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late,” was Martha's objection then, but “too soon.” Those who advocated the carrying out of Christ's own command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” were stopped by this stone, When the Lord wants to quicken the heathen, He will do it. We must wait His time." And it was not until that heavy stone of the Church's indifference was lifted away that the blessing came. I have heard of some very earnest souls who wished to preach the Gospel to the heathen. But this stone lay in their path—the difference of language. And they thought the Lord should not only quicken the dead, but take away the stone also. So, instead of stooping to the hard drudgery of learning the language, they waited upon God in prayer for the gift of foreign speech, as at Pentecost. Needless to say, they waited in vain; their only answer was, “ Take ye away the stone."
Point me a spot under heaven where the Church, by her lowly, solitary, but devoted missionaries, has done what she could, and the Lord has withheld His quickening power ?
In India, in China, in Africa, from the snows of the North till you approach the snows again of the South, wherever we have bent to roll away the stone, Christ has said, “Come forth; and they have come. To say that foreign missions are a failure is blasphemy, gross and inexcusable.
To come nearer home, we have the same stones-stones that stop the blessing. There is the stone of the drink traffic. We lament about the drunkard; we gather round that awful charnel-cave, into which so many have fallen through the destroying power of this death, and we say, “ Can these men live?” God says it back to us again, as, in a vision, he said it to Ezekiel. As we stand beside that sepulchre of death, strong drink, we can hear the same voice: “Son of Man, can these bones live?” And, like Ezekiel looking at the bones, we can scarcely say "Yes;” looking at our Questioner, we dare not say “No." God always stands
He doesn't want anything like hallooing, or cockcrowing, windiness, or extravagance. On the other hand, no groaning, and moaning, and saying, “It is too late." Keep your eye on Him. Ezekiel was told to take
the stone. “Son of Man, prophesy to the bones ; ” preach to the bones. Do what you can; bare, white, and glistening although they be, preach; roll away the stone of donothingism and mere lamentation, and then trust Me for the quickening breath.
So in connection with the drink traffic-God will save our drunkards; so in connection with what we call the “social evil”—God will save the fallen sister; God will cleanse our streets, but we will have to take away the stone. What is the sense of having drinking shops at every corner
poor Lazarus when he comes out? What is the use of asking God to empty these graves of lust, while we are still filled with all our Pharisaism and stuckupness towards the fallen sister ? Roll away that stone. How
How many of you are prepared to speak to your fallen sister at King's Cross ? How much do you want to see her raised from death? Take away the stone, the dark, cursed stone of pharisaical pride, and drawing in of our skirts, and talking about
fallen women.” And are there no fallen men ? How many of you are up, pray? And if you are up, who lifted you, who lifted you? Who made you to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Then, why do you glory as if you had not received it? You remember the lines of Henry Francis Lyte; but don't let
us hear them simply for their fine Gospel sentiment. Let us prove their truth.
“She is not dead, she only sleeps." He is thinking, at first, of the little girl of Jairus, and of what our Lord said at her bedside ; but he passes on to our subject.
“She is not dead, she only sleeps,
Life in her soul its vigil keeps,
Speak, Lord, and she shall live again.
That she whose soul so glowed to Thee,
Oh, speak ! and she will hear Thee yet.
A touch of Thine can life impart,
Oh, bid it reach our sister's ear.
Can still reclaim, and seal her Thine,
Take away the stone of indifference, pride, laziness, mere idle hand-wringing, and head-shaking, “Oh, oh, oh, oh!” Much good that will do! Bend your back and lift. I could spend hours on this application of our text, and be quite spiritually exegetical. Till it was done, nothing was done; and, as I shall show later on, after it was done, there was still a great deal to do.
But here is General Booth's scheme. And there surely we shall have Continental nations laughing at us, as they often do in their sleeves, at the fits and starts we take. We are going to be desperately good, and we are going to finish it all in a day. Here we go, as the old rhyme has it: “Soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor, rich man, poor man, prophet, and priest!" Now, let us keep our heads level. It is a needed work, and let us do it; but for the sake of common sense, make no fuss about it.
It is a perfectly obvious and natural thing to do, now that this Heaven-sent man has called our attention to it. God bless him, and keep him clear of committees ! But when you have done it, say, “ We are unprofitable servants. We have only done what it was our duty to do.”
Give the General a hundred thousand pounds, or ten times that.. I hear that there is trouble down in the City, that the hearts of our mightiest traffickers are almost failing them for fear. Now, “the City” wants to propitiate the Almighty-I say it deliberately—to avert the stunning blow that He might well deal us right between the eyes, for our feverish haste to be rich and wax great, no matter how. Let the City give General Booth his million. And may God accept the sin-offering. O City! draw out thy soul to the hungry, then shall thy light rise in obscurity. Thus saith the Lord, whose holy is graven
thine Exchange. But then to return. Understand how much and how little you have done.
You have only rolled away the stone. You have left lots for Christ to do. The Gospellers, with their Gospel of eternal life in Christ alone, will never be superseded. Do not be the least afraid that philanthropy and social economy are taking the place and going to do the work of the preacher. Let us all help to roll away the stone. I do not believe one bit in evolution, in the modern sense, for Lazarus ; but I do believe in a tremendous amount of evolution for that stone. Keep it going ; keep it rolling. This gravestone is the rolling-stone that never should gather any moss.
Uncover all graves ;
roll away all obstructions. It is homely work; it is dirty work; you need to take off your gloves, and strip your coat, and look as if you meant it. This was a great big slab of stone, that would take three, or four, or five men to lift. Nothing fine about it, or dignified. Nothing grand about it; and yet, when you put Christ in the background, how grand it was ! I think, if ever the angels had to be held in leash by the Almighty, it was when Christ spoke in that cemetery, where death reigned, mocking, triumphant. Where death reigned, and men and women groaned and wept in hopeless sorrow. The angels, surely, had to be held in leash; they wanted to thunder down the sky to roll away that stone. Ah! if we knew the power that worketh in us, and the power that worketh for us, there would be less talking and more working, and things that seem to be, from the point of unbelief and panic-strickenness, almost too big to attempt, would be seen to be natural and obvious.
Aye, the stone of strong drink, my friend, let me come back to that. Have you taken away that stumbling-block? Your brother is lying behind it, dead, hastening to corruption. Or are ye sitting on the stone; that is to say, adding to its weight the weight of your own moderate drinking. Take it away.
Come off, and push ! Hear the old prophet, “Cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones.” And again, “ Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His path straight.”
Another point is this : Anybody can help. Anybody can help to take away the stone. I am so thoroughly sound on this, that nobody but Christ can quicken the dead, that I will let anybody, black man or white man, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, take a shove at the stone. I will