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The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.


by the Rev. Prebendary Melville Scott, D.D.

from The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.

A Devotional Exposition of the Continuous Teaching of the Church Throughout the Year,

S.P.C.K., London, 1902.


IN our enquiry after the central teaching of this Sunday, it is to be noticed that the present Epistle has been lengthened both at the beginning and at the end, the original Epistle as found in the Use of Sarum being Eph. iv. 23-28. We must, therefore, look to this passage for the central thought of the Sunday, and doing this shall at once find it in the first verse—” be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man.” Two-fold renewal is without doubt the subject of the Sunday, the renewal, not merely of the heart, but of the whole life and conduct, and with this the whole teaching of the Sunday is in a remarkable harmony.

This important passage may be summarised as follows :—

     A.   Man’s Need of Renewal.

We have here a picture of man apart from Christ. In losing faith in God, man misses the true conception of the object and meaning of life, the mind becomes a prey to delusions, and the understanding is darkened. From the mind, sin passes to the heart, and men become not only strangers to God, but estranged from Him. Sin is no longer felt as pain, for the conscience has become callous, and all restraints of religion gone, men plunge into every unhallowed thing with a very greediness of lust. If we do not always see such results from loss of faith, we may remember that such results are gradual, and that it is possible to lose faith without at once losing all that faith has taught, but the tendency will be towards this.

     B.   Renewal of Heart.

This is the very different picture of those in whom renewal has begun. They have come under a new influence. They have “learned Christ” as the example to which their lives are to be conformed. They have been taught in Christ’s school, and learned the lesson He teaches even Himself as the truth, for “truth is in Jesus,” and both teacher and lesson are personal. They have received a new nature which is to conquer the old nature and character. It is possible that, as in Rom. vi. 6 and Col. iii. 9, S. Paul refers to the renewal of baptism, and that we should translate “ye did put off,” “ye are being renewed,” “ye did put on.” In any case the passage teaches that baptismal regeneration must be completed by entire renewal in the spirit of the mind, and that holiness can only proceed from a renewed nature. Only from a good tree can good fruit be expected.

     C.   Renewal of Life.

The inward nature must be manifested in outward conduct. This is the especial lesson of the Sunday, for we are now dealing with the group of Sundays especially devoted to the outward life of service.

Certain evils are to be cast off and opposite features of good are to be put on.

     (1)   Falsehood
This is to be replaced by truth. To deceive one’s neighbour is to deceive oneself, for it is as if one member of the body deceived another. The word of a Christian is to be as good as his bond— for his bond is his baptism into the body of Christ.

     (2)   Sinful Anger
Only such anger is to be endured as is not sinful—i.e., on the right occasions, against the right objects, only exercised in a right degree and for the right duration. Anger is a natural remedy against injustice, but undue anger may itself come to be unjust. Unrestrained, it gives room for the devil in the heart and in the Church.

     (3)   Dishonesty
Must be replaced by laborious toil, so that instead of taking from others we may be able to give to others. Happy those whose toil and thrift are so blest as to free them from improper dependence upon others and from the temptation to do wrong by others.

     (4)   Evil Language
Must be replaced by words which will bring a blessing and help to others. How beautiful to impart grace by our converse! Sometimes we rather drive it away.

     (5)   Unloving Tempers
We have here, not only a catalogue, but a genealogy of bad passions. All such feelings are inconsistent with the presence of the Spirit with His sensitiveness of holiness and His sensitiveness of love. They are inconsistent in those who have received forgiveness in Christ—full, free, continually repeated, and wholly undeserved, and should show the like towards others.

So should the renewed nature be manifested in renewal of outward life.


So closely does this Gospel illustrate the doctrine of renewal, as taught in the Epistle, that it may be divided under similar headings.

     A.   The Need of Renewal.

Our state by nature is like that of the palsied, for we are weak in will and principle. Our weakness is, as may be that of palsy, the direct result of sin indulged till we are past feeling, as described in the Epistle, so that we are unable, as was the palsied, to do anything in order to effect our cure. We must learn our need and prove our sincerity by breaking through every hindrance of prejudice, pride, and inherent shrinking, till we reach the feet of Christ, Who alone is the Lord of every disease, and among the rest, of palsy, and can cure the palsied conscience, affections, understanding, and will. So coming, we shall not be repulsed.

     B.   Renewal of Heart.

This miracle teaches most clearly:

     (1)   The Blessing of Renewal.
It is a blessing more necessary even than the cure of a palsy.  Others would have thought that that which the sick man most desired was bodily health, but Christ saw deeper into his inward burden and misery, and gave the greatest blessing first.

     (2)   The Conditions of Renewal.
These may be learned from this miracle, from which it is plain that Christ will not withhold forgiveness from those who feel their need of it, and are more anxious for this blessing than for any other; who seek it from Him and break through every hindrance in order to gain His presence; and who, lastly, desire to be forgiven in order that they may afterwards serve more devotedly. These three conditions are, in fact, repentance which feels our need, faith which seeks Christ, and obedience which desires to serve.

     (3)   The Assurance of Renewal.
Christ not only forgave the man sick of the palsy, but assured him of His forgiveness and bade him be of good cheer because of it. He desires, therefore, that we should both be forgiven and should so know this as to be happy in the knowledge. He has committed to His Church to convey this blessing to those who have observed its conditions. He has appointed a ministry of reconciliation, the great object of which is to announce forgiveness. He has ordained sacraments, each of which is a channel and seal of forgiveness, for both the water and the blood are for the remission of sins.

He gives the assurance of His word and Spirit to assure our hearts before Him.

     C.   Renewal of Life.

This is symbolised by the command, “Arise and walk.” To walk in newness of life is at once the object and test of renewal. The miracle of healing was the test of Christ’s power to forgive sins, for it was impossible to doubt His power to heal the soul when He had so clearly healed the body. Thus the great test that we have received the invisible benefit must be supplied by the visible tokens of a sanctified and invigorated life. The removal of nature’s palsy is a certain seal of the forgiveness of sin.


This Collect most fitly sums up the teaching of the Sunday as to

     A.   Our Need of Renewal.

This answers most closely to the picture of man apart from Christ given in the early part of the Epistle, and to the sad condition of the man sick of palsy described in the Gospel. Our natural condition is so desperate that we cannot please God without His helping us to do so, whence it must follow that those who are not applying for power to please God are not pleasing Him. It will be noticed that we make of our very weakness a plea for God’s assistance.

     B.   The Source of Renewal.

Here also is a reference to the close of the Epistle and to the miracle of renewal described in the Gospel. We pray for the assistance of the Spirit in our whole life, that He may guide our intentions and rule our actions. If we never grieve the Spirit “we shall not fail to please God.”