Horace Bushnell.

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would say, man, God's sacrament of wrath that is on
thee, revealed by the wrath its poison stirs within thee ;
and because it is the ordinance of his justice, bear wit-
ness that I spurn it not, neither ask that my integrity
excuse me from it! Sacred it shall be because it is
right ; and being for man as man, a power of darkness
for all sin, I will take the bitter cup for thy sake !
Only this be noted, since the malediction w^orking in
thee will not suffer even goodness to live, how certain
it is that blindness, madness, murder, all that is called
hell, goes with thy sin, whose eternally just and suffi-
cient penalty it is that it shall live in its own fires, and
be itself!

After such a tribute paid to the instituted justice of
God, who will imagine that the forgiveness of penitent
souls will loosen the joints of governmental order ? By
this submission of Christ to man's curse or lot of pen-
alty — penalty in no other sense to him — an impression
will be made for God's justice, and a sting of conviction
sharpened against sin, that will even start a new sense
of his law, and the penal order of his rule in the hearts


of all mankind. Even as Christ himself anticipated
when he said — " Of sin because they believed not on
me." Also as it was anticipated for him that under and
by his suffering mission, " the thoughts of many hearts
should be revealed." And again, still further back, in
tlie ancient prophecy — "They shall look on me whom
they have pierced." All which was to be signally
proved by the result of his crucifixion — "And all the
people that came together to that sight, beholding the
things which were done, smote their breasts and
returned." When had they ever felt the horrible
nature and the justly damning power of their sin as
now ?

It remains to speak of yet another and very distinct
kind of suffering included in the agony, viz., the suf-
fering Christ bore on account of his love. As he re-
coiled in horror from the spirit and deed of his enemies,
so he was oppressed by his anguish of concern for the
men. He had come into the world, in the fullness even
of God's love, to unbosom that love to the sight and
feeling of mankind. As respects all enemies and reject-
ors, it had been a suffering love even from eternity, and
it will be none the less a suffering love that it has taken
humanity for its vehicle. Every sort of love connects
some kind of suffering greater or less — desire, concern.
affliction, anguish. A bliss in itself, it is even a bliss
intensified, by the burden it so willingly or even pain-
fully bears. Thus h is that friendship, charity,
motherhood, patriotism, carries each its burden, light or
heavy, according to the nature and degree of its love



and according to the want, or woe of its object. What
then must the feeling of Christ be, when he looks upon
his enemies in the near prospect of death at their
hands — death horrible to him, and a sacrilegious murder
in them. If the great liberator Moses, discouraged and
crushed in feeling by the perversity of his people, cried
— " I am not able to bear all this people alone, because
it is too heavy for me, and if thou deal thus with me
kill me;" if Paul, himself a man, was constrained, by
the burden of a man's love, to say — "I have great
heaviness and continued sorrow in my heart; for I
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the faith ;"
who shall wonder at the anguish of Christ's burden,
when he bows himself under it to the ground, when he
calls it his " cup," when he cries, " my soul is exceeding
sorrowful even unto death?" If the love of a human
benefactor will sometimes beget anguish, what will the
love of God do less than to create an agony ?

And yet how little will our dull-hearted M^orld
bronzed in evil, habitually unloving, unvisited or sel-
dom visited, by a consciously tender compassion ; how
little, indeed, will the most unselfish, or even benefit
cently Christian of us, conceive this agony of the divine
love for men ! Our hearts make feeble answer to it at
the best ; so feeble that there even seems to be a kind
of overdoing, or overfeeling in it. Indeed we are even
wont ourselves, for dignity's sake, to halve our own
little emotion ; and we do the same unconsciously for
tne emotion of God ; halving it also again, by the con-


sideration "here let in, that his love is only love to trnns-
gressors and enemies. Ab ! if we could think it, that
is just the fact, in wliicli God's love becomes an agOL}' ;
leaving, as it were, the ninety and nine of his friends,
to go after that one wlio has gone astray, and rejoicing
more over that, as lie has felt the loss with a more pain-
ful concern. God's love has no burden of pain for the
good ; it sharpens to a pain only when it looks upon
the evil. And here precisely is the stress of Christ's

When I consider thus who Christ was, what the love
he bore, what the crime his enemies were going to per*
petrate, invoking, in horrible delusion, his blood upon
themselves and their children ; I seem to get some lit-
tle, dim conception of his anguish for them, in thi?
dreadful hour. I can not go to the depth of it, I can not
ascend to the height of it, but I can perceive why it
should transcend my feeling and even the possible reach
of my conceptions. It is even the more credible too
thp.t its tokens do so plainly exceed all human demon-
strations. The most adequate and complete thing we
can say of it is, that it reveals the- Suffering Holiness of

The reason of the agony then — this is onr conclusion
— lies in the facts themselves ; in the sensibilities of the
sufferer and the causes acting on those sensibilities.
No theologic reason, such as makes him suffer by inflic-
tion, or by the judicial forsaking of God, has even a
tolerable pretext, aside from the theory that makes up
Buch a construction for its own sake. Even the justice

244 Christ's

of God is more adequately impressed and set before the
world more convincingly, without any so revolting con-
ception, than with it. Never was there made before
Buch an expression of God's abhorrence to sin, as in
this recoil of Christ's agony from it ; never such honor
put upon God's instituted justice, as in Christ's submig-
sion to the corporate woe and penal madness of it
Never was the horrible nature of sin so revealed to hu-
man conviction, as by this agony of compassion, on one
side, met by such j udicial blindness and even phrenzied
malice, on the other.

Can there now, my friends, be any thing more strange
than that multitudes of you, having had full time to
ponder this scene, and take its meaning after the fact,
should still adhere to your sin, nay should even be quite
insensible to it and the feeling of God concerning it?
Beholding this immense sensibility of God, you still
have none! O it is even appalling! Eightly conceiv-
ing such a fact, you would even start from yourself I
Were you called by some angel, in the brightness of
the sun, or by voices of thunder in the clouds, it would
signify much less ; but that you should not feel the silent
call of God's feeling ought to make you think even
with dread of yourself. When the Christ of Gethsem-
ane meets you bathed in the sad drops of his divine
sorrow, there certainly ought, if there be any feeling
left, to be some answering sorrow in you. Is there still
none? What a relation this between your sensibility
and goodqess — functional death, lying as a rock id


Gethsemane, feeling as little that horror of sin, softened
as little by that sorrowing love! O thou highly gifted
creature, what kind of attainment hast thou made !

The lessons derivable to us, my brethren, from this
subject are many; I can only call attention specially to
tliis one, that as Christ suffers in his agony, not by tlie
forsaking of God, not by any kind of infliction making
compensation to eternal justice, but naturally, because
of his character, and the crisis into which he has come,
so there will be times and conditions where we shall
suffer in Uke manner, according to our measures, and
the degree of our likeness to him. Purity in us will
shudder, love in us will bear its burden of sorrow. It
is no presumption or profanation for us to think of
being with him in his passion, we shall even require it
of ourselves, as a necessary Christian evidence. Even
as he himself declares — " ye shall indeed drink of my
cup." Not that we are to be as deep in the pains of holy
sensibility as he — that is impossible. Not that we are to
make a point of suffering much, and be always talking
of some dreadful burden that is on us, and having it as
a point of merit to be always in a groaning testimony.
Christ did not make a three-years' funeral of his minis-
try. Once he had a heavy struggle of temptation,
telling never a word about it but the close. Once, and
again, he wept. Once he declared that his soul was
troubled. Once he fell into an agony, and was very
soon through with it. It was never his way to suffer
more than he must, or to call for sympathy by a show
of his sorrows. On the other hand, no disciple is to make


24(5 Christ's agony,

a merit of being alwiijs floated in a luxury of bliss, as
if the gospel had no purpose more rugged aud practical
than simply to beget an elysian frame. Much less may
a disciple think it well that he suffers nothing, or i?
never overcast in his feeling, when the simple reasor
is that his soul is cased in the indifference of sloth and
worldly living. No pangs of life are suffered by the
dead ! As certainly as your Master's loA^e is in you,
his work will be upon you. His objects will be yours,
and also his divine burden. And sometimes that bur-
den will be. heavy. If your heart grows pure, it will
just so far be shocked and revolted by the wrath and
wrong of evil-doers. As certainly as you have feeling,
you will have the pains of feeling. Expect to have
your part then with Jesus in his Gethsemahe. Come
in freely hither, tarry ye here and watch. Out of
his agony learn how to bear an enemy; what to do
for your enemies and God's. If your intercessions
sometimes turn to groans, if you sometimes wonder
that being a Christian you are yet so heavily, painfully
burdened, almost crushed with concern for such as you
are trying to save, let your comfort be that so you
drink indeed your Master's cup. If your love is re-
pelled with scorn, and your good work baffled, and
your heart grows heavy under sorrow and discourage-
ment — ready to sink under its load — come hither and
pray with Jesus in his sweat of blood, "let this cup pass
from me." If wickedness grows hot in malice round
you, if conspiracy and violence array themselves
against you, go apart into this Gethsemane of your


Lord's troubles, and be sure that some good angel sball
be sent to strengthen you ; is not Christ's heart wringing
for jou more bitterly than yours for itself — tarry ye here
and watch. If some demon of impatience whispers,
here or there, *'why not give it up?" behold the ago-
nizing obedience of Christ, faithful unto death, and say,
with him, '' not as I will but as thou wilt." Look for
no mere holiday of frames, but for such kind of joy as
a heart may yield that is many times broken by sacri-
fice. Behold your Master prostrate on the ground, and
by his agony and bloody sweat, be girded for a passion
of your own. Consent with Christ to suffer ; and when
having gotten his victory, he says "rise, let us be
going," go, not faltering, even though he lead you to
the cross.



For it became him^ for whom are all things, and by
whom are all things^ in bringing many sons unto glory^
10 make the of their salvation perfect through
sufferings. — Heb. ii, 10.

It is a fact worthy of distinct notice, that our apos-
tle is here making answer to the very same question
that Anselm propounded for settlement, a thousand
years afterward, in his yerj famous treatise, the Our
DeusHomof And despite of the very great admiration
won by this treatise, I feel obliged to suffer an impress-
ion, that the apostle has greatly the advantage ; writing
out his answer with a freer hand, and a far more pierc-
ing insight, and presenting, in fact, the whole subject
more adequately, in a single sentence, than the much
venerated father was able to do in the high theological
endeavor of his volume.

In tlie verse previous to this sentence, which is my
text, finding Jesus made a little lower than the angels,
and, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and
honor, it is as if his mind began to ask, even as


Anselm did, why should he suffer thus, or come, in the
way of suffering, at all ? why could not God, the Al-
mighty, strike out the needed salvation by a shorter
method, without suffering, viz., by his omnipotenx
force? Whereupon he makes answer, virtually, that
force is out of the question ; because the needed salva-
tion is a pui-ely moral result, which can be accom-
plished only by moral means and motives — "For it be-
came him " — it was even a fixed necessity upon him,
the Almighty — " for whom are all ihings, and by whom
are all things, in the bringing of many sons unto glory,
to make the captain of their salvation perfect through

The words hringing and captain^ here occurring, have
a relationship in the original, which would not be sus-
pected, and which disappears in the English ; as if we
should read — "in the bringing on of many sons unto
glory, to make the bringer on" &c. There is no im-
portance however in this reading, such as might be sup-
posed, for a captain is a leader and bringer on of course ;
only we 3onceive the passage more fitly, if the family
relationship of the two words is understood. The de-
claration is, and that is the matter of chief importance,
that God, the Almighty, must needs w^ork morally m
such a case, and not by force: and that Christ, the
leader, is made perfect, or perfectly competent, as
regards the moral new creation, or bringing up unto
glory, bj his cross and the tragic eloquence of his

That we may fully develop the apostle's meaning in


this general announcement, and verifj^ it in the orderly
exposition of the points included under it, let us begin
at the qusstion where he appears to have begun him-
self; viz., why should Christ, in the redeeming of soulsj
and bringing them unto glory, subject himself to physiral
suffering f — what, in other words, were the necessities and
uses of that suffering f

I confine the question here, it will be observed, to
his physical suffering. He encountered two distinct
kinds of suffering, as we commonly use the term, viz.,
mental suffering, and bodily suffering ; that which be-
longs to burdened feeling and wounded sensibility, and
that which is caused by outward privation, or violence
done against the physical nature ; that which appears
more especially in the agony, and that which appears
in the death of the cross. The former kind of suffer-
ing I believe is never called suffering in the New Test-
ament, but a being grieved; a bearing, or a burden, as
in sympathy and loving concern; a being troubled
in sjjirit, or very heavy; sorrow; agony. The word
suffering is applied, meantime, I think, only to physical
suffering ; and was doubtless used by the apostle, in the
present instance, as relating to Christ's physical suffer-
ing only.

It is obvious enough then, at the outset, and as the
Qrst thing to be noted, that physical suffering, taken by
itself, or as being simply what it is in itself, is never a
thing of value. On the contrary it is, so far, a thing
on the losing side of existence, a subtraction from the


general sum of good. It will not help a friend, or feed
an enemy, or stop a fire, or cool a fever. To tlie sufferer
himself, looking never to any thing beyond it, or con-
sequent upon it, but simply at what it is, it has no inhe-
rent value, like wheat and wool, and no market value,
like gold. It is not, in fact, a commodity of any kind,
exchangeable or not exchangeable, but a simple incom-
modity — a quantity purely negative and a worse than
worthless fact.

And the same exactly is true of Christ's suffering.
Taken as physical pain simply, nothing is to be made
of it. All the worse and more deplorable is the loss or
negation of it, that it is a suffering which has no rela-
tion to personal desert ; and still more deplorable in the
fact that, regarding the divine order of the sufferer, it
is even a shocking anomaly, which reason can not com-
prehend and faith only can accept. God certainly did not
want it as wanting to get so much suffering out of some-
body. He does not exact a retributive suffering, even in
what is called his justice, because he wants so much in
quantity to even the account of wrong, but only that
he may vindicate the right and testify his honor to it by
a fit expression. Nothing could be more horrible, or
closer akin to blasphemy, than to say that God wants
pain for his own feeling's sake ; or because he is hun-
gry for that particular kind of satisfaction. We have
it as a proverb, that "revenge is sweet;" but I recollect
no proverb which avers that justice is sweet; because
the mind of justice is a right mind, as the mind of re-
venge is not ; and, being right, no pain is sweet to it, not


even that which chastises injustice nnd sin. Besides.^
there is, it is agreed, no justice in the pains of Christ, aa
being due on his own account ; and it ought to be as
well agreed that God could not take them as compensa-
tions on account of others. That would be taking them
as actual somethings, or quantities having value in
themselves, when, in fact, they have, as we have seen,
no value at all. Nay worse, if God takes them, he geta
only incommodities for his satisfaction, and makes a
gain that is purely harm and loss.

But some one will object in the question — are not the
physical sufferings of Christ what are called, in the
scripture, his sacrifice for sin? and what is the use of
sacrifice but to atone God's justice? I do not un-
derstand the scripture to speak of suffering and sacri-
fice in that manner. Thus we hear an apostle say —
" made perfect through sufferings " — for what made per-
fect? for the satisfying of God's justice? IsTo, but "to
bring many souls unto glory." "Lamb of God that
taketh away" — what? the pains of justice? No, but
" the sins of the world." " Who his own self bare our
sins in his own body on the tree " — for what end ? that
God might be satisfied with his pains? No, but "that
we being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness ;'^
"By whose stripes" — what of the stripes? do they pay
off the release of ours? — "by whose stripes ye were
healed." " For Christ also hath once suffered for sina,
the just for the unjust" — in what view? to satisfy the
justice of God? no, but " to brii.g us nnto God." All
the lustral figures — those of washing, purging, sprink


ling, purifying, cleansing — set forth the sacrifice in the
same manner, not as a way of reconciling God to us,'
but of reconciling us to God. And so universally — I
do not know the instance where Christ's cross and phy-
sical suffering are conceived as a making satisfaction to
God's justice.

Regarding Christ's sufferings then as having no value
in themselves, on the ground of which they may be
accepted as compensations to justice, we must not leap
to the conclusion that Christ could do nothing in a way
of bringing men to God, without such sufferings. He
could even have been incarnated into the world, in such
a way as to involve no physical liability at all. He
might even have been incarnated, I suppose, into the
family of Caesar, and strid into his mission, as a prince
iron-clad, in all the dignities and immunities of the
Empire. He might have taught the same doctrine,
omitting only his call to take up the cross, which he
taught as the son of Mary. He might have healed as
great multitudes, with as kind a sympathy. He might
even have been followed, if he chose, by trains of great
people, as he was by the humble and the poor, dining
at their tables, lodging in their palaces, receiving all
the while the highest honors of genius. Or if it should
be imagined that, teaching faithfully the same prin-
ciples, and rebuking the same sins, and offering him-
self to men as the incarnate Word and Lord, he must
of nece^sity provoke the hatred of enemies, and stir up
powerful conspiracies of violence and bigot zeal, what
suffering could they bring upon him, armed as he was


254 THE,

with miracle, strongly enough even to have routed the
Roman army? As the posse that went out to arrest
him coul.l not strengthen their knees to stand, or their
hands to seize, but fell backward on the ground even
as moths fall off from flames they attack ; as the money
cliangers and trafficking priests fled away before him,
taken by a strange panic that no single man ever
raised before; so he could have withered Caiaphas by a
look, and dashed his accusers away, as a rock tosses otf
the sea ; making Pilate's wife dream a great deal worse
dreams than she did, and causing the poor servile
magistrate himself to be a good deal "more afraid"
than he was ; and as to being gibbeted on the cross, if
the conspiracy could have gone so far, he probably
enough could have changed the wood into water, as he
did the water into wine. There was, in short, no
necessary condition of physical suffering implied in his
Messiahship. He probably could not have been as
complete a Saviour without physical suffering, but he
could have been a wonderfully great character and be-
neficent teacher, as clear of spot or stain, as true in hia
trutti, as wise in his wisdom, as evidently, and some
would say, a great deal more evidently, divine.

If then Christ's physical sufferings, taken as such,
had no value, and if he could have been incarnated in
the human state without suffering — doing and teaching,
to a great extent, the same things — why did he come
under conditions of suffering, what uses did he expect
to serve by it, such as would compensate the loss? It
was done I answer, that he might be made perfect by


Buch suffering — perfect, that is, not in his character, but
in his official competency; perfect as having gotten
power over men, through his sufferings, to be the suffi-
cient bringer on, or captain, he undertakes to be, in
bringing many sons unto glory.

Does he then, it may be asked, undertake the suffer-
ing as having that for his object or as consenting to it for
effect's sake ? He of course knows that he will suffer,
and how, and when, and by whom, and with what
result, but he does not fall into the weakness of those
partly fanatical martyrs who undertook the particular
merit of being somehow murdered. Coming down to
do a work of love, he simply took the liabilities of a
human person doing such a work. He was not igno-
rant of the immense value or power of a right and great
suffering, as regards the possible effect of it, and as sin
w^ould certainly be exasperated by his goodness, and
drag him down to suffering, he meant beforehand to
make it a right and great suffering, and so to win do-
minion by it. He suffered understandingly, therefore,
as the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the
world, though not as aiming to get himself afflicted, or
to make an ostentation of being wronged.

"What, then, we have now to look after, is the man-
ner and degree of that power over men's convictions
and feelings, which Christ obtained by his physical suf-
fering. And the points to which I call your attention
are such as these.

1. The manner in which, by his physical suffering, lie


magnifies and sanctifies tlie law in men's convictions.
This in fact was a kind of first point to be carried in
getting the necessary power over fallen minds. The
speculation that requires him to suffer in a way of help-
ing God to justify himself in the forgiveness of sins,
before certain great judicial minds in other worlds and
spheres, is a speculation that to say the least travels far,
and the scripture gives it no help. The true Christian
iilea appears to be that Christ is magnifying the law,

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