صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

nine pounds sterling. The pieces of silver were probably the Jewish shekels, each of which was of a weight equivalent to about two shillings and three pence; amounting in all to between three and four pounds. A different reckoning, however, has been adopted by some, as appears from the following passage from Jeremy Taylor's Life of Christ, which I quote at length, as containing other opinions on this subject. It will be perceived that the bishop takes it for granted that Mary Magdalen was the woman who anointed our Lord.

“It is not intimated, in this history of the life of Jesus, that Judas had any malice against the person of Christ; for when afterward he saw the matter was to end in the death of his Lord, he repented; but a base and unworthy spirit of covetousness possessed him; and the relics of indignation for missing the price of the ointment which the holy Magdalen had poured upon his feet burnt in his bowels with a secret, dark, melancholic fire, and made an eruption into an act which all the ages of the world could never parallel. They appointed him for hire thirty pieces; and some say that every piece did in value equal ten ordinary current deniers; and so Judas was satisfied by receiving the worth of the three hundred pence at which he valued the nard pistic. But hereafter let no Christian be

ashamed to be despised and undervalued; for he will hardly meet so great a reproach as to have so disproportioned a price set upon his life as was upon the holy Jesus. St. Mary Magdalen thought it not good enough to aneal his sacred feet; Ju das thought it a sufficient price for his head; for covetousness aims at base and low purchases, whilst holy love is great and comprehensive as the bosom of Heaven, and aims at nothing that is less than infinite."

It has been a subject of surprise with many commentators, that so small a bribe should have tempted Judas to commit so great a crime; and it does seem as if some other motive must have co-operated with the love of money, in bringing his mind to its dreadful determination. Among the solutions which have been proposed of this apparent enigma is the one which supposes that Judas was impatient of the delay of his Master to assume the state and magnificence of his Messiahship, and that his intention was to compel him to do so, by bringing him into such imminent peril, that he would be obliged to call his followers round him, work some signal miracle to free himself, and then mount the throne of David and of Israel. In this event, he of course calculated that he should come in for his share of those offices and rewards which he had been long pining for, and pining for in vain. Here, also, avarice is the governing motive; only on a much larger scale than in the action as it is simply narrated in the Scriptures.

There is something to say in favor of this explanation, and something too may be said against it. It is safest and easiest to take the bare Gospel statement, which merely informs us, that, for the consideration of thirty shekels of silver, Judas covenanted to betray his Master. No motive is expressly assigned for the act; but as he is represented as selfish and avaricious, we must presume that selfishness and avarice moved him to this last and most awful crime.

With regard to the price of his treachery, a survey of human nature and human passions will not authorize us to say that any sum is too small to tempt habitual and absorbing avarice to any act or degree of wickedness. Earthly, sensual,

Earthly, sensual, and contemptible, there is no knowing how low this passion will creep, nor how high it will strike; how meanly it may dig for its dirty food, nor how daringly it may direct its poison.

Having concluded his bargain with the priests, and, as he thought, secretly, Judas resumed his place among the twelve, and the next that we hear of him is at the last supper.* As they were eating, Jesus said, “ Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” At this intimation, the disciples, innocent as they all but one felt themselves to be, were exceedingly distressed, and they began each one to say unto him, “ Lord, is it I ?” Jesus, who had just before discovered the traitor, by a sign, to Simon Peter and John, answered, and said, “ He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of Man goeth, as it is written of him ; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed ! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who, in all probability, saw that his Master's hand and his own were together in the dish, and that he was consequently accused of the treason, but still, perhaps, relying on the secrecy with which he had made his bargain, thought that he now was obliged to say something; and pretending the same innocence as the rest, he asked the same question, “ Lord, is it I?And Jesus, using no more signs, but directly accusing the miserable culprit, answered, “Thou hast said.” He then added, “That which thou doest, do quickly." Judas, finding that no disguise or equivocation would now serve him, went immediately out. “ And it was night," adds the historian. Night, indeed! How dark, how sad, how portentous ! There never was another such since the world 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 !

* That is, the supper of the Passover. It has been disputed, whether Judas was or was not present when Jesus instituted his own supper, at the time of this feast ; and it is a difficult point to

determine. “However it was,” observes the author from wbom I quoted last, “ Christ, who was Lord the sacraments, migone dispense it as he pleased.”

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

« السابقةمتابعة »