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Sect. I. Of the Time of St. Paul's Arrival at Corinth. W E are told, Acts xvii. 15. That after Paul was driven by
the ụnbelieving Jews, from Thessalonica, and Bercea, he went to Athens, the most celebrated city in Greece, intending to make the gospel known to the learned there. But the contempt in which the Athenian philosophers held his doctrine and manner of preaching, convincing him that it would be to no purpose to stay long among them, he left Athens soon and went to Corinth, now become the metropolis of the province of Achaia, and of equal fame for the sciences and the arts with Athens itself.
On his arrival in Corinth, he found Aquila and his wife Priscilla, two Jewish Christians, who had lately come from Italy, because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome, Acts xviii. 2. According to the best chronologers, Claudius's edict against the Jews, was published in the with year of his reign, answering to A. D. 51. Claudius began his reign on the VOL. H.
24th 24th of January. Wherefore, notwithstanding his edict against the Jews might come forth early in the with year of his reign, yet, as the Jews would be allowed a reasonable time to settle their affairs, and take themselves away, we cannot suppose that Aquila and Priscilla arrived at Corinth, sooner than the end of the spring in the year 51. And seeing they were settled in Corinth, and carrying on their business of tent-making, when the apostle arrived, his arrival cannot be fixed sooner than the summer of that year.--This epoch of St. Paul's arrival at Corinth merits attention, because it will be of use in fixing the dates of other occurrences, which happened both before and after that event.
Being come to Corinth, the apostle immediately preached in the synagogue. But the greatest part of the Jews opposing themselves and blaspheming, he told them he would go to the Gentiles, Acts xviii. 6. Knowing, however, the temper and learning of the Gentiles in Corinth, and their extreme profligacy of manners, he was in great fear when he first preached to them, 1 Cor. ii. 3. But the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision, and bade him not be afraid, but speak boldly, because he had much people in that city, Acts xviii. 9, 10. In obedience to Christ's command, Paul preached almost two years in Corinth, (ver. 11. 18.) and gathered a very flourishing church, in which there were some Jews of note, ver. 8. But the greatest part were idolatrous Gentiles, 1 Cor. xii. 2. The members of this church being very numerous, were so much the object of the apostle's attention, that he wrote to them two long and exellent letters, not only for esta blishing them in the belief of his apostleship, which a false teacher, who came among them after his departure, had presumed to call in question, but to correct certain irregularities, into which many of them had fallen in his absence, and for other purposes which shall be mentioned in fect. iv. of this preface.
SECT. II. Of the Character and Manners of the Corinthians in
their Heathen State. Before Corinth was destroyed by the Romans, it was famous for the magnisicence of its buildings, the extent of its commerce, and the number, the learning and the ingenuity of its inhabitants, who carried the arts and sciences to such perfection, that it was called by Cicero, totius Grecie lumen, the light of all Greece: and by Fiorus, Græciæ decus, ihe ornament of Greece. The lusire, however, which Corinth derived from the number and genius of its inhabitants, was tarnished by their debauched manners, Strabo, Lib. viii. p. 581, tells us, that in the temple of Venus at Corinth, “ there were more than a thousand harlots, the slaves “ of the temple, who, in honour of the Goddess, prostituted 56 themselves to all comers for hire, and through these the city 66 was crowded, and became wealthy." From an institution of this kind, which, under the pretext of religion, furnished an opportunity to the debauched to gratisy their lusts, it is easy to see what corruption of manners must have flowed. Accordingly it is known, that lasciviousness was carried to such a pitch in Co. rinth, that in the language of these times, the appellation of a Corinthian given to a woman, imported that fhe was a prostitute, and Kogu. ToxCelv, to bebave as a Corinthian, spoken of a man, was the same as Erasgevelv, to commit whoredonj.
In the Achæan war, Corinth was utterly destroyed by the Roman Consul Mummius. But being rebuilt by Julius Cæfar, and peopled with a Roman colony, it was made the residence of the Proconsul who governed the province of Achaia, (See i Theff. i. 7. note,) and soon regained its ancient splendour. For its inhabitants increasing exceedingly, they carried on, by means of its two sea-ports, an extensive commerce, which brought them great wealth, From that time forth, the arts which minister to the conveniences and luxuries of life, were carried on at Corinth in as great perfection as formerly ; schools were opened, in which philosophy and shetoric were publicly taught by able matters ; and strangers from all quarters crowded to Corinth, to be instructed in the sciences and in the arts. So that Corinth, during this latter period, was filled with philosophers, rhetoricians, and artists of all kinds, and abounded in wealth. These advantages, howeyer, were counterbalanced, as before, by the effects which wealth and luxury never fail to produce. In a word, an universal corruption of manners soon prevailed: so that Corinth, in its fecond ftate, became as debauched as it had been in any former period whatever. The apostle, therefore, had good reason in this epistle, to exhort the Corinthian brethren to flee fornication : and after giving them a
catalogue catalogue of the unrighteous who shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. he was well entitled to add, and such were some of you. In short, the Corinthians had carried vice of every kind to such a pitch, that their city was more debauched than any of the other cities of Greece.