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Master, and continue with him in his temptations. It opened their hearts to attend to his precious instructions, and, though not so strong as it should have been, filled them with good hope of a comfortable issue to his trials and theirs, though they knew not how. We would discover in them unfeigned love to their Master. They trembled at the thought of his suffering, but unspeakably more at the thought of being active or instrumental in betraying him. Greatly ignorant of the design and end of his death, they would rather have heard of their own sufferings than his, and rather endured death than witnessed his crucifixion. Instead of indulging lust in the heart, and seeking opportunities of gratifying it, they were filled with the most bitter and genuine sorrow for sin. Their grief flowed from the best principle. They hated sin as against their Master; and what dishonoured or injured him, greatly wounded their hearts. It is justly reckoned an evidence of genuine sorrow when it flows, not from views of the danger of sin as destroying the soul ; but from the evil of it as dishonouring to the Saviour. The disciples evidenced much self-diffidence, and some sense of the unknown mystery of iniquity in their hearts. Asking, “ Lord, is it I?” was a frank acknowledgment that they had not seen to the bottom of that sin which was within them. Unlike the self-applauding spirit of the hypocrite, they preferred every one the other to himself. Instead of that suspicious and censorious temper characteristic of nominal professors, they had great charity for one another, and of that genuine kind which
thinketb no evil. In place of that hardness of heart which ruined the traitor, their hearts were soft, susceptible of impressions, and melted immediately at the intimation of such a charge as their Master being betrayed by a disciple. Their hearts to intimations of this kind were as wax before the fire. They had followed Christ, and professed him with that truth and sincerity in the inward part in which he delights, They were bettered and greatly improved by the advantage of being with him, and had made considerable progress since their first acquaintance. Instead of rushing deliberately into temptation, the first hint of danger was sufficient alarm, and stirred up all that was within them to watch and guard against it.
We now go on, as was proposed, to the next thing in the method, which was,
III. To open up Christ's conduct on this memorable occasion.
One scarcely knows whether the conduct of the Redeemer, or that of the traitor is most astonishing. -the one for a superabundance of patience, and the other for the consummation of iniquity. There are two mysteries which occupy the believer's attention while here, and will find him employ to all eternity, namely, the mysteries of grace and corruption.
1. Christ dealt plainly with Judas. He did not merely insinuate that he knew or suspected his wicked intentions, but told him explicitly. Dreadful as the
charge was, Christ brought it home, and said, Thou art the man. In terms the most unequivocal, he warned him of the sin, and set the danger before him. Thus in verse 24 he addressed him in the following alarming language, “ The Son of man goeth, as it is written of him: but wo unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed: it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” This stripped Judas of every excuse, and rendered his wickedness still more aggravated. But in spite of the plainest warnings, he persisted in his execrable purpose. Though sinners are inattentive, or will not believe it, Christ gives them the plainest warning in his word and ordinances, and brings it home to their consciences by his Spirit. Though they stifle convictions, their consciences accuse them, and forewarn them of their danger. But should they slight these admonitions and reproofs, they shall know hereafter. Christ's plain dealing with Judas is recorded as a warning to all professors, and places the danger of hypocrisy and apostacy in the most conspicuous, light. To declining churches the Lord says, Go to Shiloh. To insincere and hard-hearted professors, he virtually says, Go to Judas.
2. On this occasion Christ displayed singular love and affection to his disciples. He was about to suffer. The prospect of his death was a heavy trial to them. What he said to Judas removed a signal stumblingblock out of their way. It could scarcely have failed to have offended them and others, that an apostle, so long in his company, and eyewitness of his mighty
deeds, had no higher esteem of him, than sell him to his greatest enemies. It was almost enough to have shaken them and others to the centre. But when Christ could, and actually did foretell that it would be so, his prediction was mightily calculated to prevent the bad effects. The disciples were forewarned in the prophecies of the Old Testament that it would bappen. There it is said, “ Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted
up his heel against me.” The cixth Psalm foretells, in the most glowing and affecting language, the character, and conduct, and doom of Judas. But the minds of the disciples were dark, and they did not understand the Scriptures.. But when the traitor actually came with his band, the disciples would instantly recollect the kind warning which their Master gave them.
3. Jesus of Nazareth gave a satisfying proof that, though about to suffer, he was the true God, and the promised Messiah. That he should be betrayed, and especially by one of themselves, was an absolute secret to the disciples. When Christ told the wicked device of Judas, and he did not deny it, the prediction, and especially when fulfilled by the traitor, would prove a strong confirmation to the faith of the disciples, in the omniscience of Christ. If not rendered stupid through confusion, they could scarcely fail to argue thus: Whatever our Master may suffer, , he knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. They had many former evidences of this; but through unbelief and vexation of spirit they were unable in
the very time to make a proper improvement of them. After his resurrection matters assumed a different aspect. Then from this and other instances, they were abundantly satisfied that he was the searcher of the hearts, and trier of the reins of the children of men; and that all things were naked and open to
Satisfied that their Master was omniscient, they could not hesitate about the justness and propriety of his claims to Messiahship. Divinity and humanity were foretold as what were essential to his character, and would be united in his person. These extremes never met in another. A further acquaintance with the Scriptures would convince them that the true Messiah was to suffer and be cut off, though not for himself. When their hearts were opened to understand the Lord's word more fully, they had not the least reason to doubt that their Master was the true Messiah. He exactly answered to the prophecies, and corresponded to the types; and his works proclaimed him to be God. Justly was he called Emmanuel-God in our nature.
4. He gave full proof and indubitable evidence that his sufferings were voluntary. Every man, possessed of a moderate share of wisdom, if he knew that his enemies had formed a malicious design against his life, would prevent the execution of it, if he could. He would either try to render their plot abortive, or make his escape. At other times, when his enemies sought to slay him, Christ' went away, assigning as his reason that his hour was not yet