« VorigeDoorgaan »
highly probable, that Judas, as well as the rest, partook of the eucharist, or the solemn ordinance of the Lord's supper. Being aware, however, of the extent of human depravity, we cease to wonder at human guilt, but not at the forbearance of our God, who could suffer one of so abandoned a disposition, to trifle with and profane his most sacred institutions. Similar cases, indeed, occur among ourselves; nor can they be entirely prevented by any exertions of ecclesiastical discipline. The Lord, probably, 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 ministers, this, also, will aggravate their guilt, and constitute a heavy charge against them at the day of judgement. Let them listen to the representations and entreaties of their faithful monitors; let them pause, and consider the event, and not persevere in defiance of everlasting perdition! It is a favourable sign, when men examine themselves, and pray earnestly to be delivered from all duplicity of mind and perfidious conduct. Then are they least likely to sin or to perish, as the traitor did.
After the solemn admonitions of Christ, Judas, instead of relenting, gave himself up, without reserve, to the influence of the accursed fiend; and, perhaps, indignant on being suspected and discovered, he proceeded immediately to perpetrate his base design. According to the plot, which had been laid, he consented to conduct an armed band of ruffians, in order to apprehend his Master. He knew the garden, where Jesus had been accustomed to retire for devotion, and where he himself, probably, had frequently joined with him in prayer. How different the end, for which he now repaired to Gethsemane ! He undertook to be a guide and assistant to those, who were filled with murderous rage against his Lord. With this intent he went up to Jesus, and pretending reverence and love, saluted him. The kiss was the appointed signal for seizing his person; and thus by the aid of a perfidious apostle, our Saviour was betrayed into the hands of wicked men, to be crucified and slain.
We view the transaction with amazement and horror;
forgetting the many ways, in which we ourselves may act the same diabolical part. While we pretend a high regard for Christ, we may expose his cause to contempt, embolden blasphemers to vent their impiety, and even teach them to do it with success.
But has he merited such a return for all his kindness ? or shall we so insult him, as to cry, hail, Master,' at the very time when we entertain the basest intentions against him? What have we found in his decided adversaries, which should induce us to espouse and promote their interests ? Are these the men, with whom we would associate, and whose hands we would strengthen ? Can we, then, prove that our former professed principles are false, 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, considered 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 conscience was alarmed, and he felt inexpressible horror for the atrocious deed which he had committed. 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 unrighteousness? The traitor, unable to support himself under the convictions and terrors of his mind, cast down before his employers the bribe which he had accepted, and instantly fled away, that he might put an end to his wretched life. Probably, the place which he chose for his own execution, was on a precipice ; and the rope, by which he was suspended, failed; for 'falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. In this plight he lay a miserable spectacle to the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; and, as the fact excited general notice, he became a public monument of God's vengeance. He went to his own place;' the place, for which alone he was fitted by his disposition 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 said, that he repented? Yes; on some accounts
he was sorry for what he had done. Shocked with the dread of consequences, he made confession of his guilt, and restored his impious gain. But he possessed not that 'godly sorrow,' which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of. He discovered no proper humiliation; he offered up no petition
The manner of his death proved, that he was not a penitent: he died in the actual commission of sin, and of that sin, which, from its nature, excludes repentance. He died as a murderer : 6 and ye know that no murderer hath eternal: life abiding in him.'
That we may be impressed with an abhorrence of departing from the faith, let us contemplate, more minutely, the tremendous consequences of the apostasy of Judas.
1. He involved the faithful disciples of Jesus in deep distress. Those who had been attached to the Gospel, would be ready to suspect the truth of their own principles, when they observed a zealous preacher totally renounce them, and even sell his Master to his enemies, ‘for filthy lucre’s sake.' This circumstance probably staggered the apostles themselves, and increased their confusion, when they all forsook their Lord. You, who love your Saviour, cannot but grieve for such instances as this, more than for any temporal calamities. You lament, that Christ is wounded in the house of his friends." You bewail the persons, who thus draw back unto perdition, and in whom all your fond hopes are disappointed. 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 yourselves also, in some evil hour of temptation, shall fall after the same example of unbelief.' But we entreat you to compose your minds. God will plead his own cause, 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 perish, as Judas did. These cases, we allow, are painful, but they ought not to shake 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 several express predictions. It must needs be, that offences come; but woe to that man, by whom the offence cometh.'
2. He afforded the enemies of Jesus cause of triumph. Long had they represented our Lord 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, since one of the preachers of this new religion had forsaken it, and come over to their interest. Thus it is now. Apostates bring the Gospel into contempt, and increase the prejudice and obduracy of infidels. But ask those very persons, who have deserted Christianity, ask them seriously, Who are in the right? In general, they are constrained to bear a decisive testimony in favour of that religion, which they have relinquished, and to condemn themselves. This Judas did. Many also, like him, have shown the greatest horror 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 influence, we confess and lament. But still the foundation of God standeth sure. If, indeed, it be fair to judge of a whole society 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 mask. But this we suppose no one will venture to assert. Such a declaration would be an insult to the common sense of mankind.
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 profit 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 dismay. Thus also St. 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 sorrows.' In various ways God can afflict and punish. sinners, while he suffers them to accomplish their wishes. He can render them so much a terror to themselves, that they shall choose strangling and death rather than life;' but the most tremendous display of his justice, in the perdition of ungodly men, is reserved for another world, where they shall receive, in exact proportion, according to their works.' There sball every vile apostate, as well as the traitor Judas, be distinguished by peculiar marks of indignation : for no guilt can be so heinous as theirs.
Do not these considerations alarm our fears? Then let us
watch and pray: and especially let us beware of those snares by which others have fallen. Let us be serious and upright, renouncing every carnal motive in our transactions with God. • A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways;' but taking hold of the covenant in Jesus Christ, and aiming at the divine glory with singleness of eye, we shall persevere in righteousness, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.' Amen.
TUESDAY BEFORE EASTER.
SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. Mark xv. 15-20.--And so Pilate, willing to content the people, re
leased Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Prætorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head. And began to salute him, Hail, king of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees, worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
[Text taken from the Gospel for the Day.] The Gospel, appointed for the service of this day, presents us with a scene of the blackest villany that ever malicious and enraged people were guilty of; and at the same time, with the brightest and most unspotted virtue, the meekest and most invincible patience, that ever suffered in human fesh. The circumstances of horror, and insolence, and cruelty, render this a case without a parallel, a death beyond example, a wickedness beyond expression. They are a subject too large for a discourse, fit indeed to take up the greatest part of our lives : therefore, I will fix upon some very few particulars; that is, first, I will set forth the things themselves; and, secondly, show, what pious reflections they ought to raise in our minds.
The crimes, alleged against Jesus before the high priest, were too false, or too frivolous, to bear any weight. In all