Doing Our Duty, by Louis A. Dole

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“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
“And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
“Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” – Luke 17:7-10

Readings

Genesis 16 · Luke 17:1-19 · Psalm 116

Sermon

The lesson in this seemingly harsh parable is very clear even in the letter. Under the figure of master and servant our relation to the Lord is mirrored. As a servant, in doing his duty, does not place his master under special obligation, so men, the servants of the Lord, cannot claim any merit for their service. If we do all that we can, we cannot do more than our duty to the Lord. When we consider the gifts we continually receive from the Lord and the continual manifestation of His mercy and lovingkindness to all mankind, it is clearly evident that it is our duty to keep His commandments, and to do all the good that lies in our power. The balance will always be heavy on the Lord’s side, and we have no claim to merit.

But the parable also has a meaning applying to the mind of the individual himself. Between the mind and the body this relationship of master and servant exists. The body is the servant of the mind. Its office is to do always the commands of the soul. It is forever a servant. For the body to command the mind would be to invert order, and would bring disaster.

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“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses flesh, and not spirit,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” – Isaiah 31:3

Readings

Isaiah 31 · Luke 6:27-49 · Psalm 80

Sermon

Our recent history has been a history of wars. After each it has been hoped that peace would follow, that the world would see the folly of war, its inability to bring security, and that mankind would begin to seek that concord and peace without which there can be neither happiness, friendship, nor any reward of toil or of thought in the world. Instead there have been years of tension, dissatisfaction, and increasing armaments, and now there are small conflicts in one part of the world or another, which may spread to the larger nations. Fires spread and sometimes get out of control. It is likewise with war, if it is not checked and put out.

It is easy to blame one nation, and perhaps still easier to blame one person, and as futile as it is easy. There are indeed the external aspects of war, the overt acts leading to armed conflict. But it is the inner causes that we most need to discover and to deal with. There is a great conflict going on in the world – a spiritual conflict – and the physical conflicts are but the surface disturbance which point to causes within.

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The Lord’s Ministry in Galilee, by Louis A. Dole

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“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” – Matthew 4:23

Readings

Isaiah 55 · Matthew 3 · Psalm 34

Sermon

The Gospels are the record of the Lord’s life among men. That life was the Divine Life itself seeking men. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And it is written, “As many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

The beloved disciple John begins his first Epistle with the words, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life… declare we unto you.” John had been one of the Lord’s most faithful disciples. He had been with the Lord on the sea, had heard Him teaching on the mountain, had been with Him when He blessed the little children, healed the sick, fed the multitude, stilled the storm, and liberated the poor demoniac, had seen the Lord transfigured. He remembered also those last days in Jerusalem, the awful tragedy of the crucifixion, and the jeers of the people. And after the Lord had risen from the dead and was present with new and greater power, and His Gospel was being carried by the disciples to all parts of the world, the same John was granted in vision to see Him as one “like unto the Son of man” with every attribute of Divine power and glory, and multitudes filling the heavens and saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

Let us make sure that our souls honor and grasp this essential fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is God seeking us. It is Divine Love and Wisdom clothed with our nature, veiling their infinite splendors, accommodating themselves to our human conditions, meeting us, appealing to us face to face. There is no story so wonderful as this coming of God to men – the Perfect Life giving itself for the life of the world, the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

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“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:21

Readings

Deuteronomy 8 · Matthew 25:1-30 · Psalm 5

Sermon

If we are not instructed as to the effect of our life here upon the spirit, it may seem harsh to hear it said that repentance after death is impossible, that once in hell forever there.

That Jesus should have said of those who had not received the stranger nor fed the hungry nor visited the sick, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” seems incredible to some. The sentence is too severe, ill-proportioned to the sin of omission, they say. And we are familiar with the argument that God, who is just and merciful, would not afflict one with everlasting punishment for the sins that could be committed in this short life. Eternal punishment for a few years of evil living? There is no ratio between any fixed time and eternity. How unjust, severe, unmerciful the punishment would be!

And so it would be if consignment to hell for sin were a decree of the Lord in punishment. It is true that the Word speaks of the Lord as punishing and casting into hell, as never changing His judgment and never repenting. But such expressions in the letter were reflections of human states, ideas, and customs and were permitted that those in evil might be checked and turn to better ways. They are not in the letter genuine truths, but express truth as it appears to the natural and uninstructed mind. The Lord is pure mercy, pure forgiveness, increasing love. Any other representation of God is an adaptation to those who have not yet risen to any interior idea of Him or who think of Him as seen when we are in opposition to Him. The Lord sends no one to the realm of the lost. He is pure mercy and love. He exerts all His power to lift everyone into heaven.

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“Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” by Louis A. Dole

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“And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” – Mark 16:3-4

Readings

Isaiah 60 · Mark 16 · Psalm 96

Sermon

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The story of the Resurrection is indeed a marvelous one. The Resurrection took place unseen by mortal eye. It was the completion of the stupendous work into which the Lord had entered, and it brought to a close the era of the world’s darkness.

Prophetic of the dawn of this new day Isaiah writes: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”

The hope of immortality has ever been a part of the furniture of the human mind. When this hope is lost, life here becomes irrational, our labors vain, there is no harvest of humanity, no ultimate goal of effort. Not only is immortality necessary to the perfection of God’s plan of creation and necessary to enable Him to bestow the full measure of His blessings upon us, but the certainty of it is necessary to our life in this world, that we may see life here in its true proportions and go forward surely to a sane end. Life in this world and in the next make one life. Without a knowledge of immortality “We wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness… We stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.” How dark is the prospect of a world which ends in omnipresent death!

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“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” – Zechariah 9:9

Readings

Zechariah 9 · Matthew 21:1-14 · Psalm 146

Sermon

These words of the prophet Zechariah were literally fulfilled when the Lord entered Jerusalem at the beginning of His last week upon earth. Palm Sunday was first celebrated in the early history of the Christian Church, and became increasingly popular, being celebrated by processions intended to dramatize the triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem.

Because of the part that children played in praising the Lord with songs at His entry and in the temple, as recorded in the Gospels, Palm Sunday has come to be regarded as a specially fitting time for the introduction of children into the Church.

Certainly it is one of the duties of the Church to see that its children and young people are instructed in the teachings of the Church. For these teachings were revealed by the Lord that men and women might know them and direct their thoughts and their life according to them. The teachings of the Church of the New Jerusalem are the fundamental principles of human thought and life, without which it is impossible for anyone to live a truly sane and rational life. The first essential of all sound thought is a true idea of God. It may be a very simple idea, but it must be true; otherwise the basic falsity will infect all the lower ideas and planes of thought. Likewise there should be a true idea of the Word of God, a recognition of the fact that it is holy, and that it is the Divine wisdom for angels and men. And children should be taught the necessity of obedience to their Heavenly Father, and that all people should obey Him throughout eternity.

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“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” – Ezekiel 3:17

Readings

2 Samuel 18:19-33 · John 8:12-32 · Psalm 130

Sermon

The watchman is a picturesque figure in Old Testament history. We recall the picture of the watchman posted upon the roof in a city beyond Jordan, where David awaited news of the battle with his rebellious son Absalom, announcing to King David one runner, and then another who came with tidings. And there is the watchman on the tower of Jezreel who gave warning of the approach of Jehu, driving furiously in his chariot up the valley from the Jordan.

It was the duty of the watchman to see in the distance an approaching enemy and to give warning of the danger. And if he saw the danger and failed to give the alarm, we are told by the prophet Ezekiel that he would be held accountable for the harm that fell upon the people.

Another duty of the watchman was to watch for the breaking of the dawn. A vivid picture is given us of the watchman in Jerusalem, standing on the high pinnacle of the temple watching for the first beams of the morning sun to appear above the Mount of Olives. Then with the threefold blast of the silver trumpets the signal was given to proceed with the morning sacrifice, and the city awakened to its busy life. This watching for the day is suggested in the passage from Isaiah: “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night,” and in the familiar Psalm: “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.”

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“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
“Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
“Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” – Psalm 103:1-4

Readings

Exodus 15:20-27 · Matthew 9:18-38 · Psalm 30

Sermon

Our text expresses the feeling which we should always have toward the Lord.

Some people think that the Lord is severe with them. They want many things but do not get them. They suffer many things and they do not see why. They grow to be discontented with their lot, and feel that they are worthy of better and that the Lord disregards them. Inwardly they do not bless but curse the Lord.

The text describes the state into which we should strive to come, or the relation that we may all sustain toward the Lord, a relation toward Him whereby we feel in our hearts that He always blesses us. From this inward feeling that He always blesses us we are given to exclaim, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Then it is added, “and forget not all his benefits.” If we do not from our souls bless the Lord, it is because we forget His benefits and dwell upon what we have not obtained, or upon some minor thing.

There are many things over which people grieve, worry, and fear; but there is only one real source of sorrow, only one actual cause for fear, and that is our sins. There is absolutely nothing that can hurt us except our own evils. The Lord so governs our ministering and guardian angels, in whose care we are, that no matter what is said to us or done to us, only good will come out of it if we are strong in temptation and refrain from sin. And this is the strength that we may be given from the Lord: to say in affliction and joy alike, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

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“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” by Louis A. Dole

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“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” – Luke 10:25

Readings

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 · Matthew 19:16-30 · Psalm 16

Sermon

The terms “everlasting life” and “eternal life” sometimes are used to mean the same – that is, life without end – but there is a difference in some cases.

Everyone has everlasting life, for the evil as well as the good live forever in the spiritual world after the death of the body. No one need ask “What shall I do to inherit everlasting life” for everyone is sure to have it. But to inherit eternal life is altogether different.

No short definition of eternal life can be made that carries to another its real meaning because it involves so much. Eternal life is life directly from God, the kind of life that is in God. But for such a definition to have meaning one must know at least something of the quality of life that is in God. It is like asking “What is sunlight?” Sunlight is indeed light directly from the sun, but such a definition does not tell us exactly what sunlight is.

With the Lord there is no such thing as time. A thousand years are as a day in His sight. The angels have no idea of time. Think of an angel four thousand years old. He does not think of years, for he is merely four thousand years advanced in the love and wisdom of the Lord. So eternal life means a life of continual increase in God’s life, a life that contains unlimited unfolding of the glory of God.

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“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles,” by Louis A. Dole

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“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” – Revelation 11:2

Readings

Jeremiah 31:31-40 · Revelation 11 · Psalm 52

Sermon

The Tabernacle was built according to the pattern showed to Moses on the mount. It was the center of Jewish worship. All the tribes had their position in relation to it. Covered by the pillar of cloud by day and by the pillar of fire by night, it was the visible sign of the presence and protection of the Almighty.

The Tabernacle, made from the costliest offerings of all the people and built by hands inspired by God to do the delicate work, had a beauty and glory beyond anything man himself could conceive. Whether it is realized or not, man is ever a worshiper and from earliest times has found delight in adorning his temples and making them works of beauty. But the Tabernacle, as well as the Temple and modern churches whose basic structure is that of the Tabernacle, has a beauty beyond that of mere outward form.

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