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Judas Iscariot
by [?]

The bishop then proceeds with the rehearsal of all the circumstances connected with the pretended trial of Christ; and coming in the process of his narrative to the conduct of Judas on learning the dreadful turn which things were taking (conduct which surely argues that he had anticipated a most opposite catastrophe), he winds up the case of the Iscariot in the following passage–‘When Judas heard that they had passed the final and decretory sentence of death upon his Lord, he, who thought not it would have gone so far, repented him to have been an instrument of so damnable a machination, and came and brought the silver which they gave him for hire, threw it in amongst them, and said, ‘I have sinned in betraying the innocent blood.’ But they, incurious of those hell-torments Judas felt within him, because their own fires burned not yet, dismissed him.’ I pause for a moment to observe that, in the expression, ‘repented him to have been an instrument,’ the context shows the bishop intending to represent Judas as recoiling from the issue of his own acts, and from so damnable a machination, not because his better feelings were evoked, as the prospect of ruin to his Master drew near, and that he shrank from that same thing when taking a definite shape of fulfilment, which he had faced cheerfully when at a distance–not at all: the bishop’s meaning is–that Judas recoiled from his own acts at the very instant when he began to understand their real consequences now solemnly opening upon his horror-stricken understanding. He had hoped, probably, much from the Roman interference; and the history itself shows that in this he had not been at all too sanguine. Justice has never yet been done to the conduct of Pilate. That man has little comprehended the style and manner of the New Testament who does not perceive the demoniac earnestness of Pilate to effect the liberation of Christ, or who fails to read the anxiety of the several evangelists to put on record his profound sympathy with the prisoner. The falsest word that ever yet was uttered upon any part of the New Testament, is that sneer of Lord Bacon’s at ‘jesting Pilate.’ Pilate was in deadly earnest from first to last, and retired from his frantic effort on behalf of Christ, only when his own safety began to be seriously compromised. Do the thoughtless accusers of Pilate fancy that he was a Christian? If not, why, or on what principle, was he to ruin himself at Rome, in order to favor one he could not save at Jerusalem? How reasonably Judas had relied upon the Roman interference, is evident from what actually took place. Judas relied, secondly, upon the populace, and that this reliance also was well warranted, appears from repeated instances of the fear with which the Jewish rulers contemplated Christ. Why did they fear him at all? Simply, as he was backed by the people: had it not been for their support, Christ was no more an object of terror to them than his herald, the Baptist. But what I here insist on is (which else from some expressions the reader might fail to understand), that Jeremy Taylor nowhere makes the mistake of supposing Judas to have originally designed the ruin of his Master, and nowhere understands by his ‘repentance’ that he felt remorse on coming near to consequences which from a distance he had welcomed. He admits clearly that Judas was a traitor only in the sense of seeking his Master’s aggrandizement by methods which placed him in revolt against that Master, methods which not only involved express and formal disobedience to that Master, but which ran into headlong hostility against the spirit of all that he came on earth to effect. It was the revolt, not of perfidious malignity, but of arrogant and carnal blindness. In respect to the gloomy termination of the Iscariot’s career, and to the perplexing account of it given in the Acts of the Apostles, the bishop closes his account thus:–‘And Judas went and hanged himself; and the judgment was made more notorious and eminent by an unusual accident at such deaths; for he so swelled, that he burst, and his bowels gushed out. But the Greek scholiast and some others report out of Papias, St. John’s scholar, that Judas fell from the fig-tree, on which he hanged, before he was quite dead, and survived his attempt somewhile; being so sad a spectacle of deformity and pain, and a prodigious tumor, that his plague was deplorable and highly miserable; till at last he burst in the very substance of his trunk, as being extended beyond the possibilities [Footnote: Quaere, whether the true reading is not more probably ‘passibilities,’ i.e., liabilities to suffering.] and capacities of nature.’