Matthew 27:3-5. Then Judas, when he saw that he was condemned Which probably he thought Christ would have prevented by a miracle; repented himself Of the fatal bargain he had made, and the great guilt he had thereby contracted; and being pierced with the deepest remorse and agony of conscience on that account; to make some reparation, if possible, for the injury he had done, he came and confessed his sin openly before the chief priests, scribes, and elders, bringing again the money with which they had hired him to commit it, and earnestly begging that they would take it back. It seems he thought this the most public testimony he could give of his Master’s innocence, and of his own repentance. I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood: and they said, What is that to us? They answer with the steady coolness of persons who knew no shame or remorse for their wickedness. See thou to that But was it nothing to them that they had thirsted after this innocent blood, and hired Judas to betray it, and had now condemned it to be shed unjustly? Was this nothing to them? Ought it not to have given a check to the violence of the prosecution; a warning to take heed what they did to this just man? Thus do fools make a mock at sin, as if no harm were done, no hazard run by the commission of the greatest wickedness. Thus light did these Jewish priests and elders make of shedding innocent blood! When Judas found that he could not prevent the dreadful effects of his traitorous conduct, “his conscience, being enraged, lashed him more furiously than before, suggesting thoughts which by turns made the deepest wounds in his soul. His Master’s innocence and benevolence, the usefulness of his life, the favours he had received from him, with many other considerations crowding into his mind, racked him to such a degree, that his torment became intolerable; he was as if he had been in the suburbs of hell. Wherefore, unable to sustain the misery of those agonizing passions and reflections, he threw down the wages of his iniquity, (which the chief priests and elders would not take back,) in the temple Probably in the treasury, before the Levite porters and others who happened to be there, and then went away in despair, and hanged himself Making such an end of a wicked life as one might expect those to make into whom Satan enters, and who are given up to the love of money, for which this wretch betrayed his master, friend, and Saviour, and cast away his own soul.” See Matthew 24:24. The word απηγξατο , here rendered, he hanged himself, plainly denotes strangling, but does not say whether by hanging or otherwise. The term used in those places where hanging is mentioned is different from this. Our translation follows the Vulgate, laqueo se suspendit. The Syriac renders it, he strangled himself. “St. Peter seems to give rather a different account, Acts 1:18. Falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And to reconcile the two passages, Tob 3:10 is adduced to prove that the word απηγξατο in Matthew may signify suffocation with grief in consequence of which a man’s bowels may gush out; and instances are cited of persons who are supposed to have died in this manner. But as these instances may be otherwise understood, it is more natural to suppose that Judas hanged himself on some tree growing out of a precipice; and that the branch breaking, or the knot of the handkerchief, or whatever else he hanged himself with, opening, he fell down headlong, and dashed himself to pieces, so that his bowels gushed out. Peter’s phrase, ελακησε μεσος , he burst asunder, favours this conjecture.” Macknight. Thus perished Judas Iscariot the traitor, a miserable example of the fatal influence of covetousness, and a standing monument of the divine vengeance, proper to deter future generations from acting contrary to conscience, through the love of the world. Some have said, that he sinned more in despairing of the mercy of God than in betraying his Master, but it is probable his sin was in its own nature unpardonable; at least it appeared so to him; at which we cannot wonder, if he noticed, as it is probable he did, the words uttered by Christ at his last supper with his disciples, Wo to that man, &c. It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Doubtless the terrors of the Almighty set themselves in array against him; and all the threatenings and curses written in God’s book entered his soul, as water may into the bowels, or oil insinuate itself into the bones, as was foretold concerning him, Psalms 109:18-19, and drove him to this desperate shift for the escaping of a hell within, to leap into a hell before him, which was but the perfection and perpetuity of the horror and despair felt in his soul. Thus we see in him, that even sorrow for sin, if it be not according to God, worketh death, even the worst kind of death, death eternal, while godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation. And as we saw the latter of these kinds of sorrow exemplified before in the story of Peter, so we see the former exhibited here in this of Judas.
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