WITH the present Sunday we enter upon the second half of the
Trinity season. Having learned the great Christian motive of the love which
God hath to us, and having considered our responsibilities of duty and
God’s sufficient provision of grace, we now pass to the consideration of
the great features of the Christian character. We have been taught why
and how we may live as Christians, and now we must know what it is to be
The Second Trinity Series is naturally less of a system than the first,
embracing, as it does, the various aspects of the Christian life, its aims,
its difficulties, its joys, and its final perfection. Still, each Sunday
will be found to teach its own special lesson and to take its fitting place.
The first three Sundays teach the three great essentials of that which
is described in the Collect as “true and laudable service “—namely, love,
purity, and singleness of
THE EPISTLE. (GAL. iii. 16.) TYPES
A. The Service of Abraham.
This was the primitive and original type of service. Its motive was
a covenant of unconditional grace. God conferred upon Abraham and his seed
a special relationship to Himself: He was their God and they His people
and His children as the children of the faithful Abraham. From this happy
relationship proceeded all obligations to service, but of these little
mention was made, and duty was left to follow naturally from the inward
constraint of love.
B. The Service of Law.
This type of service succeeded that of Abraham, but it was not of the
nature of development, but of retrogression, a retrogression rendered necessary
by sin, “for it was added because of trans-gressions.” Special rules of
service had become an absolute necessity when the conscience no longer
responded to the unwritten laws of duty. But just as it is a felt loss
when the unspoken will of a parent is no longer obeyed and the limits of
conduct have to be defined by strict rules, so was it here. The law removed
God further away. He was no longer a loving friend as He had been to Abraham.
The new laws " were ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” Moses.
All this was a falling away from the sacred fellowship of the past, and
from the simple religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “‘Twas little joy
to know that Heaven seemed farther off.”
C. Christian Service.
Christianity was a reversion to the primitive type of religion. The
religion of Abraham was nearer Christianity than the religion of Moses,
and S. Paul delights to consider Christians as Abraham’s seed and heirs
through Christ of ancient promises. He sweeps away the centuries of law
as a transitory condition of things, a comparatively modern departure from
primitive custom. He is careful to guard the law from being thought a contradiction.
There was nothing wrong about it—it was a stage in growth. It was not an
evil, but it was a lower form of good, and yet it is wrong to go back from
the higher to the lower. The reign of law has long passed away, but the
Christian must remember—
(1) That the baptismal covenant makes each Christian an Isaac, a child
of promise, the possessor of a rich inheritance and the heir of “Heavenly
promises” (cf. Collect).
(2) That this relationship of love must be the motive for true and laudable
service—the service of filial devotion—even as Abraham served God, “and
it was counted to him for righteous. ness.”
THE GOSPEL. (S. LUKE x. 23.)
THE SERVICE OF LOVE.
A. A Position of Love.
This is the blessedness of the Church of Christ and of each Christian,
that he sees the love of God. Behind him he sees the Cross, the final revelation
of the love of God to the world. He sees, but a few years back, a little
procession, the chief figure in it a woman bearing in her arms an infant,
and he knows that infant to have been himself, then brought individually
to the Cross for pardon. In his very sight he sees a Table, and on that
Table God’s best gift of love. Here is the Altar of his acceptance and
the Table of his sustenance. Blessed are the eyes that see this sight which
brings the Cross into the life of the present and assures of every blessing.
In front of him he sees a hope of quiet rest, when service is done, in
the Paradise of God. And on a certain morning blessed will be his ears,
for they shall hear the voice of the Son of God. Thus blessed are the eyes
that see in Jesus the pardon of sins past, the pledge of present grace,
and the hope of future glory.
B. The Essentials of Love.
These are ever the same. They have never changed, for they were as essential
in the days of Abraham, of Moses, of the prophets, as in the days of the
Son of Man. They are the love of God with all the heart, and the love of
man. These two essentials are, in fact, one, for love fulfils the law,
and “true and laudable service” is love.
C. The Example of Love.
The Good Samaritan is our teacher. This is a shrewd hit at all prejudice
and all exclusiveness. We may often learn lessons of true service from
those whom we most despise. \Vë see in the Samaritan three marks of
the true service of love.
(1) Love Asks no Questions.
The lawyer had asked a question. He was afraid of loving too widely.
The Samaritan did not ask if the traveller was his neigh. bour. It was
well he did not, for he would have only found one of an opposing nation
and of a rival sect, one who regarded his blood as mingled and his creed
unsound. But he asked no questions, and let forth his compassion freely.
(2) Love Listens to no Objections.
He did not parley with fears for safety, with thoughts of business,
of comfort, or of his journey’s end. Had he entertained these thoughts
he would have gone on, but love said “Stay,” and he stayed. It is better
to make too few objections than too many. Selfishness is very wise in reasons,
but we may remember that it was Love which left Heaven, and it is a question
whether selfishness will ever reach that journey’s end. The religiously
selfish, like the Priest and Levite, are so anxious to save their souls
that they will not lose them, and so cannot save them. The way to Heaven
does not lie “on the other side.”
(3) Love Spares no Pains.
Having begun a good work, love spares no pains to carry it through at
any cost of self.denial. The oil and wine are used, not for refreshment,
but as remedies. The beast bears the sufferer while his master walks. Time
and money are spent freely in completing the cure, and arrangements made
for future provision.
That Christ was the true Good Samaritan is not the lesson of the parable,
though in itself a true lesson, for Christ so lived that His life illustrated
His words, and He Who preached love lived love.
THE COLLECT. A PRAYER FOR TRUE
AND LAUDABLE SERVICE.
A. The Source of It.
To serve God with true and laudable service is a gift to be sought from
God, and from Him alone. The final words of the Epistle are inscribed on
every Gospel blessing, “Given to them that believe.”
B. The Desire for it.
We pray that this gift may be given to us and that we may be enabled
to render to God such service as may win His praise for its reverential
love, its conscientious accuracy, its entire devotion to our Master’s interests,
and its perseverance until death.
C. Its Reward.
This is surely connected with faithful service, for which waits the
final “Well done!” It is pledged to us by the promises