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sure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you; for we are come as far as unto you also, in preaching the gospel of Christ*." It may help very much to understand this and the following verses, if, with Hammond, we consider the terms used in them as agonistical. In this view of them, the measure of the rule, (ro pergov T8 ravovos,) alludes to the path marked out, and bounded by a white line, for racers in the Isthmian games, celebrated among the Corinthians; and so the apostle represents his works in preaching the gospel as his spiritual race, and the province to which he was appointed as the compass or stage of ground, which God had distributed or measured out, (SLEGITEN avrw), for him to run in. Accordingly, “to boast without his measure,” (ver. 15. £is ta alerga;) and to stretch himself beyond his measure, (uteg szlerveodai,) refer to one that ran beyond or out of his line. “We are come as far as to you," (ver. 14. axsi ypa splacajevo) alludes to him that came foremost to the goal; and “in another man's line,” (ver. 16. Ev ahhorgia xavove,) signifies in the province that was marked out for somebody else, in allusion to the line by which the race was bounded, each of the racers having the path which he ought to run chalked out to him, and if one stepped over into the other's path, he extended himself over his linet.".
The chariot races were the most renowned of all the exercises used in the games of the ancients; and those from which the victors derived the greatest honour; but the writer can find only one or two allusions to them in the sacred volume, and those involved in some uncertainty. One occurs in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, where he informs them of his great success in collecting a church at Ephesus: “But I will tarry at Ephesus until pentecost; for a great door, and effectual, is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries 1: The inspired writer, it is thought, alludes here to the door of the circus, 2 Cor. x, 14. + Burder, No. 529.
1 Cor. xvi. 9.
which was opened to let out the chariots when the races were to begin; and by the word avlixsiyevol, which is translated ack versaries, but which Doddridge renders opposers, means the same with antagonists, with whom he was to contend as in a
This opposition rendered his presence more necessary to preserve those that were already converted, and to increase the number, if God should bless his ministry. Accordingly a celebrated church was planted at Ephesus; and so far as we can learn from the tenor of his epistle, there was less to reprove and correct among them than in most of the other churches to which he wrote *.
The other allusion occurs in his second epistle to the Thessalonians: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you f.” Some think these words allude to the applauses given to those who made a speedy progress in the races, which constituted so important a part of the Grecian games I.
The honours and rewards granted to the victors were of several kinds. They were animated in their course by therapturous applauses of the countless multitudes that lined the stadium, and waited the issue of the contest with eager anxiety; and their success was instantly followed by reiterated and long continued plaudits; but these were only a prelude to the appointed rewards, which, though of little value in themselves, were accounted the highest honour to which a mortal could aspire. These consisted of different wreaths of wild olive, pine, parsley, or laurel, according to the different places where the games were celebrated. After the judges had passed sentence, a public herald proclaimed the name of the victor; one of the judges put the crown upon his head, and a branch of palm into his right hand, which he carried as a token of victorious courage and perseve
As he might be victor more than once in the same games, and sometimes on the same day, he might also receive several crowns and palms.
Burder, vol. 1. No. 525. + 2 Thess, üi. 1. * Burder, No. 554.
When the victor had received his reward, a herald, preceded by a trumpet, conducted him through the stadium, and proclaimed aloud his name and country; while the delighted multitudes, at the sight of him, redoubled their acclamations and applauses.
The crown, in the Olympic games, was of wild olive; in the Pythian, of laurel; in the Isthmian or Corinthian, of pine tree; and in the Nemæan, of smallage or parsley. Now, most of these were evergreens ; yet they would soon grow dry, and crumble into dust. Elsnor produces many passages, in which the contenders in these exercises are rallied by the Grecian wits, on account of the extraordinary pains they took for such trifling rewards ; and Plato has a celebrated passage, which greatly resembles that of the apostle, but by no means equals it in force and beauty:“ Now they do it, to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an uncorruptible.” The Christian is called to fight the good fight of faith, and to lay hold of eternal life; and to this he is more powerfully stimulated by considering that the ancient athletæ took all their care and pains only for the sake of obtaining a garland of flowers, or a wreath of laurel, which quickly fades and perishes, possesses little intrinsic value, and only serves to nourish their pride and vanity, without imparting any solid advantage to themselves or others; but that which is placed in the view of the spiritual combatants, to animate their exertions, and reward their labours, is no less than à crown of glory which never decays; "a crown of infinite worth and duration; an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them *" More than conquerors through him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood; they, too, carry palms in their right hands, the appropriate emblems of victory, hardly contested, and fairly won. “ After this I beheld, and lo a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and
# 1 Peter i. 4, and v. 4.
before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands *
But the victory sometimes remained doubtful, in consequence of which a number of competitors appeared before the judges, and claimed the prize; and sometimes a combatant, by dishonourable management, endeavoured to gain the vietory: t. The candidates, who were rejected on sueh occasions by the judge of the games, as not having fairly merited the prize, were called by the Greeks adonkot, or disapproved, and which we render cast away, in a passage already quoted from Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians : “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be (ado41406) cast away," rejected by the Judge of all the earth, and disappointed of my expected
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE MILITARY AFFAIRS
OF THE ANCIENTS.
The ancient Hebrews, like the nations around them, were wholly unacquainted with the refinements of modern warfare. From the age of Abraham, the renowned father of their tribes, they had little other business to employ their leisure hours, but feeding their flocks and herds, or tilling a few acres of land in the districts which they visited, except in Egypt, where their severe bondage was still more unfavourable to the cultivation of military habits. In such circumstances, the defence of their flocks and their herds from the violence of roving hordes, which occasionally scoured the country in quest of spoil, generally produced the only wars in which they engaged. * Rev. vii, 9,
+ Æneid b. 5. 1. 350.
The rapid history of the patriarchs records a sufficient number of incidents, to shew, that how rude and unpolished soever they may be deemed, they were by no means deficient in personal courage ; and in the expedition of Abraham against the confederate kings, we can discern the rudiments of that military conduct, which has so often since his time, filled the world with admiration or dismay. It will be readily admitted, that when the chosen people went up out of Egypt, where they had been long and cruelly oppressed, and in consequence of their miseries, had contracted the abject and cowardly dispositions of the slave, they were quite incapable of warlike enterprises; but when their minds recovered the vigour and elevation which the freedom and hardships of the wilderness inspired, they discovered on many trying occasions, a boldness and resolution which were never surpassed by any of their antagonists. Till the reign of David, the armies of Israel were no better than a raw and undisciplined militia ; and the simplicity of their conduct sufficiently appears from the story of Goliath, who defied all the warriors that fought under the banners of Saul; and with a haughty look, and a few arrogant words, struck them with so great a terror that they fled before him. But the troops of the surrounding kingdoms were neither more courageous nor more skilful in the use of arms, which is evident from the history of David's captains, the first of whom engaged single handed, three hundred men, and slew them at one time. And this is not the only instance of such daring and successful valour; he was one of three warriors who defended a plot of barley, after the people had fled, against the whole force of the Philistines, whom they routed with prodigious slaughter, after a desperate conflict * Nor is the sacred historian justly chargeable with transgressing the rules of probability in such relations, which, however strange and incredible they may appear to us, exactly accorded with the manners of the times in which he wrote. Homer often introduces Achilles, Hector, and other
* 1 Chron. xi. 14.