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invest himself—as the Jews expected the Messiah bo come—rwith all the magnificence of temporal and worldly power; and that then he, as one of his chief followers, would himself be promoted and enriched. But now, perhaps, he began to doubt on the subject; and consequently was not unwilling to take advantage of another means of enriching himself. Besides, we find it mentioned in this same chapter, that our Lord had, a little before, thought it right decidedly to condemn the views of the twelve disciples in general, and those of Judas in particular, respecting the woman who poured the alabaster box of ointment on his head as he sat at meat. And this, perhaps, had especially angered and offended Judas Iscariot, and led him in his anger to think of betraying his Master. It is, at all events remarkable, that St. Matthew here tells us of that which happened respecting the woman a little out of time, for it really occurred, a few days'before;—and then relates, in the words of my text, that " Judas went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?"
Be this however as it may, we can scarcely imagine the amazement and joy of the Jewish council when Judas came to them. But we may conceive their readiness to accept such a desirable and unexpected offer of assistance in the accomplishment of their wicked work. They now made no more mention of delaying their attempt till after the Passover was passed. No! they appear immediately to have " covenanted," or agreed "with him, for thirty pieces of silver." But is it possible that he accepted such terms as these? For thirty pieces of silver 1 that is, for about three pounds fifteen shillings of our money, at the utmost! Yes, he did accept them; and for this trifling sum, the price, of the redemption of a slave, (Exod. xxi. 32,) he agreed to betray his Master! It is possible, he might not know, or even suspect, that they wished, or intended to put him to death. But he roust have known their general character, and also that they had continually shewn themselves his most bitter and deadly enemies; and consequently, he could not possibly calculate to what extent they might carry their enmity. ,: .-i.i.i
In accounting for the treachery of Judas, other reasons have been proposed for his conduct. He has been supposed to have undertaken the work in order to force his Master to declare himself as the Messiah he expected. But I know not that the Scriptures give any ground for this. And depend upon it, the prevailing passion spoken of in Scripture as actuating this wicked man,—I mean his covetousness,—is amply sufficient to account for his conduct. We know little of the nature of covetous people, if we do not know that they will do almost any thing for the sake of money. The sum of money—thirty pieces of silver— may, indeed, appear small, and so it was when considered as the price of blood, and would not probably have tempted a rich man. But we must recollect that Judas was not in a situation to be accustomed to large sums. Besides, we know very well, that when the love of money is once become the ruling passion in a man, he will readily take even a small sum, if he cannot easily obtain a larger.
Having thus agreed to the sum, Judas entered at once on his iniquitous undertaking. "And from that time he sought opportunity to betray" his Master unto them. O, conceive the baseness of the man I Heboid him watching hourly for some favourable occasion for placing him, whom he had so constantly followed for so considerable a length of time, in the hands of his most bitter and inveterate enemies 1
Now, in considering this history as a subject for instruction on the present occasion, I shall proceed to refer to several points. And,
1. The first point to which I would direct your attention is, the decided proof it gives us of the truth of the gospel account of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And this it does in two ways.
(1.) In the first place, the Scriptures declare that our blessed Lord was wholly without sin, and devoid of guile. And this account of the character and conduct of Judas confirms these declarations in a most striking and decided manner. Because, if there had been the least deceit in any thing connected with our blessed Saviour, this wicked Judas would certainly have discovered it, and, of course, would long before have made it known to his enemies, the high priests, to make a gain by his information. If there could have been traced out the slightest degree of evil or deceit in his life, or in his miracles, or indeed in any one point, we may be sure this treacherous and covetous disciple ■would have taken advantage of it for the advancement of his own unholy profit.' This Judas, we must recollect, had been with our Lord all along; had been with him in private as well as in public; in his secret retirements and in the world; he had seen his miracles, he had heard his discourses at home and abroad, yet up to this time his enemies had clearly never received any such testimony against Jesus. And why was this? Not because Judas would have been unwilling to have made use of such a means of enriching himself; neither because tire chief priests and scribes would have refused to have received such intelligence; for it is but too clear that Judas would most gladly have betrayed what he knew, and they, eager as they ever were from the first to find an opportunity to accuse our Lord, would as gladly have covenanted with Judas for money to make him do so. No: the real reason must be found elsewhere,—in the fact that there was,' in truth, nothing to betray. Jesus, as the sacred history declares to us, *'■ knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." '(2.y The other way in which this history respecting Judas tends to prove the truth of the gospel accounts of our blessed Lord is this. It confirms very strongly the truth-telling spirit of the sacred writers, and that of St. Matthew in particular, who was one of the twelve, and, consequently, the constant companion of Judas. For, suppose a person were to sit down to write the history of a false Christ or false prophet,— the history of a mere pretender or impostor in religion,—do you think he would make any, or at least much mention of the failings, or errors, or.crimes of his chosen disciples and more immediate followers? If be were potting together a story respecting a prophet' or teacher who Severi-existed, but whom he wished to persuade you really did once exist, he would be much more likely to describe his followers as becoming, under his instruction, the most perfect of human beings; and at all events, he would say little respecting any faults or vices in describing their characters. But this we see was not the course pursued bytho writers of the Gospels. They do, indeed, describe their Master as perfect,—as altogether without sin, which indeed' he really was; and they tell, us the reason why he was so ;—that is to say, because he was more than man—because he was, in fact, God as well as ami. . ■ But of themselves, they speak not merely as of men corrupt and fallen by nature, but as of men guilty in a very remarkable degree. They speak of their own failings, faults, and crimes, in a manner which places on their accounts the stamp of candour, fairness, and truth. They not only tell us of all our Lord's chosen disciples forsaking him in a most ignominious manner, and of one of them thrtee denying him, and refusing to acknowledge himself to have been his disciple ;*>but they even relate, without disguise, that one of the twelve, whom he had selected and marked with his especial favour, actually betrayed him into the hands of his bitterest and most powerful enemies! Ought not this to go a great way to prove, that in all they wrote they spoke the truth? nay, that they spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Surely it ought. Would that these poiwts, and such as these, could have their merited weight on the mind of the infidel, and lead him to receive the gospel as the truth, and toj belieVe jn Ghrist to the salvation of his soul!
L S;. This history may lead us to expect that God will, for trite purposes we doubt not, allow wicked men to be found from time to time in the ministry of his church on earth. Judas, we must bear in mind, was "one of the twelve," one of the chosen ones of Christ; one of those whom he had called to be with him from the first; one, moreover, whom he had actually sent out to preach the gospel, and to work miracles in his name. The sacred writer mentions that the twelve were all sent out for these great purposes, and even speaks of Judas by name, as Judas Iscariot which betrayed him. (St. Matt. x. 1—6.) All these things, there can be no doubt, he must have actually performed: for otherwise, the other disciples would have suspected him of being the bad person he really was, which they clearly never did. Yet this Judas had a devil, and he was a thief. He was a wicked, unprincipled man. He first obeyed the call, and afterwards remained with the holy Jesus, as it seems, for the sake of the portion of this world's good which he hoped to obtain by these means. Nay, our blessed Lord even allowed him to retain the apostleship until, in the end, he covenanted for money to betray his Master. I think, then, we must not be surprised, if we find that when the number of ministers is multiplied, there may be some who are not such as becometh the gospel of Christ. Jf the apostles were but twelve, and one of them was a devil, surely we must never expect any church to be perfectly pure from evil ministers on this side heaven, and we must not be surprised, or too ready to condemn those in authority, if, in the pure and apostolic Church to which we belong, out of the eleven or twelve thousand ministers which are in it, we meet sometimes with a portion of them in any degree like Judas. What ought to be our course as Christians when we meet with such a case, is clear, if we would follow the 26th Article of our Church, which is to this effect:—" Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority
w.—11 ■ i. u u—i ~ :— . ~—'JLL—-
• Tlie conduct of Peter and the rest nf the disciples, formed a Sermon for thi* Swday in a former number of the Christian Remembrancer.
it) the ministration of the Word and Sacraments; yet forasmuch as tht'-Lj do nut the same in their own name, but in Christ'*, axd do minister by Mis commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in.receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of- Cbrist!s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, doii receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because: of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil mtaie'V. >.u\ :■-,•«' ■,
"Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the- discipline of the Church, /that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge, of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed."
: Such, then, is.the course which every true member of the Church of England will pursue in such a case; and to this also, if he know the value of prayer for others, and remember how earnestly and repeatedly St. Paul required the prayers of the Christians to whom he wrote in behalf of himself and his fellow-ministers, he will never fail to offier np bis supplications to the throne of grace for the clergy in general, ■and especially for the minister of his own parish, whoever he may be. He will continually pray, "that it may please God to illuminate (or enlighten) him with true knowledge and understanding of his Word, and that both by his preaching and living, he may set it forth and show it accordingly." *
3. But the instruction which I would more especially desire you to derive from this history, and would endeavour to impress most deeply upon your minds, is of a somewhat more personal and practical character. Brethren, this history of Judas proves how insufficient it is merely to live within hearing of the truth as it is in Jesus. The hearing of the Word of God, even in all its full perfection, will never save us in the end, unless it have worked in us really good views and right feelings, and thus lead us on to a good life and a good hope. Many unbelieving and impenitent persons are apt to think, and perhaps even to say, " O, if 1 had heard Christ himself preach, and had seen him work miracles before my eyes, I should—I must, have believed on him, and have followed his ways." But would they, do you think, have done so? Look at Judas, and answer the question. Judas Iscariot heard all our Lord's heavenly discourses, his awakening warnings, his tremendous threatenings, his persuasive appeals and promises, but all in vain. He saw all his amazing miracles,—the blind restored to sight, the deaf made to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk, and no doubt the dead raised again to life,—but all to no purpose. Nay, he had himself, we cannot question, preached and done many mighty works in his Lord's name, but all—all in vain. He remained hardened, Impenitent; unbelieving, unholy. And so it is now with multitudes. They hear the truth, they see its mighty workings for good in those around them ;;iiay, they sometimes assist in promoting the knowledge ,o£ the truth to the great benefit of others; but they do not receive the truth themselves. Whilst, perhaps, they are making much ado about the
* In the Litany.
gospel being preached, or not being preached; whilst they make a bold and loud profession of knowing the truth themselves, thousands are yet as bad at heart, or nearly so, as Judas himself. All their hearing of the word of truth; all their talking of the gospel; all their scriptural knowledge, fail of their end, and become utterly useless. They are under the guidance of Satan, not under that of Christ; and if no change take place in them before they die, I fear, whatever they may appear to the world, they will go to those dreadful mansions of eternal misery prepared for the devil and his angels, in the midst of which Judas went to his own place.
4. But this history of Judas may also give us an especial warning against the indulgence of one evil passion in particular; 1 mean covetousness. The love of gain is indeed a most dangerous passion. The love of money has been well described as the "root of all evil," because there is no evil under the sun, which has not already arisen, and which may not again arise, from the influence of this fatal passion. When once a person allows covetousness to enter his heart, and to occupy a place there, he knows not where it may lead, or when it may end. Little, no doubt, did Judas intend or imagine, that in the event he would betray his Master for the sake of gratifying his love of money; yet in the end he did so. Let us remember, then, our Lord's words, when he said to his disciples, "Beware of covetousness." (St. Luke xii. 15.) Let us remember, also, that this warning is as necessary both for the poor as for the rich: for Judas, you may observe, was already a poor man, and for a very small sum lie was tempted of Satan to betray his Lord and Master, to his own eternal ruin. And so it is with multitudes of our Lord's disciples now. Alas! alas! thousands, I fear, of poor as well as rich, consent to sell their souls for the sake of a little money. s .i»-. i
In conclusion then, my brethren, let this history of Judas lead us all to value aright the opportunities we have of learning—whether it be by hearing or by reading the "Word of God,—what is the truth as it is in Jesus. Let us take heed how we hear, and how we read, and ever bear in mind the necessity of profiting by these means of grace and salvation. Let us beware, lest in spite of all our spiritual advantages, we become, like Judas, gradually, day by day, more and more hardened in sin> Let us examine well what is the frame of mind in which we hear or read of the doctrines and precepts of the Bible. Let us consider what effect our hearing and reading has hitherto had on our heart nnd on our life. Let us pray to God, through Christ, that he will open our hearts to make us understand his Word. Let us be ready to receive the truth in the love thereof. Let us be willing to follow the Scriptures wherever they may lead us. May they lead us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to a saving faith and a consistent practice 1 May they incline us readily to curb every feeling and desire, to resist every lust and affection, to renounce every habit and practice, and to resign every possession or pursuit, which may hinder us in running the race that is set before us.! May.they, moreover, raise us up from one degree of holiness to another, so that, continuing faithful unto death, we may obtain a crown of life, through the merits of Jesus Christ our blessed Lord and Saviour! Amen, D. I. E,