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roams in the field of iniquity; and should any obstacle fall in his way, instead of stopping, it increases his mad career.
Many are the restraints which tend for a long time to keep the hypocrite from making a discovery of himself. Like Judas, he enjoys great privileges, has made a particular profession, and associates with the godly. Sometimes like him, he has had very particular warnings, either by some remarkable dispensation in Providence, some bodily affliction, or some awakenings of conscience, and awful forebodings of future punishment. These perhaps have brought him to some temporary consideration, some faint resolutions, or even vows about future seriousness and reformation. At last, however, all these, like the cords with which Samson was bound, prove too weak for the body of sin, and, instead of vanquishing, vanish before the temptation, as flax before the fire.
2. Christ perfectly knows beforehand all that his enemies either intend to do, or will actually do against him. They often form designs which they cannot execute. Thus the Psalmist prays, Psal. xxviii. 4, "Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours." Often the Lord has turned the counsel of the wicked into foolishness, brought to nought their counsels, and made their devices of none effect. He knows the first risings of sin in the heart, and accurately observes every wicked plot as it ripens. When his enemies take counsel against him, he is in the midst of them. He sits in heaven, beholds the sons of men, and holds his enemies in derision. He knows all things, and is
constantly attentive to Zion and every saint. The keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Often has he predicted the designs of his enemies, long before they were formed. We have many instances of this in the prophecies, both concerning the church and individual believers. Christ frequently foretold that he would be delivered to his enemies; and here he discovered how well he knew the treacherous plot of Judas. Often when the schemes of the wicked have been brought to maturity, and were on the eve of being executed; in the critical moment the Lord has interposed, broken the snare, and given convincing proof of his perfect knowledge, almighty power, and watchful care.
He knows what his enemies will actually do against him. If he knows their intentions, we may safely conclude that he perfectly knows their deeds. He may say to them all, as to Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." If it suited his purpose, he could prevent the designs of his enemies, and when he permits them, while they discover their malice, he displays his wisdom in overruling them, contrary to their intention, for the accomplishment of his own ends. He knew that Judas would betray him. Had many known, when they began to make a profession of religion, the awful lengths they would go in sin; shocked at the thought, with Hazael they would have said, "But, what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" In all probability, when Judas first associated with Christ, he had not the least thought of betraying him.
3. The more Christ does by plain warnings and other means to prevent the sinner from sin, and especially some enormous crime, Satan does the more to urge him on, and forward the perpetration. This was exemplified in a striking manner in Judas. No warning could have been more pointed or plain. At a love-feast, newly instituted, just when the wretch had fully resolved on his execrable plot, Christ openly declared that one of them would betray him, and singled him out by giving him a sop. When he asked, Is it I? Christ directly assured him that he was the man. Some way or other Christ admonishes all his enemies under the Gospel. They are plainly warned in his word and ordinances, and often by strong convictions, and strivings of his Spirit. He puts a stigma upon some, and sets them up as beacons to others. While Judas was warned of the danger of indulging sin; he is set up as a monitor to every future generation. He stands a monument as conspicuous in the Scriptures, as the pillar of salt in a certain country.
After the explicit and seasonable warnings given to Judas, one would have thought he would have been deterred from the atrocious crime; but the more Christ did to prevent it, Satan did the more to hasten it on. He entered with the He entered with the sop, and led the traitor captive at his will. In the heart of the true Christian there is a constant struggle between grace and corruption, or, in other words, between Christ and Satan. In the nominal Christian there is a corresponding struggle. With him With him grace and corruption strive; but there is an amazing difference. The
believer has received grace into his heart, and the hypocrite has excluded it. In the one case grace strives for admittance and reception, and in the other for protection and increase. The more Christ does to oppose sin, the more the strong man fears expul'sion from his possession, and exerts himself to retain it.
Often when some crime awfully wicked has been devised and concerted, and the time fixed for the commission at hand, there has been an amazing struggle in the sinner's heart. His fears have been awakened, the dreadful consequences have presented themselves, and filled his mind with horror. Conscience makes the last effort, and loudly urges to desist. Greatly agitated, one moment he resolves to drop his horrid crime, and the next he determines upon the commission. Now he inclines to one side, then to the other. In this critical juncture Satan doubles his diligence, plies every temptation, and vehemently urges him on. At last he prevails, and the crime is perpetrated!
4. There is scarcely any thing more hardening than a profession of religion covering reigning sin in the heart. This is evident in the case of Judas. While Pilate, a heathen, washed his hands, and declared he was free from the blood of that just man, a professed disciple betrayed him. We have also a proof of this in the chief priests. Professing to look out for the Messiah, and searching the Scriptures which testified of him, they should have known him. From the words and works of Christ they had strong convictions that he was the Messiah. But with
unrelenting malice they compassed his death, and influenced the populace to insist for his crucifixion; while poor Pilate, not favoured with their privileges, made a stand against them, though not as he should have done. He constantly declared he found no fault in him, nor any thing deserving death. Often have publicans and harlots entered into the kingdom of God, while chief priests and rulers have refused.
In the nature of things, no sinners can be equally hardened with those who cover lust with a profession of religion. Hypocrites are so accustomed to mock God, to make light of every sacred tie, to deceive their conscience, or lull it asleep, and trifle with religious duties, that nothing can be harder than their hearts, the devil himself hardly excepted. Scarcely could this hardness appear in a more striking light than in Judas. His kind Master, after eating the passover with his disciples for the last time, instituted the supper, and conversed about his sufferings and death. The hearts of the disciples were filled with sorrow, and Judas witnessed the affecting scene. One cannot but wonder how the perfidious wretch did not relent! Nominal Christians often witness melting scenes; but their hearts continue hard as the nether millstone. They have been invited in the most tender manner to receive Christ and improve salvation. The most alarming threatenings have been set before them, in a very affectting light, to warn them to fly from the wrath to come, and awakening dispensations of Providence have passed over them; but still their hearts continue hard and unaffected.