The End of a Godly Man!
by William Nicholson, 1862
"Mark the perfect man, and observe the upright; for the end of that man is peace!" Psalm 37:37
Come see a godly man live — and observe him die! There may be nothing imposing in his earthly state — that may be poor and obscure; but there is . . .
dignity in his character,
glory in his soul,
hope in his death,
and peace in his end!
How different from that of the wicked! "But the wicked will perish: The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish — vanish like smoke!" Psalm 37:20
But the righteous triumph, and depart in peace. The last moments of the sinner are frequently beclouded. Wealth and grandeur, power and honor, cannot alleviate the pain of dying. Henry II of England, after a splendid reign, said, "There is not a corner of my heart in which I can find relief."
I. The Character of a Godly Man."Perfect and upright."
1. Perfect. The word means complete, lacking nothing. That which is fully manifested in its perfection, 2 Corinthians 12:9. It is applied . . .
to faith, James 2:22;
to God, Matthew 5:48; Deuteronomy 32:4;
to Christ, Hebrews 2:10; 5:9;
to the law, Psalm 19:7.
And it is applied to believers in our text. Colossians 1:28; 2:10.
But this character cannot be fully applied to Christians; for of themselves, none are perfect. "I have seen an end of all perfection." Psalm 119:96. This is true of the most eminent saints. Scarcely one has escaped the charge of moral defect by the pen of inspiration.
There is no perfect minister, and no sinless saint. The most holy upon earth are sanctified but in part; and the old man, though crucified, is not slain. There is something lacking in every feature, in every grace, and believers are not without guilt. Job 9:20, 30; Psalm 40:12; Romans 7: 12, 14.
Believers are perfect or complete, only in Christ. "You are complete in him." Colossians 2:10.
(1.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their redemption. Christ has stood in their place, and met all the demands of the law.
(2.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their justification. Acts 13:38. Now they are regarded by Jehovah as innocent — accepted.
(3.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their regeneration. His work is perfect. They are new creatures. Regeneration imparts the germ of spiritual and celestial life. "It springs up into everlasting life." Such an internal new creation will make them sincere people of integrity. Believers are "perfect," that is, entire, truly fearing God.
(4.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their happiness. Perfect peace, comfort, etc., can be given only by Christ.
(5.) As to their services, though imperfect — yet acceptable through the medium of Christ's merits — and rendered holy by his intercession, Revelation 8:3.
(6.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their triumphs. God . . .
provides invincible armor,
gives sufficient grace, and
makes more than conquerors.
A determination to go forward, and to have Heaven, to press onward, etc., is called a perfect state, Philippians 3:12.
(7.) Believers are perfect or complete, as to their heavenly state. They are destined to be perfect there. Hebrews 12:23; Jude 24.
2. Upright. Honesty, integrity, sincerity, just, without hypocrisy.
The man is what he professes to be.
He loves mercy, does justly, and walks humbly with his God.
He respects the rights of others.
He follows the golden rule.
He never oppresses, overreaches, etc.
He is upright in all that he does.
Having a conscience void of offence, he can bear the gaze of any one whom he may meet. He does not hang down his head through conscious guilt or shame; no, he is upright. He has a faith which produces good works.
II. The Peaceful End of a Godly man."The end of that man is peace."
The End. He must die. The best must depart. However lovely, useful, and endeared, they must be dissolved.
The end is Peace. The very opposite of agitation, confusion, darkness, and despair.
1. Peace with God through Christ. Romans 5:1. Sins and guilt are taken away. These are not present to annoy and distress.
2. Peace with his fellow-creatures. He has labored for their good, etc.
3. Peace with his conscience. His conscience is sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice.
4. Peace, even holy joy and triumph. He conquers all his enemies by Divine power. The Savior then visits and communes with him. Angels attend him.
Mark the perfect man! What a glorious spectacle! Contrast him with the dying sinner. See in him the excellency of religion — that it is not a vain thing to serve the Lord. Mark him! and earnestly pray, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!"