“The subject in our conversation which suggested them was, The relation of Christianity to slavery.
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“About the year A.D. 64, two men, travellers from Rome, entered the city of Colosse, in Phrygia. Asia Minor, both of them the bearers of letters from the Apostle Paul, then a prisoner at Rome.
“A Christian Church had been gathered at Colosse. Its pastor was probably Archippus. Some think that Epaphras was his colleague. This church, according to Dr. Lardner and others, was most probably gathered by the Apostle Paul himself. Mount Cadmus rose behind the city, with its almost perpendicular side, and a huge chasm in the mountain was the outlet of a torrent which flowed into the river Lycus, on which the city was built, standing not far from the junction of this river with the Moeander.
“One of the two men who bore these letters was a slave. His name was Onesimus. He robbed his master, Philemon, of Colosse, fled to Rome, heard Paul preach, was converted, and now by the Apostle is sent back to his master with a letter, in charge of Tychicus, who, with this Onesimus, was the bearer of a letter to the Colossian Church.
“Let us attend the church-meeting. The pastor, Archippus, presides. Epaphras is at Rome.
“What an interesting company do we behold as we sit near the pastor’s table, in full view of the audience! The inhabitants of this place were noted for the worship of Bacchus, and Cybele, mother of the gods; hence her name, Phrygia Mater. Every kind of licentious language and actions was practised in the worship of these deities, accompanied with a frantic rage called orgies, from the Greek word for rage. This was a part of their religious worship. From among such people, converts had been made to Christianity, together with some who had been turned from Judaism.
“The letter from the Apostle Paul is brought in and is laid on the pastor’s table, and some account is given of the manner in which it was received. The letter is read. It refers the Colossians, at the close, to the bearers, for further information and instructions. ’All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother and a faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord. Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts. With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.’
“Tychicus relates his story, and, when he has finished, Philemon, a member of the Church, addresses the meeting. He was evidently a man of distinction in that community, as we infer from the large number of persons in his household, (ver. 2,) his liberality to poor Christians, (ver. 5, 7,) and from the marked respect and deference paid to him by the Apostle. He also had received a letter from the Apostle, and he asks leave to read it.