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CONTENTS OF THE FOURTH VOLUME.
PREFACE..... Sect. I. Of the occasion of writing this epistle.....II. Of the
of the truth that the church of Rome is not the church of the living
PREFACE.....Sect. I. Of the time of writing this epistle.....II. Of the place
OF ST. PAUL'S FIRST
EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS.
Of the Introduction of the Gospel at Thessalonica; and of the Date of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians.
FROM the history of the Acts of the apostles, it appears that St. Paul first passed into Europe to preach the gospel, after he had delivered the decrees of the council of Jerusalem (Acts xvi. 4.) to the churches in the Lesser 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 sea-port town of Macedonia, which being anciently called Therma gave its name to the bay on which it was situated. At that time Thessalonica was the residence of the Proconsul who governed the province of Macedonia, and of the Questor, 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 Thess. 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 arrival, according to his custom, and three sabbath 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 distinction in the city. Yet, the greatest part of the Thessalonian converts were idolatrous Gentiles; as appears from the apostle's first epistle, 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 Thessalonica 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 proselytes 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 assistants lodged, intending 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 Bercea, 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 Thessalonica, they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so. But the Thessalonian Jews hearing of the success of the gospel in Berœa, 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 still. In this flight the apostle was accompanied by some of the Beroan brethren, who conducted him to Athens, and who, when they departed, carried his order to Silas and Timothy to come