"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
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
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
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."