« AnteriorContinuar »
Christ, and from love to his name. We plead not for waste or profufion, but, on the contrary, inculcate frugality, with the view of promoting a more enlarged benevolence. Let not charity, however, be , a mere pretence : let it appear in liberal exertions. There is a sense, in which we may say to every individual among us, You
carry the bag, and are in- : trusted with your Lord's money. Presume not to spend the whole upon yourselves, nor yet refuse to apply it to the proper uses. Remember the injunc. tion of your Matter, “that you should give fomething for the poor*.”
Ah! in how many ways may you prove unfaithful stewards! Though you detest robbery, yet are there no just claims, which you. withhold? Or do you not resemble the traitor, by acting from far different motives in secret, than those which you profefs before the world?
Judas, probably, practised much caution and re. ferve in his behaviour, that he might conceal his real: character. One sin may prevent or counteract another. A covetous man, merely through parsimony, abstains from that kind of sensuality, which is expensive; and a hypocrite, through fear of detection, studies to avoid open and grofs immoralities. Such an one must throw off the mask, before he can alfociate with the profligate and profane. To maintain his reputation for fanctity, he will conform to many religious observances, which he dislikes, and put himself under painful restraints. In this respect Judas acted his part so well, that he escaped the fufpicion of his brethren the Apostles. Alas! we apprehend, that some among ourselves may affume and retain the garb of piety, with no better dispofition. Yet we allow, that we are not warranted in drawing any unfavourable conclusions against individuals, in whom no inconfistency appears. Nay;
* John xiii. 29.
we hould cherilh the most charitable hopes of each other, as far and as long as we can. But though there may be much insincerity, which is not discovered among men, "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him, with whon we have to do*.”
Our Lord, being perfectly aware of the character of Judas, more than once described his case, reproved him for his bare designs, and warned nin of his danger. This very circumitance aggravates his guilt ; as he finned not in ignorance, but against solemn adıonitions. When many disciples withdrew, and it seemed dubious whether even the Apostles would remain, Jelus exclained, “ Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” And this, the Evangelist observes, he fpake of Judas Iscariot, who had then, probably, formed the scheme. of betraying his Maiter t.
At the last fupper, when Jesus walled the feet of his disciples, he declared in the hearing of them all, that there was one of unfound character in their company: are clean,” said he, “but not all : for he knew who thould betray him I.” And again he affirmed, " } speak not of
all; I know whom I have chosen : but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lift up his heel against me.” Then, with expressions of deep distress, he repeated the Warning, that there was treachery among them, and that he ihould soon be delivered to his enemies through the base perfidy of one, who fat with him at the table. His information became ftill more particular, and his reference to Judas too clear to be doubted. At the same time, he added a tremendous denunciatio; of divine vengeance against the wretch, who should dare to perpetrate fo horrible a crime.
* Heb. iv. 13. + John vi. 70, 71. I xiii. 10, 11, 18. $ Matt.
20-29. Mar. xiv. 17--25. Luke xxii, 14-23. John xiii. 21-26.
Judas was not ignorant from the first, that he was the person meant; for the diabolical plan had been previously laid, and he waited only for an opportunity to carry it into effect. But did not his Lord's admonitions terrify and confound him? Did they not, at least, divert him from his purpose ? Could he be so obdurate, as to per Gift in his resolution, and, with his eyes open, rush on to everlasting destruction Ah! what desperate hardness of heart; what extreine madness was here ! The traitor, as if he. were unmoved, and unconscious of those designs which were imputed to him, dared to ask, “ Master, is it 1}” and immediately Jesus replied, that he was the very man. Yet even this, it Thould seem, pro.. duced no alteration.
His impious effrontery will appear the more aftonishing, if we allow, what is highly probable, that Judas, as well as the rest, partook of the Eucharist, or the solemn ordinance of the Lord's supper *. But, being aware of the extent of human depravity, we cease to wonder at any enormity. Rather, we are . amazed at the forbearance of our God, who could. suffer one of fo abandoned a dispofition to trifle with. and profane his most facred institutions. Similar cases occur among ourselves : nor can they be en-. tirely prevented by any exertions of ecclesiastical dir. cipline. The Lord permits hypocrites to proceed. to such lengths, for the display of his own justice. in the final issue. With hearts full of all unrighteousness, they may frequent his house and table: but at last they will have to render an awful account of these their religious performances, and “receive the greater damnation +
If they be plainly warned by their friends or mi. nisters, this, also, will aggravate their guilt, and constitute a heavy charge against them at the day of
* See Luke xxii. 20, 21.
+ Matt. xxiii. 14.
judgment. judgment. O that they would listen to the representations and entreaties of their faithful monitors; that they would pause, and consider the event, and not persevere in defiance of everlasting perdition! It is a favourable fign, when men examine themselves, and pray earnestly to be delivered from all duplicity of mind and perfidicus conduct. Then are they least likely to fin or to perish as the traitor did,
Our Lord having frequently declared the approach of his own death, Judas probably began to fear, that all his schemes and expectations of worldly advancement would be defeated, and wished to obtain the best compensation possible for his disappointment. The infamous wretch, therefore, entered into a contract with the Jewih rulers, to betray his Master into their hands for a trifling lum; and from that time he fought an opportunity of doing it in a private manner *. It is said, that he was inftigated by the Devil; but this is not to be considered as any excuse. Satan, doubtless, takes advantage of our evil inclinations; and he may be permitted to affist us in contriving and executing our projects: yet the guilt is entirely our own. As it was Judas's plan and desire to procure money, Satan suggested this method of gratifying his wilhes, and continued to urge him to it, till the iniquitous purpose was accomplished.
After the solemn adınonitions of Christ, Judas, instead of relenting, gave himself up, without reserve, to the influence of the accurfed fiend; and, perhaps indignant on being suspected and discovered, he proceeded immediately to perpetrate his base defignt. According to the plot, which had been laid, he consented to conduct an armed band of ruffians, in order to apprehend his Master I. He knew the
* Matt. xxvi. 14--16. Mar. xiv. 10, 11. Luke xxii. 3-6.
John xiii. 27-30. | Matt. xxvi. 47–56. Mar. xiv. 43–46. Luke xxii. 47-54. John xviii. 2-12,
garden, where Jesus had been accustomed to retire for devotion, and where he himself, probably, had frequentiy joined with him in prayer. O how different the end, for which he now repaired to Gethsemane ! He undertook to be a guide and abitant to those, who were filled with murderous rage against his Lord. With this intent he went up to Jcius, and, pretenda ing reverence and love, faluted him. That was the appointed signal for seizing him: and thus, by the aid of a pertidious Apoftie, the Saviour was betrayed into the hands of wicked men to be crucified and flain.
We view the transaction with amazement and horror, The fin of the traitor is marked with peculiar aggravations. We are ready to ask, Is this the treatment, which the benevolent and holy Jesus deferved? Or thall we wonder at the opposition of the ignorant and openly profane, when one of his most intimate affociates rises up against him? Da not the former professions of Judas, and the sacred function he fuftained, render his conduct the more detestable? Can we conceive a more confuinmate hypocrite, or a baser act of treachery? How pungent the reproof, addrefted to him, " Betrayeft thou the Son of man with a kiss ?” Convinced as thout art of his high character, how canst thou favour the designs of his enemies ? Or why dost thou affume the mask of friendihip, in order to practise thy villany? What is the advantage proposed ? Is Jesus to be bartered away for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a common lave ? And is eternal life to be given up for so mean a consideration ?
There are many ways, in which we ourselves may act the fame diabolical part. While we pretend a high regard for Chrii?, we may expose his cause to coria tempt, embolden blafphemers to vent their impiety, and even teach them to do it with success. But has he nerited such a return for all his kindness ?