Memorial Day 1995

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

(Psa 9)  I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. {2} I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. {3} When my enemies turn back, They shall fall and perish at Your presence. {4} For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. {5} You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. {6} O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; Even their memory has perished. {7} But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. {8} He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. {9} The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. {10} And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. {11} Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. {12} When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. {13} Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, {14} That I may tell of all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation. {15} The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. {16} The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah {17} The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. {18} For the needy shall not always be forgotten; The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. {19} Arise, O LORD, Do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged in Your sight. {20} Put them in fear, O LORD, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah

(Luke 6:27-38)  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. {29} “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. {30} “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. {31} “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. {32} “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. {33} “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. {34} “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. {35} “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. {36} “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. {37} “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. {38} “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Divine Providence 251: The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he reflects that wars are permitted and in them the slaughter of so many men, and the plundering of their wealth.

It is not from the Divine Providence that wars occur, because they involve murders, plunderings, violence, cruelties and other terrible evils which are diametrically opposed to Christian charity. Still they cannot but be permitted because, since the time of the most ancient people, meant by Adam and his wife, treated of above (n. 241), men’s life’s love has become such that it wills to rule over others, and finally over all; and also to possess the wealth of the world, and finally all wealth. These two loves cannot be kept in fetters, for it is according to the Divine Providence that everyone is allowed to act from freedom in accordance with reason, as may be seen above (n. 71-99); and without permissions man cannot be led from evil by the Lord, and consequently cannot be reformed and saved. For unless evils were allowed to break out, man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them. Hence it is that evils cannot be repressed by any act of Providence; for if they were they would remain shut in, and like a disease, such as cancer and gangrene, they would spread and consume everything vital in man.

[2]  For man from birth is like a little hell, between which and heaven there is perpetual discord. No man can be withdrawn from his hell by the Lord unless he sees that he is in hell and wishes to be led out; and this cannot be done without permissions, the causes of which are laws of the Divine Providence. This is why there are lesser and greater wars, the lesser between owners of estates and their neighbours, and the greater between the sovereigns of kingdoms and their neighbours. The lesser and the greater differ only in this, that the lesser are kept within certain bounds by national law, and the greater by international law; and that, while both the lesser and the greater are willing to transgress their own laws, the lesser cannot, and the greater can, yet still within the limits of possibility.

[5]  That wars in this world are governed by the Divine Providence of the Lord is acknowledged by the spiritual man but not by the natural man, except that, when a festival is appointed on account of a victory, he may then return thanks on his knees to God that He has given the victory; and except also by a few words before going into battle. But when he returns to himself he ascribes the victory either to the prudence of the general or to some measure or incident in the course of the battle which had not been thought of, by which nevertheless the victory was decided.

[6]   It may be seen above (n. 217), that the Divine Providence, which is called fortune, operates in the most individual of even trivial affairs, and if you acknowledge the Divine Providence in these you will certainly acknowledge it in the affairs of war. Moreover, successes and incidents in warfare brought to a favourable conclusion are in common language called the fortune of war; and this is the Divine Providence, especially in the counsels and designs of the general, even although he at the time and also afterwards may ascribe it all to his own prudence. This he may do if he will, for he is at full liberty to think in favour of the Divine Providence or against it, and indeed in favour of God or against Him; but he should know that no part whatever of the counsel and design is from himself: it all flows in from heaven or from hell, from hell by permission, from heaven by Providence.

Memorial Day Sermon

A.  Introduction

1.  Memorial Day is a time to remember the gift of others

2.  Particularly important this year because this Memorial Day falls between the 50th anniversary of the end of Word War II in Europe and the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Japan.

B.  Main Body

1.  We are extremely fortunate to be separated from a World War by 50 years

a.  But it also means that we have been isolated from its lessons

(1)  The horror of the bombing in Oklahoma City brings it back

(a)  London during the blitz

(b)  Hamburg

(c)  Tokyo

(d)  The atomic bombs

(e)  Serve to illustrate the power of evil

i.  and the lengths which the Lord will go to protect us from it

2.  The Lord does not will that we fight wars

a.  But there are times when evil wells up and exposes itself

b.  (Passages about how evil has to be exposed and rejected lest it infect and destroy)

c.  DP 251:1 For unless evils were allowed to break out, man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them. Hence it is that evils cannot be repressed by any act of Providence; for if they were they would remain shut in, and like a disease, such as cancer and gangrene, they would spread and consume everything vital in man.

3.  The Lord permits that we fight wars

a.  Because of the way it illustrates His own battles against hell for our sakes

(1)  DP 251:3,4 [3]  There are many other reasons stored up in the treasury of Divine Wisdom why the greater wars with kings and rulers, involving as they do murders, plunderings, violence and cruelties, are not prevented by the Lord, either in their beginning or in their progress, until in the end the power of one or the other has been so reduced that he is in danger of destruction. Some of these reasons have been revealed to me, and among them is this: that all wars, although they may be civil in character, represent in heaven states of the Church and are correspondences. Such were all the wars described in the Word, and such also are all wars at this day. The wars described in the Word are those which the Children of Israel waged with various nations, as with the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. Moreover, when the Children of Israel, who represented the Church, departed from their precepts and statutes and fell into the evils which were represented by those nations, for each nation with which the Children of Israel waged war signified some particular kind of evil, then they were punished by that nation. For example, when they profaned the holy things of the Church by foul idolatries they were punished by the Assyrians and the Chaldeans, because Assyria and Chaldea signify the profanation of what is holy. What was signified by the wars with the Philistines may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH (n. 50-54).
[4]  Similar things are represented by the wars of the present day, wherever they occur; for all things which take place in the natural world correspond to spiritual things in the spiritual world, and all spiritual things have relation to the Church. It is not known in this world which kingdoms in Christendom represent the Moabites and the Ammonites, which the Syrians and the Philistines, and which the Chaldeans and the Assyrians, and the others with whom the Children of Israel waged war; and yet there are peoples who represent them. Moreover, the quality of the Church on earth and what the evils are into which it falls, and for which it is punished by wars, cannot be seen at all in the natural world; because in this world externals only are manifest, and these do not constitute the Church. However, this is seen in the spiritual world where internal things appear, and in these is the Church itself; and there all are conjoined according to their various states. The conflicts of these in the spiritual world correspond to wars which on both sides are governed according to correspondence by the Lord in accordance with His Divine Providence.

(2)  Evil wants to bring others into its own camp

(a)  We look at the films and wonder how it could have happened

(b)  Sometimes we look back on the events in our own lives and wonder the same thing

(c)  The same principles are at work here

i.  We can learn important lessons about ourselves from studying the history of nations

C.  Conclusion

1.  Remember those who gave up their safe homes to spend years in foreign countries

2.  Remember those who risked their lives

3.  Remember those who gave their lives

a.  For principle

b.  To protect innocent life

c.  To do what they believed with all their hearts to be right.

d.  Passage from TCR about charity with a soldier.

(1)  TCR 414 One’s country is more a neighbor than a single community, because it consists of many communities, and consequently love towards the country is a broader and higher love. Moreover, loving one’s country is loving the public welfare. One’s country is the neighbor, because it is like a parent; for one is born in it, and it has nourished him and continues to nourish him, and has protected and continues to protect him from injury. Men ought to do good to their country from a love for it, according to its needs, some of which are natural and some spiritual. Natural needs relate to civil life and order, and spiritual needs to spiritual life and order. That one’s country should be loved, not as one loves himself, but more than himself, is a law inscribed on the human heart; from which has come the well-known principle, which every true man endorses, that if the country is threatened with ruin from an enemy or any other source, it is noble to die for it, and glorious for a soldier to shed his blood for it. This is said because so great should be one’s love for it. It should be known that those who love their country and render good service to it from good will, after death love the Lord’s kingdom, for then that is their country; and those who love the Lord’s kingdom love the Lord Himself, because the Lord is the all in all things of His kingdom.

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