For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…
At a private meeting of friends George Whitefield, after adverting to the difficulties attending the gospel ministry, said that he was weary with the burdens of the day, and declared it to be his great consolation that in a short time his work would be done, and he should depart and be with Christ. He then appealed to the ministers present, and asked if they had not entirely similar feelings. They generally assented, with the exception of Mr. Tennent. On seeing this, Mr. Whitefield, tapping him on the knee, said: "Well, Brother Tennent, you are the oldest man among us; do you not rejoice to think that your time is so near at hand when you will be called home?" Mr. Tennent bluntly answered that he had no wish about it. Being pressed for some opinion more definite and decided; he then added: "I have nothing to do with death. My business is to live as long as I can, and as well as I can, and serve my Master as faithfully as I can until He shall think proper to call me home." It proved a word in season to the great evangelist, helping him more calmly and patiently to hold on his way.
(J. L. Nye.)
I. THE SAINTS ARE SOMETIMES IN STRAITS (2 Samuel 24:14).
II. THEY MIND NOT THEIR OWN BUT THE GLORY OF GOD AND GOOD OF OTHERS (chap. Philippians 2:21).
III. THE TRULY PIOUS DESIRE TO DEPART AND BE WITH CHRIST.
1. What is it to depart? (2 Peter 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:1). To go into the other world.
2. What to be with Christ?
(1) To enjoy His presence (John 12:26; John 17:24).
(2) To behold His glory (John 17:24; 1 Corinthians 13:12).
(3) To have communion with Him.
3. Why do they desire to be with Christ? Because —
(1) They believe His promises (John 14:1-2).
(2) Are convinced of the creature's vanity and Christ's excellency.
(3) Love Christ above all things (Philippians 3:8-9; Psalm 42:1-2).
(4) Long to be eased of their sins (Romans 7:24).
(5) To be out of the devil's reach (1 Peter 5:8).
(6) They have foretastes of heaven already (1 Peter 1:8).
(7) This is the end of all their labours (1 Peter 1:9).
4. It is better to be with Christ than here (Matthew 17:4). We shall have better —
(1) Souls (Hebrews 12:23).
(2) Bodies (Philippians 3:21).
(3) Company (Hebrews 12:22-23; John 17:24).
(4) Employments (Revelation 7:11-12).
(5) Honours (John 12:26).
(6) Riches (Matthew 6:19-20).
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: