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



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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.

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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.




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."

After some consultation they decide to dispose of it in buying a field which it appears was wanted for the purpose of a cemetery, wherein to bury those strangers who might die at Jerusalem and had no place of burial already belonging to them there. So what had been known hitherto as the Potter's Field went henceforth by another name, significant of this deed. Then that prophecy which Jeremiah originally uttered, and which Zechariah afterwards recorded,2 had another and complete fulfilment. The Evangelist paraphrases, or gives us the substance of, the Prophet's words.




St. John xviii. 28-32.

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

Christ suffered for both Jews and Gentiles, and He is rejected of both. See the hypocrisy of these men; their

1 Zech. xii. 13.

2 Jeremiah was regarded by the Jews as the Primus of the Prophets (St. Matt. xvi. 14). Whatever therefore was "written in the Prophets' (St. John vi. 45) might be said popularly to be "spoken by Jeremy the Prophet," seeing that it was contained in that "volume of the book" at the head of which stood his name, who thus gave his name to the whole. In

like manner we have "the Psalms of David," and "the Proverbs of Solomon," though others besides these were authors of portions of those works. St. Matthew (inspiration apart) could not have been ignorant, any more than we are, where the words are found. St. Matthew, it has been observed, never names Zechariah, though he three times quotes him.

scruple in a matter of ceremony, and their unscrupulousness in the case of crime. As if entering the court of a heathen judge was a greater defilement than the designing a piece of injustice from which that heathen recoiled. As if their present murderous purpose would not defile them infinitely more. Here we may see the difference between mere scruple,which is quite consistent with a state of sin, and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. It was Paschal-tide. Our Lord and His Disciples had, we know, partaken of their Passover the evening before. Either these other kept their feast a day later,2 or this term Passover is applied generally to the whole period, the seven days of unleavened bread, during which they must keep themselves free from all ceremonial defilement.3 The Roman Pro-curator therefore, with a contemptuous deference to their scruples, goes to the door of the Prætorium or Court-house, and requires them to state the formal charge, to prefer the indictment, on which he might proceed legally to try their Prisoner. But law and justice was the last thing the Jews desired. The timid and temporizing character of Pilate seems to have been quickly discovered by the haughty inhabitants of the distant depen


In Sir T. F. Buxton's account of his visit to the prison at Civita Vecchia (Life, c. xxix.) may be found this curious illustration:-"It is odd enough that Gasparoni is very religious now he fasts not only on Friday, but adds a supererogatory Saturday But, curious as his theology now is, it is still more strange that, according to his own account, he was always a very religious man. I asked him whether he had fasted when he was a bandit? He said 'Yes.' 'Why did you fast?' said I. 'Perche sono della religione della Madonna.' 'Which did you think was worst, eating meat on a Friday or killing a man?' He answered without hesitation, 'In my case it was a crime not to fast; it was no crime to kill those who came to betray me.' With all his present religion, however, he told the Mayor of the town

the other day, that if he got loose, the first thing he would do would be to cut the throats of all the priests: and the Mayor said in this he perfectly believed him; and if he were now to break out, he would be ten times worse than ever. One fact, however, shows some degree of scrupulosity. The people of the country bear testimony that he never committed murder on a Friday."

2Bp. Wordsworth (ad loc.) supplies us with some reasons which these persecutors might have supposed sufficient to justify them in postponing their passover. Dean Alford (in St. Matt. xxvi. 17) admits that Joseph of Arimathæa also (St. Mark xv. 43) must have eaten his passover on a different day from this party of priests. 3 Ex. xii. 15; Acts xii. 3. Acts xxv. 15, 16.

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