Samothrace is the highest land in the north of the Archipelago, with the exception of Mount Athos. (f804) These two eminences have been in all ages the familiar landmarks of the Greek mariners of the AEgean. Even from the neighborhood of Troas, Mount Athos is seen towering over Lemnos, like Samothrace over Imbros. (f805) And what Mount Athos is, in another sense, to the superstitious Christian of the Levant, (f806) the peak of Samothrace was, in the days of Heathenism, to his Greek ancestors in the same seas. It was the "Monte Santo," on which the Greek mariner looked with awe, as he gazed on it in the distant horizon, or came to anchor under the shelter of its coast. It was the sanctuary of an ancient superstition, which was widely spread over the neighboring continents, and the history of which was vainly investigated by Greek and Roman writers. If St. Paul had stayed here even a few days, we might be justified in saying something of the "Cabiri;" but we have no reason to suppose that he even landed on the island. At present it possesses no good harbor, though many places of safe anchorage: (f807) and if the wind was from the southward, there would be smooth water anywhere on the north shore. The island was, doubtless, better supplied with artificial advantages in an age not removed by many centuries from the flourishing period of that mercantile empire which the Phoenicians founded, and the Athenians inherited, in the AEgean Sea.
The relations of Samothrace with the opposite coast were close and frequent, when the merchants of Tyre had their miners at work in Mount Pangaeus, (f808) and when Athens diffused her citizens as colonists or exiles on all the neighboring shores. (f809) Nor can those relations have been materially altered when both the Phoenician and Greek settlements on the sea were absorbed in the wider and continental dominion of Rome. Ever since the day when Perseus fled to Samothrace from the Roman conqueror, (f810) frequent vessels had been passing and repassing between the island and the coasts of Macedonia and Thrace.
The Macedonian harbor at which St. Paul landed was Neapolis. Its direction from Samothrace is a little to the north of west. But a southerly breeze would still be a fair wind, though they could not literally "run before it." A run of seven or eight hours, notwithstanding the easterly current, (f811) would bring the vessel under the lea of the island of Thasos, and within a few miles of the coast of Macedonia. The shore of the mainland in this part is low, but mountains rise to a considerable height behind. (f812) To the westward of the channel which separates it from Thasos, the coast recedes and forms a bay, within which, on a promontory with a port on each side, (f813) the ancient Neapolis was situated.
Some difference of opinion has existed concerning the true position of this harbor: (f814) but the traces of paved military roads approaching the promontory we have described, in two directions corresponding with those indicated in the ancient itineraries; the Latin inscriptions which have been found on the spot; the remains of a great aqueduct on two tiers of Roman arches, and of cisterns like those at Baiae near the other Neapolis on the Campanian shore, seem to leave little doubt that the small Turkish village of Cavallo is ‘the Naples of Macedonia, the "Neapolis" at which St. Paul landed, and the seaport of Philippi, — the "first city" (Acts 16:12.) which the traveler reached on entering this "part of Macedonia," and a city of no little importance as a Roman military "colony." (f815)
A ridge of elevated land, which connects the range of Pangaeus with the higher mountains in the interior of Thrace, is crossed between Neapolis and Philippi. The whole distance is about ten miles. (f816) The ascent of the ridge is begun immediately from the town, through a defile formed by some precipices almost close upon the sea. When the higher ground is attained, an extensive and magnificent sea-view is opened towards the south. Samothrace is seen to the east; Thasos to the south-east; and, more distant and farther to the right, the towering summit of Athos. (f817) When the descent on the opposite side begins and the sea is lost to view, another prospect succeeds, less extensive, but not less worthy of our notice. We look down on a plain, which is level as an inland sea, and which, if the eye could range over its remoter spaces, would be seen winding far within its mountain-enclosure, to the west and the north. (f818) Its appearance is either exuberantly green, — for its fertility has been always famous, — or cold and dreary, — for the streams which water it are often diffused into marshes, — according to the season when we visit this corner of Macedonia; whether it be when the snows are white and chill on the summits of the Thracian Haemus, (f819) or when the roses, of which Theophrastus and Pliny speak, are displaying their bloom on the warmer slopes of the Pangaean hills. (f820)
This plain, between Haemus and Pangaeus, is the plain of Philippi, where the last battle was lost by the republicans of Rome. The whole region around is eloquent of the history of this battle. Among the mountains on the right was the difficult path by which the republican army penetrated into Macedonia; on some part of the very ridge on which we stand were the camps of Brutus and Cassius; (f821) the stream before us is the river which passed in front of them; (f822) below us, "upon the left hand of the even field," (f823) is the marsh (f824) by which Antony crossed as he approached his antagonist; directly opposite is the hill of Philippi, where Cassius died; behind us is the narrow strait of the sea, across which Brutus sent his body to the island of Thasos, lest the army should be disheartened before the final struggle. (f825) The city of Philippi was itself a monument of the termination of that struggle. It had been founded by the father of Alexander, in a place called, from its numerous streams, "The Place of Fountains," to commemorate the addition of a new province to his kingdom, and to protect the frontier against the Thracian mountaineers. For similar reasons the city of Philip was gifted by Augustus with the privileges of a colonia. It thus became at once a border-garrison of the province of Macedonia, and a perpetual memorial of his victory over Brutus. (f826) And now a Jewish Apostle came to the same place, to win a greater victory than that of Philippi, and to found a more durable empire than that of Augustus. It is a fact of deep significance, that the "first city" at which St. Paul arrived, (f827) on his entrance into Europe, should be that "colony," which was more fit than any other in the empire to be considered the representative of Imperial Rome.
The characteristic of a colonia was, that it was a miniature resemblance of Rome. Philippi is not the first city of this kind to which we have traced the footsteps of St. Paul; Antioch in Pisidia (p. 152), and Alexandria Troas (p. 242), both possessed the same character: but this is the first place where Scripture calls our attention to the distinction; and the events which befell the Apostle at Philippi were directly connected with the privileges of the place as a Roman colony, and with his own privileges as a Roman citizen. It will be convenient to consider these two subjects together. A glance at some of the differences which subsisted among individuals and communities in the provincial system will enable us to see very clearly the position of the citizen and of the colony.
We have had occasion (Ch. 1. p. 21) to speak of the combination of actual provinces and nominally independent states through which the power of the Roman emperor was variously diffused; and again (Ch. 5. p. 129), we have described the division of the provinces by Augustus into those of the Senate, and those of the Emperor. Descending now to examine the component population of any one province, and to inquire into the political condition of individuals and communities, we find here again a complicated system of rules and exceptions. As regards individuals, the broad distinction we must notice is that between those who were citizens and those who were not citizens. When the Greeks spoke of the inhabitants of the world, they divided them into "Greeks" and "Barbarians," (f828) according as the language in which poets and philosophers had written was native to them or foreign. Among the Romans the phrase was different. The classes into which they divided mankind consisted of those who were politically "Romans," (f829) and those who had no link (except that of subjection) with the City of Rome. The technical words were Gives and Peregrini, — "citizens" and "strangers." The inhabitants of Italy were "citizens;" the inhabitants of all other parts of the Empire (until Caracalla extended to the provinces (f830) the same privileges which Julius Caesar had granted to the peninsula) (f831) were naturally and essentially "strangers." Italy was the Holy Land of the kingdom of this world. We may carry the parallel further, in order to illustrate the difference which existed among the citizens themselves. Those true-born Italians, who were diffused in vast numbers through the provinces, might be called Citizens of the Dispersion; while those strangers who, at various times, and for various reasons, had received the gift of citizenship, were in the condition of political Proselytes. Such were Paul and Silas, (f832) in their relation to the empire, among their fellow-Romans in the colony of Philippi. Both these classes of citizens, however, were in full possession of the same privileges; the most important of which were exemption from scourging, and freedom from arrest, except in extreme cases; and in all cases the right of appeal from the magistrate to the Emperor. (f833)
The remarks which have been made concerning individuals may be extended, in some degree, to communities in the provinces. The City of Rome might be transplanted, as it were, into various parts of the empire, and reproduced as a colonia; or an alien city might be adopted, under the title of a municipium, (f834) into a close political communion with Rome. Leaving out of view all cities of the latter kind (and indeed they were limited entirely to the western provinces), we will confine ourselves to what was called a colonia. A Roman colony was very different from any thing which we usually intend by the term. It was no mere mercantile factory, such as those which the Phoenicians established in Spain, (f835) or on those very shores of Macedonia with which we are now engaged; (f836) or such as modern nations have founded in the Hudson’s Bay territory or on the coast of India. Still less was it like those incoherent aggregates of human beings which we have thrown, without care or system, on distant islands and continents. It did not even go forth, as a young Greek republic left its parent state, carrying with it, indeed, the respect of a daughter for a mother, but entering upon a new and independent existence.
The Roman colonies were primarily intended as military safeguards of the frontiers, and as checks upon insurgent provincials. Like the military roads, they were part of the great system of fortification by which the Empire was made safe. They served also as convenient possessions for rewarding veterans who had served in the wars, and for establishing freedmen and other Italians whom it was desirable to remove to a distance. The colonists went out with all the pride of Roman citizens, to represent and re produce the City in the midst of an alien population. They proceeded to their destination like an army with its standards; (f837) and the limits of the new city were marked out by the plough. Their names were still enrolled in one of the Roman tribes. Every traveler who passed through a colonia saw there the insignia of Rome. He heard the Latin language, and was amenable, in the strictest sense, to the Roman law. The coinage of the city, even if it were in a Greek province, had Latin inscriptions. (f838) Cyprian tells us that in his own episcopal city, which once had been Rome’s greatest enemy, the Laws of the 12 Tables were inscribed on brazen tablets in the market-place. (f839) Though the colonists, in addition to the poll-tax, which they paid as citizens, were compelled to pay a ground-tax (for the land on which their city stood was provincial land, and therefore tributary, unless it were assimilated to Italy by a special exemption); (f840) yet they were entirely free from any intrusion by the governor of the province. Their affairs were regulated by their own magistrates. These officers were named Duumviri; and they took a pride in calling themselves by the Roman title of Praetors (strathgoi). (f841) The primary settlers in the colony were, as we have seen, real Italians; but a state of things seems to have taken place, in many instances, very similar to what happened in the early history of Rome itself. A number of the native provincials grew up in the same city with the governing body; and thus two (or sometimes three) co-ordinate communities were formed, which ultimately coalesced into one, like the Patricians and Plebeians. Instances of this state of things might be given from Corinth and Carthage, and from the colonies of Spain and Gaul; and we have no reason to suppose that Philippi was different from the rest.
Whatever the relative proportion of Greeks and Romans at Philippi may have been, the number of Jews was small. This is sufficiently accounted for, when we remember that it was a military, and not a mercantile, city. There was no synagogue in Philippi, but only one of those buildings called Proseuchoe, which were distinguished from the regular places of Jewish worship by being of a more slight and temporary structure, and frequently open to the sky. (f842) For the sake of greater quietness, and freedom from interruption, this place of prayer was "outside the gate;" and, in consequence of the ablutions (f843) which were connected with the worship, it was "by the river-side," on the bank of the Gaggitas, (f844) the fountains of which gave the name to the city before the time of Philip of Macedon, (f845) and which, in the great battle of the Romans, had been polluted by the footsteps and blood of the contending armies.
The congregation, which met here for worship on the Sabbath, consisted chiefly, if not entirely, of a few women; (Acts 16:13.) and these were not all of Jewish birth, and not all residents at Philippi. Lydia, who is mentioned by name, was a proselyte; (Acts 16:14.) and Thyatira, her native place, was a city of the province of Asia. (See Revelation 1:11.) The business which brought her to Philippi was connected with the dyeing trade, which had flourished from a very early period, as we learn from Homer, (f846) in the neighborhood of Thyatira, and is permanently commemorated in inscriptions which relate to the "guild of dyers" in that city, and incidentally give a singular confirmation of the veracity of St. Luke in his casual allusions. (f847)
In this unpretending place, and to this congregation of pious women, the Gospel was first preached by an Apostle within the limits of Europe. (f848) St. Paul and his companions seem to have arrived in the early part of the week; for "some days" elapsed before "the sabbath." On that day the strangers went and joined the little company of worshippers at their prayer by the river-side. Assuming at once the attitude of teachers, they "sat down," (Acts 16:13. Compare Acts 13:14, and Luke 4:20.) and spoke to the women who were assembled together. The Lord, who had summoned His servants from Troas to preach the Gospel in Macedonia, (Acts 16:10.) now vouchsafed to them the signs of His presence, by giving Divine energy to the words which they spoke in His name. Lydia "was one of the listeners," (f849) and the Lord "opened her heart, that she took heed to the things that were spoken of Paul." (f850) Lydia, being convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, and having made a profession of her faith, was forthwith baptized. The place of her baptism was doubtless the stream which flowed by the proseucha. The waters of Europe were "sanctified to the mystical washing-away of sin." With the baptism of Lydia that of her "household" was associated. Whether we are to understand by this term her children, her slaves, or the work-people engaged in the manual employment connected with her trade, or all these collectively, cannot easily be decided. (f851) But we may observe that it is the first passage in the life of St. Paul where we have an example of that family religion to which he often alludes in his Epistles. The "connections of Chloe," (1Corinthians 1:11.) the "household of Stephanas," (1Corinthians 1:16, 16:15.) the "Church in the house" of Aquila and Priscilla, ( Romans 16:5. Compare Philemon 1:2.) are parallel cases, to which we shall come in the course of the narrative. It may also be rightly added, that we have here the first example of that Christian hospitality which was so emphatically enjoined, ( Hebrews 13:2. 1Timothy 5:10, &c.) and so lovingly practised, in the Apostolic Church. The frequent mention of the "hosts" who gave shelter to the Apostles, (Romans 16:23, &c.) reminds us that they led a life of hardship and poverty, and were the followers of Him "for whom there was no room in the inn." The Lord had said to His Apostles, that, when they entered into a city, they were to seek out "those who were worthy," and with them to abide. The search at Philippi was not difficult. Lydia voluntarily presented herself to her spiritual benefactors, and said to them, earnestly and humbly, (f852) that, "since they had regarded her as a believer on the Lord," her house should be their home. She admitted of no refusal to her request, and "their peace was on that house." (Matthew 10:13.)
Thus the Gospel had obtained a home in Europe. It is true that the family with whom the Apostles lodged was Asiatic rather than European; and the direct influence of Lydia may be supposed to have contributed more to the establishment of the church of Thyatira, addressed by St. John, (Revelation 2.) than to that of Philippi, which received the letter of St. Paul. But still the doctrine and practice of Christianity were established in Europe; and nothing could be more calm and tranquil than its first beginnings on the shore of that continent, which it has long overspread. The scenes by the river-side, and in the house of Lydia, are beautiful prophecies of the holy influence which women, (f853) elevated by Christianity to their true position, and enabled by Divine grace to wear "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit," have now for centuries exerted over domestic happiness and the growth of piety and peace. If we wish to see this in a forcible light, we may contrast the picture which is drawn for us by St. Luke — with another representation of women in the same neighborhood given by the Heathen poets, who tell us of the frantic excitement of the Edonian matrons, wandering, under the name of religion, with dishevelled hair and violent cries, on the banks of the Strymon. (f854 )
Thus far all was peaceful and hopeful in the work of preaching the Gospel to Macedonia: the congregation met in the house or by the riverside; souls were converted and instructed; and a Church, consisting both of men and women, (f855) was gradually built up. This continued for "many days." It was difficult to foresee the storm which was to overcast so fair a prospect. A bitter persecution, however, was unexpectedly provoked: and the Apostles were brought into collision with heathen superstition in one of its worst forms, and with the rough violence of the colonial authorities. As if to show that the work of Divine grace is advanced by difficulties and discouragements, rather than by ease and prosperity, the Apostles, who had been supernaturally summoned to a new field of labor, and who were patiently cultivating it with good success, were suddenly called away from it, silenced, and imprisoned.
In tracing the life of St. Paul we have not as yet seen Christianity directly brought into conflict with Heathenism. The sorcerer who had obtained influence over Sergius Paulus in Cyprus was a Jew, like the Apostle himself. (f856) The first impulse of the idolaters of Lystra was to worship Paul and Barnabas; and it was only after the Jews had perverted their minds, that they began to persecute them. (f857) But as we travel farther from the East, and especially through countries where the Israelites were thinly scattered, we must expect to find Pagan creeds in immediate antagonism with the Gospel; and not merely Pagan creeds, but the evil powers themselves which give Paganism its supremacy over the minds of men. The questions which relate to evil spirits, false-divinities, and demoniacal possession, are far too difficult and extensive to be entered on here. (f858) We are content to express our belief, that in the demoniacs of the New Testament allusion is really made to personal spirits who exercised power for evil purposes on the human will. The unregenerate world is represented to us in Scripture as a realm of darkness, in which the invisible agents of wickedness are permitted to hold sway under conditions and limitations which we are not able to define. The degrees and modes in which their presence is made visibly apparent may vary widely in different countries and in different ages. (f859) In the time of JESUS CHRIST and His Apostles, we are justified in saying that their workings in one particular mode were made peculiarly manifest. (f860) As it was in the life of our Great Master, so it was in that of His immediate followers. The demons recognized Jesus as "the Holy One of God;" and they recognized His Apostles as the "bondsmen of the Most High God, who preach the way of salvation." Jesus "cast out demons;" and, by virtue of the power which He gave, the Apostles were able to do in His name what He did in His own.
If in any region of Heathendom the evil spirits had pre-eminent sway, it was in the mythological system of Greece, which, with all its beautiful imagery and all its ministrations to poetry and art, left man powerless against his passions, and only amused him while it helped him to be unholy. In the lively imagination of the Greeks, the whole visible and invisible world was peopled with spiritual powers or demons. The same terms were often used on this subject by Pagans and by Christians. But in the language of the Pagan the demon might be either a beneficent or a malignant power; in the language of the Christian it always denoted what was evil. (f861) When the Athenians said (Acts 17:18.) that St. Paul was introducing "new demons" among them, they did not necessarily mean that he was in league with evil spirits; but when St. Paul told the Corinthians (1Corinthians 10:20.) that though "idols" in themselves were nothing, yet the sacrifices offered to them were, in reality, offered to "demons," he spoke of those false divinities which were the enemies of the True. (f862)
Again, the language concerning physical changes, especially in the human frame, is very similar in the sacred and profane writers. Sometimes it contents itself with stating merely the facts and symptoms of disease; sometimes it refers the facts and symptoms to invisible personal agency. (f863) One class of phenomena, affecting the mind as well as the body, was more particularly referred to preternatural agency. These were the prophetic conditions of mind, showing themselves in stated oracles or in more irregular manifestations, and accompanied with convulsions and violent excitement, which are described or alluded to by almost all Heathen authors. Here again we are brought to a subject which is surrounded with difficulties. How far, in such cases, imposture was combined with real possession; how we may disentangle the one from the other; how far the supreme will of God made use of these prophetic powers and overruled them to good ends; such questions inevitably suggest themselves, but we are not concerned to answer them here. It is enough to say that we see no reason to blame the opinion of those writers, who believe that a wicked spiritual agency was really exerted in the prophetic sanctuaries and prophetic personages of the Heathen world. The heathens themselves attributed these phenomena to the agency of Apollo, (f864) the deity of Pythonic spirits; and such phenomena were of very frequent occurrence, and displayed themselves under many varieties of place and circumstance. Sometimes those who were possessed were of the highest condition; sometimes they went about the streets like insane impostors of the lowest rank. It was usual for the prophetic spirit to make itself known by an internal muttering or ventriloquism. (f865) We read of persons in this miserable condition used by others for the purpose of gain. Frequently they were slaves; and there were cases of joint proprietorship in these unhappy ministers of public superstition.
In the case before us it was a "female slave" (f866) who was possessed with "a spirit of divination:" (f867) and she was the property of more than one master, who kept her for the purpose of practising on the credulity of the Philippians, and realized "much profit" in this way. "We all know the kind of sacredness with which the ravings of common insanity are apt to be invested by the ignorant; and we can easily understand the notoriety which the gestures and words of this demoniac would obtain in Philippi. It was far from a matter of indifference, when she met the members of the Christian congregation on the road to the proseucha, and began to follow St. Paul, and to exclaim (either because the words she had overheard mingled with her diseased imaginations, or because the evil spirit in her was compelled (f868) to speak the truth):"These men are the bondsmen of the Most High God, who are come to announce unto you the way of salvation." This was continued for "several days," and the whole city must soon have been familiar with her words. Paul was well aware of this; and he could not bear the thought that the credit even of the Gospel should be enhanced by such unholy means. Possibly one reason why our Blessed Lord Himself forbade the demoniacs to make Him known was, that His holy cause would be polluted by resting on such evidence. And another of our savior’s feelings must have found an imitation in St. Paul’s breast, — that of deep compassion for the poor victim of demoniac power. At length he could bear this Satanic interruption no longer, and, "being grieved, he commanded the evil spirit to come out of her." It would be profaneness to suppose that the Apostle spoke in mere irritation, as it would be ridiculous to imagine that Divine help would have been vouchsafed to gratify such a feeling. No doubt there was grief and indignation, but the grief and indignation of an Apostle may be the impulses of Divine inspiration. He spoke, not in his own name, but in that of Jesus Christ, and power from above attended his words. The prophecy and command of Jesus concerning His Apostles were fulfilled: that "in His name they should cast out demons." It was as it, had been at Jericho and by the Lake of Genesareth. The demoniac at Philippi was restored "to her right mind." Her natural powers resumed their course; and the gains of her masters were gone.
Violent rage on the part of these men was the immediate result. They saw that their influence with the people, and with it "all hope" of any future profit, was at end. They proceeded therefore to take a summary revenge. Laying violent hold of Paul and Silas (for Timothy and Luke were not so evidently concerned in what had happened), they dragged them into the forum (Acts 16:19.) before the city authorities. The case was brought before the Praetors (so we may venture to call them, since this was the title which colonial Duumviri were fond of assuming;) (f869) but the complainants must have felt some difficulty in stating their grievance. The slave that had lately been a lucrative possession had suddenly become valueless; but the law had no remedy for property depreciated by exorcism. The true state of the case was therefore concealed, and an accusation was laid before the Praetors in the following form. "These men are throwing the whole city into confusion; moreover they are Jews; (f870) and they are attempting to introduce new religious observances, (f871) which we, being Roman citizens, cannot legally receive and adopt." The accusation was partly true and partly false. It was quite false that Paul and Silas were disturbing the colony; for nothing could have been more calm and orderly than their worship and teaching at the house of Lydia, or in the proseucha by the water-side. In the other part of the indictment there was a certain amount of truth. The letter of the Roman law, even under the Republic, was opposed to the introduction of foreign religions; and though exceptions were allowed, as in the case of the Jews themselves, yet the spirit of the law entirely condemned such changes in worship as were likely to unsettle the minds of the citizens, or to produce any tumultuous uproar; and the advice given to Augustus, which both he and his successors had studiously followed, was, to check religious innovations as promptly as possible, lest in the end they should undermine the Monarchy. Thus Paul and Silas had undoubtedly been doing what in some degree exposed them to legal penalties; and were beginning a change which tended to bring down, and which ultimately did bring down, the whole weight of the Roman law on the martyrs of Christianity. (f872) The force of another part of the accusation, which was adroitly introduced, namely, that the men were "Jews to begin with," will be fully apprehended, if we remember, not only that the Jews were generally hated, suspected, and despised, (f873) but that they had lately been driven out of Rome in consequence of an uproar, (f874) and that it was incumbent on Philippi, as a colony, to copy the indignation of the mother city.
Thus we can enter into the feelings which caused the mob to rise against Paul and Silas, (Acts 16:22.) and tempted the Praetors to dispense with legal formalities and consign the offenders to immediate punishment. The mere loss of the slave’s prophetic powers, so far as it was generally known, was enough to cause a violent agitation: for mobs are always more fond of excitement and wonder than of truth and holiness. The Philippians had been willing to pay money for the demoniac’s revelations, and now strangers had come and deprived them of that which gratified their superstitious curiosity. And when they learned, moreover, that these strangers were Jews, and were breaking the laws of Rome, their discontent became fanatical. It seems that the praetors had no time to hesitate, if they would retain their popularity. The rough words were spoken: (f875) Go, lictors: strip off their garments: let them be scourged." (f876) The order was promptly obeyed, and the heavy blows descended. It is happy for us that few modern countries know, by the example of a similar punishment, what the severity of a Roman scourging was. The Apostles received "many stripes;" and when they were consigned to prison, bleeding and faint from the rod, the jailer received a strict injunction "to keep them safe." Well might St. Paul, when at Corinth, look back to this day of cruelty, and remind the Thessalonians how he and Silas had "suffered before, and were shamefully treated at Philippi." (1Thessalonians 2:2.)
The jailer fulfilled the directions of the magistrates with rigorous and conscientious cruelty. Not content with placing the Apostles among such other offenders against the law as were in custody at Philippi, he "thrust them into the inner prison," (Acts 16:24.) and then forced their limbs, lacerated as they were, and bleeding from the rod, into a painful and constrained posture, by means of an instrument employed to confine and torture the bodies of the worst malefactors. (f877) Though we are ignorant of the exact relation of the outer and inner prisons, (f878) and of the connection of the jailor’s "house" with both, we are not without very good notions of the misery endured in the Roman places of captivity. We must picture to ourselves something very different from the austere comfort of an English jail. It is only since that Christianity for which the Apostles bled has had influence on the hearts of men, that the treatment of felons has been a distinct subject of philanthropic inquiry, and that we have learnt to pray "for all prisoners and captives." The inner prisons of which we read in the ancient world were like that "dungeon in the court of the prison," into which Jeremiah was let down with cords, and where "he sank in the mire." (f879) They were pestilential cells, damp and cold, from which the light was excluded, and where the chains rusted on the limbs of the prisoners. One such place may be seen to this day on the slope of the Capitol at Rome. (f880) It is known to the readers of Cicero and Sallust as the place where certain notorious conspirators were executed. The Tullianum (for so it was called) is a type of the dungeons in the provinces; and we find the very name applied, in one instance, to a dungeon in the province of Macedonia. (f881) What kind of torture was inflicted by the "stocks," in which the arms and legs, and even the necks, of offenders were confined and stretched, we are sufficiently informed by the allusions to the punishment of slaves in the Greek and Roman writers; (f882) and to show how far the cruelty of Heathen persecution, which may be said to have begun at Philippi, was afterwards carried in this peculiar kind of torture, we may refer to the sufferings "which Origen endured under an iron collar, and in the deepest recesses of the prison, when, for many days, he was extended and stretched to the distance of four holes on the rack." (f883)
A few hours had made a serious change from the quiet scene by the water-side to the interior of a stifling dungeon. But Paul and Silas had learnt, "in whatever state they were, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11.) They were even able to "rejoice" that they were "counted worthy to suffer" for the name of Christ. (Acts 5:41.) And if some thoughts of discouragement came over their minds, not for their own sufferings, but for the cause of their Master; and if it seemed "a strange thing" that a work to which they had been beckoned by God should be arrested in its very beginning; yet they had faith to believe that His arm would be revealed at the appointed time. Joseph’s feet, too, had been "hurt in the stocks," (f884) and he became a prince in Egypt. Daniel had been cast into the lions’ den, and he was made ruler of Babylon. Thus Paul and Silas remembered with joy the "Lord our Maker, who giveth songs in the night." (Job. 35:10.) Racked as they were with pain, sleepless and weary, they were heard, "about midnight," from the depth of their prison-house, "praying and singing hymns to God." (f885) What it was that they sang, we know not; but the Psalms of David have ever been dear to those who suffer; they have instructed both Jew and Christian in the language of prayer and praise. And the Psalms abound in such sentences as these:— "The Lord looketh down from His sanctuary: out of heaven the Lord beholdeth the earth: that He might hear the mournings of such as are in captivity, and deliver the children appointed unto death." — "Oh! let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before thee: according to the greatness of thy power, preserve thou those that are appointed to die." — "The Lord helpeth them to right that suffer wrong: the Lord looseth men out of prison: the Lord helpeth them that are fallen: the Lord careth for the righteous." (Psalm 102:19, 20, 79:12, 146:6-8. See also Psalm 142:8, 9, 69:34, 116:14, 68:6.) Such sounds as these were new in a Roman dungeon. Whoever the other prisoners might be, whether they were the victims of oppression, or were suffering the punishment of guilt, — debtors, slaves, robbers, or murderers, — they listened with surprise to the voices of those who filled the midnight of the prison with sounds of cheerfulness and joy. Still the Apostles continued their praises, and the prisoners listened. (f886)
"They that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death; being fast bound in misery and iron; when they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, He delivered them out of their distress. For He brought them out of darkness, and out of the shadow of death, and brake their bonds in sunder. Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness, and declare the wonders that He doeth for the children of men: for He hath broken the gates of brass, and smitten the bars of iron in sunder." (Psalm 107:10-16.)
When suddenly, as if in direct answer to the prayer of His servants, an earthquake shook the very foundations of the prison, (Acts 16:26.) the gates were broken, the bars smitten asunder, and the bands of the prisoners loosed. Without striving to draw a line between the natural and supernatural in this occurrence, and still less endeavoring to resolve what was evidently miraculous into the results of ordinary causes, we turn again to the thought suggested by that single but expressive phrase of Scripture, "the prisoners were listening." (f887) When we reflect on their knowledge of the Apostles’ sufferings (for they were doubtless aware of the manner in which they had been brought in and thrust into the dungeon), (f888) and on the wonder they must have experienced on hearing sounds of joy from those who were in pain, and on the awe which must have overpowered them when they felt the prison shaken and the chains fall from their limbs; and when to all this we add the effect produced on their minds by all that happened on the following day, and especially the fact that the jailer himself became a Christian; we can hardly avoid the conclusion that the hearts of many of those unhappy bondsmen were prepared that night to receive the Gospel, that the tidings of spiritual liberty came to those whom, but for the captivity of the Apostles, it would never have reached, and that the jailer himself was their evangelist and teacher.
The effect produced by that night on the jailer’s own mind has been fully related to us. Awakened in a moment by the earthquake, his first thought was of his prisoners:(Acts 16:27.) and in the shock of surprise and alarm, — "seeing the doors of the prison open, and supposing that the prisoners were fled," — aware that inevitable death awaited him, (f889) with the stern and desperate resignation of a Roman official, he resolved that suicide was better than disgrace, and "drew his sword."
Philippi is famous in the annals of suicide. Here Cassius, unable to survive defeat, covered his face in the empty tent, and ordered his freed-men to strike the blow. (f890) His messenger Titinius held it to be "a Roman’s part" (f891) to follow the stern example. Here Brutus bade adieu to his friends, exclaiming, "Certainly we must fly, yet not with the feet, but with the hands;" (f892) and many, whose names have never reached us, ended their last struggle for the republic by self-inflicted death. (f893) Here, too, another despairing man would have committed the same crime, had not his hand been arrested by an Apostle’s voice. Instead of a sudden and hopeless death, the jailer received at the hands of his prisoner the gift both of temporal and spiritual life.
The loud exclamation (Acts 16:28.) of St. Paul, "Do thyself no harm; for we are all here," gave immediate re-assurance to the terrified jailer. He laid aside his sword, and called for lights, and rushed (f894) to the "inner prison," where Paul and Silas were confined. But now a new fear of a higher kind took possession of his soul. The recollection of all he had heard before concerning these prisoners and all that he had observed of their demeanor when he brought them into the dungeon, the shuddering thought of the earthquake, the burst of his gratitude towards them as the preservers of his life, and the consciousness that even in the darkness of midnight they had seen his intention of suicide, — all these mingling and conflicting emotions made him feel that he was in the presence of a higher power. He fell down before them, and brought them out, as men whom he had deeply injured and insulted, to a place of greater freedom and comfort; (f895) and then he asked them, with earnest anxiety, what he must do to be saved. We see the Apostle here self-possessed in the earthquake, as afterwards in the storm at sea, (Acts 27:20-25.) able to overawe and control those who were placed over him, and calmly turning the occasion to a spiritual end. It is surely, however, a mistake to imagine that the jailer’s inquiry had reference merely to temporal and immediate danger. The awakening of his conscience, the presence of the unseen world, the miraculous visitation, the nearness of death, — coupled perhaps with some confused recollection of the "way of salvation" which these strangers were said to have been proclaiming, - were enough to suggest that inquiry which is the most momentous that any human soul can make:"What must I do to be saved?" (f896) Their answer was that of faithful Apostles. They preached "not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." (2Corinthians 4:5.) "Believe, not in us, but in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved; and not only thou, but the like faith shall bring salvation to all thy house." Prom this last expression, and from the words which follow, we infer that the members of the jailer’s family had crowded round him and the Apostles. (f897) No time was lost in making known to them "the word of the Lord." All thought of bodily comfort and repose was postponed to the work of saving the soul. The meaning of "faith in Jesus" was explained, and the Gospel was preached to the jailer’s family at midnight, while the prisoners were silent around, and the light was thrown on anxious faces and the dungeon-wall.
And now we have an instance of that sympathetic care, that interchange of temporal and spiritual service, which has ever attended the steps of true Christianity. As it was in the miracles of our Lord and savior, where the soul and the body were regarded together, so has it always been in His Church. "In the same hour of the night" (f898) the jailer took the Apostles to the well or fountain of water which was within or near the precincts of the prison, and there he washed their wounds, and there also he and his household were baptized. He did what he could to assuage the bodily pain of Paul and Silas, and they admitted him and his, by the "laver of regeneration," (Titus 3:5.) to the spiritual citizenship of the kingdom of God. The prisoners of the jailer were now become his guests. His cruelty was changed into hospitality and love. "He took them up (f899) into his house," and, placing them in a posture of repose, set food before them, (f900) and refreshed their exhausted strength. It was a night of happiness for all. They praised God that His power had been made effectual in their weakness; and the jailer’s family had their first experience of that joy which is the fruit of believing in God.
At length morning broke on the eventful night. In the course of that night the greatest of all changes had been wrought in the jailer’s relations to this world and the next. From being the ignorant slave of a Heathen magistracy he had become the religious head of a Christian family. A change, also, in the same interval of time, had come over the minds of the magistrates themselves. Either from reflecting that they had acted more harshly than the case had warranted, or from hearing a more accurate statement of facts, or through alarm caused by the earthquake, or through that vague misgiving which sometimes, as in the case of Pilate and his wife, (Matthew 27:19.) haunts the minds of those who have no distinct religious convictions, they sent new orders in the morning to the jailer. The message conveyed by the lictors was expressed in a somewhat contemptuous form, "Let those men go." (f901) But the jailer received it with the utmost joy. He felt his infinite debt of gratitude to the Apostles, not only for his preservation from a violent death, but for the tidings they had given him of eternal life. He would willingly have seen them freed from their bondage; but he was dependent on the will of the magistrates, and could do nothing without their sanction. When, therefore, the dictors brought the order, he went with them (f902) to announce the intelligence to the prisoners, and joyfully told them to leave their dungeon and "go in peace."
But Paul, not from any fanatical love of braving the authorities, but calmly looking to the ends of justice and the establishment of Christianity, refused to accept his liberty without some public acknowledgment of the wrong he had suffered. He now proclaimed a fact which had hitherto been unknown, — that he and Silas were Roman citizens. Two Roman laws had been violated by the magistrates of the colony in the scourging inflicted the day before. (f903) And this, too, with signal aggravations. They were "uncondemned." There had been no form of trial, without which, in the case of a citizen, even a slighter punishment would have been illegal. And it had been done "publicly." In the face of the colonial population, an outrage had been committed on the majesty of the name in which they boasted, and Rome had been insulted in her citizens. "No," said St. Paul;
"they have oppressed the innocent and violated the law. Do they seek to satisfy justice by conniving at a secret escape? Let them come themselves and take us out of prison. They have publicly treated us as guilty; let them publicly declare that we are innocent." (f904)
"How often," says Cicero, "has this exclamation, I am a Roman citizen, brought aid and safety even among barbarians in the remotest parts of the earth!" — The lictors returned to the praetors, and the praetors were alarmed. They felt that they had committed an act which, if divulged at Rome, would place them in the utmost jeopardy. They had good reason to fear even for their authority in the colony; for the people of Philippi, "being Romans," might be expected to resent such a violation of the law. They hastened, therefore, immediately to the prisoners, and became the suppliants of those whom they had persecuted. They brought them at once out of the dungeon, and earnestly "besought them to depart from the city." (f905)
The whole narrative of St. Paul’s imprisonment at Philippi sets before us in striking colors his clear judgment and presence of mind. He might have escaped by help of the earthquake and under the shelter of the darkness; but this would have been to depart as a runaway slave. He would not do secretly what he knew he ought to be allowed to do openly. By such a course his own character and that of the Gospel would have been disgraced, the jailer would have been cruelly left to destruction, and all religious influence over the other prisoners would have been gone. As regards these prisoners, his influence over them was like the sway he obtained over the crew in the sinking vessel. (Acts 27.) It was so great, that not one of them attempted to escape. And not only in the prison, but in the whole town of Philippi, Christianity was placed on a high vantage-ground by the Apostle’s conduct that night. It now appeared that these persecuted Jews were themselves sharers in the vaunted Roman privilege. Those very laws had been violated in their treatment which they themselves had been accused of violating. That no appeal was made against this treatment, might be set down to the generous forbearance of the Apostles. Their cause was now, for a time at least, under the protection of the law, and they themselves were felt to have a claim on general sympathy and respect.
They complied with the request of the magistrates. Yet, even in their departure, they were not unmindful of the dignity and self-possession which ought always to be maintained by innocent men in a righteous cause. They did not retire in any hasty or precipitate flight, but proceeded "from the prison to the house of Lydia;" (Acts 16:40.) and there they met the Christian brethren, who were assembled to hear their farewell words of exhortation; and so they departed from the city. It was not, however, deemed sufficient that this infant church at Philippi should be left alone with the mere remembrance of words of exhortation. Two of the Apostolic company remained behind: Timothy, of whom the Philippians "learned the proof" that he honestly cared for their state, that ho was truly like-minded with St. Paul, "serving him in the Gospel as a son serves his father;" (Philippians 2:19-25.) and "Luke the Evangelist, whose praise is in the Gospel," though he never praises himself, or relates his own labors, and though we only trace his movements in connection with St. Paul by the change of a pronoun, (f906) or the unconscious variation of his style.
Timothy seems to have rejoined Paul and Silas, if not at Thessa lonica, at least at Beroea. (f907) But we do not see St. Luke again in the Apostle’s company till the third missionary journey and the second visit to Macedonia. (Acts 20: 4 6.) At this exact point of separation, we observe that he drops the style of an eye-witness and resumes that of an historian, until the second time of meeting, after which he writes as an eye-witness till the arrival at Rome, and the very close of the Acts. To explain and justify the remark here made, we need only ask the reader to contrast the detailed narrative of events at Philippi with the more general account of what happened at Thessalonica. (f908) It might be inferred that the writer of the Acts was an eye-witness in the former city and not in the latter, even if the pronoun did not show us when he was present and when he was absent. We shall trace him a second time, in the same manner, when he rejoins St. Paul in the same neighborhood. He appears again on a voyage from Philippi to Troas (Acts 20:56), as now he has appeared on a voyage from Troas to Philippi. It is not an improbable conjecture that his vocation as a physician (f909) may have brought him into connection with these contiguous coasts of Asia and Europe. It has even been imagined, on reasonable grounds, (f910) that he may have been in the habit of exercising his professional skill as a surgeon at sea. However this may have been, we see no reason to question the ancient opinion, stated by Eusebius and Jerome, that St. Luke was a native of Antioch. Such a city was a likely place for the education of a physician. (f911) It is also natural to suppose that he may have met with St. Paul there, and been converted at an earlier period of the history of the Church. His medical calling, or his zeal for Christianity, or both combined (and the combination has ever been beneficial to the cause of the Gospel), may account for his visits to the North of the Archipelago: (f912) or St. Paul may himself have directed his movements, as he afterwards directed those of Timothy and Titus. (1Timothy 1:3; 2Timothy 4:9, 21; Titus 1:5, 3:12.) All these suggestions, though more or less conjectural, are worthy of our thoughts, when we remember the debt of gratitude which the Church owes to this Evangelist, not only as the historian of the Acts of the Apostles, but as an example of long-continued devotion to the truth, and of unshaken constancy to that one Apostle, who said with sorrow, in his latest trial, that others had forsaken him, and that "only Luke" was with him. (f913)
Leaving their first Macedonian converts to the care of Timothy and Luke, aided by the co-operation of godly men and women raised up among the Philippians themselves, (f914) Paul and Silas set forth on their journey. Before we follow them to Thessalonica, we may pause to take a general survey of the condition and extent of Macedonia, in the sense in which the term was understood in the language of the day. It has been well said that the Acts of the Apostles have made Macedonia a kind of Holy Land; (f915) and it is satisfactory that the places there visited and revisited by St. Paul and his companions are so well known, that we have no difficulty in representing to the mind their position and their relation to the surrounding country.
Macedonia, in its popular sense, may be described as a region bounded by a great semicircle of mountains, beyond which the streams flow westward to the Adriatic, or northward and eastward to the Danube and the Euxine. (f916) This mountain barrier sends down branches to the sea on the eastern or Thracian frontier, over against Thasos and Samothrace; (f917) and on the south shuts out the plain of Thessaly, and rises near the shore to the high summits of Pelion, Ossa, and the snowy Olympus. (f918) The space thus enclosed is intersected by two great rivers. One of these is Homer’s "wide-flowing Axius," which directs its course past Pella, the ancient metropolis of the Macedonian kings, and the birthplace of Alexander, to the low levels in the neighborhood of Thessalonica, where other rivers (f919) flow near it into the Thermaic gulf. The other is the Strymon, which brings the produce of the great inland level of Serres (f920) by Lake Cercinus to the sea at Amphipolis, and beyond which was Philippi, the military outpost that commemorated the successful conquests of Alexander’s father. Between the mouths of these two rivers a remarkable tract of country, which is insular rather than continental, (f921) projects into the Archipelago, and divides itself into three points, on the farthest of which Mount Athos rises nearly into the region of perpetual snow. (f922) Part of St. Paul’s path between Philippi and Beroea lay across the neck of this peninsula. The whole of his route was over historical ground. At Philippi he was close to the confines of Thracian barbarism, and on the spot where the last battle was fought in defense of the Republic. At Boroea he came near the mountains, beyond which is the region of Classical Greece, and close to the spot where the battle was fought which reduced Macedonia to a province. (f923)
If we wish to view Macedonia as a province, some modifications must be introduced into the preceding description. It applies, indeed, with sufficient exactness to the country on its first conquest by the Romans. (f924) The rivers already alluded to define the four districts into which it was divided. Macedonia Prima was the region east of the Strymon, of which Amphipolis was the capital; (f925) Macedonia Secunda lay between the Strymon and the Axius, and Thessalonica was its metropolis; and the other two regions were situated to the south towards Thessaly, and on the mountains to the west. (f926) This was the division adopted by Paulus AEmilius after the battle of Pydna. But the arrangement was only temporary. The whole of Macedonia, along with some adjacent territories, was made one province, (f927) and centralized under the jurisdiction of a proconsul, (f928) who resided at Thessalonica. This province included Thessaly, (f929) and extended over the mountain-chain which had been the western boundary of ancient Macedonia, so as to embrace a seaboard of considerable length on the shore of the Adriatic. The political limits, in this part of the Empire, are far more easily discriminated than those with which we have been lately occupied (Chap. 8.). Three provinces divided the whole surface which extends from the basin of the Danube to Cape Matapan. All of them are familiar to us in the writings of St. Paul. The extent of Macedonia has just been defined. Its relations with the other provinces were as follows. On the north-west it was contiguous to Illyricum, (f930) which was spread down the shore of the Adriatic nearly to the same point to which the Austrian territory now extends, fringing the Mohammedan empire with a Christian border. (f931) A hundred miles to the southward, at the Acroceraunian promontory, it touched Achaia, the boundary of which province ran thence in an irregular line to the bay of Thermopylae and the north of Euboea, including Epirus, and excluding Thessaly. (f932)
Achaia and Macedonia were traversed many times by the Apostle; (f933) and he could say, when he was hoping to travel to Rome, that he had preached the Gospel "round about unto Illyricum." (f934) When we allude to Rome, and think of the relation of the City to the provinces, we are inevitably reminded of the military roads; and here, across the breadth of Macedonia, was one of the greatest roads of the Empire. It is evident that, after Constantinople was founded, a line of communication between the Eastern and Western capitals was of the utmost moment; but the Via Egnatia was constructed long before that period. Strabo, in the reign of Augustus, informs us that it was regularly made and marked out by milestones, from Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic, to Cypselus on the Hebrus in Thrace; and, even before the close of the republic, we find Cicero speaking, in one of his orations, of "that military way of ours, which connects us with the Hellespont." Certain districts on the European side of the Hellespont had been part of the legacy of King Attalus, (f935) and the simultaneous possession of Macedonia, Asia, and Bithynia, with the prospect of further conquests in the East, made this line of communication absolutely necessary. When St. Paul was on the Roman road at Troas (f936) or Philippi, he was on a road which led to the gates of Rome. It was the same pavement which he afterwards trod at Appii Forum and the Three Taverns. (f937) The nearest parallel which the world has seen of the imperial roads is the present European railway system. The Hellespont and the Bosphorus, in the reign of Claudius, were what the Straits of Dover and Holyhead are now; and even the passage from Brundusium in Italy, to Dyrrhachium and Apollonia (f938) in Macedonia, was only a tempestuous ferry, — only one of those difficulties of nature which the Romans would have overcome if they could, and which the boldest of the Romans dared to defy. (f939) From Dyrrhachium and Apollonia, the Via Egnatia, strictly so called, extended a distance of five hundred miles, to the Hebrus, in Thrace. (f940) Thessalonica was about half way between these remote points, and Philippi was the last (f941) important town in the province of Macedonia. Our concern is only with that part of the Via Egnatia which lay between the two last-mentioned cities.
The intermediate stages mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles are Amphipolis and Apollonia. The distances laid down in the Itineraries are as follows:— Philippi to Amphipolis, thirty-three miles; Amphipolis to Apollonia, thirty miles; Apollonia to Thessalonica, thirty-seven miles. These distances are evidently such as might have been traversed each in one day; and since nothing is said of any delay on the road, but every thing to imply that the journey was rapid, we conclude (unless, indeed, their recent sufferings made rapid traveling impossible) that Paul and Silas rested one night at each of the intermediate places, and thus our notice of their journey is divided into three parts.
From Philippi to Amphipolis, the Roman way passed across the plain to the north of Mount Pangaeus. A traveler, going direct from Neapolis to the mouth of the Strymon, might make his way through an opening in the mountains (f942) nearer the coast. This is the route by which Xerxes brought his army, (f943) and by which modern journeys are usually made. (f944) But Philippi was not built in the time of the Persian war, and now, under the Turks, it is a ruined village. Under the Roman emperors, the position of this colony determined the direction of the road. The very productiveness of the soil, (f945) and its liability to inundations, (f946) must have caused this road to be carefully constructed. The surface of the plain, which is intersected by multitudes of streams, is covered now with plantations of cotton and fields of Indian corn, (f947) and the villages are so numerous, that, when seen from the summits of the neighboring mountains, they appear to form one continued town. (f948) Not far from the coast, the Strymon spreads out into a lake as large as Windermere; (f949) and between the lower end of this lake and the inner reach of the Strymonic gulf, where the mountains leave a narrow opening, Amphipolis was situated on a bend of the river.
"The position of Amphipolis is one of the most important in Greece. It stands in a pass which traverses the mountains bordering the Strymonic gulf, and it commands the only easy communication from the coast of that gulf into the great Macedonian plains, which extend, for sixty miles, from beyond Meleniko to Philippi." (f950)
The ancient name of the place was "Nine Ways," from the great number of Thracian and Macedonian roads which met at this point. (f951) The Athenians saw the importance of the position, and established a colony there, which they called Amphipolis, because the river surrounded it. Some of the deepest interest in the history of Thucydides, not only as regards military and political movements, (f952) but in reference to the personal experience of the historian himself, (f953) is concentrated on this spot. And again, Amphipolis appears in the speeches of Demosthenes as a great stake in the later struggle between Philip of Macedon and the citizens of Athens. (f954) It was also the scene of one striking passage in the history of Roman conquest: here Paulus AEmilius, after the battle of Pydna, publicly proclaimed that the Macedonians should be free; (f955) and now another Paulus was here, whose message to the Macedonians was an honest proclamation of a better liberty, without conditions and without reserve.
St. Paul’s next stage was to the city of Apollonia. After leaving Amphipolis, the road passes along the edge of the Strymonic gulf, first between cliffs and the sea, and then across a well-wooded maritime plain, whence the peak of Athos is seen far across the bay to the left. (f956) We quit the seashore at the narrow gorge of Aulon, or Arethusa, (f957) and there enter the valley which crosses the neck of the Chalcidic peninsula. Up to this point we have frequent historical landmarks reminding us of Athens. Thucydides has just been mentioned in connection with Amphipolis and the Strymon. As we leave the sea, we have before us, on the opposite coast, Stagirus, (f958) the birthplace of Aristotle; and in the pass, where the mountains close on the road, is the tomb of Euripides. Thus the steps of our progress, as we leave the East and begin to draw near to Athens, are already among her historians, philosophers, and poets. (f959)
Apollonia is somewhere in the inland part of the journey, where the Via Egnatia crosses from the gulf of the Strymon to that of Thessalonica; but its exact position has not been ascertained. We will, therefore, merely allude to the scenery through which the traveler moves, in going from sea to sea. The pass of Arethusa is beautiful and picturesque. A river flows through it in a sinuous course, and abundant oaks and plane-trees are on the rocks around. (f960) Presently this stream is seen to emerge from an inland lake, whose promontories and villages, with the high mountains rising to the south-west, have reminded travelers of Switzerland. (f961) As we journey towards the west, we come to a second lake. Between the two is the modern post-station of Klisali, which may possibly be Apollonia, (f962) though it is generally believed to be on the mountain slope to the south of the easternmost lake. The whole region of these two lakes is a long valley, or rather a succession of plains, where the level spaces are richly wooded with forest-trees, and the nearer hills are covered to their summits with olives. (f963) Beyond the second lake, the road passes over some rising ground, and presently, after emerging from a narrow glen, we obtain a sight of the sea once more, the eye ranges freely over the plain of the Axius, and the city of Thessalonica is immediately before us.
Once arrived in this city, St. Paul no longer follows the course of the Via Egnatia. He may have done so at a later period, when he says that he had preached the Gospel "round about unto Illyricum." (f964) But at present he had reached the point most favorable for the glad proclamation. The direction of the Roman road was of course determined by important geographical positions; and along the whole line from Dyrrhachium to the Hebrus, no city was so large and influential as Thessalonica.
The Apostolic city at which we are now arrived was known in the earliest periods of its history under various names. Under that of Therma it is associated with some interesting recollections. It was the resting-place of Xerxes on his march; it is not unmentioned in the Peloponnesian war; and it was a frequent subject of debate in the last independent assemblies of Athens. When the Macedonian power began to overshadow all the countries where Greek was spoken, this city received its new name, and began a new and more distinguished period of its history. A sister of Alexander the Great was called Thessalonica, and her name was given to the city of Therma, when rebuilt and embellished by her husband, Cassander the son of Antipater. (f965) This name, under a form slightly modified, has continued to the present day. The Salneck of the early German poets has become the Saloniki of the modern Levant. Its history can be followed as continuously as its name. When Macedonia was partitioned into four provincial divisions by Paulus AEmilius, Thessalonica was the capital of that which lay between the Axius and the Strymon. (f966) When the four regions were united into one Roman province, this city was chosen as the metropolis of the whole. Its name appears more than once in the annals of the Civil Wars. It was the scene of the exile of Cicero, (f967) and one of the stages of his journey between Rome and his province in the East. (f968) Antony and Octavius were here after the battle of Philippi; and coins are still extant which allude to the "freedom" granted by the victorious leaders to the city of the Thermaic gulf. Strabo, in the first century, speaks of Thessalonica as the most populous town in Macedonia. Lucian, in the second century, uses similar language. Before the founding of Constantinople, it was virtually the capital of Greece and Illyricum, as well as of Macedonia, and shared the trade of the AEgean with Ephesus and Corinth. Even after the Eastern Rome was built and reigned over the Levant, we find both Pagan and Christian writers speaking of Thessalonica as the metropolis of Macedonia and a place of great magnitude.
Through the Middle Ages it never ceased to be important: and it is, at the present day, the second city in European Turkey. (f969) The reason of this continued pre-eminence is to be found in its geographical position. Situated on the inner bend of the Thermaic Gulf, — half way between the Adriatic and the Hellespont, (f970) — on the sea-margin of a vast plain watered by several rivers, (f971) — and at the entrance of the pass (f972) which commands the approach to the other great Macedonian level, — it was evidently destined for a mercantile emporium. Its relation with the inland trade of Macedonia was as close as that of Amphipolis; and its maritime advantages were perhaps even greater. Thus, while Amphipolis decayed under the Byzantine emperors, Thessalonica continued to prosper. (f973) There probably never was a time, from the day when it first received its name, that this city has not had the aspect of a busy commercial town. (f974) We see at once how appropriate a place it was for one of the starting-points of the Gospel in Europe; and we can appreciate the force of the expression used by St. Paul within a few months of his departure from the Thessalonians, (f975) when he says, that "from them the Word of the Lord had sounded forth like a trumpet, (f976) not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place."
No city, which we have yet had occasion to describe, has had so distinguished a Christian history, with the single exception of the Syrian Antioch; and the Christian glory of the Patriarchal city gradually faded before that of the Macedonian metropolis. The heroic age of Thessalonica was the third century. (f977) It was the bulwark of Constantinople in the shock of the barbarians; and it held up the torch of the truth to the successive tribes who overspread the country between the Danube and the AEgean, — the Goths and the Sclaves, the Bulgarians of the Greek Church, and the Wallachians, (f978) whose language still seems to connect them with Philippi and the Roman colonies. Thus, in the mediaeval chroniclers, it has deserved the name of "the Orthodox City." (f979) The remains of its Hippodrome, which is forever associated with the history of Theodosius and Ambrose, (f980) can yet be traced among the Turkish houses. Its bishops have sat in great councils. (f981) The writings of its great preacher and scholar Eustathius (f982) are still preserved to us. It is true that the Christianity of Thessalonica, both mediaeval and modern, has been debased by humiliating superstition. The glory of its patron saint, Demetrius, has eclipsed that of St. Paul, the founder of its Church. But the same Divine Providence, which causes us to be thankful for the past, commands us to be hopeful for the future; and we may look forward to the time when a new harvest of the "work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope," (1Thessalonians 1:3.) shall spring up from the seeds of Divine Truth, which were first sown on the shore of the Thermaic Gulf by the Apostle of the Gentiles.
If Thessalonica can boast of a series of Christian annals, unbroken since the day of St. Paul’s arrival, its relations with the Jewish people have continued for a still longer period. In our own day it contains a multitude of Jews (f983) commanding an influential position, many of whom are occupied (not very differently from St. Paul himself) in the manufacture of cloth. A considerable number of them are refugees from Spain, and speak the Spanish language. There are materials for tracing similar settlements of the same scattered and persecuted people in this city, at intervals, during the Middle Ages; (f984) and even before the destruction of Jerusalem we find them here, numerous and influential, as at Antioch and Iconium. Here, doubtless, was the chief colony of those Jews of Macedonia of whom Philo speaks; (f985) for while there was only a proseucha at Philippi, and while Amphipolis and Apollonia had no Israelite communities to detain the Apostles, "the synagogue" (f986) of the neighborhood was at Thessalonica.
The first scene to which we are introduced in this city is entirely Jewish. It is not a small meeting of proselyte women by the river-side, but a crowded assembly of true-born Jews, intent on their religious worship, among whom Paul and Silas now make their appearance. If the traces of their recent hardships were manifest in their very aspect, and if they related to their Israelitish brethren how they had "suffered before and been cruelly treated at Philippi" (1Thessalonians 2:2), their entrance in among them must have created a strong impression of indignation and sympathy, which explains the allusion in St. Paul’s Epistle. He spoke, however, to the Thessalonian Jews with the earnestness of a man who has no time to lose and no thought to waste on his own sufferings. He preached, not himself, but Christ crucified. The Jewish Scriptures were the ground of his argument. He recurred to the same subject again and again. On three successive Sabbaths (Acts 17:2.) he argued with them; and the whole body of Jews resident in Thessalonica were interested and excited with the new doctrine, and were preparing either to adopt or Oppose it.
The three points on which he insisted were these:— that He who was foretold in prophecy was to be a suffering Messiah, — that after death He was to rise again, — and that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah who was to come. Such is the distinct and concise statement in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:3): and the same topics of teaching are implied in the first Epistle, where the Thessalonians are appealed to as men who had been taught to "believe that Jesus had really died and risen again" (1Thessalonians 4:14), and who had "turned to serve the true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus" (1Thessalonians 1:10). Of the mode in which these subjects would be presented to his hearers we can form some idea from what was said at Antioch in Pisidia. The very aspect of the worshippers was the same; (f987) proselytes were equally attached to the congregations in Pisidia and Macedonia, (f988) and the "devout and honorable women" in one city found their parallel in the "chief women" in the other. (f989) The impression, too, produced by the address, was not very different here from what it had been there. At first it was favorably received, (f990) the interest of novelty having more influence than the seriousness of conviction. Even from the first some of the topics must have contained matter for perplexity or cavilling. Many would be indisposed to believe the fact of Christ’s resurrection: and many more who, in their exile from Jerusalem, were looking intently for the restoration of an earthly kingdom, (Acts 1:6.) must have heard incredulously and unwillingly of the humiliation of Messiah.
That St. Paul did speak of Messiah’s glorious kingdom, the kingdom foretold in the Prophetic Scriptures themselves, may be gathered by comparing together the Acts and the Epistles to the Thessalonians. The accusation brought against him (Acts 17:7) was, that he was proclaiming another king, and virtually rebelling against the emperor. And in strict conformity to this the Thessalonians are reminded of the exhortations and entreaties he gave them, when among them, that they would "walk worthily of the God who had called them to His kingdom and glory" (1Thessalonians 2:12), and they are addressed as those who had "suffered affliction for the sake of that kingdom " (2Thessalonians 1:5). Indeed, the royal state of Christ’s second advent was one chief topic which was urgently enforced, and deeply impressed, on the minds of the Thessalonian converts. This subject tinges the whole atmosphere through which the aspect of this church is presented to us. It may be said that in each of the primitive churches, which are depicted in the apostolic epistles, there is some peculiar feature which gives it an individual character. In Corinth it is the spirit of party, ( 1Corinthians 1:10, &c.) in Galatia the rapid declension into Judaism, (Galatians 1:6, &c.) in Philippi it is a steady and self-denying generosity. (Philippians 4:10-16.) And if we were asked for the distinguishing characteristic of the first Christians of Thessalonica, we should point to their overwhelming sense of the nearness of the second advent, accompanied with melancholy thoughts concerning those who might die before it, and with gloomy and unpractical views of the shortness of life and the vanity of the world. Each chapter in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians ends with an allusion to this subject; and it was evidently the topic of frequent conversations, when the Apostle was in Macedonia. But St. Paul never spoke or wrote of the future as though the present was to be forgotten. When the Thessalonians were admonished of Christ’s advent, he told them also of other coming events, full of practical warning to all ages, though to our eyes still they are shrouded in mystery, — of "the falling-away," and of "the man of sin." (2 Thessalonians 2.)
"These awful revelations," he said, "must precede the revelation of the Son of God. Do you not remember," he adds with emphasis in his letter, "that when I was still with you I often (f991) told you this? You know, therefore, the hinderance why he is not revealed, as he will be in his own season."
He told them, in the words of Christ himself, that "the times and the seasons" of the coming revelations were known only to God; (f992) and he warned them, as the first disciples had been warned in Judaea, that the great day would come suddenly on men unprepared, "as the pangs of travail on her whose time is full," and "as a thief in the night;" and he showed them, both by precept and example, that though it be true that life is short and the world is vanity, yet God’s work must be done diligently and to the last.
The whole demeanor of St. Paul among the Thessalonians may be traced, by means of these Epistles, with singular minuteness. We see there, not only what success he had on his first entrance among them, (f993) not only how the Gospel came "with power and with full conviction of its truth," (1Thessalonians 1:5.) but also "what manner of man he was among them for their sakes." (f994) We see him proclaiming the truth with unflinching courage, (f995) endeavoring to win no converts by flattering words, (f996) but warning his hearers of all the danger of the sins and pollution to which they were tempted; (f997) manifestly showing that his work was not intended to gratify any desire of self-advancement, (1Thessalonians 2:5.) but scrupulously maintaining an honor able and unblamable character. (f998) We see him rebuking and admonishing his converts with all the faithfulness of a father to his children, (f999) and cherishing them with all the affection of a mother for the infant of her bosom. (f1000) We see in this Apostle at Thessalonica all the devotion of a friend who is ready to devote his life for those whom he loves, (f1001) all the watchfulness of the faithful pastor, to whom "each one" of his flock is the separate object of individual care. (f1002)
And from these Epistles we obtain further some information concerning what may be called the outward incidents of St. Paul’s residence in this city. He might when there, consistently with the Lord’s institution (Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; See 1Timothy 5:18.) and with the practice of the other Apostles, (1Corinthians 9:4, &c.) have been "burdensome" to those whom he taught, so as to receive from them the means of his temporal support. But that he might place his disinterestedness above all suspicion, and that he might set an example to those who were too much inclined to live by the labor of others, he declined to avail himself of that which was an undoubted right. He was enabled to maintain this independent position partly by the liberality of his friends at Philippi, who once and again, on this first visit to Macedonia, sent relief to his necessities (Philippians 4:15, 16). And the journeys of those pious men who followed the footsteps of the persecuted Apostles along the Via Egnatia by Amphip-olis and Apollonia, bringing the alms which had been collected at Philippi, are among the most touching incidents of the Apostolic history. And not less touching is that description which St. Paul himself gives us of that other means of support — "his own labor night and day, that he might not be burdensome to any of them" (1Thessalonians 2:9). He did not merely "rob other churches," (2Corinthians 11:8.) that he might do the Thessalonians service, but the trade he had learnt when a boy in Cilicia (f1003) justified the old Jewish maxim; (f1004) "he was like a vineyard that is fenced;" and he was able to show an example, not only to the "disorderly busy-bodies" of Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 4:11), but to all, in every age of the Church, who are apt to neglect their proper business (2Thessalonians 3:11), and ready to eat other men’s bread for nought (2Thessalonians 3:8). Late at night, when the sun had long set on the incessant spiritual labors of the day, the Apostle might be seen by lamplight laboring at the rough haircloth, (f1005) "that he might be chargeable to none." It was an emphatic enforcement of the "commands" (f1006) which he found it necessary to give when he was among them, that they should "study to be quiet and to work with their own hands" (1Thessalonians 4:11), and the stern principle he laid down, that "if a man will not work, neither should he eat." (2Thessalonians 3:10.)
In these same Epistles, St. Paul speaks of his work at Thessalonica as having been encompassed with afflictions, (1Thessalonians 1:6.) and of the Gospel as having advanced by a painful struggle. (1Thessalonians 2:2.) What these afflictions and struggles were, we can gather from the slight notices of events which are contained in the Acts. The Apostle’s success among the Gentiles roused the enmity of his own countrymen. Even in the Synagogue the Proselytes attached themselves to him more readily than the Jews. (f1007) But he did not merely obtain an influence over the Gentile mind by the indirect means of his disputations on the Sabbath in the Synagogue, and through the medium of the Proselytes; but on the intermediate days (f1008) he was doubtless in frequent and direct communication with the Heathen. We need not be surprised at the results, even if his stay was limited to the period corresponding to three Sabbaths. No one can say what effects might follow from three weeks of an Apostle’s teaching. But we are by no means forced to adopt the supposition that the time was limited to three weeks. It is highly probable that St. Paul remained at Thessalonica for a longer period. (f1009) At other cities, (Acts 13., 18., 19., &c.) when he was repelled by the Jews, he became the evangelist of the Gentiles, and remained till he was compelled to depart. The Thessalonian Letters throw great light on the rupture which certainly took place with the Jews on this occasion, and which is implied in that one word in the Acts which speaks of their jealousy (Acts 17:5.) against the Gentiles. The whole aspect of the Letters shows that the main body of the Thessalonian Church was not Jewish, but Gentile. The Jews are spoken of as an extraneous body, as the enemies of Christianity and of all men, not as the elements out of which the Church was composed. (f1010) The ancient Jewish Scriptures are not once quoted in either of these Epistles. (f1011) The converts are addressed as those who had turned, not from Hebrew fables and traditions, but from the practices of Heathen idolatry. (1Thessalonians 1:9.) How new and how comforting to them must have been the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead! What a contrast must this revelation of "life and immortality" have been to the hopeless lamentations of their own pagan funerals, and to the dismal teaching which we can still read in the sepulchral inscriptions (f1012) of Heathen Thessalonica, — such as told the bystander that after death there is no revival, after the grave no meeting of those who have loved each other on earth! How ought the truth taught by the Apostle to have comforted the new disciples at the thought of inevitable, though only temporary, separation from their Christian brethren! And yet how difficult was the truth to realize, when they saw those brethren sink into lifeless forms, and after they had committed them to the earth which had received all their heathen ancestors! How eagerly can we imagine them to have read the new assurances of comfort which came in the letter from Corinth, and which told them "not to sorrow like other men who have no hope"! (1Thessalonians 4:13.)
But we are anticipating the events which occurred between the Apostle’s departure from Thessalonica and the time when he wrote the letter from Corinth. We must return to the persecution that led him to undertake that journey, which brought him from the capitol of Macedonia to that of Achaia.
When the Jews saw Proselytes and Gentiles, and many of the leading women (Acts 17:4. See above.) of the city, convinced by St. Paul’s teaching, they must have felt that his influence was silently undermining theirs. In proportion to his success in spreading Christianity, their power of spreading Judaism declined. Their sensitiveness would be increased in consequence of the peculiar dislike with which they were viewed at this time by the Roman power. (f1013) Thus they adopted the tactics which had been used with some success before at Iconium and Lystra, (f1014) and turned against St. Paul and his companions those weapons which are the readiest instruments of vulgar bigotry. They excited the mob of Thessalonica, gathering together a multitude of those worthless idlers about the markets and landing-places (f1015) which abound in every such city, and are always ready for any evil work. With this multitude they assaulted the house of Jason (perhaps some Hellenistic Jew, (f1016) whose name had been moulded into Gentile form, and possibly one of St. Paul’s relations, who is mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans), (f1017) with whom Paul and Silas seem to have been lodging. Their wish was to bring Paul and Silas out to the demus, or assembly of the people. But they were absent from the house; and Jason and some other Christians were dragged before the city magistrates. The accusation vociferously brought against them was to the following effect:
"These Christians, who are setting the whole world in confusion, are come hither at last; and Jason has received them into his house; and they are all acting in the face of the Emperor’s decrees, for they assert that there is another king, whom they call Jesus."
We have seen (f1018) how some of the parts of St. Paul’s teaching at Thessalonica may have given occasion to the latter phrase in this indictment; and we obtain a deeper insight into the cause why the whole indictment was brought forward with so much vehemence, and why it was so likely to produce an effect on the magistrates, if we bear in mind the circumstance alluded to in reference to Philippi, (f1019) that the Jews were under the ban of the Roman authorities about this time, for having raised a tumult in the metropolis, at the instigation (as was alleged) of one Chrestus, or Christus; (f1020) and that they must have been glad, in the provincial cities, to be able to show their loyalty and gratify their malice, by throwing the odium off themselves upon a sect whose very name might be interpreted to imply a rebellion against the Emperor.
Such were the circumstances under which Jason and his companions were brought before the politarchs. We use the Greek term advisedly; for it illustrates the political constitution of Thessalonica, and its contrast with that of Philippi, which has lately been noticed. Thessalonica was not a colony, like Philippi, Troas, or the Pisidian Antioch, but a free city (Urbs libera), like the Syrian Antioch, or like Tarsus (f1021) and Athens. The privilege of what was technically called "freedom" was given to certain cities of the Empire for good service in the Civil Wars, or as a tribute of respect to the old celebrity of the place, or for other reasons of convenient policy. There were few such cities in the western provinces, (f1022) as there were no municipia in the eastern. The free towns were most numerous in those parts of the Empire where the Greek language had long prevailed; and we are generally able to trace the reasons why this privilege was bestowed upon them. At Athens, it was the fame of its ancient eminence, and the evident policy of paying a compliment to the Greeks. At Thessalonica it was the part which its inhabitants had prudently taken in the great struggle of Augustus and Antony against Brutus and Cassius. (f1023) When the decisive battle had been fought, Philippi was made a military colony, and Thessalonica became free.
The privilege of such a city consisted in this, — that it was entirely self-governed in all its internal affairs, within the territory that might be assigned to it. The governor of the province had no right, under ordinary circumstances, to interfere with these affairs. (f1024) The local magistrates had the power of life and death over the citizens of the place. No stationary garrison of Roman soldiers was quartered within its territory. (f1025) No insignia of Roman office were displayed in its streets. An instance of the care with which this rule was observed is recorded by Tacitus, who tells us, that Germanicus, whose progress was usually distinguished by the presence of twelve lictors, declined to enter Athens attended with more than one. There is no doubt that the magistracies of such cities would be very careful to show their loyalty to the Emperor on all suitable occasions, and to avoid every disorder which might compromise their valued dignity, and cause it to be withdrawn. And on the other hand, the Roman State did wisely to rely on the Greek love of empty distinction; and it secured its dominion as effectually in the East by means of these privileged towns, as by the stricter political annexation of the municipia in the West. The form of government in the free cities was very various. (f1026) In some cases the old magistracies and customs were continued without any material modification. In others, a senate, or an assembly, was allowed to exist where none had existed before. Here, at Thessalonica, we find an assembly of the people (Demus, (f1027) Acts 17:5) and supreme magistrates, who are called politarchs (Acts 17:8). It becomes an interesting inquiry, whether the existence of this title of the Thessalonian magistracy can be traced in any other source of information. This question is immediately answered in the affirmative, by one of those passages of monumental history which we have made it our business to cite as often as possible in the course of this biography. An inscription which is still legible on an archway in Thessalonica gives this title to the magistrates of the place, informs us of their number, and mentions the very names of some who bore the office not long before the day of St. Paul.
A long street intersects the city from east to west. (f1028) This is doubtless the very direction which the ancient road took in its course from the Adriatic to the Hellespont; for though the houses of ancient cities are destroyed and renewed, the lines of the great thoroughfares are usually unchanged. (f1029) If there were any doubt of the fact at Thessalonica, the question is set at rest by two triumphal arches which still, though disfigured by time and injury, and partly concealed by Turkish houses, span the breadth of this street, and define a space which must have been one of the public parts of the city in the apostolic age. One of these arches is at the western extremity, near the entrance from Rome, and is thought to have been built by the grateful Thessalonians to commemorate the victory of Augustus and Antony. (f1030) The other is farther to the east, and records the triumph of some later emperor (most probably Constantine) over enemies subdued near the Danube or beyond. The second of these arches, with its sculptured camels, (f1031) has altogether an Asiatic aspect, and belongs to a period of the Empire much later than that of St. Paul. The first has the representation of consuls with the toga, and corresponds in appearance with that condition of the arts which marks the passing of the Republic into the Empire. If erected at that epoch, it was undoubtedly existing when the Apostle was in Macedonia. The inscription in Greek letters, (f1032) which is given on the opposite page, is engraved on this arch of marble, (f1033) and informs us still of the magistracy which the Romans recognized and allowed to subsist in the "free city" of Thessalonica. We learn from this source that the magistrates of the city were called politarchs, (f1034) and that they were seven in number; and it is perhaps worth observing (though it is only a curious coincidence) that three of the names are identical with three of St. Paul’s friends in this region, — Sopater of Beroea , (Acts 20:4.) Grains the Macedonian , (Acts 19:29.) and Secundus of Thessalonica . (Acts 20:4.)
Inscription from Thessalonica
It is at least well worth our while to notice, as a mere matter of Christian evidence, how accurately St. Luke writes concerning the political characteristics of the cities and provinces which he mentions. He takes notice, in the most artless and incidental manner, of minute details which a fraudulent composer would judiciously avoid, and which in the mythical result of mere oral tradition would surely be loose and inexact. Cyprus is a "proconsular" province. (f1035) Philippi is a "colony." (f1036) The magistrates of Thessalonica have an unusual title, unmentioned in ancient literature; but it appears, from a monument of a different kind, that the title is perfectly correct. And the whole aspect of what happened at Thessalonica, as compared with the events at Philippi, is in perfect harmony with the ascertained difference in the political condition of the two places. There is no mention of the rights and privileges of Roman citizenship; (Compare Acts 16:21.) but we are presented with the spectacle of a mixed mob of Greeks and Jews, who are anxious to show themselves to be "Coesar’s friends." (f1037) No Motors, (f1038) with rods and fasces, appear upon the scene, but we hear something distinctly of a demus, (Acts 17:5.) or free assembly of the people. Nothing is said of religious ceremonies (Acts 16:21.) which the citizens, "being Romans," may not lawfully adopt; all the anxiety, both of people and magistrates, is turned to the one point of showing their loyalty to the Emperor . (Acts 17:7.) And those magistrates by whom the question at issue is ultimately decided are not Roman proetors, (f1039) but Greek politarchs. (f1040)
It is evident that the magistrates were excited and unsettled (f1041) as well as the multitude. No doubt they were anxious to stand well with the Roman government, and not to compromise themselves or the privileges of their city by a wrong decision in this dispute between the Christians and the Jews. (f1042 ) The course they adopted was to "take security" from Jason and his companions. By this expression (f1043) it is most probably meant that a sum of money was deposited with the magistrates, and that the Christian community of the place made themselves responsible that no attempt should be made against the supremacy of Rome, and that peace should be maintained in Thessalonica itself. By these means the disturbance was allayed.
But though the magistrates had secured quiet in the city for the present, the position of Paul and Silas was very precarious. The lower classes were still excited. The Jews were in a state of fanatical displeasure. It is evident that the Apostles could not appear in public as before, without endangering their own safety, and compromising their fellow-Christians who were security for their good behavior. The alternatives before them were, either silence in Thessalonica, or departure to some other place. The first was impossible to those who bore the divine commission to preach the Gospel everywhere. They could not hesitate to adopt the second course; and, under the watchful care of "the brethren," they departed the same evening from Thessalonica, their steps being turned in the direction of those mountains which are the western boundary of Macedonia. We observe that nothing is said of the departure of Timothy. If he was at Thessalonica at all, he stays there now, as Luke had staid at Philippi. (f1044) We can trace in all these arrangements a deliberate care and policy for the well-being of the new Churches, even in the midst of the sudden movements caused by the outbreak of persecution. It is the same prudent and varied forethought which appears afterwards in the pastoral Epistles, where injunctions are given, according to circumstances, — to "abide" while the Apostle goes to some other region, (1Timothy 1:3.) "hoping that he may come shortly "again, (1Timothy 3:14.) — to "set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders," (Titus 1: 5.) — or "to use all diligence" to follow (f1045) and co-operate again in the same work at some new place.
Passing under the Arch of Augustus and out of the Western Gate, the Via Egnatia crosses the plain and ascends the mountains which have just been mentioned, — forming a communication over a very rugged country between the Hellespont and the Adriatic. Just where the road strikes the mountains, at the head of a bay of level ground, the city of Edessa is situated, described as commanding a glorious view of all the country, that stretches in an almost unbroken surface to Thessalonica and the sea. (f1046) This, however, was not the point to which St. Paul turned his steps. He traveled, by a less important road, (f1047) to the town of Beroea, which was farther to the south. The first part of the journey was undertaken at night, but day must have dawned on the travelers long before they reached their place of destination. If the journey was at all like what it is now, (f1048) it may be simply described as follows. After leaving the gardens which are in the immediate neighborhood of Thessalonica, the travelers crossed a wide tract of corn-fields, and came to the shifting bed of the "wide-flowing Axius." About this part of the journey, if not before, the day must have broken upon them. Between the Axius and the Haliacmon (f1049 ) there intervenes another wide extent of the same continuous plain. The banks of this second river are confined by artificial dikes to check its destructive inundations. All the country round is covered with a vast forest, with intervals of cultivated land, and villages concealed among the trees. The road extends for many miles through these woods, and at length reaches the base of the Western Mountains, where a short ascent leads up to the gate of Beroea.
Beroea, like Edessa, is on the eastern slope of the Olympian range, and commands an extensive view of the plain which is watered by the Haliacmon and Axius. It has many natural advantages, and is now considered one of the most agreeable towns in Rumili. (f1050) Plane-trees spread a grateful shade over its gardens. Streams of water are in every street. Its ancient name is said to have been derived from the abundance of its waters; and the name still survives in the modern Verria, or Kara-Verria. (f1051) It is situated on the left of the Haliacmon, about five miles from the point where that river breaks through an immense rocky ravine from the mountains to the plain. A few insignificant ruins of the Greek and Roman periods may yet be noticed. The foundations of an ancient bridge are passed on the ascent to the city-gate; and parts of the Greek fortifications may be seen above the rocky bed of a mountain stream. The traces of repairs in the walls, of Roman and Byzantine date, (f1052) are links between the early fortunes of Beroea and its present condition. It still boasts of eighteen or twenty thousand inhabitants, and is placed in the second rank of the cities of European Turkey. (f1053)
In the apostolic age Beroea was sufficiently populous to contain a colony of Jews. (Acts 17:10.) When St. Paul arrived, he went, according to his custom, immediately to the synagogue. The Jews here were of a "nobler" spirit than those of Thessalonica. Their minds were less narrowed by prejudice, and they were more willing to receive "the truth in the love of it." There was a contrast between two neighboring communities apparently open to the same religious influences, like that between the "village of the Samaritans," which refused to receive Jesus Christ (Luke 9.), and that other "city" in the same country where "many believed" because of the word of one who witnessed of Him, and "many more because of His own word" (John 4.). In a spirit very different from the ignoble violence of the Thessalonian Jews, the Beroeans not only listened to the Apostle’s arguments, but they examined the Scriptures themselves, to see if those arguments were justified by prophecy. And, feeling the importance of the subject presented to them, they made this scrutiny of their holy books their "daily" occupation. This was the surest way to come to a strong conviction of the Gospel’s divine origin. Truth sought in this spirit cannot long remain undiscovered. The promise that "they who seek shall find" was fulfilled at Beroea; and the Apostle’s visit resulted in the conversion of "many." Nor was the blessing confined to the Hebrew community. The same Lord who "is rich unto all that call upon Him," (Romans 10:12.) called many "not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." (Acts 9:24.) Both men and women, (Acts 17:12.) and those of the highest rank, among the Greeks, (f1054) were added to the church founded by St. Paul in that provincial city of Macedonia, which was his temporary shelter from the storm of persecution.
The length of St. Paul’s stay in the city is quite uncertain. From the fact that the Beroeans were occupied "daily " in searching the Scriptures (Acts 17:11.) for arguments to establish or confute the Apostle’s doctrine, we conclude that he remained there several days at least. Prom his own assertion in his first letter to the Thessalonians, (1Thessalonians 2:17.) that, at the time when he had been recently taken away from them, he was very anxious, and used every effort to revisit them, we cannot doubt that he lingered as long as possible in the neighborhood of Thessalonica. (f1055) This desire would account for a residence of some weeks; and there are other passages (f1056) in the same Epistle which might induce us to suppose the time extended even to months. But when we find, on the other hand, that the cause which led him to leave Beroea was the hostility of the Jews of Thessalonica, and when we remember that the two cities were separated only by a distance of sixty miles, (f1057) — that the events which happened in the Synagogue of one city would soon be made known in the Synagogue of the other, — and that Jewish bigotry was never long in taking active measures to crush its opponents, — we are led to the conclusion that the Apostle was forced to retreat from Beroea after no long interval of time. The Jews came like hunters upon their prey, as they had done before from Iconium to Lystra. (f1058) They could not arrest the progress of the Gospel; but they "stirred up the people" there, as at Thessalonica before. (f1059) They made his friends feel that his continuance in the city was no longer safe. He was withdrawn from Beroea and sent to Athens, as in the beginning of his ministry (Acts 9:30) he had been withdrawn from Jerusalem and sent to Tarsus. And on this occasion, as on that, (f1060) the dearest wishes of his heart were thwarted. The providence of God permitted "Satan" to hinder him from seeing his dear Thessalonian converts, whom "once and again" he had desired to revisit. (f1061) The divine counsels were accomplished by means of the antagonism of wicked men; and the path of the Apostle was urged on, in the midst of trial and sorrow, in the direction pointed out in the vision at Jerusalem, (Acts 17:17- 21.) "far hence unto the Gentiles."
An immediate departure was urged upon the Apostle; and the Church of Beroea suddenly (f1062) lost its teacher. But Silas and Timothy remained behind, (f1063) to build it up in its holy faith, to be a comfort and support in its trials and persecutions, and to give it such organization as might be necessary. Meanwhile some of the new converts accompanied St. Paul on his flight; (Acts 17:14, 15.) thus adding a new instance to those we have already seen of the love which grows up between those who have taught and those who have learnt the way of the soul’s salvation. (f1064)
Without attempting to divine all the circumstances which may have concurred in determining the direction of this flight, we can mention some obvious reasons why it was the most natural course. To have returned in the direction of Thessalonica was manifestly impossible. To have pushed over the mountains, by the Via Egnatia, towards Illyricum and the western parts of Macedonia, would have taken the Apostle from those shores of the Archipelago to which his energies were primarily to be devoted. Mere concealment and inactivity were not to be thought of. Thus the Christian fugitives turned their steps towards the sea, (f1065) and from some point on the coast where a vessel was found, they embarked for Athens. In the ancient tables two roads (f1066) are marked which cross the Haliacmon and intersect the plain from Beroea, one passing by Pydna, (f1067) and the other leaving it to the left, and both coming to the coast at Dium near the base of Mount Olympus.
The Pierian level (as this portion of the plain was called) extends about ten miles in breadth from the woody falls of the mountain to the seashore, forming a narrow passage from Macedonia into Greece. (f1068) Thus Dium was "the great bulwark of Macedonia on the south;" and it was a Roman colony, like that other city which we have described on the eastern frontier. (f1069) No city is more likely than Dium to have been the last, as Philippi was "the first," through which St. Paul passed in his journey through the province.
Here then, — where Olympus, dark with woods, rises from the plain by the shore, to the broad summit, glittering with snow, which was the throne of the Homeric gods, (f1070) — at the natural termination of Macedonia, — and where the first scene of classical and poetic Greece opens on our view, — we take our leave, for the present, of the Apostle of the Gentiles. The shepherds from the heights (f1071) above the vale of Tempe may have watched the sails of his ship that day, as it moved like a white speck over the outer waters of the Thermaic Gulf. The sailors, looking back from the deck, saw the great Olympus rising close above them in snowy majesty. (f1072) The more distant mountains beyond Thessalonica are already growing faint and indistinct. As the vessel approaches the Thessalian archipelago, (f1073) Mount Athos begins to detach itself from the isthmus that binds it to the main, and, with a few other heights of Northern Macedonia, appears like an island floating in the horizon. (f1074)
The Tullianum at Rome. (f1075)