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The Fourteenth 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.
THE second essential of true and laudable service is purity, as the first is love. In the activity of a life of good works the Christian must not lose sight of the work of goodness to be carried on within the heart by the influence of the Holy Spirit.

The evil of impurity is here contrasted with the blessed results which follow the holy workings of the Spirit.

     A.   The Works of the Flesh.

The evil of these is shewn by its wholesale destructiveness. It spoils all that it touches, and is the parent of confusion and every evil work. Inward evil in itself, its results are manifest. It brings—

     (1) Inward Schism.

Where the “flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh,” all is confusion in the human heart. It is the battle. field on which are engaged opposing forces. The workings of the Spirit disable us for the pleasures of sin, and the workings of evil for the joys of holiness. Though the old nature is checked by the new, yet the new is still hindered and thwarted by the old. This state of struggle can only be rightly ended by our taking ever more decidedly the side of the Spirit.

     (2) Antagonism against God.

When we yield to sin we come at once “under the law.” We are placed in a wrong attitude towards God. We are out of sympathy with His laws, in which we read our own condemnation, and which are then felt to be a burden, a restraint, and a bondage. Only by following the Spirit can we find pleasure in doing the will of God, and feel it no longer a burden placed on us, but a principle within us.

     (3) Confusion in every Sphere of Life.

It ruins the life of home, breaking the marriage tie on which the home depends, by “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lasciviousness,” or the shameless pursuit of gross sin.

It darkens religion, for if there is no true religion in them men will turn to superstition and wild speculation. Men must have a religion, and the last refuge of atheism is superstition, the modern equivalent of “idolatry and witchcraft.”

It breaks up all society. Hatred breeds every act and form of disunion—” variance, emulations, wrath, and strife,” and these crystallise into “divisions and parties,” for the words are wider than the present translation, “seditions and heresies.” It is not the Church alone that is rent by sin: sin rends the world and leads to whole. sale anarchy. Evil passions no longer held in check break loose in “envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Such is the last end of the sins of the flesh. If we have not realised their inherent evil we can estimate it by these results, “for the works of the flesh are manifest.”

     B.   The Fruit of the Spirit.

Let the same test be applied to the fruit of the Spirit. This also is manifest. The nine graces of the Spirit may be divided into three divisions of three—

     (1) Love, joy, peace.

These are for a man’s own heart. Love is the restoration of correspondence with God, joy and peace are its constant realization. At peace with God, man is at peace with himself.

     (2) Long-suffering, gentleness, goodness.

These are for a man’s home, and for the circle of friends and neighbours. In long-suffering he accepts the evil; in gentleness he bears himself so as to give to others the least possible need for forbearance; in goodness he overcomes evil with good.

     (3) Faith, meekness, temperance.

These are for a man’s work in the world. By faith, or, rather, faithfulness, a man makes it easy for others to work with him, by meekness he is enabled to work with others.

By temperance or self-control, which is the power within one-self to rule oneself, to abstain from things forbidden, and to refrain from excess even in things allowed, a man may gain any good in the form of higher attainment for himself or of benefit done to others.

“Against such there is no law,” for law exists to restrain, but in the fruits of the Spirit there is nothing to restrain. Such graces can never be out of place, never out of date. True it is that they are eminently Christian virtues and part of our baptismal duty as Christians, for “they that are of Christ (i.e., all Christians) crucified (i.e., at baptism) the affections and lusts,” but they are universally needed. The world demands them, but Christ alone supplies them.


The healing of the leper (S. Matt. viii. i) recorded in the Gospel of the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, illustrated the Divine mercy, the present miracle is here recorded to teach the cleansing power of Christ.

     A.   The Leprosy of Sin.

The ten lepers are a picture of moral defilement. Leprosy, thc disease of the flesh, is the natural type, as, no doubt, often also the punishment, of fleshly sin. As unclean they stood “afar off,” as banished from society they were driven to consort together.

     B.   The Miracle of Cleansing.

The extremity of their misery drives them to Christ, Who alone could deliver them from “the body of this death.” They came conscious of defilement, for they “lifted up their voices,” unwilling to approach. They came earnest, entreating, reverent. To know our sin is the first step towards knowing our Saviour. Christ has ever demanded the concurrence of faith. Still in their leprosy, they are to go to announce their cure. No more trying evidence of faith could have been required, and it was forthcoming, for as they went they were cleansed. The path of obedience is the way to spiritual health. To believe that prayer has been granted is to receive (cf. S. Mark xi. 24).

     C.   Fellowship with Christ.

That which happens after cleansing is as important as what has gone before. When misery has led us to Christ, gratitude must send us back to Him. The restoration from deadly sin must be followed by fellowship with Christ, and those once blessed must be ever returning for fuller blessing. Our praises must be as loud and as earnest as our prayers. It is very remarkable, and can hardly be without intention, that our Church on two successive Sundays in which she teaches true and laudable service, brings before us the example of a Samaritan. The religious position of the Samaritans was intensely unsatisfactory, for they worshipped they knew not what, yet in conduct and character they surpassed many of the chosen people. True and laudable service may be offered by many whom we are inclined to despise. They may be among the units of the grateful, and we among the tens of the careless.


Though there is no direct reference to the sins of the flesh, this Collect is none the less most suitable and in thorough harmony with the command of the Epistle— “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” As the remedy of local disease is often found in the improvement of the general health, so is it with the maladies of the soul.
Hence we pray—-

     A.   For Growth in Grace.

We pray for greater strength for the whole religious life in its three aspects—more faith towards God, more hope in respect of ourselves, and more love towards others—as the three graces are explained in Col. i. 4, 5.

This prayer seems to have connection in thought with “the fruit of the Spirit,” as mentioned in the Epistle. It is remarkable that on the Seventh Sunday after Trinity there is precisely the same correspondence between “ fruit” and “increase “ in the Collect and Epistle of that day.

     B.   For Conformity to the Will of God.

Here also there seems special reference to the teaching of the Epistle that sins of the flesh are contrary to the influences of the Spirit and against the law of God, and that Christians must crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. We pray for this perfect conformity in affection and desire in the words—” make us to love that which thou dost command,” that we may obtain the promises and kingdom of God.