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When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all thc holy angels with him, there shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. By this, perhaps, is meant some shining cloud like that on which he ascended into heaven. (Acts i. 9.] For the angels at bis ascension declared that he should come to judgment riding on a cloud. [Acts i. 11.] See Exodus xvi. 10. And before him shall be gathered all nations, and hc shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set his sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left. This is agreeable to the language of the Old Testament, in which "good men are compared to sheep, on account of their innocence and usefulness [Psalm xxiii. 1, c. 3.]; and wicked men to goats, for the exorbitancy of their lusts. [Ezek. xxxiv. 17.] The allusion, however, is dropt almost at the entrance of the parable, the greatest part of this representation being expressed in terms perfectly simple : so that, though the sense be profound, it is obvious. Here the judgments of all nations, Gentiles as well as Christians, is described, and the points on which their trials are to proceed are shewed. They shall be acquitted or condemned according as it shall then appear that they have performed or neglected works of charity, the duties which, in Christians, necessarily spring from the great principles of faith and piety. But then we are not to understand this as if such works were meritorious in either ; for all who are acquitted at that day, shall be acquitted solely on account of the righteousness of Christ as the meritorious cause. The sentence pa:sed upon the righteous affords a noble motive to patience in well doing. Then shall the king say wito them on his right hand :In the beginning of the parable he had called himself the Son of man only ; but he now changes the appellation, taking the title of king with great propricty, when he is speaking of himself as exercising the highest act of kingly power, in passing final sentence upon all men as his subjects, whereby their state shall be unalterably fixed
But while, in this grand representation, Jesus asserts his proper dignity as Lord over all, he acknowledges his subordination in the kingdom to his Father; by addressing the righteous in the sentence, he passes upon them the compellation of persons blessed of his Father:--Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. The present state of good men is, at best, but a melancholy banishment from their native country. Moreover, they are oftentimes exposed to manifold temptations, to poverty, to reproach, and to innumerable other evils. But that they may bear all with indefatigable patience, and overcome through the strength of an invincible courage, they are made to know hy this scntence that they are beloved and blessed of God as his own children, that there is no less than an eternal kingdom prepared for then even from the foundation of the world, and that they arc the undoubted heirs of this eternal kingdom. Well may such bear with the violence of their opposers, knowing what an exceeding and eternal weight of glory awaits them. They may look on the most flourishing prosperity of the wicked without envy, when they descry the never-fading, crown, the fragrancy of the blossoms of which, though it is so distant as heaven, gladdens and refreshes the senses of men on earth. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [Mat. xxv. 35.] For I was an huugered, and ye gave ine meal ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was (6 stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me : I was sick, and ye visitech me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. In the whole of your conduct you have imitated the goodness and benevolence of my father, and therefore I now declare you blessed and beloved of him, and appoint you to inherit this kingdom. Moreover, that you may know how acceptable acts of kindness and charity are to me, I assure you that I reckon every thing of this kiud as done to myself. It was I who was an
hungered, and athirst, and a stranger, and naked, and sick, and in prison. It was I whom you clothed, and lodged, and visited, and comforted, in prison. The righteous, in great surprize, ask, with reverence and humility, when all this happened, since they never had seen him in want of their assistance, nor could remember that they had ever bestowed aught upon him. (Mat, xxv. 37.] Then shall the righteous answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thce ? And the king shall answer and say unto them, the king of angels and men, verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. This is unspeakably astonishing! The united wisdom of men and angels could not have thought of any thing more proper to convey an idea of the extent of the divine benevolence to men, or offer a more constraining motive to charity, than that the Son of God should declare from the judgment-seat, in the presence of the assembled universe, that such good offices as are done to his afilicted servants are done to him.
Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed of my Father, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in ; naked, and ye clothed me not : sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when suw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me. If such be the dreadful portion prepared for those who do not render the friends of God all the services in their power, what must be their condemnation who delight to slander and persecute them. The issue of the judgment, as represented in this description, is awful beyond conception. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. If the meaning of this short sentence were duly considered by sinners, how deep an impression would it make on their minds! Everlasting punishment ! Eternal life ! What is there not comprehended is these !
The next day being the last day of our Lord's public teaching, it was more full of action than any other mentioned in his history, as will appear from the following induction of particulars.
He came to. Bethany six days before the passover, probably about sun-setting He rode into the city surrounded by the multitude next afternoon : for when he bad jooked round on all things in the temple after his entry, it was evening [Mark xi. 11.]: this happened five days before the passover. He went in again from Bethany the day following, viz. four days before thc passover, and, by the way, blasted the fig-tree ; after that, lie drove the buyers and sellers out of tbe temple. Next morning, viz. three days before the passover, and the last of his public teaching, being on his way to town, he spake concerning the efficacy of faith, on occasion of the disciples expressing great astonishment at seeing the fig-tree that was cursed" the day before withered from the roots. When he appeared in the temple, the deputies that were sent by the council came and asked him concerning his authority. He answered them withi a question concerning the baptism of John; then spake the parable of the two sons commanded to work in their father's vineyard ; after that, the parable of the marriage supper. Then he avoided the snare that was laid for him in the question concerning the tribute-money ; confuted the doctrine of the Sadducees conceroing
the resurrection ; shewed the scribe which was the great commandment in the law; asked the Pharisees whose son Christ is; cautioned his disciples to beware of the scribes and Pharisees, against whom he denounced many grievous woes. When the woes were finished, he looked on the people throwing their gifts into the treasury, . probably as they worshipped at the evening sacrifice, and commended the poor widow for her charity
Afier the service was over, he left the temple, and went to the mount of Olives, where he foretold the downfal of tbe nation ; and spake three parables representing the procedure of the general judgment. Last of all, he concluded the work of the day by predicting his own sufferings. By this time it must have been about sun-setting. He went away, therefore, with his disciples, to Bethany, intending to pass the night there, at a distance from his enemies, the chief priests and the scribes, who were now gathered together at the high-priest’s palace to deliberate how they might put him to death.
Having spent the night with his disciples at the mount of Olives, the people collected early in the morning in the temple to hear him; but we are not informed that our Lord delivered to them ang public discourses, but, on the contrary, einployed his time in preparing his disciples for the dreadful trial which they were speedily to undergo. In the mean time, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people, held a solemn council in the palace of the high-priest Caiaphas, where they formed some designs of taking him and killing him by subtilty, probably by private assassination.
It seems, they were led to thoughts of this kind from the danger which they apprehended in attempting to seize him publicly, on account of the number of his adherents.
When Jesus and his disciples came to Betliany, they took up their lodging with Simon the leper, probably one of those who had experienced the healing efficacy of his power. During the time of supper, a woman came, and breaking up the seal of an alabaster box of very precious ointment, poured it upon our Lord's head. The disciples, being sensible that their Master was not delighted with luxuries of any kind, rebuked her for throwing away so much money idly, as they imagined. But they expressed themselves so as to cast a tacit reflection on our Lord. himself. They did not say that the money with which this ointment was purchased might liave been given to the poor, but this ointment might have been sold and given, insinuating that Jesus was to blame for not causing the ointment to be thus disposed of. But Jesus, knowing every thing they said and thought, told them, that whereas the poor were always at hand for the exercise of their charity, he should soon be removed from them ; and that this very act, which they condemned as so highly extravagant, was intended by the great regulator of events as a preparation for his approaching funeral, and should bring upon the performer of it the respect and approbation of the remotest ages.
It is supposed by some, that the irritation that Judas Iscariot, who was foremost in condeoming the woman's conduct, felt on occasion of the reproof which had now been given him, induced him to go over to the high-priests, and offer, for a certain stipulated sum, to direct them to the biding-places of his Master, and thus afford thein an opportunity to seize himn without any danger from the interference of the multitude. But as this was certainly the most abominable action that ever was perpetrated by any of the sous of Adam, the following enquiry into the motives of the traitor's conduct, which is made by an eminent expositor, may afford no uventertaiuing conclusion to the chapter.
“ The treachery of Judas Iscariot in betraying his Master must raise the astonishiRient of every rcader who has any just notion of our Lord's character. Wherefore,
the motives swaying him to be guilty of such an atrocious crime, and the circumstances which atterided it, deserve a particular consideration.
• Some are of opinion that he was pushed to commit this villany by his resentment of the rebuke which Jesus gave him for blaming the woman who' came with the precious ointment. But though this may have had its weight with him I think it could not be the only motive; because the rebuke was not levelled against nim singly, but was directed also to the rest, who had been equally forward with him in censuring the woman, and who, having been rebuked at the same time, must have kept him in countenance. Besides, though he had been rebuked alone, it can hardly be supposed that so mild a reproof would provoke any person, how wicked soever to the horrid act of murdering his friend, much less Judas, whose covetousness must have disposed him to bear every thing at the hand of his Master, from whom he expected great preferment. If it is replied, that his resentment was so great as to hinder bim from exercising his reason, and hurried him on precipitantly, it should be considered, that though he struck the bargain with the priests a few hours after lie was rebuked, almost two days passed before he fulfilled the bargain. Besides, to impute his treachery to the sudden impulses of a strong resentment, is such an alleviation of his crime, as seems inconsistent with the character given of it in scripture, where it is always represented in the blackest colours, and said to merit the hcaviest punishment.
“ Others think that Judas betrayed his Master out of covetousness : but neither can this be admitted, if by covetousness is understood an eager desire of the reward given by the priests ; for the whole sum was not in value above three pounds, ten shillings, sterling; a trifle which the most covetous wretch cannot be supposed to have taken as an equivalent for the life of a friend, from whom he had the greatest expectations of gain. The reader will see the strength of this reason, wlien he calls to mind that all the disciples believed the kingdom was instantly to be erected; and that, according to the notion which they entertained of it, each of them, but especially the apostles, had the prospect of being raised in a little time to immeuse riches. Besides, the scripture telis un, that Judas's predominant passion was covetousness. He would not, therefore, be so inconsistent with himself, as, when just on the point of reaping such a reward of his service, to throw all away for the trifling sum above mentioned.
“ Others attribute Judas' perfidy to his doubting whether his Master was the Messiah, and suppose that he betrayed him in a fit of despair. But of all the solutions this is the worst founded : for if Judas thought his Master was an impostor, he must have observed something in his behaviour which led him to form such an opinion of him ; and, in that case, he certainly would have mentioned it to the chief piiests and elders at the time he made the bargain with them, which it is plain he did not, otherwise he would have put them in mind of it when he came to them and declared his remorse for what he had done. Doubtless, also, they would have urged it agaiust our Lord himself in the course of his trials, when they were at such a loss for witnesses to prove tijeir accusations; and against the apostles afterwards, when they reproved them for preaching in Christ's name. [Acts
' iv. 15, v. 27.] Further, had Jndas thought his Master an impostor, and proposed nothing by his treachery but the price he put upon his life, how came he to sell him for such a trifle, when he well knew that the priests would have given him any sum rather than not have gotten him into their hands? To conclude: the supposition of Judas' believing that his Master was an impostor, is directly confuted by the solemn declaration which he made to the priests, implying the deepest conviction of Christ's innocence, “ I have sinned,” said he, " in
betraying the innocent blood.” It is also confuted by the remorse which he felt for his crime when Jesus was condemned ; a remorse so bitter that he was not able to bear it, but fled to a halter for relief.
“ Since Judas' treachery proceeded from none of the motives mentioned, it may be asked what other motive can be assigned for his conduct? The evangelist John tells us that he was so covetous as to steal money out of our Lord's bag. This account of him gives us reason to believe that he first followed Jesus with a view to the riches and other temporal advantages which he expected that Messiah's friends would enjoy. Likewise, it authorizes us to think, that as he had hitherto reaped none of those advantages, he might grow impatient under the delay; and the more so, that Jesus had of late discouraged all ambitious views among bis disciples, and neglected to embrace the opportunity of erecting his kingdom, that was offered by the multitude who accompanied him into Jerusalem with hosannas. His impatience, therefore, becoming excessive, put him upon the scheme of delivering his Master into the hands of the council, thinking it the most proper method of obliging him to assume the dignity of Messiah, and consequently of enabling him to reward his followers. For as this court was composed of the chief priests, elders, and scribes, that is, the principal persons belonging to the sacerdotal order, the representatives of the great families, and the doctors of the law, Judas did not doubt but that Jesus, when before such an assembly, would prove his pretensions to their full conviction, gain them over to his interests, and enter forthwith on his regal dignity. And though he could not but be sensible that the measure which he took to bring this about was very offensive to his Master, he might think that the success of it would procure his pardon, and even recommend him to favour. In the mean time, his project however plausible it might appear to one of his turn, was far from being free from difficulty. And, therefore, while he revolved it in his own mind, many things might occur to stagger his resolution. At length, something happened which urged him on. Thinking himself affronted by the rebuke which Jesus had given him in the matter of the last anointing, and that rebuke sitting the heavier on him as he had procured a former mark of his Master's displeasure by an imprudence of the same kind, he was prevoked. And though his resentment was not such as could inspire him with the horrid design of murdering his Master, it impelled him to execute the resolution he had formed of making him alter his measures. Rising up, therefore, from table, he went straightway into the city, to the high-priest's palace, where he found the chief priests and elders assembled, consulting how they might take Jesus by subtiity. To them he made known his intention ; and undertook, for a small sum of money, to conduct a band of armed men to the place where Jesus usually spent the nights, and where they miglit apprehend him without the danger of a tumult. Thus the devil, laying hold on the various passions which now agitated the traitor's breast, tempted him by them all.
" That these were the views with which Judas acted in betraying his Master may be gathered, First, From the nature of the bargain which he struck with the priests ; “ What will ye give me,” said he, “and I will deliver him unto you ?" He did not mean that he would deliver him up to be put to death : for though the priests had consulted among themselves how they might kill Jesus, none of them had been so barefaced as to declare their intention publicly. They only proposed to bring him to a trial for having assuined the character of the Messiah, and to treat him as it should appear be deserved. The offer, therefore, which Judas made to thein of delivering him up, was in conformity to their public resolution. Nor did they understand it in any other light : for had the priests thought that his design was to get Jesus punished with death, they must likewise have thought that he believed him to be an impostor ;