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SERMON XIII.

THE CHARACTER, CONDUCT AND STATE OF JUDAS.

It had been good for that man, if he had not been born. - MATTHIW, xxvi. 24.

Our Lord, the same night in which he was betrayed, called together his twelve disciples to celebrate the Passover. On that solemn occasion, he informed them of one peculiar circumstance of his approaching death, which he had never hinted to them before, and which deeply affected their hearts. “As they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful; and began every one to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth, as it is written of him; but wo unto that man, by whom the Son of man is betrayed: It had been good for that man, if he had not been born."

The text naturally leads us to make several observations respecting Judas, the person of whom the Saviour here speaks. In these observations, I intend to exhibit from the scriptures a statement of plain facts, which are stubborn things, and which bring irresistible evidence in favor of whatever doctrines are justly deduced from them. And to begin:

1. Judas was a man. He was one of the natural descendants of Adam. He was the son of Simon. Twice he is called the son of Simon, and twice Simon's son. Christ, who perfectly knew him, calls him a man, in the text. And though elsewhere he calls him a devil, yet he evidently calls him so figuratively, as having the spirit of the devil, or rather as being possessed of him, and instigated by him, after he had received the sop, to betray his divine Master. Hence it is evident that he was a fallen man, under the influence of a fallen angel.

Now Judas, as a man, possessed all the powers and faculties, which belong to human nature. He was endued with perception, memory, reason, conscience, and volition. These he exercised and manifested, as clearly as the other apostles. He was no more nor less dependent upon God than other men. He was a free, moral agent. He acted of choice and design in the view of motives. For we know of some of the motives, in view of which he acted from time to time. There is no intimation that he was the least of the apostles, as to natural powers and abilities. In this respect he was, no doubt, upon a level with the rest of his fellow men and fellow apostles.

2. Judas was a man whom God was pleased to treat with distinguishing favor. He blessed him with a rational and immortal spirit. He formed him wiser than the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven, and made him but little lower than the angels. And he gave him his birth in a happy place; not in the dark corners of the Western world, but in the most enlightened part of Asia; in the land of Canaan, where he had fixed the residence of his chosen people, and deposited his sacred oracles. He also gave him his birth at a happy time; just as Christ was making his appearance among men, as the Saviour of the world; a time which Abraham, Moses and the prophets would have esteemed it a signal favor to have seen. Moreover, he gave him an opportunity to become personally acquainted with Christ, and to be admitted into the number of his apostles, who were his constant attendants. In a word, God raised Judas to heaven in point of privileges.

3. God used no compulsive measures to lead him into sin. He neither commanded, nor advised him to sin; nor once intimated that he should be pleased with his sinning. He never compelled him to love or hate; or to say or do any thing whatever, contrary to his own inclination. Of this we have the best evidence; even the evidence of Judas against himself. When he stood in the most pressing need of some excuse to exculpate himself, not only before God and the world, but before his own conscience, he brings no complaint against God; nor attempts to plead the least degree of compulsion to act wickedly, contrary to the voluntary exercises of his own heart. He confesses he betrayed innocent blood; he acknowledges the action to be his own, he feels and takes all the blame to himself, though it sinks him into horror and despair. But,

4. Instead of being compelled to sin, he had the most pow. erful means used with him io restrain him from it. He enjoyed the writings of Moses and the prophets, and the living exam.

ple of the Son of God. He was placed under the watch and care of Christ; and heard the gracious words which fell from his lips. He heard his sermon on the mount, the parables of the sower, the talents, the tares, the ten virgins, the prodigal, the unjust steward, the rich fool, and Dives and Lazarus. As these were designed to expose the guilt and danger of hypocrisy, covetousness and injustice, so they were adapted to fasten conviction upon his guilty conscience, and restrain him from that treason and murder which finally proved his ruin. He was likewise a witness of the supernatural and miraculous works of Christ. He beheld the eyes of the blind opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the tongues of the dumb unloosed, the feet of the lame strengthened, the disorders of the sick removed, and even the reason of the insane and the life of the dead restored, by the almighty voice of the compassionate Redeemer. And when all these united, it is hard to conceive what stronger motives could be set before him, or what greater restraints could be laid upon him, to guard him from sin. Yet,

5. Judas was a prodigy of wickedness. All the time he fol- . lowed Christ, and carried the bag, and preached the gospel, he inwardly cherished a selfish, sordid and thievish spirit. His heart was a cage of unclean and hateful affections. His whole conduct proceeded from base, mean and sinful motives. Yet he was such a profound hypocrite, that he concealed the turpi. tude of his heart from the eye of the world, and even from the view of his fellow apostles, who were more ready to suspect their own integrity, than his treachery. But the way of transgressors is hard.” It is difficult for any one always to wear the mask. It is exceedingly apt to fall off in some unguarded moment, and expose the real complexion to open view. This was the case with Judas. As soon as a temptation, agreeable to his predominant passion, was presented, it immediately disclosed the blackness of his heart, and branded him a base and subtle traitor. He betrayed innocent blood. He plotted and procured the death of the greatest and most amiable personage ihat ever made his appearance on earth. He, whom he betrayed, was fairer than the sons of men. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He was one whom all heaven loved, revered and adored; one whom the other apostles loved with supreme affection, and for whom they cheerfully laid down their lives. He was one for whom Judas himself ought to have been willing to die, and solemnly engaged to do it. He was one who came to suffer and die for Judas, that he might not perish, but have everlasting life. Such a person he betrayed and murdered, for thirty pieces of silver! Such was the sin of Judas. Hence,

6. Judas deserved eternal perdition. This single crime, had he been guilty of no other, rendered him justly obnoxious to the eternal abhorrence and indignation of God and man. What would a kind and tender parent think of the villain who

а had imbrued his hands in the blood of his only son? How must Judas then appear in the eyes of God, when he had betrayed the Son of his love! The wages of his sin, therefore, ought to be death, even eternal death. Nothing less could be a punishment adequate to his crime. And Judas, himself, when he came to reflect upon the guilty scenes of his life, his hypocrisy, his avarice, his treason and murder, which he had perpetrated against the clear light of his own conscience, and the solemn warnings of heaven, was plunged into the depths of horror and guilt. He was conscious to himself that he had merited the just displeasure of God and man; that he deserved to lie down in sorrow; and that hell was his proper place. And these convictions, at length, rose so high, that he chose rather to feel, than fear the torments of the damned. And therefore he resolved to plunge himself into the regions of darkness and despair, by the violence of his own guilty hand. Wherefore,

7. It is certain that Judas is finally lost. He lived wickedly and died wickedly. And therefore he is finally lost. Christ, who perfectly knew him from the beginning, said he had the heart of a devil

, and was the son of perdition, and was lost, that the scripture might be fulfilled. The eleven apostles, after the crucifixion of Christ, in a devout address to heaven, solemnly declare that Judas, not only by death, but by transgression, had fallen from his ministry and apostleship, that he might go to his own place; that is, the place of perdition, of which he was son and heir. But our Lord's declaration in the text, that it had been good for him if he had not been born, fixes the certainty of his eternal destruction beyond the least possibility of doubt. Christ absolutely knew both his character and condition. And yet he asserted that his state is worse than nonexistence. But this cannot be true, if, at death, like pious Lazarus, or the penitent thief, he was conducted to the paradise of God, and conveyed to Abraham's bosom; nor if, at death, he was annihilated, or struck out of existence; nor if he was only sent to the popish purgatory; nor if, indeed, his punishment shall ever come to an end, at any period, however distant. If his punishment should continue for years, or for ages, or for as many millions of ages as there are stars in the firmament, or sands upon the sea shore; yet if, after this period, or any other limited duration expires, he shall be freed from misery, and admitted to heaven, and there spend an endless eternity in the

love, service and enjoyment of God, it will be good for him that he was born; and his existence, upon the whole, will be an unspeakable blessing. Therefore we must either deny the veracity of Christ, or believe that Judas is finally and eternally lost.

If Christ's promise to the apostles should be objected here, I answer, that promise depends upon the truth of Peter's declara. tion. Let us, therefore, hear and compare both the declaration and promise. “ Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold we have forsaken all and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye, that have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This dignity Christ promises to confer on the apostles, on the condition of their having forsaken all and followed him. But though Peter really thought that they all had performed this condition, yet he was under a great mistake. For Judas, of whose character he was then and afterwards ignorant, never had been regenerated, nor forsaken all for Christ, nor followed him from supreme love to him. Therefore the promise did not apply to him. He had no portion nor lot in that matter. Accordingly Christ excluded him from the number of his apostles, in his last prayer. These are his words: “I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me; for they are thine. — Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.Those that thou gavest me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be sulfilled.” This prayer, together with Christ's declaration in our text, absolutely cuts off Judas from every promise of favor, and seals his eternal destruction I proceed to observe,

8. That God decreed the life, the death, and final state of Judas, before he was born. Judas was a very extraordinary person. Many of his actions were singular and peculiar to himself; such as were never done by any other person before nor since. Nor could they have been done by himself, had he been born in any other age, or lived in any other part of the world. And these peculiarities, we may presume, did not meet in Judas by mere chance, but were designed and effected by the Supreme Being. Accordingly we find that Judas, like other remarkable persons, particularly Josiah and Cyrus, was foretold and characterized, ages before he was born. David had him in his view, when he wrote the ninth verse of the forty-first Psalm. “ Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

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