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"As regards the king of all, all things are his, and all are for his sake, and he is the cause of all that is beautiful. But about a second, are the secondary things; and about a third, the third."-PLAT. epist. 2 ad Dionys.
"When the Father who made it, (viz., the soul of the universe,) perceived this beautiful image of the eternal gods which he had made to be moved and live, he was delighted with his work."-IBID. Tim. c. 10.
"Whereas there are two causes of all generation, the most ancient theologers and poets attended only to the more excellent of these, resolving all things into God, and pronouncing this of them universally, that God was both the beginning and middle, and that all things were out of God."-PLUT. de defect. orac. c. 48.
6. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
The ancients had many traditions of deities cast out from heaven. See notes on Genesis xi. 8. Jove, deceived by the goddess Ate, is represented by Homer to have cast her forth, forbidding her return to Olympus with an oath.
"From his ambrosial head, where perch'd she sat,
He snatched the fiery goddess of debate,
The dread, the irrevocable oath he swore,
The immortal seats should ne'er behold her more;
And whirl'd her headlong down, for ever driven
From bright Olympus and the starry heaven."—Il. 1. xix. v. 126.
Jove declares, that any deity who interferes in the strife between the Greeks and Trojans
"Far, oh far, from steep Olympus thrown,
Low in the dark Tartarean gulph shall groan,
And lock'd by Hell's inexorable doors."-HOм. 1. 1. VIII. v. 13.
"With enduring chains
He bound Prometheus, train'd in shifting wiles,
With galling shackles fixing him aloft."-HES. Theog. v. 521.
21. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
"That man ought to be confident about his soul who, during his life, has disregarded all the pleasures and ornaments of the body as foreign to his nature, and has zealously applied himself to the acquirement of knowledge, and who, having adorned his soul with its own proper ornament, temperance, justice, fortitude, freedom, and truth, thus waits for his passage to Hades, ready to depart, whenever destiny shall summon him." PLAT. Phaedo, c. 63. 25. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
"To call men by the name of wise appears to me to be a great matter, and belonging to God only; lovers of wisdom or some such name would suit them better." PLAT. Phoedr. c. 64.
11. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.
"In the city of Sais, the image of Minerva, which is supposed to be Isis, had this inscription over it,-I am all that hath been, that is, and that shall be."
See notes on 1 John v. 7.
PLUT. de Isid. et Osirid. c. 9.
11. Send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Pliny mentions some of these cities as metropoles of Asia, to which other cities resorted for the courts of judicature.
"A great part of Æolia has recourse to the jurisdiction of Smyrna; but to Ephesus, that other great luminary of Asia, resort the more distant peoples.”—Hist. nat. 1. v. c. 31. "Pergamos, by far the most famous city in Asia."-Ibid. c. 33.
"To the jurisdiction of Pergamos belong the people of Thyatira and many other states less known to fame.-IBID."
"Twenty-five states resort to Cibyratica for legal purposes, together with the most famous city of Laodicea."-IBID. c. 29.
"Sardes lies on the side of Mount Tmolus. The jurisdiction is now called by this name, and many people resort to it."-IBID. c. 30.
13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, and clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.
The long garment and the eyes of fire were characteristic of divinity among the pagans. Virgil says of Venus when she appeared to Æneas
"In length of train descends her sweeping gown."—En. l. I. v. 408.
"The god his own Parnassian laurel crown'd,
Ov. Metam. 1. XI. v. 165.
"What terrors from her frowning front arise!
VIRG. En. 1. v. v. 647.
Augustus' eyes were bright and piercing, and he was willing it should be thought
there was something of divine vigour in them."-SUET. Cæs. Aug. c. 79.
18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever
more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
By a similar figure Juno is said to keep the keys of marriage.
"Let us celebrate Juno, who presides over marriage, who sports in all the dances
and keeps the key of marriage."-ARISTOPH. Thesmoph. v. 985.
8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write.
Smyrna, a city of our most faithful allies."-CIC. Phil. xI. c. 2.
17. A white stone, and in the stone a new name written.
In popular judicatures the votes were given by means of the calculus, a small pebble, or sometimes a bean. The white was a token of absolution, the black of condemnation. In the public games a white stone was presented to the conquerors, on which was written the name and the prize of him who had overcome.
Amompharetus, being enraged, took up a stone with both hands, and throwing it at the feet of Pausanias, exclaimed, There is my vote for not flying before the foreigners."-HDT. 1. IX. c. 55.
"The Lacedæmonians vote by the voice, not by the pebble."-THUCYD. 1. 1. c. 87. "Thou wilt be called in judgment for the murder; but the stones being placed equally, thou wilt be preserved from dying by justice."-EURIP. Electr. v. 1264.
"Though he has gained his cause, receiving all the stones, the petulant fellow complains of his advocate."-THEOPHRAST. Charac. 21.
"A custom was of old, and still remains,
Which life or death by suffrages ordains :
White stones and black within an urn are cast;
The first absolve, but fate is on the last."-Ov. Metam. 1. xv. v. 41.
"Heaven was favourable both to Cimon and Lucullus, directing the one what he should do, and the other what he should avoid; so that each obtained the stone from the gods as persons in whom there was something excellent and divine."
"Six times Ægina's prize he gain'd,
As oft Pellene's robe obtain'd;
And, graved in characters of fame,
PLUT. Comp. Cim. c. Lucul. c. 3.
Thy stone, O Megara, records his fame."-PIND. Olymp. VII. v. 157.
4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
"On the day when Emilius celebrated his triumph, the people in the city were dressed in white."-PLUT. Paul. Emil. c. 32.
"With unsullied garments they go to the Tarpeian heights, and the people itselt harmonizes, by the colour of its dress, with the festival."-Ov. Fast. 1. 1. v. 79.
"Among other prodigies at Adria, an altar was seen in the sky, and round it figures of men in white garments.”—Liv. 1. XXIV. c. 10.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
"Whoever is ignorant what he is, what things are good and what evil, what fair and what base, will wander up and down, entirely deaf and blind, and supposing himself to be somebody."-EPICT. 1. 1. c. 24.
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.
"Let them know that they have ever in their souls from the gods a divine gold and silver, and therefore have no need of that which is human: and that it were profane to pollute the possession of the divine ore by mixing it with the alloy of the mortal metal; because the money of the vulgar has produced many impious deeds, while that which they have is pure."-PLAT. de repub. 1. III. c. 22.
21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
"Control your desires: do this with regard to temporal things, and you will some time or other be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods; you will be not a partner of their feasts only, but of their empire also."-EPICT. Enchir. c. 15.
10. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne.
In token of humility and to signify that all their glory and honour was due to God alone.
'Tigranes delivered himself naked and unarmed to Pompey, took his diadem from his head, and laid it at his feet."-PLUT. Comp. Cim. c. Lucul. c. 3.
"Crowns are placed before the feet of those statues whose heads are too lofty to be reached."-PROPERT. 1. II. Eleg. 3.
"Tiridates approached the chair of state in which sat the statue of Nero, and having according to form slain certain victims, pulled the diadem from his head and laid it at the feet of the statue."-TAC. Ann. 1. xv. c. 29.
"Around the temples the people bore the images of Galba crowned with laurel and bedecked with flowers, and piled up heaps of coronets near the place where he had perished."-IBID. Hist. 1. II. c. 55.
6. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
The King's Eye was the title of that officer among the Persians whose duty it was to observe and inform the king of all that passed within his dominions.
"The boy Cyrus, being chosen by his playmates to be their king, assigned to them their different stations; one was to be his eye; &c."-HDT. 1. 1. c. 114.
"If any one think it proper for the king to choose but one person for his eye, he judges not right; for one man would see but few things, and one man would hear but few things; and if this were given in charge to one only, it would be as if the others were ordered to neglect it."-XEN. Cyrop. 1. vii. c. 2.
See notes on Zech. III. 9.
9. And they sung a new song.
"No higher privilege can be given, either to men or to the gods, than to sing the praises of his law in an eternal hymn."-CLEANTH. H. in Jov. v. 37.
8. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was death, and Hell followed with him.
White horses were most esteemed among the ancients, and were supposed to excel all others in swiftness.
"If time should intervene upon this opportunity, never, upon my faith, will he obtain it hereafter, even with white horses."-PLAUT. Asin. Act. 11. sc. 2.
9. 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 before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
The ancients had an opinion that the palm was immortal: or that if it died, it recovered again and obtained a second life by renewal: hence it was always esteemed an emblem of immortality.
"We have heard a wonderful story relative to the Syagrus (a species of the date palm), to the effect that it dies and comes to life again in a similar manner to the phoenix, which it is generally thought has borrowed its name from the palm tree, in consequence of that peculiarity."-PLIN. Hist. nat. 1. XIII. c. 9.
"The souls that are mounted aloft are firmly established, a triumphant band of conquerors wearing garlands on their heads.”—PLUT. de facie in orb. lun. c. 28.
16. And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.
Hammond observes that the giving xapáyuara, or marks in the right hand or forehead was customary in Syria and the neighbouring countries to distinguish the servants of one master from another. Soldiers, Julian tells us, were marked in the right hand; therefore to cause all to receive this mark, is to force all to receive their idol worship.
"It is the universal practice at Hierapolis to make punctures in honour of the gods, some in the hands, others in the neck; and hence it is that all the Assyrians are marked in that manner."-LUCIAN. de dea Syr. c. 59.