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this cost he purchases a temporary immunity. But about the space of an hour after,1 some one seems to have pointed him out to those that were at hand, confidently affirming that he was with Jesus. Peter pretends not even to know what he is talking about. The rest now chime in. It is enough for them that he is a Galilæan. His accent betrays him. The natives of Galilee spoke with a provincial pronunciation. Another of the by-standers now comes forward. Peter had been forward when he should have been cautious; and in the garden, at the recent apprehension of his Lord, he had, we remember, aimed a blow at one of the band who came for that purpose; and now a relative of the wounded man, another of the servants of the High-priest (being a kinsman to him whose ear Peter had cut off), half recognizes him and enquires, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him? 3 And he who is craven when he should be courageous, for this third time denies; denies now with oaths and imprecations, a relic of the rough habit of his former life," all knowledge of this man." So in his terror he is bold enough to style the Son of God. And immediately, while he was yet speaking," is heard the crowing of a cock; that second and special cock-crowing to which the Lord in his sad prediction had referred. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. He was not far off, in the custody of the slaves in one of the open rooms looking out upon the courtyard. That look recalled Peter to himself. It reminded him of the warning he had failed to keep in mind. It pierced him to the heart. And when he thought thereon, he wept. Men are not easily moved to tears. How deep must have
1 St. Luke xxii. 59.
2 St. Luke xxii. 60.
3 St. John xviii. 26.
Alford remarks that "We are not bound to require accordance. in the recognitions of Peter by different persons. There may have been many on each occasion of denial, and independent narrators may have fixed on different ones among them. . . I do not see that we are obliged to limit the narrative to three sentences from Peter's mouth, each expressing a
denial and no more. On three occasions during the night he was recognised, on three occasions he was a denier of his Lord: such a statement may well embrace reiterated expressions of recognition, and reiterated and importunate denials, on each occasion."
6 St. Mark xiv. 71.
been the repentance that could draw tears not just from the eyes, but from the heart, of that rugged fisherman of Galilee! Peter doubtless never heard that signal afterwards but he called to mind that scene in the High-priest's house. Peter fallen has been compared to a candle which may be more easily re-kindled the moment it has been blown out, than if it is allowed to cool into death and stiffness.1
CHRIST BEFORE THE COUNCIL.
St. Luke xxii. 66-71. St. Matthew xxvii. 2.
St. Luke xxii. 66-71.-And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
St. Matt. xxvii. 2.—And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
After His apprehension in the garden, our Lord was taken first to the abode of Annas, afterwards to that of Caiaphas;
"That we may prevent so great a ruin, we must not mingle with such company who will provoke or scorn us into sin; . . . we must stand upon our guard that a sudden motion do not surprise us . . . let us not enter further into our sin, like wild beasts intricating themselves by their impatience... But he also, by returning and rising instantly, became to us a rare example of penitence, and
his not lying long in the crime did facilitate his restitution. For the Spirit of God, being extinguished by our works of darkness, is like a taper, which, if, as soon as the flame is blown out, it be brought to the fire, it sucks light, and without trouble is re-enkindled; but if it cools into death and stiffness, it requires a longer stay and trouble."-Jer. Taylor, Life of Christ, ad Sect. xv.
both it may be under the same roof. Here He was kept under guard for the short remainder of the night; and when the morning was come, His murderers met together again for a last formal examination, or committal rather of their victim, on which they had already resolved.' This final meeting of the Jewish Council was little more than a formal proceeding, to give effect to a foregone conclusion. It was against their traditions to pronounce judgment by night; nor were the Temple-Courts, in one of which the meeting was held, opened until the morning. Those therefore who were so scrupulous in trifles, but passed over judgment and the love of God, were only waiting till the dawn to complete their deed of darkness.3 Once more they propose to their Prisoner the formal question He has already answered, that He may formally and finally criminate Himself. But before He answers, He reproves their spirit of injustice. Of what use is it to answer those who had already made up their minds to disbelieve His claims? And, He adds, that if He in His turn asked them questions which it was inconvenient to answer, (thereby establishing His innocence,) they would, as before, decline to answer, or (what in fairness would be the only alternative,) release Him. Then He solemnly repeats His former prophecy. They understood what He referred to, and what that phrase, "the Son of man," meant. It was, we see, no less than a claim to Divinity. And so He answers, in a form with which they were familiar, and asserts His right to the mysterious incommunicable name." Then they all follow the lead of the High-priest, and join in professing that there is no need of summoning witnesses (a plan which they had before found inconvenient ) as He had in their ears uttered what they considered the blasphemy of claiming to be the Son of God, uttered what would indeed
you ought to answer the arguments with which I prove I am; if I be, you ought to let me go."-Henry.
6 St. Matt. xxvi. 64.
Dan. vii. 13.
8 Ex. iii. 14.
"St. Mark xiv. 55, 56.
have been blasphemy had He not been what He claimed. So they proceed in hot haste to do as they had determined. And having rebound their victim,' whose bonds had perhaps been relaxed during the night, or while standing before the Sanhedrim; having tied His hands behind His back, as in the case of the convicted, or to prevent all danger of a possible rescue; they carried Him off and gave Him into the hands of the Roman Governor,3 who alone had power at this time to carry their sentence into execution.
THE REMORSE OF JUDAS.
St. Matthew xxvii. 3-10.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
When Judas saw our Saviour bound and delivered over to the secular arm, he knew that His doom was sealed. Then
1 St. John xviii. 12.
2 St. Mark xv. 1.
3 It is attested even by the pagan historian Tacitus, Ann. xv. 44.
4 As we read of later persecutors who seem to have learned their lesson too well from these earlier spiritual tyrants. The Fourth Lateran Council
he seems to have been seized with a sudden remorse.
might be he had hoped that Jesus would in some way, as before,1 have escaped from their hands. He cannot enjoy his ill-gotten gains. The things men covet, and commit crimes to obtain, turn to loathing in the end. The spirit of the chief-priests and elders betrays itself in their answer to their miserable tool. What cared they for the innocence of their victim, or the confession of His betrayer? That, they pretend, is his affair. This proclamation of their carelessness shows that they were shameless. In an agony of remorse, getting cold comfort from the procurers of his crime, the wretched man throws the money down, and, like an earlier traitor, seeks in self-murder to end the torture of an upbraiding conscience. The chief-priests are embarrassed as to what they shall do with their bribe thus strangely returned. Their first impulse would be to cast it into the money-chest which stood in the Temple. But this they felt would be unlawful. An assassin's hire, blood-money, .must be abominable before God. They had a scruple about the less, who had no scruple about the greater. They hesitated to place the price of blood in the Treasury of the Temple, and yet had no hesitation in shedding innocent blood. Thus these hypocrites strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel.
in 1215 decreed, that persons convicted of heresy should be abandoned to the secular arm to receive the suitable punishment. See Waddington's Hist. of the Church, c. xviii.
1 St. Luke iv. 30; St. John viii. 59. 2 The seeming discrepancy between this account and that in Acts i. 18, is sufficiently removed if we consider that Judas was the cause of the field being purchased. He is said to have done that which he was the cause of being done. Some, however, consider that he had this field in view all along; that he desired the money for this purpose, and was already negotiating the purchase which the chief priests concluded.
2 Sa. xvii. 23.
The account in Acts i. 18 is
simply supplementary to this. From St. Matthew we learn that he hanged himself. From St. Luke we gather that he fell in the act, probably from some height, on to some sharp substance, which lacerated him as described. St. Matthew gives us one, St. Luke the other, of the two reasons why the Field was so called. It was so called for a double reason. It was both the price and the scene of blood. 5 Maldonatus says that they were unwilling to take it back before, lest they should seem to rescind the bargain.
6 "Their conscience like a clock without its hands,
As useless when it goes as when it stands."