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itself by going ;" and the longer it runs, the more violent. Beware of the smallest beginnings of temptation. No wise man will neglect or slight the smallest spark of fire, especially if he see it among barrels of gunpowder. You carry gunpowder about you, Oh take heed of sparks.
6. Did Judas sell Christ for money ? What a conqueror is the love of this world! How many hath it cast down wounded! What great professors have been dragged at its chariot wheels as its captives! Hymeneus and Philetus, Ananias and Sapphira, Demas and Judas, with thousands and ten thousands since their days, led away in triumph. It "drowns men in perdition." 1 Tim. 69. In that pit of perdition this son of perdition fell, and never rose more. O you that so court and pursue it, that so love and admire it, make a stand here; pause a little upon this example; consider to what it brought this poor wretch, whom I have presented to you dead, eternally dead, by the mortal wound that the love of this world gave him: it destroyed both soul and body. Pliny tells us, that the mermaids delight to be in green meadows, into which they draw men by their enchanting voices; but, saith he, there always lie heaps of dead men's bones by them. A lively emblem of a bewitching world! Good had it been for many professors of religion, if they had never known what the riches, and honors, and pleasures of this world are.
7. Did Judas fancy so much happiness from a little money, that he would sell Christ to get it? Learn, then, that that wherein men promise themselves much pleasure and contentment in the way of sin, may prove the greatest curse and misery to them. Judas thought it was a fine thing to get money; he fancied much happiness in it; but how sick was his conscience as soon as he had swallowed it! Oh take it again! saith he. It griped him to the heart. He knows not what to do to rid him
self of that money. Oh mortify your fancies to the world; count not riches necessary. "They that will be rich, fall into temptations, and many hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition." 1 Tim. 6:9. You may have your desires gratified with a curse. He that brings home fine clothes infected with the plague, is no great gainer, how cheap soever he bought them.
8. Was there one, and but one of the twelve, that proved a traitor to Christ? Learn thence, that it is most unreasonable to be prejudiced against religion, and the sincere professors of it, because some that profess it prove vile. Should the eleven suffer for one Judas? Alas, they abhorred both the traitor and his treason. As well might the high priest and his servants have condemned Peter, John, and all the rest, whose souls abhorred the wickedness. If Judas proved a vile wretch, yet there were eleven to one that remained upright: if Judas proved naught, it was not his profession made him so, but his hypocrisy; he never learned it from Christ. If religion must be charged with all the failures of its professors, then there is no pure religion in the world. Name that religion, among the professors of which there is not one Judas. Take heed, reader, of preju dices against godliness on this account. The design of the devil, without doubt, is to undo thee eternally by them. "Wo to the world because of offences." Matt. 18:7. Blessed is he that is not offended at Christ.
9. Did Judas, one of the twelve, do so? Learn thence, that a drop of grace is better than a sea of gifts. Gifts have some excellency in them, but the way of grace is the "more excellent way." 1 Cor. 12:31. There is many a learned head in hell. Gifts are the gold that beautifies the temple; but grace is as the temple which sanctifies the gold. One tear, one groan, one breathing of an upright heart, is more than the tongues of angels.
Poor christian, thou art troubled that thou canst not
speak and pray so fluently as some others; but canst thou go into a corner, and there pour out thy soul affectionately, though not rhetorically, to thy Father? trouble not thyself. It is better for thee to feel one divine impression from God upon thy heart, than to have ten thousand fine notions floating in thy head.
10. Did the devil win the consent of Judas to such a design as this? Could he get no other but the hand of an apostle to assist him? Learn hence, that the policy of Satan lies much in the choice of his instruments. No bird (saith one) like a living bird to tempt others into the net. Austin told an ingenious young scholar, "The devil coveted him for an ornament." He knows he hath a foul cause to manage, and therefore will get the fairest hand he can, to manage it with the less suspicion.
11. Did Judas, one of the twelve, do this? Then certainly christians may approve and join with such men on earth, whose faces they shall never see in heaven. The apostles held communion a long time with this man, and did not suspect him. Oh please not yourselves, therefore, that you have communion with the saints here, and that they think and speak charitably of you. "All the churches shall know, (saith the Lord,) that I am he that searcheth the heart and reins, and will give to every man as his work shall be." Rev. 2:23. In heaven we shall meet many that we never thought to meet there, and miss many that we were confident we should see there.
12. Did Judas, one of the twelve, a man so favored, raised, and honored by Christ, do this? Cease then from man, be not too confident in any. "Trust ye not in a friend, put no confidence in a guide, keep the door of thy lips from her that lieth in thy bosom." Mic. 7:5. Not that there is no sincerity in any man; but there is so much hypocrisy in many men, and so much corruption in the best of men, that we should not be too con
fident in any. Peter's modest expression of Silvanus is a pattern for us; Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose." 1 Pet. 5: 12. The time shall come, saith Christ, that "brother shall betray brother to death." Matt. 10:21. Charity for others may be your duty, but too great confidence may be your snare. Fear what others may do, but fear thyself more.
SECOND AND THIRD PREPARATIVES FOR CHRIST'S DEATH. IIS ILLEGAL TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION.
"And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required." Luke, 23: 23, 24.
Judas has made good his promise to the high priest, and delivered Jesus a prisoner into their hands. These wolves of the evening no sooner seize the Lamb of God, but they thirst after his precious innocent blood; their revenge and malice admit no delay, as fearing a rescue by the people.
When Herod had taken Peter, he committed him to prison, "intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." Acts, 12:4. But these men cannot sleep till they have Jesus' blood, and therefore the preparation of the passover being come, they resolve in all haste to destroy him; yet lest it should look like a downright murder, they would have it formalized with a trial. This his trial and condemnation are the two last acts by which they prepared for his death, and are both contained in this context; in which we may observe, the
indictment, and the sentence to which the judge proceeded.
In the indictment drawn up against Christ, they accuse him of many things, but can prove nothing. However, what is wanting in evidence must be supplied with clamor and importunity. For "they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified; and their voices prevailed:" when they can neither prove the sedition and blasphemy they charged him. with, then "Crucify him, crucify him" must serve the turn, instead of all witnesses and proofs.
The sentence pronounced upon him by Pilate was that it should be as they required: from which we may observe these two conclusions:
1. The trial of Christ was conducted most maliciously and illegally by his unrighteous judges.
2. Though nothing could be proved against him worthy of death, or of bonds; yet he was condemned to the death of the cross.
Reader, here thou mayest see the Judge of all the world standing himself to be judged; he that shall judge the world in righteousness, judged most unrighte ously; he that shall one day come to the throne of judgment, attended with thousands and ten thousands of angels and saints, standing as a prisoner at man's bar, and there denied the common right which a thief or murderer might claim, and is commonly given them.
To manifest the illegality of Christ's trial, let the following particulars be carefully weighed :
1. That he was inhumanly abused, both in words and actions, before the court met, or any examination was made; for as soon as they had taken him, they forthwith bound him, and led him away to the high priest's house. Luke, 22:54. And there they that held him, mocked him, smote him, blindfolded him, struck him on the face, and bid him prophesy who smote him; and