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Judas Iscariot
by [?]


Everything connected with our ordinary conceptions of this man, of his real purposes, and of his ultimate fate, apparently is erroneous. That neither any motive of his, nor any ruling impulse, was tainted with the vulgar treachery imputed to him, appears probable from the strength of his remorse. And this view of his case comes recommended by so much of internal plausibility, that in Germany it has long since shaped itself into the following well-known hypothesis:–Judas Iscariot, it is alleged, participated in the common delusion of the apostles as to that earthly kingdom which, under the sanction and auspices of Christ, they supposed to be waiting and ripening for the Jewish people. So far there was nothing in Judas to warrant any special wonder or any special blame. If he erred, so did the other apostles. But in one point Judas went further than his brethren, viz., in speculating upon the reasons of Christ for delaying the inauguration of this kingdom. All things were apparently ripe for it; all things pointed to it; the expectation and languishing desires of many Hebrew saints; the warning from signs; the prophetic alarms and kindling signals raised aloft by heralds like the Baptist; the fermentation of revolutionary doctrines all over Judea; the passionate impatience of the Roman yoke; the continual openings of new convulsions and new opportunities at the great centre of Rome; the insurrectionary temper of Jewish society, as indicated by the continual rise of robber leaders, that drew off multitudes into the neighboring deserts; and, universally, the unsettled mind of the Jewish nation. These explosive materials had long been accumulated; they needed only a kindling spark. Heavenly citations to war had long been felt in the insults and aggressions of paganism; there wanted only a leader. And such a leader, if he would but consent to assume that office, stood ready in the founder of Christianity. The supreme qualifications for leadership, as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, were evident to all parties in the Jewish community, and not merely to the religious body of his own immediate followers. These qualifications were published and expounded to the world in the facility with which everywhere he drew crowds about himself,[Footnote: As connected with these crowds, I have elsewhere noticed, many years ago, the secret reason which probably governed our Saviour in cultivating the character and functions of a hakim, or physician. Throughout the whole world of civilization at that era [Î� Î�Î�χÎ��…Î�Î�Î�Î�], whatever might be otherwise the varieties of the government, there was amongst the ruling authorities a great jealousy of mobs and popular gatherings. To a grand revolutionary teacher, no obstacle so fatal as this initial prejudice could have offered itself. Already, in the first place, a new and mysterious body of truth, having vast and illimitable relations to human duties and prospects, presented a field of indefinite alarm. That this truth should in the second place publish itself, not through books and written discourses, but orally, by word of mouth, and by personal communication between vast mobs and the divine teacher–already that, as furnishing a handle of influence to a mob-leader, justified a preliminary alarm. But then, thirdly, as furnishing a plea for bringing crowds together, such a mode of teaching must have crowned the suspicious presumptions against itself. One peril there was at any rate to begin with–the peril of a mob: that was certain. And, secondly, there was the doctrine taught: which doctrine was mysterious and uncertain; and in that uncertainty lay another peril. So that, equally through what was fixed and what was doubtful, there arose that ‘fear of change’ which by authentic warrant ‘perplexes monarchs.’] in the extraordinary depth of impression which attended his teaching, and in the fear as well as hatred which possessed the Jewish rulers against him. Indeed, had it not been for the predominance of the Roman element in the government of Judea, it is pretty certain that Christ would have been crushed in an earlier stage in his career.