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SECTION X.

BEREA AND ATHENS.

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AUL was conducted to Berea, a city of Macedonia, from Thessalonica.

Here also was a Jewish synagogue, and here the preaching of the Çross was candidly received by Jews for the first time. A very singular character is given of the Jews of this place, a liberality of mind, which disposed them to listen with attention, and to search the scriptures of the Old Testament with daily afsiduity. The grace of God seems to have prepared these persons for the gospel, and Paul had the pleasure to find a number of the stamp of Cornelius, who were groping their way to happiness, and were ready to hail the light as soon as it should dawn upon them. Many Jews here believed, and not a few Gentiles also of both sexes ; thofe of the female sex were persons of quality. The rage of the Thessalonian Jews soon however disturbed this pleasing scene; and stirred up a persecution, which obliged the christians to use some are in saving the Apostle's life. His conductors at first took the road toward the sea, which might lead the persecutors to suppose he had quitted the continent. They then brought him safe to Athens *, once the first city of Greece

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first epistte, and indeed the newest part of the whole New Teltament, the solemnity of the adjaration (spx&w) has a peculiar propriers, as Dr. Lardner obferves. The Thessalonians were no doube disposed to receive it as matter of apostolical inspiration, and the importance of bringing every chriltian io be well acquainted with the word of God is fairly inferred.

Acts xvïi.

in all views, and still renowned for taste and science, the school in which the greatest Romans studied philosophy. Here, while he waited for the arrival of Silas and Timothy, he beheld the monuments of the city with other eyes than those of a scholar and a gentleman. No place in the world could more have entertained a curious and philosophical spirit than this. Temples, altars, Itatues, historical memorials, living philosophers of various sects, books of those who were deceased, a confluence of polite and 'humanized persons of various countries, enjoying the luxury of learned leisure, these things must at once have obtruded themselves on his notice; and no man in any age, by strength of understanding, warmth of temper, and justness of taste, seems to have been more capable of entering into the spirit of these scenes than Saul of Tarsus. But Divine Grace had given his faculties a very different direction, and the christian in him predominated extremely above the philosopher and the critic. He saw here, that even the excess of learning brought men no nearer to God. No place on earth was more given to idolatry. He could not therefore find pleasure in the claffecal luxuries presented before him: He saw his Maker difgraced, and fouls perishing in fin. Pity and indignation swallowed up all other emotions; and ministers of Christ, by their own sensations in fimilar scenes, may try how far they are possessed of the mind of Paul, which in this case certainly was the mind of Christ. If affections be lively, fome exertions will follow. He laid open the reasons of christianity to Jews in their synagogue, to Gentile worshippers who attended the synagogue, and daily to any persons whom he met with in the forum. There were two fects very opposite to one another among

among the

pagari philosophers, the epicureans and the stoics. The former placed the chief good in pleasure, the latter in virtue, correspondent to the two chief fects among the Jews, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and indeed to the two sorts among mankind in all ages who yet are in a state of nature, men of a licentious and diffipated turn, and self-righteous perfons, who substitute their own reason and virtue in the room of Divine Grace and Influence. As these will in any age unite against the real friends of Jesus Christ, so it was here. The Apostle appeared a mere babbler in their eyes. Jesus and the resurrection, which he preached, were ideas from which their minds were so abhorrent, that they took them for a new god and goddess.

It belonged to the court of Areopagus to take cognizance of things of this nature.

This court had unjustly condemned the famous Socrates, as if he had depreciated the established religion, though he had given as strong proofs of his polytheiitic accachments, as he had of philosophical pride. It ought not however to be denied, that in a lower sense he suffered for righteousness' fake. His honest rebukes of vice and improbity exposed him to death; so unsafe is even the least approximation to goodness in a world like this. That St. Paul escaped condemnation here, seems owing to circumstances. The court under the tolerating maxims of its Roman superiors, seems now to have had only the privilege of examining tenets as a synod, without the penal power of magistracy".

It In this however I am not very positive: A greater degree of sceptical indifference might, in the progress of refinement, have prevailed at Athens in the days of St. Paul, and the court might iifelf be as little disposed to persecute, as the Roman powers.

It would carry me too far to dwell on the excellent apology of Paul delivered before this court. He reproved their idolatry in language and by arguments perfectly classical, and announced so much of the gospel, as was adapted to the very ignorant state of his audience. Whoever duly examines this little malter-piece of eloquence, may see that he labours to beget in them the spirit of conviction, and to prepare them for gospel-mercy, just as Peter did in his first sermon at Jerusalem. The means used by the two Apostles are as different, as the circuinstances of a Jewish and Athenian audience were. The end aimed at by both was the same.

There is reason to apprehend, that God never suffers the plain and faithful denunciation of his gospel to be altogether fruitless. A few believed in reality and with stedfastness, among whom was Dionysius a member of the court, and a woman named Damaris. These Paul left to the care of that gracious God who had opened their eyes, and departed from a city as yet too haughty, too scornful, and tov 'indifferent concerning things of infinite moment, to receive the gospel. A church could hardly be faid to be formed here, though a few individuals were converted. The. little fuccels at Athens evinces that a spirit of literary trifling in religion, where all is theory, and the conscience is unconcerned, hardens the heart effectually. What a contrast between the effects of the fame gospel dispensed to the illiterate Macedonians, and the philosophical Athenians. Yet there want not many who call themselves chrifcians, who affect to bestow on men of the former fort the appellation of barbarians, of the latter enlightened persons.

SEC.

SECTION XI.

CORINTH.

TH

HIS was at that time the metropolis of

Greece. Its situation in an isthmus rendered it remarkably convenient for trade. It was the residence of the Roman governor of Achaia, the name then given to all Greece, and it was at once full of opulence, learning, luxury, and sensuality. Hither the Apostle came from Athens, and laboured both among the Jews and the Gentiles. Here Providence gave him the acquaintance of Aquila and his wife Priscilla, two Jewish christians lately expelled from Italy, with other Jews, by an edict of the emperor Claudius. With them he wrought as a tent-maker, being of the same occupation: For every Jew, whether rich or poor, was obliged to follow fome trade. After the arrival of Silas and Timothy, the Apostle with much vehemence preached to his countrymen ; but opposition and abuse were the only returns he met with. The modern notions of charity will scarcely be reconciled to the zealous indignation which he shewed on this occasion. He shook his garment and told them, that he was clear of their destruction, he would leave them, and apply himself to the Gentiles in this city.

With this denunciation he left the synagogue, and entered into the house of one Justus, a devout perfon, well-affected to the golpel. Crispus also, the ruler of the synagogue, with his whole family, received the truth. But we hear of no more Jewish converts here. How

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