"There still my thoughts are dwelling,
'Tis there I long to be;
Come, Lord, and call Your servant
To blessedness with Thee!
Come, bid my toils be ended—
Let all my wanderings cease;
Call from the wayside lodging
To the sweet home of peace."—Gerhardt.

"Absent from the body, and at home with the Lord." —2 Cor. 5:8.

Again the curtain of glory is lifted, and what do we see? The emancipated spirit bursting its cocoon shell—soaring upwards on immortal wings to be "with the Lord," and that "forever!" We are interested in the first look we get of "a great man" on earth. What must the first glance be in heaven
of JESUS!—that mystic name which has here put music into the heart in many a dark hour, and lighted up its wilderness with a halo of joy! If Jacob longed intently to see Joseph, what will be the saint's ardent desire to gaze on the true Joseph—Him whom his "soul loves!" Yes, on entering heaven, it will not be the burning ranks of angel and archangel, cherubim and seraphim, that will fix his arrested gaze. His exclamation will be, as his eye wanders upwards to the central Throne, and settles on a Countenance there beaming with unutterable loveliness—"Is that indeed the Savior, whom, though so long unseen, I have nevertheless loved!"

And what shall he see? It will be the same Lord to whose sublime utterances of love he has so often listened in thought, as eighteen hundred years ago He "spoke as never a man spoke." The same Being who wept, and groaned, and sympathized, and suffered. He will think of Him at Sychar's well—on Tabor—on Tiberias—on Olivet—by the Kedron—at Bethany—at Calvary. It is "that same Jesus"—He who once lay in a borrowed cradle, a helpless babe at Bethlehem; He who spoke comfortable words to the bereaved, and gave back to widowed and yearning hearts their perished joys; He who invited the weary to rest, and never scorned the penitent's tears, or left unhelped the call of mercy; He who lay convulsed in anguish on the cold ground of Gethsemane; He who bowed His head on the bitter tree; He who met the weeping Mary with words of joy as she stood disconsolate by His grave, and addressed Peter with the gentlest and most tender of rebukes. I shall see (if I be one of His ransomed people) "that same Jesus"—I shall enjoy with Him near and confidential communion, and nothing shall ever separate me from His love!

Of old, some of the transient earthly glimpses of this Savior were blessed and consoling. If it were gladdening when Jacob saw Him in His angel-form at Peniel—or aged Simeon clasped Him in his withered arms in the temple—or the disciples beheld Him on Tabor—or Martha and Mary wept with Him at Bethany—or when the beloved apostle leaned on His bosom, met Him on the way to Emmaus, or on the lonely shores of Patmos; what will it be to have these seasons of communion renewed without their transience—to bask through eternal years under the radiance of His smile—His own words obtaining an everlasting fulfillment—"Where I AM, there shall also my servant be!"

Here, too, we are again reminded that means and agencies will be required no longer in His communications with us. The streams will come welling fresh from the living fountain—the rays will be untainted and undimmed by transmission through any impurer medium—there will be personal communings between every saint and his living Head—"They shall see His face." Whatever may be the believer's relation to the infinite circumference of heaven—to the thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers—he will be ever near to the all-glorious Center! "He," it has been well said, "who is now in every saint the hope of glory, will then be in every saint the possession, realization, and fullness of glory." (Cheever's "Windings")

And, observe from our motto verse, it is an immediate transition. The spirit, "with a bound," at the hour of death, as it forsakes its earthly tabernacle, enters the Divine presence and the heavenly Home. Be assured, Paul would never have uttered the wish for departure, in order to lapse into a mesmeric trance or lethargic slumber. Never would he have used such language as this—"We are confident" (we are bold, as the word means, in the prospect of death) "and willing rather to be absent from the body," if he had any less elevating desire and prospect than to be "present with the Lord." Far rather would he have remained on earth, enjoying the blessed experiences of the Savior's felt presence and love, and the consciousness of promoting His cause, than to have passed into a state of dreamy, drowsy insensibility and torpor. The exchange, in such circumstances, would have been a positive diminishing of blessedness. It would have been the withdrawal from active work and warfare in the Church below—an inglorious transition for his hero-spirit. Dungeon, chains, watching, fasting, stripes and sufferings with Christ on earth, would have been, to a soul like his, infinitely preferable to such a state of slumbrous oblivion and unconsciousness. But he specially guards us against any such supposition: "Not," says he, "that we would be unclothed"—not that I long merely to leave the trammels of the flesh, in order to escape from the encumbering clay—"but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, that mortality might be swallowed up of life," (2 Cor. 5:4.)

Am I prepared for this presence? am I living under the power of this "blessed hope?" Were I to be ushered into the presence of an earthly sovereign, how careful would I be in my preparation for so regal a privilege! What shall it be in the prospect of appearing before Him in comparison with whom the loftiest monarch of earth is but as a passing shadow—an atom of dust—the mote of a sunbeam! "Present with the Lord!" What an honor! The brightest of those bright and holy beings who bow before His throne with adoring reverence, know no higher!

"It is not here on earth," says the author of the 'Saint's Rest,' "that He has prepared the presence-chamber of His glory; He has drawn the curtain between us and Him; we are far from Him as creatures, and farther as frail mortals, and farthest as sinners." Death is the dressing-room, where the ragged pilgrim-garment is thrown off, and where, as glorified guests, we shall receive our wedding attire. But the barrier shall in due time be taken down, and we shall be ushered amid the uncurtained splendors of the "new heavens and the new earth." Then shall His own voice be heard announcing the believer's consummated bliss, and its mightiest element—"Enter into the joy of Your Lord."

"The pains of death are past,
Labor and sorrow cease;
And life's long warfare closed at last,
His soul is found in peace.

"Soldier of Christ, well done!
Praise be your new employ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in your Savior's joy."