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when John asks thee a question, no less seemingly curious, at Peter's instance, " Who is it that betrays thee?" however thou mightst have, returned him the same answer, since neither of their persons was any more concerned, yet thou condescendest to a mild and full, though secret, satisfaction. There was not so much difference in the men, as in the matter of the demand. No occasion was given to Peter of moving that question concerning John; the indefinite assertion of treason amongst the disciples, was a most just occasion of moving John's question for Peter and himself. That which therefore was timorously demanded, is answered graciously; "He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it: and he gave the sop to Judas." How loath was our Saviour to name him whom he was not unwilling to design! All is here expressed by dumb signs; the hand speaks what the tongue would not. In the same language wherein Peter asked the question of John, doth our Saviour shape an answer to John: what a beck demanded, is answered by
O Saviour, I do not hear thee say, look on whomsoever I frown, or to whomsoever I do a public affront, that is the man; but "to whomsoever I shall give a sop. "Surely a by-stander would have thought this man deep in thy books, and would have construed this act as they did thy tears for Lazarus, "See how he loves him." To carve a man out of thine own dish, what could it seem to argue but a singularity of respect? yet, lo, there is but one whom thou hatest, one only traitor at thy board; and thou givest him a sop The outward gifts of God are not always the proofs of his love; yea, sometimes are bestowed in pleasure. Had not he been a wise disciple that should have envied the great favour done to Judas, and have stomached his own preterition? So foolish are they, who, measuring God's affection by temporal benefits, are ready to applaud prospering wickedness, and to grudge outward blessings to them which are uncapable of any
"After the sop, Satan entered into Judas." Better had it been for that treacherous disciple to have wanted that morsel: not that there was any malignity in the bread, or that the sop had any power to convey Satan into the receiver, or that, by a necessary concomitance, that evil spirit was in or with it. Favours ill used make the heart more capable of farther evil.
That wicked spirit commonly takes occasion, by any of God's gifts, to assault us the more eagerly. After our sacramental morsel, if we be not the better, we are sure the worse. dare not say, yet I dare think, that Judas, comparing his Master's words and John's whisperings with the tender of this sop, and finding himself thus denoted, was now so much the more irritated to perform what he had wickedly purposed. Thus Satan took advantage by the sop of a farther possession. Twice before had that evil spirit made a palpable entry into that lewd heart. First, in his covetousness and theft; those sinful habits could not be without that author of ill: then in his damnable resolution and plot of so heinous a conspiracy against Christ. Yet now, as if it were new to begin, "After the sop Satan entered." As in every gross sin which we entertain, we give harbour to that evil spirit; so, in every degree of growth in wickedness, new hold is taken by him of the heart. No sooner is the foot over the threshold, than we enter into the house; when we pass thence into the inner rooms, we make still but a perfect entrance. At first Satan entered to make the house of Judas's heart his own, now he enters into it as his own. The first purpose of sin opens the gates to Satan, consent admits him into the entry, full resolution of sin gives up the keys to his hands, and puts him into absolute possession. What a plain difference there is betwixt the regenerate and evil heart! Satan lays siege to the best by his temptations, and sometimes, upon battery and breach made, enters; the other admits him by willing composition. When he is entered upon the regenerate, he is entertained with perpetual skirmishes, and, by a holy violence, at last repulsed; in the other, he is plausibly received, and freely commandeth. O the admirable meekness of this Lamb of God! I see not a frown, I hear not a check, but, "What thou dost, do quickly." Why do we startle at our petty wrongs, and swell with anger, and break into furious revenges upon every occasion, when the Pattern of our patience lets not fall one harsh word upon so foul and bloody a traitor! Yea, so fairly is this carried, that the disciples as yet can apprehend no change; they innocently think of commodities to be bought, when Christ speaks of their Master sold, and, as one that longs to be out of pain, hastens the pace of his irreclaimable conspirator, "What thou dost, do quickly." It is one thing to say, Do what thou intendest,
and another to say, Do quickly what thou dost. There was villany in the deed; the speed had no sin, the time was harmless, while the man and the act was wicked. O Judas, how happy had it been for thee, if thou hadst never done what thou perfidiously intendest; but since thou wilt needs do it, delay is but a torment.
That steelly heart yet relents not; the obfirmed traitor knows his way to the high-priest's hall, and to the garden: the watch-word is already given, "Hail, Master, and a kiss." Yet more hypocrisy! yet more presumption upon so overstrained a lenity! How knewest thou, O thou false traitor, whether that sacred cheek would suffer itself to be defiled with thine impure touch? Thou well foundst thy treachery was unmasked; thine heart could not be so false to thee as not to tell thee how hateful thou wert. Go, kiss and adore those silverlings which thou art too sure of; the Master whom thou hast sold is not thine. But, O the impudence of a deplored sinner! that tongue which hath agreed to sell his Master, dares say, Hail; and those lips, that have passed the compact of his death, dare offer to kiss him whom they had covenanted to kill. It was God's charge of old, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." O Saviour, thou hadst reason to be angry with this kiss: the scourges, the thorns, the nails, the spear of thy murderers were not so painful, so piercing, as this touch of Judas; all these were in this one alone. The stabs of an enemy cannot be so grievous as the skin-deep wounds of a disciple.
WHAT a preface do I find to my Saviour's passion! an hymn, and an agony: a cheerful hymn, and an agony no less sorrowful. An hymn begins, both to raise and testify the courageous resolutions of his suffering; and agony follows, to shew that he was truly sensible of those extremities wherewith he was resolved to grapple. All the disciples bore their part in that hymn; it was fit they should all see his comfortable and divine magnanimity wherewith he entered into those sad lists: only three of them shall be allowed to be the witnesses of his agony, only those three that had been
the witnesses of his glorious transfiguration. That sight had well fore-armed and prepared them for this; how could they be dismayed to see his trouble, who there saw his majesty? how could they be dismayed to see his body now sweat, which they had then seen to shine? how could they be daunted to see him now accosted with Judas, and his train, whom they then saw attended with Moses and Elias? how could they be discouraged to hear the reproaches of base men, when they had heard the voice of God to him from that excellent glory; "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased?"
Now, before these eyes this sun begins to be overcast with clouds: "He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy." Many sad thoughts for mankind had he secretly hatched, and yet smothered in his own breast; now his grief is too great to keep in: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." O Saviour, what must thou needs feel, when thou saidst so? Feeble minds are apt to bemoan themselves upon light occasions; the grief must needs be violent, that causeth a strong heart to break forth into a passionate complaint. Woe is me, what a word is this for the Son of God! Where is that Comforter which thou promisedst to send to others? where is that thy Father of all mercies, and God of all comfort, "in whose presence is the fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore?" where are those constant and cheerful resolutions of a fearless walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Alas! if that face were not hid from thee, whose essence could not be disunited, these pangs could not have been. The sun was withdrawn awhile, that there might be a cool, though not a dark night, as in the world, so in thy breast; withdrawn in respect of sight, not of being. It was the hardest piece of thy sufferings, that thou must be disconsolate.
But to whom dost thou make this moan, O thou Saviour of men? Hard is that man driven that is fain to complain to his inferiors. Had Peter, or James, or John, thus bewailed himself to thee, there had been ease to their soul in venting itself; thou hadst been both apt to pity them, and able to relieve them but now, in that thou lamentest thy case to them, alas! what issue couldst thou expect? they might be astonished with thy grief; but there is neither power in their hands to free thee from those sorrows, nor power in their
compassion to mitigate them. Nay, in this condition, what could all the angels of heaven, as of themselves, do to succour thee? what strength could they have but from thee; what creature can help when thou complainest? It must be only the stronger that can aid the weak.
Öld and holy Simeon could fore-say to thy blessed mother, that "A sword should pierce through her soul;" but, alas! how many swords at once pierce thine! Every one of these words is both sharp and edged: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." What human soul is capable of the conceit of the least of those sorrows that oppressed thine? It was not thy body that suffered now; the pain of body is but as the body of pain; the anguish of the soul is as the soul of anguish. That, and in that thou sufferedst, where are they that dare so far disparage thy sorrow, as to say thy soul suffered only in sympathy with thy body; not immediately, but by participation? not in itself, but in its partner? Thou best knewest what thou feltst, and thou, that feltst thine own pain, canst cry out of thy soul. Neither didst thou say, My soul is troubled; so it often was, even to tears; but "My soul is sorrowful :" as if it had been before assaulted, now possessed with grief. Nor yet this in any tolerable moderation, (changes of passion are incident to every human soul) but "exceeding sorrowful." exceeding sorrowful." Yet there are degrees in the very extremities of evils; those, that are most vehement, may yet be capable of a remedy, at least a relaxation; thine was past these hopes, "exceeding sorrowful unto death."
What was it, what could it be, O Saviour, that lay thus heavy upon thy divine soul; was it the fear of death? was it the forefelt pain, shame, torment, of thine ensuing crucifixion? O poor and base thoughts of the narrow hearts of cowardly and impotent mortality! How many thousands of thy blessed martyrs have welcomed no less tortures with smiles and gratulations, and have made a sport of those exquisite cruelties which their very tyrants thought unsufferable! whence had they this strength but from thee? if their weakness were thus undaunted and prevalent, what was thy power? No, no; it was the sad weight of the sin of mankind; it was the heavy burden of thy Father's wrath for our sin, that thus pressed thy soul, and wrung from thee these bitter expressions.
What can it avail thee, O Saviour, to tell thy grief to