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and go on adding iniquity to iniquity, till at length they are past feeling, and their conscience is seared as with a hot iron. Then it is that their judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Judas Iscariot, being one of the twelve, had now for upwards of three years been a constant companion and disciple of the Lord Jesus: but so far from profiting by such rare religious advantages, his heart was all the while alienated from his Master, whom he followed only for the sake of certain paltry gains, which he could from time to time stealthily appropriate to his own use.
Jesus, the heart-searching God and Saviour, saw through him from the very first; but for infinitely wise reasons permitted him to be always with him like the other eleven. Occasionally our Lord dropped
a hint as to Judas's real character: but these no* tices were lost upon the other disciples, who were
themselves too simple-minded and sincere to suspect one of their number of being a thief and a traitor. Even on this very night of his betrayal, when our Lord so plainly named the horrid crime which was about to be perpetrated, and so clearly pointed to the guilty individual, they had only a confused notion of the matter. They even supposed, when Judas quitted the guest-chamber, that probably he was sent out to purchase provisions; or even upon some errand of mercy to the poor.
How awful the hardness of Judas's heart: how different from the alarm and anxiety of his fellowdisciples ! What a contrast, also, to the horror of soul, experienced at this moment by the Saviour of mankind ! " I speak not of you all,” saith Jesus, “I know whom I have chosen.” He then alludes to the necessity, that the Scriptures should be fulfilled. Then at length he says plainly, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me:" but while he utters the words, he is “troubled in spirit:" shocked to contemplate such an atrocity; shrinking from the company of this fiend-like man; knowing his own sufferings to be the certain consequence; and foreseeing that the eternal perdition of wretched Judas was near at hand.
The disciples are struck with astonishment. They look one on another, to see who betrays guilt by his countenance. They ask with shuddering, “Lord, is it I?” Judas has the audacity to ask the same question! John then, on a sign from Peter, inquires, at whom the Lord pointed. Jesus makes it known by a significant action, dipping his hand in the dish, and giving a sop to Judas. Unmoved from his diabolical purpose, Judas goes through all this confounding scene; receives the sop; and then immediately withdraws to complete his part in the murderous plot against his master. What a night was that!
And how was this? How could one who had received so many favours from Jesus entertain the thought of betraying “the innocent blood ?" It was because he had long cherished a sinful passion, the love of money: and now Satan entered into him; and he made no resistance.
Let us learn from this awful story:
1. First of all, not to trifle with religious advantages, and not to profane holy things by a hypocritical use of them. Judas had, no doubt, both preached and wrought miracles in the name of Jesus, as well as heard many most affecting conversations from his lips : and yet his possession of all these means of grace ends in his committing this atrocious and unpardonable sin. Let us not trust in the mere enjoyment of outward means. There is a proverb of reproach, and it has often been verified—The nearer the Church, the further from God.” Here we may say, “The nearer to Christ, the further from salvation.” Judas could even kiss Jesus, and say, “Hail, Master;” in the very act of betraying him. But we know who his master was ;-the Devil.
2. Next, let us guard against the temptations by which Satan works upon mankind. When evil passions of any kind are secretly indulged, they tend utterly to destroy grace: they will not suffer it to take root in the heart. Such are-covetousness, hypocrisy, deceit and guile, (Judas's besetting sins); proud thoughts; lustful desires; habits of intemperance; envy, anger, and revenge. These generally grow from small beginnings: but in
process of time, if we give place to the Devil, he pushes his advantage; and then, unless we saved by almost a miracle of grace, he will hurry us on till he has completed our ruin. Esau sells his birthright for a mess of pottage: Judas, in be
traying his Master, barters his own soul for thirty pieces of silver. Oh let us take warning from the dreadful examples that have gone before us! Let us dread the very first approaches of sin : remembering that Satan, with all his might and cruelty, is ready to rush in upon us, the moment he finds the door of any heart unguarded.
3. But there is no use in merely trying to keep evil out: the mind of man cannot remain empty or idle: therefore the way to cast out Satan, is, to invite Christ himself to dwell in our hearts by faith. Every believer is built up, in Christ, “ an habitation of God, through the Spirit.” If love and humility fill this dwelling, there will be no place in it, where sin may lodge. The habit of sincere, practical obedience, in every thing commanded by Christ, will be like a fortification encircling the soul. The enemy cannot break through, to enter that heart !
MUTUAL LOVE ENJOINED BY CHRIST.
John xiii. 31-35.
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
It is worthy to be noted, how sometimes the presence of one individual causes a reserve and shyness to spread, almost insensibly, through a whole company. When that individual withdraws, all are relieved, and conversation flows on with ease. Thus it was, when Judas quitted the company of the disciples. His presence, (although the disciples knew not the worst of him,) was nevertheless a restraint on them all. Especially we observe, that Jesus refrained from entering on the most interesting subjects, while that base man was present.
But now he opens freely. The eleven seem to draw more near to him, as he pours out his whole soul into their attentive ears. He begins at once with the main subject; touching on his own prospects, and their duties.
1. As for his own Prospects, they were glorious. “ Now (he says) is the Son of man glorified.” The powers of earth and hell are combining: now is my time to conquer. Never did earthly hero enter a field of battle with so much confidence and ardour, as Jesus displayed when approaching his hour of agony, his betrayal, his sentence, and his crucifixion. He knew that by this very death He was going to destroy him that had the power of death; that is, the Devil.
We find that in this his last conversation and prayer, he constantly refers to his Father. “The counsel of peace (as the prophet says) was between