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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
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 aster 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 travscribers 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 mao 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 in potent, 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 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 ac
' count 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 improbability can be shown merely by trusting to physiological reasoning. But on the same ground, Hume has objected to all miracles; and so might others do. Yet this cannot prove, that he who made the world may not and does not interpose—and this in a variety of ways—in order to accomplish special ends which the usual laws of nature will not accomplish.
But let us view the subject, for a moment, in another light. Suppose a writer should now appear on the stage, who, in describing the occurrences of the last generation in Boston, should state the existence there of such a pool as that of Bethesda. What should we say of hin, in case matters were as we now know them to have been? We should say: “This author is either a fool or a madman. And what would become of his book? Of course it would be regarded with universal contempt.
Now John, in telling the story of the impotent man, has made an appeal to all Jews, and to all the world who knew any thing of Jerusalem, as to the facts which he has stated. Even omitting the disputed part of the account, the words of the impotent man still imply, for substance, all which that contains. John, then, has either represented this man as being a madman, or else Jobn bimself was mad, when he published such a story, if it be not founded in fact. There was not a place of any note, in all the eastern world, which did not contain Jews who had been up to Jerusalem to the seast. They must all have known whether the story about such a pool as John's Gospel mentions, was well or ill founded; and in the latter case, the credit of his Gospel must have been ruined at once. Was John so destitute of common sense, as to throw out upon the world such an idle fabrication, at the risk of all credit and all respect? So I cannot think; and therefore I admit the fact as stated in the Textus Receptus.
But it will be said, that in this statement I assume the fact that John did publish the paragraph now disputed. I have done so; but I am willing to assume the ground that the paragraph marked in Knapp as suspicious, is to be omitted. How do matters then stand? They stand thus, viz. that the representation of the impotent man renders it necessary to suppose, that his own views of the healing virtues of the pool were the common and popular views; else why the porches, and the numerous valetudinarian visiters there? Otherwise, moreover, John bas introduced a man as telling a story, which has not, and never had, the least foundation in point of fact, or even of SECOND SERIES, VOL. 1. NO. 1.
supposed fact; a story which every inhabitant of Jerusalem, not to say of Palestine, could of his own personal knowledge contradict. In fact we cannot for a moment imagine, that the views of the multitude were not such as the answer of the impotent man implies that they were. Surely John has not represented this man as gravely saying what every body knew to be false or ridiculous. What then could have occasioned such a popular belief as this?
But aiter all, it will be said, there is this advantage in leaving out the disputed clause, viz. John is not then made responsible for the truth of what is said concerning the virtues of the pool of Bethesda ; be merely states what the popular belief was, through the medium of what is said by the impotent man.
To this I should reply, that the aspect of the whole story is such, even on the ground of omitting the disputed passage in it, as seems to my mind plainly to imply, that John did not deem the account given by the impotent man as inconsistent with truth, or as varying from it. "No qualifying word of John's gives us even a hint, that he supposes the man to be merely speaking out his own superstitious and groundless views. I do not, therefore, think any substantial difficulty is avoided by rejecting the disputed passage; and the rest of ihe account is such as, in my view, to render the admission of it apparently necessary.
Even if John did not bimself write the disputed part of the paragraph before us, whoever did insert it, he must bave done so at a very early period; certainly before the close of the second century, or rather, before the middle of it ; for the Peshito contains it in full. The interpolator, then, must have been a very strange man, if he could suppose that a fact like this would not be generally known among the readers of Jolin's Gospel, to be either true or false. If false, how could his interpolation escape being detected ?
In a word; the difficulties are not by any means confined to the Textus Receptus. The omission of the disputed passaye seems to me to throw more difficulty in our way, than the reception of it. At any rate I am far enough from thinking, as Mr. Norton says he does, tható John did not adopt the common error of his countrymen respecting the agency of an angel in the case in question, because he appears to have been free from a more general error, viz. the belief that diseases were occasioned by demoniacal possession ;' p. Ixxxvi.