Thomas Carlyle.

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for Jewish writers are silent regarding it; and its
very position is now involved in a degree of un-
certainty. What is pointed out as the remains of it,
is a dry basin or reservoir outside of the northern

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wall of the Temple Mount, and wUdi htm been so
carelessly examined that the most widely different
acooonts are given of its dimensions. For ezsnple
lUfhr makes its length to be one Irandred and twenty
feet, its breadth forty, its depth eight; while Bobbi-
son, the latest axtd best authority, makes the length
three hundred and sixty, the breadth one hmidredasd
thirty, aaid tiie depth serenty-fiye.

It is not, howerer, what Bethesda might be as a
public bath that deserres any particolar notice here;
for as snch it could only have resembled, more or less,
works of a sdmilar kind, which were to be found in
most andent cities, Rome itself possesshig upwards
of eight hundred of them. What alone calls for
spedal conrideration, is the remarkable drcumstance
mentioned concerning the waters of this Pool— thait
they were oocasionaUy moved by an angel, and that
when so moved the first person who then stepped
in, but only the first, was healed of his infirmity.
Does it not look like a somewhat strange office this
for an angel to perform ? And if so exalted a mes-
senger did really stoop to perform it, does not the
effect resulting from his agency appear very partial
and capricious ? Why was only one victim of dis-
ease h^ed, and that the first who stepped in, rather
^han any other ?

Such questions very naturally occur, if the circum-
stance is viewed apart firom its great end and object
—the bearing it was intended to have on the appeal^
ing and work of Clirist — and treated simply as a piece
of common history, recording events that belonged to
an ordinary age of the world. In that case, like the
demoniacal possessions, it lies open to various doubts
and surmises of unbeHef^ which are more easUy stated
than satisfkctorfly disposed o£ And hence it is that
■0 many diallow and ridiculous suppositions have been
resorted to, -vrith the view of accounting for, by natu-
ral causes, what the evangelist plainly ascribes to a
supernatural one— such as that the waters of the
Pool possessed some mineral quality, which had a
healing influence on certain diseases; or, that the en-
irafli of animals slain for the temple service were
thrown into it, and rendered it capable of exerting
such an influence, when stirred by some messenger
appointed for the purpose. These are the poor de-
fioes of a half-bsfldel Christianity, which would not
altogether reject the (Gospel history as a « cunningly
devised fable,** but can as littie rise to the apprehen-
sion of the great truths and principles with which it
is interwoven. Of that history Jesus Christ, God
manifest in the flesh, is at once the great centre and
the grand mirade. To view the other droumstances
bebnging to the age and time of his appearance apart
from him, were as unwise, and as unlikely to lead to
Mtisftctory results in divine truth, as it would be in
philosophy to consider the phenomena of this earth
without respect to the sun, which is their common
•oorce and centre. But if, on the other hand, viewed,
at they all jhould be, in their proper connection with
Christ, there is nothing in any of them but what may
admit of a most satisfitetory explanation— certainly
there is nothing here.

We take it for granted that at such a time, when
■idi a personage appeared, and luoh a work was in
pcogtMi on the atrtii, there must hare been many

tfaingsofapeotdiar and extraordhiagry kind, baoanse
these were necessary to ftunish Jesus with the oppor-
tiadties he needed to bring fully out before men his
real dmaeter and Godhead. Supematuiid manifes-
tations of divine power and goodness, sudi as deoriy
bespoke the operation of a gradoos God, were tiie fit
and proper heralds of his approadi, as i^ese, exer-
cised in surpassing measure by linn«#>)f^ i^ere tiie
natural indications of his glorious presence, and the
seals of his divine commission. Hence, immedi-
ately before his being manifSested to Israel, there
were gifts of prophecy then again beginning to
show themselves forth in the Church— in the devout
Anna^ in the aged Simeon, and especially in John the
Baptist, who, in some respects, was even more than
a prophet But the only purpose for which they
were so gifted, was to point the minds and expecta-
tions of men to Christ, as the great light of the
world, and to render the more conspicuous that glory
ki him which so far excelled what was in them. In
the spiritual as in the natural world, a dawn preceded
thd bright diining of the glorious orb of day. For
the same purpose, also, there were gifts of healing;
which sometimes, at least when exercised with prayer
and fasting, we have good reason to think, were suc-
cessful in relieving to a certain extent such as were
labouring under the oppressions of the adversary,
which were then permitted peculiarly to abound.
The design and tendency of such gifts was only to
herald the coming and di^lay the peerless migesty of
Him who, both in respect to body and mind, was to
cure every fbrm of disease, and to heal all that were
oppressed of the devil. And that such preparatory
and inferior gifts of healing should have been con-
nected with the Pool of Bethesda was the more natu-
ral, as it was not only in itself a place of refreshment
for the weary, but the waters with whidi it was filled
flowed from that Fountain of Siloam, or Shiloah,
which, even in andent times, was taken to represent
the safety and blessedness derived from the gracious
presence and help of Jehovah. When the Jews, in
the days of Ahaz, revolted in their hearts from the
Lord, and put their trust in an arm of flesh, they were
charged as ** refusing the waters of Shiloah that go
softly** (Isa. viii. 6); for that perpetual and copious
spring of waters, rising within the walls of the dty,
and constituting one of its greatest natural advan-
tages, was fitly regarded as a striking emblem of the
sure and unceadng flow of benefits that its people
might derive from the presence and blessing of God.
In later times, the people perfectiy understood tha
allusion of the prophet, and carrying it too fur, as
persons of a Pharisaical spirit never fail to do with
everything of a like kind, they came to look upoa
those waters of Siloam as in themselves possessing a
kind of divine property, from their siq>posed peculiar
connection with Gh>d, and on the last day of the Feast
of Tebemades, when they poured out bucket-fulls
of them on the sacrifice, they gave utterance to their
sentiments by singing with enthusiastic joy the woi^
of the prophet : ** With joy shall ye draw water from
the wells of salvation.**

This, of course, was an unwarranted, a supersti-
tioiis use of the allusion in question; but it at lefist
i ndi c a t ed a maiked, and in itself a booomiug, atten-

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tion to the nataml leison taught bj these Titers m
regard to Qod^n ooyeoaiit-loT«aDd goodness, and eon-
■eqsently reodsred it all thesuwe fittu^ and likely,
that nch iraten laight be emidojed in ««Be peoiliar
way to lead the hearta oC the pe«i^ te fiEkn, ^e
bleaamgB of whose presence and proteetioa th^ so
strikingly represented. The lord iooi^t, on one
oocadon, dniiz^ the Feast of Tah em actoa, to twn
them to sodi a use, when, leelDg the paapi^ aU «n-
gressed with Hbm proAtieaB osiemony of drawkig
wttter from Sfkain, and pouring it out in the ten^,
he stood and eried, ^ If any man tiiirst, let hSmeome
onto me and drink; he that beUeveth on me, as the
Soriptnre hath nid, out of his belly shall flow riven
of running water/* And we hftre no donbi thai it
was ferthe purpose of leading the people to make
substantially the same use of the waters of 89oam,
thai a healing rirtue was ccmmmnicated to these
waters, yet so, that oTon they might be said to con-
fess Biear Lord. There was a mivaole of healing at
that time oonneeted with them, io testify thait,
tfarou^ sooh signs, ttod was returning to riait his
people; but being designed only to announce the
coming, and disoorer the glory of Christ, there were
limita^ns belonging to it : First, in regard to the
instrument— an angel from heaven, who, thou|^ a fit
messenger for such a fisit of mercy, stiU was but a
creature. In regard, also, to the persons who partid-
pated in the benefit^the first always that stepped iii^
to show that the cure was not an accident, but the
result of dirine power supematurally conreyed; yet
still only the first, (oly that one, to show that it was
diTine power acting under restraint. And when
Christ came to that poor and long-oppressed rictun
of disease, who, in consequmice of these limitations,
could deriTO no benefit from the aagel^s visits to
Bethesda, and with a single word loosedhim from his
infirmity — whsn he did this, not as a Angular thing,
but merely as a specimen of that miraculous and
blessed working which was every day prooeedii^
firom his hand— what could more clearly and impres-
rively prove that he was the grand reality which the
waten of Siloam did but fiiintly reprsssnt, and so
nnich better than these, even when stirred by an
ttigd^ hand, as he is himself in nature higher tiian
the angels, and his works of mercy surpassed theiis?
And as the miracle wrought upon the impotent man
WMB attended with drcumstanoes which anrestsd the
minds oi the whele people of Jerusalem, could any-
thing hsk-ve been oenoeived more skilfully adapted to
Dnstsiialn them to own Jesus, as Heaven^ grand mes-
■angeTy sent on an errand of mercy to the world? or,
MSang as they did to discsm this, oould anything
nara served more affMstin^ to discover tiieir dsj^or-
able blindness and hi^ess infOuatlon, tiian that
tiiej alioald have so readily aseribed one miraenlons
save to the interperition of an angels hand, while
they obstinately resisted the evidence of thousands
of Boch cores performed in the midst of them, by the
firii^ Toioe and the outstretched arm of Christ ?

'thuB we see, that when considered in rektion to
the great p<mits which it was designed to illustrate
and unfold, there is nothing incredible, or even appa-
rently out of place, in the recorded circumstances
ooncemins the Pool of Bethesda» The veiy Hmita-

tions were necessary to adapt the whole pr^erly to
the end which it was intended to serve; and we do
not see how any circumstance could have been mate-
rially altered without having so far tended to lessen
its suitableness to the peculiar wants of the time.
The same may also be said of the manner of the cure
performed by onr Lord in reject to its being done
on the Sabbath, and followed up with an ii\|uaetien
to the restored individual to take his couch along with
him. This was not, certainly, intepded, as the Jeys
improperly imagined, to weaken the obligation to
keep the Sabbath as a day sacred to the Lord.' It
was a circumstance obviondy chosen for the purpose
of arresting men^s attention to the case, which mij^t
otherwise have passed unheeded, and drawing them
in living fidth to the Lord of the Sabbath. Not only
was the cure itself a work of mercy toward the indi-
vidual, and as such no violation of the Sabbatical rest,
but both that and his thereafter canying his couch
was a work of mercy, if rightly interpreted, to the
whole people. It was a great matter-of-fietct sermon
—a proof and manifestation of the revealed arm of
Jehovahr' - an undeniable eridenoe that the Most High
was in the midst of them; and was, therefore, as fit
and seasonable for that day as the labours of God's
servants in his temple. For what higher object could
any of these have in view than to proclaim the pre-
sence, the power, and the goodness of God! So
that, in regard to the whole of this, as of every other
part of the doings and anangements of Christ, we
may justly say, ** He hath done aU things well,** and
divine Wisdom is here also justified by her children.

We do not need to enter the closet in order to find
the Lord. He is ever near to us. But we enter it
in order to escape from distractions, and in order to
regain those associations, and, it may be, to surround
ourselves with those mementoes which we formerly
found helpful to our prayers. One who has great
powers of abstraction may take refuge ttom sur-
rounding bustle in the depths of his own spirit, and
pass along the crowded streets in the peri>etual her-
mitage of his own self-seclusion, undiverted andun-
distraeted by all that is whbrling round him. But
few have tMs tal»t of inward sequestration— this
power to make a eleset ef themselves; and, in order
to ihid for their thenghts a peaceful sanctuary, they
must find for their persons a tranquil asyhnn. It
little matters where or what it is. Isaac went out
into the field, and Jacob plied his night-long prayer
beside the running brook. Abraham planted agseve,
end, in the cool shadow of his oaks at Beersbeoa, he
eaUed en the name of the Lord. Abraham*B servant
knelt down beside his cameL And it would appear
from some of his psalms, that a cave, a mountain
fastness, or a cavern in the rocks, was David*s fire-
queat oratory. Peter had chosen for his place of
prayer the quiet and airy roof of his sea-side lodging,
when the messengers of Cornelius found him. It
vrould seem that the open air — the noiseless ampli-
tude of the *<soHtary place**— the hill-side, with the
stars above, and the shadowy worid below— the tnr
grant stillness of the garden, when evening had dis-
missed the labourers, were the places where the Man

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of Sorrows lored to pray. It was in the old church
of Ayr that John Welsh was wont, all alone, to
wrestle with the Angel of the Covenant ; and we hare
stood in the wild rock-cleft where Peden found fre-
quent refuge from his persecutors, and whence he
caused his cry to ascend ** unto the Lord most high/^
It does not need four walls and a bolted door to make
a place of prayer. Retirement, and silence, and
a sequestered spirit will create it anywhere. By the
shore of the sounding sea— in the depths of the forest
— ^in the remoteness of the green and sunny upland,
or the balmy peacefulness of the garden bower —
nay, amidst the dust of the dingy ware-room, or the
cobwebs of the owlet-haunted bam — ^in the jolting
comer of the crowded stage, or the unnoticed nook
of the trayellers' room, you have only to shut your
eyes, and seclude your spirit, and you have created a
closet there. It is a closet wherever the soul linds
itself alone with God.—" Mount of Olives.'^

When Dr Watts was almost wom out and broken
down by his infirmities, he observed, in conversation
with a friend : " I remember an aged minister used
to say, that the most learned and knowing Christians,
when they come to die, have only the same plain
promises of the Gospel for their 8>ipport as the com-
mon and imleamed; and so,'* said he. " I find it. It
is the plain promises of the Gospel tnat are mv sup-
port ; and I bless God they are plain promises, tnat do
not require much labour and pains to understand them ;
for I can do nothing now but look into my Bible for
some promise to support me, and live u]}on that'*

This was likewise the case with the pious and ex-
cellent Mr Hervey. He writes, about two months
before his death : " I now spend, almost my whole
time in reading and graying over the Bible/* And
again, near the same time, to another friend : " I am
now reduced to a state of infant weakness, and given
over by my physician. My grand consolation is to
meditate on Christ; and I am hourly repeating those
heart-reviving lines of Dr Young :
* rAi>— only f Air— subdues the fear of death.

And what is this ? Survey the wondrous cure.

And at each step let higher wonder rise !

I. Pardon for infinite offbnce l—% And pardon
Tbroifgh means that speak itsTalne infinite I—

8. A pardon bought with blood !- 4. With blood divine .
6. \Mth blood dlTlne of Him 1 made my foe !—
6. Persisted to provoke !— 7. Though woo'd and aw'd,
Bless'd and chastis'd. a flagrant rebel still !— .

8. A rebel 'midst the thunders of His throne.—

9. Nor I alone !— 10. A rebel universe I

II. My species up in arms !— IS. Not one exempt !—
18. Yet for the foulest of the foul He dies !

14. Most Joy'd for the redeem'd fh>m deepest gulf !—

15. As if our race were held of highest rank.
And Godhead dearer, as more kind to man.* "

That children are naturally indisposed to smcerity
must be admitted. A propensity to deceive by word
and act is among the bitter fniits of our common
apostasy. " The wicked.''^ saith the Psalmist, ** are
estranged from the vomb; they go astray <u soon as
they are bom, telling liesJ** One of the first things
observable in children is an effort to deceive. To
exonerate themselves from blame, or free themselves
from anticipated punishment, they falsify their word,
or cover up what truth and duty demand should be
exposed. Very important, therefore, is it to prevent
this — to nip tins evil propensity in the bud, and cul-
tivate a fntuk, open, sincere disposition. How may
this be done ? I suggest four things : —

1. Impress them deeply vnih the criminality and
odiousness of insincerity. Thb may be done by read-
ing and expounding to them portions of Scripture
bearing unon tiiis ]x>int, and making them commit to
memory tnose x>ortions of Scripture.

2. Always be sincere with them^ never allowing
yourself to deceive them in any particular, or for any
cause. There is often a temptation, on the part of
the parents, to do the opposite of this. It is often
quite convenient to deceive a child; but he who does
it, does it to the child^ moral injury and his own
guilt. He teaches falsehood by example— the most
effective of teaching— and the pupil wUl most surely
learn and practise deceit himself.

3. When your children commit an offence and
confess it, commend them for the confesaon, and
forgive them the wrong done.

4. When you detect your child in a lie, invariably
punish him for it. Whatever other offence goes un-
punished, let not this. If Jehovah regards lying as
a crime, that parent who omits severe discipline in
case of falsehood, is certainlv deserving of censure.

Our Saviour tells us that he who lies hears Satan^s
image, **He was a murderer from the beginning,
and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth
in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh his
own; for he is a liar, and the father of it." And
Jehovah hath said : " All liars shal Ihave their part
in the lake that bumeth with fire and brimstone."

While the path of sincerity is straight and plain,
and the sunlight of heaven rests upon it, and while
it leads upwards to the home of God and truth, the
paths of dissimulation are uark^and crooked, an J
*Icad down to the abode of the prince of darkness.
Can we be too careful that our children should be
kept in the way of the Father of lights, and out of
the tortuous, snaky course, of the infernal serpent ?—
MoVier'^s Magazine,

** Their restless feet are pressing at this very hour
the snows of Siberia, and the burning sands of the
desert Our friend Gobat found numbers of them
in^the elevated plains of Abyssinia, eighteen hundred
miles to the south of Cairo; and when Denham and
Clart)erton, the first travellers that ventured across
the great Sahara, arrived on the banks of the Lake
Tchad, tiiey also found that the wandering Jew had
preceded them there by many a long year. When
the Portuguese settled in the Indian Peninsula, they
found three distinct classes of Jews; and when the
English lately took possession of Aden, in the south
of Arabia, the Jews were more in number there than
the Gentiles. By a census taken within the last few
montlis in Russia, they amoimt to two millions two
hundred thousand; so that their population in that
immense empire exceeds that of our twenty-two
cantons. Morocco contains three hundred thousand,
and Tunis one hundred and fifty thousand. In the
one small town of Sana, the capital of Arabia Felix,
they assemble together in eighteen synagogues.
Yemen counts two hundred thousand. The Turk-
ish empire two himdred thousand, of which Con-
stantinople alone contains eighty thousand. At
Brody, where the Christians, who are ten thousand
in number, have only three churches, the Jews,
twenty thousand in number, have one hundred and
fifty synagogues. Himgary has three hundred thou-
sand. Cntcorie twenty-two thousand. In a word,
it is imagined that, were all the Jews assembled to-
gether, they would form a population of seven mil-
lions; so that, could you transport them into the
land of their fathers this very year, they would form
a nation more powerful and more numerous than our
Switzerhmd."— iVofeMor Oaussen of Genwa,

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SiTGH seem to be ihefour topia contained in the
two dosing verses of the 4th chapter of the
Second Epistle to the Corinthians : ^ For our
light affliction, which is but for a moment,
worketh for us a far more exceeding and eter-
nal -weigfat of glory; while we look not at the
things which are seen, but at the things which
are not seen: for the things which are seen are
temporal; but the things which are not seen
are eternal." I wish to draw the reader's
attention to each of these topics; and having
been premonisbed that brevity, which has
been said to be the soul of wit, is to be the
' Boul, too, of the Christian Treaturif, I shall not
attempt to introduce them all into one paper,
bat, with the editor's permission, shall distri-
bnte them into a series of two or three in suc-

I. The fnt of the four topics is — the be-
liztkr's afflictions. What is here said of
them 1—** Our U^ offlieHon, lehich ii but for a
mmetU.'* The sufferings which Paul had here
chiefly in his eye were such as he himself and
others, his fellow-labourers in the Grospel espe-
cially, were called in providence to endure for
the name's sake of Jesus — the afflictions arising
I from the persecuting violence of the ** enemies
of the cross of Christ." The reader may see
this by looking at the preceding context, verses
4-12. In vaHous other places he refers point-
edly and largely to this description of trials —
setting forth their variety, their amount, and
their constancy. Consult, for example, chapters
^ 4, 5,andxi. 23-27, of this same Epistle; and
of the former Epistle to the same Church, chap-
ter iv. 9-13. Such, with little interruption, was
PanPs own condition; such it had been from
tbetfane of his conversion and installation in
^ apostolic office; and such, from past expe-
rience, as well as from his knowledge of the
^UMshanged identity of his doctrine, and, of the
"wtnre against whose pride and corruption its
principles militated, was his prospect for life.
He had no ground on which to expect its cessa-
^on, but with the cessation of his ministry; and
^ ministry he could not lay down till his
T^ pnlse had beat. And of such « afflic-
^ " all his f eUowHwrvants and fellow-believers
I "No.4.«

had, in their various kinds and measures, their
allotted share; and so have many since been
called to suffer, in different parts of the world
and periods of the Church's history. It has
not ceased to be the policy of ** the prince of
this world " to stir up the enemies of the cross
against those who have taken it up to bear it
after Jesus — ^to incite the subjects of his own
kingdom against the subjects of Christ's. In
the history of modem mission we still have
exemplifications of this policy — some of them
in no ordinary degree severe and affecting. In
our own favoured country we have little to
fear. Public persecution there is none, or of a
description so negative and limited as to be
unworthy to be called by the same name. Let
us be thankful. In the enjoyment of religious
liberty and ci\Tl protection, we here^ according
to Eastern figure, "sit every man under his
vine and under his fig tree, no one making us
afraid." And yet, while the exterminating
sword of legal persecution does not awake

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 10 of 145)