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these five porches the Law in the five books of Moses; nor stand to confute Adricomius, who, out of Josephus, would persuade us that these five porches were built by Solomon, and that this was stagnum Solomonis for the use of the temple. The following words show the use of the porches; for the receipt of "impotent, sick, blind, halt, withered, that waited for the moving of the water.” It should seem it was walled about to keep it from cattle, and these five vaulted entrances were made by some benefactors for the more convenience of attendance. Here was the mercy of God seconded by the charity of men: if God will give cure, they will give harbour. Surely it is a good matter to put our hand to God's, and to further good works with convenience of enjoying them.
Jerusalem was grown a city of blood, to the persecution of the prophets, to a wilful despite of what belonged to her peace, to a profanation of God's temple, to a mere formality in God's services : and yet here were public works of charity in the midst of her streets. We may not always judge of the truth of piety by charitable actions; Judas disbursed the money for Christ, there was no traitor but he. The poor traveller that was robbed and wounded betwixt Jerusalem and Jericho, was passed over first by the Priest, then by the Levite, at last the Samaritan came and relieved him : his religion was naught, yet his act was good; the Priest's and Levite's religion good, their uncharity ill. Novatus himself was a martyr, yet a schismatic. Faith is the soul, and good works are the breath, saith St. James : but, as you see in a pair of bellows, there is a forced breath without life, so in those that are puffed up with the wind of ostentation, there may be charitable works without faith. The church of Rome, unto her four famous orders of Jacobins, Franciscans, Augustines, and Carmelites, hath added a fifth of Jesuits; and, like another Jerusalem, for those five leprous and lazarly orders, hath built five porches, that if the water of any state be stirred, they may put in for a share. How many cells and convents hath she raised for these miserable cripples! and now she thinks, (though she exalt herself above all that is called God, though she dispense with and against God, though she fall down before every block and wafer, though she kill kings, and equivocate with magistrates,) she is the only city of God: Digna est, nam struxit synagogum, “She is worthy, for she hath built a synagogue. Are we more orthodox, and shall we not be as charitable ? I am ashamed to think of rich noblemen and merchants that die and give nothing to our five porches of Bethesda. What shall we say ? have they made their mammon their god, instead of making friends with their mammon to God? Even when they die, will they not (like Ambrose's good usurers) part with that which they cannot hold, that they may get that which they cannot lose? Can they begin their will, In Dei nomine, Amen; and give nothing to God ? Is he only a witness, and not a legatee? Can we bequeath our souls to Christ in heaven, and give nothing to his limbs on earth ? and if they will not give, yet will they not lend to God ? " he that gives the poor, foeneratur Deo, lends to God.”
Will they put out to any but God ? and then, when instead of giving security, he receives with one hand, and pays with another, receives our bequest, and gives us glory? Oh damnable niggardness of vain men, that shames the gospel, and loses heaven! Let me show you a Bethesda that wants porches. What truer house of effusion than the church of God, which sheds forth waters of comfort, yea of life! Behold some of the porches of this Bethesda so far from building, that they are pulled down. It is a wonder if the demolished stones of God's house have not built some of yours, and if some of you have not your rich suits guarded with souls. There were wont to be reckoned three wonders of England, ecclesia, fæmina, lana, "the churches, the women, the wool.
Foemina may pass still
, who may justly challenge wonder for their vanity, if not their persons. As for lana, if it be wonderful alone, I am sure it is ill joined with ecclesia : the church is fleeced, and hath nothing left but a bare pelt upon her back. for ecclesia, either men have said with the Babylonians, “ Down with it, down with it, even to the ground;" or else in respect of the maintenance with Judas, ut quid perditio hæc? “why was this waste ?" How many remorseful souls have sent back, with Jacob's sons, their money in their sacks' mouths! How many great testators have, in their last will, returned the anathematized peculium of impropriations to the church, choosing rather to impair their heir than to burden their souls? Dum times ne pro te patrimonium tuum perdas, ipse pro patrimonio tuo peris, saith Cyprian, “While thou fearest to lose thy patrimony for thy own good, thou perishest with thy patrimony. Ye great men, spend not all your time in building castles in the air, or houses on the sand; but set your hands and purses to the building of the porches of Bethesda. It is a shame for a rich Christian to be like a Christmas-box, that receives all, and nothing can be got out till it be broken in pieces; or like unto a drowned man's hand, that holds whatsoever it gets. "To do good and to distribute forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
III. This was the place, what was the use of it? All sorts of patients were at the bank of Bethesda : where should cripples be but at the spittle? The sick, blind, lame, withered, all that did either morbo laborare or vitio corporis, complain of sickness or impotency, were there. In natural course, one receipt heals not all diseases, no, nor one agent ; one is an oculist, another a bone-setter, another a surgeon : but all diseases are alike to the supernatural power of God.
Hippocrates, though the prince of physicians, yet swears by Esculapius he will never meddle with cutting for the stone. There is no disease that art will not meddle with ; there are many that it cannot cure. The poor hæmorrhoissa was eighteen years in the physicians' hands, and had purged away both her body and her substance. Yea, some it kills instead of healing; whence one Hebrew word signifies both physicians and dead men. But, behold, here all sicknesses cured by one hand, and by one water: 0 all ye that are spiritually sick and diseased, come to the pool of Bethesda, the blood of Christ : do ye complain of the blindness of your ignorance ? here ye shall receive clearness of sight: of the distemper of passions ? here ease: of the superfluity of your sinful humours ? here evacuation : of the impotency of your obedience ? here integrity: of the dead witheredness of good affections ? here life and vigour. Whatsoever your infirmity be, come to the pool of Bethesda, and be healed.
All these may be cured ; yet shall be cured at leisure ! all must wait, all must hope in waiting. Methinks I see how enviously these cripples look one upon another, each thinking other a let, each watching to prevent other, each hoping to be next ; like emulous courtiers that gape and vie for the next preferment, and think it a pain to hope, and a torment to be prevented: but Bethesda must be waited on. He is worthy of his crutches that will not stay God's leisure for his cure: there is no virtue, no success, without patience. Waiting is a familiar lesson with courtiers, and here we have all need of it; one is sick of an overflowing of the gall, another of a tumour of pride, another of the tentigo of lust, another of the vertigo of inconstancy, another of the choking squinancy of curses and blasphemies: one of the boulimy of gluttony, another of the pleuritical stitches of envy; one
the contracting cramp of covetousness, another of the atrophy of unproficiency ; one is hidebound with pride, another is consumed with emulation, another rotten with corrupt desires: and we are so much the sicker if we feel not these distempers. Oh that we could wait at the Bethesda of God, attend diligently upon
his ordinances : we could no more fail of cure, than now we can hope for cure. We wait hard, and endure much for the body. Quantis laboribus agitur, ut longiore tempore laboretur! multi cruciatus suscipiuntur certi, ut pauci dies adjiciantur incerti : “What toil do we take that we may toil yet longer ! we endure many certain pains for the addition of a few uncertain days,” saith Austin. Why will we not do thus for the soul ? Without waiting, it will not be. The cripple (Acts iii. 4,) was bidden Bézov eis nuās, “ look up to us ;" he looked up, it was cold comfort that he heard, “Silver and gold have I none:” but the next clause made amends for all, Surge et ambula, “rise and walk ;" and this was, because ÉTET XEV a poodokūv,“ he attended expecting,” ver. 5. Would we be cured ? it is not for us to snatch at Bethesda as a dog at Nilus : nor to draw water and away, as Rebecca ; nor to set us awhile upon the banks, as the Israelites by the rivers of Babylon ; but we must dwell in God's house, wait at Bethesda. But what shall I say to you courtiers, but even as St. Paul to his Corinthians, “Ye are full, ye are rich, ye are strong without us?" Many of you come to this place, not as to Bethel, the house of God, or Bethesda, ne house of effusion, but as to Bethaven, the house of vanity. If you have not lost your own wont, there are more words spoken in the outer closet by the hearers, than in the chapel by the preacher; as if it vere closet, quasi, close set, in an exchange, like comnunication of news. What do
think of sermons ? As matters of formality, as very superfluities, as your own idle compliments, which either ye hear not, or believe not ? What do ye think of yourselves ? have ye only a postern to go to heaven by yourselves, wherethrough ye can go besides the foolishness of preaching ? or do you sing that old Pelagian note, Quid nunc mihi opus est Deo ? “What need have I of