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Bushnell, Horace,
Selected works





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At the time the present volume was published, the author
announced his intention that it should eventually take the
place of Parts III. and IV. of his treatise, published eight
years before, and entitled, " The Vicarious Sacrifice," — the
whole, so recomposed, to bear that title. This purpose was
somewhat shaken by the urgency of some of his friends, who
were unwilling to lose any part of that earlier book. Since
his death, this feeling has been expressed anew and very gen-
erally ; indeed, among the many men of learning and judg-
ment, and yet of varying shades of opinion, who have been
consulted on this point, there has been but one voice as to
the loss it would be, intellectually and historically, were the
proposed omissions to be made. It seems, therefore, to
those in whose hands the decision was left, a duty to retain
both volumes intact, approaching, however, their author's
original design as closely as possible, by publishing them as
the first and second volumes of one work, and under one
title — the first treating of the sacrifice of Christ especially in
its relations to the character of man, and so to his redemp-
tion ; the second regarding it rather as related to the mind
and purposes of God.

Such an arrangement is, on the whole, more nearly in
accord with the author's mind than that which he first pro-
posed ; for he, in no sense, regarded the later work as
contradictory to, or inconsistent with, the former, as he
distinctly states in the Introduction. The new view was


not, to his eyes, one side of the old, but beyond and above
it. It was as if another lens had been added to the
telescope, or a new height reached. Looking down and
back then, as it were, upon those earlier steps by which his
mind had climbed, it was not unnatural that he should some-
what underrate their importance, as related to the history of
his own mind and to the thinking of others.

The chief objection to retaining both volumes without
change, is the occasional recurrence, in the second, of matter
contained in the latter half of the first. It is hoped
the reader will bear in mind tlie original plan, as account -
ing for this repetition, which no revision but that of the
constructing hand could now remedy.

In an appendix will be found notes left by the author,
containing new matter, whereby he hoped to throw light upon
certain difficult points of his subject. The whole work, as it
now stands in these two volumes, represents his progressive
and completed view, so far as he was able to express it, of
what was, during the greater part of his life, the absorbing
theme of his study and thought. — Ed.



In what way led to this revision, Page 12. The moral view of atone-
ment asserted even more completely, 14-. Novelty excused, 16.
How all doctrines have to pass a change of form when they come
into the human molds of thought, 18. Reasons why this doctrine of
Christ requires revision, 23.


CHAPTER I. — Forgiveness and propitiation, without expiation . 33

The one principle that underlies the subject, 34.


Forgiveness by God and by men coincide in the New Testament, one
set forth by the other, 35. Negative forgivenesses, 36. Difficulties
that are real, 37. How forgivenesses fail, 39. Two things necessary,
sympathy with and cost made for the subject, 40-41. Examples
for illustration, 42, 45, 46. We require in forgiveness to be our-
selves propitiated, 48. In this we have the tragic element of our
virtue, 49.


The analogy of our own propitiations, 50. Applied to God, 52. Not
that Christ dies for the reaction of it, 53. God loves his adversary
already, 54. God's holiness not too inflexible, 55. God's office in
government no objection, 56. Our analogies only show that we
propitiate ourselves, 57. No implication dishonorable to God, 59.
God's propitiation above time, 60.


Scripture statement of propitiation, 63. Usus loquendi of the altar
word, 64, Old Testament sacrifices, 66. Statute concerning blood,
68. How these old forms are related to Christ's sacrifice, 71. The
Propitiation thus set forth, 72.





Objection to all propitiations however conceived, *I3. Propitiations

from eternity, 74. Auother solution, 76. Not supposed tliat God

has reluctances here to overcome, 77. An ideal of God that must

have great value, 78.

V. — (without expiation.)
What now to be thought of expiation, 81. Classic word not in the
Scriptures, 82. Worst and best examples, 82. Suffering, right or
wrong, the main thing in expiation, 83. Demoralizing effect of ex-
piation, 8q. It is evil paid, for evil due, 86. No instance in Scrip-
ture, 87. And no indications for it, 87. No intei'est of character
in expiation, 90.

CHAPTER II. — Law and commandment 93

The satisfaction of law, 94. Theologic devices for this purposes, 95.


Christ and his commandments, 97. Who is he to assume such a right, 98.
General statement, 99. Two words. Law and Commandment, 100.
What Law is, 101. What Commandment, 103. Commandment in
a sense unlegal, 104. Liberty in these, 305. Christ's own exposi-
tion of them, 106. OfBces and uses, 107. Law first stage of dis-
cussion, 108. No perfect institute in itself, 109. Mostly negative,
109. Has no inspirations for duty, 110. Commandment includes
more and better. 111, 112. Leave the tabulated rule and embrace
the divine person for law, 113. Commandment offered to faith, 114.
How the two are related, 115. One a factor in nature, the other in
the supernatural, 117. Law never to be taken away by redemp-
tion, 118.


Great Analogies also to be noted, 120. Mother and child, 121. The
school, 123. Labor and the curse, 124. The army disciphne, 125.
The civil state, 127. The two factor method in all these analogies,
130. No compensations here in deliverance from the law, 131. It
never works destructively, 132.


The gospel a twofold way of discipline in like manner, 133. General
Proposition to include all, 134. The penally coercive discipline, 134.
No judicial penalty here, 136. The two factors work together, not
one against the other, 137. No justice comes till after the discipline
is through, 139. But we are kept in due impression of its future,


140. Apprehended loss of justice, 141. No thought of saving
justice by penal compensations, 143. Public and Retributive justice,
■145. Clirist incarnated into the discipline, 147. His incarnation is
the necessity of suffering accepted, 149. More to him than to us, for
we do not much realize our own, 151. See no law of desert and
therefore make light of it, 152. Make no sufficient account of tlie
suffering of the good, 153. Christ's suffering great because of his
purity, 154. Also by his great amount of mind, 155. Suffers in a
failing cause, 157. The temptation, 158. "Weeping over the city, and
the agony, 159. No justice in the suffering of the cross, 161.


Some of the texts supposed to show God's dealing with Christ on the
score of justice, 162. How we make proof texts, 163. No literal
language* for religious ideas, 163. Gratitude exaggerates always,
164. Christ made a curse, 166. Bare our sins, 167. Gives himself
a ransom, 168. The scape-goat forms, 168. Forms of fifty-third of
Isaiah, 169. How the commandment keeps the law, gives it back its
honor, and works conjunctively with it, 173-6.

CHAPTER III. — Justification by faith 177

Rom. iii, 25-6, How understood, 177. Two sets of words in English to
represent one in the Greek, 178. Probably no relief, and can only
take our disadvantage as it is, 181. Legal justification impossible,
183. Legal justification implies justification before faith, 184. The
fiction supposed, 185. Also another fiction, 186. Legal satisfaction
an ignoble gift for character, 187. Highest of all words for character
is right or righteousness. 190.

Plato and Socrates in quest of its secret power, 192. Psychological
non-discovery, 193. Abraham in advance of Socrates, 194. God
early declared to be source of all righteousness in men, 196. Clu'ist
puts us to the seeking after righteousness — even that of God, 197.
How Christ advances the scope of the idea, 199. Legal justification
cold and insufficient, 201. True justification the normal state of all
created mind, 202. Faith how related to justification, 204. Wliat
the true faith is, 205. Luther's great discovery true, 206. Only his
head mistook the meaning of his heart, 207. Justification and sanc-
tification not confounded, 210.



How related to imputation, 212. We are also to have our righteousness
putatively in God.

CHAPTER IV. — Threefold doctrine of Christ concerning him-
self 218

How often has it been wished that Christ had given us a doctrine con-
cerning himself, 218. He has done it, 218-19. His three Articles,
219. Our English word Comforter a great mistake, 220. Dispenses
comfort, of course, much as Christ himself does, 222. "We have
missed the meaning here by not observing that the Spirit is to .work
in and by Christ's work, 224.


Of sin'hecause they believe not on one, 225. New sensibility of sin
expected, 225, Defect of the old methods, 22t. They did not produce
the sense of sin as a state, 228. Christ reproves of sin by the sense
of what is not done, 229.


0/ righteoTJLsness, "because I go to the Father and ye see me no more, 230.

* Great and upright characters commonly not valued till they die, 231.

Christ expects a great revision to occur after he is gone, 233. By

what he calls righteousness he means justification, 234. And there

is no legal justification possible to bethought of here, 235.


Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged, 236. Conceives
evil to be a great organizer, 237. But the bad kingdom will be
shaken by the trial scene at hand, 239. Judas, Peter, Annas,
Caiaphas, all shaken, 240. Pilate himself is judged, 241. So dis-
possessed that he makes court to Herod, 244. All the multitude dis-
possessed by what they have seen, 247. All this by no display of
force but only by goodness, 247.

The uses proposed to be made of this doctrine of Christ, 249. Not to
be a rival doctrine, 250. To be a duphcate view that will take us
away from so many literalities, 252. In the three articles we have
the full scope of a gospel, 253.

Supplementary Notes, 257.


It seems to be required of me, by the unexpected
arrival of fresh light, that I should make a large revision
of my former treatise, entitled The Vicarious Sacrijice,
and especially of the Parts III. and IV. of the same.
Having undertaken to find the truth on this great subject
at whatever cost, I am not willing to be excused from
farther obligation because the truth appears to be out-
growing my published expositions. My former discussion has
been as favorably received as I had any right to expect,
and there is no reason, personal to myself, why I should be
fastened to my own small measures, when larger measures
are given me. Besides, how shall a man ever get rid of his
old sins, when he can not let go his little outgrown opinions ?
Wishing no change, I have yet not ceased to consider and
reconsider the whole question, as carefully as if I had not
written, watching for all inward monitions and outward
suggestions, whereby I might be corrected and guided
farther in, to apprehend the matter of it more worthily,
and in closer accord with the truth.

Since it so often helps the interest and also the under-
standino; of the reader to know in what manner the writer
came into the arguments and opinions he is trying to set
forth, I feel constrained to indulge a little harmless egotism.


Thus it has happened to me twice over, when writing on
two simply practical subjects, to be overtaken by surprise
in suggestions setting me back on the last half of my book,
and requiring amendments in it that amounted to a vir-
tual substitution of it by new matter. I do not pretend
to say that I have these amendments by any private revela-
tion, I only know that I have them as being found b): them,
and not as having found them myself. Perhaps our new
seeing in such matters is, at times, but our mood ; and yet
perhaps our mood may be our gift of seeing.

Thus, I was writing a discourse on the inquiry, How shall
a man be able to entirely and perfectly forgive his enemy,
so as to forever sweeten the bitterness of his wounded
feeling and leave no sense of personal revulsion ? I can not
give the whole argument here, but it must suffice to say,
that I was brought squarely down upon the discovery, that
nothing w^ill ever accomplish the proposed real and true
forgiveness, but to make cost in the endeavor, such cost as
new -tempers and liquefies the reluctant nature. And this
making cost will be his propitiation of himself. Why not
say this of all moral natures, w^hy not of the Great Propitia-
tion itself? Here opens my Chapter I., entitled Forgiveness
and Propitiation.

Before the complete writing out of this, I was overtaken
again by corrective suggestion at another point. Falling on
the injunction by which Christ lays it on us to " keep his
commandments," the prosy dullness in Avhich we commonly
embalm his words, when we draw them out as tests and
lessons of practice, was forever exploded by the question
occurrent. Why his commandments ? Where is the law ?
Does he undertake to overtop Sinai, and be a new standard
of character ? Thus I had the Greek words nomos and entoUj


before me, and they began to freshen each other in the in-
dividualities of their uses and meanings. One thouo-ht
opened into another, and I began to sketch a series of
articles for the press that should give a practically fresh
exposition of the Saviour's word. Suffice it to say that I
shortly came upon the discovery that the law-state has
everywhere a commandment-state going with it, to be its
consummation or crown ; its fulfillment, and so, in a
very important and true sense, its satisfactional substitute.
Here then begins another, partly very simple, partly very
subtle range of inquiiy, treated of in Chapter II., called
Law and Commandment. In this certain terms of our
atonement language get a qualified permission, but nothing
that offends the principles of right.

These two chapters, I. and II., cover the general ground
of my revision, as they also do the general field of what has
been called in orthodox circles the atonement ; discovering,
at least, the rational possibility and fact of a propitiation
of God, and also a fulfillment of law by sacrifice and
suffering, which, if it is not given as in penal satisfaction
by the substitution of Christ, is the consummated fruit of
his incarnate obedience ; and since the sacrifice God makes
to recover his enemies, by the death of his Son, supposes
so great cost, the power it may be expected to have on
human feeling and character will be rather enhanced than
diminished by the correction now made. My chapter IV.
occupies a ground by itself. How it came it will not be
difiicult to see, since it is the doctrine of Christ by Christ
himself; an operative doctrine indeed, and not a formulating,
giving the outfit of the Spirit and the implemental forces by
which he is to work. And again, let it be the more valuable to
us that it comes in after the formulating history is done, to be



a gospel by Christ's own authority, not inwoven with any
of the old textures of the schools, but set in by an intercal-
ation, to have its own footing, and its regulative sway in the
respectful de^rence of the ages to come.

It will be observed in these preliminaries that the cor-
rections I am proposing to make do not include a return to
any of the standard theologic formulas I have heretofore
rejected. I recant no one of my denials. I only undertake
to fill the vacant spaces made by them with better material.
Thus, if any one should imagine that in now asserting the
positive fact of a propitiation of God, I return to the com-
mon orthodox position, that will depend entirely upon the
manner in which the propitiation is believed to be made,
whether as by a legal satisfaction for sin, or wholly one side
of law by a transaction in and of the divine feeling itself.
I asserted a propitiation before, but accounted for the word
as one by which the disciple objectivizes his own feelings,
conceiving that God himself is representatively mitigated or
become propitious, because he is himself inwardly recon-
ciled to God. Instead of this, I now assert a real propitia-
tion of God, finding it in evidence from the propitiation we
instinctively make ourselves, when we heartily forgive.
So if it should be imagined that I now give in to the
legal-substitution, legal-satisfaction theory, it will only be
true that I assert a scheme of discipline for man, which is
contrived to work its own settlement, in being fulfilled and
consummated by an obedience in the higher plane of liberty

I still assert the " moral view " of the atonement as
before, and even more completely than before ; inasmuch as
I propose to interpret all that is prepared and suffered in the
propitiation of God and the justification of men, by a


reference to the moral pronouncements of human nature and
society ; assuming that nothing can be true of Gocl, or of
Christ, which is not true in some sense more humano^ and
is not made intelligible by human analogies. We can not
interpret God, as any one may see, except by what we find
in our own personal instincts and ideas. And just here is
the sin of all our theologic endeavor in the past ages,
especially as regards this particular subject, that we invent
so many ingredients that are verbals only, having no reality
and no assignable meaning. AVe contrive a justice in God,
which accepts the pains of innocence in place of the pains
of wrong, and which is, in fact, the very essence of injustice.
We contrive a forgiveness on the score of compensation,
which to our human conceptions mocks the idea. We
imagine that Christ has a virtue more transcendent than any
of mortal kind, because it is optional ; whereas nothing is a
virtue save as it is done for the right, and as being under
moral obligation. We conceive that Christ is even over-
good in this way, better than he need be, and that the sur-
plus he gains is a meritum prepared for us; asserting how
often that we are saved by the merits of Christ, when we
can not so much as conceive the idea. We contrive how law
may be satisfied for transgressors without their punishment,
and then w^e teach that God may justly punish after satisfac-
tion. Our precise difiiculty is, in all such impossibles of
thought, that we are trying to construct the ways of God, or of
his Son, without any light from our own moral instincts and
ideas ; to make him intelligible in the matter of a gospel,
without intelligibles anywhei;e given to be his interpreters.
We put the bits of glass and crockery into our kaleidescope,
and turning it round and round we make theologic figures
that we call truths, and which having no ideas in them, we


think must surely stand, because they look so regular and
are milled in the scientific way of the scientific instru-
ment. Thus we go on from age to age, trying vainly to
fasten theologic notions that represent God by nothing in
ourselves. Is it not time now, after so many centuries gone
by, to have it discovered, that there is no truth concerning
God which is not somehow explicated by truths of our own
moral consciousness ?

If now these prefatory specifications signify less, taken
by themselves, than might be desired, they will at least have
a certain value in suggesting beforehand what I myself con-
ceive to be the significance or intended amount of the
reconstructions offered — that I do not undertake to be
orthodox, but to be more sufiiciently and scripturally true.

It will be understood, I presume, that I suppose the two
revised statements, or solutions of doctrine I am now going
to propound, to be really new. I frankly allow that I do,
and also as frankly confess that in this simple fact my
courage and confidence are most weakened by misgivings.
For who can expect a great subject like this, which has
engaged so many of the most gigantic minds of so many
past ages, to be now, in these last times, more sufiiciently
apprehended and better expounded by an ordinar}^ teacher,
at his common level of standing. It is difficult, I allow, not
to be greatly appalled when confronted by this objection.
But it must not be forgotten that now and then some person
will be stronger in his accidents, than other and greater men
have been in their powers ; also that God himself sometimes
makes accidents for miiid by his own private touch, when
he will unfold some needed lesson ; also that God has a way
of preparing times for the uncovering of truth, and that as


he would not have his Son appear till the fullness of time
should come, so he will not expect his Son's gospel to be
duly conceived till the times are ready and all the suggestive
conditions ripe that may set us in upon it. No greatest man
or champion is going to conquer a truth before its time, and
no least competent man, we may also dare to say, need miss
of a truth when its time has come, and the flags of right
suggestion are all out before him. How easy a thing it is,
in fact, to think what the times have got ready to be thought,
and are even whispering to us from behind all curtains of
discovery, and out of all most secret nooks and chambers
of experience. That now the clock has finally struck, and
the day has fully come for some new and different thinking
of this great subject, I most verily believe. And, to make
this evident, I propose to occupy the few remaining pages
of this preliminary chapter in showing by what signs the
two staple matters of what has heretofore been called the
Christian Atonement, viz.. Propitiation and Legal Substitu-
tion, appear to be asking, or rather expectantly waiting,
for some more satisfactory, better grounded exposition.

In the original w^ord of Scripture the truths revealed
are either visibly or verbally presented from that other
side of heavenly announcement whcDce they come.
There is no sympathy as yet, no twofold thinking in the
forms, for they represent one party only. But the supposi-
tion is, that being given to intelligence, intelligence will fall
at work upon them, and that human thought, laboring in
the outward images of things, w^ill generate modes of speech
and laws of experience that compose a kind of second
language on the base-level of nature. And so it wdll, by
and by, begin to be the problem how to get the simple


indicative matter of revelation into tbe forms of thouglit
prepared in tbe tlionglit-language of the mere understand-
ing. The problem is, to accomplish a marriage of the two
parties, and get the declarative work grafted in upon the
natural analogies, when it will be so much closer to the
common life of men, and settle its hold just so much more
firmly on their convictions. We must not be so jealous
of naturalism as to be alarmed by this process. It is not
the supernatural submitting itself to nature to be buried and
lost, but 2:oing down to hook itself in upon nature by
seizing on the analogies of thought and law ; so to become
fast locked in all the terms of experience and opinion which
thought has generated. The bent 'we are thus receiving
more and more distinctly towards nature and science is not
wholly mischievous, as many appear to assume in their
nervous dread of naturalism, but is our instinctive endeavor
to obtain a new anchorage gi'ound for christian truths and
ideas, where they will hold us more firmly, and yield us a
more settled confidence. To change the figure, we digest
the declarative matter supernaturally given, and turn it into

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