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miraculous Cures. However this be, it is certain, that k St. Jerome, who himself had been at Jerusalem, makes mention of two Lakes, the one filled with the Rains, that came down in the Winter, and the o.ther with Water surprisingly Red, as it were Blood, which, by evident Signs, declares and tejlifies, fays he, the Work that was anciently done in it: 'Nor has a modern Traveller omitted to tell us, that, when he was there, he-saw, still remaining what is reputed the Place of this ancient Pool, and gives us the particular Dimensions of its length, breadth, and depth. Whence Thus it is plain, that near to Jeruitssana- Jafem, there was such a Place as the me, *£- Pooi °f Bethesda; but how its Waters rent opt- came by their sanative Quality, Opinions, in jfome measure, have been divided. Our learned Hammond (who sometimes affects a Singularity of Interpretation) supposes, that the Waters became * Medicinal, by being impregnated with an healing warmth from the Blood and Entrails of the lacrificed Beasts, that were washed there;
* St. JSeren. Op. Tom. 2. in Lib. Je Sita. & nominibus Locoium Hcbrxorum, p. 422. 'Maandrel's Travels, p. 107, ■
and that the Angel, in the m Text, is not to be understood of any of those celestial Beings, that are uiiially distinguished by that Name, but is a more general Appellation for a Messenger, an Officer, or Servant of the Priest, sent by him, at a proper Season, to stir the Water of the Pool.
The learned n Bartholine supposes, that these Waters were naturally Medicinal, and that their Commotion was occasioned by an extraordinary Fermentation of some Mineral in them; and therefore he makes the Angel no more than a divine Power, which originally gave them this Efficacy, though it was exerted in a natural Way. ° But besides, that the Word iyyi\o<; seldom occurs in the former, and never in this Sense, in any historical Narrative in Scripture, there are these plain Objections against both Hypotheses, viz. tha^ be the Waters impregnated with what Ingredient we please, (had their Operation been Mechanical) they must necessarily have cur'd more than one Person, at every Commotion or Fermentation; and yet they never can be suppos'd of Efficacy enough to cure all U manner
"Vid. Annot. on Jth Ch. of Sr. Join. 'De Paralyticis N. Test, J Bp. SmaUhroke* Vind. P- 507, &c.
manner of Diseases, in an Instant, and at one single Immersion, as the Waters of Bethefda are represented to do. And therefore, waving all such Suppositions, we may be allow'd to set the Authority of an ancient Father of the Most pro- Church against these modem Names, Stkand lay, P « That the Angel, which Attion of" descended at a certain Season, gave an Angel. « faQ Water its medicinal Virtue; For "the Nature of the Water was not "sanative in itself, (if it had, Cures "would have always happened) but "the whole depended on the Virtue "communicated to it by the Angtl.
That God has frequently employ'd the Ministry of Angels in Affairs of this, kind; and that Angels, thus employ'd, by their natural Powers and Facultiesare qualified to execute his Will 'y that they are strong, quick, and penetrating, as the Wind, as Lightning, as a flame of Fire, and are therefore oft in Scripture express'd by these Metaphors; and that, by means imperceptible to us, they can dispose the Temperature of the Air, and order the Influence of all other Elements so, as to produce Effects, either hurtful or sanative to human Bodies, is evident from a great variety of Instances, that might be produc'd, both out
J Vid. TheophylaS. in C. 5. Jehan- Evaxg>
of the Old and New Testament. But: why God, at this Time more especially, vouchsafed the Jews such an Angelick Favour and Dispensation, as this at the Pool of Bethefda, is not so easy a matter to resolve.
The Jews, we know, had been God's Why God peculiar People, and honoured with ma- *' '*"n] ny signal Tokens of his divine Presence vouchsaamong; them; 1 but now these were no scd thlS more. All Prophecy, the Unm and the j(WS, tfhummim, and the miraculous Fire from Heaven were entirely ceas'd; and therefore it may be suppos'd, that in some meaiure to supply the want of these, in order to keep up a lively Sense of God's Providence among them, and to shew, that he had not absolutely deserted his People, this miraculous Descent of an Angel, at certain Seasons, or of some Power equivalent to it, was vouchsafed them. But there is not the like Reason for any such Miracle now, when God * hath Jfohen to us by his Son, and by him given us a compleat and final Revelation of his Will.
If however the End of this Jngelical why it Descent was to keep up the Sense of a cur'd bl1t divine Providence among the Jews, then °^.a was this End better answers, by the Cure of one Person only, at every ComU z motion
! Bp. SmaUhroh's Vind p 504. [ Bek. i. 2.
motion of the Water, than by the Cure of Multitudes at once: And the Reason is, because the Cure of one Person only, at one time, evine'd that the Effect was miraculous; whereas, upon Supposition, that many Persons had been cured at once, these Cures might have been imputed to the natural Virtue of the Water, either as it was impregnated with some sort of Mineral, or as the warm Entrails and Blood of the Jewish Sacrifices might give it a Balfamick and healing Quality. * Had Numbers been cur'd at once, I lay, the Scepticfc then might have ask'd, " Where is the Won"der of this? Do not many Medicinal <( Baths cure various kinds of Diseases, "and Multitudes of such, as labour "under each Disease,, provided their "Case be curable? Had one only in"deed been cur'd, the first that could "get in, after the troubling of the Wa"ter, there would have been then a "great and real Miracle? But now the "Numbers make the Fact suspicious: "It seems to have been a natural Qua"lity in the Waters, because it is so "universal. To make it appear a "Miracle, its Effects should have "been confin'd and limited to particu"lar Times, and Persons, or other
* Dr. pearce, Part 4. p. 14.