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The Fifteenth 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.
CHRISTIAN service, if it is to be true and laudable, must be the service of love and purity.  It must also be marked by singleness of aim and purpose.  This is the manifest teaching of to-day—the Sunday of undivided service, the keynote of which is struck by the first sentence of the Gospel: “No man can serve two masters.”

S. Paul is here brought before us as one who knew Whose he was and Whom he served—a conspicuous example of entire devotion of heart and life. The Epistle may conveniently be summarized as follows :—

     A.   One Mind.

The mind of S. Paul was perfectly made up.  This was, he seems to imply, visible in his very handwriting.  That he “wrote with his own hand” was a proof of earnestness; that he wrote “with such large letters” was a sign of eager energy.  If handwriting is any evidence of character, that of S. Paul showed an uncompromising vigour and clearness

     B.   One Aim in Life.

Others might shrink from the shame of the Cross, and conform to Jewish prejudice by advocating circumcision.  That which was their shame was his glory.  That which they feared as a mark of separation from the Jewish world he accepted as that by which “the world was crucified unto him, and he unto the world,” for the separation was mutual, and he was content to go his way, and let the world go its own.

The prejudice of to-day is no longer Jewish.  Not circumcision, but indifference, is now the mark of the world. The attitude of the world may change, but the Christian must ever remain loyal to the Cross.

     C.   One Master.

S. Paul’s one task was to become like his master. This was the rule by which he walked, having got a new master, to be a new man. The Jewish Church might cast him out, but that mattered little if he belonged to the Israel of God.  From henceforth let no man trouble him, for he “bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Three slightly different meanings, all of interest, though the last appears the best, may be given to these words —

     (1) Let me alone, I am weary enough with my proper toil.  Cease to add to my yoke by your factious quarrels and disputes.  Let me alone of very pity.

     (2) Or, let me alone, resist my authority no more, for I bear about my credentials, and in my body are the marks of an Apostle of Christ.  Let me alone of your reverence.

     (3) Or, still better—let me alone, I have no more to say to you. I have taken my side and bear my scars proudly. Let me alone, for you waste your time and mine.


This is the secret of undivided service, for those only can dare to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness who have learned that all other things shall be added unto them.  As we have an Epistle of Service, so we have a Gospel of Trust.

     A.   The Necessity of Trust

Is the same with the necessity of service we cannot trust unless we serve, and we cannot serve unless we trust.  Man has only one heart, and if he fill it with worldly cares he will leave no room in it for God.  Faith and anxiety cannot live together, for if faith do not cast out anxiety, anxiety will cast out faith.  Either God is to be depended upon or He is not; if He is, there is no room for anxiety; and if He is not, there is no room for faith.

     B.   The Reasonableness of Trust.

God is to be trusted—

     (1) For His Power.
He Who has given the greater gift has power to bestow that which is less. He Who has gives life must be able to supply the means of living, and He Who has given us our bodies so fearfully and wonderfully made must be able to give us the wherewithal to clothe them.  Man’s helplessness proves that he was intended to trust in God. Care is condemned by its uselessness.

     (2) For His Love.
The birds trust God for food, “for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns.”  They can make no provision for the future, yet they are quite happy about it, and God never forgets them.  God has a closer relation to us, for He is our Heavenly Father, and we are more precious in His sight than they.  God clothes the grass of the field, so transient in its existence, and clothes it so richly.  Will He not much more clothe us?  To doubt this is to be as the heathen, who know not God nor His relation to them.  We know our Heavenly Father, and, what is still better, He knows us and what we need.

     (3) For His Promise.
God has given us a sure charter against care.  The agreement into which He enters, and by which He is pledged to act, is this that if we will attend to the needs of the soul He will attend to the needs of the body.  If we give the first of our affections, energies, and time to things eternal He will provide for things temporal.  Those who make God their one care shall have no other.


The history of this Collect is very remarkable, for there can be no doubt that it refers to a pre-Reformation Epistle (Gal. v. 25—vi. 10), which dealt with “the frailty of man and his liability to fall.”

The Reformers of 1549 introduced the present Epistle, which follows immediately after the old, no doubt, as a commentary on the first words of the Gospel: “No man can serve two masters.”

The Collect is, however, by no means inappropriate to the present Epistle. We pray in it:—

     A.   For the Mercy of God.

The Church and Israel of God depends wholly on the Divine mercy. It is only safe so long as, like S. Paul, it glories in the Cross as the sign of perpetual mercy.

     B.   For the Grace of God.

Taught by Christ in the Gospel, we avow our entire dependence upon the Grace of God.  We cannot depend on ourselves either in things temporal or in things spiritual, for the frailty of man cannot but fall.  We need grace to protect us from harm, and grace to lead us to all that is good. Only by undivided trust can we be enabled for undivided service.