« السابقةمتابعة »
hungered, and athirst, and a stranger, and naked, and sick, and in prison. It was 1 whom you clothed, and lodged, and visited, and comforted, in prison. The righteous, in great surprize, ask, with reverence and humility, when all this happened, since they never had seen him in want of their assistance, nor could remember that they had ever bestowed aught upon him. [Mat, xxv. 37.] Then shall the righteous answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the king shall answer and say unto them, the king of angels and men, verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. This is unspeakably astonishing! The united wisdom of men and angels could not have thought of any thing more proper to convey an idea of the extent of the divine benevolence to men, or offer a more constraining motive to charity, than that the Son of God should declare from the judgment-seat, in the presence of the assembled universe, that such good offices as are done to his afflicted servants are done
Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed of my Father, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me. If such be the dreadful portion prepared for those who do not render the friends of God all the services in their power, what must be their condemnation who delight to slander and persecute them. The issue of the judgment, as represented in this description, is awful beyond conception. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. If the meaning of this short sentence were duly considered by sinners, how deep an impression would it make on their minds! Everlasting punishment! Eternal life! What is there not comprehended in
The next day being the last day of our Lord's public teaching, it was more full of action than any other mentioned in his history, as will appear from the following induction of particulars.
He came to Bethany six days before the passover, probably about sun-setting. He rode into the city surrounded by the multitude next afternoon for when he had looked round on all things in the temple after his entry, it was evening [Mark xi. 11.] this happened five days before the passover. He went in again from Bethany the day following, viz. four days before the passover, and, by the way, blasted the fig-tree; after that, he drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple. Next morning, viz. three days before the passover, and the last of his public teaching, being on his way to town, he spake concerning the efficacy of faith, on occasion of the disciples expressing great astonishment at seeing the fig-tree that was cursed the day before withered from the roots. When he appeared in the temple, the deputies that were sent by the council came and asked him concerning his authority. He answered them with a question concerning the baptism of John; then spake the parable of the two sons commanded to work in their father's vineyard; after that, the parable of the marriage supper. Then he avoided the suare that was laid for him in the question concerning the tribute-money; confuted the doctrine of the Sadducees concerning
the resurrection; shewed the scribe which was the great commandment in the law; asked the Pharisees whose son Christ is; cautioned his disciples to beware of the scribes and Pharisees, against whom he denounced many grievous woes. When the woes were finished, he looked on the people throwing their gifts into the treasury, probably as they worshipped at the evening sacrifice, and commended the poor widow for her charity. After the service was over, he left the temple, and went to the mount of Olives, where he foretold the downfal of the nation; and spake three parables representing the procedure of the general judgment. Last of all, he concluded the work of the day by predicting his own sufferings. By this time it must have been about sun-setting. He went away, therefore, with his disciples, to Bethany, intending to pass the night there, at a distance from his enemies, the chief priests and the scribes, who were now gathered together at the high-priest's palace to deliberate how they might put him to death.
Having spent the night with his disciples at the mount of Olives, the people collected early in the morning in the temple to hear him, but we are not informed that our Lord delivered to them any public discourses, but, on the contrary, employed his time in preparing his disciples for the dreadful trial which they were speedily to undergo. In the mean time, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people, held a solemn council in the palace of the high-priest Caiaphas, where they formed some designs of taking him and killing him by subtilty, probably by private assassination. It seems, they were led to thoughts of this kind from the danger which they apprehended in attempting to seize him publicly, on account of the number of his adherents.
When Jesus and his disciples came to Bethany, they took up their lodging with Simon the leper, probably one of those who had experienced the healing efficacy of his power. During the time of supper, a woman came, and breaking up the seal of an alabaster box of very precious ointment, poured it upon our Lord's head. The disciples, being sensible that their Master was not delighted with luxuries of any kind, rebuked her for throwing away so much money idly, as they imagined. But they expressed themselves so as to cast a tacit reflection on our Lord himself. They did not say that the money with, which this ointment was purchased might have been given to the poor, but this ointment might have been sold and given, insinuating that Jesus was to blame for not causing the ointment to be thus disposed of. But Jesus, knowing every thing they said and thought, told them, that whereas the poor were always at hand for the exercise of their charity, he should soon be removed. from them; and that this very act, which they condemned as so highly extravagant, was intended by the great regulator of events as a preparation for his approaching funeral, and should bring upon the performer of it the respect and approbation of the remotest ages.
It is supposed by some, that the irritation that Judas Iscariot, who was foremost in condemning the woman's conduct, felt on occasion of the reproof which had now been given him, induced him to go over to the high-priests, and offer, for a certain stipulated sum, to direct them to the hiding-places of his Master, and thus afford them an opportunity to seize him without any danger from the interference of the multitude. But as this was certainly the most abominable action that ever was perpetrated by any of the sons of Adam, the following enquiry into the motives of the traitor's conduct, which is made by an eminent expositor, may afford no unentertaining conclusion to the chapter.
"The treachery of Judas Iscariot in betraying his Master must raise the astonishment of every reader who has any just notion of our Lord's character. Wherefore,
the motives swaying him to be guilty of such an atrocious crime, and the circumstancés which attended it, deserve a particular consideration.
"Some are of opinion that he was pushed to commit this villany by his resentment of the rebuke which Jesus gave him for blaming the woman who came with the precious ointment. But though this may have had its weight with him, I think it could not be the only motive; because the rebuke was not levelled against him singly, but was directed also to the rest, who had been equally forward with him in censuring the woman, and who, having been rebuked at the same time, must have kept him in countenance. Besides, though he had been rebuked alone, it can hardly be supposed that so mild a reproof would provoke any person, how wicked soever to the horrid act of murdering his friend, much less Judas, whose covetousness must have disposed him to bear every thing at the hand of his Master, from whom he expected great preferment. If it is replied, that his resentment was so great as to hinder him from exercising his reason, and hurried him on precipitantly, it should be considered, that though he struck the bargain with the priests a few hours after he was rebuked, almost two days passed before he fulfilled the bargain. Besides, to impute his treachery to the sudden impulses of a strong resentment, is such an alleviation of his crime, as seems inconsistent with the character given of it in scripture, where it is always represented in the blackest colours, and said to merit the heaviest punishment.
"Others think that Judas betrayed his Master out of covetousness: but neither can this be admitted, if by covetousness is understood an eager desire of the reward given by the priests; for the whole sum was not in value above three pounds, ten shillings, sterling; a trifle which the most covetous wretch cannot be supposed to have taken as an equivalent for the life of a friend, from whom he had the greatest expectations of gain. The reader will see the strength of this reason, when he calls to mind that all the disciples believed the kingdom was instantly to be erected; and that, according to the notion which they entertained of it, each of them, but especially the apostles, had the prospect of being raised in a little time to immense riches. Besides, the scripture tells us, that Judas's predominant passion was covetousness. He would not, therefore, be so inconsistent with himself, as, when just on the point of reaping such a reward of his service, to throw all away for the trifling sum above mentioned.
"Others attribute Judas' perfidy to his doubting whether his Master was the Messiah, and suppose that he betrayed him in a fit of despair. But of all the solutions this is the worst founded: for if Judas thought his Master was an impostor, he must have observed something in his behaviour which led him to form such an opinion of him; and, in that case, he certainly would have mentioned it to the chief priests and elders at the time he made the bargain with them, which it is plain he did not, otherwise he would have put them in mind of it when he came to them and declared his remorse for what he had done. Doubtless, also, they would have urged it against our Lord himself in the course of his trials, when they were at such a loss for witnesses to prove their accusations; and against the apostles afterwards, when they reproved them for preaching in Christ's name. [Acts iv. 15, v. 27.] 27.] Further, had Judas thought his Master an impostor, and proposed nothing by his treachery but the price he put upon his life, how came he to sell him for such a trifle, when he well knew that the priests would have given him any sum rather than not have gotten him into their hands? To conclude: the supposition of Judas' believing that his Master was an impostor, is directly confuted by the solemn declaration which he made to the priests. implying the deepest conviction of Christ's innocence, "I have sinned," said he, "in
Betraying the innocent blood." It is also confuted by the remorse which he felt for his crime when Jesus was condemned; a remorse so bitter that he was not able to bear it, but fled to a halter for relief.
Since Judas' treachery proceeded from none of the motives mentioned, it may be asked what other motive can be assigned for his conduct? The evangelist John tells us that he was so covetous as to steal money out of our Lord's bag. This account of him gives us reason to believe that he first followed Jesus with a view to the riches and other temporal advantages which he expected that Messiah's friends would enjoy. Likewise, it authorizes us to think, that as he had hitherto reaped none of those advantages, he might grow impatient under the delay; and the more so, that Jesus had of late discouraged all ambitious views among his disciples, and neglected to embrace the opportunity of erecting his kingdom, that was offered by the multitude who accompanied him into Jerusalem with hosannas. His impatience, therefore, becoming, excessive, put him upon the scheme of delivering his Master into the hands of the council, thinking it the most proper method of obliging him to assume the dignity of Messiah, and consequently of enabling him to reward his followers. For as this court was composed of the chief priests, elders, and scribes, that is, the principal persons belonging to the sacerdotal order, the representatives of the great families, and the doctors of the law, Judas did not doubt but that Jesus, when before such an assembly, would prove his pretensions to their full conviction, gain them over to his interests, and enter forthwith on his regal dignity. And though he could not but be sensible that the measure which he took to bring this about was very offensive to his Master, he might think that the success of it would procure his pardon, and even recommend him to favour. In the mean time, his project however plausible it might appear to ne of his turn, was far from being free from difficulty. And, therefore, while he revolved it in his own mind, many things might occur to stagger his resolution. At ength, something happened which urged him on. Thinking himself affronted by the rebuke which Jesus had given him in the matter of the last anointing, and that rebuke sitting the heavier on him as he had procured a former mark of his Master's displeasure by an imprudence of the same kind, he was provoked. And though his resentment was not such as could inspire him with the horrid design of murdering his Master, it impelled him to execute the resolution he had formed of making him alter his measures. Rising up, therefore, from table, he went straightway into the city, to the high-priest's palace, where he found the chief priests and elders assembled, consulting how they might take Jesus by subtilty. To them he made known his intention; and undertook, for a small sum of money, to conduct a band of armed men to the place where Jesus usually spent the nights, and where they might apprehend him without the danger of a tumult. Thus the devil, laying hold on the various passions which now agitated the traitor's breast, tempted him by them all.
"That these were the views with which Judas acted in betraying his Master may be gathered, First, From the nature of the bargain which he struck with the priests; What will ye give me," said he, "and I will deliver him unto you?" He did not mean that he would deliver him up to be put to death for though the priests had consulted among themselves how they might kill Jesus, none of them had been so barefaced as to declare their intention publicly. They only proposed to bring him to a trial for having assumed the character of the Messiah, and to treat him as it should appear he deserved. The offer, therefore, which Judas made to them of delivering him up, was in conformity to their public resolution. Nor did they understand it in any other light for had the priests thought that his design was to get Jesus punished with death, they must likewise have thought that he believed him to be an impostor;
in which case they certainly would have produced him as one of their principal evidences, no person being more fit to bear witness against any criminal than his companion. Or, though Judas had repented before the trial came on, and had withdrawn himself, the priests might have argued with great plausibility, both in their own court and before the governor, that for a man's disciple to require the judges to bring him to condign punishment, branded him with such a suspicion of guilt as was equal to a full proof. Likewise, when Judas returned to them with the money, declaring that he had sinned in betraying the innocent blood, instead of replying "What is that to us? see thou to that," it was the most natural thing in the world to have upbraided him with the stain he had put upon his Master's character by the bargain he had entered into with them. It is true, they called the money they gave him the price of blood." [Mat. xxvii. 6.] But they did not mean this in the strictest sense, as they neither had hired Judas to assassinate his Master, nor can be supposed to have charged themselves with the guilt of murdering him. It was only the price of blood consequentially, being the reward they had given to the traitor for putting it in their power to take away Christ's life under the colour and form of public justice. Nay, it may be even doubted whether Judas asked the money as a reward of his services. He, covetously indeed, kept it, and for that reason called it the price of blood. But he demanded it, perhaps on pretence of gratifying and encouraging the people that were to assist him in apprehending Jesus. To conclude: Judas knew that the rulers could not take away the life of any person whatever, the Romans having deprived them of that power, [John xviii. 31.] and therefore could have no design of this kind in delivering him up; not to mention that it was a common opinion among the Jews that Messiah would never die, [John xii. 34.] an opinion which Judas might easily embrace, having seen his Master raise several persons from the dead, and among the rest one who had been in the grave no less than four days.
Second, That the traitor's intention in betraying his Master was what I have said is probable from his hanging himself when he found him condemned, not by the governor, but by the council, whose prerogative it was to judge prophets. Had Judas proposed to take away his Master's life, the sentence of condemnation passed upon him, instead of filling him with despair, must have gratified him, being the accomplishment of his project whereas, the light wherein I have endeavoured to place his conduct, shews this circurastance to have been perfectly natural. Judas, having been witness to the greatest part of our Lord's miracles, and having experienced the certain truth of them in the powers that had been conferred upon himself, could never think that the council would have condemned him as a false Christ, far less as a blasphemer. He knew him to be perfectly innocent, and expected that he would have wrought such miracles before the council as should have constrained them to believe. Therefore, when he found that nothing of this kind was done, and that the priests had passed the sentence of condemnation upon him, and were carrying him to the governor to get it executed, he repented of his rash and covetous project, came to the chief priests and elders, the persons to whom he had betrayed him, offered them their money again, and solemnly declared the deepest conviction of his Master's innocence, hoping that they would have desisted from the prosecution. But they were obstinate, and would not relent, upon which his remorse arose to such a pitch, that, unable to support the torments of his conscience, he went and hanged himself. Thus I think it probable that the traitor's intention in delivering up his Master was to lay him under a necessity of proving his pretensions before the grandees whom he had hitherto shunned, thinking that if they had yielded, the whole nation would have immediately submitted, and the disciples have been raised forthwith to the summit of their expectations.