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return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Rejoice in the Lord, ye weary! If ye have not heard his comforting voice, you shall hear it. Having once heard it, you shall never cease to hear it. Others who have often addressed you, and been the instruments of comforting your hearts can address you no more. He who has the tongue of the learned is always at hand, and can speak a word at every season. He can speak in prosperity and adversity; in your worst and your best frames, in life and death, and beyond death. Having once heard his voice, you desire always to hear it; and you shall not be disappointed. Wait at the posts of his doors. Sit at his feet. So doing, blessed shall you be while you live, and happy shall you be when you die! Hearken, ye careless sinners! You have a great load. You are insensible of it. This does not lessen your danger. The curse is upon you. He will by no means clear the guilty. You have no esteem of Christ. You despise the tongue of the learned, and are unacquainted with the value of a word in season. Should you get enough of the good things of this world, you would leave Christ and his blessings to others. Though you had the whole world, it could not save you. Christ is a complete Saviour. } He can make you happy with little here. At death, when all others forsake you, he will stand by you.
God is holy.
Consider, and be afraid! He who has the tongue of the learned, and urges you to hear a word in sea
son, will, if you continue inattentive, speak with a tremendous voice at death. You must give an account. How can you appear before him? Where can you fly from him? What can you say to him? How will you bear what he shall say to you? You are warned. Be wise. It is time, high time to cry for mercy. It is not too late. Beware of delays. Consider the danger of sin. Consider till you are weary, and then the Lord Jesus will speak a word in season to your weary souls. Then you will experience his gracious and comforting work, the amount of which is thus expressed by the poet :
With learned tongue and Divine skill,
MATTHEW XXVI. 20-25.
Now when the even was come, Jesus sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
It must be a very affecting consideration to a mind impressed with the evil of sin, and interested in the honour of the Redeemer, that the supper is seldom or never celebrated, but some crucify the Lord of glory afresh, and put him to open shame. Seldom are the partakers fewer in number than at the first celebration, and yet after the sop Judas betrayed him. The great Master knows the heart of every one who sits at his table, as well when there are twelve hundred as only twelve. Every part of Christ's sufferings touches in a tender manner the heart of the true saint; but scarcely is any scene more affecting than when he was betrayed by a disciple. Judas witnessed his miracles, heard his public discourses, and was admitted to private interviews in common with
the eleven. It is truly afflicting and alarming to consider that one, who had followed Christ, professed such love to him, and witnessed his holy life spent in assiduous and unremitting endeavours to glorify God and do good to mankind, should have betrayed him!
The scene in the text is one of the most affecting in all the sacred records. Christ was about to die. Ever mindful of his people, he instituted the great ordinance of the supper, and brake bread and blessed it. At this love-feast he opened his heart to his disciples, and treated them as friends. John leaned on his bosom. The rest sat around. Christ made the painful and piercing intimation that one of them should betray him. Unwilling to disbelieve their Master, and scarcely able to give him credit, they cried out, every one, Lord, is it I? He who had the greatest reason to suspect himself, was the last who spake. At length from decency, and to conceal his crime, Judas also said, Master, is it I?
This is a sample of what will happen in the church militant to the end of time. Christ will have enemies as well as friends. The tares and the wheat will grow together till the harvest. The most searching doctrine, and the strictest discipline, will neither deter the hypocrite from making a profession, nor detect his naughty heart. As far as men can see, he goes the same length with the true believer. His great defect is inward, and escapes the most vigilant eye. Some external strictness is necessary to his character. Induced by some sinister motive, he adjoins himself to the church. However small their number be, few societies are totally exempt from
persons of this wretched character. The church may be deceived. It is God's prerogative to know the heart. Have not I, said Christ, chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil!
In further discoursing upon this subject, we shall in the first place make some observations included in the passage.
Secondly, we shall more particularly delineate the conduct of Judas.
Thirdly, we shall endeavour to illustrate the conduct of the Redeemer on this memorable and affecting occasion:-and then direct you to the practical improvement of the subject.
I. It was proposed to make some observations.
1. Such is the power of sin in the ungodly, that, though long confined, it commonly bursts forth, and breaks over all restraints. Judas was covetous. This evil principle at different times discovered itself. At last it could no longer be restrained. Whatever external appearance it may put on, the carnal heart must be daily gaining ground, as the power of sin is not broken. While the heart is unrenewed, all that can be done is only bridling and curbing it. The powerful principle of sin is still increasing. Every restraint on the sinful heart contradicts nature, and must be burdensome; and none can be greater than when a powerful lust is restrained by a profession of religion. The sinner longs to cut the cords, and commonly, sooner or later, casts them away. Then, like the horse, long confined and now let loose, he