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ner our blessed Saviour would have improved the scene; for He was wont to derive instructive lessons from the operations of nature, and even from the usages and works of man. Of this there is an instance recorded in the Gospel, which bears some analogy to the sčene which now presents itself to our view in this place. It was a custom of the Jews, on the last day of the Feast of Passover, to draw water from the fountain of Siloam, which sprang from mount Zion, and to bear it in solemn procession to the Temple, where it was poured out before the Lord. These 66 waters of Siloa " which flowed softly” (Isa. viii. 6.) from their fountain, not far from the Temple of God, * and refreshed the inhabitants of Jerusalem, had been celebrated by the prophet Isaiah as an emblem of Messiah's gentle reign; and the Evangelist John alludes to the same emblem, when he says, “ Siloam being interpreted, signi“ fies SENT ;' that is, a type of him who is “ the 6 sent" of God; and the custom of drawing water from the well of Siloam on a certain day, was founded on the words of the same prophet Isaiah ; “ Therefore with joy shall ye draw " water out of the wells of Salvation.”—Isa. xii. 3. +
* —And Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, Milton. + This fact of drawing water from the fountain of Siloam
Our Saviour beholding this solemnity of drawing water on the Great Feast-day, improv. ed it to spiritual purpose; * In the last day, " that great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and 6 cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come " to me and drink; He that believeth on me, as “ the Scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall “ flow rivers of living water. But this spake “ he of the SPIRIT, which they that believe on “ Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was « not yet given.”—John vii. 87.
Thus did our Lord spiritualize the scene. He shewed the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that their drawing water from the fount of Siloam, was a just figure of their “receiving the Holy
Spirit,” which should soon be poured out from on high, and which they that believed on him (not in that age only, but in every age)
is authenticated by the Rabbins. The water was carried in a golden urn, and the solemnity was called D*217 1709 Nisuk Ham-maim, the pouring out of water. In the Gemara it is inquired, “ Whence was this custom ?” The answer : From the words of the prophet, Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."--Talmud Babyl. fol. 48. 2.
* It is a remarkable fact, that the spiritual import of drawing water from Siloam was understood, and has been acknowledged and recorded by the Rabbins. Why is Siloam called 71289w na Beth Suaba, the place of a draught? Answer :
, . Spirit.”-Talmud Hierosol. in Succah, fol. 55.
Because , thence they draw the Holy דות הקורש משם שאבים
Under the authority, then, of our Saviour's example, who rendered the scenes of nature a theme of instruction, we may be permitted, in the application of this discourse, to consider the healing influence of the Fountain in this place, in a spiritual sense. The chief object of the discourse itself will be,
First, To inquire into what may have been the design of instituting the miracle of the healing waters at Jerusalem. And,
Secondly, To shew that these waters, which healed the diseases of the body, were an emblem of the influence of the heavenly Gospel, which heals the diseases of the soul, and fits it for the kingdom of God.
I. We are first to inquire, “ for what end God may have “ been pleased to institute the « miracle of the healing waters at Jerusalem ?” The fact recorded in this place by the Evangelist, has been but seldom noticed; but to me it seems to involve considerations of much interest, and is itself a subject of instructive contemplation,
For a period of nearly four hundred years,
The Jews of this day might derive a strong confirmation of the truth of the Gospel, if they would read their own ancient Targums.
It is to be noted that Siloam and Shiloh, another name for Christ, are distinct words derived from different roots. They have no relation to each other,
there had been now no prophet in Israel ; and the prophecies concerning the Messiah had not been fulfilled. There was no “ open vision," nor other symbol of the divine presence, and the people were gradually declining to infidelity. In these circumstances it may have pleased God to arrest the attention of the nation by a new evidence of his presence, and to sustain the hope of those “ who waited for the conso6 lation of Israel,” by affording a new proof that he had not forsaken his people. . This new evidence may also be considered as an emblem of the Gospel itself, which was soon to appear, being at once a manifestation of power and of mercy; and it further resembled the same Gospel, in its being open to the view of all, and accessible to all ; the place selected for its exhibition, being in the very midst of Jerusalem.
“ Now there is,” saith the Evangelist, “ at “ Jerusalem, by the sheep-market, a Pool, which « is called in the Hebrew tongue, Bethesda.” Bethesda signifies The house of Mercy; a name which had been given to it in consequence of the merciful cures effected by its waters. “ For, at a certain season," continues the Evangelist,“ an angel went down and troubled " the water; and whosoever, first, after the troub
ling of the water, stepped in, was made whole 66 of whatsoever disease he had."*
* The Pool of Bethesda was supplied with water from the
This, then, was the kind of evidence by which it may have pleased God to shew his people that he had not forsaken them, and to confirm their faith in the certain fulfilment of the Evangelic promises by the mouth of his holy prophets.
But again, the Gospel was a dispensation of such transcendent dignity and excellency, that it was worthy of a prefiguration, or typical representation of its nature and effects before its arrival; even as the person of its great author had a harbinger or precursor to prepare
his “ way" and to direct the eyes of all men to wait his approach. There was a famed prediction of the prophet Zechariah, which would probably be often contemplated by the pious Israelites about this period, with great solici. tude: “ In that day (viz. the day of the Mes
fountain of Siloam, the before-mentioned type of the Messiah's kingdom. It may be proper to observe that the fountain of Siloam is not the same as the pool of Siloam. “ Upon the very highest point of the hill of Jerusalem, and from whence it had a fall either way, there sprang the sweet and gentle fountain, Siloam ; from which two streams descended, one to the pool of Bethesda, and the other to the pool of Siloam.” Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 1054.
Josephus relates that the fountain of Siloam was flowing in his time, but that it failed during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus. Its failure, which was attributed directly to the divine interposition, added much to the distresses of the beseiged city. ---Jos. de Bell. lib. v. cap. 26.