« AnteriorContinua »
had brought misery upon himself, by his own faults? Especially, too, when the wisdom and goodness, no less than the justice, of God, have their part in every such dispensation? For, as our blessed Master was in the bearing, so is he likewise a pattern in the reward, of our afflictions; and, in that regard, the Epistle for the Day does likewise call upon us to contemplate him in his exaltation.
II.1. Of our Lord's recompense, we have an account in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh verses. It consisted in an exceeding high exaltation of him, far above any the most excellent creatures; in making him the sovereign ruler of the whole world; in giving him a title to the humblest adoration; and in the publication of his gospel and his glories over the face of the whole earth.
But in what respect and capacity were these honours conferred on Christ? His glory as God was perfect before; that supreme and absolute dominion was inherent and essential to him; that universal adoration was his strict due, from all eternity. Whatever addition he was capable of, he must be capable of, as man: the elevation of his human nature is therefore the thing intended by the Apostle. In this nature it was, that he obeyed, and merited, and suffered; in this, consequently, it is, that he was rewarded and exalted. And a marvellous exaltation it is, to place human nature upon the throne of God; to subject to this, angels, and principalities, and powers, men and devils, all things in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth. A suitable reward to that nature, which suffered such indignities and pains, for all the barbarous treatment, and bitter torment, it endured here below; to shine so bright, and partake in all the majesty of the Son of God. He, by uniting it inseparably to his own person, and thus vouchsafing to take part in its infirmities and sufferings, entitled this human, now his own likeness, to a share in all the bliss and glories of that divine nature, which was originally and always his own; so that he is not any more, as formerly he was, the governor of the world, and the object of men's worship, as God only, but as God and man both: than which nothing could more effectually conduce to the glory of his Father;' because nothing could more illustrate his justice, and wisdom, and goodness; nothing more undeniably demonstrate the acceptance and efficacy of that redemption, so admirably contrived for abolishing the guilt and punishment
of sin, and retrieving the immortality and happiness of mankind.
2. For, secondly, this method of dealing with our Lord gives us all imaginable assurance, that they who conform themselves to his virtues, shall be proportionably conformed to him, in the reward of them. The reason is, because, in all he did and suffered for the salvation of men, and so again, in all he received by way of recompense for those actions and sufferings, he acted not in any separate and personal capacity, but all along sustained a public character. In this is founded the title given him by this Apostle, of the Second Adam; for as all human nature was included in him, who himself descended from none, and from whom all descended; so was all human nature made anew, as it were, in him, whose human body and soul were as immediate a work of God, as that whereby our first parent's body was formed out of the dust of the ground,' and animated with the breath of life.' As, therefore, all mankind did virtually sin and die in Adam, because the whole human nature was then in him; so are all mankind virtually righteous and restored to life in Christ, because he took human nature at large; and what he did, and suffered, and received in that nature, are the acts, and sufferings, and rewards of human nature. Consequently all, who partake of this nature, may, in some sense, be said to be already vested in the happiness which human nature in him, by already possessing it, secures their common right to. And thus far all shall certainly partake of it. Death was the punishment of sin: this is done away as effectually by the Second, as it had been introduced by the First, Adam. Their bodies and souls both shall be restored to life, and live for ever. But the forgiveness of sins, and the happiness of heaven, are promised upon certain conditions; and, therefore, though all shall be immortal, yet only they, who perform the conditions of the gospel, shall be happy in that immortality.
And this shows us at once the necessity and the encouragement we all have, to imitate the virtues for which our Lord was so conspicuous. The necessity, because nothing less than a likeness to his excellencies can advance us to a likeness of that bliss which rewarded them; the encouragement, because he is entered into heaven, not for himself, but us: the pledge of our immortality and glory, by our nature's being already immor.
talized and glorified. Let us not, then, think any thing too much to do, or endure, for our duty, and the food of souls, since where the sufferings of Christ abound, his consolations will much more abound.' Let us read, and hear, and meditate on the scriptures commended to our thoughts this week, with minds disposed to form themselves upon the model here before us. Let us carefully observe the interest we have in them, and rest perfectly satisfied that, by virtue of that union, which he in great humility hath been pleased to make, the sufferings and the rewards of Christ's human nature so far belong to us, and all mankind, that all who follow the example of his patience, shall undoubtedly be partakers of his resurrection.'
MONDAY BEFORE EASTER.
-And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve.
[Text taken from the Gospel for the Day.]
AMONG the agents by whom the sufferings of Christ were effected and embittered, no one stands more prominently forward, than the traitor Judas. Though the particulars, which are recorded of his life, are few, yet the distinguishing features of it are clearly drawn. From the beginning he seems to have been under the influence of that base principle, the love of money.' Probably, he assumed a religious profession from secular views. He might be struck with the miracles of Jesus, and led to expect considerable advantage from the service of a master, who had all nature at his command. Or, supposing that our Lord was about to erect a temporal dominion, he might indulge the hope of obtaining a large share in its honours and emoluments. A poor and sordid motive this, for pretending a regard to the Gospel.
Judas was intrusted with the ministry of the word, and appointed to be an apostle by Christ himself. It may, indeed, seem a wonder, that the searcher of all hearts should choose a
MARK xiv. 43.
known traitor. We confess, those are most awful dispensations, by which hypocrites and persons of base character are brought forward to minister in holy things, and possess power in the Church. Yet these cases every where occur, and the Lord does not prevent them; nay, he so orders things in his providence, that they must infallibly take place. He does not influence any man to do wickedly; but, though he continueth holy, he is pleased to allow sinners full opportunity for pursuing and accomplishing their own plans. Thus he dealt with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and thus he deals with many, who are of the worst disposition, at this very time. He raises them to situations, in which they are capable of doing extensive mischief, disgracing, opposing, or corrupting the Gospel, which they profess to patronise or preach. Yet wise ends are answered; the extreme depravity of human nature is more clearly demonstrated, the faith and patience of the saints are tried and improved, and God himself manifests both his forbearance and his justice.
Jesus and his disciples, in their various removals, had one common stock for their support. This money was committed to Judas: he was intrusted with the secular affairs of this little household, and bought their provisions. It was not much which they possessed; yet Judas took care to embezzle something for himself. Just before the last passover, when Mary, Lazarus's sister, out of the warmth of her regard, anointed the feet of her dear Lord with costly perfumes, Judas raised the objection, and complained with the greatest vehemence, 'why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?' We might have concluded, that he was a man of extreme tenderness and liberality: but this was a base pretence. He felt not for the miseries of his fellow-creatures; he wished only for the opportunity of securing to himself the three hundred pence.
Hypocrites are generally censorious, and forward to condemn the fervour of zeal as extravagance. Many, likewise, gratify their own penurious disposition, while they allege their intentions of making a reserve for charitable purposes. We plead not for waste or profusion, but, on the contrary, inculcate frugality, with the view of promoting a more enlarged benevolence. Let not charity, however, be a mere pretence: it should appear in liberal exertions. There is a sense, in which we may say to
every individual among us, You are intrusted with your Lord's money. Presume not to spend the whole upon yourselves, nor yet refuse to apply it to the proper uses. Remember the interpretation which the disciples put on their Master's injunction to Judas. Their mistake was an acknowledgment of his usual practice, and of the mercy in which he delighted. They thought that he bade the keeper of their treasure give something to the poor.' Ah! in how many ways may you prove unfaithful stewards! Though you detest robbery, yet are there no just claims which you withhold? Or do you not resemble the traitor, by acting from motives in secret, far other than those which you profess before the world?
Our Lord, being perfectly aware of the character of Judas, more than once described his case, reproved him for his base designs, and warned him of his danger. At the last supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he declared in the hearing of them all, ye are clean, but not all: for he knew who should betray him ;' and again he affirmed, 'I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lift up his heel against me.' Then, with expressions of deep distress, he repeated the warning, that there was treachery among them, and that he should soon be delivered to his enemies through the base perfidy of one, who sat with him at the table. His information became still more particular, and his reference to Judas too clear to be doubted. At the same time, he added a tremendous denunciation of divine vengeance against the wretch, who should dare to perpetrate so horrible a crime.
Judas was not ignorant from the first, that he was the person meant; for the diabolical plan had been previously laid, and he waited only for an opportunity to carry it into effect. But did not his Lord's admonitions terrify and confound him? Did they not, at least, divert him from his purpose? Could he be so obdurate, as to persist in his resolution, and, with his eyes open, rush on to everlasting destruction? What desperate hardness of heart; what extreme madness was here! The traitor, as if he were unmoved, and unconscious of those designs which were imputed to him, dares to ask, 'Master, is it I?' and though Jesus immediately replied, that he was the man, yet even this, it should seem, produced no alteration. His impious effrontery will appear the more astonishing, if we allow, what is