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"wise so circumstantiated, as that the "Power of God, and not of blind Na"ture, might have been apparent in '« it." But all this Language is effectually silenc'd by the Method, which the wife Providence of God took in this Cafe.
What the stated Times of the Angel's At what Descent were, in order to confer a Cure *"""ir on some particular Persons 5 or what eaPpcc Care the Magistrates of Jerusalem took, in order to distribute the Cures, according to every one's Merit or Exigence, the Evangelist has not thought fit to acquaint us; because these are Circumstances no ways affecting ovu* Saviour's Cure of the Impotent Man, which was his chief Concern to relate. s He tells us however that there was a Place of Reception for the Sick and Impotent Folk, very convenient for their stepping down into the Water upon its Commotion; and, 'tis generally conjectur'd, that this Commotion happen'd once every Year, and, probably, about the Time of the Pa/fiver, when Jesus perform'd this Cure upon the Impotent Man.
But even supposing the Impotent Man N0 Tolly to know all this, viz. That the Angel wtheimdefcended but once a Year j that, upon P^111 U 3 luck
'Bp. Smllbnhh Yiud. p. 5i$> 6v.
such Descent, one only Person was to be healed ; and that he himself stood in no fair Competition for that Benefit j yet, since his Case was desperate, and his for wait- Malady incurable by Physicfc, he had wgso ong. notjjjng in(3ced else to do, but to wait at the Pool, in hopes of some Succeis at last. His Prospect, at present, was not very promising; but who could tell, but that, in Time, he might prevail with some kind Friend or other to help and assist him into the Pool, at the proper minute of Commotion? And accordingly, 'some have obscrv'd, that, by his Answer to our Saviour's Question, SjVilt thou be made whole ?~\ Sir, I have no Man, when the Water is troubled, to put me into the Pool', he means no more, than modestly to desire him (whom at that time he did not know) to supply his want of an Assistant, by putting him into the Pool himself at a proper Season.
And this, by the way, suggests a good Reason, why, out of the Multi-r tude of infirm People, that lay at thia Pool, our Saviour made choice of this Man only, namely, because he was peculiarly unqualify'd for a Cure by the Waters, on account, both of his own,
» 'Vid. Th;opJyUBi in Loc. & Erasml Faraph.
natural Incapacity to step^ in first himself, and of his Poverty, in having none to assist him in stepping into the Pool upon its first Commotion. u He was, in short, an Object most to be compassionated of any in the Place, and more especially so, as he had been now a very long time in this Condition, and yet still depended upon the good Providence of God for an Opportunity to be cur'd, at one time or other; for which Reason our Saviour might very justly single out him, and leave the rest to the standing Miracle.
To cure whole Multitudes at once why indeed sounds more popular, and car- ^ but lies the Face of more extensive Good- one out of ness: But, besides that our Saviour so many, might very probably, in this Cafe, conform to the Rule of Cure, established providentially at Bethesda, which was to . heal but one Person at one Time. His great Design, in every Action of this kind, we know, was to prove his Character aad Commission from God, to which End, one single and uncontestible Miracle was as sufficient an Evidence, as a Thousand. The Truth is, as he was a free Agent, he had certainly a Liberty to bestow his Favours as he pleas'd, and to chuse such particular U 4 Objects
■ Bp. Smaltbroke's Vind. p, 52$.
Objects of Cure, as he, at any time, should think fit, consistently with the great End and Design of all his miraculous Cures, which was to give a clear Attestation of his Divine Authority. And that the Cure, now before us, was iuch. an Attestation, will best appear by considering a little the Nature of the Distemper itself,
tureofh?s r Jhe Wor(l *&«*«, which we render Disease, Infirmity\ or Weakness, is indeed a ge
S2L ZTT- ^^^U MempeTs;
ntss. b.ut we it is so limited in its Signification by the Circumstances mention'd m the Context, that it can properly denote no other Disease, than what we call a confirmed Palsy. * For do the Symptoms of any other Distemper so exactly agree with the Description given oi this Infirmity, both in point of so % long Continuance, and such extreme Weakness at the fame time? Does not the Word Weakness., in its most obvious Sense, exactly answer to such a Relaxation of the nervous System, or some part of it, as made the Man uncapable of stepping quick enough from the Place, where he lay, into the adjacent Pool, upon its Commotion? And (what is no mean Circumstance) does not our Sari
"Bp. Smallbroh's Vind. p. 533.
our make use of * the same Form and Method of Cure to this very Man, that he applies to other <Paralyticks, Kisey take up thy Bed, and walk; a Form very proper to Perfbus thus distemper'd, both to express the Weakneis of their past Condition, arfd the Compleatneis of their present Cure?
These Symptoms, and concurring Circumstances, (as I take them) are a sufficient Proof, that the Distemper, here under debate, was the Walfy: And that a confirm'd l^l/y of thirty and eight Years Continuance is past the Power of Art, (much more the Power of Imagination) to remedy, and only curable by a Miracle, no Physician, I think, can doubt: And therefore, to look back upon what has been laid.
The Miracle of the Pool of Bethefda, TheSW*,, being a distinct thing from our Saviour's and CoD* Cure of the impotent Man, that he ttf,onof found there j tho' we are not strictly whole accountable for every Difficulty occur- Answer" ring in that Story, yet since, whether we suppose that the sanative Virtue of its Waters was of a short or long Connuance among the Jews, very good .Reasons may be given for the Silence of Jofephus concerning them; very good Pxealbns, why their Virtue, at this
■ Matt. ix. 6. Mark ii. a. Luke v. 24. JQ]m v. a,