Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 complices 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 thy 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 he is rich, though it tell him he is false. He was not now first a 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 obdureness 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 villainy against his person, and face it. If he cannot be honest, yet he will be close.

That he may be notoriously impudent, he 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 others' 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 not of: it is possible, that time and temptation, working upon our corruption, may at last draw us into some such sin, as we could not fore-believe. Whither may we not fall, 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

VOL. II.

0 0

misdemeanour, 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 headstrong 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 I? I have the money; I shall escape the shame: the fact shall be close, the match gainful: it will be long, ere I 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 agreement. 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 villainy? Resolved sinners run on desperately in their wicked courses; and have so bent their eyes upon the profit or pleasure of their mischievous 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 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: his Master knows him for a traitor, it is not long that he shall live to complain; his fellows think him honest all is well, while he is 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 him suspect the credit of the best intelligence. Who could imagine, that a guilty man dared thus browbeat 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 durst 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 asked thee a question concerning John, What shall this man do? he received a short answer, What is that to thee? Now, when John asks thee a question, no less seemingly curious, at Peter's instance, Who is it, that betrays thee? however thou mightest 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 loth 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 a sop.

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 bystander 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 displeasure. 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 incapable of any better.

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 further 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. I 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 further 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 doest, 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, That thou doest, do quickly. It is one thing to say, "Do what thou intendest," and another to say, Do quickly, what thou doest. There was villainy 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 intendedst! but since thou wilt needs do it, delay is but a torment.

That steely heart yet relents not. The obfirmed traitor knows his way to the high priest's hall, and to the garden. The watchword 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. Thy 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 had 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.

« PreviousContinue »