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clared that he had betrayed the innocent blood, was a
* It happens that this passage in found not in Jeremiah, to which the evangelist refers, but in the eleventh chapter of Zechariah. But there are various very satisfactory ways in which learned men have accounted for this difficulty; which after all, as the prophecy actually exists, is a matter of no moment; and in writings two or three thousand years old, it is no great wonder if, by the carelessness of transcribers, one nanie should sometimes (especially where abbreviations are ufed) be put for another,
I cannot pass on from this part of the chapter without observing, that the short account here given us of Judas If cariot affords' ús a very striking proof of the perfect innocence and integrity of our Lord's character, and of the truth of his pretentions.
Had there been any thing reprehenfible in the former, or any deceit in the latter, it must have been known to Judas Iscariot. He was one of the twelve who were the constant companions of our Saviour's ministry, and wit. neffes to every thing he said or did. If therefore his conduct had been in any respect irregular or immoral ; if his miracles had been the effect of collusion or fraud; if there had been any plan concerted between him and his disciples to impose a false' religion upon the world, and under the guise of piety, to gratify their love of fame, honor, wealth, or power; if, in short, Jesus had been either an enthusiast or an impostor, Judas must have been in the fecret; and when he betrayed his Master, would immediately havé divulged it to the world. By such a discovery, he would not only have justified his OWN treachery, but might probably have gratified also his riling passion, his love of money. Fof there can be no doubt, that when the chief priests and rulers were industriously seeking out for evidence against Jesus, they would moft gladly have purchased that of Judas at any price, however extravagant, that he chose to demand. But instead of producing any evidence against Jesus, he gives a voluntary and most decisive evidence in his favor. have finned,” says he, in an agony of grief ; « I have frined, and have betrayed the innocent blood.”. This testimony of Judas is invaluable, because it is the testimony of an unwilling witness; the testimony, not of a : friend but of an enemy; the testimony, not of one defirous to favor and to befriend the accused, but of one who had actually betrayed him. After such an evidence as this, it seems impoflible for any ingenuous mind either to question the reality of our Saviour's miracles, or the di- ; vinity to which he laid claim; because, as Judas declared him innocent (which he could not be, had he in any respect deceived his disciples) he must have been, what he assumed to be, the Son of God, and his religion the word of God.
- After this account of Judas Iscariot, the evangelift proceeds in the history.
< And Jesus food before the governor." Little did that governor imagine who it was that then stood before him." Little did he fufpe&t that he must himself one day stand before the tribunal of that very person, whom he was then going to judge as a criminal !
- It appears from the parallel place in St. Luke (and from what was stated in the preceding Lecture,) that the charge brought against Jefus before Pilate was not what it had been before the chief priests, blasphemy, but fedition and treafor. “ They began to accufe him, saying," We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbid-* ding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying, that he himself is Christ a king*." These were great crimes against the ftate, as affecting both the revenue and the sovereignty of the Roman emperor, both of which it was the duty of the governor to support and maintain. “Pilate therefore asked him, Art thou the king of the Jews? And Jefus said unto him, Thou sayest." That is, I am what thou * fayeft. ' “ And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders he answered nothing. Then faith Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things those witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word ; * insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly." Our", Lord's conduct on this occafion was truly dignified. When he was called upon to acknowledge what was really true, he gave a direct answer both to the chief priests and to Pilate. He acknowledged that he was the Christ, the-Son of God, the King of the Jews; but false and frivolous, and unjust accusations, he treated as they deserv=-* ed, with profound and contemptuous fileńce.
It appears, however, from St. John, that although Jesus declared he was the King of the Jews, yet he ex-." plained to Pilate the nature of his kingdom, which he assured him was not of this world. And Pilate, fatisfied with this explanation, and seeing clearly that the whole sa ii : * Luke xxiii. 2.
accusation was malicious and groundless, made several efforts to save Jesus. He repeatedly declared to his accu. sers, that having examined him, he could find no fault in him. This, however, instead of difarming their fury, only inflamed and increased it. They were the more fierce, as St. Luke tells us, saying, “ He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place*.” The mention of Galilee suggested an idea to Pilate, which he flattered himself might save him the pain of condemning an innocent man. “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean; and as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herodt. That tyrant, who was delighted to see Jesus, and was probably very well disposed to treat him as he did his precursor, John the Baptist, yet could bring no guilt home to him. He therefore sent him back to Pilate, insulted and derided, but uncondemned. Pilate, not yet discouraged, had recourse to another expedient, which he hoped might still preserve a plainly guiltless man. It was the custom at the great feast of the passover for the Roman governor to gratify the Jewish people, by, pardoning and releasing to them any prisoner whom they chose to select out of those that were condemned to death. Now there happened to be, at that time a notorious criminal in prison, named Barabbas, who had been guilty of exciting an insurrection, and committing murder in it. Pilate thinking it impossible that the people could carry their malignant rage against Jesus so far as to desire the pardon of a murderer rather than of him, said unto them, “ Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Chrift ?” Had the people been left to their own unbiassed feeling, one would think that they could not have hesitated one moment in their choice. But they were under the influence of leaders (as they generally are) more wicked than themselves. For we are told, that “the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should alk Barabbas, and destroy Jesust."
While this was pafling an extraordinary incident took place, which must needs have made a deep impression on
Luke xxiii. 5. t Luke xxiii. 6,7. & Matth. xxvii. 20.
the mind of Pilate. : '“When he was sat down upon the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man ; fór I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” Anxious as Pilate already was to save Jesus, this singular circumstance. coming upon him at the moment, must have greatly quickened his zeal in such a cause. He therefore redoubled his efforts to carry his point, and again said to the Jews, “ Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate still persisted, What fhall I do then with Jefus which is called Christ'?” that is, the Meffiah, the great defiverer whom they expected ; thinking this confideration might foften them. But he . was mistaken ; they all say unto him, “ Let him be crucified.” Once more he endeavored to move their compaffion, by reminding them of the perfect innocence of Jesus.' The governor said unto them, “Why? what evil hath he done?” But even this last affecting remonstrance was all in vain : they cried out the more, saying, “ Let him be crucified.” When therefore Pilate faw that he could prevail nothing, but rather a tumult was made, he took wa. ter, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “ I am innocent of the blood of this just person ; see ye to it.” This was a custom both among the Jews and the Romans, when they wished to exculpate themselves from the guilt of having put to death an innocent man. We meet with instances of this fignificant ablution in several claffic writers*. The Mofaic law itself enjoined it in cer." tain casest; and it is in allusion to this ceremony that Da-" vid says in the Pfalms, “ I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord ; (that is, in testimony of my innocence) and fo will I go to thine altarš.” ico! : it!
This therefore was at once a visible declaration of the innocence of Jesus, and of Pilate's reluctance in condemn
* Sophocles-Ajax, ïïi. I. v. 664, and Scholiaft in Loco. So Æneasy after having recently slaughtered so many of his enemies at the facking of Troy by the Greeks, durft not touch his household gods, till he had washed himself in the running stream.
Me bello é tanto digressum et cæde recenti,
Abluero. Æn. I. ü. v. 719.