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but would even have assumed the venerable, aspect of zealous sanctity. Onevery account, in short, we may be morally sure, that, if any imposture had been carrying on, Judas must have known it, and would have openly revealed it.
His evidence, however, was at no time brought forward by the Jewish rulers. He appeared not on the trial of Christ, when his confession would have been so naturally and fitly produced in full court. He is mentioned not subsequent to the trial, as having left such a confession on record. False witnesses were anxiously sought after, in order that there might be some decent plea for . the condemnation of the alleged impostor; and two at length were found, who testified to his having said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days *: but, respecting the all-important and decisive evidence of the penitent accomplice Judas, we hear not a syllable. For some reason or another, the man, who most. especially could have thrown a full and distinct light upon the dark fraud in which he himself had been actively engaged, is never once produced. In all their anxiety to find proper witnesses, the high priests, it appears, most unaccountably never once thought of summoning their useful instrument Judas. This wretched tool, stung by remorse, afterwards hanged himself: but the suicide had not been committed, when Christ
was brought before the council; he did the deed, only when he saw that his master was condemned*. Hence his inopportune death cannot be alleged as the reason of his non-appearance upon the trial. Why then was he not brought forward as an evidence, that Christ was an impostor, and that his new religion was a cheat? Clearly because he had no such testimony to give; which yet he must have had, if the Gospel had been a well known fraud. Instead of adventuring any impeachment of his master's character, when he restored to his employers the wages of iniquity; he openly confessed his own guilt and his lord's integrity : I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood f. Here we have the solution of the otherwise inexplicable circumstance, that the evidence of Judas, as to Christ being an impostor and Christianity a cheat, has at no time been produced : neither on the trial, which would doubtless have been the most appropriate season; nor after the trial, which might haply have supplied the defect occasioned by an unfortunate inadvertence on the part of the managers.
(2.) The argument, afforded by the conduct of the apostle Paul, is equally strong with that afforded by the conduct of the miserable Judas, though happily of a more pleasing description. In the case of Judas, we have the testimony of a friend converted into an enemy: in the case of Paul, we have the testimony of an enemy converted into a friend.
* Matt. xxvii. 3-5.
+ Matt. xxvii. 3, 4.
Among the bigotted opponents of infant Christianity, none was more conspicuous than this very remarkable character. As he states respecting himself, he lived a Pharisee after the straitest sect of the Jewish religion * ; brought up at the feet of his learned master Gamaliel, taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and zealous above measure toward the God of his ancestors f. It was this identical zeal, which led him to persecute the adherents of the nascent sect. He viewed them, as impious apostates from the true faith : he dreaded the diffusion of their pernicious heresy: and he believed himself, most honestly and uprightly, to be strictly in his line of duty toward the God of his fathers, while labouring to exterminate the novel doctrines and upstart followers of a crucified impostor. Under such an impression, we find him performing the devout act of guarding the clothes of the witnesses, when they threw them aside that so they might the more conveniently stone the blasphemer Stephen I: and, under the same impression, we hear of his making havock of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women to prison g.
* Acts xxvi. 5.
Acts vii. 58, 59. viii. 1.
+ Acts xxii. 3. § Acts viii. 3.
THE DIFFICULTIES [sect. v. Thus qualified by a blind and vehement zeal for the work of persecution, and breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ, he readily procured from the highpriest letters of commendation to the synagogues at Damascus ; that, if he should find any of the hated sect, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem *. On this expedition, accordingly, he set forth : but, instead of executing his purpose, we find him, suddenly become himself a convert to Christianity, and preaching with strenuous fervour the very system of religion which he so lately sought to exterminate. Nor, though sudden, was the change transitory; as might have been readily expected from an ardent, though fickle, character. He persevered in the same course to the end of his days : he traversed the Roman Empire in all directions, for the purpose of making converts and founding churches among the Gentiles : he laboured more abundantly than all the original apostles : he braved the hatred and contempt of the powerful party which he had forsaken : he encountered poverty, hardships, persecutions, difficulties, wherever he went : he was satisfied to be deemed the off-scouring of all things; he, a man of talent and education, shrank not from the reproach of folly and madness: he was content to sacrifice all his reasonable prospects of
* Acts ix. 1, 2,
advancement in this life: and, at length, he testified his sincerity, by freely suffering death in the cause of the religion, which at first he had so hastily and (to all appearance) so inconsiderately embraced. Many of his letters are extant, addressed to various churches which he had himself founded : and, in these, we may read his views and principles very plainly and unequivocally set forth. From them we collect, that he was animated with the warmest love to Christ; whom yet he had never seen during his abode upon earth, and whom at one time he hated and
persecuted with the most intense antipathy: that the great object of his life was to induce all mankind to acknowledge, as a divine teacher and saviour, the identical person, whom he himself had denounced as a blasphemer and an impostor : that the disciples of Christ he loved as his brethren, though he had lately hated them as his worst enemies : that he confidently built all his own hopes of happiness in a better world on the alleged-meritoriousness of one, whom at a former period he had deemed a sacrilegious innovator upon the heaven-delivered law of his ancestors : that he spoke in terms of the strongest abhorrence respecting his own previous conduct, when he was persecuting the followers of Christ, representing himself as a blasphemer and injurious and less than the very least of the apostles; though, at one time, he believed such conduct to be the most effectual mode of serving and pleasing God : that