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Horace Bushnell.

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common all-hail, and the te deum that celebrates their
story. Indeed they come in like an army in register,
" the church of the first born whose names are writ
ten in heaven ;" and no organization is so completely
made up as one that shows a complete register. As
God s register also is true, there are no hangers on, no
pretenders, or doubtful members. Their enrollment is
by inside knowledge, and allows them to know even as
they are known.

And now it only remains to note, in this connection,
the very remarkable fact, coincident with what I said
at the beginning, that when the Revelator John shows
the grand society emerging full organized, in his last
two chapters, you hardly know what world it is in,
whether in the upper descending upon this, or this
borne upward to the other. No matter ; enough that
now the eternal city-life is come, a state of exact so
ciety, represented by the figure of an exactly cubal



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. 297

city, as many hundreds of miles high as it is broad and
long. An image that is hard and violent, and yet on
the second view, wondrously significant ; as if society,
that loosely-shapen factor of the creation, were be
come the perfect cube of order, in exactest and most
solid measurement.

Thus we sketch, as in stammering words, our con
ception of the church above, the society organized ;
and from this we descend to a relative conception

II. Of the church below, the Society Organizing.
It is, in fact, the same as the other, and is pouring on
its trains continually to be merged in that other, and
become a part of it. It is even called a family " of
whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
Just as we sing in our sublimest of all hymns-
One family we dwell in him,
One church abovej beneath,
Though^ now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.

One army of the living God,

To his command we bow,
Part of the host have crossed the flood,

And part are crossing now.

The supposition here is, that in what we call the
church on earth, the peoples composing it are being
organized in, or into, the state of everlasting society
just now described.

And here the first thing we have to settle is, that
the church is not properly what we recognize under
this and that formula, meeting in this and that place,



298 GOD ORGANIZING IN THE CHURCH

presided over, taught, confessed, or kept in discipline,
by one or another kind of church magistracy. The
church, as we are now speaking, is what is called
" the communion of saints," and the saints themselves,
in their union to Christ, are the staple matter of it all
in training here for the complete society. I am not
questioning, observe, the right of their covenants and
cures, and forms, and ministries, or even of their par
ishes and bishoprics and councils. I only say that
these are at best only scaffoldings all, and that the real
import of what they are, and what they are for, is in
the souls who are training under their husbandry.
And they undoubtedly have great uses often in this
way. As to there being intendencies divinely author
ized and the only ones to be allowed, composing, as it
were, the whole church institute in their own official
right and sanction of all this I know nothing. I
suppose that it would be competent for any brother
hood, meeting in the Spirit, if not already organized,
to organize in what form, under what offices and rules
they please, and that in this manner any known
form of organization is allowable, even that of the
Quakers ; if only they can tind how to grow in it, and
make an ever-spreading society in the communion of
saints. These regimental machineries are none of
them the church, they are only the scaffolding of the
church, and are all alike to be done away, when that
which is perfect is come.

Furthermore it is difficult to admit that what are
called sects have no positive use, in the organizing



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. 299

way. If they are divisions and not distributions,
they are so far evil. But if they are only distribu
tions, they furnish by their mutual reactions the condi
tions of close thought and compact feeling. Frictions
too, it may be, are necessary to much life in souls
partly benumbed by sin. And besides it is a fact not
often observed, that these distributions, under different
names, do really help out the enlargement of our
charity. If we stood related only as individuals to
individuals, our charities could run out but a little
way just as far as our acquaintance runs, and no
farther but when we push out our charities, as in this
day we are learning to do, on so many sects, we make
a sweep for them as large as the sects are, counting
them all in to be the body of Christ, the fullness of
him that filleth all in all.

But the power that works towards organization
let us inquire after this. The lowest form of it will
be seen in the expense, and labor, and wear 6f contriv
ing we submit to, in the way of providing preachers
and church edifices. For our whole strain of endeav
ors in this lowest key, in which we make ourselves
responsible with others for the provisioning and per
petuating of the gospel institution, has a steadily con
densing efficacy of organization in it.

Then again, to go farther inward, our relations of
church brotherhood are a continual drill in and for
society. In this we are schooled in fact, into the very
love of God ; for the whole body of our fraternity is
tinged with badness, troubled by disorder, damaged



300 GOD ORGANIZING IN THE CHURCH

by sore faults, hurt by offenses. Envy looks up with
bitterness, pride looks down with contempt, jealousy
looks every way snuffing the scent of wrongs that are
only to be. Some are covetous, some are mean, some
are passionate, some are sensual, some are strong only
in hate, some are weak only in principle. A great
many things are coming out thus, every hour, that are
very unlovely, and quite likely some of us lose our
patience at times, and begin to protest that the church
after all is made up of such kind of material as looks
really worse than the world. But we come back
shortly to the living love of God, and take a new lesson ;
where it is opened to us that we ourselves are in this
divine society just because it is God s hospital, where
he is watching and nursing his poor morally broken
children, loving them never at all for what they are,
but only for what he can make them. And so we
learn to love with patience, and to bear even as God
does, loving what we do not like, and can not approve,
and can only hope to benefit. The whole problem of
our church-life is a problem of divine society working
towards completion.

Then again we have the bad, outside, to work for ;
and here we are drawn to the closest sympathy inside,
that we may find how to gain, by our love, those whom
Christ s love died to save. And this brings us ever
into the closest sympathy with Christ, so that our
hearts are melted often, even as his was, by our com
passions for his rejectors. Coming into this labor, as
we ought always to be in it, we are in the closest, ten-



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. .301

derest way of society. We are even configured to
each other as we look in each other s faces, and behold
the glow there kindled. Our assemblies are all con-
tempered by the heat of God s living sacrifice for the
transgressors. Are we not so getting ready fast for
the perfect society ?

I say nothing here of our common repentances, and
common sorrows, when we find that we have fallen
away from our calling. We confess how much of the
bad together, and our sorrowing clears up, in new discov
eries of what God has undertaken to endure by his love.
So the ebb of our tide brings on a flood once more.

And then again, perhaps, we have our times of in
spiration. And they are all the more significant that
we have them in society, and have our hearts burning
in the same divine fire. We sit in heavenly places
now, and have the heavenly good by anticipation.
Our testimonies are bright, our songs make melody in
our hearts. Brothers, is it not good to be here !

The common hope we have in our brotherhood, is
also a great consociating and consolidating power.
Thus in hope, as our apostle says, we are come before
hand to the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem.
What we so much hope, he imagines to be already
taken possession of, even as it has taken possession of
us. And then what possesses us together, fills our
eye, kindles our expectation, draws us towards or into
a closer band of society. Even as we sometime see,
when our birds of passage, hastening on to the lands
where they summer, hook themselves to each other, as
26



302 GOD ORGANIZING IN THE CHUKCH

they fly, in lines of order, pulsing on the air in a com
mon time-beat of their wings. They fly as if drawn
by the hope of a city, or populous new nesting-ground
un visited by enemies. Trail on thus, ye citizens to be,
of a city that hath foundations, knowing that your
blessed conjunctions in hope will there be issued in
society, everlasting and complete.

But we do not finish our conception of this all-
worlds society, without naming two points that were
not, and could not be, named before ; because we did
not know the " society organized " sharply enough to
see the necessity for them. But we discover it now in
the society organizing ; for these two things, we see, are
even made a part of our training, and go in, as restric
tions, on organization, to save us from being totally
gulfed by it. First we must have times of solitude and
spaces of withdrawment ; and secondly we must have
the liberty of our own thoughts ; to keep them back,
or give them out, or give them by selection. There
must even be room left for opinion. To be always out
in publicity, to be on parade, so to speak, everlasting
ly, to have joys ventilated always by expression
the same expression, or the same roundelay of praise
would drug our sensibility, and become wearisome be
yond endurance. We are trained for no such thing.
Such perpetual out-door life, such living in transpar
ency, would even be intolerable. The grand organiza
tion therefore will be perfect, only and because it is
shortened back by fit limitations ; allowing all the in
numerable personalities to have their own field to



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. 303

themselves, enjoying themselves the more that they
have ways of withdrawment, and enjoying each other
the more, that they have such confidence in all as to
know, that never, in their most secret moments, will
they even think any thing, having full power to do it,
which is not sweet, and friendly, and right. Which
confidence they can have, because their own thoughts
have no war, run to no bitterness, flowing as it were
in the rhythm of a perpetual hymn.

Having outlined, in this manner, the society organ
ized, and the society organizing the church above and
the church below it remains to distinctly state some
of the points of benefit I have been having in view ;
which I shall do in the most nearly staccato manner
possible.

1. Let no one disrespect the church because there is
evil and sometimes real baseness in it. That is exact
ly what there should be, and in that works the brave
purpose God has in it. What is it but a mill that
runs for the grinding out of evil? What enters here,
enters for love to work in, and to work upon such
love as can have patience and forbear, and new-con-
form in good. Doubtless God is proposing, in this, a
glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any
such thing ; but when it comes to that, it will not be
here and is not meant to be. It will be graduated and
brought home. And what is there in all this, but the
grandest possible title to respect ?

2. It is neither wise, nor right, to be fastidious here. .



30-i GOD ORGANIZING IN THE CHURCH

You do not like churches, you say ; they are not the
sort of people here that suit you best, and you do not
like to be brothered by all kinds of good folk that
happen to be disagreeable as a great many of them
are. And what if God, and Christ, should have hap
pened to be fastidious, unable to love, and seek, and
bear the unworthy how would it be even now with
you? Besides, what kind of world or society are you
going to hereafter ? Is it anywhere provided, in the
good society of God s kingdom, that there shall be no
little ones, no humble minded, no sweet, low children
of sorrow ? Do you not see, in the very idea of the
church, that your fastidious feeling is the very lowest
and most cruelly bad of all" feeling ? What, on the
other hand, can be more honorable to God, than that
he is fashioning a great all-worlds society, that shall set
the weak in due honor, and repay the dejections of an
adverse lot by deserved and really great exaltations.

3. It is every good man s duty to acknowledge the
church, and be a hearty, faithful member in it. No,
you say, it may be; for what we call churches have
magistracies, articles, laws of discipline and a sectarian
life. Yes, and since the society organizing is for the
partly bad, and not for the just made perfect, how
could it be otherwise ? Not that these church forms
and magistracies are themselves organization, as w r e
often hear. The President of the United States and
all his subordinates, down to the tide-waiters, do not
organize the nation. Not even the laws organize it.
It is done, or can be completely, only when the people



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. 305

are right, and true, and just, and good, and that with
out any laws. Meantime the magistracies and laws
are only hampers, added to substitute organization,
where there is none. Have you then no duties to the
state or nation ? So it is your duty to be openly joined
to the church of God under some frame of order and
rule. These frames are only shells in which the egg
is kept. Say not that you belong to the church uni
versal, counting that to be enough. Enough, that is, to
be an egg without a shell ! You are going to get
ready, you imagine, for the perfect society out of all
society, making common cause with nobody ! That is,
you are going forward into the everlasting society,
there to meet no solitary creature with whom you
stood shoulder to shoulder in love and sacrifice. For
give me if I greatly mistrust whether you will meet
any one there that knows you at all save as a con-
temner of the society from its beginning onward.

4. It ought, by this time, to be clear, my brethren,
that there is no other cause, compact, institution, now
on foot in the world, which is at all comparable for
benefit, and dignity, with the church of God. It has
outlived the great empires, three or four tiers of them
in succession. It has created new empires, such as
this of ours. It has leavened all human society with
elements of advancement by which educations, laws,
liberties, sciences, inventions, constitutions, have been
coming all the while into flower. It would take
whole hours just to give the shining roll of names that,
in worth and genius, and true sainthood, have been
26*



306 GOD ORGANIZING IN THE CHUHCH

marching out into their great history in it, for these
almost nineteen hundred years. The history, I grant,
is in some sense an awful history, having, as it were,
Jacob and Esau struggling in it for the birth. The
woes are sharp, the fires are hot, the prisons are burst-
cd with w r ail ; women -martyrs, child-martyrs, the gen
eral bleeding host of persecuted merit move on, as it
were, in procession to die. From age to age it has
been rock, as the Saviour promised, to the wrath surg
ing heavily against it ; rock, also, which is yet more
strange, to the horrible rage of cruelty and crime
within. Unable to be shaken by either this or that,
it still stands firm as no political state or kingdom
could have stood, even for a generation ; till now we
see it emerging, as we think, in the grace alone of the
cross ; in that to be full-organized society complete
everlasting, universal, inviolable brotherhood.

Do we then some of us ask what cause, engagement,
work is for us ? to what we shall best give our talents,
our inspirable youth, our courage, our powers of de-
votemen t and fires of sacrifice ? * To wh at surely sooner
than to the church of God ? If we have talents to
spend, where else can we spend them in a braver, more
unselfish devotion ? And if our talents are only mode
rate in their measures, how shall we more certainly
enlarge them than to put them at work in God meas
ures, in his subjects, his charities, his contemplations
and causes putting our whole nature at school by his.
Besides, the church is everlasting, the only fabric,

* y. c. c.



HIS ETERNAL SOCIETY. 307

structure, institute, society or state that is. And O,
how grand a thing it is that, going in hither, we can
build ourselves into the eternal. Against all else a
statute runs of limitation. Getting wealth we get no
charter for breathing. Getting fame we shall not be
on hand to hear the ring of it. Going into the heal
ing of bodies we can only patch them up for an hour.
Going into the law we give ourselves to what was
made last year, and will be unmade the next. Public
honors vanish, and statesmanship and states are only
for a time, and commonly a very short time. Not so
the church of God, the great, everlasting all-worlds
society ; that remains, and if we put much cost and
sacrifice into it, all the better. Many I know are
chaffy enough just now in their conceit to prophecy
the date of it. Do they not tell us it is close at hand ?
Yes, and they shall see the end of it just when the blue
fades out of the sky, when the mountains drink up the
sea, when the heat of the sun freezes in, or better still
when God s predestinating will -breaks down then,
and not till then. No, it exists for God s whole
future and as long as that will last. God help us all
to have our future in it every man established, by the
law of social right, in that universal ownership con
ferred on each, by the everlasting society of all.



XVI.

ROUTINE OBSERVANCE INDISPENSABLE.



"Give us this day our daily bread." MaUli. G: 11.

WE have two opposite varieties in religion that are
about equally mistaken ; one that puts every thing in
rounds of observance, as in fasting on Fridays, and re
peating paternosters so many times a day ; and the
other in having no times at all, only doing acts of
duty and devotion as and when we are inclined to it.
This latter misconception belongs more especially to
us of the Protestant family ; though to us not equally,
but in different degrees. We all appear to be in
dulging ways of relaxation which we call our advance
in liberty. And the more impatient of routine we
become, the higher conceptions we think we are hold
ing of the Christian life. Falling away from all fixed
times and rounds of observance, and learning to hold
them in a certain disrespect, we go more clear, per
haps, than we mean to be, of the sturdy old habit of
Puritan law, and drop into a looser way that is more
agreeable. And have we not reasons to offer, that in
dicate advances made in religious dignity ? Are we
not casting off our unnecessary bondages ? And what
kind of meaning, or sincerity can there be in ob-
(308)



ROUTINE .OBSERVANCE, ETC. 809

servances or acts that we do not feel inclined to ?
What moreover is prayer but a merely cringing way
in us and a real mockery to God, when we are moved
to it by no disposition to pray, but are rather strongly
disinclined to it, and set ourselves to the observance
only because the prescribed time has come ? Family
prayer, as a daily observance, fares in the same way.
No matter what the ground of disinclination may be
circumstance, convenience, pressing engagements-
why make an unalterably fixed ordinance of it, even
for the children s sake, when, at any rate, God will
bring up his sun, and load the morning table with
food, and set his flowers blooming at the door all
punctual and true to their times ? So in matters of
charity, so in church-going, so in the stated times of
conference and prayer ; and then why not so in the
going to school of the children, and their punctual
times of returning, in their street hours for the even
ing, and their late hours running into even the far off
times of the night.

What I now undertake therefore is to show the ne
cessity, in religion, of a more or less rigidly appointed
routine practice ; beginning at the petition cited from
the prayer which our Lord gave his disciples " give
us this day our daily bread." We do not really un
derstand him, unless we distinguish a mental reference
in his words, to the customary observance of morning
prayer. For it is a prayer for each morning that he
gives; a daily prayer for daily bread, even for this
day s bread. To offer this prayer, therefore, as many



310 ROUTINE OBSERVANCE

do, after the day or every repast of the day is fin
ished, is to make it a thing for tlie form, when it is
nothing in the fact; which is about the worst dis
honor that conld any way be done it. The sup
position is that the soul is to have every morning, as a
sunrise of religion punctual and bright as the morn
ing. Conceiving a prayer to be used for the noon or
the evening even as the Psalmist says, "evening
and morning and noon will I pray," he would cer
tainly have done what the Psalmist did, adapted his
prayer to its time. At any rate nothing was farther
plainly from his thought, than to say, " pray when
you have a mind to it, and let it pass when you have
not." Whether he means his prayer to be used every
morning or not, he does, at least, give honor and sanc
tion to the daily observance of morning prayer. And
it is under his sanction r thus given, that I draw out
now, for your consideration, this great law of practical
Christian living

That ice need to keep fixed times, or appointed rounds of
observance, as truly as to be in holy impulse ; to have pre
scribed periods in duty as truly as to have a spirit of duty ;
to be in the drill of observance, as well as in the liberty of
faith.

In other words, I am to show the place of what we
sometimes call routine in religion, and as we are con
stituted, the profound necessity for it- And by way
of preparing you to a just impression of the subject, I
ask you

1. To notice the very obvious fact that the argu-



INDISPENSABLE. 311

ment commonly stated, as against the obligation of
-fixed times and ways of observance in religion, con
tains a fatal oversight. It is very true that mere
rounds of observance, however faithfully kept, have
in themselves no value, nothing of the substance of
piety ; but they have an immense value, when kept
and meant to be, as the means of piety. It is equally
true that nothing is acceptable to God, which is not
an offering of the heart. But it does not follow, by
any means, that we are therefore to wait, doing noth
ing till the inclinations or impulses of the heart are
ready. Thus, when the disciple says, " Why should I
attempt to pray ? what is my prayer but mockery,
when I go to it by fixed times without or against in
clination ?" he overlooks entirely what belongs to the
very economy of prayer, and constitutes its highest
practical value ; viz., that not being an exercise to
merely play out impulse and inclination, it is also an
exercise to kindle impulse and beget inclination.
This, in fact, is the very particular blessing of it, that
when we are averted from it and slacked in all our in
clinations towards it, we may still get our fire kindled
by it. When we go to it, therefore, by fixed times of
observance, we do just what is necessary to beget
fixed inclinations, and train the soul into a habit of
abiding impulse. Otherwise, or desisting because we
have no inclination, we consent to have no inclination,
but that which wavers fitfully, and probably, at last,
no inclination at all. The whole argument turns here
just as it does in other matters. There is no genuine



312 ROUTINE OBSERVANCE

prayer, for example, that is not offered in the Spirit,
and yet God promises the Holy Spirit to them that
ask Him. Shall we then decline to ask because we
have not the Spirit already, and because snch kind of
asking will be only mockery ! No ! for the very de
sign of God is to meet us in the asking, and to enter
his Spirit into the asking itself. He puts us to the
asking for the purpose of getting us open to the Spirit,
and accessible to his holy inspirations. We go to ob
tain inspirations, inclinations, gales of impulse, and
not simply to play out such as we have already.
Nothing in this view is weaker, more unpractical,
closer to a shallow dissipation, more certain to end in



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