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This account of Judas' conduct is by no means calculated to lessen the foulness of his crime, which was the blackest imaginable. For even in the light above mentioned, it implied both an insatiable avarice and a wilful opposition to the counsels of providence, and so rendered the actor of it a disgrace to human nature. But it is calculated to set the credibility of the traitor's action in a proper light, and to shew that he was not moved to it by any thing suspicious in the character of his Master; because, according to this view of it, his perfidy, instead of implying that he entertained suspicions of his Master's integrity, plainly proves that he had the fullest conviction of his being the Messiah. And, to say the truth, it was not possible for any one intimately acquainted with our Lord, as Judas was, to judge otherwise of him, having seen his miracles, which were great and true beyond exception; and having experienced his power in the ability of working miracles, which, along with the rest of the apostles, he had received from him, and no doubt exercised with extraordinary pleasure. However, as the motives of men's actions at such a distance of time must needs be intricate, especially where history is in a great measure silent concerning them, we ought to be very modest in our attempts to unravel them; for which cause the above account of Judas' conduct is proposed only as a conjecture worthy of further inquiry.
THE DISCOURSES AND TRANSACTIONS OF OUR LORD AT HIS LAST PASSOVER.
Peter and John are sent to prepare the passover in a room to which they arc miraculously guided---Jesus washes his disciples feet, and inculcates similar conduct in ther towards each other---while they are partaking of the passover he declares who shoul betray him---the Lord's supper is instituted---the disciples contend hout the chief poste in the kingdom---Peter's denial foretold the first time---after delivering a cmsolatory discourse, he walks to mount Olivet, and again foretels the fall of Peter---he shews forth the intimate union which there subsists materially between his Father, himself, and his people---he prays with his disciples at considerable length, and undergoes inexpressible sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane.
THROUGHOUT the whole survey which we have hitherto taken of the life of Jesus, we have found a character developed to our view more beautiful and interesting than that of any of the sons of men. Descending from the bosom of the Father, and laying aside the splendour of his eternal glory, he was found in the fashion of a man, took upon himself the form of a servant, and became acquainted with the bitterness of grief. With patient and indefatigable zeal he sought out and saved those that were lost, feeding the hungry, curing the diseased, cleansing the lepers, giving sight to the blind, and commanding back the spirit to its recently forsaken clay but while he was thus doing good, he was pursued with the most unmerited reproaches, marked out as a sheep for the slaughter, and at length betrayed by one of his most intimate associates. The darker the shades of sorrow, which are collecting round the head of Immanuel, the more delightful will be those rays of divine beneficence which we shall see beaming forth in the day of his deepest distresses. It is not, therefore, too much to affirm, that our attention will henceforth be directed to scenes more highly gratifying to the best feelings of human nature, than any other which have been exhibited in the theatre of the universe.
It was now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, when our Lord gave orders to Peter and John, two of his most intimate friends, to make preparation for the passover. This preparation, we may conclude, consisted in the providing a room ready furnished for the occasion, the purchasing a lamb, getting it killed and roasted, and procuring the bread, wine, and bitter herbs, which were made use of at this solemnity. When they requested to know where he would keep the feast, he informed them, that, on their entering the city, they should meet a servant of a certain man, whore be named, carrying a pitcher of water, him they were to follow, as they would
be thus guided to his Master's house. They were directed, then, to tell the head of the family, that their Master wished him to point out a guest-chamber where he might cat the passover with his disciples. They did so; and were directed to a large upper room ready furnished for the purpose, as many rooms were at this time, which were disposed of without hire to the strangers who came up to Jerusalem.
When the evening approached, Jesus left Bethany; and every thing being prepared by the time he came into the city, they all sat down at the appointed hour. Christ, now feeling his love to his disciples very strongly excited by the certain apprehension of his approaching sufferings, expressed to them the fervent desire which he had experienced to partake of this last solemn and social feast with them, before his more weighty sufferings commenced. For, saith he, I will not eat any more thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of heaven, by the deliverance of perishing men from the bondage of sin; a deliverance typified by that of the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage, to preserve the memory of which the passover was instituted. Having thus spoken, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hand; and, having given thanks to almighty God for his great goodness to mankind, began the solemnity by delivering the cup to his disciples, saying, take this and divide among yourselves. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come by the commencement of the gospel dispensation.
Supper being now ended, or, as others more properly translate it, being now come, Jesus, being possessed of the most perfect knowledge of the awful circumstances in which he was placed, determined to teach his disciples and mankind the lovely virtue of humility by his own example. He, therefore, though he was the only begotten Son of God, rose from the table, and, girding himself with a towel after the manner of a servant, poured water into a bason, and began to wash his disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. But when it came to Peter's turn to receive that favour, he, at first, modestly, and then resolutely, declined it. At once to subdue his resistance, Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me if thou dost not submit to all my orders implicitly, thou art not my disciple; or, as others understand it, unless I cleanse thee from the pollution of sin, emblematically represented by washing thee with water, thou art no te of mine. Peter, therefore, understanding him literally, and desiring to enjoy the glories of his temporal kingdom, replied, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith unto him, he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. This sentence, probably, refers to those who came out from a bath, and were therefore perfectly clean, unless their feet, which might be dirtied by immediately walking on the ground; but it has evidently a spiritual meaning, and it is understood to teach, that those who are once converted need no more a thorough change, but have only to cleanse themselves from the particular sins which they happen to commit through infirmity. Ye are clean, but not all; referring to the traitor Judas.
After having performed this kind and humiliating office, he sat down and asked them whether they knew the intent of what he had done to them. I am what you stile your Lord and Master; but I have now washed your feet, that I might the more deeply impress upon your minds the duty of mutual condescension. The servant is not greater than his lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him; and therefore, knowing your duty in this particular, ye are happy if you diligently practise it. I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the scripture may be fulfilled, [Psalm xli. 9.] he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. I have foretold this distressing event, that when it is come you may be lieve that I am the Messiah of God, and rest assured of your share in my protecting
favour; for he that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.
Jesus having thus openly denounced the treachery of one of the company, the eleven who were innocent were every one of them exceedingly anxious to know for himself that he was not the person to whom this heavy charge applied. Peter, therefore, beckoned to John, who lay next to Jesus on the couch, and, consequently, was leaning in his bosom, that he would enquire of their Master who it was that should be guilty of this enormous wickedness. Christ immediately answered, probably, in a whisper, he it is, to whom I shall give the sop when I have dipped it. This sop we may understand to be a morsel of meat dipped in a thick bitter sauce, which they made use of, by divine appointment, in the celebration of the passover. Judas, perhaps, conceiving this to be a reproach for his gluttony, found his indignation rising; so that Satan took a still deeper possession of his soul. Christ, who knew the state of his mind, and was anxious to complete his dreadful labour of love, requested him to perform quickly that which he knew it was his intention to do. The other disciples, knowing that Judas kept the bag, suspected no harm of him in particular, but supposed that he had orders to prepare something for the succeeding days of the feast, or to make some charitable donation to the poor. Their perplexity, therefore, still increasing, they could no longer keep silence, but every one of them exclaimed earnestly, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, probably, of bitter sauce, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth to suffering and death, as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed, it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Upon this, Judas, recovering himself a little, asserted his innocence by a question, which implied a strong negation of the charge. But Jesus silenced him, with positively affirming that he was the person of whoin he spake. Thus were the eleven acquitted to their infinite satisfaction, while the wretched traitor was saved from confusion only by the impenetrable hardness of his heart.
Judas, having received the sop, appears to have left the company; and Jesus, whose mind was supported by the divinity within, proceeded to institute the Lord's supper as a memorial of his love, to be preserved throughout all succeeding generations. The fullest description of it is given by the apostle Paul, in the eleventh chapter of the firet epistle to the Corinthians, 23..26 verses. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, take, eat, this is my body, the type and representation of my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come. Thus was this blessed institution appointed, not as a sacrifice to the offended Deity, nor as an expedient to prepare the unconverted soul for heaven, but as an imperishable memorial of that most wonderful of all events, the voluntary suffering of the Son of God on mount Calvary.
So slow is the mind in receiving the impressions of truth and holiness, that even at this late period of the ministry of Christ, and while he was visibly agitated by the most distressing sensations, the disciples were carrying on a contest, who should be esteemed the greatest. And he said unto them, the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them assume pompous titles, and are called benefactors, as was literally the case with several kings of Egypt and Syria. But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger;
und he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that silteth at meat, or he that serveth; is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. These last words refer, no doubt, not merely to the general tenor of his life, but particularly to his late act of condescension in washing their feet. He then proceeded to assure them, that as they had continued with him in his temptations, while Judas was gone forth to betray him, they should eat and drink at his table in his heavenly kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, to check their ambition, and lead them to form a just notion of his kingdom, he told them that he was soon to leave them, and that whither he was going they could not follow him at that time; for which cause, instead of contending with one another about which of them should be greatest, they would do well to be united among themselves by the happy bond of love.
Peter, however, still retained his carnal ideas of the Messiah's kingdom, and therefore inquired to what place Christ was going, as wherever he travelled he was determined to hear him company. To check his confidence, Christ informed him that Satan was then busily seeking the destruction of all the apostles, by, the subtilty of his temptations; but that he had prayed for them, and especially for him, as exposed to the greatest danger, that his faith should not fail; adding, when thou art converted, by a full acquaintance of my character and kingdom, then shalt thou be useful to strengthen thy brethren. Peter, probably, felt himself hurt by thus being singled out as the weakest, and declared that, so far from being frighted by any of the dangers of the way, he had resolved to be his faithful companion, even in imprisonment and death. Jesus answered him, wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.
When the disciples of Christ had been first sent out, they went forth without purse, and scrip, and shoes, and yet suffered the want of nothing. He told them, however, that matters were now altered: they were to be violently assaulted by their enemies, were to meet with the strongest temptations, and to be so hotly persecuted by their countrymen, that they could no longer expect any succour at their hands; for which reason, he ordered them, in their future journeys, to provide money and swords for themselves, that is, besides relying on the divine providence as formerly, they were to use all prudent precautions in fortifying themselves against the trials that were coming upon them. But lest they should think that he intended them to make war upon their enemies, he informed them that two swords were fully enough for their purpose, which was, probably, only to defend themselves against the wild beasts of the desert.
Jesus not only forewarned his disciples of the great trial that was coming upon them and commanded them to arm themselves against it, but he spake a long discourse wherein he animated them to sustain that trial manfully, and comforted them under the dismal apprehensions which it might raise in them. They were to see him civ cified whom they had acknowledged as the Messiah. Wherefore, having beet. always accustomed to consider immortality and temporal dominion as the characteristics of their deliverer, and great worldly prosperity as the privilege of his subjects, the death of their Master, and the persecutions befalling themselves, could not fail to give a violent shock to their faith. But that the force of these blows might be weakened, he foretold his own sufferings, and thereby made it evident that he voluntarily submitted to them. Withal, to reconcile their minds to the thoughts of his sufferings, he distinctly explained the end of them. [John viv. 1.] Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. Be not discomposed with the thoughts of those temptations that are to come upon you. As you believe in God,