346. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity. I.

Lord, teach us to know mercy, and to practice it alway. Amen.

Gospel Lesson, Luke 10, 23-37. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answer­ing said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The lawyer in our text knew very well what God will have us to do; and the opportunity to do it was given him, but he did not man­ use of it. So it was also in the case of the priest and the Levite. They had just attended the temple service in Jerusalem; and then they had come face to face with an instance of that crying distress which ap­peals to the feeling of mercy; but they shut their hearts, and passed by, and did not do that which they knew to be their duty. They did not do what they could to get to heaven; but they did what was pos­sible to insure their own damnation. God placed the afflicted man in their path; but they turned aside, and did not go to the home of love. — Before relating the parable the Lord says to the lawyer: “this do”; and after having told it he says: “Go, and do thou likewise.” That which the Spirit of God wants to impress upon us today is these words, “this do”; this do.” — The priest and the Levite had performed their service in the temple, kept the Sabbath, and made their prayers and sacrifices. They had for so long a time read and heard the commandment of love without obeying it that they were satisfied with merely observing the outward form of religion. The lawyer, on the other hand, seems to have felt less safe. His knowledge of the law and his conversation with Jesus indicate that something better was stirring in him; though the immediate purpose of his questioning was to tempt the Lord. What his fate came to be we do not know; but we hope that he went his way, and did like the Samaritan; in which case he now is in heaven. How, then? Does the word of God promise us heaven in return for our good deeds? By no means. The case is this: If any one honestly desire to do the will of God, this desire has been created in him by God himself; and when he continues therein, and earnestly examines himself according to the law of love, he sees with ever greater clearness these two things: 1) That which he does is nothing more than his bounden duty. 2) He does not do this duty of a pure heart and in holy love, as he should. Neither does he, as did the lawyer, stop short at the second table of the law; but recognizes that his foremost duty is to love God with his whole heart. He learns that he is a sinner; and this knowledge is not mere information in regard to man’s wicked nature and wicked deeds, but a matter of living experience. Then he becomes a man mortally wounded, who is saved, not by the priest and the Levite, but by the Samaritan; one who can not be quickened by the law, but by the merciful Lord Jesus. Thus he receives life and salvation; and now his delight is in doing good, but his righteousness and hope are in the merit and blood of Jesus. — Go now at once, and do this: love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. The afflicted are in your path, in order that you may find God. Do as did the Samaritan! Is this not right and proper? Let love take root in your heart, be on your tongue, and bring forth fruit in your actions. If you, like the Samaritan, take your neighbor with you, he shall receive you in the everlasting habitations; “but if you pass him by, like the priest and the Levite, he shall be an obstacle in your path, and shut you out from heaven.” “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” Dear reader, go, and do this!

Lord Jesus, give us to this end thy Holy Spirit; give us, we pray, thy Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let none hear you idly saying,
“There is nothing I can do,”
While the souls of tnen are dying,
And the master calls for you.
Take the task he gives you gladly,
Let his work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when he calleth, —
“Here am I, send me, send me.”

347. Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity. II.

Gracious God, give us the Spirit of faith. Amen.

Epistle Lesson, Galatians 3, 15-22. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth. or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot dis­ annul. that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law. it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of trans­gressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

God promises to Abraham and his seed the Land of Canaan for ever; but this land is the new, transfigured earth with heavenly glory and salvation; and the seed of Abraham is Christ in his church, the communion of all the faithful, Jews and gentiles. Faith, faith alone, is the means which God has fixed as necessary in the case of every one who is to be partaker of the inheritance. The “promises” are God’s covenant, his immutable will, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be subtracted by any man. None must imagine that since God himself afterward gave the law, he is fickle, and has changed his will already established; as though the law together with faith, or the law instead of faith, were to give us the inheritance. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” The law has not been added in order to change or annul the given covenant; though it certainly is the word of God, the word of the one and the same God, given by “a mediator,” namely Moses, who is not a mediator of one; who stood not only in man’s stead to receive the law, but also in God’s stead to give the law to man. On the con­trary, the law is given to confirm the promise; the law multiplies our transgressions, and shews us our sin, thus making it clear that faith alone can save. — This is an unutterably precious truth, the very doctrine of life and the sun of salvation, which dispels the darkness and lifts the burden of unbelief and bondage. It has pleased God to estab­ lish this covenant; this is his eternal will and his last testament: Even one of whatever people who believes in Jesus Christ shall inherit the glory and salvation of the children of God. And it has pleased him to give me the “baptism into Christ,” and let me learn this gospel, in order that even I may believe. He has also shewn me my sin, and driven me to Christ; so that I know nothing unto salvation, save hi- cross and blood. What, then, shall now condemn me? — Neither will we, then, brethren, bring the law and our own works into the covenant of God. We have learned to know that everything in us is sin according to the law; and we see this more clearly every day. Our experience is, then, in perfect harmony with all the scripture, and declares that faith alone, Christ alone, grace alone, is the sinners’ way to salvation. Is not this the faith and confession of your heart? This faith the Holy Ghost has created in you; and where he is there is liberty. “We are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children Of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Verses 25-29) — Blessed be God, who has made this covenant, and given it to us! Now none need be in doubt concerning his salvation; for everything which is our own has been excluded, and the inheritance is given us in the gospel.

Lord, help us to believe the truth and the mercy of God. Amen.

Where’er the greatest sins abound,
By grace they are exceeded;
Thy help­ing hand is always found
With aid, where aid is needed:
Thy hand, the only hand to save,
Will rescue Israel from the grave,
And pardon his transgression.

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