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mediately set themselves in dreadful array against him. When he heard that his LORD was condemned to be crucified, he repented of his treachery, but with repen. tance very unlike that of Peter: It led him indeed t confess his crime to the High Priest, and to bear testimony to the innocence of his Master (in which the providence of GOD remarkably appears); but we do not find that he humbled his soul before God, or wished for reconciliation with CHRIST as the Sox of GOD.
How shocking it is to read the answer which the chief priests and elders made, when Judas declared that he had betrayed innocent blood! It plainly shewed, that they were determined to put our LORD to death, and to reject all proofs of his innocence.
None but those who have felt the bitterest pangs of remorse, can form a proper conception of the anguish of mind which the traitor endured, when he found that the sentence of condemnation passed on his Lorp was irrevocable, and himself abandoned by the partners of his crime, to his own dreadful reflections! His frightened conscience gave him no leisure to reflect on thẹ unbounded benevolence of CHRIST, or to seek for comfort, by pouring out his sorrows in the bosom of a friend; but hastily concluding that his own sin was unpardonable, he flung down, in an agony of distress, the price of his iniquity, and went and destroyed himself.
The chief priests, quite at a loss how to dispose of the money, took it up, and laid it by for the present; but after our LORD's death they held a council, when, under an hypocritical pretence that it was unlawful to bring the hire of a traitor, or the price of a malefactor, into the sacred treasury, they resolved to apply the thirty pieces of silver to a purpose which would tend at once.
tò impress the people with great reverence for the temple, and an high opinion of their humanity and liberality towards strangers.
The Potter's field was in the neighbourhood of Jeru salem, and probably so called, on account of its having been occupied by a Potter; who might, by digging it for his manufacture, have rendered it in a great measure unkt for tillage, and consequently of little value. The strangers, to whose use it was appropriated, were fo reigners, who had no sepulchres of their own, and whom, the Jews disdained to inter amongst those of their own holy nation. The name of Aceldama, or the Field of Blood, was given to it by the people, because it was purchased with that money which was the price of the life of JESUS.
The prophecy alluded to is in the book of the prophet Zechariah. There is great obscurity in it; but it seems to foretel the indignities which the Jews, would put upon the MESSIAH, when he should appear amongst them as a shepherd, by offering for him, in return for his care, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave; which he would throw from him with disdain in the house of the LORD, and give it to a Potter; after which he would break his pastoral staff, and cease to be the Shepherd of Israel.
From the example of Judas we learn, that the indul gence of covetous desires lays the mind open to the temp tations of Satan, and that those who forsake CHRIST, forfeit the benefit of divine grace. We are also taught, that there is no possibility of annihilating conscience, for the punishment of a man's sin always begins from him, self, and from his own reflections. We are likewise instructed, that unless we seek for divine pardon and grace, the pangs of guilt will end in despair, which will be productive of effects fatal to both body and soul.
Had Judas felt a godly sorrow for his crimes, there is no doubt but he would have been pardoned; for some of our LORD's murderers were saved through faith and repentance. He had hardened his heart by resisting divine grace, and had slighted all the warnings given him by CHRIST; therefore, though he had a sense of sin, he had no hope of pardon afforded him; and his repentance, instead of working out his salvation, filled his soul with intolerable anguish, and at length led him to be his own executioner. The last desperate act proved, that the principles of religion were extinguished in his mind for surely no one who believes in a future state of rewards and punishments will commit self-murder; because that, so far from putting an end to his ́ misery, will only be a means of accelerating the torments of hell, which may, by proper repentance, be entirely avoided. It is certainly the height of folly, as well as wickedness, for any one to attempt the destruction of himself, since he will by such a rash step unavoidably increasé and perpetuate the agonies of remorse from which he wishes to fly; and add to their sting the dreadful reflection of having perpetrated a crime, for which there is no opportunity of repentance. It is much the safest way to keep the mind perpetually on its guard against temptation; for which purpose, an habitual love of GoD and CHRIST, and fre quent prayer, are the best means that can be used; for they will certainly obtain divine grace, which is an effectual antidote against despair.
•We will now read a part of Isaiah's prophecy, which foretold our SAVIOUR'S sufferings and death in a very remarkable manner.
PART OF THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH, RELATING TO THE SUFFERINGS OF THE MESSIAH,
From Chap. lii, liii.
BEHOLD, my servant shall prosper; he shall be raised aloft, and magnified, and very highly exalted.
As many were astonished at him; (to such a degree was his countenance, disfigured, more than that of man and his form, more than the sons of men ;).
So shall he sprinkle many nations: Before him shall" kings shut their mouths: for what was not before declared to them, they shall see; and what they had not heard, they shall attentively consider.
Who hath believed our report: and to whom hath the arm of JEHOVAH been manifested?
For he groweth up in their sight like a tender sucker and like a root from a thirsty soil: He hath no form nor any beauty, that we should regard him : nor is his countenance such, that we should desire him.
Despised, nor accounted in the number of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; as one that hideth his face from us: He was despised, and we esteemed
Surely our infirmities he hath borne: and our sorrows, he hath carried them: yet we thought him judiciously stricken smitten of GOD, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions; was smitten for our iniquities; the chastisement, by which our peace is effected, was laid upon him; and by His bruises we are healed.
We all of us like sheep have strayed; we have turned aside, every one to his own way; and JEHOVAH hath made to light upon him the iniquity of us all.
It was exacted, and he was made answerable; and he opened not his mouth: as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb; so he opened not his mouth.
By an oppressive judgement he was taken off; and his manner of life who would declare? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was smitten to death.
And his grave was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich man was his tomb.
Although he had done no wrong, neither was there any guile in his mouth; yet it pleased JEHOVAH to crush him with affliction.
If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed which shall prolong their days, and the gracious purpose of JEHOVAH shall prosper in his hands
Of the travail of his soul he shall see [the fruit], and be satisfied: by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many: for the punishment of their iniquity he shall bear.
Therefore will I distribute to him the many for his portion; and the mighty people shall he share for his spoil: because he poured out his soul unto death; and was numbered with the transgressors, and bare the sin of many; and made intercession for the transgressors *.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Instead of attempting a very minute explanation of
Bishop Lowth's translation.