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just here, is the mighty power of man, that he can
steer ! Weak in himself, as regards most things, able to
do almost nothing in the gross, he can yet do ahnost
any thing by only steering it into the lines of
forces that will do it for him. And the same holds
true exactly in religion. No man here is called to do
some great thing which he can not do. Nothing is
necessary for you, in becoming a Christian, or maintain-
ing a triumphant Christian life, but just to stay by the
helm, and put yourselves in where the power is — then
you have all power, and every mountain bidk goea
away at your bidding ! Come unto God, unite your-
selves to God, and the doing power you have is infi-
nite ! — and is none the less yours because it is his. Trim
your ship steadily to the course, and God's own gales


will waft it. If you want success enougli to set your
selves for it, and guage your courses accurately by a
strict application, infallible success is yours. Or, better
still, if your mind is dark, if you do not even know
how to guage any movement rightly, or even what the
words mean that speak of it — then come to the man
Jesus, your blessed, all-perfect brother, ask him to let you
go with him and keep him company, cling fast to him,
and all the transforming moral power of God shall be
with you. To investigate much and know many things,
is not necessary. Only to love Jesus and adhere to
him faithfully, knowing simply him, is wisdom enough.
He will be the door, so that your heart will pass in,
where your understanding can not reach. No matter
how weak you may seem to be, or how many impassa-
ble mountains to be before you, or how many fierce
storms to be raging round you, still you will go over
mountains beaten small as chafP, on through tempests
that have heard the word "be still." You will never
fail or fall. Stay by your love to Jesus and the power
of God's infinite will is with you, and the still mightier,
more inconceivable power of his greatness upon you.
this glorious fact of our dependence — if we speak of
ability, we have all utmost ability in it. We come tc
no bar in it, brethren, as many are wont to speak. If
only we can rightly depend, we come into all power
rather, and are able to do all things ! Here it is that so
many of God's mighty ones became mighty — Moses,
Elijah, Paul, Luther, Cromwell — all those efiicient and
successful ones that we ourselves have met, wondering


often how they got such emphasis of action, such re-
sistless sway. They were men who kept companj^ with
God, and lived in the powerful element of his divine
operation. Here is the only way of success, whether
of single men, or of churches. How can a church get
on in any great concern of religion, when it is out at
sea, beating about as it is driven, and steering just no
whither. Nor is it any better if we take the ship into
our own hands, to do all for it ourselves. Let us
come into God's operation, and God will know how to
open a way for us. He will lead just where we
most want to go, and send us every gift even as he
gives us a gospel. So if we are baffled personally,
in all our Christian aims and doings, losing ground,
weak and growing weaker, unhappy, dissatisfied, hope-
less of good — out upon this wild and dreadful sea, and
driven by all fierce winds and storms of the mind, we
have only to steer ourselves on, by the steady helm of
dependence, and our way is clear to the harbor.



** Judge me Lord according to my righteousness^ and
according to mine integrity that is in me." — Ps. vii, 8.

A trnlj noble confidence ! — and yet many of our
time would call the language very dangerous, or scarcely
Christian, language, if it were spoken by any but one
of the scripture saints. What can be a slipperier foot-
ing, they would say, for any sinner of mankind, than to
be appealing to God in the confidence of his own right-
eousness ; or, what is even worse, in the confidence of
his mere integrity ? What does it show but a state of
egregious, fearfully overgrown, spiritual conceit, coupled
with a prodigious self-ignorance? And what could
evince a lower sense of God and religion ? We shall
see whether it is so, or must needs be so in all cases or

It may not be amiss to note that some Unitarian
teachers, on the other hand, charge it as a fault in our
doctrine of salvation by grace, or justification by faith,
that it lets down even the standards of our morality
itself; making grace a cover for all defections from
honor, truth, honesty, and whatever belongs to tlie


outward integrity of our practices; allowing us to l)e
selfish, heartless, perfidious, crafty, cruel, mean, and all
this in good keeping, because it is a part of our merit
under grace, to have no merit.

Let us pursue this subject, and see if we can find the
true place for integrity under the Christian salvation.
AtA we shall best open the inquiry, I think, by
noting —

1. How the scriptures speak of integrity ; how mani-
fold and bold the forms in which they commend it, and
how freely the good men of the scripture times testify
their consciousness of it, in their appeals to God. The
text I have cited does not stand alone. In the twenty-
sixth Psalm, David says again — "Judge me Lord;
for I have walked in mine integrity." And again —
" But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity." The
Proverbs testify in language still more unqualified,
— "that the integrity of the upright shall preserve
them," "The just man walketh in his integrity." In
the same view it is, that good men are so often called
" the upright " and " the just " — " Mark the perfect man
and behold the upright," "The way of the just is
uprightness, thou most upright dost weigh the path of
the just." They are called "righteous" too and "right"
a the same manner, and it is even declared that they
" shall deliver their own souls by their righteousness."
And lest we should imagine that the integrity, honored
by so many commendations and examples, is only a
crude and partial conception, belonging to the piety of
the Old Testament, the Christian disciples of the New



ure testifying also in a hundred ways, to the integrity,
before God and man, in which they consciously live.
They dare to say that they have a conscience void of
offense, that they serve God with a pure conscience, that
tliey count it nothing to be judged of man's judgment,
when they know that God approves them. They re-
joice in the confidence that they are made manifest
unto God, and tenderly hope that they may be made
manifest also in the consciences of men. They are so
assured in the sense of their own integrity, as followers of
Christ, that they even dare to exhort others to walk
as tliey have them for examples. And this holy con-
sciousness of being right with God, of being wholly
offered up to him, of wanting to know nothing but
Christ, of losing all things for his sake, appears and
reappears in as many forms as language can possibly
take. They spend their life, as it were, in the testi-
mony that the}^ please God. Making the strongest con-
fessions of ill desert, and resting their salvation every-
where on the justifying grace and righteousness of God,
they still are able, somehow, to be free in professing their
own conscious mtegrity in their discipleship, and the sense
they have of being right and true — whole men, so to
speak, in the service of their master. Whether we can
explain the riddle, or not, so it is. But the explanation
is not difficult, and, before we have done, will be made
sufficiently clear. Consider then —

2. "What integrity means, or what is the state in-
tended by it. As an integer is a whole, in distinction
from a fraction, which is only a part, so a man of in-


tegritj; is a man whose aim, in the right, is a whole aim,
ia distinction from one whose aim is divided, partial, or
unstable. It is such a state of right intention as allowa
the man to be consciously right-minded, and to firmly
rest in the singleness of his purpose. He is a man who
stands in the full honors of rectitude before his own
mind or conscience. It does not mean that he has
never been a sinner, or that he is not now, as regards
the disorders and moral weaknesses of his nature, but
simply that whatever msiy have been his life, or the
guilt of it, he is now turned, as regards the intent of his
soul, to do and be wholly right; firmly set, of course,
to receive all the possible helps in his reach, for main*
tainiiig a life wholly right with God and man.

But we must not pass over the distinction between
what is called commercial, or social integrity, and the
higher integrity of religion. This commercial integrity
which is greatly affected and much praised among men,
relates only to matters of truth and personal justice in
the outward affairs of life, and becomes integrity only be-
cause it is measured by a partial and merel}^ human
standard, viz., the standard of the market, and of so-
cial opinion. Such a character is always held in high
respect among men, and, what is more, it should be. It
is really refreshing in this selfish, scheming, sharp-deal-
ing world, to meet an honest man. Whether he be a
Christian or not, we love to honor such a man. It will
also be seen that he is a man who means, at least so far.
to honor himself. But it does not follow that such a
man's integrity is complete enough even to give him a


good conscience. He is, after all, it may be, no pucb
integer in his confidence, or the approbation of his own ^
mind, as he consciously might be. His intent is not
really right, that is to accept the principle of right doing
in its breadth, as the arbiter of all action, and do and
be all right and forever. All that can be said of him,
all that he will say for himself, is that he has had it for
his law to speak the truth, fulfill his promises, and deal
fairly by his fellow men. Still it is not, and has never
been his aim, or object, to do what is right to God ; and
that if I am not mistaken, is a matter of much higher
consequence and more necessary to his real integrity.
God is a person as truly as men are, more closely related
to us than they, a better friend, one who has more feel-
ing to be injured than they all, claims of right more
sacred. What then does it signify that a man gives
men their due, and will not give God his? Does it give
one a title to be called humane, that he will not
stick a fly with a pin because of his tenderness, and yet
will stab, in bitter grudge, his fellow man ? Does it
fitly entitle one to the name of a just man, that he is
honest and fair with men of one color, and not with
those of another, honest and fair on three days, or even
live days in the week, and not on the days that remain?
What then shall we think of the mere commercial in-
tegrity just described, taken by itself? Calling it integ-
rity, it is still integrity by halves, and, of course, with-
out the principle ; integrity by market standards only,
and not by any standard that makes a real integer in
duty. Eeal integrity begins with the principle, mean-


ing to give every one his due ; to be right with God, as
with men, right against popularity as with it, right
everywhere, wholly and eternally right.

You perceive, in this manner, how easy it it is for a
man to be in great repute for this virtue, and yet be
wholly uncommitted to principle in it. Nay, he may
even be a very bad man. Examples of the kind will
occur to almost any one. I knew in college, and after-
ward in a remote part of the country, a man of such
repute now in the law, that he was said to have made
the greatest argument ever presented before the Supreme
Court at Washington, whose reputation, as a kind
of Cato in this matter of market integrity, was scarcely
less remarkable. He had more than once kicked a man
out of his office, who had come to engage him in a case
plainly tainted with fraud, and would never allow him
self to gain a point, by the least deviation from truth
And yet he was a man of many vices, and a man
withal, of such infernal temper, that his wife and chil
dren knew him only as a tyrant scarcely endurable,
Getting exasperated almost to the pitch of insanity, by
what he conceived to be a base attempt of his law part
ner to jew him, for he was a Jew, in a matter of busi
ncss, he drew off in disgust and anger from his prac-
tice, determined to add nothing more to the profits of
the concern, where before he had, in fact, brought all.
As the contract still existed in law, the right of his pro*
ceeding might be questioned, but his almost overgrown
sensibilities to points of honor would no longer suffer
him even to look upon the face of such a man. Still he



would not so far disrespect the contract as to open a
separate and rival office, but hired himself out as a com-
mor laborer in unloading coal from one of the ships in
tlie harbo^' While at work there, smirched and
gnmed by coal-dust, there came to him, in a few days,
a (ilient who wanted to engage him in a great cause
involving the title to a vast property. Inasmuch as
he must live, apart from all profits, he finalW consented
to undertake it, on condition that he should receive
only a small da}^ -wages allowance. He won the cause.
And then, five or six years after, when he had his fam-
ily with him, and was known to be short in the means
of living, his old client, whom he had made a rich man,
sent him a present of twenty thousand dollars. He was
rather offended than pleased — as if he would do so
mean a thing as to cover up the fact of a fee, under the
semblance of a stipulation for day-wages! Forthwith
he returned the present, and when it was renewed as a
present to his wife, he required her also to send it back.
If his partner had seen fit to raise a legal claim for the
money as a fee, he might easily have been quieted by
half the sum, but rather than consent to enrich a knave
by that amount, he preferred to rob his family of the

Now this man, so keenly sensitive to the matter of
honor in business, as to be well-nigh demonized by it,
was not even a virtuous man. He was, in fact, the
most magnificently abominable man I ever knew. And
he died as he lived. The steamer on which he was a
passenger sprung a leak at sea, and when they called


him to the pumps, protesting, with an oath, that he
would do no so mean thing as to pump for his life, he
locked himself u;^ in his state-room, and there he stayed,
like a tiger in his cage, till the ship went down.

Was he then a man of integrity ? In one view he
certainly was, and that was his reputation. Still he
was a man false to every right principle, both of God
and man, but just one; an example in which any one
may see how little the boasted integrity of commercial
honor and truth may signify, when taken alone.

I could easily have given you a thousand nobler and
more beautiful examples of integrity, in the spheres of
business, and before the human standards of commercial
obligation. I give you this, just because it is so nearly
repulsive ; showing, in that manner, bow little true merit
of character belongs to this kind of virtue, when it stands
by itself. How far off is it then from being any true
eqaivalentfor that broad, universal, radically principled
integrity that includes religion. Whoever is in the
principle of right-doing, as a principle, will be ready
to do all right, always, and everywhere — to God as to
men, to men as to God. This it is and this only that
makes a genuinely whole-intent man, thus a man of in-

There is, then, a kind of integrity which goes vastly
i)oyond the mere integrity of trade, and which is the
only real integrity. The other is merely a name in which
men of the market compliment themselves, when they
observe their own standards; though consciously neg-
lecting the higher standards of right as before God.


This higher, and only real, integrity, is the root of alj
true character, and must be the condition, somehow, of
Christian character itself. Let us inquire —

8. In what manner? Christ, we sav, does not under-
take to save men by their merit, or on terms of justice
and reward, but to save them out of great ill desert
rather, and by purely gratuitous favor. What place
have we then under such a scheme of religion, for in-
sisting on the need of integrity at all. Does it not even
appear to be superseded, or dispensed with ?

I wish I could deny that some pretendedly orthodox
Christians do not seem, in fact, to think so. It is the
comfort of what they call their piety, that God is going to
dispense with all merit in them, and this they take to mean
about the same thing as dispensing with all the sound
realities of character — all exactness of principle and
conduct. They are sometimes quite sanctimonious in
this kind of Mih. Cunning, sharp, untruthful, extor-
tions, they look up piously still, at the top of what
they call their faith, and bless God that he is able to
hide a multitude of sins — able to save great sinners of
whom they are chief! Submitting themselves habitu-
ally to evil, they compliment themselves in abundant
confessions of sin ; counting it apparently a kind of
merit that they live loosely enough to make salvation
by merit impossible. Ten times a day they declare that
they will know nothing but Christ and him crucified,
and lest they should miss of such a faith, they do not
spare to crucify him abundantly themselves 1

It can not be that such persons are not m a gTeat


mistake. Any scheme of salvation that undertakes to
save without integrity, has, to say the least, a ver}^ poor
title to respect. And it ought to be evident before-
hand, that Christianity is no such scheme at all.

Yes doubtless, it will be said, there must be such a thing
as integrity — that is, commercial integrity — in Christian
men, else they would bring very great scandal on
the cause. Is it then permitted that, if they will be
just and true in trade and in society, they may safely
consent to be out of integrity with God ? Looking at
the principle of things, for there is nothing else to look
at here, it would seem that the Great God and Father
of us all is certainly as much entitled to consideration
from us as we are from each other, and how can there
be any genuine principle at all in a disciple, who is not
in that higher integrity which includes doing justice to
God — being right with God ?

There must then be some place for the claim of integ-
rity in our gospel, even though it be a scheme of salvation
by grace. Nor does the solution of the matter appear
to be difficult. Integrity, we have seen, is wholenesa
of aim, or intent; but mere intent of soul does not
make and never could complete a character. It is even
conceivable that a soul steeped in the disorders of sin,
might take up such a kind of intent, on its own part,
and, acting by itself, be only baffled in continual defeats
and failures to the end of life. There is no redeeming
efficacy in right intent, taken by itself — it would never
vanquish the inward state of evil at all. And yet it is
iust that by which all evil will be vanquished, undei


Christ and by grace, because it ])uts the soul in such a
state as makes the grace-power of Christ, co-woriving
"with it, efFectuaL Conscious of wrong, for example,
and groaning under the bitterness of it, I take it up as
rny intent to be and become wholly right. Then I find
Christ near me — how near! — yielding me his divine
sympathy, and pouring his whole tenderness into my
feeling. As regards the guilty past, he wdll justify me
freely, and hold me to account no more. As regards
the future, he will take me as a friend, raise my concep-
tions of what is good by his own beauty, ennoble my
feeling by society with him, draw me up out of my
lowness and my weak corruptions, by his character
great in suffering, and so enable me to conquer all my
evils, as he conquered his. As certainly then as 1 come
into right intent, I shall come into faith, and trust my-
self to him, as a means of becoming what I have under-
taken to become.

Here then is the place of integrity. It is even pre-
supposed in all true faith, and enters, in that manner,
into all true gospel character. It does not exclude the
grace of Christ, or supersede salvation by grace, but on
the human side moves toward grace, and is inwardly
conjoined with it, in all the characters it forms. The
sinning man, who comes into integrity of aim, is pat
thereby at the very gate of faith, where all God's helps
are waiting for him. Now that he is so tenderly and
nobly honest, there is no grace of God, or help of hig
merciful spirit, that will not flow into him as naturally
as light into a window. By this grace, in which he


Will now trust, his whole being, feeling, aspiration^
hope, are invested, and the light of God, the brightness
of salvation, everlasting life, is in him — he is born of

His integrity, therefore, his new and better aim, is
not any ground of merit, or title of desert, which dis-
penses with faith, but his way of coming into faith — thus
into the helps, inspirations, joys and triumphs that Christ
will inwardly minister — in one word, into the righteous-
ness of God. And accordingly the scriptures formally
condition all such helps, on the integrity of the soul that
wants them. " Ye shall seek me and find me, if ye
search for me with all your heart " — that is with a whole
and single aim. "If I regard iniquity in my heart,
the Lord will not hear me." "If thine eye be single,
thy whole body shall be full of light." The scriptures,
we may thus perceive, have no difficulty in finding how
integrity is needed in a way of salvation by grace, and
there is, in fact, no such difficulty, save as we make it

Having discovered, in this manner, what, and how
great a thing integrity is, and the necessity of it on
strictly Christian grounds, let us note in conclusion,
some of the practical relations of the subject. And

1. Consider what it is that gives such peace and lofti-
ness of bearing to the life of a truly righteous man.
What an atmosphere of serenity does it create for him,
that he is living in a conscience void of offense. And
when great storms of trouble drive their clouds about
him, when he is assailed by enemies and detractors, per-


secuted for his opinions, broken down by adversities,
tlirown out of confidence and respect even, as will
sometimes happen, by felse constructions of his conduct
and malignant conspiracies against his character, still
his soul abides in peace, because he justifies himself and
has the witness that he pleases God. These clouds that
seem to be about him do still not shut him in. He sits
above with his God, and they all sail under ! Such a
man is strong my brethren — -how very strong! There
is no power below the stars that can shake him ! The
steaming vapors of a diseased body can not rise high
enough to cloud his sun. He is able still and always
to make his great appeal and say — "Judge me O Lord,
according to my righteousness, and according to the
integrity that is in me." Who can understand like
him, the meaning of that word — " And the work of
righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of right-
eousness, quietness and assurance forever." Here too —
2. Is the ground of all failures, and all highest suc-
cesses in religion, or the Christian life. Only to be an
honest man, in this highest and genuinely Christian
sense, signifies a great deal more than most of us ever
conceive. We make room for laxity here that we may
let in grace, and do not hold ourselves to that real in-
tegrity that is wanted, to receive, or obtain, or be in,
that grace. O how loosely, irresponsibly, carnally, do
many Christians live — covetous, sensual, without self
government, eager to be on high terms with the world,
praying, as it were in the smoke of their vanities and
passions, making their sacrifices in a way of compound-


ing with their obligations. Little do they conceive,
me. in time, how honest a man must be to pray, how
benrtily, simply, totally, he must mean what he prays
for. Perhaps he prays much, prays in private, prays in

Online LibraryHorace BushnellSelect works (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 29)