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dared that he had betrayed the innocent blood, was a perfectly natural one for men of their character-, "What is that to us? See thou to that." Men who had any feeling, any sentiments of common humanity, or even of common justice, when so convincing a proof of the accused person's innocence had been given them, would naturally have relented, would have put an immediate stop to the proceedings, and released the prisoner. But this .was very sar from entering into their plan. With the guilt or innocence of Jesus they did not concern themselves. This was not their affair. All they wanted was the destruction of a man whom they hated and seared, and whofe lise and doctrine were a standing reproach to them. This was their object: and as to the mercy or the justice of the case, on this head they were at persect ease; What is that to us? See thou to that." And yet to see the astonishing inconsistence of human nature, and the strange contrivances by which even the most abandoned of men endeavour to satissy their minds and. quiet their apprehensions; these very men, who had no scruple atall in murdering an innocent person, yet had Wondersul qualms of conscience about putting into the treasury the money which they themselves had given as the "price. of blood 1" "The chief priests took the silver pieces,, and said, it is not lawsul for us to put them into the treasury,- because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's sield, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that sield was called The Field of Blood, unto this day. Then was sulsilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did -value, and gave them for the potter's sield, as the. Lord appointed me*."
* It happens that this passage in found not in Jeremiah, to which the evangelist rescrs, but in the eleventh chapter of Zechariah. But there are various very satissactory ways in which learned men have accounted sor this difficulty; which after all, as the prophecy actually exists, is a matter of no moment; and in writings two er three thousand years old, it is no great wonder if, by the carelessness of transcribers,. one name should sometimes (especially where abbreviations are used) be put for another.
I cannot pass on from this part of the chapter •wi&wue ebsefvrv>£, tlfat the short account here given us of Judas It cariot affords ris a very striking proof of the perfect innocence and integrity of our Lord's character, and of the truth of his pretentious.
Had there been any thing reprehensible in the former,or iny deceit in the latter, ft must have been known to Jodas IscarioL He was one of the twelve who wefe* dfe constant companions of our Saviour's ministry, and witnesses to every thing he said or did. Es theresore his conduct had been in any respect irregular or immoral; is hi» miracles had been the effect of collusion or fraud? if there hid been any plan concerte'd between him aud his disciples to impofe a false religion upon the worlds and under the guise of piety, to gratify their love of same, honor, wealth, or power; if, in short, Jesus had beert either an enthusiast or an impostor, Judas must have been in the secret; and when he betrayed his Master, would immediately have divulged it to the world By such a discovery, He would not only have justisied his own treachery, but might probably have gratisied also his ruling passion, his love of money. For there can be nS doubt, that when the chief priests and' rulers were industriously seeking out for evidence against Jesus, they would most 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 rn his favor, have sinned," says he, in an agony of grief; *'ffia^§:. jmned, 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: friend but of an enemy; the testimony, not of one desirous to savor and to befriend the accused, but of one who had actually betrayed hi'm, After such in evidence a* this, it seems impossible for any ingenuous mind either jot' question the reality of our Saviour's miracles, or the 4*': vicity to which he laid claim; because, as Judas declared him innocent (which he could not be, had he in any respect dcetived 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 Ifcariot, th^s evangelist proceeds in the history. '.. ..i•
"And Jesus stood before the governo?." Little did tHiff governor imagine who it was that then stood before hint. Little did he suspect that he must himself one day stand1 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' (anc? from what was stated in the preceding Lecture;,) thatf the* charge brought against Jesus before Pilate was not what it had been before the chief priests, blasphemy, but sedition and treason'. "They began to accuse him, saying, We found this sellow perverting the nations and forbidding to give tribute to Csesar, saying, that he himself-isChrist a king*." These were great crimes against tfiH* state, as affecting both the levenue 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 Jesils: said unto him, Thou sayest." That is, I airs what thou sayest. "And when he was accused of the' chief priests and elders he answered nothing. Then saith Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things thofe witriefrr against thee? And he answered him to never a word;: insorhuch that the governor marvelled greatly." Our Lord's conduct on this occasion was truly dignisied. When he was called upon to acknowledge what was really' true, he gave a direct answer both to the chief priests after . to Pilate. He acknowledged that he was the Christ, she "Son of God, the King of the Jews; but salse and frivolous, and unjust accusations, he treated as they deserv-'1 ed, With profound and contemptuous silence.
'it appears, however, from St. John, that although' Jesus declared he was the King of trlfe Jews, yet he explained to Pilate the nature of his kingdom, wMcfi h'e assured him was not of this world. And Pilate, satissied with this explanation, and seeing clearly that the whole
L . . » Luke xxiii. %.
accusation was malicious and groundless, made sevetaf efforts to save Jesus. He repeatedly declared to his accusers, that having examined him, he could sind no sault in him. This, however, instead of disarming their fury, only inflamed and increased it. They were the more sierce, :is 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 Herodf. That tyrant, who v.-as delighted to see Jesus, and was probably very vrell dispofed 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 seast of the passover for the Roman governor to gratify the Jewish people, by pardoning and releasing to them any prisoner whom they chofe to select out of those that were condemned to death. Now there happened to be j 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 fe sar as to desue 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 Christ?" Had the people been left to their own unbiassed seeling, 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 perfuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesusj."
While this was passing an extraordinary incident took (lace, which must needs have made a deep impression on
* Luke xxiii- 5- \ Luke xxiii. 6. 7. j Matth. xrrii. 2S
the mind of Pilate. "When he was sat down upon the; judgment-seat, his wise sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man; sot 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 ihall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ ?" that is, the Messiah, the great deliverer whom they expected; thinking this consideration might soften them. But he was mistaken; they all say unto him, "Let him be crucisied." Once more he endeavored to move their compassion, by reminding them of the persect innocence of Jesus. The governor said unto them, "Why? what evil hath he done I" But even this last affecting remonstrance was all in vain: they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucisied." When therefore Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but rather a tumult was made, he took water, 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 signisicant ablution in several classic writers*. The Mofaic law itself enjoined it in certain casesf; and it is in allusion to this ceremony that David says in the Psalms, "I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord; (that is, in testimony of my innocence) and so will I go to thine altars." "ft L:-'
This therefore was at once a visible declaration of the innocence of Jesus, and of Pilate's reluctance in condemn
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* Sophocles-A j ax, iii. 1. v- 664, and Scholiast in Loco- So Æneas,. after having recently slaughtered so many of his enemies at the lacking cf Troy by the Greeks, durst not touch his household gods, till he had waflied himself in the running stream.
Me bello € tanto digresium et csede recenti,
Attrectare nesas; donee me flumine vivo . ' .- /
Abluero Æn. 1. ii. v. 71S.
f Deut. xxi. 6, J. i Psalm xxvi. 6.