Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

leaves flag and turn yellow, the branches wrinkle and shrink, the bark discolours, the root dries, the plant withers.

O God, what creature is able to abide the blasting of the breath of thy displeasure ? even the most great and glorious angels of heaven could not stand one moment before thine anger, but perished under thy wrath everlastingly. How irresistible is thy power! how dreadful are thy judgments! Lord, chastise my fruitlessness, but punish it not; at least punish it, but curse it not, lest I wither and be consumed.

CONTEMPLATION XXVII.

CHRIST BETRAYED. Such an eye-sore was Christ that raised Lazarus, and Lazarus whom Christ raised, to the envious priests, scribes, elders of the Jews, that they consult to murder both; while either of them lives, neither can the glory of that miracle die, nor the shame of the oppugners.

Those malicious heads are laid together in the parlour of Caiaphas. Happy had it been for them if they had spent but half those thoughts upon their own salvation, which they misemployed upon the destruction of the innocent. At last this results, that force is not their way ; subtilty and treachery must do that which should be vainly attempted by power.

Who is fit to work this feat against Christ as one of his own? There can be no treason where is not some trust. Who so fit among the domestics as he that bare the bag, and over-loved that which he bare ? That heart which hath once enslaved itself to red and white earth, may be made any thing. Who can trust to the power of good means, when Judas, who heard Christ daily, whom others heard to preach Christ daily, who daily saw Christ's miracles, and daily wrought miracles in Christ's name, is, at his best, a thief, and ere long a traitor ? That crafty and malignant spirit, which presided in that bloody council, hath easily found out a fit instrument for this hellish plot. As God knows, so Satan guesses, who are his, and will be sure to make use of his own. If Judas were Christ's domestic, yet he was mammon's servant : he could not but hate that master whom he formally professed to serve, while he really served that master which Christ professed to hate. He is but in his trade while he is bartering even for his master; “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?" Saidst thou not well, O Saviour, “I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil ?” Thou, that knewest to distinguish betwixt men and spirits, callest Judas by his right name. Lo, he is become a tempter to the worst of evils.

Wretched Judas! whether shall I more abhor thy treachery, or wonder at thy folly? What will they, what can they give thee valuable to that head which thou profferest to sale ? Were they able to pay, or thou capable to receive, all those precious metals that are laid up in the secret cabins of the whole earth, how were this price equivalent to the worth of him that made them? Had they been able to fetch down those rich and glittering spangles of heaven, and to have put them into thy fist, what had this been to weigh with a God ? How basely therefore dost thou speak of chaffering for him whose the world was ! “What will you give me ?” Alas! what were they? what had they, miserable men, to pay for such a purchase? The time was, when he that set thee on work could say, “All the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them, are mine, and I give them to whom I please ; all these will I give thee.” Had he now made that offer to thee in this woful bargain, it might have carried some colour of a temptation : and even thus it had been a match ill made ; but for thee to tender a trade of so invaluable a commodity to these pelting petty chapmen, for thirty poor silverlings, it was no less base than wicked!

How unequal is this rate! Thou that valuedst Mary's ointment, which she bestowed upon the feet of Christ, at three hundred pieces of silver, sellest thy Master, on whom that precious odour was spent, at thirty. Worldly hearts are penny-wise and poundfoolish: they know how to set high prices upon the worthless trash of this world ; but for heavenly things, or the God that owns them, these they shamefully undervalue.

“ And I will deliver him unto you." False and presumptuous Judas; it was more than thou couldst do; thy price was not more too low than thy undertaking was too high. Had all the powers 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 accomplices 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 thine 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 tells 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.

Oh the sottishness and obdurateness of this son of perdition ! How many proofs had he formally 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 villany 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 other's 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, if 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 betrayed any falsehood or misdemeanor, 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.

Oh 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. 0 Judas, didst thou ever hear aught 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 villany? 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 well 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

« AnteriorContinuar »