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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“The king hath commanded me a business,” by Louis A. Dole

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“The king hath commanded me a business.” – 1 Samuel 21:2

Readings

1 Samuel 21:1-9 · Luke 19:12-27 · Psalm 143

Sermon

Every man and every woman is a merchant. This fact the Scriptures use to inform us of the true nature of our life here. There is the parable of the talents and the command to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

If in our external life our business continues to show losses, failure will inevitably result. The business of life is both natural and spiritual. We have spiritual possessions as well as natural. All our gains and losses, all our spiritual as well as our natural possessions are made by an exchange.

We need capital to commence business, and we recall that in the parable of the talents in Matthew it is written, “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” In these terms are laid down the conditions on which spiritual prosperity depends. The kingdom of heaven is compared to a man traveling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered unto them his goods.

Two important truths are taught in both parables of the talents: first, that all things we possess, by the use of which we may attain eternal happiness, are a free gift to us from the Lord alone, and that if we make proper use of them, they are finally given to us as our own and are never taken from us; and second, that while we live in this world, we are left so much to ourselves that according to all appearance we are our own masters, independent of Him from whom all that we have is derived.

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“What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” – Deuteronomy 10:12

Readings

Deuteronomy 10:12-22 · Luke 22:24-30 · Psalm 101

Sermon

The purpose of our creation is that we may be of service to the Lord. The Lord works by and through man, because man is a receptacle of life from Him and the only intelligent subject of His providence. All things below man are included in man. They precede him in the order of creation because man is their end. It is theirs to make ready for him, and this they do, or rather the Lord does for them. The Lord’s method of operation can be seen through the study of nature, as nature illustrates the law of His operation.

What is this law? It is the law of service or use to something higher. Nothing is created for itself alone. Everything is for something above itself. The mineral underlies, supports, and sustains the plant, the plant the animal, the animal man. And as nothing in the realm of nature has the power to disturb or to contravene the operation of this law, we find in nature the perfect peace and harmony that result from its fulfillment. In nature we find the Divine order perfectly carried out except in so far as man has disturbed it. Things in nature that are hurtful to life are of man, not of God. Man alone, as we know, has the power to act with or against God – from God or from himself. Acting from himself he has been the cause of all that is hurtful in nature. But even so he has no power to reverse its order, and when he acts contrary to order, the Lord makes even these acts serve a use. Poisonous minerals and plants, corresponding to false and evil thoughts and feelings, are used as medicines to cure diseases in the bodies of men and animals, and the time will come when, through an advance in the knowledge of the science of correspondences, they will be still more helpful. This is what is meant by the words of the Psalmist: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

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The Law of Growth, by Louis A. Dole

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“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.” – Luke 6:38

Readings

Leviticus 26:1-13 · Luke 6:20-38 · Psalm 96

Sermon

We read here the law of both natural and spiritual, earthly and heavenly increase. It is the law of effort, labor, giving. What we thus give will be restored with increase. The measure we use will return to us overflowing, pressed down, shaken together, running over.

But it must be not only effort, but useful effort. The law of natural increase demands not only labor, but useful labor; while the law of spiritual increase requires the love of the use of such labor.

Many so-called “charities” tend to idleness and poverty. One of the truest material gifts which man can bestow upon the community is the promotion of useful activity.

We can pervert this law of useful effort and make it a purely selfish appeal by performing uses in order to get ahead of others, to make a name for ourselves. But there is a better way, namely to use our knowledge and abilities not to get ahead of someone else but to promote the welfare of the community. Spiritual giving has two sides: first the inward gift which everyone who seeks in his own life to follow the highest ideal of living unconsciously bestows on the whole community, and secondly the outward and conscious and direct efforts which one makes to lead people to see and to accept the truth. When we seek to be of spiritual help to others, spiritual growth follows, both personal and general, growth in spiritual intelligence, love, and life.

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The Way of Life, by Louis A. Dole

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“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” – Luke 19:12, 13

Readings

Genesis 2:1-17 · Luke 19:11-28 · Psalm 25

Sermon

When man was created, all the laws of the universe were incorporated into his being, and he had thus the faculty of learning of his Creator and of gradually emerging from the darkness of the ignorance of his infancy into the intelligence, wisdom, and love of his maturity.

The parable of the pounds is familiar to us all. It is one of those passages in the Word which should continually be in our minds, for it continually applies to us. The pounds represent all our talents and capacities. They are given us to use. We were not created to live alone, but to be of service one to another. The miser who hoards his wealth, keeping it to himself, the scholar who thinks of his learning as a means to self-advancement and has no wish to use it to help others are not truly human. Every angel is in the constant effort to give to others, and hence comes his happiness.

The Divine love is the desire to bless others and to give them of its Divine nature as far as possible. This is the actual cause of the creation of the world and of men in the world. And in creating the world the Lord filled it full of objects which might help man in the improvement of his mind by calling forth its various faculties, and might help him in learning of his Creator and coming to love Him. So again all the laws that govern the world look to this same end.

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“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” – John 17:22

Readings

2 Samuel 7:18-29 · John 17:1, 12-26 · Psalm 132

Sermon

These verses express the purpose of the Lord’s creation of men and also of His coming into the world. By nature we like to associate with others and to be united with them in mutual service. The most dreaded punishment is solitary confinement. If long continued, it leads to madness and to self-destruction. All happiness results from the association of one conscious being with another and with those external objects which call the various faculties of the mind into harmonious action.

The material body was made to respond to and to act in harmony with the laws of the world of nature. When these laws are violated, the body is weakened and invaded by disease. All our domestic and social pleasures come from union with one another in the various forms of social life. So it is with marriage and family life. This law governs all human relations. If men and women should be isolated from all union with the outward world and with one another, happiness would be impossible to them. The happiness of heaven consists in the union of its members with each other in mutual service. And as all happiness has its source in the Lord, the first essential of all is conjunction with the Lord – “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”

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“First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift,” by Louis A. Dole

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“If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
“Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” – Matthew 5:23, 24

Readings

1 Kings 18:17-39 · Matthew 5:17-26 · Psalms 12, 13, 14

Sermon

These words from the Sermon on the Mount are very familiar to us. In their obvious meaning they teach us the futility of expecting a blessing from our heavenly Father if we are unwilling to show brotherly good will to others. There are requirements connected with giving.

In its letter the text refers to the offerings brought by Israel to the great altar in the temple court, the animals, birds, and fruits of the harvest. And in the detailed Levitical laws concerning these offerings it is made clear that it is not man who confers a favor upon God by his offerings; it is man who is blessed by God if his offerings are accepted. Therefore if man is to be blessed, he must give as God requires. And the first requirement of worthy giving, the Lord tells us, is that a man be reconciled to his brother. Prayers, church-going, contributions toward religion, ceremonies, the reciting of creeds have no honor to the Lord in them unless one does good in his daily life.

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