Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than we desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
*Ecclesiasticus 15:11Say not thou, It is through the Lord that I fell away: for thou oughtest not to do the things that he hateth. Say not thou, He hath caused me to err: for he hath no need of the sinful man. The Lord hateth all abomination; and they that fear God love it not. He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; If thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness. He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him. For the wisdom of the Lord is great, and he is mighty in power, and beholdeth all things: And his eyes are upon them that fear him, and he knoweth every work of man. He hath commanded no man to do wickedly, neither hath he given any man licence to sin.
THE EPISTLE. 2 Cor. 3. 4
SUCH trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. Who also hath made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
THE GOSPEL. S. Mark 7. 31
JESUS, departing from the region of Tyre, came through Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the region of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech: and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The contrast between the Old and New Dispensation is vividly set forth in the Gospel and Epistle for this Sunday. Glorious as the former was in its origin and in its continuation, it was a ministration of condemnation, with sacrifices of atonement, but with no sacraments of life. The Incarnation of the Son of God was the origin, and the Mystical Presence of Christ the continuation, of a spiritual life which the world had not before known since the Fall. The Church of God had grown deaf, and heard not the Voice from Heaven as that Voice had been heard of old; there was an impediment in her speech, so that the Word of God did not go forth from her lips in prophecy. The Son of God came down on earth, and touched her by making Himself one with her through His human nature; the sigh of His Passion was followed by the "Ephphatha" of the Resurrection; and as soon as His work was perfected by the looking up to Heaven of His Ascension and Session at the right hand of God, the ears of the deaf were unstopped to receive the Inspiration of Pentecost, and the tongue of the dumb loosed, so that "their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world." The same Touch of Christ and communication of grace in the communication of that which forms part of His Person, is still the means by which the Church as a corporate body, and every individual member of it as a living member, is vivified and sustained; and He Who gives spiritual ability to the ministers of the New Testament, that their acts and words may be the means by which His Presence is continued in the Church, is making the ministration of righteousness, even in the by-places of the earth, to exceed in glory the ministration of Moses at the foot of Sinia.