? "Yes," said he, "if my work is not completed; but if my work is done, I want to go. But if I have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour's work to do, I want to do it." He observed to one standing at his bed-side, "It is a serious matter to preach the gospel; but I have examined my call for many years, and I feel assured that God has blessed my feeble efforts to preach the gospel. I think I have done at least some good; but this is not the ground-work of my hope; I place my only hope on the atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the rock upon which, if a man build, the rains may descend, the floods may come, the winds may blow and beat; but he stands firm, because he is founded on a rock." To the same person, he said, calling him by name, "I have wished to talk with you for a long time. O preach more frequently, seek the nearest way to the sinner's heart, hold up the cross of Christ alone."
The one addressed, assented to what was said, but exclaimed--"who is sufficient for these things?" He continued, "Paul says, I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me." He was again asked, if he thought his poor, afflicted body would ever live again? "Yes, said he, "Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life; but it will not rise as it now is; but it will be immortalised." It was then thought prudent for him to take some sleep. He said he would try. He tried again and again to sleep, but could not, on account of his severe pains. In the morning he appeared quite easy. We had some hope of his recovery. He wished the physician to be called; not that he hope to recover, but to mitigate in some degree his severe pains. He rested tolerably well till the turn of the day; afterwards his friends saw that he was sinking very fast. His sufferings increased, and for the first time his intellect appeared deranged; but his mind was stayed upon God. A brother asked him, if he knew him? He answered, no. He asked him, if he knew D. R. Harris? His answer was not satisfactory. He asked him if he knew Jesus? "Yes," said he, "that is a name I can never forget." The same brother some time after asked him again, if he knew him? He said, "you look very much like my brother." After nine he talked very little. Death was approaching fast, and he had struggled till after 2 o'clock; he then became easy, and at 4 o'clock closed his eyes in death, without a struggle or a grunt.
Thus died Rev. D. R. Harris, in the prime of life, falling a victim no doubt to his zeal in preaching the gospel. But he still lives: many who now stand on the walls of Zion, received their education from him; and no doubt the world is better by his having lived in it; and in the resurrection morn many will rise up and call him blessed.
Brother Cossitt, I never saw such a triumphant death. What time he professed religion, joined the church, was ordained ruling elder, joined Presbytery, was licensed to preach and was ordained, I have not learned.
[Source: Banner of Peace, December 10, 1847, page 3]