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Back before the Civil War, “Raccoon” John Smith, a pioneer American preacher, was speaking of the plainness of the gospel of Christ compared to the many and varied systems of men’s religion. He was handed a note from the audience which said, “If the gospel is so plain as you say it is, why do you have to labor so hard to get people to understand it?

Smith replied, “I have often prepared ground in the wilderness for a turnip patch, and though I had the kindliest of soil, and the best seed, and the sowing was easy, I never got top or root till I took my axe and hoe and briar knife and went in and whacked and grubbed and cleared the ground. The Lord knows that I do not esteem it hard to preach the gospel to those who are prepared to receive it, but it is labor indeed to root out prejudice, and cut out systems, and clear away sectarian trash that cumbers the minds and hearts of the people…