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I



SERMONS



FOB



THE NEW LIFE,



BT



HORACE BUSHNELL



F I



NEW YORK:

CHARLES SCRIBNER
1859.



according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by

CHARLES 8CBIBNER.

In the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United State*
for the Southern District of New Yoric



. H. HOBBS STEREOTTPKB, HARTFORD, CT



& Co., Printer*.



BX






CONTENTS,

UJ

ca

. EVERY MAN'S LIFE A PLAN OP GOD.
ISAIAH xlv 5- " I girded thee, though thou hast not known me." 9 v/



THE SPIRIT IN MAN.
j

JOB xxxli. 8. "Hut there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration

of the Almighty giveth them understanding." 29

in

HI.

o DIGNITY OP HUMAN NATURE SHOWN PROM ITS RUINa

H

^ ROMANS iii. 13-18. "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with
^ their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is
, under their lips. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitter-

ness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and
^ misery are in their ways. And the way of peace they have

not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." . 6<?
to

IV.

I

THE HUNGER OP THE SOUL

M

*. LUKE xv. 17. "And when he came to himself, he said, How
many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and
to spare, and I perish with hunger." .71

V.

THE REASON OF FAITH.
JOHN vi. 36. " But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me

and believe not" 87

2S35O1



iv CONTENTS.

VI.

REGENERATION.

M

JOHN Hi. 3. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily
I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he can not see
the kingdom of God." 106

VII.

THE PERSONAL LOVE AND LEAD OP CHRIST.

JOHN x. 3. " And he calleth his own sheep by name and leadeth <(

them out." 127

VIII.

LIGHT ON THE CLOUD.
'Jos xxxvii. 21. "And now men see not the bright light which

is in the clouds : but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them." 143

CD

IX.

THE CAPACITY OP RELIGION EXTIRPATED BY DISUSE.
MATTHEW xxv. 28. "Take, therefore, the talent from him." . . 165

X.

UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE.

JOHN xx. 8. " Then went in also that other disciple." . . . 186

i

XI.

OBLIGATION A PRIVILEGE.
PSALM cxix. 54. "Thy statutes have been my songs in the

house of my pilgrimage." 206

XII.

HAPPINESS AND JOY.

JOHN xv. 11. " These things have I spoken unto you, that my
joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." 225



CONTENTS. V

XIII.

THE TRUE PROBLEM OP CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.

MM.

REVELATIONS ii. 4. "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against
thee, because thou hast left thy first love." 243

XIV.

THE LOST PURITY RESTORED.
1 JOHN, iii. 8. "And every man that hath this hope in him

purifieth himself, even as he is pure." . . . . . ". . .263

XV.

LIVING TO GOD IN SMALL THING&

LUKE xvi. 10. "He that is faithful in that which is least, is
faithful also in much ; and he that is unjust in the least, is
unjust also in much." 282

XVI.

ft

THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE.
HEBREWS vii. 16. "Who is made, not after the law of a carnal

commandment, but after the power of an endless life." . . 304 v

XVII.

RESPECTABLE SIN.

JOKN viii. 9. " And they which heard it, being convicted by
their own conscience, went out, one by one, beginning at the
eldest, even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone, and the
woman standing in the midst" 326

XVIII.

THE POWER OF GOD IN SELF-SACRIFICE.
1 CORINTHIANS i. 24. " Christ the power of God." 34fi v



VI CONTENTS.

XIX.

DUTY NOT MEASURED BY OUR OWN ABILITY.

MM

LUKB ix. 13. " But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat . 364

XX.

HE THAT KNOWS GOD WILL CONFESS HIM.
PSALM xl. 10. " I have not hid thy righteousness within my
heart ; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation : I
have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from
the great congregation." 382

XXI.

THE EFFICIENCY OF THE PASSIVE VIRTUES.
REVELATIONS i. 9. " The kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" 399

XXII.

SPIRITUAL DISLODGEMENTS.

JEREMIAH xlviii. 8. " Moab hath been at ease from his youth,
and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied
from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity ;
therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not
changed." 415

XXIII.

CHRIST AS SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD.
HEBREWS vii. 26. " Separate from sinners, and made higher than
the heavens. 434



TO MY DEAR FLOCK IN HARTFORD,



IN DAYS OF ACCUSATION,

AflD HAVE IPHELD ME FOR A QUARTER 0? A CENTUKT,

Ur THE MUCH GREATER TRIALS Ot
A CONSCIOUSLY INSUFFICIENT AND DEFECTIVE MINISTRY,

THESE SERMONS ARE INSCRIBED

AS A TOKEN OP

ESSPECT AND IMPERISHABLE AFFECTIOH..



I

EVERY MAN'S LIFE A PLAN OF GOD.

ISAIAH xlv. 5. "/ girded thee, though ihou hast not
known me"

So beautiful is the character and history of Cyrus, the
person here addressed, that many have doubted whether
the sketch given by Xenophon was not intended as an
idealizing, or merely romantic picture. And yet, there
have been examples of as great beauty unfolded, here and
there, in all the darkest recesses of the heathen world, and
it accords entirely with the hypothesis of historic verity
in the account given us of this remarkable man, that he is
designated and named by our prophet, even before he is
born, as a chosen foster-son of God. "I have surnamed
thee," he declares, "I have girded thee, though thou hast
not known me." And what should he be but a model
of all princely beauty, of bravery, of justice, of impartial
honor to the lowly, of greatness and true magnanimity in
every form, when God has girded him, unseen, to be the
minister of his own great and sovereign purposes to the
nations of his time.

Something of the same kind will also be detected in the
history and personal consciousness of almost every great
and remarkable character. Christ himself testifies to the
girding of the Almighty, when he says, "To this end
was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world.''
Abraham was girded for a particular work and mission, in



10 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

what is otherwise denominated his call. Joseph, in Egypt,
distinguishes the girding of God's hand, when he comforts
his guilty brothers in the assurance, "So, it was not you
that sent me hither, but God." Moses and Samuel were
even called by name, and set to their great life-work, in
the same manner. And what is Paul endeavoring, in all
the stress and pressure of his mighty apostleship, but to per-
form the work for which God's Spirit girded him at his
call, and to apprehend that for which he was apprehended
of Christ Jesus. And yet these great master-spirits of the
world are not so much distinguished, after all, by the acts
they do, as by the sense itself of some mysterious girding
of the Almighty upon them, whose behests they are set on
to fulfill. And all men may have this ; for the humblest
and commonest have a place and a work assigned them, in
the same manner, and have it for their privilege to be
always ennobled in the same lofty consciousness. God is
girding every man for a place and a calling, in which,
taking it from him, even though it be internally humble,
he may be as consciously exalted as if he held the rule of
a kingdom. The truth I propose then for your considers
tion is this,

That God has a definite life-plan for every human person,
girding him, visibly or invisibly, for some exact thing, which
it will be the true significance and glory of his life to have
accomplished.

Many persons, I am well aware, never even think of any
such thing. They suppose that, for most men, life is a
necessarily stale and common affair. What it means foi
them they do not know, and they scarcely conceive that it
means any thing. They even complain, venting heavy



A PLAN OF GOD. li

sighs, that, while some few are set forward by God to do
great works and fill important places, they are not allowed
to believe that there is any particular object in their ex-
istence. It is remarkable, considering how generally
this kind of impression prevails, that the Holy Scriptures
never give way to it, but seem, as it were, in all possi-
ble ways, to be holding up the dignity of common life,
and giving a meaning to its appointments, which the
natural dullness and lowness of mere human opinion can
not apprehend.

They not only show us explicitly, as we have seen, that
God has a definite purpose in the lives of men already
great, but they show us, how frequently, in the conditions
of obscurity and depression, preparations of counsel going
on, by which the commonest offices are to become the
necessary first chapter of a great and powerful history.
David among the sheep ; Elisha following after the plough ;
Nehemiah bearing the cup ; Hannah, who can say nothing
less common than that she is the wife of Elkanah and a
woman of a sorrowful spirit, who, that looks on these
humble people, at their humble post of service, and dis-
covers, at last, how dear a purpose God was cherishing in
them, can be justified in thinking that God has no particu-
lar plan for him, because he is not signalized by any
kind of distinction?

Besides, what do the scriptures show us, but that God
has a particular care for every man, a personal interest in
him and a sympathy with him and his trials, watching
for the uses of his one talent as attentively and kindly
and approving him as heartily, in the right employment of
it, as if he had given him ten ; and, what is the giving out
of the talents itself, but an exhibition of the fact that God



12 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

has a definite purpose, charge and work, be it this or that,
for every man?

They also make it the privilege of every man to live in
the secret guidance of God; which is plainly nugatory,
unless there is some chosen work, or sphere, into which
he may be guided ; for how shall God guide him, having
nothing appointed or marked out for him to be guided
into? no field opened for him, no course set down which
is to be his wisdom?

God also professes in his Word to have purposes pre-ar-
ranged for all events ; to govern by a plan which is from
eternity even, and which, in some proper sense, compre-
hends every thing. And what is this but another way
of conceiving that God has a definite place and plan ad-
justed for every human being? And, without such a plan,
he could not even govern the world intelligently, or make
a proper universe of the created system ; for it becomes a
universe only in the grand unity of reason, which includes
it. Otherwise, it were only a jumble of fortuities, without
counsel, end or law.

Turning, now, from the scriptures to the works of God,
how constantly are we met here by the fact, everywhere
visible, that ends and uses are the regulative reasons of all
existing things. This we discover often, when we are
least able to understand the speculative mystery of objects ;
for it is precisely the uses of things that are most palpable.
These uses are to God, no doubt, as to us, the significance
of his works. And they compose, taken together, a grand
reciprocal system, in which part answers actively to part,
constructing thus an all-comprehensive and glorious whole.
And the system is, in fact, so perfect, that the loss or displace-
ment of any member would fatally derange the general



A PLAN OF GOD. 13

order. If there were any smallest star in heaven that
had no place to fill, that oversight would beget a disturb-
ance which no Leverrier could compute ; because it would
be a real and eternal, and not merely casual or apparent
disorder. One grain, more or less, of sand would disturb,
or even fatally disorder the whole scheme of the heavenly
motions. So nicely balanced, and so carefully hung, are
the worlds, that even the grains of their dust are counted,
and their places adjusted to a correspondent nicety. There
is nothing included in the gross, or total sum, that could
be dispensed with. The same is true in regard to forces
that are apparently irregular. Every particle of air is
moved by laws of as great precision as the laws of the
heavenly bodies, or, indeed, by the same laws ; keeping its
appointed place, and serving its appointed use. Every
odor exhales in the nicest conformity with its appointed
place and law. Even the viewless and mysterious heat,
stealing through the dark centers and impenetrable depths
of the worlds, obeys its uses with unfaltering exactness,
dissolving never so much as an atom that was not to be
dissolved. What now shall we say of man, appearing, as
it were, in the center of this great circle of uses. They
are all adjusted for him : has he, then, no ends appointed
for himself? Noblest of all creatures, and closest to God,
as he certainly is, are we to say that his Creator has no
definite thoughts concerning him, no place prepared for
him to" fill, no use for him to serve, which is the reason of
his existence?

There is, then, I conclude, a definite and proper end, or
issue, for every man's existence; an end, which, to the
heart of God, is the good intended for him, or for which
he was intended ; that which he is privileged to become,

2



14 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

called to become, ought to become; that which God will
assist him to become and which he can not miss, save by
his own fault. Every human soul has a complete and per-
fect plan, cherished for it in the heart of God a divine
biography marked out, which it enters into life, to live.
This life, rightly unfolded, will be a complete and beauti-
ful whole, an experience led on by God and unfolded by
his secret nurture, as the trees and the flowers, by the secret
nurture of the world ; a drama cast in the mould of a per-
fect art, with no part wanting ; a divine study for the man
himself, and for others ; a study that shall forever unfold,
in wondrous beauty, the love and faithfulness of God;
great in its conception, great in the Divine skill by which
it is shaped ; above all, great in the momentous and glori-
ous issues it prepares. What a thought is this for every
human soul to cherish ! What dignity does it add to life !
What support does it bring to the trials of life ! What in-
stigations does it add to send us onward in every thing
that constitutes our excellence ! We live in the Divine
thought. We fill a place in the great everlasting plan of
God's intelligence. We never sink below his care, never
drop out of his counsel.

But there is, I must add, a single, but very important
and even fearful qualification. Things all serve their uses,
and never break out of their place. They have no power
to do it. Not so with us. We are able, as free beings, to
refuse the place and the duties God appoints ; which, if we
do, then we sink into something lower and less worthy of
us. That highest and best condition for which God designed
us is no more possible. We are fallen out of it, and it
can not be wholly recovered. And yet, as that was the
best thing possible for us in the reach of God's original



A PLAN OF GOD. 15

counsel, so there is a place designed for us now, which is
the next best possible. God calls us now to the best thing
left, and will do so till all good possibility is narrowed
down and spent.- And then, when he can not use us any
more for our own good, he will use us for the good of
others, an example of the misery and horrible despera-
tion to which any soul must come, when all the good ends,
and all the holy callings of God's friendly and fatherly
purpose are exhausted. Or it may be now that, remitting
all other plans and purposes in our behalf, he will hence-
forth use us, wholly against our will, to be the demonstra-
tion of his justice and avenging power before the eyes of
mankind ; saying over us, as he did over Pharaoh in the
day of his judgments, "Even for this same purpose have
I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and
that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."
Doubtless, He had other and more genial plans to serve in
this bad man, if only he could have accepted such; but,
knowing his certain rejection of these, God turned his
mighty counsel in him wholly on the use to be made of
him as a reprobate. How many Pharaohs in common life
refuse every other use God will make of them, choosing only
to figure, in their small way, as reprobates ; and descend-
ing, in that manner, to a fate that painfully mimics his.

God has, then, I conclude, a definite life-plan set for
every man; one that, being accepted and followed, will
c ^nduct him to the best and noblest end possible. No
qualification of this doctrine is needed, save the fearful
one just named; that we, by our perversity, so often refuse
to take the place and do the work he gives us.

It follows, in the same way, that, as God, in fixing ou
o.ir end or use, will choose the best end or use possible, so



16 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

he will appoint for us the best manner possible of attain-
ing it ; for, as it is a part of God's perfection to choose the
best things, and not things partially good, so it will be in
all the methods he prescribes for their attainment. And
so, as you pass on, stage by stage, in your courses cf ex-
perience, it is made clear to you that, whatever you have
laid upon you to do or to suffer, whatever to want, what-
ever to surrender or to conquer, is exactly best for you.
Your life is a school, exactly adapted to your lesson, and
that to the best, last end of yooi existence.

.No room for a discouraged or depressed feeling, there-
fore, is left you. Enough that you exist for a purpose
high enough to give meaning to life, and to support a
genuine inspiration. If your sphere is outwardly humble,
if it even appears to be quite insignificant, God under-
stands it better than you do, and it is a part of his wisdom
to bring out great sentiments in humble conditions, great
principles in works that are outwardly trivial, great char-
acters under great adversities and heavy loads of incum-
brance. The tallest saints of God will often be those who
walk in the deepest obscurity, and are even despised or
quite overlooked by man. Let it be enough that God is
in you? history and that the plan of your biography is his,
the issue he has set for it is the highest and the best.
Away, then, O man, with thy feeble complaints and
feverish despondencies. There is no place left for this
kind of nonsense. Let it fill thee with cheerfulness and
exalted feeling, however deep in obscurity your lot may
be. that God is leading you on, girding you for a work,
preparing you to a good that is worthy of his Divine
magnificence. If God is really preparing us all to becomo
that which is the very highest and best thing possible



A PLAN OF GOD. 17

there ought never to be a discouraged or uncheerful being
in the world.

Nor is it any detraction from such a kind of life that
the helm of its guidance is, by the supposition, to be in
God, and not in our own will and wisdom. This, in fact,
is its dignity: it is a kind of divine order, a creation
molded by the loving thoughts of God; in that view,
to the man himself a continual discovery, as it is unfolded,
both of himself and God. A discovery of some kind it
must be to all; for, however resolutely or defiantly we
undertake to accomplish our own objects, and cut our own
way through to a definite self-appointed future, it will
never be true, for one moment, that we are certain of this
future, and will almost always be true that we are met by
changes and conditions unexpected. This, in fact, is one
of the common mitigations even of a selfish and self-
directed life, that its events come up out of the unknown
and overtake the subject, as discoveries he could not shun,
or anticipate. Evil itself is far less evil, even to the
worldly man, that it comes by surprises. Were the
scenes of necessary bitterness, wrong, trial, disappointment,
self-accusation, every such man has to pass through in his
life, distinctly set before him at the beginning, how forbid-
ding generally, and how dismal the prospect. "We say,
therefore, how frequently, " I could not have endured these
distasteful, painful years, these emptinesses, these trials
and torments that have rent me, one after another, if I had
definitely known beforehand what kind of lot was before
me." And yet, how poor a comfort is it to such pains and
disasters that they overtook the sufferer as surprises and
sorrows not set down beforehand in the self-appointed
programme of life. How different, how inspiring and

2*



18 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

magnificent, instead, to live, by holy consent, a life all dis-
covery ; to see it unfolding, moment by moment, a plan
of God, our own life-plan conceived in his paternal
love ; each event, incident, experience, whether bright or
dark, having its mission from him, and revealing, either
now or in its future issues, the magnificence of his favor-
ing counsel ; to be sure, in the dark day, of a light that
will follow, that loss will terminate in gain, that trial will
issue in rest, doubt in satisfaction, suffering in patience,
patience in purity, and all in a consummation of greatness
and dignity that even God will look on with a smile.
How magnificent, how strong in its repose, how full of
rest is such a kind of life ! Call it human still, decry it,
let it down by whatever diminutives can be invented, still
it is great ; a charge which ought even to inspire a dull
minded man with energy and holy enthusiasm.

But, the inquiry will be made, supposing all this to be
true, in the manner stated, how can we ever get hold of
this life-plan God has made for us, or find our way into it?
Here, to many if not all, will be the main stress of doubt
and practical suspense.

Observe, then, first of all, some negatives that are im-
portant and must be avoided. They are these:

You will never come into God's plan, if you study sin
gularity ; for, if God has a design or plan for every man's
life, then it is exactly appropriate to his nature ; and, as
every man's nature is singular and peculiar to himself, as
peculiar as his face or look, then it follows that God will
lead every man into a singular, original and peculiar life,
without any study of singularity on his part. Let him
seek to be just what God will have him, and the talents.



A PLAN OP GOD. 19

the duties and circumstances of his life will require him
to be, and then he will be just peculiar enough. He will
have a life of his own ; a life that is naturally and, there-
fore, healthily peculiar ; a simple, unaffected, unambitious
life, whose plan is not in himself, but in God.

As little will he seek to copy the life of another. No
man is ever called to be another. God has as many plans
for men as he has men ; and, therefore, he never requires
them to measure their life exactly by any other life. We
are not to require it of ourselves to have the precise feel-
ings, or exercises, or do the works, or pass through the
trials of other men ; for God will handle us according to
what we are, and not according to what other men are.
And whoever undertakes to be exercised by any given
fashion, or to be any given character, such as he knows or
has read of, will find it impossible, even as it is to make
himself another nature. God's plan must hold and we
must seek no other. To strain after something new and
peculiar is fantastic and weak, and is also as nearly wicked
as that kind of weakness can be. To be a copyist, work-
ing at the reproduction of a human model, is to have no
faith in one's significance, to judge that God means nothing
in his particular life, but only in the life of some other
man. Submitting himself, in this manner, to the fixed
opinion that his life.means nothing, and that nothing is left
for him but to borrow or beg a life-plan from some other
man, what can the copyist become but an affectation or a
dull imposture.

In this view also, you are never to complain of your
birth, your training, your employments, your hardships ;
never to fancy that you could be something if only you had
a different lot and sphere assigned you. God understands



20 EVERY MAN'S LIFE

his own plan, and he knows what you want a great
deal better than you do. The very things that you most
deprecate, as fatal limitations or obstructions, are probably
what you most want. What you call hindrances, obstacles,
discouragements, are probably God's opportunities; and
it is nothing new that the patient should dislike his medi-
cines, or any certain proof that they are poisons. No ! a
truce to all such impatience ! Choke that devilish envy
which gnaws at your heart, because you are not in the
same lot with others ; bring down your soul, or, rather,
bring it up to receive God's will and do his work, in your



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