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anger, but perished under thy wrath everlastingly. How irresistible is thy power! how dreadful are thy judgments ! Lord! chastise my fruitlessness, but punish it not; at least, punish it, but curse it not, lest I wither and be consumed.
Christ betrayed Such an eye-sore was Christ that raised Lazarus, and Lazarus whom Christ raised, to the envious priests, scribes, elders of the Jews, that they consult to murder both : while either of them lives, neither can the glory of that miracle die, nor the shame of the oppugners.
Those malicious heads are laid together in the parlour of Caiaphas. Happy had it been for them if they had spent but half those thoughts upon their own salvation which they misemployed upon the destruction of the innocent. At last this results, that force is not their way; subtility and treachery must do that which should be vainly attempted by power.
Who is so fit to work this feat against Christ as one of his own? There can be no treason, where is not some trust. Who so fit among the domestics as he that bare the bag, and over-loved that which he bare? That heart, which hath once enslaved itself to red and white earth, may be made any thing. Who can trust to the power of good means, when Judas, who heard Christ daily, whom others heard to preach Christ daily, who daily saw Christ's miracles, and daily wrought miracles in Christ's name, is, at his best, a thief, and ere long a traitor? That crafty and malignant spirit, which presided in that bloody council, hath easily found out a fit instrument for this hellish plot. As God knows, so Satan guesses who are his, and will be sure to make use of his own. If Judas were Christ's domestic, yet he was Mammon's servant : he could not but hate that Master whom he formally professed to serve, while he really served that Master which Cbrist professed to hate. He is but in his trade, while he is bartering even for his Master; “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?" Saidst thou not well, O Saviour, “I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?" Thou, that knewst to distinguish betwixt men and spirits, callest Judas by his right name. Lo, he is become a tempter to the worst of evils.
Wretched Judas! whether shall I more abhor thy treachery, or wonder at thy folly? What will they, what can they give thee valuable to that head which thou profferest to sale? Were they able to pay, or thou capable to receive all those precious metals that are laid up in the secret cabins of the whole earth, how were this price equivalent to the worth of bin that made them? Had they been able to fetch down those rich and glittering spangles of heaven, and to have put them into thy fist, what had this been to weigh with a God? How basely therefore dost thou speak of chaffering for him whose the world was? “ What will ye give me!" Alas, what were they? what had they, miserable men, to pay for such a purchase? The time was, when he that set thee on work, could say, “ All the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them are mine, and I give them to whom I please; all these will I give thee.” Had he now made that offer to thee in this woeful bargain, it might have carried some colour of a temptation : and even thus it had been a match ill-made; but for thee to tender a trade of so invaluable a commodity to these pelting petty chapmen, for thirty poor silverlings, it was no less base than wicked !
How unequal is this rate! Thou that valuedst Mary's ointment, which she bestowed upon the feet of Christ, at three hundred pieces of silver, sellest thy Master, on whom that precious odour was spent, at thirty. Worldly hearts are penny-wise, and pound-foolish: they know how to set high prices upon the worthless trash of this world; but for heavenly things, or the God that owns them, these they shamefully undervalue. * And I will deliver him unto you.”
False and presumptuous Judas! it was more than thou couldst do; thy price was not more too low than thy undertaking was too high. Had all the powers of hell combined with thee, they could not have delivered thy Master into the hands of men. The act was none but his own; all that he did, all that he suffered, was perfectly voluntary. Had he pleased to resist, how easily had he, with one breath, blown thee and thy accomplices down into their hell! It is no thank to thee that he would be delivered. O Saviour, all our safety, all our comfort depends not so much upon thine act as upon thy will : in vain should we have hoped for the benefit of a forced redemption.
The bargain is driven, the price paid. Judas returns, and looks no less smoothly upon his Master and his fellows, than as if he had done no disservice. What cares he? his heart tells him be is rich, though it tells him he is false. He was not now first an hypocrite. The passover is at hand ; no man is so busy to prepare for it, or more devoutly forward to receive it, than Judas.
O the sottishness and obdurateness of this son of perdition! How many proofs had he formerly of his Master's omniscience! There was no day wherein he saw not, that thoughts and things absent came familiar under his cognizance, yet this miscreant dares plot a secret villany agaiost his person, and face it: if he cannot be honest, yet he will be close. That he may be notoriously impudent, be shall know he is descried : while he thinks fit to conceal his treachery, our Saviour thinks not fit to conceal the knowledge of that treacherous conspiracy; “Verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Who would not think but that discovered wickedness should be ashamed of itself? Did not Judas (think we) blush, and grow pale again, and cast down his guilty eyes, and turn away his troubled countenance at so galling an intimation? Custom of sin steels the brow, and makes it incapable of any relenting impressions. Could the other disciples have discerned any change in any one of their faces, they had not been so sorrowfully affected with the charge. Methinks I see, how intentively they bent their eyes upon each other, as if they would have looked through those windows down into the bosom; with what self-confidence, with what mutual jealousy they perused each other's foreheads; and now, as rather thinking fit to distrust their own innocence than their Master's assertion, each trembles to say, “Lord, is it I?" It is possible, there may lurk secret wickedness in some blind corner of the heart, which we know noi of: it is possible, that tiine and temptation, working opoo our corruption, may at last draw us into some such sin as we could not fore-believe. Whither may we not fall, if we be left to our own strength? It is both wise and holy to misdoubt the worst : "Lord, is it I ?”
In the mean time, how fair hath Judas, all this while, carried with his fellows? Had his former life bewrayed any falsehood or misdemeanor, they had soon found where to pitch their just suspicion : now Judas goes for so honest a man, that every disciple is rather ready to suspect himself than him. It is true he was a thief; but who knows that besides his Maker? The outsides of men are no less deceitful than their hearts. It is not more unsafe to judge by outward appearances, than it is uncharitable not to judge so.
O the lieadstrong resolutions of wickedness, not to be checked by any opposition! Who would not but have thought, if the notice of an intended evil could not have prevented it, yet that the threats of judgment should have affrighted the boldest offender ? Judas can sit by, and hear his Master say, “ Woe be to the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed; it had been better for that man never to have been born,” and is no more blanked than very innocence; but thinks, what care 1? I have the money; I shall escape the shame: the fact shall be close, the match gainful: it will be long ere I shall get so much by my service; if I fare well for the present, I shall shift well enough for the future. Thus secretly he claps up another bargain ; he makes a covenant with death, and with hell an agreeinent. O Judas, didst thou ever hear ought but truth fall from the mouth of that thy divine Master? canst thou distrust the certainty of that. dreadful menace of vengeance? how then durst thou persist in the purpose of so flagitious and damnable a villany?' Resolved sinners run on desperately in their wicked courses, and have so bent their eyes upon the profit or pleasure of their nischievous projects, that they will not see hell lie open before them in the way.
As if that shameless man meant to outbrave all accusations, and to outface his own heart, he dares ask it too,
Master, is it I?" No disciple shall more zealously abominate that crime, than he that fosters it in his bosom. Whatever the Searcher of hearts knows, by him is locked up in his own breast; to be perfidious is nothing, so he may be secret: bis Master knows him for a traitor, it is not long that he sball live to complain; his fellows think him honest; all is well, while he is well esteemed. Reputation is the only care of false hearts, not truth of being, not conscience of merit; so they may seem fair to men, they care not how foul they are to God.
Had our Saviour only had this knowledge at the second
hand, this boldness had been enough to make bim suspect the credit of the best intelligence; who could imagine that a guilty man dared thus brow-beat a just accusation? Now he, whose piercing and unfailing eyes see things as they are, not as they seem, can peremptorily convince the impudence of this hollow questionist, with a direct affirmation; “ Thou hast said." Foolish traitor! couldst thou think that those blear eyes of thine would endure the beams of the sun, or that counterfeit slip, the fire? was it not sufficient for thee to be secretly vicious, but thou must presume to contest with an omniscient accuser? Hast thou yet enough? thou supposedst thy crime unknown; to men it was so; had thy Master been no more, it had been so to him; now his knowledge argues him divine. How dost thou yet resolve to lift up thy hand against him, who knows thine offence, and can either prevent or revenge it? As yet the charge was private, either not heard, or not observed by thy fellows: it shall be at first whispered to one, and at last known to all. Bashful and penitent sinners are fit to be concealed; shame is meet for those that have none.
Curiosity of knowledge is an old disease of human nature: besides, Peter's zeal would not let him dwell under the danger of so doubtful a crimination ; he cannot but sit on thorns, till he know the man. His signs ask what his voice dare not. What law requires all followers to be equally beloved? why may not our favours be freely dispensed where we like best, without envy, without prejudice ? None of Christ's train could complain of neglect; John is highest in grace. Blood, affection, zeal, diligence have endeared him above his fellows. He, that is dearest in respect, is next in place: in that form of side-sitting at the table, he leaned on the bosom of Jesus. Where is more love, there may be more boldness. This secrecy and entireness privileges John to ask that safely which Peter might not without much inconvenience and peril of a check. The beloved disciple well understands this silent language, and dares put Peter's thought into words. Love shutteth out fear. O Saviour, the confidence of thy goodness emboldens us not to shrink at any suit. Thy love, shed abroad in our hearts, bids us ask that which in a stranger were no better than presumption. Once, when Peter askt thee a question concerning John, “What shall this man do?" he received a short answer, “What is that to thee?” now,