Rev. Wm. J. McFarland closed his eyes in death in Homer, La., on the 26th day of April 1863, of hemorrhage of the lungs. His last end was peace. He was born in Haywood County, Tennessee, January 21st, 1827. He had, during his early life, the benefit of the pious example of religious parents. On the 12th of February 1850, having professed religion in the sixteenth year of his age, he was licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and during the same year he was united in marriage to Miss Parilla King, who still survives him.
In November 1851, he joined the Memphis Conference on probation. He labored with great acceptability his first year, on the Dresdon Circuit. In 1853 he was on the Clinton Circuit, where his labors were blessed with a gracious revival of religion. In 1854 he was in charge of the Paducah Mission. In 1855 he traveled the Madrid Bend Circuit, where he endeared himself to the people. In 1856 he was on the Salem Circuit. In consequence of the feeble health of his wife, he was led to seek a healthier location in a more southern latitude. By the influence of his friends he was induced to transfer to the Ouachita Conference, and during the year 1857 he traveled the Centerpoint Circuit, where he had a prosperous year. In 1858 he was on the Brownsville Circuit; and in 1859 he labored on the Blue Bayou Circuit. At the close of that year he was induced to move his field of labor further south; and, connecting himself with the Louisiana Conference, was appointed to Waterproof station, where, in 1860, he labored acceptably to his charge. In 1861 he was in charge of Bartholomew Circuit, where he was very successful; and, at the earnest solicitation of his charge, he was returned to the same field of labor for the year 1862, where his name will ever live in the affections of the people.
For the year 1863 he was appointed to the Homer Circuit. He reached his work in good time and commenced his labors with his accustomed zeal and energy; but his health soon failed, and in consequence of much exposure to the inclemency of the weather in trying to keep up his appointments during the winter, he was seized with an attack of pneumonia, from which he never recovered entirely. It was thought by some of his friends that the death of his little daughter, which occurred on the 29th of November previous to his own death, had much to do in shortening his days. He was but slowly recovering from his previous attack—had preached but a few times—had preached that day in Homer with unusual liberty and pathos, much to the comfort and edification of his hearers. Many of his charge remarked that he bore upon his face that day a sweet and unearthly smile. His wife says that he possessed during the day an unusually happy flow of spirits, making it to her one of the happy days of an itinerant’s life, fully remunerating her for the labors and sacrifices of her past life. His text and the chapter from which it was taken, then the sermon and all the circumstances which followed, are singularly interesting. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know ye all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore, I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto all the counsel of God.”
He spoke in reading these words and in preaching like an inspired apostle, as if God had given him a presentiment of his change, not to another field of labor, but to his reward in heaven. May his farewell address, as it fell from his almost dying lips, warn and counsel his charges of other years and his ministerial brethren who survive him.
Our deceased brother was eminently a useful man. He was an obliging neighbor, a fast and unwavering friend, a valuable citizen, an affectionate husband, and an indulgent father. As a minister of the Gospel he was earnest and sincere; he was scarcely ever known to disappoint a congregation till the commencement of his last illness. He never sought nor shunned responsibility. Though he may not be considered as belonging to that class of men, who by their overpowering eloquence fascinate and sweep the masses before them, yet, when he had passed through a year’s labor, a lasting impression for good was left on the minds of his people. He never left his charge in a worse condition than he found it, but, as many will testify, in an improved and healthier state. From all that may be seen of his past useful labors, he was a preacher of more than ordinary worth, and this Conference has lost one of its most valuable members. May the Lord throw the mantle of our brother upon another to take his place in the field and may the Angel of the Lord encamp around about his wife and four little children, and guide them into ways of usefulness and everlasting life.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1863|