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and truth itself to intellectual poison, in a depraved and wicked mind. But why should we seek to account for this difficulty by other means, since the gospel itself clears up the point? Judas was in himself a dishonest and bad man. When Mary, in the zeal of her heart, had anointed the feet of Jesus with the precious ointment, and wiped them with her hair; Judas said, in the hypocrisy of his, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? But this he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.' Yet, thief and hypocrite as he was, it is probable his own unassisted wickedness might not have carried him to such an height of villany, as to betray his Master, had not Satan, immediately on his receiving the sop, entered into him, and added all the wickedness of a devil to his own. Satan, who from an angel became a devil, could easily teach an apostle how to become an apostate and a traitor.
But he could not teach him how to betray the religion of Christ, when he betrayed Christ himself. Neither could they, who put Christ to death, extinguish that religion. On the contrary, by so doing, they took the only way that could be taken to perfect the great work, and to establish it in the world. They intended the murder of one man; but, without knowing what they did, they wrought the salvation of all men. Wicked as they were, they did the work of God. The storms of the natural, and the crimes of the moral, world, be they ever so boisterous or enormous, are forced to promote the designs of him who permits the one, and causes the other. If a man will be wicked, will be rebellious against God, will be malicious towards men, will set himself to do all the mischief he can towards all men, and, as far as in him lies, endeavour to disappoint the very end of his creation; Providence will not, indeed, always hinder him (any more than it will a plague from spreading misery or death) from pursuing the dictates of his own infernal heart; but it will bring a greater good out of all that evil, and only permits the evil for the sake of the good. The wickedest of men must still, although against his intention, be the servant of God who made him. And although he will not be good, he shall be a useful servant too; for God
will not be disappointed. It is true, he hath made angels and men free; but, free as they are, and wicked as they may be, he will, as their Maker and Governor, be served by them, one way or another. If they will not serve him willingly, and be happy, they must serve him against their wills, and be miserable; for he did not make them altogether for their own sakes, much less for the service of his enemy. Accordingly, Herod may persecute or despise; the Jewish chiefs may plot and bribe; Judas may sell and betray; Pilate may compliment the mob with the life of a man whom he found innocent; and the devil may, by his power over their hearts, inspire and manage this whole scheme of iniquity and murder; but still there is one higher than the highest that regardeth.' There is one higher than them all, that shall control and overrule the whole transaction, although the blackest hell ever contrived, and turn it to the most glorious exemplification of goodness; to the happiest of all events; to the retrieval of a lost, and to the salvation of a desperate, world.
How ought we to admire the goodness, and adore the wisdom, and revere the power of God, in this most important, this most amazing, piece of history! Can any thing give such a rock for faith to build on, or ground for such a battery against sin? If Judas, without speaking or writing, demonstrates the truth of a religion he did all he could to suppress, who will not believe it to be true? If our infidels will not listen to the arguments of Peter or Paul, upon a supposition that they were deceivers, surely they will admit Judas, who acted a contrary part, and was of a spirit truly modern, to be their apostle. Whoever considers attentively his whole story, must go away either a fool, or a Christian.
Nor does this history furnish stronger arguments for faith, than it does against sin. To the man whose conviction it hath already wrought, it will set the sins of covetousness, dissimulation, treachery, and murder, in a stronger light, and paint them in fouler colours, than they can otherwise be possibly seen in. It will shew him what conscience, enraged to the highest, can do, even in the most hardened minds. It will give him a most sensible and awful proof of speedy vengeance, executed by the devil, in a mortal fit of despair, on the wretch he had so lately seduced. To con
clude; it will lead his eyes forward to the cross of Christ, and shew him what sin is, by the infinite value and dignity of the atonement made for it; and, while he beholds the blood streaming from his Saviour's wounds, it will remind him, that he too must be a traitor, and a Judas, if, by his sins, he again puts Christ to open shame, and crucifies him afresh. We are all the disciples, and some of us the apostles, of Christ, enlisted into his service, as well as the twelve, by a solemn vow or covenant. The honour of him and his holy religion, and the well-being of his spiritual body the church, are intrusted with us. If, therefore, we grossly or perseveringly sin, we are traitors and Judases, as well as he whose treachery gave occasion to this Discourse; for do we not expose the name of Christ, and the credit of his religion, to the contempt and ridicule of infidels, for the pleasure or profit accruing from our sins? Do we not sell and betray our Master to a severer cross than that on mount Calvary? I say severer; for surely such it was in the estimation of Christ himself, who willingly suffered death in his natural, that he might give life to his mystical, body, which we by our sins corrupt, deface, and do all we can to destroy. But, whatever the debauched, or the ambitious, may say, to clear himself of a copartnership in sin with Iscariot, let not the covetous, or the treacherous, who postpone the honour and service of Christ to the peculiar vices of that traitor, deny that he is a Judas. What can so strongly demonstrate the force of that unhappy prejudice, wherewith the minds of people, otherwise of the clearest understandings, are blinded by a too close conversation with the seducing world, as that they cannot see their sins in this just and affecting light, in which both reason and Scripture represent them!
God grant, however, that we may at length lay these things to heart, as we ought to do; and to him be the praise, and the honour, and the glory, of our faith and obedience, now, and for evermore. Amen.
HUMAN LIBERTY, WHAT; AND HOW TO BE OBTAINED.
JOHN VIII. 31, 32.
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. OUR Saviour here calls such as believe in his word, and always continue steadfast in that belief, his real disciples; who, in consequence of their faith, steadily adhered to, have his promise, that they shall know the truth,' the great truth, that is, the true religion; and that this truth' so known, shall make them free.' The Jews, who heard him, looking on themselves as free already, took this amiss, and said, 'We be Abraham's children, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou then, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever ommitteth sin is the servant of sin;' by which he delicately intimates, that, although they were not servants to any particular man, yet they were the slaves of sin; and promises, that the truths of his word shall deliver them from this worst sort of bondage, by reforming their future lives, and discharging them from the punishment of past sins.
Here it is to be observed in general, that liberty is connected with truth, and slavery with error, in the very nature of things. He who knows the truth in any branch of knowledge, knows how to direct and govern himself in that respect, and therefore is so far free; whereas he who is ignorant of it, or what is worse, who holds errors opposite to it, must, in every thought or action relative to that part of knowledge, either think and act absurdly, or be led and governed by others, which is so far an instance of servitude, as it implies subjection and dependance. If a close observer of things will be at the pains to trace this doctrine upward, he will find every being possessed of so much liberty, or self-government, as he is possessed of wisdom, till he arrives at that Being, who is infinitely free, because he is infinitely wise. And if he pursues the same doctrine down
ward, he will find every being so far necessarily subject, that is, either governed or enslaved, as he hath less reason and wisdom, till he comes to the fool and madman, who are wholly deprived of liberty. Hence it appears, that liberty, and even power, are the prerogative of wisdom; and subjection, nay, slavery, are the consequence of folly. It sometimes happens indeed, that in the communities of this world wisdom must truckle to folly; but this is nevertheless against the nature of things, and falls out only either by accident, or by the curse of God, who sets a fool to rule over such as are wiser than himself, for the punishment of a guilty nation.
It is evident, that our Saviour, in the passage from whence my text is taken, sets forth virtue or goodness as freedom, and vice as slavery; assigning to the former, as its principle, the knowledge of true religion; and to the latter, as its cause and source, the ignorance of that religion. It is also evident, that he points to his word, as the treasury from whence this knowledge is to be drawn. Hence it follows, that faith and freedom, that true Christianity and true liberty, are but different names for the same thing.
The libertine finds it hard to digest this doctrine. To believe in mysteries, to submit to positive institutions, and to regulate his life by an expectation of rewards and punishments, appear to him as instances of a too mean compliance in us; and the expectation of such compliance, as a proof of a too arbitrary will in its Author. Now, this proceeds from his entertaining a wrong notion both of human nature, and of human liberty.
In the first place, He does not consider, that man is, not only by his original nature, a subordinate and dependant, but also by his present nature, a corrupt and vicious creature; and that, while common sense vouches for the truth of the former observation, universal experience forces us to confess that of the latter.
Neither does he, in the second place, consider, as he ought to do, that a being, so subordinate, must be governed; nor that a being, so corrupt, requires correction; or, if he should admit the necessity both of government and correction, yet, having too slight notions of our dependance and corruption, and too airy an idea of liberty, he thinks he