« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
further still, and say in their hearts, "There is no God"." Now, what a base return is this for all the benefits they receive; and what an impiety to deny the Providence, if not also the very existence, of Him, " in whom they live, and move, and have their being!" Truly they are justly called " Atheists in the world" and are eminently guilty of the wickedness that is described in my text.]
2. The infidel
[The revelation which God has given us is a stupendous display of his goodness. In it he has shewn us how we are to obtain his favour; and how, notwithstanding all our past impieties, we may be ultimately saved But many make
no other use of the sacred volume, than to hold it up to scorn and derision. They examine it, not to find instruction for their own souls, but rather to find occasion against it. Now, persons of this description do, in fact, tread in the very steps of Judas. He knew the Saviour personally, and availed himself of that knowledge to render his treachery the more effectual for the destruction of his Lord: and these persons acquaint themselves with the Scriptures only with a view to undermine their authority, and destroy their influence in the world.]
3. The hypocrite
[By assuming the Christian name, we, in effect, declare ourselves servants of Christ. But, behold the Christian world! wherein do the great mass of them differ from the heathen themselves, except in the performance of some occasional rites, which have no effect whatever upon their character? Persons of this class are ready to condemn others as hypocrites, never once suspecting that they themselves are guilty of the crime which they profess to abhor. Why do they profess to believe the Scriptures, when they will not regulate themselves by them; and "call Christ, Lord, Lord, when they will not do any one thing that he commands?" To "name the name of Christ, whilst they will not depart from iniquity," is hypocrisy of the basest kind. And of such persons Christendom is full, even of persons "professing that they know God, whilst in works they openly and habitually deny him."]
4. The apostate—
[Rich is the grace, and sweet the peace, which the Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafes to the returning penitent. Where is there one, upon the face of the whole earth, who did not find him slow to anger, and ready to forgive, yea, to forgive without upbraiding? But yet, how many are drawn aside from the good way, and "leave off to behave themselves wisely!" Eph. ii. 12. the Greck.
Ps. xiv. 1.
One, like Demas, is turned aside by the love of this present evil world: another, like the stony-ground hearers, by the fear of persecution: another runs after some vain conceit, and "denies the Lord who bought him." Never do they reflect what dishonour they do to Christ, or what a base return they make him for all his love. They are intent only, like Judas, on the gratification of their lusts; and they sacrifice him and his interests for a thing of nought. See this man, whoever he may be, who, "after having escaped the pollutions of the world, is again entangled therein and overcome; and say, whether he be not obnoxious to the charge before us," and awfully accomplishing the prediction in my text.]
Thus extensively is the prediction verified. Let us now consider,
II. What we may learn from the accomplishment of it
No doubt it is an instructive circumstance that our blessed Lord should be so betrayed by one of his own Disciples. We may surely learn from it,
1. That Christianity must be true
[Had there been any collusion betwixt Christ and his Disciples, Judas would now most assuredly have made it known. But when he had agreed to betray his Master, he could do nothing more than point out his person: he could not allege any thing against him: he could not divulge any secret confided to him. And after he had betrayed his Master, so far was he from finding in his own mind any thing to justify his conduct, that he went to the chief priests, and confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood: nay more, he cast back the money that he had received, and went away and hanged himself. This was a clear proof, that, as far at least as he knew, there was nothing in Christianity which would not bear the light. If it be said, that the circumstance of our Lord's being betrayed by one of his own Disciples was suspicious, and tended to cast a reflection on our Lord himself; I answer, that our Lord himself predicted it; and declared it to all the other Apostles, on purpose that, instead of being stumbled at it, they might rather make it an additional ground for believing in him.]
2. That the falls of its professors afford no just argument against it
[In all ages of the world have the falls of religious professors afforded occasion to the ungodly to pour contempt on
d ver. 19.
religion itself. The sins of David prompted them, not to condemn David only, but to "blaspheme God himself." And in the apostolic age," the way of truth was evil spoken of," when its adherents did any thing unworthy of their high calling. So at this day, if there be any one of public notoriety or eminence that has conducted himself amiss, the blame is cast, not ou him only, but on the Gospel itself; as though that sanctioned, and even promoted, unholy tempers and immoral conduct. But how unreasonable would it be to impute the wickedness of Judas to the principles in which he had been instructed, and to represent Jesus himself as the abettor of such impiety! There was nothing in the doctrines of Christ which could lead to such conduct; and therefore to impute evil to him and to his religion for Judas' sake, would be as absurd as to impute to the orb of day that darkness which it was created to dispel. The Gospel must be tried by a far different standard: it must stand or fall, not according to the conduct of its professors, but according to its own proper tendencies and effects. It is " a doctrine according to godliness;" and if any walk unworthy of it, the fault is not in it, but in them.]
3. That no man can tell what evil he may perpetrate, if Satan be permitted to assault him
[Judas, no doubt, was unsound from the beginning: for being, from the first, the depositary of the stock by which our Lord and his Apostles subsisted, he appropriated sums to his own personal use: "he held the bag, and was a thief." But it was not so with Peter, or the rest of the Apostles; yet he denied his Lord; and all the rest, in his extremity, forsook him. In vain were all their resolutions and engagements when the hour of trial came: and who can tell what he himself may do, if Satan be permitted to assail him. Of all men upon the face of the earth, David was the last whom we should suppose likely to commit the enormous sins of adultery and murder: yet, in the hour of temptation he fell. And there is no man living who has not reason to cry continually, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." To every one amongst you, then, I would say, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest. he fall." "Be not high-minded but fear."]
4. That God's conduct towards us is the very reverse of ours towards him
[We," after eating bread with him, are ever ready to lift up our heel against him." But he, on the contrary, after we have dealt ever so ungratefully towards him, is ever ready to receive us, and to admit us to the most endeared intercouse with him. He has even spread a table for us, even a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow, and wines on the lees
well refined;" and he invites us to partake of it. ungratefully refuse his invitations, he renews them with greater urgency, and directs his servants to compel us to come in. He sends them into the highways and hedges for this express purpose; and commissions them to declare, that whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast him out. Not sins of a scarlet or a crimson die shall be deemed any disqualification for his favours, if only we will accept his proffered mercy in Christ Jesus. Come then, brethren, into this state of holy intercourse with your gracious God and Saviour. Let not a sense of your past rebellion discourage you. The Prodigal Son is a just image of a returning sinner; and the reception which he met with shall be yours
GOD GLORIFIED IN HIS SON.
John xiii. 31, 32. Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
IF it were asked, at what time, and on what occasion, God and his dear Son were more dishonoured than at any other period of the world, the answer probably would be, that it was in that hour, when, by the united voice of all his own countrymen, the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, to be crucified. Doubtless this would be the judgment of all who viewed that event merely with the eye of sense. But to the eye of faith it will appear in far different colours. The whole design of God in it will then be seen, and all the glory of the Godhead will be found to shine forth in it. This was the judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who, at the moment that Judas went forth for the purpose of betraying him into the hands of the chief priests and rulers, said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him."
In opening to you these most important declarations, I will endeavour to shew what glory accrued from the sufferings of Christ,
I. To the Son himself
To enter fully into this subject, would occupy far too long a time for one discourse: I must content myself, therefore, with stating, under each head of my discourse, only the more prominent points, for the elucidation of it.
The Lord Jesus Christ was now glorified, in that he was about,
1. To complete his engagements with the Father
[From all eternity had a council of peace been held between the Father and the Son; the Father agreeing to give to his Son a chosen people; and the Son agreeing, on his part, to assume our nature, and in that nature to offer himself as the substitute and surety of sinful man. The Lord Jesus was first "to make his soul an offering for sin, and then was to see a seed who should prolong their days; and the pleasure of the Lord was to prosper in his hand." The agreement is thus stated by the Psalmist; and thus recorded also by an inspired Apostle, as in part already fulfilled: "When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." But now the time was arrived for its completion. He was now about to endure the whole load of suffering which he had engaged to bear; and he was ready to drink to the very dregs the cup which had been put into his hands. Of the extent of its bitterness no finite imagination could conceive: but, "bloody as the baptism was, wherewith he was to be baptized, he was quite straitened till it should be accomplished." And in this unshaken fortitude and fidelity he was greatly glorified.]
2. To redeem from death a ruined world
[This was the end of all his sufferings. They were altogether an atonement made for sin. Without such an atonement no human being could be saved. By it, a way was opened for the salvation of every living man. It was for this that he had become a man: it was for this that he had fulfilled all righteousness it was for this that he had endured his agony in the garden of Gethsemane: it was for this that he was about to expire upon the cross: and, if only he might "see of the travail
a Zech. vi. 13.
c Ps. xl. 6-8. with Heb. x. 5-7.
b Isai. liii. 10.
d Luke xii. 50.