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The Sixteenth 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.
As we are to serve God in all our lives with undivided trust, so are we most especially to seek His comfort and consolations in our troubles. This is the evident teaching of this very beautiful Sunday, which has “continual pity” as the theme of its Collect, the compassion of Christ for its Gospel, and the most comfortable prayer of S. Paul for its Epistle. As last Sunday was the Sunday of the anxious, so to-day is the Sunday of the sad.

S. Paul is anxious not to daunt and discourage the Ephesians by dwelling upon his many sufferings, and bids them not to faint in their minds as though the Christian life was beyond their attainment He offers to God a prayer, not that they may escape troubles, but rise above them into the peace of God.

S. Paul teaches us that God is our very present Help in trouble, and that He is a Trinity of Comfort.

     A.   The Love of the Father.

S. Paul bows his knees to the Father, Who is the source of all comfort, by His very name of Father, by the tenderness of His love, the constancy of His care, the certainty of His guidance home. God is a Father, or, more accurately, the Father, not because He is like earthly fathers—rather, they are so named because of their likeness to Him. He is the fount of fatherhood, and “every family” (R.V.) of men or angels is a type and far-off resemblance of that great family of which the Father is God. It was well said, “Nullus pater tam pater “—no father was ever so fatherly.

     B.   The Fellowship of the Spirit.

This is the second source of help in trouble to be sought also from the Father Who gives the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Here is the remedy for the faintness of the Ephesians and ours, “to be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man,” and that in no niggard way, but according to the riches of infinite power and infinite love. Enabled by such grace the yoke will be easy and the burden light.

     C.   The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we are to seek the Spirit from the Father, so are we to gain the indwelling presence of Christ through the Spirit. Through this alone can we realise our position in the temple of Grace—the breadth of its liberty, the depth of its security, the length of its continuance, and the height of its glory. Only through Christ’s personal presence can we realise the love that passeth realisation. Our earthly position, with all its mental and spiritual difficulties, its many sorrows and its awful outlook into the critical future, has much need of comfort; but in God we have a holy mystery of comfort. Th Saviour is one Comforter, the Spirit is another Comforter, and both proceed from the Father (John xiv. 15), Himself the source of all comfort. Only as we realise this can we rise to S. Paul’s doxology of adoration to Him ‘Whose grace is not limited by human prayers or conceptions, and Whose power can enable our human weakness.


Christ came to reveal all the attributes of God, and especially those attributes of tenderness which might have seemed inconsistent with the glory of Godhead. He came to show the humanity of God and the divinity of man. This miracle of comfort is a touching instance of Christ’s continual pity, from which His Church may gain patience in tribulation.

     A.   Christ Knows Our Sorrows.

It was by no chance “that Jesus went into a city called Nain,” and so timed His visit as to meet the funeral procession. Christ arranges both His path and ours, and arranges that they meet. He is never too soon nor too late. He knows not only when our troubles come, but how heavy they are, and He is at hand to make the burden light. There is no such thing as accident—all is arrangement.

     B.   Christ Feels for Our Sorrows.

The Lord sees—it is good. He has compassion—it is better; but best of all is it when we can hear His comfortable words, “Weep not.” Jesus has a heart to love, to sympathise, and to beat with ours. Learn to believe in the heart of Jesus, and if you have not met Him seek Him, for “he that seeketh findeth.” Never was a greater sorrow, never a kinder Comforter. His pity is continual. His compassions fail not.

     C.   Christ Removes Our Sorrows.

How different was Christ’s “Weep not” from that of human comforters. When Christ commands He sends forth power with the command enabling us to obey. This miracle gives especial comfort for mourners, for the dead are not out of hearing of the voice of Christ. Thrice He spoke—once to the newly dead, “Maid arise”; once to the young man borne to burial, “Young man arise” ; once to the actually buried, “Lazarus, come forth.” It matters not how long death has held us, nor what our age at death, for all shall hear His voice. His call shall be a call not only into His presence, but into the presence and recognition of one another, and He shall deliver all the divided to their beloved. He shall restore the dead to the living, and the living to the dead, and wipe away all tears in the final consummation of pity.

Thus is Christ’s sympathy, as taught in the Epistle, “ exceeding abundant, above all we can ask or think,” and the “power that worketh in us” shall “quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in us” (cf. Rom. viii. 11).


Very humble are the views of the Church about herself, as, in the Collect for last Sunday, needing “perpetual mercy,” and here as needing “continual pity” from “the living Fount of pity in Heaven,” which overflowed in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We ask, not merely for the compassionate feeling of God, but for three acts of pity :—

     A.   Cleansing.

Cleansing implies the pollution of inward sin. He Who has cleansed the Church by one baptism for the remission of sins must continually cleanse it by His Spirit (cf. John xiii. 10), from error, inconsistency, and from all abuses. The Church of God needs a continual reformation, not one in the sixteenth century only.

     B.   Defence.

The best defence for the Church is her cleansing, but beyond this she needs defence from those who desire, not her reformation, but her destruction, and attack her doctrines, constitution, and rightful liberties.

     C.   Preservation.

This imports dangers both from without and from within. The very existence of the Church depends upon Christ’s pity and power (cf. Ps. cxxiv. i), without which it would long ago have been swept from the earth. The Church needs help to defend and goodness to bless.