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must be so accepted. Far from that as possible! On
the contrary it is to be evil or wrong encountered in a
work of sacrifice^ encountered by one who is after the
ends of love, even as Christ was. That death of his
was great in power, not because he bore it, but because
he was in the work of God's love, and bore it on his
way, unable to be diverted from his end by that or any
other death. In just that manner and degree, it was in


his heart to bear sin. So if wrongs are done to you^
and the same love is in you, the sin will have a great
discovery tj make in yonr patience, of its own cruel t}'
and weakness. If you do but suffer well, nobody can
long triumph over you, or live before you unforgiven.
Do you then remember, that a great part of your Chris-
tian power and privilege is here, in the bearing of sin
with your Master. Perhaps you talk down your ene-
mies, perhaps you mix hot resentments with your
words, perhaps you break the silence of Christ first,
and then break every thing else in his example. Come
back then if it be so, and read, and settle into 3^our
memory, and transcribe on your heart, that one sen-
tence of the apostle concerning charity — "Beareth all
things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, en-
dureth all things." There you have the power of Jesus
himself, and it is for you!

Having reached this point I see no reason why the
subject should be farther protracted. There is nothing,
in fact, to add, even for persuasion's sake. The gospel,
as we have here seen it, is complete in itself, asking, and
in fact, permitting, no kelp from its advocate.



^ySut put ye on the Lord Jesus ChristJ^ — Rovr. xiii, 14
The highest distinction of man, taken as an animal
among animals, lies not in his two-handedness, or his erect
tigure, but in his necessity and right of dress. The in-
ferior animals have no option concerning their outward
figure and appearing. Their dress, or covering, is a
Dart of their organization, growing on them, or out of
them, as their bones are grown within. Be- it feathers,
or fur, or hair, or wool ; be it in this color or that, bril-
liant as the rainbow, or shaggy, or grizzled, or rusty
and dull, they have no liberty to change it, even if they
could desire the change, for one that is glossier and
more to their taste. But man, as a creature gifted with
a larger option, begins, at the very outset, to show his
superior dignity in the necessary option of dress. It is
given him for his really high prerogative, to dress him-
self, and come into just what form of appearing will
best satisfy the tastes into w^hich he has grown; or,
what is very nearly the same thing, will best represent
the quality of his feeling and character. With this kind
of liberty comes, of course, an immense peril ; for tliere
is a peril that belongs to every kind of liberty. As



dress and equipage may create a difference of appear-
ing, ihat very nearly amounts to a differencie of order
and kind, the race of ambition, as soon as ambition is
born, will here begin. And now the tremendous option
of dress, given as a point of dignit}^, becomes, under
sin^ a mighty instigator in the fearful race of money,
society, and fashion.

You alread}^ understand from this course of remark,
that I am going to speak of dress as the outward an-
alogon, or figure of character, and of character as the
grand "putting on " of the soul. It would be instructive
here to notice the immense reacting power of dress on
character, showing how we not only choose our ow^n
figure in it, but our figure in turn chooses us ; requir-
ing us to feel and act, or helping us to feel and act, ac-
cording TO the appearing we are in. But I hasten to
speak of the analog}^ referred to. Dress relates to the
form or figure of the body, character to the form or
figure of the soul — it is, in fact, the dress of the soul.
The option we have, in one, typifies the grander option
we have in the other. The right we have in one, above
the mere animals, to choose the color, type and figure
of the outward man, foreshadows the nobler right we
also have to cast the mold, fashion or despoil the beauty,
of the inward man. There is also an immense reaction
in character ; what we have become already, in the cast
of life, going far to shape our doings and possible be-
comings hereafter.

On the ground of this analogy it is that the scriptures


SO frequentl}^ make use of dress, to signify what lies iu
character, and represent character, in one way or an-
other, as being the dress of the soul. Thus they speak
of " the wedding-garment," " the garment of praise,"
that "of cursing," that "of pride;" " the robe of right-
eousness," and "of judgment," and "the white robe,"
and "the best robe" given to the returning prodigal,
and "the robe that has been washed," and "judgment
put on as a robe;" of "white raiment," and "white
apparel," of "glorious apparel," of "nakedness," of
"righteousnesses that are filthy rags," of "filthiness
in the skirts ;" and more inclusively and generally
still, of being "clothed with salvation," " wnth strength
and power," "with humility," "with majesty," "with
shame," " with fine linen clean and white, which is the
righteousness of saints ;" " I put on righteousness," says
Job, "and it clothed me." And, in the same way, it is
that Paul, conceiving Christ to be the soul's new dress,
or what is no wise different, its new character, says
" Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ."

All the figures of dress or clothing are used up, in
this manner, by the scriptures, to represent the forms
of disgrace and filthiness, or of beauty and glory, into
which the inner man of the soul may be fashioned — •
wearing heaven's livery or that of sin. As character ia
the soul's dress, and dress analogical to character, what-
ever has power to produce a character when received,
is represented as a dress to be put on.

Passing thus into the great problem of life as a moral


and spiritual affair, we are surprised to find that inward
character and outward covering are so closely related,
as tc be taken, by a kind of natural instinct, one foi
the other, and the loss of one for the loss of the other.
What do the first human pair imagine when they fall
into sin, and make the loss of character, but tliat they
have lost their covering? It does not appear to be
merely a stroke of art in the description given, but a
most natural turn of fact, that the shamed consciousness
within is taken, by their unpracticed simplicity, as a
shock that has come upon their modesty.

No sooner is the deed done, than the culprits, all cov-
ered in before by the sense of God's beauty on their
feeling — for exactly that was their original righteous-
ness and not any beauty of their own culture — begin to
be troubled by the discovery of their nakedness !
The real difficulty is that the pure investiture of Grod
upon their consciousness has been stripped away, thrown
off by their sin. Nothing is changed without, as they
foolishly think — stitchingtheir scant leaves, vain hope!
to hide a loss that is within. And probably the same
is true of the immense dressing art and trade of the
world ; it is put agoing and continued, as regards the
fearfully deep zeal of it, by just that shame of the mind
which keeps it company in evil, and makes it always
emulous of some better figure. Were this inward
shame taken away, and the soul inwrapped, as at the
first, by the sense of God's beauty upon it, the secret
phrenzy at least would soon be over. The maiden
would forget her torment in the sense of a holier beauty


within, the hidden man of the heart, the ornament of a
meek and quiet spirit ; and the man of the world would
be striving no more after the outward shows and trap*
pings that are needed to cover the lost honors of the

In the same way it is, just according to the manner
of the fig-leaf history, that such an immense patch-
ir g art, in the matter of character, is kept in practice in
all ages of the world. It is the general admission of
souls, that they are not in a true figure of respect before
themselves ; but instead of returning to God, and the
complete investiture in which he will cover them, they
imagine, or get up, small shows of excellence, which
they contrive to think are as good, for the matter of
character, as they need. These small shows we have a
name for, calling them pretexts^ shows of covering that,
after all, do not cover — patches, fig-leaves. In one view
the absurd figures continually put forward as pretexts,
in this way, are abundantly ludicrous ; in another they
carry a look most sad, as well as profoundly serious.
Politeness — this is one of the fig-leaves ; taken for a
complete character by many, and carefully maintained,
at> the standard excellence of life. Honor is another and
scantier, assuming still to be even a superlative kind of
character; more imposing and airy than it could be
under the restrictions of virtue. Bravery, again, is a
fig-leaf pretext, put on to cover the loss of courage ,
for evil in the soul is of a coward nature, and can only
keep itself up, without heart, by sallies and wild dashes


of bravery from the will. These and many others oi
the same class are pretexts of character outside of re-
ligion, but immensely significant, as revelations of the
shamed consciousness of sin. Passing into the more
immediate field of religion, the pretexts there invented
and put forward, as covers to the soul's nakedness, are
scarcely to be numbered or named — such as sacrifices
offered the world over to idols, self-tortures of the
body to cover the sin of the soul, penances, austerities
of solitude, vows of abstinence and poverty, exactness
in rites and traditions, orthodoxy, alms-givings, honesty
in trade, the doing others no harm, resignations and
fatalizing submissions to God, works of reform and
philanthropy, patience without feeling, liberality with-
out character. This fig-leaf stitching is, in fact, the
great business of the world; in which we may see,
more convincingly than by any thing else, the certainty
that men are goaded everywhere by the secret, inex-
pugnable feeling of nakedness or a want of character.
It is a most sad picture to look upon. Then how piercing
and fearful is the revelation, when the Holy Spirit strips
away all the illusions they practice, and they are made
to see that their righteousnesses are rags and not gar-
ments, and that they are wretched, and miserable, and
poor, and blind, and naked. 0, this nakedness of the
eoul ! how dismal a figure it is even to itself! Jesus
pities it, and comes to it saying, in what gentleness of
promise — " buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou
may est be rich, and white raiment that thou may est be
clothed, that the shame of thy naked aess may not appear."


Nor let any one imagine that these deep wants of
spiritual nakedness we speak of are to be satisfied, by
any uprightness in tlie moral life. The shame is reli-
gious, not moral — it belongs entirely to the religious
nature, divested as it is of what was to be everlastingly
upon it, the conscious infolding of God. The law
moral is a law of this world, sanctioned by this world's
custom. It was not out of this that the first man fell ;
for custom had not yet arrived. No, it was the original
inspiration, that enveloped and, as it were, covered in
his life ; the holy vesture that he had infolding him
as in comnmnity of being with God — this it was that
he had put off, and the loss of which was the dread-
ful shame of his uncovering. Impossible, therefore,
it is for any one to reinvest himself with the cover-
ing he needs. He can not dew^ himself in the dews
of his lost morning, can not cover in himself in the
righteousness that was God's infolding of character upon
him. What he had by community of being he can
never reproduce by his personal will. He must have
it again, as he had it at the first ; only by that same
righteousness of God revealed to faith, in Christ his
Son. Here again the robe is offered back, and he may
have good use of his liberty in putting it on ; he only
can not make a thread of it himself; the warp and woof
must be wholly divine — the incovering beauty of God'a
own feeling and Spirit, that enveloped our first father,
and, in Christ, are offered to us all.

We pass, then, here to another point in advance, viz.


to the fact that Christ our Loi i comes into the world to
restore the investiture we have lost; or rather to be
himself, for ns and upon us, all that cur sin has cast
away. The original word of scripture, represented in
our English version by the word atone^ or make atone-
"yierd, literally means to cover. In this manner, Jesug
the liord comes to cover our sin ; covering, first, our
liabilities in the sins that are past, by the forbearance of
God, and the honor he confers on God's instituted jus-
tice, by community with us in the penal scathing and
curse of our transgression ; and, secondly and princi-
pally, in the sense that he undertook to be the divine
character upon us — ^yea, the divine glory. For he does
not merely teach us something, as many fancy, which
we are to take up notionally and cop}^, item by item,
in ourselves, but he undertakes to copy himself into us,
and be the righteousness of God upon us. Had we
been taught, in the best manner possible, what things
in character to add, what things to change, or qualify,
or put away, or put on, what could we have done, in
the weaving of so many and such infinite subtleties and
shadings of quality, but inevitably miss of all the really
divine proportions; producing only a grotesque and
half absurd caricature ? But when Jesus comes to us
bearing all these finest, holiest proportions of beauty in
himself, we have nothing to do but to believe in him,
or receive him in his person, and he copies himself into
us, by the wondrous power of his feeling and sacrifice
upon us. Then, as every shade is from him, nothing is
overdone, distorted, missed, zr omitted. The glory of


the Father, all the Father's character, is upon him, anrl
he is able to say — " the glory which thou gavest me 1
have given them."

Furthermore, there is this wonderful art, so to speak,
in the incarnate human appearing of Jesus, that he
humanizes God to us, or brings out into the human
nK>lds of feeling, conduct and expression, the infinite
perfection, otherwise inappropriable and very nearly
inconceivable. Since we are finite, God must needs
take the finite in all revelation. He can never draw ''
himself close enough to get hold of our feeling, or sym-
pathy, and be revealed to our heart, till he takes the
finite of humanity. In the man-wise form only can we
pat him on. Otherwise his very perfections, elaborated
by our human thought, would be only impassive, dis-
tant, autocratic, it may be, and even repulsive ; as they
often are, even in the teachings now of Christian
theology. That he has any particular feeling for men,
or this, or that man, that his great spirit can be overcast
and burdened with concern for us under sin, that he is
complete in all the passive virtues he puts it upon us
to practice — how could we think it, or be at all sure of
it ? But here he is, in Jesus Christ, moving up out of
a childhood, into a great manhood, filling all the human
relations with offices and ministries in human shapes
of good; helping the sick with kind words, and healing
them by the touch, so to speak, of his sympathies, care-
ful of the poor, patient with enemies, burdened for
them in feeling even to the pitch of agony, simple, and
ti'ue, and faithful unto death. And so we have God's


infinite perfections in our own finite molds, and are
ready to have them even upon ourselves. God is now
no more some blank idol of reason, some fate, or in-
finite abyss, or some frigid, thin immensit}^ of panthe-
istic unconsciousness ; his vast superhuman proportions
no longer baffle us, or spread themselves in phantoms
of glory, which we can as little think as partake. But
they are given us in the traits of Jesus, who being
Son of God, has come to be the Son of Man among ns,
living out, in his human way, and so helping us to con-
ceive, that excellence of God, in which we require to
be invested. The ineffable character is made human^
set forth in the human proportions, and we have it as a
glorious, full suit, prepared in the exactest fit of our
humanity, yet still divine. The virtues, graces, glories,
sympathies infinite, are so brought forth and embodied
in the incarnate whole of his life, that we can have them
all upon us at once, when we could not even sketch the
pattern, by simply embracing, in trust, his human per-

In this manner, for this, in brief, is the gospel, we are
to be new charactered, by the putting on of Christ;
not by some imitation or copying of Christ that we
practice, item by item, in a way of self-culture — the
Christian idea is not that — but that Christ is to be a
complete wardrobe for us himself, and that by simply
receiving his person, we are to have the holy texture
of his life upon us, and live in the infolding of his
character. And this is the meaning of that "righteous-
ness of faith " which is variously spoken of in the


scriptures. It is that Christ is everything for us and
upon us, and that we are to see our whole supply-
righteousness, beauty, peace, liberty in good, graces,
and stores of character, putatively ours in him ; reck-
oned to be ours by faith, always derivable by faith from
him ; for this exactly is the difference between a Chris-
tian and a merely humanly virtuous person, that one
draws on Christ for everything, and the other on him-
self — on his will, his works, his self-criticism, shaping
all liis amendments himself. Or, reversing the order
of comparison, one manufactures a suit for himself, in
patches of character gotten together and laid upon the
ground of his sin, and the other takes a whole robe of
life, graciously fitted and freely tendered, in the hu-
manly divine excellence of Christ his Saviour — who is
thus made unto him wisdom, righteousness, sanctifica-
tion and redemption.

But we are to put him on — ''put ye on the Lord
Jesus Christ." And here is the difficulty — you can not
see, it may be, how it is done. The very conception is
unintelligible, or mystical, and you can not guess, it may
be, what it means. What then does it mean to put on

It does not mean, of course, that you are on]y to
make an experiment of putting on the garb of a new
life, and see how you will like it. No man puts on
Christ for any thing short of eternity. The act must be
a finality, even at the beginning. He must be accepted
as the Alpha and Omega. Whoever conteniDlates even


the possibility of being without him, or of ever being
without him again, does not put him on.

Keith er do you put bim on, when you undertake tc
copy some one or more of the virtues, or characters, in
him — the gentleness, for example, the love, the dignity
— without being willing to accept the sacrifice in him.,
to bear the world's contempt with him, to be singular,
to be hated, to go through your Gethsemane, and groan
with him under the burdens of love. There can be no
choosing out here of shreds and patches from his divine
beauty ; you must take the whole suit, else you can not
put him on. The garment is seamless, and can not be

Neither do you put him on, when you undertake
only to realize some previous conceptions of character
that are your own. The dress is to be not from you, but
from him — the whole Christ, just as he is, taken upon
you to shape you in the molds of his own divine life
and spirit.

But we must be more positive. First, then, there
must be a full and hearty renunciation of your past life.
As the apostle words it in another place, you must put
off the old man in order to put on the new. You can
not have the new character to put on over the old.
The filthy garments, all the rags, must be thrown off,
thrown completely away. Christ will be no mere cloak
over the old affections and lusts.

How, then, for the next thing, do we put him on ?-
By faith, I answer, only by faith. For in that the soul
comes to him, shivering in the cold shame of its sin,


and gives itself over to him, to be love1, protected, cov-
ered in, bj liis gracious life and passion. It sees sucb
beauty upon him tha^^ it dares trust him, and says—
" be thou my all, the washing away of my sin, the cov-
ering of my vileness, my character and life. Lord,
my hope is in thee !" And this is faith ; it is coming
to Jesus in all his manlike sympathies, characters,
molds of life, and receiving him, by a total act of trust,
to be upon you, as the Lord your righteousness. Your
iniquities are thus to be forgiven, your sin to be cov-
ered. Righteousness from him, and not from your
own will and works, is to be upon you thus, by the in-
folding of a divine power ; even the righteousness that
is of God by faith, unto all and upon all them that be-

Take another conception, which may be more intelli-
gible to some, viz., that you will put on Christ by obe-
dience to him ; for whoever obeys Christ willingly
trusts him, and whoever trusts him obeys him. Hence
the promise — "If a man love me, he will keep my
words, and my father will love him, and we will come
unto him and make our abode with him." And then it
follows that whoever has the abode with him, consci-
ously, of the Father and the Son, will be all folded in
by the thought of it, and will live as being in the sacred
investiture of the divine character and power. If, then,
you can not understand faith, you can understand obe-
"lience, and if you go into that, as the final, total giving
over of your life, I will answer for it, that there will
be a fiiith in your obedience, and that Christ will be



with you, raanifested in jou, truly put on, as the con
sciouslj divine attire of your life.

I have only to add on this point, that you are to be
always putting on Christ afterwards, as you begin to
put hini on at the first. All the success of your Chi is-
tian life will consist in the closeness of j^our walk with
Christ, and the completeness of your trust in him.
You are not so much to fashion yourself by him, as to
let him fashion you by himself — to, be upon you, as he
is with you, and cover you with all the graces of his
inimitable love and beaut}' ; and this you w411 do most
perfect!}^, when you trust him most implicitly, and keep
his words most faithfully.

It only remains, now, to bring our subject to its fit
conclusion, by speaking of the consequences of this
cutting on of Christ. And I name, first of all, that
which the apostle suggests, in a kind of cadence that
inmediately follows and finishes out the text. "But
put ye on," he says, "the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."
Where he conceives, it will be seen, that one substi-
tutes, or takes place of, the other — that when Christ is
really put on, the world falls ofi^, and the lusts of prop-
erty, and fame, and power, and appetite, subside or fall
awa}^ The effect runs both ways, under the great law
of action and reaction — as the old man is put off that
the new may be put on, so the new put on still further
disjDlaces the old. This, too, we know by the attestations
of experience. He that has the sense of Christ upon


him, has himself ennobled. He is raised in the pitch
of his feeling every way ; having such a consciousness
awakened of his inward relation to God, that money,
and pleasure, and all the petty lustings of the lower
life are sunk out of sight and forgot. Sometimes you
will see that an appetite which has become a madness,
like the appetite for drink, and has shaken down all the
man's resolutions, and floored him at every point of
itruggle, utterly dies and is felt no more, from the
moment when he has put on Christ. He wants no more
a sensation, when the sentiment of his soul is full. It
is as if he were in Christ's own appetites, instead of
those which have so long domineered over his diseased

Online LibraryHorace BushnellSelect works (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 29)