Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Our Turn Must Come Next

...For months I have struggled hard against the unwelcome truth, and though reason, probability, and events have all urged it with increasing force, hope was stronger still; but now I strive no more. It was not even his words, though they confirmed his recent sayings, that brought conviction to me. It was his manner; that spoke plainer still. The stern glance he had fixed upon me died away almost as he began to speak, and gave place to a mournful, inward certainty, and settled resignation. He sees it all before him. He has yielded in the contest with the ruling powers. He is content to seal his mission with his life.

And what becomes of us, his followers? Our turn must, must come next; they will not spare us long. When the shepherd is smitten the sheep will fall an easy prey. Arrest, imprisonment, trial, death; was it for these I entered his service? Did he not expressly promise us a great reward? Were not his own words: 'Ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory; ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'

Where is that promise now? Is this its fulfilment, an accepted defeat? a resigned submission? not even safety by flight. And does he think that we must follow him in blind obedience unto death?...

[James William Tasker Hart, The Autobiography of Judas Iscariot: A Character Study, p. 120.]

I know practically nothing about James W. T. Hart, who published The Autobiography of Judas Iscariot in 1884; it seems to be the only thing he's known for. As he describes the work in the preface, "It is a book upon the character and motives of the False Disciple," and Hart's procedure in trying to give a description of the mentality of the False Disciple is based on a fundamental assumption: "no man ever reached the highest point of excellence, or sank to the lowest depth of degradation--suddenly."

The book has a very striking ending:

Farewell, my secret friend; thou hast been dear to me. I leave thee in this wretched room where I lie hidden from the gaze of men. If it should chance that other hands unfold thee, other eyes peruse these lines, may they, at least, gather from thy records that Judas of Kerioth, however deeply he had sinned—sinned past the hope of pardon—knew and confessed his sin. Too late, too late!

The night is dark, the streets are still and lonely, though the Paschal moon should shine, clouds darken her face; so is my life darkened for eternity. The time is fitting; no more delay.

I go to seek swift Death: to close a life I can no longer bear.

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