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Paul in a Strait.

Paul in a Strait.

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Philippians, i., 23. — I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.


Philippians, i., 23. — I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 18, 2014
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PAUL I A STRAIT. BY REV. JOH SUMMERFIELD, A.M.THE AUTHOR'S LAST SERMO. Philippians, i., 23. — I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. one ever expressed more ardour of desire for the taber- nacle than David : " As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God !" " Wo is me that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell in the tents of Ke- dar !" And shall Christians, strangers, pilgrims in a wil- derness, sigh less after their home ? — less for that " city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God?" — » weary of dwelling in Meshech? — So Paul — though in a strait between the two, yet, when he consulted his own inclina- tion and interest, it was to die. Let us consider, I. The object of his wish — death with the happiness following — " to depart and be with Christ." II. His disposition with regard to it — with vehemence— " Having a desire to depart." III. The reason of his desire — the great advantage — > "far better:' I. The object of his wish, &c. The death of the believer is only a departure to go and rejoin himself to Christ. Death so considered should not be an object of fear, but of " de- sire." How different the views of men on the subject of death : to the infidel, annihilation ; to the man of the world, a cruel separation from all he holds dear ; but to the Christian it is only a departure to be with Christ.
1. A departure of the soul from the body — thus, death is common to all. O infidel, think not that thou shalt cease to be ! it is but a change of country. O men of the world } Aa 186 PAUL I A STRAIT. ye are chased away by a strong arm ; you do not " depart ;" the messenger drags you away ! the term of your tenement is expired. ot so the believer ; he knows that here he has " no continuing city" but " that, if the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, he has a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ;" he is there- fore content to quit his cottage — he departs with freedom and honour ! 2. It is the departure of the man altogether out of the so- ciety of the world ; a consigning of the body to dust, and the soul to a new world. All relations to sublunary things cease, and he will never hold the same connexion with them again. Painful thought to the wicked, whose heart was in the world — instructive to the righteous to sit loosely in affection to it. He is at an inn, not at home. Why be embarrassed, then, about the accommodations ? The soldier only pitches his tent ; the sailor merely touches at your coast. So you are as passen- gers waiting the change of wind. — The end of your voyage is " to be with Christ." The Scriptures represent the happiness of the righteous generally, whether before or after the resurrection, by this expression. But why did Paul employ this phrase in preference to any other ? He was filled ivith Christ ! If he live, it is be- cause Christ lives in him. If he resolve to know anything,
it is " Christ and him crucified. 5 ' Christ is life — wisdom — hope. Christ is gain to him, whether living or dying. Christ is his felicity after death. And in every respect he is the source of our felicity: " We shall dwell with him." # # # Xhe kingdom he has opened for us is his kingdom ; the glory we are to inherit is his glory ; participation of his royalty ; the sight of him will be our chief happiness. — O / to be with Christ ! We cannot be with Christ while here ; we must depart to be with him. Once the disciples were with him on earth, and earth was a Paradise ! ow it knows him no more. The Father has exalted him above the heavens, to draw our hearts after him. If he had remained always in this PAUL I A STRAIT. 187 world, who would have wished to depart ? But " he is not here — he is risen," and we follow. "We know where he is, and the way we know. — But as He did not enter heaven without rending the veil, his flesh, so neither can we. Then more reason shall we have than even his disciples to say, " Lord, it is good to be here !" to dwell forever, not in a tabernacle, but in this holy mountain. Paul joins without any medium, " depart" and " be with Christ" What numerous errors ! Talk no more of the soul's sleep till the resurrection ; let us hear no more of a purgatory. As to the first, it is impossible to separate thought from the soul. If it cease to think, it ceases to be — it will not sleep, therefore. Would any be happy to die, if between death and happiness so long a space ? Would Paul not rather have desired to live for the sake of his partial enjoyment of Christ here ? Would he then have said " depart and be with Christ?" If the soul sleep when we depart, then it cannot be " better" than to live ; for certainly life, and the

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