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\ a other impotent Folk, those whom he "specifies, viz. the halt, the blind, and "the wither'd, were the most improper "Persons in- the World to lie at this '* Pool, expe&ing the- troubling of the "Water. And therefore, whatever "may be said in Commendation of this "impotent Man'j Patience, his Under"Jlanding must be under some Sufpi"cion, for attending ib long, in Expectance of a Cure, which it was morally impossible for him to attain. "Nor can we fee what Care the Evan"gelijl has taken of his Master's Ho"nour, when he tells us, that he cur'd but one Man at this Pool; and yet, at the fame time, assures us, that there "was a great Multitude of miserable Objects lying in the torches. For if there were lb many, why did not he "cure them all? If he could not, "there's an end of his Almighty Power; K and if he would not, an Imputation li falls upon his Mercy and Compassion; and which way soever we consider it, his Conduct'is not only blameable, but makes his Power of Healing dis* putable, and gives us some .Reason to "question, whether, in curing this one u Man only, he really wrought any "Miracle at all. For, tho' the Man's ** Disease was of a long Continuance, no
u less than eight and thirty Tears; yet «' many Instances may be given of In*« firmities of human Nature, which, in "time, (especially in old Age,) are ll known to wear off. And, if this was *« the Cafe of the Impotent Man before «* us,* where is the wonder, if Jesus, 11 observing such Symptoms in him, bad '* him take up his Couch and begone, u for he would soon be made whole? '« Had he indeed healed the whole MuU 11 titude of impotent Folk, this Suspicion "had been removed; but, since, of so <c many, he chose only to cure this one "Man, it affords Matter of Speculation, "whether it was the moft, or the lea/I "diseased amongst them, and whether *' a natural, or miraculous Cause effect"ed his Cure.
Now, in answer to all this, it may The not be improper to premise in general, Cm" of •that, tho'it should be suppos'd, that^f there are some Difficulties in this Ac- the impocount of St. John, relating to the State tint Mm • and Circumstances of the Pool of Be- ^[nQ.' the/day which, at this distance of Time, Things, considering the Silence of other ancient Authors, and the usual Brevity of the Evangeltj}, as well as our Ignorance of many Jewish Customs, and peculiar T 4 ways
* Bp. Smallbroh's Vind. p. 500..
ways of speaking, may not possibly be explain'd to a critical Satisfation; yet will it not therefore follow, either that St. John's whole Account of this (Pool of Bethefda is an incredible Romance, or that our Saviour's Cure of the Impotent Man, at that Place, was not a real Miracle.
'Tis true indeed, Place, as well as Time, is a Circumstance unavoidably attending Matters of Faff; but, in the Account of Matters of Fact:, the Circumstance of the particular Place may oftentimes be indifferent, and insignificant; i. e. when it adds no new Confirmation, or Illustration to the Transaction itself. Nay, a narrative of Transactions may be really true, when the Scene of them is mistaken, miscalled, or even quite forgotten. However, 'tis certain, that the Account of such a mere Circumstance is no farther material, nor does it properly affect the Story itself* but only as it serves to give some new Light or corroberating Evidence to it.
* We must observe then, that, in this Narration of St. "John, there are two distinct Miracles to be separately considered; that which was wrought by the Fool, after its Water was troubled,
* Dr. Pearce's Vind. Par! 4. p. 6.
and that, which our Saviour wrought
But instead of evading, let us see Some Ac-
• Dr. search Vind. Part 4. p. 7. * Neh, xxxt. 6p %iu 3?."
the use of such of the common People, as lov'd to swim, and bathe themselves in the Water; which, in thole warm Climates, was both a pleasant and healthful Exercise. Around this Bath v^exc built five Porches, or rather Portico's (for so the Word sW signifies) which were designed, as Places for the People to walk in, under covert, in the heat of the Day, if they had no mind to bathe; and for the Conveniency of dressing and undressing in the Shade, for those that had: For which Reason, both the Bath and Portico's were call'd • by the Name of Bethesda, i. e. the House of Mercy or Kindness, because the erecting them was a great Act of Kindness to the common People, whose Indispositions in hot Countries requir'd frequent Bathing; tho' others suppose that the Pool receiv'd that Name from the miraculous Cures, which were perform'd there.
At this Bath, about the Time of the Feast, (most probably the Feast of the <Paffover) a great Multitude of impotent Folk, of blind, halt, and wither'd, lay in the Portico's, waiting for the moving of the Waters. For (as St. John fays) an Angel went down Kara Kcupov at the Season (i. e. of the Passover) and troubled the Water, and whosoever then firs, as