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priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they coveDanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.”
Matt. xxvi. 14-16. See the blindness and the hardness of heart that man is capable of when given up to himself. How senseless was it in the chief priests to suppose that they could succeed in this manner! They saw that the power of God was with Jesus, and how could they expect to succeed ? And Judas-how suited to the work assigned him! -bis covetousness fitted him for the betraying of his Master. There are millions of the most wicked men who would not have done what Judas did. Yet among the twelve there was a man so covetous as to sell his Master for a mere trifle. And how do all circumstances now combine to give effect to the design! The life of Jesus was often attempted, but his enemies could never succeed. Now is the appointed time, and all things concur to give effect to the design. Judas conceives the design of selling Jesus, and the chief priests bribe him. At the appointed moment he dies on Calvary.
PURCHASE OF THE POTTER'S FIELD.—Matt. xxvii. 7.
It was predicted by Jeremiah, the prophet, that the price of Jesus should go to the purchase of the Potter's Field, and the prophecy was providentially fulfilled in a very singular manner. Judas was so covetous that, for the reward of thirty pieces of sil
ver, he basely sold his Master. He was so hardened, that when he heard that Master declaring, that one of his disciples should betray him, and even pointing out himself as the traitor, he repented not. Yet when God's word demands its fulfilment, he regrets what he had done, and brought back the money. The chief priests would not take back the money, and he cast it down in the temple. These men who did not scruple to give money for the blood of an innocent man, were so scrupulous in their consciences, that they could not put the price of blood into the treasury. They consulted what should be done with the money, and the result of their free deliberation was, that they bought the Potter's Field for the burying of strangers; and thus was fulfilled the word of God. How many were the chances that this should not be the destin. ation of the price of Christ ? Why was it that this particular field was to be sold at this particular time? Do we not here see that the Providence of Jehovah directs all things, even the most minute ? The deliberations of the enemies of Jesus, whether statesmen or priests, are always overruled to fulfil the purposes of the Most High. Who can understand, who can explain this mystery ? Man acts and resolves with perfect freedom, yet he acts and resolves only in fulfilment of the will of the Ruler of the universe !
NOT THIS MAN, BUT BARABBAS.—Matt. xxvii. 15.;
John xviii. 40.
In the situation of Barabbas as an object of mer. cy in preference to Jesus, Providence afforded the Jews an opportunity of manifesting the utmost de. pravity of heart. Barabbas was a murderer, and was guilty of insurrection. Yet this man they chose to deliver from justice, not from concern for him, but from hatred to the Son of God. What a singular coincidence, then, was it that brought Barabbas and Jesus into competition, as candidates for the benefit of this Jewish privilege ! What a stain on human nature, that Barabbas was the favourite of the electors ! Christian reader, need you think it strange, then, that the enemies of your Lord should treat you in the same manner ? Under no forms of government, monarchical, aristocratic, or popular, will the man of God, of a decided fearless character, be a favourite. There is no greater mistake than to think, that Christianity would be better treated under a pure democracy than under a pure despotism. Neither monarch nor mob will love the people of Christ, but as they are individually themselves the partakers of the knowledge of God. Better to stand before a single despot, than to encounter the bigotry of the multitude. Paul stood before Cæsar, and was delivered out of the mouth of the lion ; Pilate desired to save Jesus, but the multitude condemned him. Do we not every day see the same thing, as far as circumstances allow it to be manifested ? God's people are far from being perfect, but with all their imperfections, they are better to be trusted in places of trust than the most apparently virtuous of their enemies. But are they, either as to the prerogative of the powerful, or to the privilege of the bulk of the people, the objects of selection in choosing to places of honour or emolument ? Barabbas would have a better chance than Nicodemus or Nathaniel.
DREAM OF PILATE'S WIFE.—Matt. xxvii. 19.
Whatever may be the philosophy of dreaming, this dream was evidently providential. Yet, why providential ? What did it effect ?
What was it designed to effect? It did not prevent Pilate to give up Jesus to his enemies, that they might put him to death : nor was it intended for such a purpose. Jesus must die. Why, then, a waste of means to prevent it? Was not this dream a thing dissuasive to Pilate from condemning Christ ? Yet God intended that Jesus should now die by the hands of his enemies. If, then, it did not serve to save Christ from death, and was not intended to be successful for that purpose, what other purpose could it serve? One purpose it served. It showed that the counsel of God must stand, notwithstanding the strongest efforts that can be made to prevent it. Pilate was fully convinced of the innocence of Jesus; he was apprehensive when he heard he gave
of his pretensions of being the Son of God; and he was now warned by this dream of his wife, to keep himself free from the blood of Jesus. Yet, after all,
up. It shows us also, that Divine Providence affords to the wicked an occasion of aggravating their guilt. Pilate knew that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death; yet for unwarrantable reasons he was giving him into the hands of his enemies. At this moment he is warned by a wonderfully providential dream, against what he was about to do, yet he did it notwithstanding. His guilt, then, is providentially ag. gravated.
JESUS GIVEN UP BY PILATE.Matt. xxvii.;
Pilate was fully convinced of the innocence of Jesus; he was alarmed by the pretensions of Jesus to be the Son of God; he was urged by his wife, from a dream, to have nothing to do in condemn. ing him. But he was overborne by the importunity of the people. To satisfy his scruples of con. science, he marks his sense of the innocence of Jesus by a most impressive ceremony. “ When 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." No, no; Pilate. This will not do. All the water in the ocean will not wash you from the blood of the Son