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they were carried away with his dissimulation. He was wont, not only to plead for the poor, but also to treat his Lord with tokens of great respect. When he betrayed Jesus with a kiss, had this been an unusual address, Peter would probably have suspected treachery, and drawn his sword on Judas rather than on Malchus.
But under all these disguises there lurked a wicked heart. Under the colour of piety to God, charity to the poor,
and reverence for his master, he was carrying on the inost vile and detestable purposes.
Who is there, but must abhor this character? The most vicious man living detests the designing wretch, who, under an affected show of sanctity, or benevolence, or friendship, or public spirit, sacrifices his religion, his conscience, his friend, or his country, to his own private interest.
When we see and loathe hypocrisy in another, let us take care to avoid it ourselves. Let us act, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God, who searches the heart. Let us be the same men in reality, as we would appear to be in the view of the world.
4. We see the dangerous influence of covetousness. This led Judas on, from sin to sin, till it had completed his ruin. “ The love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have indulged, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. They have fallen into temptations and snares and many foolish and pernicious lusts, which have drowned them in destruction.” Important therefore is the caution given by our Saviour, " Take heed and beware of covetousness.
5. We see that one sin indulged naturally leads to another.
Judas made as good a profession as his brethren. But he was under the dominion of covetousness. He believed Jesus to be the Messiah, but expected he would erect a temporal kingdom; and he followed him with a view to the honors and riches, which, under that kingdom, he hoped to enjoy. Upon a particular occasion Christ explained the spiritual nature and design of his office in the hearing of the twelve, and of others who frequently attended on his preaching. On hearing that his kingdom was not of this world, many of his hearers left him in disgust. Judas, though he did not join in the defection, was one of those, who were offended. Jesus asks the twelve, “Will ye also go away ?" Peter, in behalf of the rest, professes a resolution to continue with him. Jesus says, “I have chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil.” He spake of Judas, intimating, that though they still attended on him, yet one of them was a secret enemy to him on account of the contrariety of his doctrines to the worldly views of that disciple.
His covetousness not only took offence at Christ's preaching, but prompted him to rob the common treasury, which perhaps he thought he might innocently do, as he had the trouble of managing it. And yet he had no thought of selling his master. But by indulgence his lust gained strength, and finally urged him to this
Beware then of the first beginnings of vice; resist the first temptation to evil; mortify every lust in its first appearance; lust, when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death."
6. We learn that a wicked heart gives satan his greatest advantage to succeed in his temptations.
John says, “The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ.” Luke says,
satan entered into him, and he went and communed with the chief priests, how he might betray him." But covetousness is represented as having had a leading influence in the business. He went to the chief priests, and said, “What will ye give me? And they covenanted with him.” The devil tempted him by stirring up the lust which he had conceived. What power satan has over men, they put into his hands by indulging their own wicked inclinations. Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie unto the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price, for which he had sold his estate. But then he is said “ to have conceived this thing in his own heart, and to have agreed with his wife to tempt the Spirit of the Lord.” The apostle speaks of some, in whom the prince of the power of the air works effectually. But these are called "children of disobedience, walking according to the course of the world, and according to the prince of the power of the air.”
Men's chief danger is not from the devil, but from their own lusts. “They are tempted, when they are drawn away of their own lusts and enticed.” The true way to defeat temptations, is to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. When the prince of darkness came to our Saviour, he found nothing in him, and his temptations had no effect.
Men often complain, that, though they are much in prayer, temptations beset them and prevail against them.
But remem ber, you must watch as well as pray.
It is vain to pray
grace to secure you from temptations, if you indulge the lusts, which of themselves draw you aside. If you would prevent, or repel temptations, begin with yourselves. Resist the enemy which is within you. Thus you inay hope for grace to help in time of need.
We often read, in scripture, of men's acting under the power and influence of the devil; but this is never alleged in extenuation, but always in aggravation of their guilt, because it is by their own wickedness, that they fall under his influence.
7. We learn, that none are capable of doing so much injury to religion as the professors of it.
Judas, being one of the twelve, had it in his power to betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies, and satan used him as an instrument for this purpose.
Let professors beware, lest they become satan's tools to accomplish his infernal work. Let them beware, lest by a corrupt conversation, or evil example, or dangerous counsels, or by neglecting the ordinances of Christ, or acting contrary to their assumed character, they wound the credit of that religion, which they profess to believe. Having named the name of Christ, let them depart from iniquity, and so walk, that their good may not be evil spoken of, but that others, seeing their holy conversation may glorify God. Some will say, If professors may do so much injury to Christ, it is dangerous to make a profession. Rather say, dan
gerous to violate it.
Finally: We have marked it as an aggravation of Judas crime, that he betrayed his Lord in the time and place of his devotions, and by a profession of affection and friendship. He not
only absented himself from the place, whither Christ, with some of his disciples, had resorted for prayer; but was all this time carrying on a design against him, and only came thither at last, to execute the wicked design.
Let us take heed, that we do not imitate this hypocritical and treacherous disciple. We profess to be the friends of Christ. In testimony of our regard to him, we come to his house, and often eat at his table. Here we are to renounce all guile, hypocrisy, envy, malice, and wickedness, and to bring hearts filled with pious regards to him and kind affections to one another. If we absent ourselves for worldly ends, or come with hearts disaffected to him, to his religion and his disciples—if we hear his word with prejudice and reject its influence—if we eat of his bread, and lift up "our heel against him—if we give him a salutation expressive of affection, and go away acting in opposition to his honor and interest; what do we better than betray him with a kiss ? While we profess to be his friends, let us testify our regard to him by a conformity to his example, by obedience to his commands and by an active zeal in promoting his cause. “ Ye are my friends," says he, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
I have finished the first branch of our subject. To the other we may attend at a future opportunity.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF JUDAS.
MATTHEW XXVII. 3, 4, 5.
Then Judas, which betrayed him, when he saw that he was con
demned, repented himself, &c.
In a former discourse, we considered the crime of Judas, with the motives leading to it, and the aggravations attending it; and we pointed out some instructions which the story suggests to us.
We shall now, as was proposed,
II. Consider the consequences of this transgression in the remorse which it awakened in his mind, and the end to which it brought him.
When he saw that his Lord was condemned, he repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and rulers, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. When they replied, What is that to us? See thou to it, he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple.
It will naturally be asked, wherein lay the defect of his repentance? He confessed that he had sinned; he declared that Jesus, whom he had betrayed, was innocent; and he returned the reward of his iniquity, and doubtless solicited his Lord's release. What could he do more?