« PreviousContinue »
that these were really the motives which induced Judas to betray his Master; What will ye give me, said he, and I will deliver him unto you? He did not mean that he would deliver him up to be put to death; for though the priests had consulted among themselves, how they might destroy JESUS, they had not been so abominably wicked as to declare their intention publicly: they only proposed to bring him to trial for assuming the character of the Messiah, and to treat him as it should appear he deserved. The offer, therefore, which Judas made them of delivering him up, was in conformity to their public resolutions; nor did they understand it in any other light: for, had the priests thought that his design in this was to get his Master punished with death they must also have thought he believed him to be an impostor; in which case, they would doubtless have produced him as one of their principal evidences, no person being more proper to bear witness against any criminal than his companion. Or, supposing Judas repented before the trial came on, and had withdrawn himself, the priests might have argued with great plausibility, both in their own court, and before the governor, that for a man's disciple to require the judges to bring him to condign punishment, branded him with such a suspicion of guilt, as was almost equal to a full proof: also, when Judas returned to them with the money, declaring that he had sinned in betraying the innocent blood, instead of replying, What is that to us, see thou to that? it was the most natural thing in the world to have upbraided him with the stain he had put upon his Master's character, by the contract they had made with him. It is true, they called the money they gave him, the price of blood; but they did not mean this in the strictest sense, as they had neither hired Judas to assassinate his Master, nor can they be supposed to have charged themselves with the guilt of murdering him : it was only the price of blood in consequence of its being the reward they had given to the traitor for putting it in their power to take away the life of Christ under the colour and form of public justice; nay,
may be even doubted, whether Judas asked the money as a reward of his service: he covetously, indeed, kept it, and the priests, for that reason, called it the price of blood.
Judas, in short, knew that the rulers could not take away the life of any person whatsoever, the Romans having deprived them of that power; and, therefore, could have no design of this kind in delivering him up; not to mention that it was a common opinion among the Jews, that the Messiah could never die, an opinion which Judas might easily embrace, having seen his Master raise several persons, and among the rest, one who had been in the grave no less than four days.
It is probable that the traitor's intention in betraying his Master, was that mentioned above, from his hanging himself when he found him condemned, not by the governor, but by the council, whose prerogative it was, to judge prophets. Had Judas proposed to take away the life of his Master, the sentence of condemnation passed upon him, instead of filling him with despair, must have gratified him, being the accomplishment of his project: whereas, this circumstance is shein to have been perfectly natural, by the light wherein we have endeavoured to place his conduct.
Having been witness to the greatest part of our Lord's miracles, and having experienced the certain truth of them, in the powers that had been conferred upon himself, Judas could never think that the council would have condemned him as an impostor, far less, as a blasphemer; he knew him to be perfectly innocent, and expected that he would have wrought such miraeles before the council, as should have constrained them to believe: therefore, when he found nothing of this kind was done, and that the priests had passed the sentence of condemnation upon him, and were carrying him to the governor to get it executed, he repented oi his rash and covetous project, came to the chief priests and elders, the persons to whom he had betrayed him, offered them their money again, and solemnly declared the deepest conviction of his Master's innocence, hop. ing that they would have desisted from the prosecution; but they were obstinate, and would not relent: upon which his remorse arose to such a pitch, that, unable to support the torments of his conscience, he went and hanged himself. Thus I think it probable, that the traitor's intention in delivering up his Master, was not to get him punished with death, but only to lay him under a necessity of proving his pretensions before the grandees, whom he had hitherto shunned; thinking that the whole nation would immediately have submitted, and the disciples have been raised forthwith to the summit of their expectations, if they had yielded.
But this account of Judas's conduct, is by no means calculated to lessen the foulness of his crime, which was the blackest imaginable: for, even in the light above mentioned, it implied both an insatiable avarice, and a wilful opposition to the counsels of Providence, and rendered the actor of it a disgrace to human nature: but it is calculated to set the credibility of the traitor's action in a proper light, and to shew that he was not moved to it by any thing suspicious in the character of his Master; because, according to this view of it, his perfidy, instead of implying that he entertained suspi. cions of his Master's integrity, plainly proved that he had the fullest conviction of his being the Messiah: and to say the truth, it was not possible for any one intimately acquainted with our Lord, as Judas was, to judge otherwise of him; having seen his miracles, which were great and true beyond exception, and having experienced his power, in the ability of working miracles, which he had received from him, and, no doubt exercised with extraordinary pleasure, together with the rest of the apostles.
Our Saviour institutes the Sacrament of his Supper :
He checketh the ambitious strise of his disciples, and promiseth them a share in his Kingdom : He telleth Peter of Satan's desire to sift him, but that his faith should be supported ; and yet he should thrice deny him : He adviseth his Disciples to provide Necessaries, and to arm themselves against the Day of Trial : He promiseth them Power to do greater works than his own, and the Grant of all that they should ask in his name : He requireth their Obedience as a proof of their Love, and giveth them a Promise of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost. Under the Parable of the Vine, Christ setteth forth God's Government of his Church, and exhorteth his Disciples to abide in his Faith and Doctrine : He commandeth them to love one another, according to the great Love he had shown for them; and warneth them of their Sufferings for his Sake : Ile comforteth them by a promise of the Holy Ghost: He intimateth his Death, Resurrection, and Ascension: His Disciples confess their faith in him ; he foretelleth their Desertion of him, and promiseth them Peacę in him amidst their Tribulation in the World : He prayeth to his Father to glorify him: and to preserve his Apostles in Unity of Faith, and from all Evil; and to sanctify them with the Word of Truth ; and for the perfect Union of all Believers, and their
Admission to a Share of his Glory in Heaven. It does not appear that our Saviour was in the least disturbed at the consideration of the treachery of Judas; for, in order to render his love to mankind more effectual, he instituted the sacrament of his supper, to perpetuate the memory of it throughout all ages. Accordingly, as they were cating the paschal supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you : this do in remembrance of me, observe this rite no longer in remembrance of your deliverance from Egypt, but in remembrance of me ; who by dying, for you, will bring you out of the spiritual bondage, a bondage far worse than the Egyptian, under which your fathers groaned, and will establish you in the glorious liberty of the children of God: do it in remembrance of me, who, by laying down my lite, will ransom you from sin, from death, from hell, and, that you may enter immortality in triumph, will set open the gates of heaven to you.
After having given the bread to his disciples, he also took the cup and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. All of you, and all of my disciples, in all ages, must drink of this cup, because it represents my blood shed for the remission of the sins of mankind; my blood, by which the new covenant between God and man is ratified : it is therefore my blood of the new covenant, so that this institution exhibits to your joyful meditation, the grand basis of the hopes of the children of men, and perpetuates the memory of it to the end of the world. He added, I will not drink hence forth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. Matt. xxiv. 29.
The most illustrious, the most momentous event that is possible to engage the meditations of mankind, is the manifestation of the Son of God; to his life and death, his resurrection and ascension into glory, we are indebted for our hopes and assurances of pardon, for our peace, for our happiness: to procure our benefit, he made the most amazing condescension from the dignity he enjoyed with his Father, by putting on the veil of Hesh; he poured divine instruction from his lips, and shone forth with an all-perfect and alllovely example : for our benefit, he submitted to a course of the most cruel treatment of his bitter ene