Persons who have enjoyed the consolatory presence of Christ, and are again favoured with it after having been deprived of it for a time, may from hence learn what to do: like the two disciples travelling to Emmaus, they should constrain him, saying, abide with us. Such was the conduct of the spouse of Christ: I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him and would not let him go. And thus also Jacob to the angel: I will not let thee go, unless thou bless me.
1. Christ's presence is exceedingly desirable to the saints
This appears from their earnest desires after it, and their sorrows when deprived of it. ...
When his smile is withdrawn, a gracious soul breathes after him with the most intense desire; and when he is enjoyed, it takes the greatest complacency in him. Is it wonderful that it should be so, if the following things be duly considered:
1 The presence of Christ is an evidence of his love
2 Christ's presence is attended with the most desirable effects
3 Present communion with Christ is an earnest of everlasting fruition
2. A seemingly departing Saviour may be constrained, as it were, to abide with his people.
Speaking after the manner of men, there are three ways of constraining Christ to abide with us.
1 By the exercise of a lively faith
2 By fervent prayer Christ may be constrained to abide with us
See here, the love which a true Christian bears to his Saviour. A cottage, a wilderness, a prison, a dungeon will do with Christ's presence: but a palace, a kingdom, a paradise, nay heaven itself will not do without it. An awakened sinner desires Christ on any terms, and a true believer would not part with him on any terms. Indeed, if we be not desirous of holding Christ, it is a sign that we never found him.
What has been said of individual believers will also apply to Christian churches. ... But making such a request barely is not sufficient: it must be enforced by the revival of church discipline and the purity of his worship, if these have been neglected; by avoiding strife and contention and maintaining a strict regard to all his commands. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you. In a word, we must look upon Christ's presence as our main object, without which religion will be a poor lifeless thing. We should therefore grieve at no difficulties if we enjoy it, and prize no privileges if we want it; but say with Moses, If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence!
Whither, oh whither art thou gone,
Sole source of my delight:
Whose presence ushers in the day,
Whose absence forms the night.
Whither hast thou withdrawn thyself,
My Saviour, and my God?
Tell me in what far distant land,
Thou makest thine abode.
Where'er thou art, thou still canst hear
The humble suppliant's cry :
Return to me, my dearest Lord,
Return, or else I die.
When earthly friends and comforts go,
And wealth and honours flee,
Be thou instead of these - Be thou