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second hand, this boldness had been enough to make him suspect the credit of the best intelligence : who could imagine that a guilty man dare 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? Hadst thou yet enough? thou supposedst thy crime unknown; to men it was so; bad thy Master been no more, it had been so to him ; now his knowledge argues him divine. How dost 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. 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 privilege John to ask that safely, which Peter might not without much inconvenience and peril of a
His signs 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
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 hands speak 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 tħee 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 farther 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 the 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. Oh the admirable meekness of this Lamb of God! I see not a frown, I hear not a check, but, “That 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 this 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 villany in the deed ; the speed has no sin: the time was harmless, while the man and the act were 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-priests hall
, and to the garden : the watch-word is already given, “Hail, Master,” and “a kiss." Yet more hypocrisy? yet more presumption upon so over-strained 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, oh the impudence of a deplored sinner! that tongue, which hath 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.
What a preface do I find in my Saviour's passion! a hymn, and an agony: a cheerful hymn and an agony no less sorrowful. A hymn begins, both to raise and testify the courageous resolutions of his suffering ; an agony follows, to show that he was truly sensible of those extremities wherewith he was resolved to grapple. All the disciples bore their part in that hymn; it was fit they should all see his comfortable and divine magnanimity wherewith he entered into those sad lists: only three of them shall be allowed to be the witnesses of his agony, only those three that had been the witnesses of his glorious transfiguration. That sight had well fore-armed and prepared them for this : how could they be dismayed to see his trouble, who there saw his majesty ? How could they be dismayed to see his body now sweat, which