John Murchison left this life on 24th December 1878, aged 76 years, in the village of Lochcarron. On the gravestone his daughter Catherine had the stonemason engrave:
“For many years he made the word of GOD his Counsellor
And his latter end was peace”
I invite you to consider this man because of what his daughter had the stonemason engrave in memory of her father.
(1) “ For many years he made the word of God his Counsellor.”It says “for many years” – not “always”. There was a time when this man did not know God, and ignored the Word of God and God Himself. But there came a time when God spoke to John through His Word, and showed him his sin and the way of salvation. John saw his sin as an offence against God; he saw the sinless Jesus Christ hanging on the cross to pay the penalty deserved by sinners. He learned that Christ paid the price for the sins of John Murchison, and cried out, “Lord, have mercy upon me.” The Lord fulfilled His word, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Christ became John Murchison's Saviour.
(2) “ Catherine remembers, “he made the word of GOD his Counsellor”. On the gravestone she had the name of God highlighted in capital letters, so there could be no doubt whose word it was that John took as his Counsellor. He may have been young when he discovered his sin and God's gift of salvation in Christ. From the inscription, I think Catherine remembered him living a life that changed when Christ Jesus, and the Word of God, became central in John's life and in the family home. His life changed. The Word of God (the Bible) now became his guide. His conduct at home changed; Catherine and the rest of the family saw how he now lived on a day-to-day basis. When problems arose, he took the problem to God, and sought the answer in prayer and in God's Word. When John's conversion took place, and the circumstances surrounding it – of this we know nothing. But we know that it led him to finding faith in Christ Jesus, and from then onwards, “he made the word of GOD his Counsellor.”
(3) “ John's daughter tells us on the headstone how her father lived; now she tells us how he died – “And his latter end was peace.” “His latter end” – his death – was peace: peace of heart, peace of mind. But Catherine does not only mean inner mental peace; the peace she is referring to is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who by His death on the cross took away God's judgment against our sins. Here is a peace awaiting the Christian believer as he or she faces the judgement that is to come after physical death. Psalm 23 records, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” In the same Psalm, David wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” In life and in death, and beyond death, John Murchison knew peace with God. So great was the peace John knew, his daughter directed the stonemason to inscribe it, and the cause of it, on his gravestone.
Do not stop looking until you find that peace with God that John Murchison knew and his daughter saw. The only place it can be found is where John found it – in the Word of God and its message of Christ the Saviour.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.