« ZurückWeiter »
which sufficient reasons induced him to leave vacant when he gave out this sentence. Now we find two things in the system of Jesus Christ on this subject, First, that the misery denounced against Judas is of the most dreadful kind. And secondly, that Jesus Christ denounces against him the greatest degree of misery of this kind. Or to express myself more clearly my first proposition is, that. every place in hell is intolerable. My second proposition is, that Jesus Christ doomed Judas to the most intolerable place in hell,
Doth our first proposition need proving? I lay aside what the scripture tells us of the lake, the bottomless pit, the brimstone, the smoke, the darkness, the chains of darkness, the worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched. Frightful objects! I have no need to recollect you to form gloomy images of the state of the damned. My idea of heaven is sufficient to give me horrible image of hell. Pleasures at God's right hand for evermore; joy of an intelligent creature finding his knowledge for ever on the increase ; calm of a conscience washed in the blood of the Lamb; freedom from all the maladies that afflict poor more tals, from all the inquietudes of doubt, and from all the tur, bulence of the passions; society of angels, archangels, cherubims, and all that multitude of intelligences, which God hath associated both in rectitude and glory; close communion with the happy God; felicity of heaven; it is you that make me conceive the horrible state of hell! To be for ever deprived of your cliarms, this alone is enough to make me tremble at the idea of hell.
But if every place in hell be intolerable, some are more sa than others, When, by following the genius of the gospel, you examine for whom divine justice reserves the most dreadful punishments, you easily conceive it is for such men as Judas, and you will agree (without our staying now to prove it) that as Jesus Christ denounced the worst kind of punishment against him, so he doomed hiin to suffer the greatest degree of that kind of punishment.
In fine, our last remark on the words of Jesus Christ is, that when he said, it had been good for that man, if he had not been born or had he never existed, he supposed not only that the punishment of Judas did not exist in annihilation, but that it would not be in his power not to exist, He supposed that Judas was not master of his owo existence, and that it did not depend on him to continue or to put an
end to it, as he should think proper. Existence considered in itself is indifferent. We have explained in what sense, and we have proved that it is the happiness or misery, which attends it, that determines the worth of it. Now, whatever the pain of hell may be, it need not alarm us, if the Creator when he caused us to exist gave us the power of remaining in it, or quitting it. In this case it would always depend on us to get rid of punishment, because it would depend on us to cease to exist, and we might enter into that state of annihilation, which we said was neither happy nor miserable : but we have not this power over ourselves. As an act of omnipotence was necessary to give us existence, so is it to deprive us of it; and as it belongs to none but almighty God to perform the first of these acts, so it belongs only to him to effect the second; so absolute, so entire is our dependence
I do not know what is intended by the star mentioned in the ninth chapter of Revelation. St. John represents it as
falling from heaven unto the earth, as having the key of the bottomless pit, as causing a smoke to arise by which the sun and the air were darkened, and out of which came locusts upon the earth. But I ain persuaded, that in a system of irreligion nothing can be imagined more dreadful than the miseries, which the holy Spirit here saith these infernal locusts inflict
mankind. These were commanded not to kill, but to torment five months such men as had not the seal of God in their foreheads. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. It is a niserable relief, I grant, to destroy ones self to avoid divine punishment, But doth death put an end to our existence? Is a sinner less in the hand of God in the grave, than he is during this life? Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? Psal. cxxxix. 7,
What misery in the eyes of an irreligious man to be tormented through life, and to be deprived of a relief, which the wretched almost always have in view, I mean death! For how many ways are there of getting rid of life? And to what degree of impotence must he be reduced who is not able by any means to put an end to life; In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them,
But if the greatest misery in the account of an irreligious man be not to have the power of getting rid of the troubles
of a few years by destroying himself, what will be the state of the damned to see themselves under a fatal necessity of existing for ever, and of not having the power of terminating their existence, and of sinking into nothing? What despairing and cruel complaints will this necessity of existing cause? In vain will they seek refuge in dens and chasms of the carth! in vain will they implore mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them! In vain will they curse the day, and execrate the night of their birth! They will be obliged to exist, because Alipighty God will refuse them that act of omnipotence, without which they cannot be annihilated.
Such will be the misery of the damned, and such is the extreme misery, to which Jesus Christ adjudges Judas. But this man, you will say, had a dark perfidious soul, he was a traitor, he had the infamy to betray his Saviour, and to sell. him for thirty pieces of silver; this man was such a monster as nature hardly produces in many centuries. My brethren, I am come now to the most odious but inust necessary part of my discourse. I'must enter on the mortifying task of examining whether there be any resemblance between some of this assembly and the unhappy Judas. What a task to perform in such an auditory as this! What a gospel to preach to christians ! What murmurs are we going to excite in this assembly! The word of the Lord was made a reproach unta me, and a derision daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in
my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay, Jer. xx. 8, 9,
Do not thirik that I intend to conclude my discourse by abusing the liberty given me of speaking in this pulpit, by attempting to make an ingenious essay on a subject the most grave and solemn; be not afraid of my extenuating the crimes of Judas, and exaggerating yours. How it is possible to extenuate the crimes of Judas? When I represent to myself a man, whoin the Saviour distinguished in a manner so remarkable, a man who travelled with him, a man to whom he not only revealed the mysteries of his kingdom, but whom he associated with himself to teach them to the world, to sub. vert the empire of satan and set his captives free, and to preach this gospel, lay not up for yourselves treasures upon, earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Sell ilut you have, and give alms, provide yourselves bags that
wać not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, Matt. vi. 19, &c. Luke xï. 33. When I consider this man freely opening his heart to the demon of avarice, parleying with the most obstinate enemies of his divine master, proposing to deliver him up to their barbarity, agreeing on the price of treason, executing the horrible stipulation, coming at the head of the most vile and infamous mob that ever was, giving the fatal signal to his unworthy companions, kissing Jesus Christ and saying while he saluted him, hail master; when I consider this abominable man, far from attempting to extenuate his crime, I can find no colours dismal enough to describe it. No: I tremble at the bare idea of this monster, and involuntarily exclaim, () execrable love of money! To what will thou not impel the hearts of men* !
But does this odious picture resemble none but Judas? Ah! When I imagine a christian born in this age of knowledge, a christian with the gospel in his hand, convinced of the truth and beauty of religion, a christian, communicant at the table of Jesus Christ, who hath vowed a hundred times an eternal obedience to God, and hath tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come: when I consider this christian full of contrivances, intriguing in certain circles, exposing to the world a spectacle of immodesty, resisting the ministry, exclaiming against such religious discourses as his depravity forbids him to obey; or, to confine myself to the disposition of Judas; when I observe this christian like Judas possessed with the demon of avarice, hardening his heart against the cries of the wretched, pillaging the widow and the fatherless of their daily bread, selling his own soul and the souls of his children rather than break through a papal interdict, rather than quit a country where truth is hated and persecuted, where there is no public worship during life, no consolations at the hour of death: when I consider such christians, I protest, I almost pity Judas, and turn all my indignation against them.
My brethren, I said, and I repeat it again, the task is mortifying, the matter is offensive, but I must come to it, if I seek to please men, I shall not be the servant of Christ, Let us lay aside vague ideas, and let us enter on some detail. Let us describe Judas, but let us not forget ourselves, too much resembling this ugly man. Let us examine, first, the passion that governed liim-next the crime to which it im
* Quid non mortalia, &c.
Virg. Æneid. L. 3.
pelled him—then the circumstances in which he committed it-fourthly the pretexts with which he covered it-and finally the confession he was compelled to make.
1. What passion governed Judas ? Every one knows, it was avarice. Which of us is given up to this passion? Rather which of us is free from it?
Avarice may be considered in two different points of light. It may be considered in those men, or rather those public bloodsuckers, or, as the officers of the Roman empire Vespasian were called, those sponges of society, who infatuated with this passion scek after riches as the supreme good, determine to acquire it by any methods, and consider the ways that lead to wealth legal or illegal as the only road for them to travel. Let the laws be violated, let the people be oppressed, let equity be subverted, let a kingdom be sacrificed to their irresistible passion for wealth, let it be across a thousand depopulated countries, a thousand ruined families, let it be over a thousand piles of mangled carcases that they arrive at fortune, provided they can but acquire it, no matter what it costs.
This is our first notion of avarice. But in this point of light who of us hath this passion? Nobody, not one person, I except none. I leave to the searcher of hearts to determine whether it be the vehemence of our piety, or the impotence of our condition, that prevents our carrying avarice to this length; whether it be respect for the laws, or dread of them, that keeps us from violating them ; whether we abstain from oppressing mankind because we love, or because we fear them; whether sacrificing our country to our love of wealth be prevented by our love to our country, or by a despair of success. Yes, I leave the decision of this question to the searcher of hearts. I would as far as I can without betray, ing my ministry, form the most favourable judgment of my hearers ;' therefore I affirin not one of us is avaricious in this first sense.
Avarice, however, must be considered in a second point of light. It not only consists in committing bold crimes, but in entertaining mean ideas, and practising low methods, incompatible with such magnanimity as our condition ought to inspire. It consists not only in an intire renunciation of the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, but in not seeking it first, in the manner proposed. It consists not only in always endeavouring to increase our wealth, but in harbouring continual fears of losing it, and perplexing our