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first woke from chaos. We seem to see it fall and settle like an outstretched pall, and embrace the whole of that devoted region with its mourning folds. Under its covering the wretched apostate
– apostle no longer stole forth to execute his purpose; what a night there must have been in his bosom, and in his mind! And what a night, of doubt and fear and mournfulness, did he leave in the hearts of the eleven, who now listened sadly to their Master, as he pursued his melting, though calm, sustained, and heavenly discourse, and gave them his farewell exhortations, and his farewell blessing !
It was yet night, when the small company, now made smaller by desertion, having finished their supper and sung a hymn together, went out, as was the frequent custom of Jesus, to the mount of Olives. Here he suffered his dreadful agony; and here Judas soon appeared, with an armed band, which he had received from the priests and Pharisees; for he knew that he should probably find his Master in this place of his usual resort. In order that his attendants might be sure of their victim, in this season of confusion and darkness, the traitor gave them a sign, telling them that whomsoever he should kiss, the same was he. Then going up to Jesus, as if he had
been a friend, and intended to offer the common salutation of friendship and intimacy, he said, “Hail, Master !” and kissed him. Reproachfully Jesus said unto him, “ Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" « Is it with a hypocritical kiss of affection and peace that you perform this deed of atrocious ingratitude ?” Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, who were come to him, “ Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves ? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me; but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Then they took him,
and brought him to the high priest's house.
And now that Judas has accomplished his design, is he gratified? At first perhaps he was. But it was a momentary satisfaction. Reflection succeeded passion, and grief and remorse followed hard upon the footsteps of reflection. He could think now; and he could feel. He could think how good his Master had always been to him; how perfectly free from guilt or stain, and yet how condescending and pitiful to human
He felt the baseness of his own conduct; he was appalled at the sight of his own enormous
ingratitude; he began to hate himself, and to fear the light of morning, and to dread the aspect of that mild face, which, however mildly it might regard him, could speak nothing to his heart but judgment and agony. Morning came. The relentless and exulting enemies of Jesus met to adopt measures for securing their prey. As the fate of his Master approached nearer to its bloody catastrophe, the anguish of Judas became more intense, and his crime showed itself in all its horrors. Perhaps he did not apprehend that the priests would have pushed their malignity to the extreme of death. At any rate, his own malice and cupidity were wholly terrified away, and he resolved to make one wild effort to save the victim. He rushed to the conclave, with the now hateful silver grasped convulsively in his hand, and reaching it out to his employers, he exclaimed, “ I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood.” Deluded man! Innocent or guilty it was the same to them, so long as they could shed it. “And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that!” Stung to the quick by this cold and insulting reply, and feeling himself cast away like a tool which has been broken in the using, and having now no refuge from the fiends that were pursuing him, existence became
a burthen too heavy for him to bear; and he threw the pieces of silver on the pavement of the temple, "and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
I know not how others may feel on perusing the history of this wretched man, but for my own part, I confess that my indignation is plentifully mingled with pity. How dark was the close of his short career! How terrible was the punishment of his guilt; death by his own hands! The price of blood lies scattered at the feet of the priests; the betrayer has come to his end, even before the betrayed; his apostleship is ended; no softened multitude will listen to the tidings of salvation from his lips; no converts to a pure and purifying faith will bow to receive the waters of baptism from his hands; no countries will contend for the honor of his grave; no churches will call themselves by his name; no careful disciples compose his limbs; no enthusiastic devotees gather up his bones; his dust is scattered to the winds; his name is only preserved by its eternal ignominy. He was a martyr the first martyr but it was to avarice. He has had his followers, too; but they have been only those, who, as wicked and as wretched as himself, have, from that day to this, and in the countless
forms of selfishness, sold, for a few pieces of silver, their consciences, their Saviour, and their souls.*
By an observable coincidence, it so happened tha the money which Judas had received and returned, became desecrated by his touch. There was a Jewish law, which forbade that the price
* In the Life of Thomas Firmin, that wealthy and eminently liberal and pious citizen and merchant of London in the seventeenth century, a curious legend is related from memory, respecting the punishment of Judas in another state, which shows how the feelings of men relent, even towards the greatest transgressors. The legend is cited by the author, to illustrate the value of charitable deeds. As, notwithstanding its wildness, it is conceived and told in a truly poetical manner, and has, if I may judge, a favorable influence on the affections, I shall offer no apology for repeating it.
“ I have read somewhere, (but so long since, that I forget the author's
name, and the subject of his book,) that the punishment of Judas, who betrayed our Saviour, is, that he stands on the surface of a swelling, dreadful sea, with his feet somewhat below the water, as if he were about to sink. The writer saith, besides his continual horror and fear of going to the bottom, a most terrible tempest of hail and wind always beats on the traitor's naked body and head; he suffers as much by cold, and the smart of the impetuous hail, as it is possible to imagine he could suffer by the fire of purgatory, or of hell. But, saith my author further, in this so great distress Judas has one great comfort and relief; for whereas the tempest would be insupportable, if it beat always upon him from all sides ; at a little distance from him, and somewhat above him, there is stretched out a sheet of strong coarse linen cloth ; which sheet intercepts a great part of the tempest. Judas regales himself by turning sometimes one side, sometimes another side, of his head and body, to the shelter of this sheet. In short, the sheet is such a protection to him, that it defends him from the one half of his punishment. But by what