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of public justice, so much the better. now at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, therefore within their grasp. His late triumphal entry into the city, accompanied by a vast multitude acknowledging him as the Messiah, reminded them of his growing influence and popularity, and that some decisive blow must then be struck. Opportunely for them, treason was ripening in his own little company. One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, a name blackened by eternal infamy, had been hardened instead of regenerated by the society of Jesus. His soul was so abandoned and lost, that neither the moral dignity, nor the miraculous powers of Jesus, made the least impression upon him. Day after day he could meet the glance of that eye, which read the thoughts and purposes of men, with the consciousness that he was false to his trust, and yet could persevere in the basest sacrilege. Thoroughly corrupted, he wanted nothing but the offer of the bribe, to sell his master and his soul, for thirty pieces of silver.
There have been since the beginning of time, but few nights like that upon which Christ was betrayed. The multitudes of the Jewish nation were assembled at Jerusalem to keep the Passover. Throughout the city and its environs, family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, they were partaking with Psalm and pious converse, of the Lamb which reminded
them that their ancestors once came out of the land of bondage by an awful interposition of Divine Providence. In one group, assembled in an upper chamber, an unwonted scene is taking place. Jesus is there with his disciples, and he is telling them that this is the last time they are to meet each other around the table of earthly communion. Their familiar and confidential intercourse, so long the source to them of pleasure and attachment, is that night to be brought to a close. He is going home to God. The mansions of his Father's house already spread open their hospitable doors, and invite him to everlasting rest. But his separation from the acquaintances he has made, and the friends to whom he has become endeared, during his brief pilgrimage on earth, will be short. There is room in those rich and splendid apartments for as many as will come. There his own welcome awaits them, and his Father's too, whose greatness and benignity infinitely transcend his own. But lest these delightful recollections should fade away by time, he enjoins upon them when, in aftertimes, they were assembled together, to eat bread and drink wine in his especial remembrance, for this body, said he, horrible as it may seem, is soon to be broken, this blood to be poured out for human good. But to tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away from you. My presence is a hinderance of your understanding the Gospel, for
it keeps you dreaming on earthly power and exaltation. Words have done their work. When I am withdrawn, God will send you another teacher in events, in emphatic actions of his own, which will interpret what I have said, and lead you into a full understanding of the truths I have taught. When I am gone, Divine Power and Providence shall be your guide. As it is, you have totally misunderstood me. It is necessary for you to bury your Jewish and worldly Messiah, that the true and spiritual one may rise in his stead. It is necessary that your hope of an earthly kingdom should be destroyed, that you may go to work heartily and intelligently to build up that spiritual kingdom in the soul of man, which shall stand for ever. Some signal event will be necessary to convince the world that my religion is from God, and is upheld by his own right arm, that they have been guilty in condemning and executing me. And soon the ruling powers will so feel the judgments of the Almighty, as to show to them and the world, that they have been opposing the work and the designs of the Omnipotent. The Jewish nation itself shall be destroyed, and no longer exist as a people. Of their proud temple not one stone shall be left upon another, their sacred rites shall be abolished, and the new religion freed from the cumbersome ritual of Judaism, and evidently under the
fostering care of Heaven, shall spread from sea to sea and from shore to shore.
In the meantime night rolled on apace, and the powers of darkness were no less active than those of light. Judas retired early from a scene where he felt his presence pollution, and joined himself to those with whom his black heart was more at home. He concerted with the Jewish council to surprise Jesus on his way to Bethany, where it was his custom to sleep. On his way there, he is met by the traitor in a garden, where he was accustomed to loiter, and betrayed with a kiss.
I need not go over the scenes which followed, and which terminated in his crucifixion. They are familiar to every memory and every imagination. I need not say how falsely he was accused, how cruelly he was treated, how unjustly he was condemned, and how brutally murdered. I only wish to show how necessary every progressive step of the tragedy was to the success of his mission to mankind. It is only necessary to remark, how those few hours of public and conspicuous suffering have planted him in the heart of universal humanity, have enthroned him in the affections and confidence of the world, and pour contempt on every method of accounting for the origin of Christianity by merely human causes. The cross itself, that symbol of all that was vile, would have tarnished with infamy any other than the tran
scendent character of Jesus Christ. As the sun sunk that day below the hills of Judea, what a scene caught the glance of his parting rays! Jesus dead upon the cross, his mother with her companions at the foot, watching in speechless agony, his disciples paralized with grief and consternation, his enemies triumphing in his fate! Would you not say, that his cause lately so hopeful, was now ruined forever? A few hours more and he is shut up in the rocky sepulchre. Would you not have said, that himself and his religion were consigned to the same oblivion? Was there any probability, humanly speaking, at that moment, that his religion would become the religion of the world?
But this utter abandonment of his cause by all human resource was necessary to demonstrate to the world, that it could not have risen from its prostration except by Almighty aid. Infinite Wisdom had so arranged the plan, as to make the success of the mission of Christ depend upon his own interposition. He raised, as it were, an issue between himself and the Jewish nation, whether Jesus of Nazareth were or were not the true Messiah. They had denied him, and put him to death. Had it ended there, the triumph would have been on their side. To make the thing indisputable to all ages, his death was publicly witnessed by thousands, and his body delivered into the custody of his enemies. A stone was rolled