J. N. Darby.
Food for the Flock 5 (1878), p. 218.
He looks what is the natural portion of sinful man in the face - death and judgment. As to death, it is all settled; for what is death to those who have life in Christ? It is only "absent from the body, and present with the Lord;" therefore we are always confident; we have done with mortality as to the body, done with sin, done with groaning to be with Christ; and therefore it is "far better." Death - the question of death - is all settled. And he says elsewhere it is gain: "all things are yours . . . life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours."
Then comes the second thing, what comes after death - "the judgment." Well, judgment he cannot talk of in that way; judgment cannot be gone, therefore he calls it "the terror of the Lord." And, let me tell you, that it is a very useful test to put the soul into the presence of the judgment. Here am I, a poor sinner, and I have nothing but the cross; the cross suits a sinner, surely, but you cannot say judgment suits a sinner. If he think of judgment he cannot be easy. But we read: "As he is, so are we in this world;" well, if I am as the Judge, of course I can be happy in view of the day of judgment. The righteousness of God puts me into the glory of heaven. If I talk of myself as the righteousness of God, of course the judgment day has no terror. If you still feel uneasy about the judgment day, I say you have to get clear about the righteousness of God. The apostle does not make light of it; it is the terror of the Lord. It is not gain. "When it was death it was gain, because it is to be present with the Lord; still when it is judgment he does not tremble as to himself; it urges him to go and preach to poor sinners, to persuade them. We shall all be manifested, saints and sinners; but it is no terror for me at all, because Christ is my righteousness, and as He is, so are we. But there was an effect on himself; he realized it as a present thing; we are manifested to God: so everything in his heart was judged continually as it will be in that day by Him. He says, as regards death, it is all gain to me, and as to the judgment, it has brought me into God's sight in such a way that I judge myself now as if it were already that day. If Paul got into a kind of ecstasy, it was not excitement; he was beside himself to God. If he comes down to sober reflection in himself it is to think of the saints for their good. A blessed way to spend his life between the two!