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are after bII in themselves 1

The same truth is continually thrust upon our ob-
servation, in the intercourse of life. The passionate, ill-
natured man is an example, living always in stormy
weather, even though it be the quiet of dew-fall round
him — always wronged, always hurt, always complaining
of some enemy. He has no conception that this enemy
is in his own bosom — in the sourness, the ungoverned
irritability, the habitual ill-nature of his own bad spirit
and character. I speak not here of some single burst
of passion, into which a man of amiable temper may,
for once, be betrayed ; but I speak, more especially, of
the angry characters — always brewing in some tempest
of violated feeling. They have a great many enemies,
they are unaccountably ill-treated, and can not under-
stand why it is. They have no suspicion that they see
and suffer bad things because they are bad, that being
ill-natured is about the same thing as having ill-treat-
ment, and that all the enemies they suffer from are
snugly closeted in their own devilish temper.

The same is true of fretful persons — men and women
that wear away fast and die, because they have worried
life completely out. Nothing goes right; husband, oj


wife, or child, or customer, or sermon. They are
pricked and stung at every motion they make, and
wonder why it is that others are permitted to float alon;^
so peacefully, and they never suffered to have a moment
of peace in their lives ! And the very simple reason is
that life is a field of nettles to them, because their fret-
ful, worrying tempers, are always pricking out, through
the tender skin of their uneasiness. Why, if they were
set down in Paradise, carrying their bad mind with
them, they would fret at the good angels, and the cli-
mate, and the colors even of the roses.

The animosities of the world are commonly to be
solved in the same way — "Hateful and hating one
another." A purely good mind would not hate even
the worst of enemies and wrong-doers, but would have
a sublime joy in loving him still. Thus we have one
kind of enmity that hates differences of thought and
sentiment, and is continually rasped by the fact that
other men are so generally wrong-headed. Commonly
the difficulty is prejudice, or bigotry in ourselves,
reigning as a narrow, self-willed principle in the heart.
Another misery we suffer, in the pride, and the high
airs, and the ambition, and the undeserved successes of
others. We wish there was some justice in the world,
and that such people had their due ! This now is envy
In the soul, green-eyed, sick, self- tormenting envy.
Then, again, we have it as another form of .Tiisery, that,
having injured some one, we for that reason hate him;
and there is no hatred so implacable, so bitter, and so
like the pain of hell, as that which a man has to one


whom be "has injured — not to one who has injured him,
but to one whom he has injured himself. And yet he
will charge it not to himself, but only to the unaccount-
able fact, that the object of his malice must be so bad,
so unmitigably hateful.

So again in regard to things of condition. The poor
hypochondriac is just ready to be stranded in utter pov-
erty and distress, though he holds, it may be, millions of
property. We laugh at the strange fatuity he suffers.
But every selfish mind is in it, only in some different
way, or in some less exaggerated and palpably absurd
form. Thus, what care, fear, anxiety, hunger, eager-
ness, is there in the world ; and the secret of it is, that
we are all imagining some fault in our condition. We
want condition. Our thirsty, weary, discontented soul
finds all it wants of blessedness denied, and wonders
why it is that God has given us such a miserable desert
to live in ; as if the desert were in the world and not in
ourselves — an immense Sahara wider than Africa
knows ! Why, if we were in the midst of God's own
paradise, carrying our bad mind with us, we should see
the desert there. The inward dearth and desolation of
a mind separated from God and the all-sufficing rest and
fullness of his peace, would raise mutinous questions
and harsh accusations of dryness, against the finest, most
superlative felicity God has ever been able to invent for
his angels themselves.

Let us not omit to notice that the immoralities and
orivnes of the world are commonly conceived, by those
who are in them, to be not of themselves, but to be


chargeable on the bad causes round them. What is
more continually asserted by thieves and gamblers,
than the maxim that the world owes them a living;
till, finally, they half teach themselves to feel that the
world wrongs them, because it does not pay what it
'owes, but requires them to take the pay as they may
find it. Whereas the bottom fact of all is, that they
hate the bad necessity of work. The blasphemer,
raging in a storm of imprecations and swearing by all
sacred names — he is saying inwardly, even if no one
remonstrates with him, how can I help it ? an angel
would speak some bad words, if he had such a horse as
this to manage, or such a neighbor to deal with. The
poor victim of drink — was he not disinherited by his
father? or broken down by the slanders of enemies? or
troubled by loads of debt from misfortunes that over-
took him ? or married to a wife who was a perpetual
thorn to his peace? Was he not driven by the bad
world somehow, as he manages to think himself, into
this mode of drowning his misery? And so of the
traitor hatching his treason — whole states of traitors
hatching public treasons. Listen to their grievances —
all in others, none in themselves. They have been in-
jured, or insulted, or at any rate they were going to be.
They are hot with the sense of injury not yet arrived,
and must have their redress ! Farewell order ! welcome
anarchy and blood! What an example of human
passion, seeing worlds of wrong and enmity through
the smoke of its own guilty jealousies, and the rampani
fury of its own domineering habit.


Sucli is human nature in its bad estate everywhere,
No sin sees its own evil ; but the world is evil, every-
thing is evil to it. Even truth is evil. "Why should
the preacher come to us with so many unwelcome
messages? as if it were not enough to be dragged
tr. rough such a world as this, without being disturbed
all the way by hard accusations ! It may be that we
all sin ; but the circumstances we live in are all bad,
and what do we do, but what the circumstances make
us? Let the preacher charge upon the circumstances!
When they are not really angry at the truth, how many
hearers dislike it. Little conception have they that the
badness of the sermon is in themselves — " Say we not
well, thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil ?"

The subject I have now endeavored to illustrate is it-
self a purely practical subject, and yet a great many
practical things beside are opened by it, that do not
seem, at first, to be included. And —

1. It puts in a sad light of evidence what may well
enough be called the weak point of Christianity ; viz.,
the fact that the souls to be saved will be always seeing
themselves in it, and not seeing it as it is — turning it
thus into an element as dry as their dryness, as bitter
as their bitterness, as distasteful and oppressive as their
own weak thraldom under sin. And so it turns out
that Christ is dry, bitter, a hard yoke, any thing but
what he is. 0, what po-wer would there be in his love,
and beauty, and divine greatness, if it were not for this.
The grand difficulty in the way of a general conversion


is, that the bad minds of the world so immediately con
vert the gospel into their own figure. Christ is to them
a root out of a dry ground, having no form or comeli-
ness, and no beauty to be desired — they turn away
their faces, he is despised and not esteemed. And what
does he propose, in their view, but to make them like
himself, laying it upon them also to be roots out of a
dry ground, even as they are to follow him in self-
denial, self-sacrifice, and bearing the cross. "These
you propose to us," they say, "for our allotment; and
what shall we have after we have sacrificed ourselves in
this manner, and given up even our souls to the perdi-
tion of righteousness?" Every good and great thing
offered is discolored from the bad color of their own
bad state. And so the perpetual danger is, that what
is given for their life, will be only a savor of death.
Even the liberty of Christ appears to be only a way of
thraldom — how can they imagine that the only real
liberty of mind is the liberty of being in the truth, and
the only possession of self the loss of self in God ? And
so it comes to pass that our gospel — mighty, gracious,
captivating enough, we might think, to make an easy
conquest of the world — dwindles sadly and gets fatally
stifled, because it can not be to men's eyes, what it
really is in itself. It can not be the salvation it would;
just because a salvation is wanted.

It used to be frequently taught that men have no
susceptibility that can be acted on by the go?pol, save
in a way of revulsion; that they must be only more
exasperated by it, the more powerfully they a^e made


to feel it. No, the difficulty commonly is tliat tliey
project their own bad state into it, so as to almost shut
away the feeling of it. As far as they do feel it they
are drawn by the beauty of it — sometimes powerfully
drawn — but alas! how soon is it discolored by their
own turbid state, and the power it was going to have
sul^sides into weakness.

2. We here perceive what is the true value of condition.
I do not blame, of course, a proper attention to condition —
it is even a duty. But the notion that we are really to
make our state as bad or good by the surroundings of life,
and not by what is within us, not only violates the scrip-
ture counsel, but, quite as palpably, the dictates of good
sense — it is in fact the great folly of man. For a bad
mind is of necessity its own bad state, and that state
will be just as bad as the man is to himself, neither
more nor less, come what may. A bad temper, a wrong
love, an ungoverned pride, a restive ambition, a fretful,
irritable, discontented habit within — why if a man had
a den of vipers within, they would not make a state for
Dim more absolutely than these. The surroundings of
condition are to the man what the cloak is to the body,
and the man who hid the fox under his cloak and
hugged him close, till he gnawed into his vitals, might
as well have been thinking to be happy because of his
cloak, as any bad soul to be happy in sin because of
condition. O, that men could be so far disenchanted of
this devil that possesses their understanding, as to see
how certain it is that their condition, after all, is what
thej are themselves ; that it can be only bad as long as


326 ' 1 HE BAD MIND

tbej are bad, even if all the riches and power and
splendor of the world were laid at their feet ; and can
be only good, if good is the spirit and the inward ele-
ment of their life. Toil on, ye slaves, contrive, and
strive, and thrust yourselves on to riches and power;
and then, at the end, discover that you have onlj' gilded
your misery, and built you a condition of more splendid
sorrow; embittering bitterness by the mockery you
offer to its comfort. Still you will see without, just
what you are within, and the curse that is in you will
curse every thing round you. The down you sleep on
will be hard as your heart is, the silk that robes you
will be a vesture of nettles to your ugly tempers, the
coach in which you ride will answer to the jolting,
night and day, of your bad conscience and your un-
*3teady, gusty passions. If the bad state is in you, then
every thing is bad, the internal disorder makes all
things an element of disorder — even the sun in the sky
will be your enemy.

8. We discover in this subject, what opinion to hold
of the meaning and dignity of the state sometimes
called misanthropy. Misanthropy is the state of mind
that distastes men, the world, and life, and withdraws
itself, more or less completely, into a feeling of self-
justifying and self-isolating enmity. It is the senti-
mental state of wickedness, or wicked feeling, and is
more common to youth than to persons of a later age.
For some reason they are not happy ; they begin to
sympathize with themselves; they imagine how bad
men are, and dislike them because they are selfish, or


proud, or unjust to merit; they disapprove the scheme
of life, it is s'ich a miserable affair, an experience so
dull and so generally contemptible; they read Lord
Byron, steeping their souls in his poetic hate, and
specially sympathizing with the truculent sentiment of
his Cain, retiring Cain-like, as it were, into the felicity
of a self-justifying malice, to look out upon the world
and curse it. Now the bottom of their woe, if they
could dispossess themselves of a little vanity, is that
they are bad themselves. If they have such a hatred
of men, are they not men themselves? and is it not
probable enough that they have some as good title to
distaste themselves ? Is there not another, in the next
house, or chamber, who is hating men, disgusted with
men, just as they are? This very foolish state of mind
has one legitimate cure, and one that is true reason
itself, viz., couviction of sin. As soon as they can pass
on just one step farther, and see that what they so much
distaste is themselves, and that all the badness of the bad
world is in their own bad spirit, they are in a way to
come at the true remedy. Accordingly it is in just
this manner that the Holy Spirit often leads to Christ.
The man begins to be sick and weary, sick in mind and
so in body, for a full half of the sicknesses of the body
are only distempers of the mind ; the world palls and
grows distasteful; he sympathizes with himself, in a
manner of inward complaint, draws off from that which
does not satisfy, and loosens a kind of sentimental ani-
mosity towards men and things. But the load grows
heavier, chafing through the skin of his conceit into the


nerves of conviction; misanthropy changes to self-
disgust ; the secrets of the heart are opened ; the con-
science breaks restraint; and finally it stands revealed
that sin is in the soul — a bondage, a disease, a shame, a
curse. And now the question is who can heal the in-
ward bitterness? Misanthropy, then, and world sick-
ness are the bad state felt, conviction of sin is the bad
state understood. That is a conceited misery, this the
shame of a self-discovering weakness, guilt, and spiritual

4. It is clear, in this subject, that we have little
reason for troubling ourselves in questions that relate
to a place of future misery. Enough to know that the
mind is its own place, and will make a place of woe to
itself, whithersoever it goes, in a life of sin and separa-
tion from God. If the sceptic bolts upon us with the
question, where is hell? or the question, whether we
suppose that a God of infinite goodness has occupied
himself in excavating and fashioning a local state for
the torment of bad men ? it is enough to answer that
a bad mind carries a hell with it, excavates its own
place of torment, makes it deep and hot as with fire,
and will assuredly be in that place, whatever else may
be true. A good mind sits in heavenly places, because
it is good. Go where it will it is with God, and God is
templed eternally in it; God in his own everlasting
beatitude and peace. Exactly what is true of place
beyond this, or of place as related to the condition of
nappy spirits, we do not know, but shall know here-
after. Enough that the bad mind will at least be its


Dwn bad state and elemcDt. It has the fire and brim-
stone in itself, and the sufFocating smoke, and the dark-
ness, and the thirst, and the worm that never dies —
testifying always, " I myself am Hell." It would turn
the golden pavement into burning marl, and the hymns
and hallelujahs of the blessed into shrieks of discord.

Finally, it is evident in these illustrations, that the
salvation of man is possible, only on the ground of a
great and radical change in his inmost temper and
spirit. What is wanted for the felicity of man is clearly
not a change of place, or condition, but a change in that
which makes both place and condition what they are.
The bad spirit — this is the woe ; and nothing cures tue
woe, but that which changes the spirit of the mind.
Marvel not at this ; you have only to take one glance
at the world, turn one thought upon yourselves, to see
it. Hence it is that Christ has come into the world as
the physician of souls — it is that he may impart to them
a new life and spirit from himself, and heal the disorders
of their bad state, by uniting them to his own person.
Think it not strange that he proposes thoughts to you
so different from your own. 0, ye weary ones, all ye
desolate, all ye tossed with tempest and not comforted,
all ye world-sick and heavy hearted, hear ye his call —
" {;ome unto me and I will give you rest." Why, my
friends, what does it mean that we are such a malcontent,
miserable race of beings? Did not a good God make
us and the world we live in? Why then are we so
continually plagued and tormented in it? Why so
>i angry, so dry, so empty, so bitter, so like the troubled



sea and the mire and dirt it casts up in its storms ? Has
God made some mistake in mixing the ingredients of
our state ? No, it is we that make all this discord, we
that mix in the acrid ingredients of.miser}^ The mo-
ment you can enter back, out of sin, into this pure ele-
ment of love in Christ, this world becomes a realm of
peace, a paradise of beauty, a feast of satisfying good,
an instrument of joyous harmony. Change the inward
state and all is changed. Ye shall go out with jo}^, and
be led forth with peace, the mountains and the hills
shall break forth before you into singing, and all the
trees of the hills shall clap their hands.



^^Ye have heard how I said unto you^ I go away and
come again unto you^ — John" xiv, 28.

To go awaj and come again, or to go away in order
to come again, would seem, taking the words at their
face, to be a rather idle or unmeaning operation ; but if
we can get far enough into the mind of Christ to appre-
hend his real meaning, we shall find that he is propos-
ing, in these words, a change of the greatest conse-
quence — a change that is necessary to the working
plan of his gospel and even to the complete value of his
incarnation itself. In what sense then he is going, and
in what sense he will come again, what change of rela-
tionship he will inaugurate between himself and his
followers, and so what kind of personal relation he under-
takes to hold with them now^ is the subject to which I call
your attention this morning, as one of intense practical
interest, and even of the tenderest personal concern.

Whoever has reflected much upon the subject ot the
iiicarnation has discovered that its value depends on
brevity of time, and that no such condition could be
permanent, without becoming a limitation upon itself


and a real hindrance to its own objects. Eemaining
permanently on earth in the bod}^, Christ, plainly
enough, could never have extended his rule into parta
remote, or to persons debarred by distance from tha
external modes of access and acquaintance. The incar-
nation, therefore, requires shortly to be inverted.
After the immense new revelation, or new salvation, of
God has been accomplished, by such a manifested pres-
ence and divine life in the flesh, there needs, just as
truly, to be a withdrawment from the eyes ; otherwise
Christ, remaining in the world and permanently fixed
in it, could only gather a small circle about him, and
become the center of an outward Lama worship, as re-
stricted as the mere sight, or appearing, of the divine
man -idol requires it to be.

Therefore he says — " it is expedient for you that I go
away," adding the promise — "I will come to you."
He means, by this, that the time has now arrived, when
there must be a change of administration; when he
must needs be taken away from the eyes, and begin to
be set in a new spiritual relation, which permits a uni-
versal access of men to him, and a universal presence
of him with them — so a grand, world-wide kiugdom.
Saying nothing of the particular objects to be gained by
his death, he could not stay here and carry on his
work ; he had as many friends now as he could speak
with, or allow to speak with him ; and if he should re-
main, holding fixed locality, as of a body in space, ha
could be the head only of a coterie, never of a kingdom.
What is wanted now is an unlocalized, invisible, spirit-


ually present, everywhere present, Saviour; such as all'
may know and receive, being consciously known and
received by him.

And this will be his coming again, or his second
coming — such a kind of coming as shows him bearing
rule in Providence, and riding in the clouds of heaven —
rolling OQ the changes, unfolding the destinies of time,
and preparing his universal kingdom. The world, he
says, seeth me no more, but ye see me; and having
your spiritual eye open for this, it will be as if you saw
me coming triumphantly in the clouds. This image is
a well-known Eastern figure of princely pomp and
majesty ; they say of every great monarch, taking as-
cendancy, that he rides on the clouds of heaven. So,
as Christ comes on, bearing sway and ruling invisible,
it will be as if he were seen coming on overhead, in the
clouds. And especially will this be felt when Jerusa-
lem the Holy City is blotted out, as it were by God's
hand of judgment upon it, in the conquest by Titus.
By that sign goes out the old, exclusive Jew-state; and
there comes in after it, now^ to have its place, the Chris-
tian, catholic, free state, that is to be gathered under
the universal, spiritual headship of Christ. That gath-
ering in, as in power, is to be his coming, or coming
again — no bodily appearing, no visible pomp, no mani-
festation locally as in space; for the very thing that
made it expedient for him to go away from the senses,
forbids any such outward manifestation. And therefore
he adds a caution, telling his disciples expressly, that
his coming thus again is not to be a coming with


observation. There shall be no calling "Lo, here is
Christ, or lo, there," "behold he is in the desert," "behold
he is in the secret chambers." The power in which he
comes will be morally diffusive and secretly piercing —
" as the lightning cometli out of the east and shineth
even unto the west, so also shall the coming of the Son
of Man be."

In all which Christ, you will perceive, is proposing
to do exactly nothing which many of his disciples,
specially taken by the faith of his second coming, so
fervently preach and so earnestly magnify. They
believe that he is to come in a body, and be visible as
in body. He will of course be here or there in space,
a locally present being, at some particular geographic
point — Jerusalem, or London, or Kome, or going about
in all places by turns. Hearing now that he is here,
or there, we shall think no more of seeing him by faith,
and begin to think of seeing him with our eyes. Every
ship that sails will be crowded with eager multitudes
pressing on to see the visible Christ. Thronging in
thus, month by month, a vast seething crowd of pil-
grims, curious and devout, poor and rich, houseless all
and hungry, trampling each other, many of them sick,
not one of them in the enjoyment truly of God's peace,
not one of a thousand getting near enough to see him,
still fewer to hear him speak — how long will it take
under such kind of experience to learn what Christ in-
tended and the solid truth of it, when he said — " it is
expedient for you that I go away." Nothing could be
more inexpedient, or a profounder affliction, than a


locally descended, permanently visible, Saviour. How
much better a Saviour present everywhere, and at all
times; a Saviour who can say, "Lo, I am with you al-
ways," and make the promise good; one whom the
heart can know, as being at rest in him, and behold, as

Online LibraryHorace BushnellSelect works (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 29)