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says, “ Take ye away the stone.” There is no occasion to exert a miraculous power to form that which you are well able to execute. I will
my almighty power to restore the dead to life; but do you remove the stone which stops the entrance to the tomb.
May we not here be reminded of the charge given to us Gentiles, as to that people who are now, like Lazarus, buried in the grave of unbelief ?-I mean the remnant of scattered Judah, and of outcast Israel. As to them, the Lord thus addresses his church : “Go through, go through the gates : prepare ye the way of the people : cast up, cast up the high way : gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh : behold his reward is with him, and his work before him."*
We have as little power to give them spiritual life, as this assembled company had to restore natural life to the dead body of their way.
* Isai, lxii. 10, 11.
Lazarus ; but still, like them, we may “take away the stone :" we may use the powers the Lord has given to us for removing those many stumbling blocks which are now in
declare to them the glad tidings of the Gospel, that “He who visited us in great humility, will come again in glorious majesty.” We may make known to them that there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, that the same Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him ;" for it is written : “ Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This we may do, and this the Lord has commanded us to do- to "go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature—to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile." And, until we obey the command, we are as chargeable with neglect of the divine precept as this company, now at the grave
of Lazarus, would have been, had they refused to obey our Lord's direction : “ Take ye away the stone."
I notice this the more particularly, because
the great stone that was placed upon the tomb of our blessed Saviour, which the women had not strength to roll away, and this stone which was at the entrance of the grave of Lazarus, which could easily be removed by the men who were present, not only illustrate our duty as to removing, to the utmost of our power, every hindrance in the way of making known the Gospel either to the Jews or to the heathen nations; but they illustrate a great principle of our religion, which is this : that whilst we are entirely dependant upon the Lord for the real blessing, and are convinced that “ Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but that God only can give the increase;" and that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Whilst we are thus depending upon the Lord, and are called to acknowledge our dependence by earnest entreaties for his divine aid ; still we are not to sit down in slothful ease, expecting that the Lord will perform unnecessary miracles. We are to be up and be doing : to go and preach the Gospel : to prepare
way of the Lord, and make his paths straight: or to fulfil the command, “ Take ye away the stone." So much is this the case, that our simple obedience will be the surest test of our faith. If our faith is strong, we shall do as Ezekiel did, when at the bidding of the Lord he went forth, and prophesied to the dry bones, saying, “Oye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord ;” but if our faith be weak, and our hope but slender, then we shall do as Martha did when the command was given : “Take ye away the stone." We shall be deterred by apparent difficulties, rather than encouraged by a simple reliance upon the word of God. For thus it was with her. The Evangelist notices, that upon this direction being given, “ Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stink. eth, for he hath been dead four days.”
It was as much as to say : “It is no use, Lord, now to remove the stone which conceals the remains of our beloved brother ; for having been buried four days, his body
is now putrid ; there can be no hope, therefore, of his restoration to life. Distress not yourself then by beholding him in his present altered state.
My friends, we cannot but remark here the over-ruling providence of God in the testimony thus borne to the fact of his death, that his sister, who well knew the moment of his departure, and the time that he had been carried to the grave, declares, before the whole company, that Lazarus having been four days in the grave, she believed that change, which is the sure sign of death, must have taken place upon him. Unwilling, therefore, either from her tender feelings towards her brother, or her reluctance that the Lord, who had already been weeping with them, should see so painful a sight, she makes this remark.
Nor can we but notice the distressing proof we have of the effects of man's transgression, that a few days may make so entire a change upon the form once so dear, that not only did Abraham say of his beloved Sarah : “Give me a burying place, that I