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lated, could produce no influence on the remainder. strange, now, that Mr. Norton should contend at the same time, that both Matthew and Mark received large additions in the way of interpolation, even in the primitive age-yea, while some of the apostles themselves and evangelists were living! For if these books were interpolated, it must have been thus early. A later period renders it impossible, as Mr. Norton himself has even demonstrated, for interpolations to change the great body of Mss. in circulation among Christians.
The Evangelist Luke has almost escaped the abrading criticism of Mr. Norton. Only a very short paragraph in chap. xxii. 43, 44, respecting the agony and bloody sweat of the Saviour, and the interposition of an angel on the occasion, can, as he thinks, with good reason be doubted; p. lxxix.
Here, indeed, with respect to the verses specified, Mr. Norton may claim more critical support than in most of the other cases. The Cod. Alex. and Cod. Vaticanus omit the passage; as does the Sahidic Version. In ten Mss. it is marked as doubtful. Hilary says, that many Greek and Latin Mss. omit it. Jerome merely states, that some copies contained the passage.
On the other hand, Justin Martyr quotes it; Irenaeus appeals to it in order to confute those heretics who denied the real body of Christ; and so does Epiphanius also. It is contained in all the Mss. and versions except those mentioned above. There is no doubt of its being universal in the Codices of the New Testament, or at any rate nearly so, after the fourth century.
How Mr. Norton reconciles what he says here in one place, with some of his previous declarations, I am unable to see. Epiphanius says, that "the passage is found in Luke's Gospel, in those copies which have not been subjected to a revision.” His meaning plainly is: In those copies which have not been purposely altered so as to conform to certain opinions. But Mr. Norton in commenting on this declaration of the good father, makes it tantamount to saying: "It is found in copies not inspected after the transcriber had done his work, by some person responsible for the correctness of the text;" to which he subjoins the following clause: "A care which was undoubtedly taken of all copies pretending to accuracy;" p. lxxx. I have
underscored these remarkable words of Mr. Norton here; for remarkable they truly are, when we find them in a writer who has told us repeatedly of whole chapters and long paragraphs being added by copyists to Matthew and Mark, without any embarrassment at all, as it would seem, from "persons responsible for the correctness of the text." Mr. Norton does not thus commit himself, when he is pleading in behalf of a cause that is well grounded.
But the internal difficulties, again, are in his view the principal objections to the passage. The agony of the Saviour takes place after the angel has interposed. The bloody sweat is such an occurrence as physiology would decline undertaking to explain. The firmness and fortitude of the Saviour's character are rendered doubtful by such an event. No one was present to witness the events here related. If Jesus told the story to his disciples, how could Matthew omit the mention of it? The story interrupts the connection of the discourse.'
A brief reply to these objections, is all that seems to be needed. When the angel strengthened the Saviour, it was that he might bear the agony which awaited him, not to deliver him wholly from it. The cup must be drunk; it could not pass from the Saviour. Mr. Norton indeed, in his subsequent remarks, seems to imply a distrust in the interposition of angels on any occasion; but this is a point I need not stop to argue with him here.
As to the bloody sweat being a physiological impossibility, I have only to remark, that the Evangelist makes no statement liable to physiological objection; at least, as I understand him. His words are: ὁ ἱδρὼς αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ θρόμβοι αίματος καταβαί vovies daì tỷv qñ, i. e. 'his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.' I understand by this, that the agony of Jesus was such as to force from his body a copious and viscous perspiration, which fell down in conglomerated drops, like blood, to the earth; an occurrence perfectly within the pale of common physiology. Even if this sweat was discoloured, and of a reddish hue, there is nothing very strange in the occurrence. But the words of the Evangelist do not at all oblige us to suppose this. Mr. Norton himself has presented us here with that which Paulus calls a philological wonder.
But the firmness and fortitude of Jesus, it seems, are in danger of being compromitted on such an occasion. Then three of the Evangelists have compromitted them; for so many re
late his agony in the garden, and that which he endured on the cross, and also his complaints while thus suffering. On the other hand, my view of this case is very different. That Jesus persevered in his resolution, peacefully and unresistingly to suffer death, in the midst of such agonies, shews his firmness and fortitude in a most conspicuous light. Had he been merely stupid or insensible; had he exhibited only stoical apathy, or haughtily put at defiance (like the heathen of our western wilds) all torments however exquisite; how different would he have been from that tender-hearted "man of sorrows acquainted with grief," which the Evangelists have shown him to be! Now, all is well. Having been tried himself, he knows how to succour those who are tried.'
Nor can I forbear here to add one thought more; which is, that the peculiar sorrows and agonies of Jesus, who was perfectly free from sin, must ever remain inexplicable to those, who will not admit that "he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows," or that "he bore our sins, in his own body, on the tree."
As to the allegation that Jesus was alone, and therefore his disciples or others could know nothing of the agony in the garden; if it be of any avail, one must by implication make out from it, that Jesus did not communicate this to his disciples, during his forty days' converse with them after his resurrection, or that the Holy Spirit did not instruct the mind of the Evangelist in respect to it. How either of these views is to be established,
we have not yet seen.
That Matthew must have necessarily mentioned the circumstance of sweating as it were drops of blood, in case he knew of it, no more follows, than that he must have mentioned the raising of Lazarus from the dead, or the cure of the man born blind, because he knew of these.
Here again, also, Mr. Norton tells us at the close, how the "mistake of transcribers took [the passage before us] into the text of Matthew." In the preceding page he has told us, as we have already seen, what effectual care was taken to prevent such mistakes.
The story of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda we might expect to find doubted by Mr. Norton, who seems to be
anxiously desirous to dispense with all angelic interposition. But this passage has been so often discussed, and information respecting it is so accessible, that it is unnecessary for me to go into detail. It is well known, that a great variety of readings are to be found in the Mss. here, and some of great authority omit John 5: 4, which contains the special account of angelic interposition. Knapp marks the latter clause of v. 3 and the whole of v. 4 as suspicious; but he does not venture to reject it.
I shall make but few remarks on the subject. My first observation is, that scarcely any two Mss. which differ from the Textus Receptus here, agree with each other in their readings. The adverse testimony is remarkably discordant; and crossexamination would very much embarrass the witnesses.
My second remark is, that on the ground which Mr. Norton and others take, viz. of rejecting the story respecting the angel and the moving of the waters, no satisfactory account can be given of what the impotent man says, when addressed by the Saviour, and which all Mss. and versions agree in representing as genuine: "Sir, I have no one, when the water is troubled, who can put me into the pool; for whenever I come, another goes down into it before me." Now several things are necessarily involved in this answer, (1) That the waters were agitated only occasionally, or at certain times with intervals between. (2) That unless a person was put into the waters at the critical moment of agitation, no healing virtue was to be expected. (3) It would seem that only one person at a time was healed. (4) Not the least doubt appears to be entertained by the impotent man and others, that the healing virtue of the pool, when agitated, was a matter of fact.
All these things are plainly involved in the answer of the impotent man, i. e. that he and others firmly believed them all. Now if the preceding account of the agitation of the pool, of the interposition of the angel, and of the peculiar healing virtue. of the pool when agitated, should be all omitted, (and this Mr. Norton contends for), then this answer of the impotent man must appear to be so abruptly and mysteriously introduced by John, that it would be one of the most unaccountable things that I can even imagine. According to the best edition of the amended text the matter would stand thus: "There was a pool called Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a multitude of impotent, blind, maimed, withered. . . . Now there was a certain man there, etc." For what purpose then did all these
valetudinarians resort there? Not surely for common bathing, which could be had every where. Yet the Evangelist, as his emendators would have it, has not told us a word of the specific object of the visitors at this place; and yet in the sequel he introduces an impotent man, whom he represents as saying things that must in this way appear to the readers more mysterious than the riddle which so long perplexed Oedipus.
I cannot read this whole account without a deep conviction that the Received Text is in the right here, if the succeeding part of the story is to be retained; and of this we have no authority to doubt. It must be admitted, at least I cannot but admit, that the weight of authority is on the whole upon the side of the usual reading. If now, in addition to this it be a matter of fact, that the internal state of the composition renders necessary this reading, (and that this is so I appeal to the simple unprejudiced reader), then may we be contented with the text as it is.
As to Mr. Norton's objections on the score of angelic interposition, and the extraordinary nature of the case, I can allow them only when, with the Naturalists, I may come to disbelieve all which is miraculous. At present, I am a great way from such a position.
Mr. Norton thinks that the pool was "an intermitting medical spring." Did he ever hear of such a spring, that would heal but one, and that only when it was agitated? The words of the impotent man shew at least, that the popular belief was very different from this view of Mr. Norton. As to the fact itself, I shall have a word to say in the sequel.
Mr. Norton says, that the story of the angel is founded on the superstition of the Jews, who, in common with the heathen, were accustomed to ascribe any remarkable natural phenomenon to supernatural agency.' This is not a very honorary account of the Jews; and what is of rather serious import is, that it involves along with them, their patriarchs and prophets and apostles. The Scriptures are full of accounts which present us with such views. But how are we to disprove angelic agency? How are we to show that it is improbable even in any small degree, that there are intermediate beings between us and our Creator, who are "ministering spirits?"
As to the matter of fact in respect to the virtues of this Spring or Pool, much need not be said. The impossibility of such virtues by such means, no man can prove; the improba