« PreviousContinue »
of Divine majesty shining in his very face, in his doctrine, and in his life.
Yea, he committed this wickedness after personal warnings and premonitions given him by Christ; he had often told them in general, that one of them should betray him. Mark, 14:18. He also denounced a dreadful wo upon him that should do it: "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him ; but wo to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good had it been for that man if he had never been born.” Verse 21. This was spoken in Judas' presence. And one would have thought so dreadful a doom as Christ denounced upon the man that should attempt this, should have driven him from the thought of such wickedness. Nay, Christ came nearer to him than this, and told him he was the man: for when Judas (who was the last that put the question to Christ) asked him, "Master, is it I ?" Christ's answer imports as much as a plain affirmation, "Thou hast said.” Matt. 26 : 25.
Moreover, he did it not out of a blind zeal against Christ, as many of his other enemies did; of whom it is said that, "had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Cor. 2:8; but he did it for money. "What will ye give me, and I will betray him ?” Matt. 26: 15. He sells him, and he sells him at a low rate too; which showed what a grovelling estimate he had of Christ. He can part with him for thirty pieces of silver. If these pieces were the shekels of the sanctuary, they amounted but to three pounds fifteen shillings. But it is supposed they were the common shekels, which were mostly used in buying and selling ; and then his price, that he put upon the Saviour of the world, was but one pound seventeen shillings and sixpence. A goodly price (as the prophet calls it) that he was valued at ! Zech. 11:12, 13. I confess it is a wonder that he asked no more, knowing how much they
longed for his blood; and that they offered no more for him. But how then should the Scriptures have been fulfilled! Oh what a sale was this! to sell that blood, of which all the gold and silver in the world is not worth one drop, for a trifle! Still the wickedness of the sin rises higher and higher.
He left Christ in a most heavenly employment, when he went to make this soul-undoing bargain. For if he went away from the table, as some think, then he left Christ instituting and administering those heavenly signs of his body and blood: there he saw, or might have seen, the bloody work he was going about, acted as in a figure before him. If he tarried through the ordinance, as others suppose he did, then he left Christ singing a heavenly hymn, and preparing to go where Judas was preparing to meet him.
Besides, what he did was not done by the persuasions of any. The high priest sent not for him, and without doubt was surprised when he came to him on such an errand. For it could never enter into any of their hearts that one of his own disciples could be drawn into a confederacy against him. No, he went as a volunteer, offering himself to this work: which still heightens the sin, and makes it out of measure heinous.
The manner in which he executes his treasonable design adds further malignity to the deed. He comes to Christ with fawning words and demeanor, "Hail, Master, and kissed him." Here is honey in the tongue, and poison in the heart. Let us inquire,
III. The cause and motives of this wickedness, how he came to attempt and perpetrate such a villany. Maldonate the jesuit criminates the protestant divines for affirming that God had a hand in ordering and overruling this fact. But we say that Satan and his own lust were the impulsive cause of it: that God, as it was a wicked treason, permitted it; and as it was a delivering of
Christ to death, was not only the permitter, but the wise and holy director and orderer of it, and by the wisdom of his providence overruled it to the great good and advantage of the church. Satan inspired the motion, " Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, and he went his way,” Luke, 22:3, 4; his own lusts, like dry tinder, kindled presently : his heart was covetous. They covenanted to give him money, and he promised, &c.
The holy God disposed and ordered all this to the singular benefit and good of his people: the enemies of Christ did whatsoever "his hand and counsel had before determined to be done,” Acts, 4:28, and by this determinate counsel of God he was taken and slain. Acts, 2: 23. Yet this in no way excuses the wickedness of the instruments: for what they did, was done, from the power of their own lusts, most wickedly; what He did, was, in the unsearchable depth of his own wisdom, most holy. God knows how to fulfil his purposes by the
very sins of men, and yet have no communion at all in the sin he so overrules. Judas minded nothing but his own advantage, to get money : God permitted that lust to work, but overruled the issue to his own eternal glory and the salvation of our souls.
IV. But what was the end and issue of this deed ? As to Christ, it was his death; for the hour being come, he doth not meditate an escape, nor put forth the power of his Godhead to deliver himself out of their hands. Indeed he showed what he could do, when he made them fall back and stagger with a word. He could have obtained more than twelve legions of angels to have been his life-guard; but how then should the Scriptures have been fulfilled, or our salvation accomplished?
And what did Judas get as a reward of his wickedness? It ended in the ruin both of his soul and body. For immediately a death-pang of despair seized his conscience; which was so intolerable, that he ran to the halter for a remedy ; and so falling headlong, he burst asunder, and all his bowels gushed out. Acts, 1:18. As for his soul, it went to its own place, ver. 25, even the place appointed for the son of perdition, as Christ calls him. John, 17:12. His name is to this day, and shall be to all generations, a by-word, a proverb of reproach.
INFERENCE 1. Hence we learn that the greatest professors have need to be jealous of their own hearts, and look well to the grounds and principles of their profession. O professors, look to your foundation, and build not upon the sand, as this poor creature did. That is sound advice indeed which the apostle gives, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12. Oh beware of a loose foundation. If you begin your profession as Judas did, no wonder if it shall end as his did. Beware, therefore, that you
hold not "the truth in unrighteousness.” Judas did so: he knew much, but lived not according to what he knew, for he was still of a worldly spirit in the height of his profession. His knowledge never had any saving influence upon his heart; he preached to others, but he himself was a castaway He had much light, but still walked in darkness. He had no knowledge to do himself good.
Beware you live not in a course of secret sin. Judas did so, and that was his ruin. He made a profession indeed, and appeared well, but he was a thief. John, 12:6. He made no conscience of committing sin, so he could but cover and hide it from men. This helped on his ruin, and so it will thine, reader, if thou be guilty herein. A secret way of sinning, under the covert of profession, will either break out at last to the observation of men, or else slide thee down insensibly to hell, and leave thee there only this comfort, that nobody at present shall know thou art there.
Beware of hypocritical pretences of religion to accommodate self-ends. Judas was a man that had great skill in this. He had a mind to fill his own purse by the sale of that costly ointment which Mary bestowed upon our Saviour's feet. And what a neat cover had he for it: "This might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor.” Here was charity to the poor, or rather poor charity ; for this was only a blind to his base self-ends. O christian, be plain-hearted, take heed of craft and cunning in matters of religion.
Beware of self-confidence. Judas was very confident of himself. "Last of all, Judas said, Master, is it I ?" Matt. 26 : 25. But he that was last in the suspicion was first in the transgression. " He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Prov. 28:26. It will be your wisdom to keep a jealous eye upon your own heart, and still suspect its fairest pretences. If
you would not do as Judas did, or come to such an end, take heed that you live not unprofitably under the means of grace. Judas had the best means of grace that ever man enjoyed. He heard Christ himself preach, he joined often with him in prayer, but he was never the better for it all; it was but as the watering of a dead stick, which will never make it grow, but rot it the sooner. Oh it is a sad sign, and a sad sin too, when men live under the Gospel from year to year, and are never the better. I warn you to beware of these evils, all ye that profess religion. Let these footsteps by which Judas went down to his own place, terrify you from following him in them.
2. Learn hence, also, that eminent knowledge and profession greatly aggravate sin." Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve.” Poor wretch! better had it been for him if he had never been numbered with them, nor enlightened with so much knowledge; for this rent his conscience to pieces, when he reflected on what he had