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Or, shall we lo insult him, as to cry, “ Hail, Maiter," at the very time when we entertain the baseft in. tentions against hiin? What have we found in his decided adversaries, which fhould induce us to efpoufe and promote their interests ? Are these the inen, with whom we would associate, and whose hands we would strengthen? Can we, then, prove, that our former professed principles are falle, or that Jesus will not make good his engagements? Or what emolument do we expect from the opposite party? Alas! it is not possible, that they should offer any equivalent, any proper compensation for the immense loss, we shall incur by our perfidy.
Judas, perhaps, confidered not what would follow. He might imagine, that his Master would escape out of the hands of his enemies, as he had done before. But be that as it may, when he saw him condemned; and about to be nailed to the cross, his confcience was alarmed, and he felt inexprellible 'horror for the atrocious deed which he had committed *. Ah! what would he then have given, to have revoked his bargain? What comfort did he receive from the thirty pieces of silver, the wages of his unrighteoulness?
He could not bear to retain the money in his poffeffion, but immediately restored it to the Jewish rulers, declaring his heinous guilt, and the anguish of his foul, for delivering up an innocent person to fall by their violence.
And did not those furious persecutors relent, when they heard fo Atriking a confeffion? Did they not tremble for themselves, and endeavour to rescue the holy fufferer? No: they remained obdurate. the traitor, unable to support himielf under the convictions and terrors of his mind, cast down before them the bribe which he had accepted, and instantly fled away, that he might put an end to his wretcred life. « He went and hanged himself.” Probably, the place which he chose for his own execution, was
* Matt. xxvii. 3—10.
on a precipice, and the rope, by which he was fula pended, ta:ed: for “falli g headlong, he burst asunder in the midit, and all his bowels gushed out *." Thus, it should seem, he lay a miserable spectacle, and a public monument of God's vengeance; as the fact excited general notice at Jerusalem.
What an ignominious and lainentable death for a follo er and Apostle of Christ ! How foolish, as well as wicked, the expedient, by which he attempted to release himielf from his acute anguish! He went to his own place t," the place, for which alone he was fitted by his difpofition and conduct, where his accusing conscience will continue to torment him with inconceivably great and uninterrupted horrors, and where he will be exhibited as an example of divine justice for ever. " It had been good for that man, if he had not been born."
But is it not faid, that he repented? Yes ; on fome accounts he was forry for what he had done. Shocked with the dread of confequences, he made confeffion of his guilt, and restored his impious gain. But he poffe led not that “godly forrow," which “ worketh repentance to falvation not to be repented of t." He discovered no proper humiliation; he offered up no petition for mercy. Under extreme misery, his heart remained full of vile affections and rebellion against God: and this will be the case of every one, who « suffers the vengeance of eternal fire.” The manner of his death proved, that he was not a penitent: he died in the actual commission of fin, and of that fin, which, from its nature, excludes repentance. He died as a murderer; “ and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him g."
From fuch a precedent, will any undertake to plead for suicide? We observe, that Satan generally tempts illen, who are a burden and terror to thema
* Adsi, 18, 19. 1. 25. I 2 Cor. vii. 30. $ 1 John iii. 15.
felves, to seek relief by this expedient. We therefore warn thein to consider, whither it will lead. You wiih to fly from present pain ; but you are rushing into that, which is infinitely more intolerable and eternal. This the Devil tries to conceal, or persuades you to disbelieve, till your ruin be unavoidable and remediless. O listen not to his suggestions; for “he is a liar !” O lift not up against yourselves the hand of violence, which would render your salvation impofsible! Cry to God with incessant importunity, that he would extend his mercy, and communicate peace to your souls. Though you fear it is too late, we
, would encourage your application : many, whose cases seemed desperate as your's, have obtained forgiveness and comfort. Only consent to make the trial, and wait upon the Lord. At any rate, dare not to meditate your own destruction : surely it will be foon enough to enter upon a state of never-ending torment, when God himself shall give you the summons.
That we may be impressed with an abhorrence of departing from the faith, let us contemplate, more minutely, the tremendous confequences of the apostary of Judas.
1. He involved the faithful disciples of Jesus in deep distress. Those, who had been attached to the Gol. pel, would be ready to suspect the truth of their own principles, when they observed a zealous preacher totally renounce then), and even sell his Master to his enemies," for filthy lucre's fake.” This circumttance, probably, ftaggered the Apostles themselves, and increased their confufion, when they all forfook their Lord. You, who love the Saviour, cannot but grieve more than for any temporal calamities, for such instances as this. You lament, that the Saviour is «.wounded in the house of his friends." You be wail the persons, who thus “ draw back unto perdition," and in whom all your fond hopes are disap
pointed. pointed. You are ready to fear, that the work of God will come to nought, and “ the armies of the aliens” prevail. Perhaps, you tremble under an apprehension, that you yourlelves, also, in some evil hour of temptation, thall “fall after the fame example of unbelief.” But we entreat you to compose your minds. God will plead his own causc, and vindicate his honour. He is faithful, and therefore you are secure in his Covenant. He will not suffer
any real believer to depart and periíh, as Judas did. These cases, we a'low, are painful, but they ought not to Make your firmness or your hopes. We are forewarned of them in the scriptures: even the treachery of Judas was no other than a completion of seve.ral express predictions..." It must needs be, that offences come; but wo to that man, by whom the offence cometh *."
2. He afforded the enemies of Jesus cause of triumph. Long had they represented the Saviour as a deceiver; and, probably, they were confirmed in that opinion by the conduct of Judas. It might then be asserted, with some plausibility, that the cheat was discovered, fince one of the preachers of this new religion had forliken it, and come over to their intereil.. Thus it is now. Apoftates bring the Gospel into contempt, and increale the prejudice and obduracy of infidels. The Lord, in righteous judgment, permits such occurrences, as furnith men with a pretext for oppoäng tbat truth, which they hate. They exclaim, therefore,.". The whole fystem is a delusion: there can be no real value, at least, in those principles, which so many, after long trial, have rebounceu. It ilould feen, that the most zealous advocates for the faith are all actuated by finifter motives, fince lome of their company have betrayed their untoundress :' we may judge of the rest from these Specimens.”
* Mait. xviii, 7.
Will you hear, what may be said in reply? Alk those very persons, who have deserted Christianity, ask them seriously, Who are in the right? In genera, they are constrained to bear a decisive testiinony in favour of that religion, which they have relinquished, and to condemn themselves. This Judas did. Many, also, like him, have shewn the greatest horrors for their sin, and perished miserably. Their case, therefore, loudly proclaims the folly and madness of forsaking the ways of God. That some, that numbers of those, who profess the faith, have never felt its infuence, we confess and lament. But still « the foundation of God standeth fure.” If, indeed, it be
, fair to judge of a whole fociety from certain individuals, there is no such thing as sincerity in the world. Then all the Apostles were vile impostors; and Judas acted the most honest part, when he threw off the maik. But this, we suppose, will not be asserted.
Let us view the apostate once more, and observe
3. He brought upon himself aggravated misery and ruin. We have seen, that he received no comfort from the money, which he so eagerly desired. “ Riches prost not in the day of wrath *.” when procured by unrighteousness, they frequently fill the minds of their possessors, even in this life, with anguish and disınay. Thus, also, Saint Paul testified, “ The love of money is the root of all evil : which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many forrows +." In various ways God can afflict and punih finners, while he suffers them to accomplish their wishes. He can render them so much a terror to themselves, that they shall “ choose ftrangling, and death rather than life I," But the most tremendous display of his justice, in the perdition of ungodly men, is reserved for another worid, where they thall
* Prov. xi. 4. t 1 Tim.. vi. 10. I Job vii. 15. Vol. IV.