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of angels, exercise the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and have faith to remove mountains, and yet not have charity. If there was no connexion between these miraculous gifts and sanctifying grace, surely it is presumptuous to conclude ourselves in a state of grace, merely because we possess superior natural abilities, or acquired accomplishments; such as uncommon knowledge in religion, great skill in defending the truth, and a happy freedom of thought and pertinence of expression in prayer. These gifts are useful and much to be desired ; but will not avail to men's salvation. The apostle says to the Corinthians, “Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way.” The more excellent way is that charity, which suffers long and is kind; envies not and is not puffed up; rejoices not in iniquity, but in the truth; thinks no evil; but believes, endures and hopes all things. The meanest christian possessed of a meek, humble, peaceable temper, filled with love to God and benevolence to men, and acting under the influence of that faith which realizes invisible things, is far more excellent than the man, who, void of these dispositions, is distinguished by the most eminent and shining gifts.
Whatever gifts we may possess, let us not glory in them, but humbly and thankfully improve them to real holiness and extensive usefulness. Otherwise, instead of bringing us to heaven, they will only aggravate our final condemnation.
3. We see, that men may make a fair show of godliness, and yet be corrupt in heart.
Judas was a man of unreproached morals among the Jews, as well as of an unsuspected character among his brethren. Had his morals been notoriously vicious, the Jews, who often condemned Christ for conversing with publicans and sinners, would certainly have censured him for taking so bad a man into the number of his special friends. When Christ warned his disciples, that one of them would betray him, Judas was unsuspected. He was a man, not only of sober conversation, but of plausible address. He had great influence among his brethren. When he complained of a woman for pouring ointment on Christ's head, and urged the importance of applying it to the benefit of the poor,
they were carried away with his dissimulation. He was wont, not only to plead for the poor, but also to treat his Lord with tokens of great respect. When he betrayed Jesus with a kiss, had this been an unusual address, Peter would probably have suspected treachery, and drawn his sword on Judas rather than on Malchus.
But under all these disguises there lurked a wicked heart. Under the colour of piety to God, charity to the poor, and reverence for his master, he was carrying on the most vile and detestable purposes.
Who is there, but must abhor this character? The most vicious man living detests the designing wretch, who, under an affected show of sanctity, or benevolence, or friendship, or public spirit, sacrifices his religion, his conscience, his friend, or his country, to his own private interest.
When we see and loathe hypocrisy in another, let us take care to avoid it ourselves. Let us act, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God, who searches the heart. Let us be the same men in reality, as we would appear to be in the view of the world.
4. We see the dangerous influence of covetousness. This led Judas on, from sin to sin, till it had completed his ruin. " The love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have indulged, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. They have fallen into temptations and snares and many foolish and pernicious lusts, which have drowned them in destruction.” Important therefore is the caution given by our Saviour, “ Take heed and beware of covetous
5. We see that one sin indulged naturally leads to another.
Judas made as good a profession as his brethren. But he was under the dominion of covetousness. He believed Jesus to be the Messiah, but expected he would erect a temporal kingdom; and he followed him with a view to the honors and riches, which, under that kingdom, he hoped to enjoy. Upon a particular occasion Christ explained the spiritual nature and design of his office in the hearing of the twelve, and of others who frequently attended on his preaching. On hearing that his kingdom was not of this world, many of his hearers left him in disgust. Judas, though he did not join in the defection, was one of those, who were offended. Jesus asks the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” Peter, in behalf of the rest, professes a resolution to continue with him. Jesus says, “I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil.” He spake of Judas, intimating, that though they still attended on him, yet one of them was a secret enemy to him on account of the contrariety of his doctrines to the worldly views of that disciple.
His covetousness not only took offence at Christ's preaching, but prompted him to rob the common treasury, which perhaps he thought he might innocently do, as he had the trouble of managing it. And yet he had no thought of selling his master. But by indulgence his lust gained strength, and finally urged him to this fatal step.
Beware then of the first beginnings of vice; resist the first • temptation to evil ; mortify every lust in its first appearance ; " for
lust, when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death."
6. We learn that a wicked heart gives satan his greatest advantage to succeed in his temptations.
John says, “ The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ.” Luke says, “ satan entered into him, and he went and communed with the chief priests, how he might betray him." But covetousness is represented as having had a leading influence in the business. He went to the chief priests, and said, “ What will ye give me? And they covenanted with him.” The devil tempted him by stirring up the lust which he had conceived. What power satan has over men, they put into his hands by indulging their own wicked inclinations. Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price, for which he had sold his estate. But then he is said " to have conceived this thing in his own heart, and to have agreed with his wife to tempt the Spirit of the Lord." The apostle speaks of some, in whom the prince of the power of the air works effectually. But these are called " children of disobedience, walking according to the course of the world, and according to the prince of the power of the air.”
Men's chief danger is not from the devil, but from their own lusts. “They are tempted, when they are drawn away of their own lusts and enticed.” The true way to defeat temptations, is to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. When the prince of darkness came to our Saviour, he found nothing in him, and his temptations had no effect.
Men often complain, that, though they are much in prayer, temptations beset them and prevail against them. But remember, you must watch as well as pray. It is vain to pray for grace to secure you from temptations, if you indulge the lusts, which of themselves draw you aside. If you would prevent, or repel temptations, begin with yourselves. Resist the enemy which is within you. Thus you may hope for grace to help in time of need.
We often read, in scripture, of men's acting under the power and influence of the devil; but this is never alleged in extenuation, but always in aggravation of their guilt, because it is by their own wickedness, that they fall under his influence.
7. We learn, that none are capable of doing so much injury to religion as the professors of it.
Judas, being one of the twelve, had it in his power to betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies, and satan used him as an instrument for this purpose.
Let professors beware, lest they become satan's tools to accomplish his infernal work. Let them beware, lest by a corrupt conversation, or evil example, or dangerous counsels, or by neglecting the ordinances of Christ, or acting contrary to their assumed character, they wound the credit of that religion, which they profess to believe. Having named the name of Christ, let them depart from iniquity, and so walk, that their good may not be evil spoken of, but that others, seeing their holy conversation may glorify God. Some will say, If professors may do so much injury to Christ, it is dangerous to make a profession. Rather say, dangerous to violate it.
Finally : We have marked it as an aggravation of Judas' crime, that he betrayed his Lord in the time and place of his devotions, and by a profession of affection and friendship. He not only absented himself from the place, whither Christ, with some of his disciples, had resorted for prayer; but was all this time carrying on a design against him, and only came thither at last, to execute the wicked design.
Let us take heed, that we do not imitate this hypocritical and treacherous disciple. We profess to be the friends of Christ. In testimony of our regard to him, we come to his house, and often eat at his table. Here we are to renounce all guile, hypocrisy, envy, malice, and wickedness, and to bring hearts filled with pious regards to him and kind affections to one another. If we absent ourselves for worldly ends, or come with hearts disaffected to him, to his religion and his disciples if we hear his word with prejudice and reject its influence-if we eat of his bread, and lift up our heel against him—if we give him a salutation expressive of affection, and go away acting in opposition to his honor and interest; what do we better than betray him with a kiss ? While we profess to be his friends, let us testify our regard to him by a conformity to his example, by obedience to his commands and by an active zeal in promoting his cause. “ Ye are my friends," says he, “ if ye do whatsoever I command you."
I have finished the first branch of our subject. To the other we may attend at a future opportunity,