Isa. 62:10.---'Gather out the stones.'

EASTERN governments have not fully realized the value of permanent good roads. In the days of the Prophet, as it is in many parts of the Eastern rule today, whenever there is to be some great procession or some royal progress all haste had to be made to prepare the worn, deep-rutted, dusty, stoney track for the traffic of the important day. An army of workmen is sent out to prepare the way, to fill up the hollows, to make level the bumps, to drain the pools or to gather out the stones which wound and weary the tender feet.

For this preparation God's herald cries for men to go before who shall take out of the way every stumbling-block, everything that can discourage or wound those who have set their faces to return to their God.

'Gather out the stones.' That is the duty of each one of us who ventures to make on himself the name of Christ.

It is not always easy to respond to the call. gathering stones out of the way while others are proudly keeping step in the advancing procession sometimes seems dull and unreasonable work. Why may we not simply be pilgrims? Why must we, who have already set our face in the right direction, worry ourselves to increase the comfort or to ensure the perseverance of others?

Because a new spirit came into the world when God revealed Himself. When the first murderer heard the voice of conscience, he answered, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' But it was a murderer who said it, and the blood of his victim cried out against him. All the lessons which God in the Old Testament gave to that little Chosen People were to teach the duties of brotherhood. In this tiny area of farmstead and vineyard the Israelite was taught that if he saw his brother's ox or ass astray he might not go his own way; he must in any case take the strayed beast and keep it for his brother. 'Thou mayest not hide thyself,' spake the Law of Moses. And Jesus Christ lifted up out of the limited realm of rustic agriculture the duty of self-sacrifice, and set the Golden Rule for ever in the light of His approval for the teaching of the world. That is to say, there is no such thing as an inert Christianity. As long as there are any difficulties in the road we have not only to walk along the road ourselves, but to look for the stones and take them out of the way of others.

The claim of God's Fatherhood and our Savior's Brotherhood on us is to be keen of soul to see the special stone that will cut our neighbor's tender feet and swift and wise to take it away. Nor can we plead that it is sheer folly to be offended by such things. Our strength cannot be disdainful of the unreasonable fancies of a weakling. Christ, while we were yet sinners, unlovely weaklings, came and died for us. How terrible is His utterance to him who, instead of helping, casts a stumbling-block in the way of a soul! 'It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the depth of the sea.'

In the early Councils of the Church there often was a band of men with scarred faces, twisted bodies, blinded eyes, maimed limbs. These entered the Council Chamber first, and their words were listened to with greatest honor. Why? They were the victims of the Diocletian persecution, and by their scars they had won the freedom of their unmaimed fellows. And ever at their head the Church saw One whose hands and feet and side were wounded, One marred more than any man.

In the Prophet's days the gathering out of the stones was a very temporary process, and speedily the roads reverted to their old condition or morass or desert sand. But Western skill has found a new use for the stones. Now we gather them out, then crush them, and finally, out of the crushed and conquered stones, we make the basis for the firm and smooth surface along which the carriage wheels of kings and the hurrying feet of children may go unhindered.

There is no firmer foothold for a forgiven sinner than the crushed temptations of the past; no smoother road for the resolute penitent than the sins which the power of Christ has overcome. Our Savior, when He sets us to gather out the stones from the road for our younger or weaker brethren, by His Holy Spirit not only saves from the wound, but gives afresh the power to go upon the way rejoicing. We rejoice to be the permanent roadmakers of our God.

And how is it all to be done? There is only one way, only one lesson with which every word of God ends.

We remember how one morning certain women were going with loving, bruised hearts to tend a body whose death meant despair to them. 'Oh,' said they, 'who shall roll away the stone for us?' and the gloom was even deeper than before. But when they reached the tomb, lo! the stone was rolled away. And when the stone was gone, they saw---no death, but an empty tomb, and a vision of angels, and, when they turned, a Living Lord. And life had a new power ever after.

That is the great stone to be gathered out of the road, the stone that hides the fact that Jesus Christ is alive today. How wonderful is the joy of rolling away that stone from the pathway of any soul, the joy of bringing a heart to the living Christ! It is He always, He everywhere. And at last, when we stand before that Throne, where the results of life are made clear, what a joy to hear, as we look on some whom we have helped, that it is He again: 'Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me.'

In Christ, timothy. Maranatha