The Third Sunday in Lent


Exorcising the blind and mute man, late 19th century, James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum


WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Ephesians 5:1-14

BE ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish-talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks: for this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them: for ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light; (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them: for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


St. Luke 11:14-28

JESUS was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say, that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in, and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lift up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.


from The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.
A Devotional Exposition of the Continuous Teaching of the Church Throughout the Year, Melville Scott, Vicar of Castlechurch, Stafford,
Second Edition, Bemrose & Sons, London, 1903.

Temptations of the World

From the temptations of the Devil and the flesh we are next to consider the temptations of the world, in regard to which the teachings of the day are very rich, both in encouragement and warning. It will again be best to make the Epistle our starting-point.


This dwells upon our baptismal separation as “buried with Christ in baptism,” and its consequent duty that we should “walk in newness of life.” As baptized and incorporated into the Church, we are separate from the world, and are:–

A. God’s Beloved Children.

Such is our position in Christ’s Church–really loved, really forgiven and accepted through the sacrifice of Christ, “whose savour sweet doth always please.” Our position marks our high calling. We are to be–(1) Imitators of our Heavenly Father, especially doubtless in His lovingness so free, so patient, so inventive, so infinite, but also doubtless in His purity, generosity, wisdom, and greatness. God’s children must admire their Father. (2) Imitators also of God the Son. We are to imitate his love so condescending, practical, self-sacrificing, effective, so delightful to the Heavenly Father. That love is to be our example, and our motive to follow that example. How high is our calling, how tender our motive! The world may be full of hate, but the Church should breathe an atmosphere of love” (1 John iii. 13).

B. Saints.

We have been made saints, i.e., persons set apart and consecrated (1 Cor. xii. 13). The love which is to fill our hearts is to be a holy thing–no mere fancy, sentiment, or emotion. As being saints, we are to avoid–
(1) Sins of the flesh: for spiritual fervour and love do not remove this vast danger.
(2) Sins of the tongue: “foolish talking or jesting which are not fitting”–a great temptation to Christian people, and often most unprofitable.
(3) The sin of covetousness. This is wholly inconsistent in those who have true riches and an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. It is even idolatry to prefer earthly to Heavenly wealth.

C. Light.

Men’s condition out of Christ is darkness–not merely that they are in darkness, but that darkness is in them so that they themselves are darkness. So the Christian is not only in the light, but the light is in him: he is “light in the Lord,” as having received the light of truth, peace, love, holiness, and hope. His consequent duty is–
(1) To walk as a child of light.
As one begotten by it, with its light burning in his nature, disposition, and life, and manifesting itself in kindness, uprightness, and trustworthiness, and in a constant testing of every act to prove it pleasing to God (S. John iii. 20, 21).
(2) To be separate from the darkness.
He is “to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” for no fruit of nature or grace can grow in darkness. But duty in regard to the world does not end with separation, and the Christian must give silent or uttered reproof of the darkness in order to convict others of their darkness.
(3) To attract others to the light.
The text should read, “Whatsoever is made manifest is light,” which seems to mean that the duty of an enlightened Church is to shine in dark places and hearts. With a view to this, the Church must “awake” at the Spirit’s call, “arise” by the Spirit’s power, and step forth into the Light of Christ.

Oh, for such concentrated light in the Church of Christ as shall shame, and yet attract, the surrounding darkness!

THE GOSPEL. (S. LUKE xi. 14.)

Having learned from the Epistle the duty of separation from the world, we are here taught the duty of antagonism against its evil. In this contest against the forces of evil there can be:–

A. No Alliance.

The Jews foolishly accused our Lord of having made alliance with the evil one. Our Lord answers that Satan could not be allied with Him without being divided against himself. No alliance will come from that side. Neither can the Church ally itself with anything that is evil without being separated from Christ its Head. We are tempted to alliance with evil when we do evil that good may come, or make friends with evil men in order to the advantage of our sect or party. We may not use Satan’s weapons in the cause of God.

Indirectly we also learn the necessity of unity in the Church. Our divisions prevent the Church from exerting its true moral and spiritual force in the world. If Satan will not have a divided kingdom, how can a divided Christendom be for the advantage of Christ?

B. No Neutrality.

We cannot even be neutral, for the struggle is against one strong in himself and armed as knowing our weakness and many ways of access into our hearts, where he has so many secret allies. Satan can only be conquered by the greater strength of Christ. In such a contest indifference counts for opposition, and “he that gathereth not, scattereth.” This is no figure of speech, for those who openly oppose good. Indifference does not realize the evil of evil or the good of good; despising enthusiasm, it chills effort and becomes Satan’s best friend and Christ’s worst enemy. A Laodicean Christianity (Rev. iii. 14-22) is like luke-warm water–odious and sickening.

C. No Interregnum.

Even to cast out evil is not enough: it must be displaced by good. Neglect of full deliverance invites greater bondage. It is not enough to sweep and garnish by outward reformation from gross sin, for the sins of the spirit are no less deadly than the sins of the flesh. Sin loses none of its danger by losing its repulsiveness. Respectability will not serve instead of godliness. A religion empty of religion will prove no safeguard. What alone can keep Satan out is Christ in. Only the new growth casts off the withered leaves. Admiration of our Lord’s teaching will not save us, but only obedience.


A prayer against all our enemies–against the sins mentioned in the Epistle and the mighty foe mentioned in the Gospel. More direct, perhaps, is the reference to the three special foes considered on the three Sundays now concluded–the evil spirit, the evil nature, the evil world.

We learn

A. The Nature of Prayer.

It must be the expression of hearty desire and the utterance of humble obedience. We must long to receive our petitions and yet be content with the answer given. Does not neglect of these conditions explain the too frequent phenomenon of unanswered prayer?

B. The Object of Prayer.

Prayer invites the stretching forth of the right hand of God’s Majesty for our defence against all our enemies.

Psalms 12-13 & Psalm 14


 Salvum me fac

HELP me, Lord, for there is not one godly man left : for the faithful are minished from among the children of men,
2. They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour : they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.
3. The Lord shall root out all deceitful lips : and the tongue that speaketh proud things;
4. Which have said, With our tongue will we prevail : we are they that ought to speak , who is lord over us?
5. Now for the comfortless trouble’s sake of the needy : and because of the deep sighing of the poor,
6. I will up, saith the Lord : and will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest.
7. The words of the Lord are pure words : even as the silver, which from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire.
8. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord : thou shalt preserve him from this generation for ever.
9. The ungodly walk on every side : when they are exalted, the children of men are put to rebuke.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Usque quo, Domine?

HOW long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, for ever : how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2. How long shall I seek counsel in my soul, and be so vexed in my heart : how long shall mine enemies triumph over me?
3. Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God : lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.
4. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him : for if I be cast down, they that trouble me will rejoice at it.
5. But my trust is in thy mercy : and my heart is joyful in thy salvation.
6. I will sing of the Lord, because he hath dealt so lovingly with me : yea, I will praise the Name of the Lord most Highest.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


Dixit insipiens

THE fool hath said in his heart : There is no God.
2. They are corrupt, and become abominable in their doings : there is none that doeth good, no not one.
3. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men : to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God.
4. But they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable : there is none that doeth good, no not one.
5. Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues have they deceived : the poison of asps is under their lips.
6. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness : their feet are swift to shed blood.
7. Destruction and unhappiness is in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known ; there is no fear of God before their eyes.
8. Have they no knowledge, that they are all such workers of mischief : eating up my people as it were bread, and call not upon the Lord?
9. There were they brought in great fear, even where no fear was : for God is in the generation of the righteous.
10. As for you, ye have made a mock at the counsel of the poor : because he putteth his trust in the Lord.
11. Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion? When the Lord turneth the captivity of his people : then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.