Sermon 230. The Vanguard and Rereward of the Church
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 26th, 1858, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens
"The Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward."-Isaiah 52:12.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its objectis the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely oppositepoint to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the churchmilitant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It isin the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing,and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must alwaysbe at war with the blackness of heresy and lies. I say again, it would cast a suspicion upon its own nature; we should feelat once that it was not true, if it were not an enmity with the false. And so at this present time, the church of Christ,beingherself the only incarnation of truth left upon this world, must be at war with error of every kind of shape; or if shewere not, we should at once conclude that she was not herself the church of the living God. It is but a rule of nature thatholiness must be at enmity with sin. That would be but a mock purity which could lie side by side with iniquity and claimits kinship. "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee?" Shall Christ and Belial walk together? Shall the holybelinked with the unholy? If it were so, beloved, we might then not only suspect that the church was not the holy, universaland apostolic church; we might not only suspect it, but we might beyond suspicion pronounce a verdict upon her, "Thou artno more Christ's bride; thou art an antichrist, an apostate. Reprobate silver shall men call thee, because thou hast not learnedto distinguish between the precious and the vile." Thus, you see, if the church be a true church, and a holy church, she mustbe armed: there are so many untrue things and unholy things, that she must be perpetually with her sword in her hand,carrying on combat against them. And every child of God proveth by experience that this is the land of war. We are not yetcome to the time when every man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, none daring to make him afraid. The mountainsdo not bring peace to the people, nor the little hills righteousness. On the contrary, the children of God hear the soundof war;the shrill clarion is constantly sounding in their ears; they are compelled to carry with them the sword and the shield,and constantly to gird their armor on, for they are not yet come to the land of peace; they are in an enemy's country, andevery day will convince them that such is their position. Now, how comforting is this text to the believer who recognizeshimself as a soldier, and the whole church as an army! The church has its van-guard: "Jehovah will go before you." The churchis alsoin danger behind; enemies may attack her in her hinder part, "and the God of Israel shall be her rereward." So that thearmy is safe from enemies in front-and God alone knoweth their strength and it is also perfectly secure from any foes behind,however malicious and powerful they may be; for Jehovah is in the van, and the covenant God of Israel is behind: thereforethe whole army is safe.
I shall first consider this as it respects the church of God; and then, in the second place, I shall endeavour to consider it as it respects us, as individual believers. May God comfort our hearts while considering this precious truth!
I. First, consider THE WHOLE CHURCH OF GOD AS AN ARMY. Remember that part of the host have crossed the flood; a large partof the army are standing this day upon the hills of glory; having overcome and triumphed. As for the rear, it stretches farinto the future; some portions are as yet uncreated; the last of God's elect are not perhaps yet in existence. The rear-guardwill be brought up in that day when the last vessel of mercy is full to the brim of grace, the lastprodigal is restored to his Father's house, and the last of Christ's redeemed ones redeemed by power, as they were ofold redeemed by blood. Now, cast your eyes forward to the front of the great army of God's elect, and you see this great truthcoming up with great brilliance before you: "Jehovah shall go before you." Is not this true? Have you never heard of the eternal counsel and of the everlasting covenant? Did that not go before thechurch? Yea, my brethren, it went before manhood'sexistence, before the creation of this world that was to be the stage whereon the church should play its part, beforethe formation of the universe itself, when as yet all things that we now behold were unborn, when God lived alone in solitarymajesty without a fellow, when there were no creatures. If there were such an eternity, an eternity filled with the Creator,and not one creature with him, even then it was, that God determined in his mind that he would form a people to himself whoshouldshow forth his praise; it was then that he settled how men should be redeemed; it was then the council of peace was heldbetween the three divine persons, and it was determined that the Father should give the Son, that the Son should give himself,that the Holy Spirit should be the active agent to fetch out all the lost sheep, and restore them to the fold. Oh! think,beloved, of that great text which says, "His goings forth were of old, even from everlasting." Do not think that the gospelis anew thing; it is older than your hoary mountains, nay, it is older than the firstborn sons of light. Before that "beginning,"when God created the heavens and the earth, there was another "beginning," for "In the beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the Word was God." And assuredly, the Gospel was ever in the Word, for Jesus was set up front everlasting as the great head of the covenant of grace. Behold, then, the glorious Jehovah inthe Trinity of his persons, treadingthe pathless depths of eternity, that a way for his elect might be prepared herein. He has gone before us.
Take another view of the case. Jehovah shall go before you. Has he not gone before his church in act and deed? Perilous hasbeen the journey of the church from the day when first it left Paradise even until now. When the church left Paradise, I say,for I believe that Adam and Eve were in the church of God, for I believe that both of them were redeemed souls, chosen ofGod, and precious. I see God give the promise to them before they leave the garden, and they go out fromthe garden, the church of God. Since that time, what a path has the church had to tread, but how faithfully hat Jehovah led the way. We see the floods gatherround about her, but even then she floats safely in the ark which Jehovah had provided for her beforehand, for the Lord hadgone before her. I see the church going out from Ur of the Chaldees. It is but a little church, with the patriarch Abrahamat its head. I see that little church dwelling in an enemy's country, moving to andfro; but I observe how the Lord is its constant leader-"When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom toanother people; he suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed,and do my prophets no harm." I see the church afterwards going down to the land of the cruel Pharaohs. It was a black partof her pilgrimage, for she was going to the lash of the taskmaster and to the heat of the burning fiery furnace; but I seeJosephgoing down before, Jehovah's great representative; Joseph goeth down into Egypt, and he saith, "God sent me before youto provide a place for you in the time of famine." So sings the Psalmist, "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who wassold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: until the time that his word came: the word ofthe Lord tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord or hishouse,and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom. Israel also came intoEgypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham." But now the church has to come up out of Egypt, and God goes before her still;"But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safelyso that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies." The Red Sea is before them; Jehovah goes in front and driesupthe sea. The desert must then be trodden; Jehovah marches in front, and scatters manna with both his hands; he splitsthe rock, and sends out a living stream. For forty years the church wanders there; Jehovah is with them; the fiery cloud-pillarleads them all their journey through. And now they come to the banks of Jordan; they are about to enter into the promisedland; Jehovah goes before them and the Jordan is driven back, and the floods are dry. They came into the country of the mightyones, the sons of Anak, men that were of the race of giants; but Jehovah had gone before them; the hornet was sent andthe pestilence, so that when they came they said it was a land that did eat up the inhabitants thereof, for God himself withthe sword and the pestilence was mowing down their foes that they might be an easier victory. "And he brought them to theborder of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heaten also before them,anddivided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents."
But why need I go through all the pages of the history of the church of God in the days of the old dispensation? Hath it notbeen true from the days of John the Baptist until now? Brethren, how can ye account for the glorious triumphs of the churchif ye deny the fact that God has gone before her? I see the church emerge, as it were, from the bowels of Christ. Twelve fishermen-whatare these to do? Do? Why they are to shake the world, to uproot old systems of paganismthat have become venerable, and whose antiquity seems a guarantee that men will never renounce them. These men are toblot out the name of Jupiter; they are to cast Venus from her licentious throne; they are to pull down the temple of Delphos,scatter all the oracles, and disrobe the priests: these men are to overthrow a system and an empire of error that has stoodfor thousands of years-a system which has brought in to its help all the philosophy of learning and all the pomp ofpower;-these twelve fishermen are to do it. And they have done it, they have done it. The gods of the heatens are castclown; they only remain among us as memorials of men's folly; but who bows down to Jupiter now? Where is the worshipper ofAshtaroth? Who calls Diana a divinity? The twelve fishermen have done it; they have erased from the world the old system ofsuperstition; it seemed old as the eternal hills, yet have they dug up its foundations and scattered them to the winds. Couldtheyhave accomplished it unless Jehovah had been in the van and led the way? No, beloved, if ye read the history of the church,ye will be compelled to confess that whenever she went forward she could discern the footsteps of Jehovah leading the way.Our missionaries in these later times tell us that, when hey went to the South Seas to preach the gospel, there was an evidentpreparedness in the minds of the people for the reception of the truth, and I believe that at this time, if the church weretrue to herself, there are nations and people and tribes that are just in the condition of the ancient Canaanites: thehornet is among them making way for the Lord's army to win an easy conquest. But sure I am that never minister ascends thepulpit, if he be a true minister of Christ; never missionary crosses the sea, never Sunday school teacher goes to his work,but that Jehovah goes before him to help him if he goes in earnest prayer and constant faith. If I were a poet I think I haveasubject that might suggest a grand epic poem-the march of the church through the world, with Jehovah in her fore front.See, when first she comes forth, "the kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lordand against his anointed." Alas, poor church, what is now thy fate? But I hear a voice ahead. What is it? It is a laugh. Wholaughs? Why the leader of the army laughs. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them. The Lord shall have them inderision." And shall we that are behind be mourning? Shall the church tremble? Let her call to mind the days of old, andcomfort herself, that the Breaker has gone up before her, and the King at the head of her. But the enemy approaches. Theybring out the rack, the bloody sword, the burning faggot. The march of the church lies through the flames, the floods mustbe forded, torments must be endured. Did the church ever stop a moment in its march for all the martyrdoms that fell uponher likethe drops of a fiery shower? Never, never did the church seem to march on with feet so ready, never were her steps sofirm as when she dipped her foot each time in blood, and every moment passed through the fire. It was the marvel of thosedays that men were better Christians then, and more willing to make a profession of Christ than they are even now. And whereasthis seems to be the day of cravens, the time of persecution was the age of heroes, the time of the great and the bold. Andwhy?Because God had gone beforehand with his church, and provided stores of grace for stores of trouble, shelter and mercyfor tempests and persecution, abundance of strength for a superfluity of trial. Happy is the church because God has gone beforeher. Whether it were over the tops of the mountains, where her pastors fell frozen by cold, or whether it were in the depthsof the dungeon where her confessors expired upon the rack, whether it were in the flame or at the block, everywhere God wentbefore his church, and she came forth triumphant because her great vanguard had cleared the way.
And now, beloved, we have come to the sweet part of the text, which saith, "And the God of Israel shall be the rereward."The original Hebrew is, "God of Israel shall gather you up." Armies in the time of war diminish by reason of stragglers, someof whom desert, and others of whom are overcome by fatigue; but the army of God is "gathered up;" none desert from it if theybe real soldiers of the cross, and none drop down upon the road. The God of Israel gathers them up. Hewho goes before, like a shepherd before the flock, providing pasture for them, comes behind that he may gather the lambsin his arms-that he may gently lead those that are with young. "The God of Israel is your rereward." Now the church of Christhas been frequently attacked in the rear. It often happens that the enemy, tired of opposing the onward march by open persecution,attempts to malign the church concerning something that has either been taught, or revealed, or done in past ages. Now,the God of Israel is our rereward. I am never at trouble about the attacks of infidels or heretics, however vigorouslythey may assault the doctrines of the Gospel, I will leave them alone; I have no answer for their logic; if they look to beresisted by mere reason, they look in vain; I have the simple answer of an affirmation, grounded upon the fact that God hadsaid it. It is the only warfare I will enter into with them. If they must attack the rear let them fight with Jehovah himself.Ifthe doctrines of the Gospel be as base as they say they are, let them cast discredit upon God, who revealed the doctrines;let them settle the question between God's supreme wisdom and their own pitiful pretensions to knowledge. It is not for Christianmen to fear about the rear of the church. The doctrines of the Gospel, which are like the heavy baggage carried in the rear,or like the great guns kept behind against the time when they are wanted in the hour of battle, these are quite safe. TheAmalekites may fall upon the stuff, or the Philistines may attack the ammunition, all is safe, for God is in the rereward;and let them but appear against our rear, and they shall instantly be put to the rout.
But I am thinking that perhaps the later trials of the church may represent the rereward. There are to come, perhaps, to thechurch, in days that are approaching, fiercer persecutions that she has ever known. We cannot tell, we are no pretenders toprophecy, but we know that it always has been so with the church-a time of prosperity and then a period of persecution. Shehas a Solomon, and she reigns in all her glory under his shadow; hut in after years Antiochusoppresses her, and she needs a Judas MaccabÃ¦us to deliver her. Perhaps we are living in an age too soft for the church.The Capuan holidays that ruined the soldiers of Hannibal may rob the church now; ease and lack of persecution may put us offour guard. Perhaps, there may come yet fiercer times for us. I know not what is meant by the battle of Armageddon, but sometimesI fear we are to expect trial and trouble in years to come; but certain I am, however fierce those troubles shall be, thatGod, who has gone before his church in olden times, will gather up the rear, and she who has been Ecclesia victrix-the church, the conqueror, will still be the same, and her rear shall constitute at last a part of the church triumphant,even as already glorified.
Can you now conceive the last great day when Jehovah, the rereward shall gather up his people? The time is come; the lastof the salt is about to be removed; the church of God is now about to be carried up to dwell with her husband. Do you seethe church moving upwards towards heaven? Behind her she leaves a world in flames; she sees the earth destroyed, God removesit as a shepherd's tent; the inhabitants thereof are gone, and the tent must be folded up; as a vestureshall they be folded up, and they shall be changed. But between the church and a blazing world, between the church andthe terrible destruction of hell, there is the bright pillar of God's presence-black to his enemies behind, but bright tohis church in front. The close of the great dispensation of the Mediator shall be that the God of Israel shall be all in all,his church shall be completely safe; he shall have gathered up all things in one, whether they be things in heaven or thingsonearth. Then shall the sonnet of the poet be more than fulfilled to the rejoicing and perfected church.
"Daughter of Zion, awake from thy sadness,
Awake, for thy foes shall oppress thee no more;
Bright o'er thy hills dawns the day-star of gladness:
Arise, for the night of thy sorrow is o'er.
Strong were thy foes, but the arm that subdued them,
And scatter'd their legions, was mightier far;
They fled, like the chaff, from the scourge that pursued them,
Vain were their steeds, and their chariots of war.
Daughter of Zion, the power that hath saved thee
Extoll'd with the harp and the timbrel should be:
Shout, for the foe is destroy'd that enslaved thee,
The oppressor is vanquish'd, and Zion is free."
II. Let us turn to the second part of the sermon. We are now come to the last Sabbath of the year. Two troubles present themselves,the future and the past. We shall soon launch into another year, and hitherto we have found our years, years of trouble. We have had mercies, butstill we find this house of out pilgrimage is not an abiding city, not a mansion of peace and comfort. Perhaps we are tremblingto go forward. Foreseeing trouble, we know not how we weshall be able to endure to the end. We are standing here and pausing for a while, sitting down upon the stone of our Ebenezerto rest ourselves, gazing dubiously into the future, saying, "Alas! what shall I do? Surely, I shall one day fall by the handof the enemy." Brother, arise, arise; anoint your head, and wash your face, and fast no longer; let this sweet morsel nowcheer you; put this bottle to your lips, and let your eyes be enlightened: "The Lord Jehovah will go before you." He has gonebefore you already. Your future path has all been marked out in the great decrees of his predestination. You shall not tread a step which is not mapped out in the great chart of God's decree. Your troubles have been already weighedfor you in the scales of his love; your labour is already set aside for you to accomplish by the hand of his wisdom. Dependupon it.
"Your times of trial and of grief,
Your times of joy and sweet relief,
All shall come and last and end
As shall please your heavenly Friend."
Remember, you are not a child of chance. If you were, you might indeed fear. You will go nowhere next year except where Godshall send you. You shall be thrust into the hot coals of the fire, but God shall put you there. You shall perhaps be muchdepressed in spirit, but that heaviness shall be for your good, and shall come from your Father; you shall have the rod, butit shall not be the rod of the wicked-it shall be in God's hand. Oh! how comfortable the thought thateverything is in the hand of God, and that all that may occur to me during the future years of my life is fore-ordainedand overruled by the great Jehovah, who is my Father and my friend! Now stop, Christian, a moment, and realize the idea thatGod has gone before, mapping the way; and then let me ask you if you could now this morning be allowed to draw a fresh map,would you do it? If he should condescend to say, "Now your circumstances next year shall be just what you like; you shallhaveyour own way, and go your own route to heaven, would you dare, even with God's permission, to draw a new chart?" If youshould have that presumption, I know the result: you would find that you had gone the wrong way; you would soon be glad enoughto retrace your step, and with many tears you would go to your heavenly Father, and say, "My Father, I have had enough todo with the helm of this ship; it is hard work to hold it; do what thou wilt with it; steer which way thou pleasest, thoughit bethrough the deepest floods and the hottest flame. I am weary, I sleep at the tiller, I cannot guide the ship, my tearsfall fast from my eyes, for when I think to be wise I find myself to have committed folly; when I thought I was promotingmy own advantage in my scheme, I find I am rushing into a sea of losses." God, then, has gone before you in the decree ofhis predestination.
And recollect, God has gone before you in all your future journey in the actual preparations of his providence.
I do not think I am capable this morning, for my mind seems to wander far more than I could desire, of sketching how it is,but so it is, that God always makes a providence beforehand ready for his people when they get to the place. My God does nothastily erect a tent over me when I come to a certain spot. No; he builds an inn of mercy, and before I get there he providesa bed of comfort, and stores up the old wines of grace, that I may feast upon them. And all this isdone long before I come to the actual necessity. None of us can tell how the future leans on the past, how a simple actof to-day shall bring about a grand event in a hundred years. We do not know how the future lies in the bowels of the post,and how what is to be is the child of that which is. As all men spring from their progenitors, so the providence of to-day springs from the providence of a hundred years past.The events of next year have been forestalled by God in what hehas done this year and years before. I am certain of this, that on the road I am to travel during the next year, everythingis ready for me. I am not going a road of hills and deep valleys, but I have heard the voice of one crying in the wilderness,"Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and everymountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory ofthe Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." "I will openrivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dryland springs of water." "And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they havenot known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and notforsakethem." I say again, you are not going through a land that God has not prepared for you. O Israel, there is a well of Elimmade for you long before you came out of Egypt, and there are palm trees that have been growing there that they might justcome to the fruit-bearing state, and have fruit upon them, when you come there. O Israel, God is not going to extemporizea Canaan for you; it is ready made, it is even now flowing with milk and honey; the vines that are to bear you grapes of Eshcolarealready there and coming to perfection. God has forestalled your trials and troubles for the next year. The Lord Jehovahhas gone before you.
There is also another phase of this subject. Jehovah has gone before us in the incarnation of Christ. As to our future troubles for next year and the remnant of our days, Jesus Christ has borne them all before. As for temptation,he "has been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." As for trials and sorrows, he has felt all we can possiblyfeel, and infinitely more. As for our difficulties, Christ has trodden the road before. We may rest quite surethat we shall not go anywhere where Christ has not gone. The way of God's people in providence is the exact track of Christhimself. The footsteps of the flock are identical with the footsteps of the shepherd, so far as they follow the leading andguidings of God.
And there is this reflection also, that, inasmuch as Christ has gone before us, he has done something in that going before,for he has conquered every foe that lies in his way. Cheer up now thou faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ travelled the road, but he has slain thineenemies. Dost thou dread sin? he has nailed it to his cross. Dost thou dread death? he has been the death of Death. Art thouafraid of hell? he has barred it against the advent of any ofhis children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome.There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there rivers but they arebridged or fordable; there are flames, but we have upon us that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. Thesword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have alreadylosttheir point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, thearmy may safely march on and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shallyou do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. Yourfuture life shall be only the dividing of the spoil. You shall, it is true, often dread combat; and you shall sometimes havetowield the spear, but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, buthis strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall he easy, and your treasure shall be beyondall count. Come boldly on then, for Jehovah shall go before you. This shall be our sweet song when we come to the river ofdeath: Black are its streams, and there are terrors there of which I cannot dream. But shall I fear to go through the darkstream ifJehovah goes before me? There may be goblins of frightful shape, there may be horrors of a hellish hue, but thou, Jehovah,shalt clear the way, thou shalt bid each enemy begone, and each fiend shall flee at thy bidding. I may march safely on. Soconfident would I feel in this great vanguard, that shouldst thou bid me go through hell itself, I need not fear all the terrorsof the place of doom; for if Jehovah went before, he would tread out even to the last spark the fire; he would quench evento the last flame that burning; and the child of God might march safely through the flame that had been quenched and theashes that were extinguished. Let us therefore never be troubled about the future. It is all safe, for Jehovah has gone before.
Now I hear one say, "The future seldom troubles me, sir; it is the past-what I have done and what I have not done-the years that are gone-how I have sinned, and how I have not served my masteras I ought. These things grieve me, and sometimes my old sins start up in my recollection and accuse me; 'What! shalt THOUbe saved?' say they, 'Remember us.' And they spring up in number like the sands of the sea. I cannot deny that I have committedall these sins, norcan I say that they are not the most guilty of iniquities. Oh! it is the rereward that is most unsafe. I dead most thesins of the past." O beloved, the God of Israel shall be your rereward. Notice the different titles. The first is "the Lord,"or properly "Jehovah"-"Jehovah will go before you." That is the I am, full of omniscience and omnipotence. The second title is "God of Israel," that is to say, the God of the Covenant. We wantthe God of the Covenant behind, because it is not inthe capacity of the I am, the omnipotent, that we require him to pardon sin, to accept our persons, to blot out the past, and to remove iniquity bythe blood of Christ; it is as the God of the Covenant that he does that. He goes behind; here he finds that his child has left a black mark, and he takes that away; he finds herea heap of rubbish, a mass of broken good works, and here another load of evil, of filth, and he carefully removes all, sothat in that track of his childrenthere is not a spot or a blemish; and though they have trodden the road the most observant of their foes at the last greatday shall not be able to find that they have done any mischief on the journey, or one wrong thing in all their march, forthe God of Israel hath so swept the way that he has taken away their iniquities and cast their sins behind his back.
Now let me always think, that I have God behind me as well as before me. Let not the memories of the past, though they causeme grief, cause me despair. Let me never bemoan because of past trial or past bereavement; let me never be cast down on accountof past sin; but let me look to Christ for the pardon of the past, and to God for the sanctification of my past troubles.Let me believe that he who has cleared the way before me, has removed all enemies from behind me, thatI am and must he perpetually safe. And now, are there any here to-day whose hearts God hath touched, who desire to jointhis great army? Have I one here who has been enlisted in the black army of the devil, and has long been fighting his wayagainst God and against right? I pray that he may be compelled this day to ground his arms, and surrender at discretion toGod. Sinner, if the Lord inclines thine heart this day to yield up thyself to him, the past shall all be blotted out; Godshall be thyrereward. As for thy innumerable sins, leave them to Christ; he will make short work of them; by his blood he will slaythem all; they shall not be mentioned against thee for ever. And as for the future, thou chief of sinners, if now thou enlistestinto the army of Christ by faith, thou shalt find the future shall be strewn with the gold of God's grace, and the silverof his temporal mercies; thou shalt have enough and to spare, from this day forth even to the end, and at the last thou shaltbegathered in by the great arms of God, that constitute the rear guard of his heavenly army. Come ye chief of sinners, comeaway to Christ. He now invites you to come to him; he asks nothing of you as a preparation. Christ's regiment is made up ofmen that are in debt and are discontented: the rag-tag of the world Christ will take; the scum, the dross, the offal of theuniverse Christ loves; the sweepings of our dens of iniquity, the very leavings of the devil's mill Christ is willing to receive,the chief of sinners, those who have been ministers in guilt, abortions of iniquity. Come to him; lay hold of him by faith;look to him as he hangs upon the tree; believe in his merits, and then shalt this promise be yours with innumerable othersthat are rich beyond all estimation; and you shall rejoice that Jehovah is gone before you, and that the God of Israel shallbe your rereward.