« הקודםהמשך »
the relief of the poor. He could not see the reason of this. He was no advocate for extravagance; but to make some provision for the future was abso-lutely needful. So, his good business habits seem-ing to point him out for the post, he contrived to be made treasurer of the little Company, and thus found opportunities for looking after his own interests, and reserving something for himself. Instead of planning how their small savings might be best disposed of for the welfare of the poor, he begins to think how they may be disposed of so that he himself may secure something. “ His eyes are set against the poor," and thus against CHRIST the Guardian and Representative of the poor. The wants of the poor (that is, of CHRIST) come into collision with his own wants. He must sacrifice himself or his Master, and he chooses to sacrifice CHRIST.
Did not He “Whose eyes are as a flame of « fire," and "Whose eyes consider the poor," observe every mite that His faithless steward was withholding from Himself? Did He not note whether the poor were receiving their rights from His Apostle ?
It is very striking how God is represented as jealously watching the poor, and resenting any
injury done to them ; and how, in this particular instance, it is the wrong secretly practised upon them which first awakens His anger. You remember S. John's significant and half-contemptuous comment on the words of Judas when he saw Mary's precious gift poured on the feet of JESUS, “ This ointment might have been sold “for much, and given to the poor.” “Not that “he cared for the poor !” adds S. John; “but he
was a thief, and kept the bag, and bare (i.e. made away with) “what was put therein."
How does that Psalm open (the forty-first) which our Lord quotes as prophetic of Judas ? “ Blessed is he that considereth the poor and “ needy, the Lord shall deliver him in the time 6 of trouble.” It goes on to speak of the wretched man who does not consider the poor, it tells of his treachery : “If he cometh to see me, he “speaketh vanity, he deviseth mischief against
me; yea, even mine own familiar friend whom “I trusted, which did eat of my Bread, hath “ lifted up his heel against me.” And it hints at the terrible judgment awaiting him at the Resurrection, “Raise Thou Me up, and I shall reward (or requite) him.” S. Peter, in the address from which my text is taken, quotes two other Psalms as likewise prophetic of him. He recites from Psalm cix. the words, “His Bishopric let another man take" -words bearing on that very work in which himself and his brethren were then engaged, viz. the handing on the Apostolic succession. Now in this Psalm, again, we read of Messiah's enemy "rewarding Him evil for good,” and “persecuting the poor.” We read that his illgotten gains shall do him no good, for that “the extortioner shall consume all that he hath," “his children shall be beggars and vagabonds;" “there shall be no man to pity him or his “fatherless children ;" " in the next generation “his name shall be clean put out.” He shall die the death of the cursed (for “he that is hanged is accursed of God"): and the curses which he has brought upon himself “shall come “ into his bowels like water, and like oil into his « bones.".
The LxIx. Psalm speaks of “the things which “should have been for his wealth being unto “ him an occasion of falling;” of his going on " from one wickedness to another;" of “God's “ wrathful displeasure” at last “taking hold
upon him ;” of his being “wiped out of the
" Book of the Living, and not written among the "righteous.”
So that we see, a little unfaithfulness in money matters, a little selfish disregard for the poor, led on to the hopeless ruin of this Apostle. He “ fell from one wickedness to another,” till he was finally blotted out of the Book of the Living.
Now, my dear friends, do not go away with the impression that there was anything very exceptional about the case of Judas, and that there is no fear of yourselves sharing in his doom. There was nothing very exceptional about it. He was not worse than thousands of Christians. Nor is their sin different in kind or degree from his. The singularity of his case is simply this, thatweare able to see his sin in its true character, with the vail drawn off, and its intrinsic nature exposed; to view its fearful heinousness and miserable results, and to hear with our own ears CHRIST's solemn word of doom, “Good were it for “that man if he had never been born." Here is one of God's terrible pictures. In it he points out and explains to us what sin in the Christian is, and what it leads to. It matters not whether CHRIST is visibly manifested in human flesh or not, the sin against Him is equally great. He
is betrayed by faithless disciples no less now that He is in Heaven than He was by Judas when on earth. The very psalms which tell of his wickedness do not speak of him only in the singular number, they speak of multitudes as involved in the very same sins and as expectants of the same punishment.
He was not always a bad man. He was once held in high respect by the whole company of the Apostles, yea, by our Lord Himself Who speaks of him in the Psalm as “Mine own
“ familiar friend whom I trusted.” He had, as we all have, his weak points of character: and God, in order to perfect what was lacking in him, placed him in circumstances where he would be gently tried and disciplined. He was subjected, as every Christian must be, to temptation, in order that by using the helps which God ever provides, he might learn to master the temptation, and receive the blessing promised “to him that “ overcometh.” But he yielded, instead of overcoming ; and, yielding in one thing, he learned
; to yield in others also ; falling, as the Psalm says, “ from one wickedness to another,” till he fell past recovery.
And how many are doing just the same? How