« Bush, George Bushnell, Horace Butler, Alban »

Bushnell, Horace

BUSHNELL, HORACE: Congregationalist; b. at Litchfield, Conn., Apr. 14, 1802; d. in Hartford, Conn., Feb. 17, 1876. He was graduated at Yale College, 1827; after an interval spent in teaching and journalism, he returned (1829) to study law in the Yale Law School, but after two years, during which he was a tutor in the college, was converted and studied for the ministry in the Yale Divinity School and graduated in the class of 1833. He was pastor of the North Church, Hartford, Conn., from May 22, 1833, till Nov. 22, 1859, when he resigned on account of his health, though he continued his ministrations with undiminished power. His distinction rests upon several great works: (1) His Christian Nurture (Hartford, 1846)—a contribution of the first rank to religious thought—in which he drew attention away from revivals to the training of children in Christian households as the law of growth in the Church. (2) His doctrine of the "Instrumental Trinity" (God in Christ, New York, 1849), showing affinities with Sabellianism, but lifting the idea of the Trinity out of the region of speculation and making it available for actual life (see Christology, IX., 3, § 4). (3) His supreme emphasis on ethical and religious values and his refusal of metaphysics; here he anticipates the Ritschlian attitude, the ground of which for him lay not in philosophy, but in a theory of language ("Dissertation on Language," in God in Christ; "Our Gospel a Gift to the Imagination," in Building Eras, New York, 1881) and in a profound Christian experience. (4) His moral view of the Atonement, "grounded in principles of universal obligation" and universal vicariousness, later modified by the idea of God as propitiating himself in the forgiveness of the sinner (The Vicarious Sacrifice, New York, 1865; Forgiveness and Law, ib. 1874—the two volumes published under the title The Vicarious Sacrifice, 1877). (5) In apologetics Bushnell related "Miracles" to "Law," and drew his matchless picture of "The Character of Jesus Forbidding his Possible Classification with Men" (Nature and the Supernatural, New York, 1858). (6) Many of his sermons are unsurpassed for insight, feeling, imagination, noble thought, and splendor of diction. Yet by his own generation he was generally called a heretic; and for his condemnation there was a demand throughout the American orthodox churches! In 1849 and 1851 he was actually accused of heresy in formal fashion, and still more savagely attacked after 1866, but his congregation stood by him and he was not tried. The present generation in America venerates 319 him as one of the molders of religious opinion, and has been influenced by him more perhaps than it knows. A centenary edition of his works appeared in twelve volumes (New York, 1903).

Bibliography: H. C. Trumbull, in My Four Religious Teachers, Philadelphia, 1903; M. B. Cheney, Life and Letters of Horace Bushnell, New York, 1880 (by his daughter); T. T. Munger, Horace Bushnell, Preacher and Theologian, Boston, 1899. His Spirit in Man, Sermons and Selections was published in a centenary ed., with classified and annotated literature, by H. B. Learned, New York, 1903.

« Bush, George Bushnell, Horace Butler, Alban »
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