Chapter VIITHE CASE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT CONSIDERED
The Foreknowledge of God - L. D. McCabe
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JUDAS ISCARIOT, by his transgression, lost his unspeakable honor and privilege in the ministry and apostleship to which he had been called by Jesus Christ. In good faith the Lord put him into the Gospel ministry. He chose him because such was the character he then possessed that he promised a career of usefulness. The distinguished Mr. De Quincey says, "Christ chose Judas Iscariot because of his superior simplicity and unworldliness." In harmony with this view of the moral nature of Judas are the opinions of Dean Alford and of Neander, both of whom say that Judas became attached to our Lord with much the same views and feelings as the other apostles. And if his nature was in truth as acceptable and as richly endowed as was that of most of the apostles at the time he was chosen, it must have deteriorated subsequently.
To affirm that Christ did not see in him a moral nature that would be likely to render him a successful herald of his new kingdom, is to charge upon him the doing of evil that good might come. Indeed, such a view would authorize his Church, by his example, to place unholy men in the Christian ministry. We can not, without impeaching the character of Christ, assert that he selected Judas as one of his chosen disciples, bestowed upon him a dispensation of the ministry of the Word of Life, ordained him into the most sacred order of the apostles, and commissioned him as the herald of the divinest of messages, when at the same moment he knew that his nature was vile, and in no way fitted for that exalted station.
If Christ had not sufficient grounds to hope and to expect that Judas would be a pious and successful minister; if he knew beforehand that Judas would certainly betray himbe it said with the profoundest reverencethen most assuredly, according to every rule given in the New Testament for the guidance of the Church in regard to putting men into the ministry, he ought not to have chosen him; and, moreover, he did what no wise man ever would do: he selected an instrument, for a holy work, whom he knew to be utterly unworthy and thoroughly unprepared therefor. If he foresaw the conduct of Judas before he selected him as one of his disciples, the selection must be judged as inconsistent with frankness, candor, magnanimity, and benevolence. Indeed, if there be moral axioms, then it is morally axiomatic that our Lord ought not to have selected Judas, if he foreknew that he would certainly develop into the character and reach the ignominious end that he finally did. How in that case is it possible to imagine that Jesus could suppose Judas would subserve the benign purpose which he himself had in view in selecting his apostles, namely, the carrying of the news of salvation to the ends of the earth? To say that the Redeemer selected him on purpose to do the infamous work of treachery and betrayal is not only blasphemous, but shocking to all our moral susceptibilities and repugnant to our intuitive sense of justice, wisdom, and fair dealing. It is easier and more reverential to deny that Jesus Christ then foreknew who would be the individual agent of his betrayal than to believe this monstrous proposition, that he selected Judas Iscariot to be one of his disciples, that he gave to him the most elevated and responsible calling ever bestowed upon any man, when at the same time he knew that the inmost nature of the man was depraved and devilish, that he would disgrace the ministry, defeat all plans for his usefulness, and make his name forever the synonym of meanness and treachery.
But there was in truth no need of this betrayal which Judas perpetrated. It certainly was not necessary for the completeness of the atonement. It was not required by any of the exigencies of that momentous event. After the sin of Adam, the death of Christ was foreordained to come to pass. The Old Testament Scriptures abound in prophecies which had their fulfillment in his sufferings and death. These prophecies are frequently referred to by the New Testament writers. But the betrayal of our Lord by Judas Iscariot was never foretold in any of those ancient prophecies.
It is very evident it was foreknown that the Messiah was to suffer, and to suffer violently, in mysterious agony. But as Isaac was the type of Jesus, so Abraham was the type of God, the Father. And could not the offering up of his dear Son, in agony and death, by the Father, for the sins of the whole world, meet all the requirements of a perfect atonement for human guilt? Could not this be accomplished without the necessary co-operation of wicked men? If a violent death of the Messiah should be proved from the Scriptures to be necessary, could not the Redeemer, in his boundless resources, arrange for that death without involving an accountable creature in crimes in view of which we might well say, It were good for him not to have been born? All Scripture can be interpreted in consonance with the hypothesis that Jesus should die for the world, but that he should die because of an intolerable burden of anguish. It is very evident that a few hours more of such dreadful suffering as he endured in Gethsemane would have resulted in his death. Neither Christ personally, nor the great atonement, needed the cruelties of a heathen cross for their perfection or consummation. The heinousness of sin might have appeared much more striking had it been allowed to do its own legitimate work on the life and body of the Son of God. The agonies of the crucifixion, produced by the bolts, the spikes, the crown of thorns, and the jeers of maddened enemies, did not illustrate, but they did obscure, the fathomless wickedness of sin. Had the divine law, without any co-operation of wicked hands and of human depravity, been allowed to execute its sentence upon the sinless sufferer, to prostrate him to the ground by that unspeakable agony, by that infinite mental anguish, which he necessarily must endure who is made an offering for the sin of the whole world; to protract that suffering until convulsions should seize the expiatory victim, grind his muscles, crush his nerves, overwhelm and derange all his bodily functions until his heart should actually break and burst, in illustration of the divine grief of the Almighty Father over the introduction of sin into his universe, and in divine sympathy for a lost and ruined race, then how much darker would the nature of sin have appeared to unfallen intelligences, and how much more indispensable that an atonement should be made therefor, and how much more visible and impressive would have been the hand of God in offering up his son, as prefigured by Abraham at the proposed sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah! Why may it not have been God's plan to offer up Jesus for the sins of the world himself? Why may not his plan have been to allow the agonies consequent upon bearing the iniquity of the race to rupture the heart of the Redeemer, or to cause his blood to gush forth through all the pores of his sacred body, and thereby make "full and sufficient satisfaction and oblation for the sins of the whole world?" These were the many things Christ had to suffer. "It is written of the Son of Man that he must suffer many things and be set at naught." (Mark ix, 12.)
The divine plan and arrangement may have been greatly interfered with by wicked men. "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to enter into his glory." (Luke xxiv, 46.) "For him hath God the Father sealed" and "sanctified." (John vi, 27; x, 36.) "All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished." (Luke xviii, 31.) Said Peter, "Him being delivered by the determinate [that is, by the limiting or restricting] counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." "Delivered," but delivered unto what? Certainly not delivered to the cruelties of wicked men, but delivered up to die, not by crucifixion or execution of any kind at the hands of murderers, but to die according to the divinely purposed plana great offering for the sins of the whole world. "God hath glorified his son Jesus, whom ye delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One . . . and killed the Prince of Life . . . But those things [those particular things which are essential to the atonement] which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." (Acts iii, 13-18.)
All those definite things which God had specifically determined upon, as to the sufferings of Christ for sin, all those many things the Son of Man must suffer, he "so fulfilled"; fulfilled while allowing wicked men to take Christ, and to put him to ignominious death upon the Roman cross. In this way he overruled the wrath and wickedness of men, accomplishing, despite their malice, his great purpose of human redemption. They fulfilled the prophecies in condemning Christ, when they fulfilled all that was specifically written of him and to be accomplished by him in making atonement. (Acts xiii, 27, 29.) Dean Alford says, on Acts ii, 23, that the words "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" must not be joined to the word delivered" as agents, (as if the counsel and foreknowledge of God were co-agents with wicked men in the crucifixion of Christ), because the dative case in which those words appear expresses the idea of accordance and appointment, not of agency. The death of Christ was solemnly foreordained and fixed, but the instruments by whom he finally was put to death were by no means predestined. The expiatory victim was prepared and furnished in accordance with the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Christ was delivered to die for the world, not by wicked men but according to the fore-appointment of God. But contrary to God's purposes and desires, wicked men shamefully and wickedly nailed him to a Roman cross.
Peter says (Acts iv, 27), "Of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatsoever [as many things, as much as] thy hand [thy power] and thy counsel [thy wisdom] determined [marked out] before to be done." God had provided a Savior to die for the world; wicked men, in their malice, accomplished his death.
If God determined beforehand that these particular persons should murder his son, how great the inconsistency of Christ, pouring out with his dying breath, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." They were in that case only doing what they were set to do. St. Paul openly alleges, from the Scriptures, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again. (Acts xvii, 3.) Moses and Elias "appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." (Luke ix, 31.) How clearly do these passages teach that the wickedness of the crucifixion, the way he did actually die, had not been predetermined by the Father.
It is hard, indeed, to consider how any thing could be made more explicit. But you inquire, Do we not find definite prophecies made by Christ himself concerning the circumstances of his death? Yes; but they do not at all conflict with the denial of the foreknowledge of the free choices of accountable beings. It is said, for example, "He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted upon, and they shall scourge him and put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again." (Luke xviii, 34.) He taught his disciples, and said unto them, "The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him." (Mark ix, 31.) "While they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men; and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again." (Matt. xvii, 22.) "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised again the third day." (Matt. xvi, 21.) "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify him." (Matt. xx, 17.) "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, saying, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, and they shall mock him and shall scourge him and shall spit upon him and shall kill him, and the third day he shall rise again." (Mark x, 32.) The two men in shining garments at the sepulcher said to the disciples, "He is not here, he is risen; remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." (Luke xxiv, 6.)
Now, if any of these things had been mentioned or hinted in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is marvelous that none of the apostles had any idea of what Christ meant by these solemn and impressive declarations. They had acquaintance with the Old Testament Scriptures; but not one of them, not even Peter, knew any thing of what Christ meant by these utterances. Luke expressly says, "They understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not; and they feared to ask him of that saying." (ix, 45; also, Mark ix, 32.) All these utterances seemed deeply to affect Christ, and to be so made by him, as if to himself they were new, and unexpected and alarming developments.
From the time of the promise of a Redeemer, Satan had been apprehensive of damage to his kingdom, whenever the long promised deliverer should appear. He seems always, therefore, to have watched with anxiety any remarkable personage who appeared on the arena of Hebrew history. His diabolical plan, as is indicated, was first to induce every such being to commit some heinous sin, and if he succeeded in thatas he did in the case of Davidhe could safely infer that he need not apprehend very much loss to bis kingdom through the instrumentality of that one. But if all machinations to persuade the individual in question to commit some great sin failed, the next plan appears to have been to kill him, and thus to put him out of the way. Satan exemplified this in his treatment of Joseph. First, he tried hard to drive him to commit sin; and failing in that, he next tried to kill him. How hard also he tried, when Jesus had been forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness, to induce him to perpetrate some act of disobedience need not here be recounted. But failing, signally, in all his diabolical attempts to lure Christ into sin, his next recourse, according to his custom, was to plot for his death. Jesus knew the past history of Satan's enterprises, and was well acquainted with all his oblique tactics, even when turning himself into an "angel of light." He saw his dark and settled purposes. He saw him mustering his malignant forces, and laying out his various and ingenious plans. He knew his great influence over priests, scribes, rulers, and Gentiles. And from the marked signs of the times, from indications too manifest to be misread or misinterpreted, he could easily determine what Satan land his earthly emissaries were at that time contemplating; what they had in their hearts and were arranging to do relative to himself. When, therefore, it is said that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be crucified, it means that God would thus permit the modification of his own plan as to what kind of a death his son should die for the consummation of the long promised atonement. The event which was then pending, and which must be brought about, was the accomplishment of a universal atonement by the suffering of the Son of God. The peculiar mode and circumstances of his suffering were matters purely contingent and non-essential. God merely did in this case as he has done times without number, and is now doing in many instances: he turned the great wickedness of men and the diabolical designs of Satan to the carrying out of his own great purposes of redeeming mercy. He readjusted his own plan for the accomplishment of the atonement in order to overrule the wicked choices and violence of depraved men and of lost spirits. He determined to allow sinful men to have their own way with his own dear Son; to yield him up to their wicked purposes, and yet to safeguard all the essentials of the scheme of atonement. Christ saw the purposes which free spirits had formed in their malignity, and to these purposes he calmly submitted himself. "I lay down my life of myself, no man taketh it from Me. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
But was there no avoidability on the part of the Jews and of the Gentiles in this great wickedness, which finally culminated in the crucifixion of the Son of God? Most assuredly. All those wicked men could have changed their wicked way of thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting, and they could have embraced Christ the Savior, as easily as wicked men can do the same things today, and just as easily as did the penitent thief on the cross in his expiring moments. Many who were engaged in the diabolical plot, no doubt did repent, did withdraw, and thus saved themselves from eternal death. But where then, you inquire, would have been all those prophecies which Christ uttered as to his final crucifixion in the particulars of his humiliation? My answer is ready: just where the prophecies of God were as to the destruction of the city of Nineveh. "Arise," said God to Jonah, "and go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching I bid thee," namely, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." No prophecy could be more explicit, the event is specified and the time is fixed. But Nineveh was not overthrown. Therefore God foreknew that it would not be overthrown, if foreknowledge be true. But God did make Jonah believe that it was his settled determination to destroy that city in forty days, and that they who wished to save their lives must speedily forsake the doomed place, and that those who desired the salvation of the Lord must immediately repent of their sins. But if God made such impressions and wrought such convictions in the mind of Jonah, were these false as to his purposes, and was there double dealing in his conduct toward an accountable creature? To affirm this is to be guilty of blasphemous imputations against the moral character of God.
In order, therefore, to avoid such troublesome consequences, we are compelled to admit that it was really the determination of God to overthrow that wicked city within forty days. This fact he fully revealed, that all who would might save themselves from destruction. But this settled purpose was actually changed in view of the faith, repentance, and humiliation of all the inhabitants. "When God saw their works, when he saw them, from the greatest of them even to the least of them, from the king down to the humblest subject, the whole city sitting in sackcloth and in ashes, fasting and crying mightily unto God in prayer, and every one turning from his evil way, and from the violence that was in his hands, he repented of the evil that in good faith he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not." The inspired prediction of the prophet Jonah was not fulfilled. This fact greatly displeased Jonah, and he urged in the presence of the Lord that his previous disobedience to the heavenly visions and instructions, and his flight toward Tarshish, were grounded in his apprehension that his prediction would ultimately fail of its fulfillment. "I know," he exclaims, "thou art a gracious God, and merciful and slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of evil. Take, therefore, I beseech thee, my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." But with what condescending tenderness did God expostulate with him: "Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are sixscore thousand persons, that can not discern between their right and their left hand, and also much cattle?" That is, do not the circumstances justify me in changing MY purposes as to that city? Thus this remarkable prophecy relative to Nineveh failed to be fulfilled. And, in like manner, why may not the prophecies spoken by Jesus have failed if wicked men had as sincerely repented of their murderous purposes toward him? So also all the predictions of God's prophets were real predictions, but in many cases they could be averted by repentance, prayer, and faith. And why might not the prophecies of Christ, as to the incidents of his betrayal and subsequent treatment, have also been recalled had wicked men repented of their wicked purposes and turned from their wickedness? Surely, such an event was not only possible in itself, but one which Christ did most earnestly desire; for he has not pleasure, but sorrow only, over the violation of God's law, over sinful practices and unholy lives. The betrayal of Christ could not, then, have been in the original plan of God in making the atonement for sin.
The Savior said of himself (Matt. xxvi, 24), "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him [or, as Luke expresses it, "as it was determined of him"; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born." Now, consider the hearing of this last declaration of the Savior concerning his betrayal, in the light of the theory that the treachery of Judas was necessary to the death of Jesus and the consummation of the atonement. The death of Jesus being not only foreknown but foreordained, then, if the betrayal by Judas was necessary to that death, that betrayal itself must have been foreordained likewise. How, then, could it have been better for Judas never to have been born? That could be true for no other possible reason than that by his betraying his Lord he incurred the divine displeasure and condemnation. But if that act was necessary to the consummation of the atonement, and was therefore foreordained, we are driven to the blasphemous conclusion that God holds a man guilty and damnable for an act that was foreordained as necessary to the fulfillment of his own purposes. We thus demonstrate that the instruments of the Savior's death, the wicked human agencies involved therein, were all needless. Their doings were all as completely contingent and avoidable as any sins ever were. The theory that the betrayal was in the original plan involves the supposition that God can do evil that good may come, that Christ was hypocritical in his treatment of Judas and in his utterances to and concerning him. This supposition is so monstrous that any theory which involves it must be repugnant to the moral consciousness of mankind.
The words that I speak unto you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him." (John vi, 63, 64.) Was the unbelief of those individuals foreordained? Certainly not. Their unbelief was through their own volitions. It is not said that Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that would not believe, but "who they were that believed not." But the words, "who they were who would not in the future believe," are required for this text, in order to make it lend support to the theory of absolute divine foreknowledge. The beginning spoken of in the text could only date back to the incipiency of the unbelief in the minds of his disciples. The term "beginning" must have a definite signification, and in that connection this is the only pertinent signification. In speaking of divorces Christ said, "From the beginning it was not so"; meaning from the beginning of the mar- riage institution. "They who were eye-witnesses from the beginning delivered unto us," says Luke. And so Christ knew the unbelief of the persons referred to from the beginningas soon as they began to doubt, or failed to believe, but not before. And if he knew from the beginning who believed not, who received not the life and spirit of his teachings, in like manner he knew who of the number should betray him: he knew him as soon as the conception of the crime was first entertained. He discovered the treachery in its incipiency. The betrayal did not proceed from foreordination, nor from a constraint to fulfill prophecy, but from an immediately preceding unbelief, vitiating the character, corrupting the nature, weakening the will, and preparing it for that fearful deed. Such rapid demoralization of a once noble nature, going on in full view of Christ, was ample ground for inferential knowledge respecting that particular individual among the small number of the disciples who should betray him. Jesus was a discerner of all hearts and the intents of all hearts. The act of Judas was, we claim, neither foretold nor foreknown prior to the formation of his purpose to betray his Divine Master. When that purpose was forming in the heart of Judas the Omniscient Savior discerned it, and when it was actually formed he both knew and foretold its consummation, but not before. If Christ knew all the time, from the moment that he commissioned Judas, that he was going to betray him to his foes, might we not suppose that he would have given some slight intimation of it to some of his friends much earlier than he did; and that he would also have provided himself against such a catastrophe according to the instinctive laws of self-preservation? And why did he not magnanimously rescue a poor erring mortal from temptations he knew he would certainly succumb to? Luke says (Acts i, 25) "that Judas lost his ministry and apostleship by transgression." In good faith he had been put into the ministry by Jesus Christ. "He was numbered with us, and obtained part of this ministry," says Peter. The disciples prayed, "Thou, who knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell." We conclude, from a careful study of the subject, that Christ chose Judas because at the time of choosing him the prospect was flattering that he would prove himself to be a successful man in disseminating the pure doctrines of his everlasting Gospel.
When Jesus said, "Will ye also go away?" and when Peter replied, "We are sure thou art the Son of the living God," Jesus answered, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John vi, 70.) This evidently is the language and exclamation of great surprise. And this implies that Christ chose Judas in good faith, supposing him to be a good man. But Judas became a devil after his appointment as a disciple. For if Christ knew Judas to be a devil at the time he selected him to be one of his intimate friends and great ambassadors, or if he then knew that he would certainly become a devil, Peter could have inquired, and pertinently enough, "Why, then, did you choose so unworthy an instrument, so ungenuine a man?" But Dean Alford remarks on this passage that the translation of diabolos is much stronger than the facts will warrant; and this seems to be worthy of consideration, as this word is defined adversary, accuser, slanderer. In 1 Timothy iii, 1, it is translated slanderer, and in 2 Timothy iii, 3, and Titus ii, 3, simply false accuser.
A collation of the reports of the Last Supper shows the varied efforts of Jesus to deter Judas from the perpetration of his contemplated crime. And no Arminian, at least, can doubt that, up to the last moment in the tragedy, Christ did most sincerely desire that Judas should desist, and that Judas himself could have repented, changed his purpose, abandoned his folly, and snatched himself from eternal infamy. But if Christ knew from eternity that Judas would betray him, where was the consistency or the propriety of his earnest efforts to rescue him? "Even honest men," says Cicero, "do not give their friends notice of impending misfortunes which they can not avoid or avert." The prediction of an evil is only beneficial when we can point out some means of avoiding it.
"The Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it he withdrew himself from thence." (Matt. xii, 14.) This implies that Jesus did not know of this meeting before it was actually planned. We read (Matt. xxvi, 14-16): "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him." The chief priests and scribes and elders had consulted how that they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill him. "Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them . . . And he promised and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude." (Luke xxii, 3, 4, 6.) And immediately after this Jesus announced to his disciples the sad and astounding fact that one of their brethren and fellow-apostles was about to betray him. "One of you," said he, "who eateth with me, shall betray me." "The hand of him who betrayeth me is with me on the table." "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me." That is, one of you has formed a purpose to betray me into the hands of my enemies. "And, supper being ended [rather, having begun], and the devil having now put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him," we are told that "Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray me." (John xiii, 2, 21.) He then gave the sop to Judas, and "after the sop Satan entered into him." Judas had voluntarily cherished the thought suggested to him by an evil spirit, and this had paved the way for Satan to "enter into him:" otherwise the fiend never could have gained such an entrance. He then deliberately went away to the chief priests, pondering that heartless and frightful villainy, and proposed to them to betray into their hands his Divine Lord and Master. He then planned how he might do it conveniently and successfully, in the absence of the people.
This betrayal is the blackest spot on the blackest page of all human history. It is the most inexplicable of all historic problems. But there was no necessity for Judas to betray Christ. He might have desisted from the treacherous deed had he so willed. Jesus did most earnestly deprecate the course he was then contemplating. He announced in various impressive forms the amazing fact that one of his chosen friends and associates was about to betray him: "Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed." "Behold the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" How could Christ pronounce these most solemn words, and put forth these earnest efforts to rescue Judas, in good faith, if at the same moment he was infallibly certain that he would, after all, basely betray him? To select a frail man, full of weaknesses and inherited moral imbecilities, for a mission for which he was wholly unfitted, and then to subject him to temptations which he knew he would not, as a matter of fact, manfully withstand, and yet to pursue him with earnest efforts to rescue him from the commission of the deed, seems to be so unnatural and shocking that it is almost unpardonable to allude to it even as a possibility.
The words so frequently used in the Scriptures, "that it might be fulfilled," very often signify that we have here only another illustration of something uttered on a different occasion; or that the language of Scripture here finds a pertinent application; as we often say, in like cases, "The words of Shakespeare are thus fulfilled," or, "Here is another illustration of the saying so common among us," recognizing at the same time that the event referred to is a mere coincidence. Dr. Nathaniel West writes: "Everywhere through the Scriptures the catastrophes of later date are described in symbolical language drawn from the literal facts of earlier times. For example, Jeremiah describes the ruins of the Jewish state, under Nebuchadnezzar, in terms of Chaos: 'I beheld, and, lo, the earth was without form and void, and the heavens, they had no light.' Isaiah describes it in terms of the Deluge: 'The waters shall overflow your hiding-place.' The language that describes the judgment on Jerusalem portrays the end of the present dispensation." Albert Barnes says that the phrase, "that it might be fulfilled," sometimes means, not that the passage was intended to apply to the particular thing or event spoken of, but that the words do aptly and appropriately express the thing referred to, and may be applied to it. Dr. S. T. Bloomfield says that "this Scriptural expression sometimes means that such a thing so happened that this or that passage would appear quite suitable or applicable to it." Moses Stuart says that "the New Testament writers often use Old Testament phraseology, which originally was applied in a very different connection. And they do this because such phraseology expresses, in an apt and forcible manner, the thought which they desired then to convey."
We cite the following illustrative examples: Isaiah says, "And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed." "This noted prophecy," observes Mr. Stuart, "about the blindness and obduracy of the Jews, had a true fulfillment before the Babylonish captivity, but it was again fulfilled in the times of our Savior. But though he had done," says John (xii, 37-40), "so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord who hath believed our report?"
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted and I should heal them." They believed not on the Savior, and the consequent blindness and obduracy, brought upon them as a punishment for (or as a result of) disobedience to known duty and truth, furnished but another illustration of that memorable case of divine displeasure spoken of by Isaiah, and with which the Jews were so familiar. And this instance of retributive blindness and hardness would be rendered the more impressive by associating it with an earlier and memorable example of the judgment of an offended deity coming upon a disobedient people. That is, what the prophet had said of the Jews of his day, Christ considered as applicable to them in his own times. "From the wicked," says Job, "their light is withholden"; and "For thou hast hid their heart from understanding." Light persistently rejecteddarkens the mind and lessens its susceptibility thereto.
Scholars no longer question the frequent use, in an ecbatic sense, of the particle translated that; and, therefore they very often translate the phrase under consideration "so was fulfilled," or "thus was fulfilled." This Greek particle often means so that or that merely. It is frequently used not as expressive of design or purpose, even when it refers to the most explicit of the prophecies. And therefore in Matt. ii, 23, we should read "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, so that it was fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene." Matthew (ii, 14) says that Joseph "took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." But the Scripture to which Matthew here refers and quotes, has no reference whatever to Christ. Hosea (xi, i) speaks simply of God calling his son out of Egypt. The end proposed by Joseph and the end accomplished by staying in Egypt, were not the fulfillment of these words of Hosea, "When Israel was a child then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt."
Dr. Edward Robinson (Greek Lexicon of New Testament) says that this frequent phrase or a similar one is used as a formal quotation, and implies "that something took place, not in order that a prophecy might be fulfilled, but so that it was fulfilled; not in order to make the event correspond to the prophecy, but so that the event would and did correspond to that prophecy. The phrase is often used to express historical or typical parallelisms." He then gives a long list of passages in which this phrase must be so construed. For example, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." (John xv, 24, 25.) But the Scripture to which reference is here made is Psalm xxxv, 19: "Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause." Again (John xix, 36): "These things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." The reference here is to Psalm xxxiv, 19, 20. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken."
Again, "That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die." The reference here is to Matt. xx, 18. "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him." And hence, John xviii, 32, cited above, should be rendered "so that was fulfilled the saying of Jesus." After giving this list of quotations Dr. Robinson says that such passages place the ecbatic use of the phrase in question "beyond any reasonable doubt." He affirms too that "those Biblical critics, who insist on the telic sense of the word rendered that (ina) in all casesthat is, those who maintain that the later event was fixed and predestined and foreordained by the prophecy, to which reference was madenot only introduce a new element of interpretation, but also destroy the force of the language."
The telic use of this word marks the final end or purpose, to the end that or in order that. The ecbatic use marks simply the event, the result, or upshot of an action, as expressed by the words so that or so as that. The telic use implies purpose, determination, prediction, and foreordination, while the ecbatic use implies only consequence, parallelism, application, or mere illustration. The telic use of this particle corresponds exactly with the theory suggested in this book; namely, that the minds of prophets in uttering prophecy and the minds of instruments in fulfilling prophecies are placed, through supernatural agency, under the action of the law of cause and effect. When, therefore, the connection in the Scriptures requires the telic sense or force, then the phrase in question is to be translated "in order that it might be fulfilled," but not otherwise.
This well established rule of interpretation helps to explain many Bible texts which have occasioned great perplexity and incertitude to exegetical writers. Take, for example, the passage, "I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." (John xiii, 18.) The Scripture to which reference is here made is Psalm xli, 9: "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Christ here applies to Judas that which David had applied to Absalom. The case is so manifest that the particle in question, that, is not here used in a telic sense that Albert Barnes says, "It is difficult to tell whether the text has any reference whatever to Judas Iscariot. Dr. Robinson says that the particle translated that in this passage must evidently be taken in the ecbatic sense. And if the words "that it might be fulfilled," in Matthew ii, 15, as already shown, refer to a text of Scripture, which undeniably and confessedly has no reference at all to Jesus Christ, we are allowed to assume, there being no reason to the contrary, also that in this text they refer to a passage of Holy Writ which may contain no prophetic reference to Judas Iscariot. The application of these words by the inspired writer to Judas, is no proof that he was referred to in the prophecy.
Again, in the passage John xvii, 12, "None of them is lost save the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." The phrase, "the son of perdition," means one who has been given over to destruction. The Scripture to which reference is here made is probably Psalm cix, 8, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." Adam Clarke translates the text under consideration "The Scripture is thus fulfilled." He also translates John xii, 38: "Thus the word of the Lord was fulfilled." He says the Scripture thus fulfilled was spoken of the treachery of Ahithophel (Psalm xli, 9,) and the rebellion of Absalom was illustrated in the treachery of Judas, and that "these Scriptures, though spoken of others may be appropriately and forcibly applied to him." He also remarks that "the treachery of Judas was not the effect of prediction, for the said prediction related to a different case; but as this instance was of the same nature with that of the other, to it the same Scriptures were applicable, and therefore were so applied." Dean Alford says, that "these words were in the plural number, and referred to all the enemies of God and of righteousness, but were here applied to Judas Iscariot, he being of such a character in an eminent sense and degree. But the change here from the plural number to the singular proves that John used the quotation in the ecbatic sense and not in the telic. John xiii, 18, therefore, in the light of this criticism, would read, if our English idiom be substituted for that of the Hebrew, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but thus is the Scripture fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." And John xvii, 12, would read, "Those thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost save the son of perdition. Thus the Scripture is fulfilled [or, again, illustrated). Let his days be few, and let another take his office." Again, take Matthew xxvii, 9: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took 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." (note: The quotation here is from Zechariah (xi, 12, 13) and not from Jeremiah. But Meade, Bishop Kidder, and Hengstenberg think that Zechariah borrowed this statement from some prophecy that was current among the Jews, as being an original prediction of Jeremiah. The error of this reference to Jeremiah instead of Zechariah, Albert Barnes and Dr. Whedon think, was a mistake in transcribing. The custom was, in quoting an author, to put down in writing only a few of the first letters of the name of the prophet referred to; and hence the mistake in transcribing would have-been most easily made. Dr. R. Payne Smith, the present learned Dean of Canterbury, says that Jeremiah's name is here used as equivalent to the whole circle of the prophets, on account of the prominence ascribed by the Jews to him among the prophets.)
"This quotation," says Dean Alford, "is very different from the Septuagint, and not much more like or in harmony with the Hebrew text." "For," he says, "the principal point stated by Matthewnamely, the casting down of the money is wanting in Zechariah, and Zechariah does not admit the subjoined statements made by Matthew." Olshausen freely admits that "the immediate reference of this text is not in the least traceable to the person of the Messiah, and that there is only a very remote similarity between the two passages." Albert Barnes says, that "the passage in Zechariah is not quoted literally, and by its being 'fulfilled,' can only be meant that the language used by Zechariah, on a somewhat similar occasion, would be applicable to and express very appropriately the events here narrated." We thus see that this passage of Holy Writ may naturally and fairly be interpreted to denote that the event described by Matthew was in accord with an Old Testament occurrence, and is thus interpreted in entire harmony with the theory respecting divine foreknowledge advocated in this book. And this interpretation has the support of the very best exegetical authority.
Let us now examine another passage: "They [the soldiers] said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not rend it [his 'coat'], but cast lots whose it shall be; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots." (John xix, 24.) The best commentators, says Dr. Bloomfield, are of opinion that the words in this text rendered, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled," mean, thus was fulfilled the scripture; but they are not agreed, he adds, whether in Psalm xxii, 18, the clauses "they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture," were originally intended to refer to Christ or not. He says, "Most of the recent commentators, however, think they were not so intended, and they take these words to relate solely to King David and to events in the rebellion of his son Absalom. They think that they are only introduced here by way of application or accommodation to the present purpose." Adam Clarke remarks that "the thing so fell out that such a Scripture was exactly applicable to it." "A secret disposal of Providence," says Joseph Benson, "led them to a remarkable correspondence to the divine oracle." "In the twenty-second Psalm, where this text is found," says Dr. Tholuck, "David speaks only of his own sorrows." De Wette regards the words as purely historical and not all prophetical. The subject of this Psalm, says Dr. J. W. Alexander, "is the deliverance of a righteous sufferer from his enemies, and is applicable to any of the class described. The speaker is an ideal person, but his words may be appropriated by any suffering believer, and by the whole suffering Church as they have been in all ages."
The passage in Psalm xxii, 16, "They pierced my hands and my feet," Dr. Alexander translates thus: "they surround my hands and my feet [that is, the instruments of my defense or of my flight] as a lion would; or they have wounded my hands and my feet as a lion would." He concedes that there is no sacred or classical evidence whatever that it was the custom in crucifying to nail the hands and feet both. None of the evangelists quote the words, "they pierced my hands and my feet." Lange says that "in the Orient the dogs, which were half wild, roved around in troops, and attacked travelers; and it is characteristic of them, that they are accustomed to first gnaw off the flesh of the hands, feet, and head." Alford says, "By law the garments of the executed were the perquisites of the soldiers on duty." We thus see that the best critics deny to this Psalm any prophetic allusion to the events of the crucifixion.
But the text of Scripture which, at first sight, seems most inconsistent with the theory here presented respecting the foreknowledge of God is found in Acts i, 16: "Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus." The Scriptures to which he refers as being fulfilled are found in the twentieth verse: "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and his bishopric let another take." These Scriptures are quoted from Psalm lxix, 25: "Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents"" and from Psalm cix, 8: "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." Now there is not the slightest indication in the Old Testament that these passages were originally spoken of Judas, or that they had any reference to him. Matthew says, "They were in Egypt till the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord, saying: "Out of Egypt have I called my son." We have shown that the Scripture to which Matthew here refers had no reference to Jesus Christ, and there is no more evidence that these texts quoted by Peter in the passage before us had original reference to Judas Iscariot. Lange says, "Peter does not assert that David distinctly or consciously referred to Judas in these Psalms." The second verse preceding the one Peter here cites (Psalm lxix, 23), Paul quotes (Romans xi, 10,) as applicable to the unbelieving Jews in general: "Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see." Peter, in his quotation, changes that which had been spoken in the plural number of the enemies of God in general into the singular number, thus applying to a particular case that statement which had been made relative to many or to a specified class.
Dr. Bloomfield says that "most of the recent commentators decide, that what is here quoted from David, and which was spoken by him of his treacherous companions, is applied by Peter to Judas by way of accommodation, on account of the marked coincidences between the two cases." "They therefore think," he says, "that the words 'must needs be fulfilled' should be construed with the words 'concerning Judas'that is, the Scripture spoken by David must be fulfilled in regard to Judas. The Greek word, which in the text before us is rendered must needs, is translated in a large majority of passages by the single word "must." For example, "I must abide in thy house." "Thou must be brought before Cæsar"; "He must increase"; "Ye must be born again"; "We must through tribulation enter"; "The multitude must come together"; "The things he must suffer for my sake"; "The passover must be killed"; "A bishop must be the husband of one wife." We thus see that the English word needs ought to be dropped from the translation of the text now under consideration, there being nothing in the original answering to it. The preposition rendered "concerning" (peri) is often translated in relation to, in reference to, as to, in respect of, or in the case of. If, then, we adopt one of these renderings in the passage under examination, and if we drop the superfluous word "needs," and complete the paragraph without bringing in the parenthesis contained in the eighteenth and nineteenth verseswhich the best expositors agree, says Dr. Bloomfield, was introduced by Luke, and not spoken by Peterwe have the following translation of this passage: "Men and brethren, this Scripture, which the Holy Ghost spake before, by the mouth of David, must have been fulfilled in the case of Judas, who was guide to those that took Jesus, because he was numbered with us and had obtained part of this ministry. For it is written, in the Book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, let no man dwell therein, and his bishopric let another take." Peter here means, that these Holy Scriptures, with which those whom he addressed had been so familiar from their youth, were illustrated and fulfilled or acted out, in the treachery of Judas Iscariot. That is, as Judas had proved himself to be unworthy the Gospel ministry, and of the holy apostleship, and had illustrated the terrible punishment certain to follow disobedience, and the abuse of distinguished privileges, and had now by suicide, gone to his own place, it was now the solemn duty of the remaining eleven to select some one to take that part of this ministry which had been so graciously proffered to their once cherished but now fallen brother. The inspired Psalmist spoke of the enemies of God in general, and of the judgments which God's providence was certain to bring upon themespecially upon those who were pre-eminent in their enmity and wickedness. Judas was of this number. The Scripture cited was especially applicable to him: it was aimed at men of his type. It was needful, therefore, that that Scripture should have complete fulfillment in his history, and in the proceedings of the Church in reference to him.
This exegesis relieves this troublesome text of all the absurdities which King James's translation logically suggests, and gives to it not only consistency and sound sense, but likewise marked appropriateness to the case in hand. Moreover this exegesis is pronounced to be correct and amply sustained by the original Greek by our highest accessible living authorities. We thus fail to find a single prophetic utterance that predicts the treachery of Judas Iscariot, or that makes any allusion to him, as being the one who would eventually betray into the hands of wicked men to be crucified the long promised Redeemer. And there is no evidence that Jesus himself recognized any prediction. in the Old Testament, of the wickedness of any one upon whom he had so solemnly conferred the divine right of apostleship.
In Gethsemane Jesus fell upon the ground, and prayed, if possible, that that hour might pass from him. "O my Father," he exclaimed, "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt." "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
Of these supplications, of these mysterious prayers, poured forth by our suffering Lord in the garden, no explanation has ever been presented that does not strike every thinker as unsatisfactory. The explanations have suggested greater difficulties than the mystery to be elucidated. Nor does it appear how these supplications of our Lord can be explained, or even justified, save on the hypothesis that the mode of his death, as originally arranged, had been inter- fered with by wicked men, and given up. In these prayers Christ had something definitely before his mind, something appallingly dreadful. That he prayed to be excused, or rescued from going on to make an atonement for the world, is impossible. Even though his sorrows were greater than his strength, even though they did open up before him, as Dr. Whedon concludes, a true and just fear of complete catastrophe and failure, he could not desire relief from the hour, the scene, the tragedy, which realized the grand purpose of conspiring providences and of conspiring centuries. However narrow the pass of danger through which he trod on his way to the achievement of human redemption, he could not pray for the slightest variation from any thing that was essential in the programme which God had published and pledged to a deeply interested moral universe. All prophecies must be falsified should he fail to die for the race. All beholders in heavenly worlds would have been filled with astonishment at such a spectacle. Millions had been saved under the departing dispensation, through faith in a promised Redeemer, and had passed up to their inheritance through the merit of that atonement which Jesus was then about actually to consummate. And that he should falter in this climax of responsibility and in this crisis of redemption, or that he should pray for permission to withdraw from the dreaded conflict with the powers of darkness, or to be released from making the great atonement for mankind, are all suppositions too derogatory to the character of Jesus the Christ for a moment's consideration.
We must distinguish between the possibility of the Redeemer's failure in the work of redeeming the world, and a desire or even a willingness on his part for such failure, so unsearchable in its results. And we must ever bear in mind that without the consciousness of a possibility of sinning temptation is meaningless; and without temptation Jesus would not have been man. For what, then, could he have prayed? Paul charged upon the Jews that "they killed the Lord Jesus." (1 Thess. ii, 15.) Peter said to them (Acts iii, 14, 15; v, 30): "Ye denied the Holy One and the just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life." "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." Stephen said, "Of whom [the just One] ye have been now the betrayers and murderers." And Jesus himself said to those very priests who finally murdered him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." These texts clearly favor the inference that the crucifixion was no part of the divinely conceived plan for the offering up of the great sacrifice. And if this be so, then Jesus could properly and consistently enough pray for deliverance from subjection to the power and triumph of Satan and of human adversaries, and from the ignominy and tortures of the crucifixion; and all without in the least wavering in his fidelity or in his devotion to his voluntarily assumed obligation of self-sacrifice for the sins of the world. He could pray for relief from all those sufferings which were not essential to the completion of the atonement; from all that array of demons, all that blackness and darkness, and all those additional savage cruelties which he saw wicked men then contemplating for him. This was the cup from which he so earnestly prayed for deliverance.
What precisely had been the divinely contemplated plan or mode of the final offering up of the sacrifice of the Son of God, we are nowhere informed. But doubtless it would have been entirely appropriate to the close of such a life, to the consummation of such a work, and in its details most suggestive and most impressive; and Christ must have often contemplated it with profoundest interest. Christ's introduction into the prophetic office occurred while standing, with Peter, James, and John, under the heavens opening over the memorable mount of transfiguration, communing audibly with the illustrious dead, his face shining as the sun and his raiment white as the light. A voice out of that bright cloud that overshadowed them announced: "This is my beloved Son. Hear ye him." Christ's entrance upon the regal office was heralded by the triumphs of his resurrection from the dead and his illustrious ascension to heaven through rifted clouds, "spoiling principalities and powers, triumphing openly over them, leading captivity captive, and bestowing gifts upon men." And in like manner his induction into the office of the everlasting priesthood would doubtless have been marked by such sublime manifestations as would have forever elicited the admiration of all obedient and devout minds. From all this he was snatched away, being basely and ignominiously crucified by wicked men upon a Roman cross.
In support of this view, Paul says that none of the princes of this world knew the hidden wisdom, "which God ordained before the world unto our glory; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Cor. ii, 7.) Suppose they had perceived that hidden wisdom, that hidden spiritual truth and power which God designed to bestow on the race through Jesus Christ; suppose they had gained some glimpses into the awful significance of that reality embodied and voiced in the atonement; suppose they had repented of their meditated wickedness, and halted in their murderous designs, would the divine scheme of atonement have failed? Surely, the repentance of wicked men could not have prevented the consummation of the work of redemption. The crucifixion, therefore; could in no way be essential to the atonement, and hence no part of the original, divinely appointed plan for the offering up of the great sacrifice. That surely needed not the intervention of wicked hands and savage hearts for its consummation. Again, Paul says, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. ii, 8.) To the atonement death was a necessity, and to this he willingly submitted himself. He even submitted himself to the humiliating and torturing death of the cross, to a death by terrible cruelties, and to a death instigated by his personal and malignant foes.
Jesus calmly, fearlessly said to the Jews, revealing to them that he was then in possession of their profound secret to put him to death, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as my father hath taught me I speak these things." (John viii, 28.) Subsequently he exclaimed to the amazed multitude, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said signifying what death he should die." And in John xviii, 32, we read, "That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which he spake signifying what death he should die." How clearly do these words imply the necessity of the death of Jesus as essential to the great atonement! But they imply just as strongly that the precise manner of that death was not essential to that satisfaction and oblation. They also demonstrate that the mode of offering up the great sacrifice, though definitely and gloriously planned, had not been irrevocably determined upon. The form of expression "if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me," implies that a contingency still existed as to the mode of his death dependent upon the free choices of free agents. The mode of the offering, up of the great sacrifice must have originally contemplated something of the temple and altar service. For there is no analogy whatever in the offering up of a lamb upon a holy, consecrated altar and a crucifixion upon a Roman cross. The change of mode in the divine plan for the great sacrifice was an inexpressible grief to Jesus. And to this grief must be added the shrinkings of humanity from needless cruelties inflicted by malignant enemies.
Having shown that the betrayal of Christ was no part of the foreordained work of atonement, and that no allusion is made in the Old Testament to Judas Iscariot, we submit that there is nothing in his case that is not in perfect harmony with a denial of universal prescience. But even if all the events of the betrayal by Judas and of the crucifixion by the Jews had been actually foretold as many believe they were, still the theory presented in these pages of God's mode of governing wicked men and fallen angels would furnish an explanation, well-nigh as complete as the one which has just been presented for the consideration of theologians, and, in our judgment, a far more satisfactory one than is furnished by the generally received theory, that these events occurred without the exercise of any constraint by Divine Providence, and yet according to God's absolute foreknowledge of them. And it is much easier for any unprejudiced mind to accept common sense interpretations of a book which was meant for the simple minded, and which ought to be taken and interpreted in the most simple and natural way, than it is to embrace assumptions that necessitate absurdities relative to eternity and moral government, that involve contradictory ideas of God and make the sublime institution of prayer either an inexplicable, disheartening mystery or a mere unprofitable ceremony.
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