For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
You have been in a ship when it entered the harbour, and you have noticed the different looks of the passengers as they turned their eyes ashore. There was one who, that he might not lose a moment's time, had got everything ready for landing long ago; and now he smiles and beckons to yonder party on the pier, who in their turn, are so eager to meet him, that they almost press over the margin of the quay; and no sooner is the gangway thrown across, than he has hold of the arm of one, and another is triumphant on his shoulder, and all the rest are leaping before and after him on their homeward way. But there is another, who showed no alacrity. He gazed with pensive eye on the nearer coast and seemed to grudge that the trip was over. He was a stranger going amongst strangers, and though sometimes during the voyage he had a momentary hope that something unexpected might occur, and that some friendly face might recognize him in regions where he was going an alien and an adventurer — no such welcoming face is there, and with reluctant steps he quits the vessel, and commits himself to the unknown country. And now that every one else has disembarked, who is this unhappy man whom they have brought on deck, and whom, groaning in his heavy chains, they are conducting to the dreaded shore? Alas! he is a felon and a runaway, whom they are bringing back to take his trial there; and no wonder he is loath to land. Now, dear brethren, our ship is sailing fast. We shall soon hear the rasping of the shallows, and the commotion overhead, which bespeak the port in view. When it comes to that, how shall you feel? Are you a stranger, or a convict, or are you going home? Can you say, "I know whom I have believed"? Have you a Friend within the veil? And however much you may enjoy the voyage, and however much you may like your fellow passengers, does your heart sometimes leap up at the prospect of seeing Jesus as he is, and so being ever with the Lord?
(James Hamilton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.