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his persecutors, or that he would prove his innocence to the satisfaction of his judges; or that at the most some slight punishment would be inflicted upon him. One would not wish to load even the worst of men with more guilt than really belongs to them; but from considering the character of Judas, and comparing together all the circumstances of the case, it appears to me more probable that the acquittal or condemnation of Jesus never entered into his contemplation. All he thought of was gain. He had kept the common purse, and had robbed it; and his only object was, how to obtain a sum of money, which he determined to have at all events, and left consequences to take care of themselves. But when he saw that his divine Master, whom he knew to be perfectly innocent, was actually condemned to death, his conscience then flew in his face; his guilt rose up before him in all its horrors. The innocence, the virtues, the gentleness, the kindness of his Lord, with a thousand other circumstances, rushed at
once upon his mind, and painted to him the enormity of his crime in such dreadful colours, that he could no longer bear the agonizing tortures that racked his soul, but went immediately and destroyed himself.
The answer of the chief priests to Judas, when he brought back to them the thirty pieces of silver, and declared that he had betrayed the innocent blood, was a perfectly natural one for men of their character: "What is that to us? See thou to that." Men who had any feeling, any sentiments of common humanity, or even of common justice, when so convincing a proof of the accused person's innocence had been given them, would naturally have relented, would have put an immediate stop to the proceedings, and released the prisoner. But this was very far from entering into their plan. With the guilt or innocence of Jesus they did not concern themselves. This was not their affair. All they wanted was the destruction of a man whom they hated and feared,
feared, and whose life and doctrine was a standing reproach to them. This was their object and as to the mercy or the justice of the case, on this head they were at perfect ease; "What is that to us? See thou to that." And yet to see the astonishing inconsistence of human nature, and the strange contrivances by which even the most abandoned of men endeavour to satisfy their minds and quiet their apprehensions; these very men, who had no scruple at all in murdering an innocent person, yet had wonderful qualms of conscience about putting into the treasury the money which they themselves had given as the "price of blood!" "The chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for us to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called The Field of Blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty
pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me *.”
I cannot pass on from this part of the chapter without observing, that the short account here given us of Judas Iscariot affords us a very striking proof of the perfect innocence and integrity of our Lord's character, and of the truth of his pretensions.
Had there been any thing reprehensible in the former, or any deceit in the latter, it must have been known to Judas Iscariot. He was one of the twelve who were the constant companions of our Saviour's ministry, and witnesses to every thing he said
*It happens that this passage is found not in Je-' remiah, to which the evangelist refers, but in the ele-, venth chapter of Zechariah. But there are various very satisfactory ways in which learned men have accounted for this difficulty; which, after all, as the prophecy actually exists, is a matter of no moment, and in writings two or three thousand years old, it is no great wonder if, by the carelessness of transcribers,' one name should sometimes (especially where abbreviations are used) be put for another.
or did. If therefore his conduct had been in any respect irregular or immoral; if his miracles had been the effect of collusion or fraud; if there had been any plan concerted between him and his disciples to impose a false religion upon the world, and under the guise of piety to gratify their love of fame, honour, wealth, or power; if in short, Jesus had been either an enthusiast or an impostor, Judas must have been in the secret; and when he betrayed his Master, would immediately have divulged it to the world. By such a discovery, he would not only have justified his own treachery, but might probably have gratified also his ruling passion, his love of money. For there can be no doubt, that when the chief priests and rulers were industriously seeking out for evidence against Jesus, they would most gladly have purchased that of Judas at any price, however extravagant, that he chose to demand. But instead of producing any evidence against Jesus, he gives a voluntary and most decisive evidence in his favour. 66 'I