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most melancholy idea of the condition of the unhappy criminal. It should seem, Jesus Christ enveloped in qualified terms a truth the most dreadful imaginable. These words, "It had been good for that man, if he had not been born," are equivalent to these, Judas is for ever excluded from the happiness of heaven; Judas is for ever condemned to the punishment of hell. It is the same truth, which the apostles expressed, after the example of their master, in milder terms, "Thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether thou hast chosen Justus or Matthias, that he may take part of this apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place," Acts i. 24-28. What is this place? The answer is easy, though some ancient heretics affirm extravagant things about it. It is the place reserved for those against whom the door of mercy is shut: it is the place reserved for those who must for ever serve for victims of divine justice.
If you recall to mind all the most guilty persons, and those whose condition is the most desperate, you will not find one of whom that can be said without rashness which is here affirmed of Judas, Judas is the only person, literally the only person, whom we are allowed with certainty to declare is in the torments of hell. Certainly we cannot help forming lamentable ideas of the condition of some sinners, who died in perpetrating their crimes; as of some who were less men than monsters of humanity, and who died blaspheming God, and attacking religion and morality, as Pharaoh, Belshazzar, Julian, and others; but after all, it is not for us to set limits to the mercy of God. The Holy Spirit has ways unknown to us to convert the hearts of men. Judas is the only one without exception, of whom I dare venture to affirm, he is irrecoverably lost. And when I form this judgment of his destiny, I do not ground it merely on his betraying Jesus Christ; for it is not impossible that after he had committed that crime he might have obtained forgiveness by repentance. I do not ground it on the manner of his death, for he was distracted, and madness is sometimes caused by trouble, and in such a case reason has no share, and divine justice does not impute sir to a man deprived of his senses. I ground my judgment of the punishment of Judas on the words of my text, "It had been good for that man, if he had not been born;" words never denounced by the Spirit of God against any other wretch that ever was. Thus the object which I exhibit to your view to-day, is not only a particular object, but is even an unique, a sole, a single object.
But perhaps, because it is a singular case, you think it does not regard you, and that you need not make any inferences concerning your own eternal destiny from it. And does not this object regard you? Alas! My brethren, I dare but however hear me; condescend to accompany me in this inortifying and (I must tell you, how improper soever it may seem to reconcile your attention) deign to accompany us in this alarming meditation. Come and examine what a melancholy likeness there is between the features of some of our hearers, and those of the miserable Judas.
How like are their dispositions! How sad soever the examination may be, there is at least one comfortable consideration, at least one difference between them and this traitor, that is, Jesus Christ has pronounced the decree of his condemnation, whereas he has not yet pronounced the sentence on my hearers; the door of mercy is yet open to them, the time of their visitation is not yet quite expired. O that they would avail themselves of the few inestimable moments that remain! O that they would throw themselves at the feet of that Jesus whom they have so often betrayed! O that they may be washed in that blood which they have so unworthily trodden under foot! God Almighty grant, for his great mercy's sake, that this may be the effect of this discourse! Grant, O God, that such of us as are best established in piety may be filled with holy fear, by seeing to what excess self-interest may be carried! O Lord, incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not unto covetousness." Amen.
"It had been good for that man if he had not been born," or what is the same thing in this place, "If he had never existed, and were not to exist any longer." Let us first explain the meaning of Jesus Christ by a few reflections, and justify the idea I have given you of the words.
1. Existence is the foundation of happiness and misery. Nothing has no properties. Not to exist is to be neither happy nor miserable. To exist is to be capable of one or the other, or both together. Existence considered in itself, is indifferent to the being existing; it is the happiness or the misery with which it is accompanied, which determines the value of it. If it were possible for a man to exist without being either happy or miserable, his existence would be in some sort useless and indifferent, and it would be true in regard to him, that it would be neither good nor evil to him to be born or not to be born. If the existence of a man be accompanied with equal degrees of happiness and misery, we must form the same judgment; misery is compensated by happiness, and happiness by misery, the balance is equal, and preponderates neither way. If there be more happiness than misery in his existence, it is true in regard to him, that it is better for him to be than not to be; on the contrary, if misery exceed happiness, . finish this proposition yourselves, and apply it to the subject in hand. "It had been good for Judas if he had not been born." So Jesus Christ declares. The existence of Judas then must be attended with more misery than happiness. This is our first reflection.
2. To judge whether a man be happy or miserable, whether it would be better for him to exist or not to exist, we must not consider him in regard to a few moments, but in the whole of his existence; we must examine whether all things considered good be greater than evil, or evil greater than good. The good and ills of past life generally leave no impression on our minds, they contribute only to our present happiness or misery, and there remains nothing but a remembrance of them. If you can judge of the happiness or misery of man by his actual condition, you will say in
each moment of his happiness, it is better for him to be than not to be; and during every moment of his misery, you will say, it is better for him not to exist. But, as I said before, it is not in regard to a single instant that a man ought to be considered to determine whether he be happy or miserable; it is in the whole of his existence.
I make this reflection to prevent your supposing that when Jesus Christ said, “It had been good for Judas if he had not been born," he meant Judas should be annihilated. Had Judas been annihilated after death, it must be said, according to our first proposition, that Judas after death would not be either happy or miserable; that it would not have been either good or evil for him to be born or not to be born. In this case, to form a just idea of the value of the existence of Judas, it would be necessary to compare the misery of his end with the happiness of his life, and as we have no reason to think he had been more miserable than happy in his life, as we have reason to presume, on the contrary, that having been in a middling state of life, he had enjoyed the gifts of nature with some kind of tranquillity, it could not be affirmed, strictly speaking, that because he died a violent death, "it had been good for him if he had not been born." The death of Judas separated from its consequences was not more miserable than that of a man who dies in his bed after lying ill some days; and as we cannot affirm of a man, who after enjoying a tranquil life dies by an illness of some days, that "it had been good for that man if he had not been born," so neither can we affirm of Judas, if he had been annihilated after death. When Jesus Christ says, "it had been good for that man if he had not been born," he supposes he would subsist after death. He compares the condition he would be in after death with all the good he had enjoyed, and would enjoy during life; and by thus forming his judgment on the whole of existence, he determines that the existence of this traitor would be accompanied with more evil than good, and he pronounces," it would have been good for that man if he had not been born," that is to say, if he never had existed, and if he never were to exist any longer. This is our second reflection.
life, mankind prefer life before annihilation. Whether their taste be good or bad, we do not inquire now, we speak of a fact, and the fact is indisputable. Jesus Christ speaks to men, he supposes their ideas to be what they are, and he speaks according to these ideas. When he says, "it had been good for Judas, if he had not been born," he means that his misery would be greater after death than it had been during his life; for how disgusting soever life may be, mankind prefer it before annihilation; and if Judas had no other punishment to suffer for his perfidy than such as belonged to the present state, Jesus Christ would not have said, "it had been good for that man if he had not been born." He intended we should understand that Judas would be more miserable in a future economy, than we are in this life, in spite of the maladies to which our frailty exposes us, in spite of the vicissitudes we experience, and in spite of the sacrifices, which we are daily required to make.
4. If, as we said at first, the sentence of Jesus Christ against Judas be expresssed in mild terms, we must, in order fully to comprehend the sense, lay aside the soft language, and advert to the terrible subject. But can we without rashness change the terms of a sentence which the Saviour pronounced, and give the whole of what he spoke only in part? Yes, provided the part we add be taken not from our own systems, but from that of Jesus Christ, who only can fill up the space which sufficient reasons induced him to leave vacant when he gave out this sentence. Now we find two things in the system of Jesus Christ on this subject. First, that the misery denounced against Judas is of the most dreadful kind. And secondly, that Jesus Christ denounces against him the greatest degree of misery of this kind. Or to express myself more clearly, my first proposition is, that every place in hell is intolerable. My second proposition is, that Jesus Christ doomed Judas to the most intolerable place in hell.
3. Whatever misfortunes attend the present life, there are few men, who, all things considered, would not rather choose to live for ever, as we live in this world, than to be annihilated after living a few years. I do not inquire whether their choice be good; I only say it is their choice, the fact is incontestable. If few men be of the mind of Mecenas, who said, "Let me suffer, let me be despised, and miserable, yet I would rather exist than not exist," if there be, I say, few men of the opinion of this favourite of Augustus, there are few also who adopt the sentiment of the Wise Man, or shall I say of the fool? (for there is some reason to doubt, whether it be the language of Solomon or the fool introduced in the book,") "I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which are yet alive: yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been," Eccles. iv. 2, 3. To consider things as they usually are, whatever misfortunes attend
Does our first proposition need proving? I lay aside what the Scripture tells us of the "lake," the "bottomless pit," the "brimstone," the "smoke," the " darkness," the “chains of darkness," the "worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched." Frightful objects! I have no need to recollect you to form gloomy images of the state of the damned. My idea of heaven is sufficient to give me a horrible image of hell. "Pleasures at God's right hand for evermore;" joy of an intelligent creature finding his knowledge for ever on the increase; calm of a conscience washed in the blood of the Lamb; freedom from all the maladies that afflict poor mortals, from all the inquietudes of doubt, and from all the turbulence of the passions: society of angels, archangels, cherubim, and all that multitude of intelligences, which God has associated both in rectitude and glory: close communion with the happy God; felicity of heaven: it is you that makes me conceive the horrible state of hell! To be for ever deprived of your charms, this alone is enough to make me tremble at the idea of hell.
But if every place in hell be intolerable, some are more so than others. When, by fol
lowing the genius of the gospel, you examine | an irreligious man be not to have the power of for whom divine justice reserves the most dread- getting rid of the troubles of a few years by ful punishments, you easily conceive it is for destroying himself, what will be the state of such men as Judas, and you will agree (with the damned to see themselves under a fatal neout our staying now to prove it) that as Jesus cessity of existing for ever, and of not having Christ denounced the worst kind of punish- the power of terminating their existence, and ment against him, so he doomed him to suffer of sinking into nothing? What despairing and the greatest degree of that kind of punishment. cruel complaints will this necessity of existing In fine, our last remark on the words of Je- cause? In vain will they seek refuge in " dens" sus Christ is, that when he said, "it had been and chasms of the earth! In vain will they good for that man if he had not been born" or implore "mountains and rocks to fall on them "had he never existed," he supposed not only and hide them!" In vain will they "curse the that the punishment of Judas did not exist in day," and execrate "the night of their birth!" annihilation, but that it would not be in his They will be obliged to exist, because Alpower not to exist. He supposed that Judas mighty God will refuse them that act of omwas not master of his own existence, and that nipotence, without which they cannot be anit did not depend on him to continue or to put nihilated. an end to it, as he should think proper. Ex- Such will be the misery of the damned, and istence considered in itself is indifferent. We such is the extreme misery to which Jesus have explained in what sense, and we have Christ adjudges Judas. But this man, you proved that it is the happiness or misery, which will say, had a dark perfidious soul, he was a attends it, that determines the worth of it.— traitor, he had the infamy to betray his Saviour, Now, whatever the pain of hell may be, it need and to sell him for thirty pieces of silver; this not alarm us, if the Creator when he caused man was such a monster as nature hardly prous to exist gave us the power of remaining in duces in many centuries. My brethren, I am it or quitting it. In this case it would always come now to the most odious but most necesdepend on us to get rid of punishment, because sary part of my discourse. I must enter on it would depend on us to cease to exist, and we the mortifying task of examining whether there might enter into that state of annihilation be any resemblance between some of this aswhich we said was neither happy or misera-sembly and the unhappy Judas. What a task ble, but we have not this power over ourselves. to perform in such an auditory as this! What As an act of omnipotence was necessary to a gospel to preach to Christians! What murgive us existence, so is it to deprive us of it; murs are we going to excite in this assembly! and as it belongs to none but Almighty God to "The word of the Lord was made a reproach perform the first of these acts, so it belongs unto me, and a derision daily. Then I said, I only to him to effect the second; so absolute, will not make mention of him, nor speak any so entire is our dependence upon him! more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay," Jer. xx. 8, 9.
I do not know what is intended by the "star" mentioned in the ninth chapter of Revelation. St. John represents it as "falling from heaven unto the earth," as having "the key of the bottomless pit," as causing a "smoke to arise," by which the "sun and the air were darkened," and out of which came "locusts upon the earth." But I am persuaded, that in a system of irreligion nothing can be imagined more dreadful than the miseries which the Holy Spirit here says these infernal locusts inflict upon mankind. These were commanded "not to kill," but to "torment five months" such men as "had not the seal of God in their foreheads." And "in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. It is a miserable relief, I grant, to destroy one's self to avoid divine punishment. But does death put an end to our existence? Is a sinner less in the hand of God in the grave, than he is during this life? "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" Ps. cxxxix. 7.
Do not think that I intend to conclude my discourse by abusing the liberty given me of speaking in this pulpit, by attempting to make an ingenious essay on a subject the most grave and solemn; be not afraid of my extenuating the crimes of Judas, and exaggerating yours. How is it possible to extenuate the crimes of Judas? When I represent to myself a man whom the Saviour distinguished in a manner so remarkable, a man who travelled with him, a man to whom he had not only revealed the mysteries of his kingdom, but whom he associated with himself to teach them to the world, to subvert the empire of Satan and set his captives free, and to preach this gospel, “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Sell that you have, and give alms, provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not," Matt. vi. 19, &c. Luke xii. 33. When I consider this man freely opening his heart to the demon of avarice, parleying with the most obstinate enemies of his divine master, proposing to deliver him up to their barbarity, agreeing on the price of treason, executing the horrible stipulation, coming at the head of the most vile and infamous mob that ever was, giving the fatal signal to his unworthy companions, kissing Jesus Christ, and saying while he saluted him, "hail master;" when I consider this abominable man, far from
What misery in the eyes of an irreligious man to be tormented through life, and to be deprived of a relief which the wretched almost always have in view, I mean death! For how many ways are there of getting rid of life? And to what degree of impotence must he be reduced who is not able by any means to put an end to life? "In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
But if the greatest misery in the account of
attempting to extenuate his crime, I can find | no colours dismal enough to describe it. No: I tremble at the bare idea of this monster, and involuntarily exclaim, "O execrable love of money! to what wilt thou not impel the hearts of men!"*
Nobody, not one person, I except none. leave to the Searcher of hearts to determine whether it be the vehemence of our piety, or the impotence of our condition, that prevents our carrying avarice to this length; whether it be respect for the laws or dread of them, that keeps us from violating them; whether we abstain from oppressing mankind because we love, or because we fear them; whether sacrificing our country to our love of wealth be prevented by love to our country, or by a despair of success. Yes, I leave the decision of this question to the Searcher of hearts. I would, as far as I can without betraying my ministry, form the most favourable judgment of my hearers; therefore I affirm not one of us is avaricious in this first sense.
Avarice, however, must be considered in a second point of light. It not only consists in committing bold crimes, but in entertaining mean ideas, and practising low methods, incompatible with such magnanimity as our condition ought to inspire. It consists not only in an entire renunciation of the "kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof," but in not seeking it first" in the manner proposed. It consists not only in always endeavouring to increase our wealth, but in harbouring continual fears of losing it, and perplexing ourselves in endless methods of preserving it. It consists not only in wholly withholding from the poor, but in giving through constraint, and in always fearing to give too much. It consists not only in omitting to serve God, but in trying to associate the service of God with that of mamWhich of us is free from avarice considered in this second point of light? Strictly speaking, nobody, no, not one person.
2. But what right have we to pronounce that no one is defiled with avarice considered in the first point of light? Let us consider this passion in regard to the odious crimes which it impels us to commit. Let us review the articles just now mentioned. Are we guilty of only trying to associate God and mammon? And do we never lay aside the service of God wholly, when it clashes with that of mammon? Are we guilty of nothing more than giving through constraint? do we not often avoid giving at all? do we not always omit charity, when we can do so without being branded with infamy? Are we to blame only for fearing to lose our wealth, are we not also always occupied about increasing it, so that this desire follows us every where, through all the tumult of the day and all the silence of the night, into every company, into private prayer and public devotion? Are we guilty of only not seeking first the kingdom of God," are we not also ready to renounce it, when we cannot enter it without losing some of our wealth? Are we guilty of violating only the laws of charity, do we not also violate those of equity? By what unheard of secret then have some of us so rapidly acquired large fortunes? What sudden revolution then has so quickly changed the appearance of some families? What remarkable Providence then has made such an extreme difference between your ancestry and your posterity? What motive then retains so many of our protestant brethren in their native country, and why are there in this assembly so
But does this odious picture resemble none but Judas? Ah! When I imagine a Christian born in this age of knowledge, a Christian with the gospel in his hand, convinced of the truth and beauty of religion, a Christian communicant at the table of Jesus Christ, who has vowed a hundred times an eternal obedience to God, and has "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come:" when I consider this Christian full of contrivances, intriguing in certain circles, exposing to the world a spectacle of immodesty, resisting the ministry, exclaiming against such religious discourses as his depravity forbids him to obey; or, to confine myself to the disposition of Judas, when I observe this Christian-like Judas possessed with the demon of avarice, hardening his heart against the cries of the wretched, pillaging the widow and the fatherless of their daily bread, selling his own soul and the souls" of his children rather than break through a papal interdict, rather than quit a country where truth is hated and persecuted, where there is no public worship during life, no consolations at the hour of death: when I consider such Christians, I protest, I almost pity Judas, and turn all my indignation against them.
My brethren, I said, and I repeat it again, the task is mortifying, the matter is offensive, but I must come to it, "if I seek to please men, I shall not be the servant of Christ." Let us lay aside vague ideas, and let us enter on some detail. Let us describe Judas, but let us not forget ourselves, too much resembling this ugly man. Let us examine, first, the passion that governed him-next, the crime to which it impelled him-then, the circumstances in which he committed it-fourthly, the pretexts with which he covered it-and finally, the confession he was compelled to make.
1. What passion governed Judas? Every one knows it was avarice. Which of us is given up to this passion? Rather which of us is free from it?
Avarice may be considered in two different points of light. It may be considered in those men, or rather those public bloodsuckers, or, as the officers of the Roman emperor Vespasian were called, those sponges of society, who infatuated with this passion seek after riches as the supreme good, determine to acquire it by any methods, and consider the ways that lead to wealth, legal or illegal, as the only road" for them to travel. Let the laws be violated, let the people be oppressed, let equity be subverted, let a kingdom be sacrificed to their irresistible passion for wealth, let it be across a thousand depopulated countries, a thousand ruined families, let it be over a thousand piles of mangled carcasses that they arrive at fortune, provided they can but acquire it, no matter what it costs.
This is our first notion of avarice. But in this point of light who of us has this passion!
* Quid non mortalia, &c. Virg. Æneid. L. 3.
many dismembered families? Why are not children with their parents, and parents with their children in this free country, both content to have their "lives for a prey?" Ah! my brethren, what a scandalous history is that of Judas! What a horrible crime did his avarice impel him to commit! And also what a sad resemblance is there between that wretch and some Christians, who profess to abhor him!
3. As the avarice of Judas appears odious considered in itself, and more so considered in regard to the crime he committed through it, so it will appear more offensive still, if you consider it in view of the circumstances in which he was when he gave himself up to it: for how far soever the wickedest of men be from the practice of some virtues, there are occasions on which they seem to turn their attention to them. The most barbarous souls cannot help relenting, when they see the objects of their hatred reduced to extreme misery. Hearts the most lukewarm towards religion, feel, I know not what emotions of piety, when religion is exhibited in some eminent point of light, and when the love of God to his creatures, and his compassion for sinners, are described in lively colours.
On this principle, what opinion must we form of Judas? What a time did he choose to betray his master to his enemies, and to give himself up to Satan? Jesus Christ was eating the passover with his disciples, and telling them, "with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." Jesus Christ was taking leave of his disciples at a love-feast, and going, as soon as the company broke up, to substantiate the shadow exhibited in the paschal supper, by offering himself in their stead a sacrifice for sin. Judas partook of this paschal lamb, and sat at the table with Jesus Christ at this feast of love, yet in these circumstances so proper to eradicate avarice, at least to suspend the growth of it, it became more vigorous, and ripened in his unworthy soul.
My brethren, when we judge our own hearts, let us keep this principle in view. A passion hateful in itself, and hateful on account of the crimes it makes us commit, may become more so by circumstances. What is an innocent freedom in some circumstances may become licentiousness in other circumstances, and as circumstances alter, what is licentious may become a great crime; and thus an innocent freedom, at most an act of licentiousness, at most a crime, may become an atrocious outrage, and unpardonable on account of circumstances in which it was committed. This maxim is self-evident, it is an axiom of morality.
of our wretched fellow-creatures, while Jesus Christ is pouring out his blood, his life, his soul for poor mortals; to give ourselves up to worldly pleasures, while nothing is treated of among us but the sufferings of Jesus Christ, while he is represented as sweating great drops of blood, contending with divine justice, fastened to a cross, and uttering these lamentable complaints, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, very heavy, sorrowful even unto death. O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me! My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me!" At such a time, and in such circumstances, to pursue worldly pleasures My brethren, finish this article yourselves, and pronounce your own sentences.
4. Consider the pretexts with which Judas covered his avarice. One of the principal causes of our indignation at the irregularities of our neighbours, and our indulgence for our own is, that we see the first without the colourings, which they who commit them make use of to conceal their turpitude from themselves, whereas we always consider our own through such mediums as decorate and disguise them. Now as we palliate our own passions, we ought to believe that other people palliate theirs.
Who can imagine that Judas considered his crime in its own real horrid colours? Can any body suppose that he said to himself, “I am determined to violate the most solemn obligations for thirty pieces of silver; I am resolved to betray the Saviour of the world for thirty pieces of silver: I would rather see him crucified than be deprived of this unworthy price of treason: this contemptible reward I prefer before all the joys of heaven?" No, no, Judas did not reason thus. Judge what he did on this occasion by what he did on another. A woman poured a box of costly ointment on the feet of Jesus Christ; Judas was hurt to see this prey escape his avarice, he therefore covered the sordid disposition of his soul, with the goodly pretence of charity, "this ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor," John xii. 4-6. Thus in the present case, "perhaps Jesus Christ will escape from his enemies, as he has often done before. Perhaps his looks will deter them. Perhaps he will fell them to the earth with his power. Perhaps the angels of heaven will surround, protect, and defend him. Perhaps I myself shall contribute to save the world by offering the sacrifice that is to procure salvation. Perhaps too, I may have formed ideas too high of this Jesus. Perhaps God does not interest himself in his preservation, as I have hitherto supposed. Perhaps he has assumed a character which does not belong to him, and is nothing but a phantom of Messiah. (Who can tell what extravagant reasonings may be formed by a mind given up to a passion, and determined to justify it?) After all, should I add one more crime to what I have already committed, the number will not be so very great. The blood I am going to assist in shedding, will obtain my pardon for contributing to it. And I cannot persuade myself that a Saviour, who came into the world on purpose to publish a general pardon to all sinners, will choose to make an exception against me, alone.”
O God, Judge of the whole earth, do not pass sentence on this assembly according to the rigour of this maxim! This is passion week, and we are in circumstances, in which Jesus Christ most powerfully attacks our vices. You need not be a saint to have emotions of piety in these circumstances, it is sufficient to be a man; but you must be a monster, a disciple of Judas, to have none. To hate in these circum-shed stances, to hate when Jesus Christ loves, and while he is saying of his executioners, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." To shut our hearts against the cries VOL. II.-15