Harris, Howell

Harris, Howell an eminent Welsh evangelist, was born at Trevecca in 1714. In 1735 he went to Oxford to study for the Church, but disgust at the infidelity and immorality which prevailed there drove him away. Returning to Wales, he began to exhort the neglected poor in their cottages, and was so successful that in a few months he formed several societies among them, thus affording another of those providential coincidences which mark the religious history of the times. Thirty:of these organizations were sustained by him at the time of Whitefield's arrival in Wales in 1739, and in three years more they numbered three hundred. He lived and died a Churchman, but received little sympathy from the established clergy, and, until the visits of the Methodist founders, pursued his evangelical labors almost alone, apparently without anticipating that they would result in a widespread evangelical dissent. In 1715 there were only thirty Dissenting chapels in the principality, and in 1736 only six in all north Wales in 1860 there were 2000. Harris was a lay preacher; he applied repeatedly for ordination, but was denied it by the bishops on account of his irregular modes of labor. Whitefield passed from Kingswood to Cardiff, and there saw him for the first time. Their souls met and blended like two flames, and "set the whole principality in a blaze." For years the laborious layman traveled, and preached twice or three times every day. "He is full of the Holy Ghost," wrote Whitefield; "blessed be God, there seems a noble spirit gone out into Wales." Wesley speaks of him as "a powerful orator"(Journal, 1756). He was repeatedly assaulted by mobs, and suffered many forms of persecution from the magistrates, clergy, and people, but his courage and zeal never failed. At last his health declined, and he returned to Trevecca, where he organized a Christian household, built a chapel, and arranged his grounds with great taste. Wesley calls it "one of the most beautiful places in Wales"(Journal, 1763, p. 156). In the French war, when England was threatened with invasion, he thought it his duty to take a commission in the army, which he held for three years, preaching wherever he went with his regiment. He died in great peace, July 21,1773. See Jackson, Christian Biography, 12:168; Stevens, History of Methodism, i, 118; 2, 86.

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