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Preface. Sect. 1. The history of Titus. 2. Of the introduce
tion of the gospel into Crete.-3. Of Crete, and of the man-
Sect. I. Of the Introduction of the Gospel at Thessalonica ; and of
the Date of St. Paul's forf Epiftle to the Thessalonians. TROM the history of the Acts of the apostles, it appears
T that St. Paul first passed into Europe to preach the gospel, after he had delivered the decreees of the council of Jerusalem (Acts xvi. 4.) to the churches in the Leffer Asia, whereby the Gentiles were declared free from obeying the law of Moses, as a term of salvation. In the course of that journey Paul having come to Troas, as was mentioned in the preface to the epistle to the Philippians, Sect. 1. there appeared to him in the night, a vision of a man in the habit of a Macedonian, praying him to come over, into Macedonia, and help them. In obedience to that call, which they knew to be from Christ, the apostle with his assistants Silas and Timothy, went first to Philippi, and laid the foundation of a very flourishing church there. After that, they went to Thessalonica, a great fea-port town of Macedonia, VOL. IV.
which being anciently called Therma gave its name to the bay on which it was fituated. At that time Thessalonica was the Tesidence of the Proconsul who governed the province of Macedonia, and of the Queftor, who had the care of the Emperor's. revenues. This city, therefore, being the metropolis of all the countries comprehended in the province of Macedonia (see 1 Theff. i. 7. note), and the seat of the courts of justice, and the place where the affairs of the province were managed, and carrying on an extensive commerce by its merchants, was full of inhabitants, among whom were many philosophers and men of genius. There was, likewise, to this city a constant resort of strangers from all quarters ; so that Thessalonica was remarkable for the number, the wealth, and the learning of its inhabitants. But, like all the other cities of the Greeks, being utterly corrupted with ignorance in matters of religion, with idolatry, and with all sorts of wickedness, it was a fit scene for the apostle to display the light of the gospel in. He therefore went thither directly, after leaving Philippi. And, as there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica, he entered into it, soon after his ar. rival, according to his custom, and three fabbath days reasoned with the Jews out of the Scriptures. His discourses, however, had not that success with the Jews which might have been expected, a few of them only believing; whilst of the religious proselytes a great multitude embraced the gospel, among whom were many women of the first diflinction in the city. Yet, the greatest part of the Theffalonian converts were idolatrous Gentiles; as appears from the apostle's first epislle, in which he speaks to that church in general, as having turned from idols to serve the living God. The many converts which the apostle made in Theffalonica from among the idolatrous Gentiles, and his receiving money once and again from the Philippians while he preached in Thessalonica, Philip. iv. 16. shew that he abode in that city a considerable time, after he left off preaching in the synagogue. But his success among the profelytes and idolatrous Gentiles, exciting the indignation and envy of the unbelieving Jews, they gathered a company, and brake into the house of Jason, where the apostle and his alliitants lodged, in.' tending to bring them forth to the people, that they might be put
to death in the tumult. But they happily escaping, the brethren by night sent Paul and Silas away to Berca, a neighbouring city of note; where likewise they converted numbers of religious proselytes, and idolatrous Gentiles, and even many of the Bercean Jews. For the latter being of a better disposition than their brethren in Thesalonica, they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were fo. But the Thessalonian Jews hearing of the success of the gospel in Bercea, came and stirred up the idolatrous multitude, so that Paul was constrained to depart. Silas, however, and Timothy, not being so obnoxious to the Jews, abode there ftill. In this flight the apostle was accompanied by some of the Beroean brethren, who conducted him to Athens, and who, when they departed, carried' his order to Silas and Timothy to come to him forthwith. In obedience to that order, Timothy alone came to Athens. But the apostle immediately sent him back to Thessalonica, to comfort the brethren, and to exhort them concerning their faith, 1 Theff. iii. 1, 2.-After Timothy left Athens, Paul endeavoured to plant the gospel in that celebrated mart of learning, by the force of reasoning alone, without the aid of miracles. The Athenian philosophers, however, not being convinced by his discourses, though he reasoned in the most forcible manner against the polytheism to which they were addicted, he made but few disciples. Leaving Athens, there. fore, before Timothy returned from Thessalonica, he went to Corinth, the chief city of the province of Achaia, in hopes of being better received. This happened soon after the Emperor Claudius banished the Jews from Rome, For, on his arrival at Corinth, the apostle found Aquila and Priscilla, lately come from Italy, in consequence of the Emperor's edict.
St. Paul had not long been at Corinth when Timothy came to him from Thessalonica, Acts xviii. 5. and, no doubt, gave him such an account of affairs in Thessalonica, as made him sensible that his presence was greatly wanted in that city. But the success with which he was preaching the gospel in Achaia, rendered it improper for him to leave Corinth at that time. To supply, therefore the want of his presence, he immediately wrote to the Thessalonian brethren this his first epistle, in which, as we shall see immediately, he treated of those matters, which he would