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as Chrysostom ingeniously observes, he would not have gone and told them “ that it was Jesus which had made him whole," but rather that it was Jesus who had bidden him to carry his bed.
His word, however, profited nothing. The Jews were only provoked the more ; for so is it ever with the revelation of the divine : what it does not draw to itself it drives from itself ; what it does not win to obedience it arrays in active hostility.
They are now more bitterly incensed against the Lord, not merely because he had encouraged this man to break, but had in that act of healing himself broken, the sabbath,—set at nought, that is, their traditions about it. In his reply he seeks to lift up the cavillers to the true standing point from which to contemplate the sabbath, and his relation to it as the only-begotten of the Father. He is no more a breaker of the sabbath than God is, when he upholds with an energy that knows no pause the work of his creation from hour to hour, and from moment to moment : “ My Father worketh hitherto, and I work ;" my work is but the reflex of his work. Abstinence from an outward work belongs not to the idea of a sabbath, it is only more or less the necessary condition of it for beings so framed and constituted as ever to be in danger of losing the true collection and rest of the spirit in the multiplicity of earthly toil and business. Man indeed must cease from his work, if a higher work is to find place in him. He scatters himself in his work, and therefore must collect himself anew, and have seasons for so doing. But with him who is one with the Father it is otherwise. In him the deepest rest is not excluded by the highest activity; nay rather, in God, in the Son as in the Father, they are one and the
This defence of what he has done only exasperates his
* Thus Augustine on the eternal Sabbath-keeping of the faithful (Ep. 55, c. 9): Inest autem in illâ requie non desidiosa segnitia, sed quædam ineffa. bilis tranquillitas actionis otiosæ. Sic enim ab hujus vitæ operibus in fine requiescitur, ut in alterius vitæ actione gaudeatur.
adversaries the more. They have here not a sabbath-breaker only, but also a blasphemer, one who, as they well perceive, however some later may have refused to see it*, is putting himself on an equality with God, is claiming divine attributes for himself; and they now not merely persecute, but seek to slay himt. Hereupon follows a discourse than which there is no weightier in Holy Scripture, for the fast fixing of the doctrine concerning the relations of the Father and the Son. Other passages may be as important in regard of the Arian, other again in regard of the Sabellian, declension from the truth; but this upon both sides plants the pillars of the faith; yet it would lead too far from the purpose of this volume to enter on it here.
The subject, however, would not be complete without some further reference to the types and prophetic symbols which many have traced in this history. It has been needful indeed in part to anticipate this matter. We have seen how, of old, men saw in these beneficent influences of the pool of Bethesda a foreshewing and foreshadowing of future benefits, and specially, as was natural, of the benefit of baptism; and, through familiarity with a miracle of a lower order, a helping
* Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 17): Ecce intelligunt Judæi, quod non intelligunt Ariani.
+ The words kai úrovv aútov STOKTeivai (ver. 16,) are probably transferred from this ver. 18, where they are in their fit place: but there they anticipate the later despite of the Jews, and are omitted by many important authorities. It is an interesting question whether the “one work” which our Lord says that he had done, and they all marvelled (John vii. 21), or, all were disturbed (oavuusete, as Euthymius says rightly here, = Popußeiobe, tapárteobe) be an allusion to the healing of this impotent man, as it is evidently to a Sabbath-day cure. Most interpreters answer in the affirmative without any doubt. Yet it certainly seems unlikely that the Jews should again have brought up the old accusation concerning a work of healing wrought on a prior visit to Jerusalem, and ver. 31 shews that he had wrought many miracles there. It is then, I think, most likely that not this miracle, but some new Sabbath cure not recorded, but only thus alluded to, had thus anew awakened their contradiction and enmity.
of men's faith to the receiving the weightier mystery of a yet higher healing which was to be linked with water * They were well pleased also often to magnify the largeness and freedom of the present benefit, by comparing it with the narrower and more stinted blessings of the old dispensation, blessings which, they say t, altogether ceased at the death of Christ, with the coming in, that is, and establishing of the new. The pool with its one healed, and that one at distant intervals,—once a year Theophylact and most others assumed, although nothing of the kind is said, and the word of the original may mean oftener or seldomer,—was the type of the weaker and more restrained graces of the Old Covenant; when not as yet was there room for all, nor a fountain opened and at all times accessible for the healing of the spiritual sicknesses of the whole race of men, but only of a single people 1.
Thus Chrysostom, in a magnificent Easter sermons, whose allusions have a peculiar fitness, the season of Easter being that at which the great multitudes of neophytes were baptized. He says :-“ Among the Jews also there was of old a pool of water. Yet learn whereunto it availed, that thou mayest accurately measure the Jewish poverty and our riches. There went down, it is said, an angel and moved the waters, and who first descended into them after the moving, obtained a cure. The Lord of angels went down into the stream of Jordan, and sanctifying the nature of water, healed the whole world. So that there indeed he who descended after the first was not healed, for to the Jews infirm and carnal this grace was given ; but here after the first a second descends, after the second a third and a fourth ; and were it a
* So especially Chrysostom (in loc.) * TERTULLIAN, Adv. Jud., c. 13.
* The author of the work attributed to Ambrose (De Sacram., 1. 2, c. 2): Tunc inquam temporis in figurâ qui prior descendisset, solus curabatur. Quantò major est gratia Ecclesiæ, in quâ omnes salyantur, quicunque descendunt! § Opera, v. 3, p. 756, Bened. Ed.
thousand, didst thou cast the whole world into these spiritual fountains, the grace were not worn out, the gift expended, the fountains defiled, the liberality exhausted.” And Augustine, ever on the watch to bring out his great truth that the Law was for the revealing of sin, and could not effect its removal, for the making men to know their sickness, not for the healing that sickness, for the dragging them out of the lurkingplaces of an imagined righteousness, not for the providing them of itself with any surer refuge, finds a type, or at least an apt illustration of this, in those five porches, which showed their sick, but could not cure them, in which they “lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered.” It needed that the waters should be stirred, before any power went forth for their cure. This motion of the pool was the perturbation of the Jewish people at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then powers were stirring for their healing, and he who “ went down,” he who humbly believed in his Incarnation, in his descent as a man amongst us, who was not offended at his lowly estate, he was healed of whatsoever disease he had*. Such are the most important uses in this kind that have been made of this history.
* Enarr. Ima in Ps. Lxx. 15: Meritò lex per Moysen data est, gratia et veritas per Jesum Christum facta est. Moyses quinque libros scripsit ; sed in quinque porticibus piscinam cingentibus languidi jacebant, sed curari non poterant . . . Illis enim quinque porticibus, in figurâ quinque librorum, prodebantur potiùs quàm sanabantur ægroti . . . Venit Dominus, turbata est aqua, et crucifixus est, descendat ut sanetur ægrotus. Quid est, descendat? Humiliet se. Ergo quicumque amatis litteram sine gratiâ, in porticibus remanebitis, ægri eritis; jacentes, non convalescentes : de litterâ enim præsumitis. Cf. Enarr. in Ps. Lxxxiii. 7: Qui non sanabatur Lege, id est porticibus, sanatur gratiâ, per passionis fidem Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Cf. Serm. 125: Ad hoc data est Lex, quæ proderet ægrotos, non quæ tolleret. Ideo ergo ægroti illi qui in domibus suis secretiùs ægrotare possent, si illæ quinque porticus non essent, prodebantur oculis omnium in illis porticibus, sed à porticibus non sanabantur ... Intendite ergo. Erant illæ porticus legem significantes, portantes ægrotos, non sanantes, prodentes, non curantes. Cf. In Ev. Joh., Tract. 17.
16. THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF FIVE
John vi. 5—14.
• In St. Matthew the Lord's retiring to the desert place where this miracle was performed, connects itself directly with the murder of John the Baptist. (ver. 13.) He, therefore, retired, his hour not being yet come. St. Mark and St. Luke put also this history in connexion with the account of the Baptist's death, though they do not give that as the motive of the Lord's withdrawal. St. Mark, indeed, mentions another reason which in part moved him to this, namely, that the disciples, the apostles especially, who were just returned from their mission, might have time at once for bodily and spiritual refection and refreshment, might not be always in a crowd, always ministering to others, never to themselves. (vi. 31.) But thither, into the wilderness, the multitude followed him, proceeding, not necessarily “ afoot,” (Mark vi. 33,) but 6 by land,” as contra-distinguished from him who went by sea: and this with such expedition, that although their way was much further than his, they "outwent” him, anticipated his coming, so that when he “ went forth *,” not, that is, from the ship, but from his solitude, and for the purpose of graciously receiving those who thus came, he found a great multitude waiting for him. Though this their presence was, in fact, an entire defeating of the very purpose for which he had withdrawn himself thither, yet not the less “he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” (Luke ix. 11.) St. John's apparently casual notice of the fact that the Passover was at hand, (vi. 4,) is not so much with the intention of giving a