“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Readings

Exodus 15:1-22 · Revelation 19:11-21 · Psalm 144

Sermon

This week-end we celebrate Memorial Day. War is accompanied with so much destruction, waste, loss of life, both physical and mental suffering that we are not surprised when we hear some people declaring war to be wrong, all wrong, always wrong, wrong for everybody, wrong even in self defense.

The doctrines of our church teach that in most ancient times people lived in peace, that no one desired more than necessaries and so riches were not collected and hoarded. But eventually lust for wealth sprang up. Then men commenced to desire the possessions of others, and the love of accumulated riches and dominion ever grew. Wars then arose, their purpose being to extend dominion and get the property of others.

Who cannot now see that those who started the first world war did so to wrest wealth and territory from other nations? So from one point of view we see clearly that war arises from the love of dominion and lust for riches growing until it bursts all restraints. The beginning of a war is always in evil. But our problem is not so simple. Have we a moral right, by force of arms, to resist and conquer this lust of plunder which, like Lucifer who exemplifies it, would enslave all the world and ascend, if it could, even above the Most High?

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“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds,” by Louis A. Dole

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Fryeburg, Maine, January 30, 1927

“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” – Mark 13:27

Readings

Joel 2 · Mark 13:1-27 · Psalm 147

Sermon

The chapter of the Gospel of Mark from which this text is taken is sometimes called the “little Apocalypse,” for it treats of the same subjects as the Book of Revelation. Our text, then, forms a part of the Lord’s description of His Second Advent. That Advent was to be the bright and happy culmination of a series of tremendous events and dire catastrophies. The whole earth is described as being in the throes of a great convulsive struggle, nations warring against each other, kingdoms fighting one another, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, people fleeing to the mountains for refuge, others praying upon their housetops. And then the sun goes out into blackness, the moon no longer shines, the stars fall from their high places, and the very heavens tremble and seem on the point of collapse. But all at once the scene brightens. The judgment struggle is over. The bruised earth lies helpless and still. And then in Divine radiance appears the figure of the Son of man “coming in the clouds with power and great glory.”

And our text states that with His Advent there is instantly a world-wide effort to gather together into a blessed company “the elect” who in this time of judgment have been scattered far and wide. To the uttermost parts of the earth, to the farthest boundaries of heaven angels are sent on their errands. East, west, north, and south they speed on their way, and presently they are seen returning, here with one, there with another, a chosen few brought together that they may form the nucleus of a new humanity – a new church.

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“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them,” by Louis A. Dole

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Fryeburg, Maine, February 4, 1934

“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” – Luke 2:51-52

Readings

Genesis 2:8-25 · Luke 2:40-52 · Psalm 34

Sermon

From the time of the Lord’s return from Egypt, where He had been taken to escape the wrath of Herod, to the time of the beginning of His public ministry, this incident of His visit to the Temple at the age of twelve and His return to Nazareth to be subject to Mary and Joseph is the only incident mentioned.

We think of Him as spending these twenty-five or more years at His home in Nazareth. There He lived in safety and prepared Himself for His work. Nothing is said in the Scriptures about His external life and activities during this period, but He was undergoing temptations and overcoming in Himself all tendencies to self-seeking. At the age of twelve He had marvelous powers, astounding the learned men with His wisdom. With the enthusiasm, confidence, and idealism of youth it must have been a temptation to Him not to go forth and show His powers. But the time was not yet. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” We cannot realize our ideals in our own strength. We must learn to wait upon the Lord, to depend upon Him. We can think of this long stay of the Lord in Nazareth as the period of preparation when He was gaining those inward victories which made possible His active ministry.

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“See, thy son liveth,” by Louis A. Dole

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Fryeburg, Maine, December 6, 1931

“See, thy son liveth.” – 1 Kings 17:23

Readings

1 Kings 17 · John 12:23-50 · Psalm 86

Sermon

The story containing our text is most tender and appealing. Death had taken the son of a poor widow. She and her son had been carried through the three year famine by the meal and oil that wasted not, because Elijah, the man of God, had found shelter in her house. Then came affliction sorer than the famine. Her son, in whom lived her hope as a mother in Israel, died in her arms.

To get the vital lesson in this narrative we must see it in its relation to the events immediately preceding, for the striking chapter of the text by three wonderful miracles there told describes three successive states of a regenerating man. The third state is pictured in the raising to life of the dead son of the widow.

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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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