As the first five Trinity Sundays teach God’s relation to us,
so the second five teach us the relation in which we stand to God, and
the obligation which rests upon us to serve Him truly all the days of our
Having on the first Sunday considered the obligation of our baptism
and its high standard of righteousness, we are to-day to learn something
of the nature of our service and something also of the character and disposition
of out Master. The consecration of baptism must be followed by earnest
THE EPISTLE. (ROM. vi. 19.) THE
LIFE OF SERVICE.
The leading ideas of the Sunday are expressed by the words master and
slave, which illustrate our relation to Christ, and His to us.
A. The Bondage of Christ.
S. Paul speaks of “the slaves of righteousness” in order to show the
reality of the devotion which Christ demands. He apologises for it as an
imperfect illustration used “after the manner of men,” for it pains him
even to think of the service of Christ as slavery. He apologises for it,
but employs it to show—
(1) That we are to be no less earnest in serving Christ than we have
been in the service of sin, and are to submit our wills to the righteousness
which issues in complete consecration, as completely as to the uncleanness
and lawlessness which issues in confirmed alienation from God.
(2) That there is no middle state of independence. We are to pass not
from one master to no master, but from one master to another master, and
from one slavery to another slavery. When sin ruled, sin was master and
Christ was nothing to us; now Christ rules He must be Master and sin wholly
Thus the very imperfection of the illustration illustrates more completely
the absoluteness of Christian duty, and we miss the point if we translate
slaves as servants. We are to be slaves rejoicing in our slavery.
B. The Wages of Sin.
Sin has wages; sin has its end; and both the wages and the end is death.
The wages are the immediate, the end is the final consequences of sin.
The immediate consequences of sin are death, for each sin diminishes our
capacity for life intellectual, moral, and spiritual. Sin darkens the intellect,
blunts the conscience, and deadens all the faculties of the soul. These
consequences are wages, for every sin has its just recompense and reward
paid down surely and punctually when we sin. As wages are paid for each
day’s labour, so also for each day’s sin. We have not to wait till the
final reckoning, for we receive our reward by instalments, though the final
reckoning and end of sin is death.
C. The Wages of Christ.
The wages of Christ are no less sure and certain than the wages of sin,
and yet in two ways are they unlike human wages.
(1) They are Fruit.
They are this as proceeding from within, for the fruit is the outcome
of the hidden life within the soul. Sin bears no fruit, but is the canker
that destroys the tree.
(2) They are a Free Gift.
They are this because the life of the Christian is not the conse-quence
of his goodness, but is his in spite of his sinfulness. We may deserve
death, but eternal life can never be deserved, but must be the gift of
Yet we may learn that righteousness, like sin, has both a present reward,
the yoke ever easier, the burden lighter, the peace deeper, and the hope
ever more assured, and also a final end to which it is ever tending, even
THE GOSPEL (S. MARK viii. i.) THE
MASTER WHOM WE SERVE.
If the Epistle has erred in describing the service of Christ as slavery,
the Gospel is at hand to shew us the tender consideration of Christ for
A. The Considerateness of Christ.
Our Master’s demands are peremptory. He calls His hearers to follow
Him, and leads them into the wilderness, where they have nothing to eat.
He does not shorten His sermon because divers had come from far, but continues
teaching for three whole days. Yet all the time He marked the cost at which
they remained to listen.
If Christ demands entire devotion He will give much grace. If He bids
us seek Him first He will not neglect what we have left for His sake. He
knows how far we have left our way and will in order to sit at His feet,
and will see to it that we shall not go uncared for.
Christ would have His Church no less considerate. He calls His disciples
to share His compassion and requests their aid. It is the duty of the Church
to feed the flock of Christ committed to her care, and to consider the
needs and necessities of men. This section gives Christ’s call to service.
B. The Bounty of Christ.
He Who has commissioned the Church to feed His flock will not send it
forth empty-handed. Twice over Christ taught this lesson, and six times
over we have the record of His bounty in the Gospels, in order to confirm
the faith of His people.
Yet will He not make good our deficiency until we have done what we
can. We must make the most of every gift of mind and heart before we may
seek His assistance.
As we learn from the twice-repeated miracle of the draught of fishes
to be of good courage in the work of evangelization, so this twice-repeated
miracle teaches diligence in pastoral care. We learn from the former that
Christ will give success to the preacher, from the latter miracles that
Christ will bless the teachers. In both cases faith and obedience are needed.
The preacher must let down the net, and the teacher bring forth his scanty
store. In both cases it is Christ Who orders the issue.
THE COLLECT. A PRAYER FOR GROWTH
We find in this Collect as revised at the Reformation distinct reference
to the Epistle and Gospel, as well as agreement with the general theme
of the Sunday.
A. The Master Whom We Serve.
God is our supreme Master Whom we are to serve as His obedient slaves,
for He is “Lord of all power and might.” He is not only the God of power,
but the God of love; “the author of all good things” by His power, and
“the giver of all good things” by His love.
This twofold character was manifested in the miracle of the Gospel in
which Christ was both author and giver of food to His disciples.
B. A Prayer for ever Better Service.
We pray for four stages in the life of service—
(1) Its commencement.
The spirit of true service is not natural to us, and must be engrafted
in the stock of our disobedience.
The graft is the love of God’s name or revealed character, and the place
of grafting is the heart, for this is the seat of life.
(2) Its increase.
This spirit of service or of true religion once introduced into our
natures must be ever growing and increasing in us. That which grace has
begun must be advanced by grace.
(3) Its nourishment.
The Spirit of Service needs nourishment if it is to grow. Christ, as
in the Gospel, is able to provide the nourishment needed, and does this
by the word, sacraments, and ministry of His Church.
(4) Its preservation.
If we are to bear fruit as described in the Epistle we shall need guarding
from dangers, and shielding from frosty indifference and boisterous winds
of temptation. We pray to be kept in the same, i.e., either in the same
true religion, or, as seems more likely, in the same goodness and bountiful
provision of God.