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himself; and that there would be a peculiar' infamy and misery in his miscarrying. Aờoximos, which we render castaway, signifies one who is disapproved by the judge of the games, as not having fairly deserved the prize.
The rule which the apostle applies to himself, he extends in another passage to all the members of the Christian church; all without exception must lead a sober and penitent life; “ Those who strive for the mastery are temperate in all things; now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” Tertullian uses the same thought to encourage the martyrs. He makes a comparison from what the hopes of victory made the athletæ endure. He repeats the severe and painful exercises they were obliged to undergo ; the continual anguish and con. straint in which they passed the best years of their lives ; and the voluntary privation which they imposed on them. selves, of all that was most affecting and grateful to their passions.
In order to attain the greater agility and dexterity, it was usual for those who intended to box in the games, to exercise their arms with the gauntlet on, when they had no antagonist near them, and this was called ortopedic, in which a man would of course beat the air. In the foot race, the runners, of whatever number they were, ranged themselves in a line, after having drawn lots for their places. While they waited the signal to start, they practised, by way of prelude, various motions to awaken their activity, and to keep their limbs pliable, and in a right temper. They kept themselves breathing by small leaps, and making little excursions, which were a kind of trial of their speed and agility ; in such exercises, they might be said with great propriety to run uncertainly, towards
no particular point, and with no direct or immediate view to the prize. Both these allusions occur in the declaration of the apostle :
“ I therefore so run, not as uncertainly ; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.”8 He did not engage in his Christian course, as one doubtful in himself, whether in pursuing the path of duty, he should have the honour of being crowned at last or not; as they are, who know that one only receives the prize ; nor did he exercise himself unto godliness, like boxers or wrestlers, who sometimes fight in jest, or merely to prepare for the combat, or to display their strength and agility, while they had no resistance to encounter, no enemy to subdue, no reward to merit; but he pressed on, fully persuaded, that by the grace of God, he should obtain an incorruptible crown from the hands of his Redeemer.
The athletæ took care to disencumber their bodies of every article of clothing, which could in any manner hinder or incommode them. The pugilists at first used a belt, with an apron or scarf fastened to it, for their more decent appearance in the combats; but one of the combatants happening to lose the victory by this covering's falling off, modesty was in future sacrificed to convenience, and the apron was laid aside. In the foot race, they were anxious to carry as little weight as possible ; and uniformly stripped themselves of all such clothes, as by their weight, length, or otherwise, might entangle or retard them in the course. The Christian also, must “ lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset” him:) in the exercise of faith and self-denial, he must " cast off the works of darkness,” lay aside all malice and guile, hypocrisies, and envyings, and evil speakings, inordinate af. fections, and worldly cares, and whatever else might ob* I Cor. ix, 26.
h Heb. xii, 1.
struct his holy profession, damp his spirits, and hinder his progress in the paths of righteousness.
The exercise of boxing, was sometimes performed by combatants, having in their hands balls of stone or lead. At first, their hands and arms were naked and unguarded, but afterwards surrounded with thongs of leather, called cestus, which were used both as defensive arms, and to annoy the enemy, being filled with plummets of lead and iron, to add force to the blows.
Besides protecting their hands with the cestus or glove, they covered their heads with a sort of leather cap, to defend their temples and ears, which were most exposed to blows, and to deaden their violence.
How fiercely soever the combatants fought, the length of the contest frequently reduced them to the necessity of making a pause : the battle was suspended for some minutes, which were employed in recovering their fatigue, and rubbing off the sweat in which they were bathed, after which they renewed the fight, till one of the combatants, by dropping his arms or swooning away, yielded the victory
This was one of the rudest and most dangerous of the gymnastic combats ; because the antagonists ran the hazard, either of being disabled, or losing their lives. They sometimes fell down dead or dying upon the sand; or they quitted the fight with a countenance so disfigured, that it was not easy to know themselves; carrying away with them the sad marks of their vigorous resistance, as bruises and contusions in the face, the loss of an eye, their teeth knocked out, their jaws broken, or some more considerable fracture,
It is to this rude and dangerous exercise, the apostle · Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. i, p. 443. i Rollin's An. Hist, vol. i, p. 71.
refers in his reasoning with the Hebrew converts : “ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”" The contest in which they were engaged with their adversaries, had been severe and of long continuance ; they had sustained no small loss of liberty and property, which they cheerfully resigned for the sake of Christ, in hope of a better inheritance in heaven ; they were in danger of becoming weary and faint in their minds, from the length of the contest; but though their antagonists had often tried to defeat and foil them, they had not been permitted to shed their blood, or take away their lives as they did to many of the saints in preceding ages. The combatant in the public games, who gave up the contest before he had lost a drop of his blood, merely because he had received a few contusions, or been roughly handled by his opponent, would have been infallibly branded with infamy. Not less shameful and infinitely more dangerous, it would have been for any of these Hebrews to flinch from their duty, or desist from their Christian course, on account of the slighter difficulties and losses they had met with in striving against sin.
Wrestlers, before they began their combats, were rubbed all over in a rough manner, and afterwards anointed with oil, in order to increase the strength and flexibility of their limbs. But as this unction,
But as this unction, in making the skin too slippery, rendered it difficult for them to take hold of each other, they remedied that inconvenience, sometimes by rolling themselves in the dust of the Palæstra, sometimes by throwing fine sand upon each other, kept for that purpose in Xystæ, or porticoes of the Gymnasia. Thus prepared, they began their combat. They were
k Heb. xii, 4.
matched two against two, and sometimes several couples contended at the same time. In this combat, the whole aim and design of the wrestlers, was to throw their adversary upon the ground. Both strength and art were employed to this purpose; they seized each other by the arms, drew forwards, pushed backwards, used many
distortions and twistings of the body; locking their limbs in each other's, seizing by the neck or throat, pressing in their arms, struggling, plying on all sides, lifting from the ground, dashing their heads together like rams, and twisting one another's necks.
In this manner, the athletæ wrestled standing, the combat ending with the fall of one of the competitors. To this combat, the words of Eliphaz seem to apply: “ For he stretcheth out his hand against God” like a wrestler, challenging his antagonist to the contest, “and strengtheneth himself,” rather vaunteth himself, stands up haughtily, and boasts of his prowess in the full view of “ the Almighty,” throwing abroad his arms, clapping his hands together, springing into the middle of the ring, and taking his station there in the adjusted attitude of defiance. “He runneth upon him, even upon his neck," or with his neck stretched out, furiously dashing his head against the other; and this he does, even when he perceives that bis adversary is covered with defensive armour, upon which he can make no impression: “ he runneth upon the thick bosses of his bucklers.”! But when it happened that the wrestler who was down, drew his adversary along with him, either by art or accident, the combat continued upon the sand, the antagonists tumbling and twining with each other in a thousand different ways, till one of them got
Taylor's Calmet, vol. iii.