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and playing with the air and the light, remember
probably no more the cold, slow worms they were, when
crawling, but a week ago, in the ground.

You will understand, of course, that if Christ is purg-
ing thus men's consciences, by lifting them above them-
selves, into a higher range of life, the conception will
appear and reappear, in many distinct forms, and weave
itself, in as many varieties, into the whole texture of
Christianity. Notice then three distinct forms, not to
speak of others, in which this change of grade oi


personal consciousness comes into view as a mighty
gospel fact.

As the first of these, I noxriQ justification^ or justificat ion
hy faith. The grand last point or final efiect of Christian
justification is, "no more conscience of sins;"- for, hav-
ing that accomplished, it is inconceivable that God
should condemn us when we do not condemn ourselves,
and having it not accomplished, but condemning still
ourselves, no justification bj God will do us any good.
But in this matter of justification, the less we make of
the old standing alternative the better; what if it
should happen that, while we are debating which of
two conceptions is the true one, they are neither of them
true ? And so I think it will sometime be found.
According to the scripture, which is very plain, gospel
justification turns on no such mere objective matter as
the squaring of an account; nor on any such subjective
matter as our being made inherently righteous ; but it
turns on the fact of our being so invested with God,
and closeted in his righteous impulse, that he becomes
a felt righteousness upon us. Our consciousness is so
far changed, in this manner, by the river-flood of God's
character upon us, that, as long as our faith keeps the
connection good, and permits the river to flow, we are
raised above all condemnation and have no more con-
science of sins. Inherently speaking we are not right-
eous ; our store is in God, not in ourselves ; "but we
have the supply traductively from him, just as we do
the supply of light from the sun. But the new divine
consciousness in which we live is continually conforming


US, more and more deeply, and will settle us, at last, in
its own pure habit. In this manner, faith is counted to
us for righteousness, because it holds us to God, in
whom we have our springs of supply.

See how beautifully and simply Paul sets forth this
true Christian idea of justification — "But now the
righteousness of God, without the law, is manifested,
even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of
Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe.'*
It is not righteousness for us in a book, nor in us by
inherent character, but righteousness unto us and upon
us, in its own living flow, as long as we believe. It ia
a higher consciousness which God generates and feeds,
and as long as he does it there is no more conscience of

This same truth of a raising of our plane appears in
another form, in what is called the witness of the Spirit.
' The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that
we are the children of God ; and if children then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." Here the
conception is that, as being spirit, we are permeable by
the divine Spirit, and that he has a way of working in
our working, so as to be consciously known as a better
presence in our hearts. And so we have the confidence
of children or sons, raised in our before low-bred nature,
and dare to count ourselves God's heirs — fellow heirs
with Christ our brother. Nothing is said of sins in this
connection, but we can see for ourselves that, being thus
ennobled by the inflowing Spirit, we shall be too much
raised in the confidence of our dignity, to be troubled



or shamed by tlie past. And this same lifting, or en-
nobling of our spirit, is put in other forms of assertion;
as when Christ, promising the Comforter, says — "At
that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye
in me, and I in you." To be thus interlocked with the
.Father and the Son in a firm knowledge of the fact,
revealed by the witnessing Spirit, is to have a conscious-
ness opened that is dignity itself and glory begun.
The same thing is put more practically, by the apostle,
when he says — " Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not
fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Keep fast in the higher
element, where the senses of God and his joy are lifting
the mind into liberty, and the lower and more carnal
impulses will be left behind and forgot.

Once more this grand fact of the gospel, the raising
of our plane of being, is presented in a still different
manner in what is said of the conscious inhabitation of
Christ. "Christ in you the hope of glory," — "But ye
see me," — "Abide in me," — " Until Christ be formed in
you." But the great apostle to the Gentiles, himself a
Christian man all through, having that for his sublime
distinction, declares himself, on this point, out of his
very consciousness — " I am crucified with Christ, never-
theless I live ; 3^et not I, but Christ liveth in me." It is.
you perceive, as if his being itself were taken well-nigh
out of its identit}^ by Christ revealed in it. The old sin
■ — he does not think of it. The old I — why it is gone —
" 3^et not I." He was going to say that he Paul was alive,
but he did not like to say so much as that, and so he puts
down his negative on it, and says he does not live. But


0, the living, all-quickening Christ- -that is boasting
enough — " Christ liveth in me ; for the life I now live in
the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son-of Goi, who loved
me and gave himself for me." How great a fact was
the lifting of this man's plane, which took him, demon-
ized by bigotry and hate, and made him the hero and
strangely Christed propagator of the cross. Then he
was Saul, now he is Paul ; but the change touches more
than a letter — -he is raised even in his own feeling to quite
another order of being. The conscience of sins — it may
be that he has it in a sense ; for, being an eternal fact,
he must eternally know it ; but the Christ-consciousness
in him ranges so high above the self-consciousness, that
he lives in a summit of exaltation, which the infinitesi-
mal disturbances of his human wrong and shame can
not reach.

Here then, my friends, j^ou have opened to view one
of the greatest triumphs of Christianity, perhaps the
very greatest of all. To bring a clean thing out of an
unclean is a much easier matter than to make a good
conscience out of an evil or accusing conscience. Here
the difficulty appears to be a kind of metaphysical im-
possibilit}^ Indeed there is no philosopher, who would
not say, beforehand, that such a thing is even demon
strably impossible. For if the accusing conscience ac-
cuses rightly, then it must either be extirpated, which
decomposes the man, or else it must be suborned to
give a lying testimony, when of course it will even
condemn itself But our gospel is able to look so great


a difficulty in the face, and, what is more, turns it by a
method so very simple as to be even sublime. When
once you have conceived the possibility of raising a soul
into a higher grade and order, where the consciousness
shall take in more than the mere self, the body of God's
own righteousness, and love, and peace, the problem is
solved and that, in a way so plain, yet so easily enno-
bling to our state of shame, that it proves itself by its
own self-supporting evidence. This we say instinctively
ought to be and must be true.

Only the more strange is it that, when this way of
remedy is, and no other can be, sufficient, we so easily
fall out of our faith, and begin to put ourselves on
methods of purgation that only mock our endeavor.
Having the grand possibilities of a good conscience
opened to us in Christ, and nothing given us to do but
just to receive by faith the manifested righteousness of
God, we begin to work, in the lower level of our shame,
upon the shameful unclean matter, as if going to purge
it ourselves. One will mend himself up in a way of
self-correction ; which, if he could do, would, alas, not
even touch the conscience of his old sins. Another
goes to the work of self-cultivation, where he may pos-
sibly start some plausible amenities on the top of his
bad conscience, even as flowers will sometimes be in*
duced to grow upon a glacier. Another will pacify his
bad conscience by his alms and philanthropic sacrifices,
when an avalanche on its way could as well be pacified
by the same. Others will make up a purgation by their
repressive penances and voluntary humiliations, when


the very thing their consciences complain of is, that
they are too miserably shamed and humiliated already.
Multitudes also will expect much from purgatorial fires
hereafter, as if being duly chastised could make a good
conscience I or as if these supposed fires would not
rather burn in the brand of sin than burn it out ! Now
these poor scanty methods of delusion, unlike as they
are to each other, are just as good one as another,
because they are all equally worthless. Who could
believe that rational beings, having so grand a way
open to the new footing of sons of God, and having
once conceived that way, could yet subside into these
wretched futilities ?

Worthier of sympathy but scarcely more worthy of
the gospel name, are those hapless souls, who have
fallen under their bad conscience to be forever harrowed
and tormented by it. They have no faith to believe in
a concrete, personal grace, and are only haunted by the
nightmare of their moral convictions. They mope
along their pathway therefore, looking always shame-
fully down ; as if the sky above were paved with con-
demnations. If they bear the Christian name, they have
yet no real peace, no sweet element of rest and confi-
dence. They seem ever to be saying, " mine iniquities
have taken hold upon me so that I am not able to look
up." Or sometimes there is a trouble more specific —
some one sin, the shame, tbe inward mortification, or
damnation of which, follows them, day and night, and
even year by year ; a crime unknown to the world, but
for which they inwardly blush, or choke with guilty


pain, whenever it meets tliem alone. They seem to be
even everlastingly dishonored before themselves. Per-
haps they are, and fitly should be; but, my friends,
there is a medicine for all such torments. Looking
down upon jomy sins, or your particular sin, you can
be, must be, everlastingly shamed; but if you can look
away to Christ, take hold of Christ and rise with him,
you shall go above your trouble, jou. shall be strong,
and free, and full, and even righteous; established in
all glorious confidence, because your very consciousness
is lifted and glorified, by what comes into it from God's
eternal concourse and friendship.

And here, just here, in fact, we strike the culminating
point of wonder and glory in what Christ, by his more
perfect offering, has been able and was even required to
accomplish, to put us on a footing of complete salvation ;
viz., a restoration, forever, of the soul's lost honor. We
could not take our place among the pure angels of God,
and be really united to their blessedness, when we are
inwardly self-disgusted, shamed, and even to be eternally
stigmatized, by our condemning consciences. Nothing
sufficiently restores us, which does not restore the mind's
honor. And this, exactly, is our confidence; "that we
are to be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the
appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." We are even
called to "seek for honor, and glory, and immortality."
What dishonor, what possible shame, can be our tor-
ment, when our very consciousness is robed in the riglit-
eousness of God ? There is to be no more condemnation,
no more conscience of sins ; simply because we are sc


raised in the plane of our sentiment and life, that we
may think of ourselves, without any sense of dishonor
upon us. We go in — heirs, sons, princes of God — ^join-
ing ourselves boldly to all the royalties and sublime
honors of the kingdom.

Are there none of us, my friends, that have many
times sighed after just this hope, nay, that are sighing
for it now ? You have lost forever, you say, the chas-
tity of your nature, you are and must forever be a guilty
man; how then can you ever think of yourself
without mortification ? Getting into heaven itself, what
can you ever do with so many bad facts upon you, and
a bad conscience in you testifying eternally against
them ? No ! no ! There is even to be given back the
sense of honor that was lost. You shall go in, not to
hang your head, but to hold it up in praise and confi-
dence. Now that mighty word is fulfilled according to
its utmost meaning — "raised up together to sit in the
heavenlies." We are there "together" in the common
fold, we "sit" there in a titled security, the "heaven-
lies " are all ours — the honor, the confidence, the peace,
the praise. my God, what reverence shall every
creature have for every other, when thou puttest honor
upon all ! gathering in before thee, nothing which de-
fileth, or abideth in shame, but only such as Christ hath
raised to eternal honor, before both thee and themselves!



'''•Then answered the Jews and said unto him — say iue_
not well, that thou art a Samariia7ij and hast a devil f"
—John viii, 48.

It is often remarked as a curious, half ludicrous dis-
tinction of insane persons, that they look on others
round them as being out of their head. And yet this
kind of phenomenon is more or less observable, in all
cases of diseased action, whether mental or spiritual;
the subject sees his disorder, not in himself, but in the
objects and conditions round him.

Under the disease or disaffection called sin, the same
is true ; as we may see by the answer of these carping
hypocrites, when Christ reproves their high pretenses,
and sanctimonious lies. "You call yourselves children
of Abraham," he says, "when you do none of his
works, when your fatherhood is more truly discovered
in the father of lies. And as he abode not in the truth,
and has no truth in him, so because I tell you the
truth ye believe me not." They feel the sharpness of
the words, but do not perceive the solemn justice of
the argument- ' throwing it captiously back upon him
as ik the text ; ' say we not well, that thou art a Sama-


ritan and hast a devil?" Just as they should if his ar-
gament was true; for the men who have a devilish
spirit are sure to see their devil objectively in others.
There must be a devil on hand somewhere, they are
sure, and who will expect them to find it where it is, in
themselves? The truth accordingly which I now pro-
pose for your consideration is this :

Tfiat a had mind sees had things^ and mokes to itself a
had element. In other words, a bad mind projects its
own evils into persons and conditions round it ; charg-
ing the pains of its own inward disorder to the objects
that refuse to bless it, and counting, it may be, Christ
himself a sting only of annoyance.

It would be far more agreeable to me to assert this
truth universally, or so as to include the good ; show-
ing how they convert all things to good by their bright
and loving spirit, and how the stones even of the field
are in league with them to bless them ; but this would
take me over too large a ground, and therefore I must
be content to occupy you, for the time, with a subject
not grateful in itself, hoping that you may even find the
greater benefit in it. If the errand we are after is not
pleasant, if it compels us to go burrowing into the
dark, underground abysses and pains of evil in the
soul, let us not recoil from the task, because we find a
great deal of our conceit inverted and a great many of
our complaints of God and the world turned back upon

I do not mean, of course, to say, that we can have
nothing to complain of, or that other men can not do



US bitter wrongs. iSTeitlier do I iindertake to say, that
we shall not feel them. But he that suffers a wrong
rightly, finds a law of compensation going with him, as
with God, so that his injury, or injured feeling, is
repaid many times over, like that of God, by the con-
sciously sublime repose of his own self- approving spirit
And, this being true, it is only the bad mind .n us,
after all, that allows us to be really troubled and har-
assed by wrong. I will only add that what I am
going to say may seem to be an over-statement, or ex-
aggeration of the truth, without this qualification, and
must therefore ask to have it remembered.

We shall best open the gate of our argument on this
subject, if we notice two great facts, or laws of oar
nature, which are the ground of this tendency in us to
refer our own evils to things about us, and in the same
way to keep us from a discovery of them as being in

First, by a fixed necessity of language, we are
obliged, apart from all the blinding effects of our sin, to
represent a great part of what transpires in our experi-
ence, in a way of objective description. For example,
it is the natural way of language to call things "hot,"
"sweet," "bitter," and the like, when in fact the words
really describe nothing but our own inward sensations.
So we say that a " subject is dark," not because there is
any thing dark in the subject, but that we are dark to
it. So again we say that a thing bears a " suspicious
look," when we are suspicious of it; or of some spec-


tacle that it "is fearful," when we are fearrullj^ moved
by it. We speak in the same way of "taking our
chances" and "meeting our dangers," when in fact
there is neither chance nor danger in things at all, but
only an absolute certainty that this or that will take
place. The uncertainty, or ignorance of what is to
come is in us, and we call it chance or danger in things.
ISTow the great part of mankind go through life, using
every hour these objective terms of language, without
ever once suspecting that what they describe as
without, is nothing but an experience within them-
selves. Almost all staple words of language, as related
to our inward experience, are of just this kind; it
could not, as might easily be shown, have been other-
wise. In this manner, we put almost all that we suffer,
enjoy, feel, and think, into the objects and doings and
characters round us, not understanding that what we
figure, as in them, is really transpiring in ourselves—
just as we say, how often, that we have " taken a cold,"
and verily believe that a cold something, we know not
what, has seized us ; whereas we have simply gotten up
y fever — probably by over-indulgence — and then the
shiverings and atmospheric chills that follow we take
for the causes of the mischief.

But there is another great condition, or law of expe
rience in bad minds, that is operating always and more
powerfully in the same direction. A bad mind lives in
things and for things, or we might rather say, under
things. Condition, pleasure, show, are its god. And
then it follows that the worship is only another name


for distemper, unreason, hallucination. It is not posi-
tively insane, but what is verj^ nearly the same thing,
ansane — a nature out of joint, poisoned, racked with
pains, a cloudy, wild, ungoverned, misconceiving power.
It knows nothing but thmgs, and if things do not bless
it, what can it do but fall to cursing them ? Being a
distempered organ, it sees its distempers only in things
and conditions round it. Thus when a diseased ear
keeps up a nervous drumming in the brain, all sweetest
music will have that drumming in it. So if the taste is
bittered by some dyspectic woe, it will find that bitter
savor in all most delicate things, and even in the pure
waters of the spring. So also, I suppose, if the humors
of the eye were jaundiced, the pure light of heaven
would be yellowed also. Even the sun is smoky, seen
through a smoked glass. Just so we are meeting all
sorts of bitter, painful, and bad things, in our life, just
because we are bitter, painful, bad, ourselves, and can
not see that this is the root of our misery.

Besides it is a fact, under this great law of retributive
disorder, that even good things are really bad to our
feeling, because there is a bad mind in us. They are
not given to be our torment, but the subjective badness
of the soul makes them so ; just as the weakness of the
diseased eye makes the light a cause of injury and pain.
The light is not bad in itself, but the receiving organ is
bad, and so the pure light, image itself of God, shoots
in arrows of pain that sting the body. In the same
way selfishness and sin make the whole soul a diseased
receiving organ ; when, of course, every thing received


or looked upon is bad, and imparts some kind of pain.
The good law is made death unto it, Christ himself a
savor of death. Truth is bad to us, holy men are a dis-
turbance, life a burden, death a terror, heaven itself a
world of constrained service and unreal or impossible

We come now to the matter of fact itself. Is it only
theory of which we have been speaking, or is it fact ?

Here we make our appeal first of all to the scripture,
where the illustrations are manifold and striking. There
was never among men a more inoffensive, winning, and
beautiful character than Joseph. But his brethren
hated him and could not speak peaceably to him—
hated him so intensely that they were willing to put
him out of the way, by almost any method, however
cruel. They talked with one another about him,
painted him as a selfish, proud brother, and set him off
in the most odious colors. Having a bad mind towards
him, they saw only bad and hateful things in him
But the bad things were all in themselves, not in him.
His only crime was his worth, and the beauty of his
spirit, and that God, on this account, had advanced
him, giving him the precedence his character deserved.

So with Saul ; the devil of jealousy creeps into his
morbid, selfish heart, and he sees in David, the faith-
ful servant of his throne, a scheming usurper only and
traitor, waiting to vault into his place. He is wrought
up thus to such a pitch of fear and malice, that, in one
of his paroxysms, he hurls a javelin at his head. The



evil he sees in David is really in Lis o^^n -wild, ugly
passion, but instead of strangling that, he tries to
murder him !

Equally mad, exceedingly mad, ahnost conscien-
tiously mad, as he himself relates, was Saul, the young
rabbi of Tarsus, though in a different vein. The fiery
young zealot was hot against Jesus, hot against Stephen,
hot also against all the disciples of the new religion ;
but the heat of his passion he afterwards discovered was
in the bad fire of his own bad mind, and the miserable
bigotry that possessed him.

It is also a fact most remarkable, evincing the same
thing, that Jesus Christ, the only spotless and perfect
character that ever breathed the air of our planet, was
more accused and hated, and charged with worse crimes,
than it ever fell to the lot of any mortal to perpetrate.
He was not only a Samaritan and had a devil, but he
cast out devils by a devil, he broke the Sabbath, he was
a mover of sedition, he made himself equal with God,
he spoke blasphemy, he was a conspirator against
Caesar, his silence was called obstinacy, his eating and
drinking gluttony and drunkenness, his cross the proof
of his weakness and a fit mark for jeering, his death his
defeat as an impostor and his final expulsion from the
world. And yet there was nothing in him to irritate
or anger good men. His life was beauty itself, his spirit
breathed the pure benignity even of God. Yes, and
for just this reason, he disturbed the bad mind of men
only the more bitterly. Troubled, heated, moved with
jealousy^ convinced of evil, they all rushed upon him


as tlie troubler; becoming, at last, so exasperated
against him, as to break out — priests, rabbis, senators^
soldiers, populace — crying, all with one voice, crucify
him, crucify him. See them gathering round his cross,
hoar their coarse mockeries and jeers! the poor foola
have no thought or suspicion, that they are raging, in
this diabolical malice, against exasperating causes that

Online LibraryHorace BushnellSelect works (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 29)