I asked her saying, Lady, to what place in the country.? Where thou wilt, quoth she. Then I chose out a goodly retired spot ; but before. Harmer, from Gr. So I went in- to the country, brethren, and counted up the hours, and came to the place that I had appointed for her to come to.
And I saw an ivory bench set there, and on the bench lay a linen pillow, and over it was spread out a linen cloth of fine flax. Coming however to myself, and calling to mind the glory of God and taking courage, I bowed my knees and began to confess my sins again to the Lord as before. Then she came with the six young men whom I had seen before, and stood by me and listened as I prayed and con- fessed my sins to the Lord.
It may be suggested that he alludes to John xx. Peter and John see " the linen clothes lying," and no man in the place. The word for linen clothes R. Ask for righteousness also, that thou mayest straightway receive some part thereof for thine house. And she raised me up by the hand, and led me to the bench, and said to the young men, Go and build.
And when the young men were gone and we were left alone, she said to me, Sit down here. I said to her, Lady, let the elder first be seated. Then when I would have sat on the right side she suffered me not, but beckoned to me with her hand to sit on the left. And as I thought thereon and was sad because she suffered me not to sit on the right side, she said to me, Grievest thou, Hermas?
The place on the right is for others, who have already pleased God and suffered for the Name's sake. Thou comest far short of sitting with them. What, quoth I, did they bear? Hearken, quoth she : Scourgings, imprisonments, great afflictions, crosses, wild beasts for the Name's sake. Nevertheless both they that sij on the right and they on the left have the same gifts and the same promises, only that those are seated on the right hand and have a certain glory.
Thou art full of longing to sit on the right hand with them, yet thy failings are many. But thou shalt be purged from them, and all who doubt not shall be purged from all their sins unto this day. When she had thus spoken she would have departed ; but I fell at her feet and besought her by the Lord to shew me the vision which she promised. Then she took me again by the hand, and raised me up and seated me on the bench on the left side, and she herself sat on the right.
Strom, iv. Hermas combines the teaching of the parables of the Pence Matt, xx. I said to her, Lady, I see nothing. She said to me, Lo, seest thou not over against thee a great tower being builded of foursquare stones upon the waters? Now the tower was being built foursquare by the six young men who came with her. All the stones drawn from the deep they put into the building' as they were, for they were fitly shapen and answerable in their joining to the other stones.
And they so clave to one another that no joint appeared, but the whole tower seemed to be built of one stone. But some of the other stones, which were brought from the dry land, they rejected, and some they put into the building, and some they hewed in pieces and hurled far from the tower.
On the seeming oneness of all its stones cf. Sim, ix. And I saw other stones flung far from the tower, and lighting on the way and not remaining in it, but rolling off to where there was no way ; and others falling upon fire and being burned ; and others falling near water but unable to roll into it, although they would fain have rolled and come to the water. When she had shewed me these things, she would have run away. But I said to her. Thou art a knavish fellow, desiring to know all about the tower.
Yea, quoth I, lady, so that I may tell my brethren, and they may be the more glad, and when they have heard these things may know the Lord in much glory. Then quoth she. Many shall hear ; but when they have heard, some of them shall rejoice and some shall weep. Compare also Jdhn xvi. Hear then the parables of the tower, for I will reveal all things unto thee ; and then trouble me no more about revelation, for these revelations have an end, seeing they are fulfilled.
Yet thou wilt not cease to ask for revelations, for thou art shameless. The tower which thou seest building is myself, the Church, which have appeared to thee even now and beforetime. Wherefore ask what thou wilt concerning the tower, and I will reveal it unto thee, that thou may est rejoice with the saints. Lady, seeing thou hast once judged me worthy to whom to reveal all things, do thou reveal them. And she said to me.
Whatsoever it is possible should be revealed to thee shall be revealed. Only let thy heart be toward God, and doubt not at whatsoever thou seest. I asked her, Lady, why is the tower built upon the waters? I told thee before, quoth she, and thou enquirest diligently ; and so enquir- ing thou findest the truth. Hear then why the tower is built upon water.
Like the world Vis, i. These, said she, are the holy angels of God which were first created, to whom the Lord delivered His whole creation, to increase and build it and to rule over it. By their hand therefore must the build- ing of the tower be accomplished. But those others who were bringing the stones, who are they? They also, she said, are holy angels of God, but those six are more excellent than they. And when the building of the tower is finished, then all shall rejoice together round about the the Name. Compare for the epithet Wisd. Then I asked her saying, Lady, I would know what event happeneth to the stones, and what is the mean- ing of them.
Joseph B. Mayor's commentary on the Epistle, The idea of it is in Xen. Cyr, vi. Hear now about the stones that went into the building. The square white stones which agree in their joinings, these are the apostles and bishops and teachers and deacons who walked in godly gravity, and ministered purely and gravely as bishops and teachers and deacons to the elect of God; of whom some are fallen asleep and some yet are.
Therefore do their joinings agree in the structure of the tower. Hernias expatiates on the text I Pet. Lightfoot had all passed away. Cotelier on Vis, iii. Harmer compares Rev. These are they which have suffered for the name of the Lord. Quoth she, They that went into the building without being hewn are those whom the Lord approved, because they walked in the straight way of the Lord and directed themselves in His commandments. And those that were brought and put into the building, what are they?
They are young in the faith and faithful. And they are admonished by the angels to do good, because wickedness was found in them. Wherefore they were not flung far from the tower, because they will be useful for the building if they repent. They then that are to repent, if they repent shall be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is in building. But if the building be finished, then they have no longer room, but shall be castaways. The deep represents also martyrdom, cp.
Psalm Ixix. And wouldest thou know about the stones that were hewn in pieces and flung far from the tower? These are the children of iniquity ; and they received the faith in hypocrisy, and no wickedness departed from them ; wherefore they have not salvation, because they are not of use for building by reason of their wickednesses. Therefore they were broken up and hurled far away because of the anger of the Lord, for they provoked Him to anger. And of the many others which thou sawest lying about and not going into the building, these that are scabbed are they that knew the truth, but remained not therein, nor clave to the saints.
For this cause they are useless. And what are they that have the clefts? These are they that have divisions of heart against one another, and are not peaceable among themselves, but have the look of peace, and when they go away from one another their wickednesses remain in their hearts. These are the clefts which those stones have.
And they that are stunted are they that have believed, and are for the more part righteous, but have some parts in them of iniquity. There- fore are they maimed and not whole. She answered and said to me. How long wilt thou be foolish and without understanding, asking about every- thing and discerning nothing? These are they that have faith, but have also the riches of this world.
By reason of their wealth and their traffick, when affliction ariseth they deny their Lord. And I answered and said to her, When, lady, will they be of use for the building? Quoth she, When the wealth which captivateth them shall have been cut away, then shall they be serviceable to God. For as the round stone, except it be chipped and lose somewhat of itself, cannot become square, so the rich in this world, except their riches be pared away, cannot become meet for the Lord's use.
Know this from experience of thyself: when thou wast rich thou wast nothing worth ; but now thou art profitable and good for the use of life. Or " the same stones " may be the round and at first useless ones, out of which Hermas had been raised up p. And the other stones, which thou sawest flung far from the tower, and falling on to the way and rolling out of it to where there was no way, these are they that have believed, but because of their double mind they forsake their true way.
And they that fell into the fire and were burned, these are they that utterly fell away from the living God ; and it never again came into their heart to repent, because of their wanton desires and their wickednesses which profitable, and fit for the Life which thou hast undertaken ; for thou also once wast one of those Stones. The words for nothing worthy but now profitable may be from Philem. In this chapter there may be allusions also to some things in 2 Pet.
And the others, which fell near the water but could not roll into it, wilt thou know what they are? Then when they bethink them of the purity of the truth they repent, and go again after their evil desires. So she finished the explanation of the tower. But being unabashed I went on to ask her, whether all the stones that were cast away and would not fit into the structure of the tower might repent and have place in this tower.
They may repent, quoth she, but they cannot fit into this tower. But they shall fit into another much lesser place, and this after they have been tormented and have fulfilled the days of their sins. And for this cause they shall be removed, because they had been partakers of the word of righteousness. But if not, then they cannot be saved, because of the hardness of their hearts.
Then when I had done asking her about all these things, she said to me, Wilt thou see somewhat else? And being full of longing to behold, I was very glad that I might see it. And looking at me and smiling a little, she said to me, Seest thou seven women round about the tower? I see them, lady, quoth I. This tower, she said, is upholden by them according to the command of the Lord. Hear now their operations. The first of them, the one clenching her hands, is named Faith. The pose of Faith betokens steadfastness ; and she is made to be the mother of all the virtues, with allusion perhaps to the saying of St.
Polycarp to the Philippians iii. The Greek for Modesty Lat. The Chris- tian Graces here and in Sim. The bright rod or wand with which the Church conjures up the vision of the tower may have been suggested by the rod which Senex uses as a pointer pp.
Shepherd of Hermas: Book of Visions (Lightfoot translation)
The next, that is girded and manlike, is named Continence. She is the daughter of Faith. Whoso followeth her becometh happy in his life, because he will refrain from all evil deeds, believing that if he refrain from every evil desire he shall inherit life eternal. And the rest, lady, what are they? They are daughters one of another ; and they are called, one of them Simplicity, one Know- ledge, one Innocence, one Modesty, one Love.
When therefore thou doest all the works of their mother, thou canst live. I would know, quoth I, lady, what virtue each one of them hath. Hear, quoth she, the powers which they possess. Their powers are knit together and follow one another, even as they are born. Their works then are pure and reverend and divine. Whosoever therefore shall serve these women and prevail to lay hold on their works, he shall have his habitation in the tower with the saints of God.
Then I asked her concerning the times, whether the full end was doctrine of the Stoics, see the notes on James ii. And she cried with a loud voice, saying, O foolish man! Seest thou not the tower yet a building? When this shall have done being built, then cometh the end. Howbeit it shall quickly be built up. Henceforth ask me nothing. Sufficient for thee and for the saints is this notification, and the renewal of your spirits. Not however for thyself alone have things been revealed, but to the intent that thou mayest shew them to all. After three days, for thou must first understand them, I charge thee, Hermas, to speak all these things which I am about to say to thee in the ears of the saints ; that they may hear and do them, and may be cleansed from their iniquities, and thou with them.
Hearken unto me, ye children. I bred you up in much simplicity and innocence and modesty, by the mercy of the Lord who shed righteousness upon you, that ye might be justified and sanctified from all wickedness and perverseness. Yet ye will not cease from your wickedness. Now therefore hearken unto me, and have peace among you, and visit and help one another ; and partake not by yourselves THIRD VISION 91 alone of the creatures of God in abundance, but give a share also to them that need.
For some by excess of meats contract infirmity, of the flesh, and injure their flesh; whereas the flesh of them that lack meats is harmed by their not having sufficiency of food, and their body is consumed. This separateness therefore is hurtful to you that have and impart not to them that need. Look to the judgment that Cometh. Ye therefore who have abundantly seek out them that hunger while the tower is yet unfinished ; for after it is finished ye shall desire to do good but shall not have oppor- tunity.
Beware then, ye that boast yourselves in your riches, lest they that are in want groan, and their groaning go up to the Lord, and with your abundant goods ye be shut outside the door of the tower. Now therefore I say unto you that rule over the Church and that have the chief seats, Be ye not like to poisoners. Inst, iii. Take heed therefore, children, lest your dis- sensions bereave you of your life. And when she had done speaking with me, the six young men that builded came and carried her away to the tower, and other four took up the bench and carried that also to the tower, f The face of these I saw not, for they were turned away from me.
Cor, Ixii. She answered and said to me, Concerning these things thou must ask some other, that they may be revealed to thee. Now she was seen of me, brethren, in the first vision a year ago well stricken in age and sitting on a chair. In the next vision she was younger in face but had aged flesh and hair, and she talked with me standing. And she was more cheerful than before. But in the third vision she was altogether youthful and of excellent beauty ; only her hair was aged.
And she was quite joyous, and sat on a bench. Thereupon I was sore vexed, wanting to know this revelation. And I beheld the aged woman in a night vision, saying unto me. All prayer requireth humili- ation ; fast therefore, and thou shalt receive that thou askest from the Lord. The chair was carried off and disap- peared ; but the bench is deposited in the tower, there to remain as a permanent possession of the Church. All this fits in with the hypothesis that the Gospels are hinted at under the figure of the bench. These revelations are sufficient for thee.
Art thou able to see mightier revelations than those thou hast seen? I answered and said to him. Sir, this only I ask, to have full revelation concerning the three forms of the aged woman. He answered and said to me. For how long are ye without understanding? Your double minds make you of no under- standing, and your not having your heart set on the Lord. I answered him again saying. But from thee, sir, we shall learn those thing more perfectly.
Hear, quoth he, concerning the three forms about which thou enquirest 2. In the first vision wherefore did she appear to thee aged and sitting on a chair? Because your spirit was aged and already faded and powerless from your ailings and doubts. For as the aged, having no hope any more to renew their youth, expect nothing but their last sleep; so ye, being THIRD VISION 95 weakened by worldly affairs, yielded yourselves up to weariness, and cast not your cares upon the Lord, but your spirit was broken, and ye were worn out with your griefs. Then I would fain know, sir, why she sat on a chair.
Because, said he, every sick person sitteth on a chair by reason of his infirmity, that the weak- ness of his body may be comforted. And in the second vision thou sawest her standing, and with her face younger and more cheerful than before, but her flesh and her hair aged. Hear, quoth he, this parable also.
As when one stricken in years is already past hope of himself because of his infirmity and his poverty, and expecteth nothing but the last day of his life; then suddenly an inheritance is left him, and on hearing thereof he ariseth and is very glad and putteth on strength, and no longer reclineth but standeth up, and his spirit which was already wasted by his former doings is renewed, and he no longer sitteth down but is a man again ; so were ye also when ye heard the revelation which 96 THE SHEPHERD the Lord revealed to you.
For He had com- passion upon you and renewed your spirits, and ye put off your ailments, and vigour came to you and ye were strengthened in the faith, and the Lord seeing you made strong rejoiced ; where- fore He shewed you the building of the tower, and He will shew you other things, if with all your heart ye be at peace among yourselves.
And in the third vision thou sawest her younger and beautiful and joyous and fair of form. For a long list of passages borrowed by Hermas from St. James see the above mentioned commentary on his Epistle p. The expression " glad tidings " Pro v. They therefore that repent shall be wholly young again and stablished, if they repent with their whole heart. Thou hast now the entire revelation ; ask me no more for any revelation, but if there be need of any it shall be revealed to thee. The word for " hold fast " is used of the tower in Vis, iii. From Gr. The name points to a Greek original, which may have been in use in some form in the days of Hermas and Justin Martyr.
The vision which I saw, brethren, twenty days after my former vision was for a type of the tribulation that is to come. I was going into the country by the Campanian road. In contrast with the no- way p. And as I glorified and thanked Him, a sound like as of a voice answered me saying, Doubt not, Hermas. And I began to reason within myself and say, What occasion have I to doubt that am thus settled by the Lord and have seen glorious things? And I went on a little, brethren, and lo, I spied dust rising as it were to heaven ; and I began to say within myself.
Are cattle coming and raising a dust? As the dust went on increasing, I suspected that it was some portent. In the Septuagint the leviathan is called ketos and also a dragon Job iii. Hilgenfeld would read that it was like the head of a cockatrice Gr. Moreover some ancient writers tell of large tortoises or turtles with shells which were used for roofs. The beast was in length about a hundred feet, and had a head as it were of tiling.
And I began to weep and pray the Lord to deliver me from it. And I remembered the word I had heard, Doubt not, Hermas. Putting on therefore, brethren, the faith of the Lord and calling to mind the marvels which He had taught me, I took courage and gave myself to the beast. And the beast was coming on so with a whir as if he could make havock of a city. I came close to him, and that so great beast stretched himself out along the ground, and did nothing but put forth his tongue, and these measured fifteen cubits, and that they were stronger than any tiling.
Different writings would have con- tributed traits to the picture of the " very great beast. Her weapon is her riddle, or so to say her tongue, which she puts forth in vain against the man who has under- standing.
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The strange monster comes not unnaturally from the sea, like those of Dan. He is in the Greek notation R feet long, with allusion perhaps to Rome, as in the Sibylline Oracles xi. Now the beast had on his head four colours : black, then like fire and blood, then golden, then white. I knew from the former visions that she was the Church, and I was the more joyful. She saluted me and said. Hail, O man! And I in reply saluted her. Lady, hail! She answered and said to me, Did nothing meet thee i I said to her, Yea, lady, such a monster as could destroy tribes of people ; but by the might of the Lord and His much compassion I escaped it.
Keane" Harnack quotes Rev. Thou hast escaped a great tribulation by reason of thy faith, and because thou didst not doubt when thou sawest so great a beast. Go therefore and rehearse the mighty acts of the Lord to His elect, and say unto them that this beast is a figure of the great affliction that is for to come. If therefore ye prepare yourselves, and repent with your whole heart unto the Lord, ye shall be able to escape it, if your heart be pure and without spot, and ye serve the Lord blamelessly all the rest of the days of your life.
Cast your cares upon the Lord, and He will right them. Believe in the Lord, ye doubleminded, because He can do all things : He both turneth away His anger from you, and sendeth plagues upon such of you as are doubleminded. Rendel Harris, suggested by the allusion in the text to Dan. I ASKED her about the four colours on the head of the beast ; and she answering me said, Art thou again curious about such matters?
Yea, lady, quoth I ; acquaint me what these things be. Hearken, quoth she ; the black is this world wherein ye dwell. And the colour of fire and blood figureth that this world must perish by blood and fire. The golden part are ye that have escaped this world; for as gold is tried by the fire and made profitable, so are ye also tried that dwell among men.
Ye there- fore that abide and are tried as with fire shall be thereby purified. Enoch xxxviii. And the white part is the world to come, in which the elect of God shall dwell ; for they shall be without spot and pure that have been chosen of God unto life eternal.
Cease thou not therefore to speak in the ears of the saints. Ye have now likewise the figure of the great tribulation that is coming. If ye will, it shall be nothing. When she had spoken thus much she departed, but I saw not whither she went ; for there was a crashing, and I turned behind me being aflfrighted, thinking that the beast was coming. And he saluted me, and I saluted him back. And immediately he sat down beside me and said to me, I was sent by the most reverend Angel to dwell with thee the rest of the days of thy life. Thinking that he was come to try me I said to him.
Jerome as remarking that some were over curious to find scriptural authority for all their doings. In describing the Shepherd cp. The book of Enoch xl. He said unto me, Knowest thou me not? Nay, quoth I. I, quoth he, am the Shep- herd to whom thou wast delivered. While he yet spake his visage was changed, and I took knowledge of him that it was he to whom I had been delivered ; and immediately I was con- founded, and fear took hold upon me, and I was quite overcome with grief at having so answered him wickedly and foolishly.
Then he answered and said to me. Be not confounded, but strengthen thyself in my commandments which I am about to command thee. For I was sent, quoth he, to shew thee again all that thou sawest before, to wit the sum of the things expedient fqr thee. First of all write thou my commandments and parables ; and the rest, as I will shew thee, so shalt thou write.
For this cause, quoth he, I bid thee first write the com- mandments and parables, that thou mayest read them oft and be able to keep them. Strom, as we have it. We use Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes as titles for the sake of the abbreviations Vis. If therefore when ye have heard them ye keep them and walk in them and do them with a pure heart, ye shall receive from the Lord what things He promised you ; but if when ye hear ye repent not, but add yet to your sins, ye shall receive from Him the contrary.
All these things the Shepherd, the Angel of Repentance, commanded me thus to write. He contains John xxi. With Mana, i. I, which is cited by Irenaeus iv. Origen in op, i. On John i. The corresponding adjective Gr. Continent in the ethical sense is paraphrased by i Cor. A man may exercise this power positively p. See also Vis, i. The phrase "every virtue of righteousness" is accounted for by the saying of Theognis, quoted as proverbial by Aristotle, that righteousness or justice is an epitome of all the virtues. With "live unto God" compare Luke xx.
First speak evil of no man, neither hearken gladly to one that speaketh evil. Else thou also that hearkenest shalt be guilty of the sin of him that speaketh the evil, if so be thou believe the slander which thou hearest. For if thou believe it thou wilt thyself also have somewhat against thy brother. So shalt thou be guilty of the sin of the slanderer.
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Slander is mischievous ; it is an unruly devil, never at peace but always dwelling in dissensions. I Pet. I, 2, and for the phrase "have against" Matt. Evil speaking is personified in Sim, ix. On Gr. And put on reverence, wherein is no evil offence, but all is plain and pleasant.
Work the thing that is good, and of thy labours which God giveth thee give liberally to all that need, not doubting to whom thou shouldest give or not give. Blessed is he that gives according to the commandment, for he is guiltless. Woe to him that receives.
For if any one receives having need he shall be guiltless ; but he that has no need shall give account wherefore he received and for what, and being in durance he shall be examined touching the things that he did, and he shall not come forth thence till he has paid the uttermost farthing. But further concerning this it has been said. Let thine alms sweat into thine hands till thou know to whom to give. Its purport is to justify giving " to every one that asketh " by throwing the responsibility upon the receiver ; but Hermas inaptly says in effect.
Give to all that needy because we are commanded to give to all whether they need or not. The idea of receiving in hypocrisy reappears in Sim, ix. Note that Hermas uses the saying of the Didache iv. They therefore who receive shall give account to God wherefore they received and to what end ; for such as receive because they are straitened shall not be brought into judgment, but they who receive in hypocrisy shall pay the price.
So then the giver is guiltless ; for as he had it from the Lord to perform the ministry, so he performed it in simplicity, making no distinction to whom to give or not give. Such service performed simply is honourable with God. He therefore who thus ministereth simply shall live unto God.
Keep then this commandment, as I have said unto thee, that thou and thy house may be found sincere in your repentance, and thy heart pure and undefiled. For the Lord is true in every word, and with Him is no lie. With the turn of expression in " true. We read in the Didache iii. Strom, i. On Mand, iii.
For they received from Him a spirit void of falseness. If they return this falsified, they have defiled the commandment of the Lord and become robbers. Now when I heard these things I wept bitterly. And seeing me weep he said, Why weepest thou? Because, sir, quoth I, I know not whether I can be saved. Because, sir, quoth I, never yet in my life spake I a true word, but I lived always knavishly with all men, and dis- played my falsehood as truth to all; nor did any one ever gainsay me, but my word was believed.
Mand, iii. Thou thinkest well and truly, quoth he ; for it were fit that thou as a servant of God shouldest walk in truth, and that an evil conscience should not dwell with the Spirit of truth,f nor bring grief upon the reverend and true Spirit. Never before, sir, quoth I, did I hear such words aright.
Now therefore that thou hearest, quoth he, keep them ; to the end that even those things which thou once spakest falsely in thy business may become trusty, now that this is found true. For even those may become trusty. If thou keep these things, and from henceforth speak all truth, thou shalt be able to gain life for thyself.
And whoso shall hear this commandment, and keep himself from that most wicked thing falsehood, shall live unto God. He had always understood that a certain untruthfulness was allowable in buying and selling Pro v. The conventional tricks of trade aptly illustrate the saying that Lying leads to theft t See John xv. But if this imagination enter thy heart, thou wilt fall into sin ; or should other like evil thought, thou committest sin. For this imagination is great sin to a servant of God ; and if one do this evil thing, he worketh death to himself. In Mand, iv. I said to him, Sir, suffer me to ask thee a few things.
Say on, quoth he. Accordingly we look for further evidence of his acquaintance with the story, which is to the effect that the scribes and Pharisees " bring a woman taken in adultery " Cod. II, 3. In the Shepherd the word is used in Mand. During ignorance, quoth he, he sinneth not ; but if the man come to know of her sin, and the wife repent not but continue in her fornication, and the man live with her, he becometh guilty of her sin and a partner in her adultery. What then, sir, quoth I, should the man do if the woman continue in this passion?
Let him put her away, quoth he, and let the husband abide alone ; but if when he hath put away his wife he marry another, then he. Hermas asks the shepherd which evil deeds he needs to avoid. For God is not like men, men who remember wrongs, for God does not remember your sins, and has compassion for His creatures. Can we request from God anything our selfishness desires? Should we be angry to God when He does not answer our prayers? It is unfortunate that the shepherd does not further develop this discussion of prayer, for we have met many who are angry at God because He did not save him from sickness or struggles or impending divorce.
Perhaps we should more often pray to God for strength to endure the trials of life rather than to shield us from them. But we should always pray, for all prayers prays with a good heart are heard, no matter how trivial the prayer may be. We pray, God, that are prayers be selfless prayers, prayers to strengthen our faith, hope and Love, that our prayers not be selfish.
For those who Fear and Love the Lord these commandments are not burdensome. An interesting parable in the Similitudes, the last section of the Shepherd of Hermas, is the parable of the elm and the vine. The elm by itself bears no fruit. Although the vine by will bear fruit, the fruit is rotten when it is strung along the ground. But when the vine is hung on the branches of the elm it yields double fruit. What is the meaning of the elm and the vine? The injunction that God helps those who helps themselves is not only not found anywhere in Scriptures, it is also an injunction that would be roundly condemned by Hermas.
The belief that the poor are responsible for their poverty, and that the rich would harm them by helping them by fostering dependency is also totally foreign to the spirit of Hermas. Rather, Hermas teaches that the rich man must have compassion on the poor to gain treasures in heaven. We need to be discerning reading the Shepherd of Hermas. Because it is not scriptural you do not bear the burden of faith to interpret everything in this discourse as gospel. Like many early Christian works that are not scriptural, when compared to Scriptures the Shepherd is not as carefully worded, fewer manuscripts have survived, and these fewer manuscripts have not been translated nearly as carefully as the Scriptures.
Be thou temperate, therefore, and refrain from all these things, that thou mayest live unto God, and be enrolled among those who exercise self-restraint in them. These then are the things from which thou shouldest restrain thyself. Exercise no self-restraint in that which is good, but do it. If a man keep these, and exercise not self-restraint from them, he becomes blessed in his life. If thou do good and abstain not from it, thou shalt live unto God; yea, and all shall live unto God who act so.
And again if thou do not evil, and abstain from it, thou shalt live unto God; yea, and all shall live unto God, who shall keep these commandments, and walk in them. For they that waver towards God, these are the doubtful-minded, and they never obtain any of their petitions. For assuredly it is by reason of some temptation or some transgression, of which thou art ignorant, that thou receivest thy petition so tardily. But if thou grow weary, and doubt as thou askest, blame thyself and not Him that giveth unto thee.
See to this doubtful-mindedness; for it is evil and senseless, and uprooteth many from the faith, yea, even very faithful and strong men. For indeed this doubtful-mindedness is a daughter of the devil, and worketh great wickedness against the servants of God. For faith promiseth all things, accomplisheth all things; but doubtful-mindedness, as having no confidence in itself, fails in all the works which it doeth.
For angry temper seems to me to be one thing, doubtful-mindedness another, sorrow another. For how it can crush out and again save, I do not comprehend. Cleave therefore unto the Lord, and thou shalt understand and perceive all things. So both the operations sadden the Spirit; first, the doubtful mind saddens the Spirit, because it succeeded not in its business, and the angry temper again, because it did what was evil.
Thus both are saddening to the Holy Spirit, the doubtful mind and the angry temper. For every cheerful man worketh good, and thinketh good, and despiseth sadness;. In the first place he committeth sin, because he grieveth the Holy Spirit, which was given to the man being a cheerful spirit; and in the second place, by grieving the Holy Spirit he doeth lawlessness, in that he doth not intercede with neither confess unto God. For the intercession of a sad man hath never at any time power to ascend to the altar of God.
Thus sadness mingled with the intercession doth not suffer the intercession to ascend pure to the altar. For as vinegar when mingled with wine in the same vessel hath not the same pleasant taste, so likewise sadness mingled with the Holy Spirit hath not the same intercession. And he saith to me, "Seest thou those that are seated on the couch?
And he, the false prophet, having no power of a divine Spirit in himself, speaketh with them according to their enquiries [and according to the lusts of their wickedness], and filleth their souls as they themselves wish. But he speaketh also some true words; for the devil filleth him with his own spirit, if so be he shall be able to break down some of the righteous. For he that consulteth a false prophet on any matter is an idolater and emptied of the truth, and senseless. By his life test the man that hath the divine Spirit. This then is the greatness of the power as touching the Spirit of the deity of the Lord.
Now can a divine Spirit receive money and prophesy? It is not possible for a prophet of God to do this, but the spirit of such prophets is earthly. For the empty vessel placed together with the empty is not broken, but they agree one with the other. Thus also the empty prophets, whenever they come unto the spirits of righteous men, are found just such as they came.
Therefore test, by his life and his works, the man who says that he is moved by the Spirit. Take a stone, and throw it up to heaven--see if thou canst reach it; or again, take a squirt of water, and squirt it up to heaven--see if thou canst bore through the heaven. For both these things which thou hast mentioned are beyond our power. The hail is a very, small grain, and yet, when it falleth on a man's head, what pain it causeth! Or again, take a drop which falls on the ground from the tiles, and bores through the stone.
The Shepherd of Hermas (Lightfoot translation)
So likewise the divine Spirit coming from above is powerful. This Spirit therefore trust, but from the other hold aloof. But it is costly to such men as are not clothed in the good desire, but are mixed up with this life "These men then it hands over to death. Make them known to me, that I may hold aloof from them. For even luxury is foolish and vain for the servants of God. For this evil desire is a daughter of the devil.
Ye must, therefore, abstain from the evil desires, that so abstaining ye may live unto God. For the fear of God dwelleth in the good desire. If the evil desire shall see thee armed with the fear of God and resisting itself, it shall flee far from thee, and shall no more be seen of thee, being in fear of thine arms.
If thou serve the good desire, and art subject to her, thou shalt have power to master the evil desire, and to subject her, according as thou wilt. Practicing these thou shalt be well-pleasing as a servant of God, and shalt live unto Him; yea, and every one who shall serve the good desire shall live unto God.
For thou shalt find favor among those who are about to repent, and they shall obey thy words. For I will be with thee, and will compel them to obey thee. But I know not whether these commandments can be kept by a man, for they are very hard. The devil hath fear alone, but his fear hath no force. Fear him not therefore; and he will flee from you. The devil can wrestle with them, but he cannot overthrow them. If then ye resist him, he will be vanquished and will flee from you disgraced.
But as many," saith he, "as are utterly empty, fear the devil as if he had power. For empty jars soon turn sour, and the taste of the wine is spoilt. As many then as are complete in the faith, oppose him mightily, and he departeth from them, not having a place where he can find an entrance.
So he cometh next to the empty ones, and finding a place goeth into them, and further he doeth what he willeth in them, and they become submissive slaves to him. But of the threatening of the devil fear not at all; for he is unstrung, like the sinews of a dead man. And I hope, Sir, that I am now able to keep these commandments which thou hast commanded, the Lord enabling me. If then ye know your city, in which ye shall dwell, why do ye here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous?
For the lord of this country saith to thee justly, "Either conform to my laws, or depart from my country. For the sake of thy fields and the rest of thy possessions wilt thou altogether repudiate thy law, and walk according to the law of this city? Take heed, lest it be inexpedient to repudiate the law; for if thou shouldest desire to return again to thy city, thou shall surely not be received [because thou didst repudiate the law of the city], and shalt be shut out from it.
It is much better to purchase fields [and possessions] and houses of this kind, which thou wilt find in thine own city, when thou visitest it. The expenditure of the heathen then practice not ye; for it is not convenient for you the servants of God. But perform thine own task, and thou shalt be saved. Yet this vine, except it climb up the elm, cannot bear much fruit when it is spread on the ground; and such fruit as it beareth is rotten, because it is not suspended upon the elm.
When then the vine is attached to the elm, it beareth fruit both from itself and from the elm. This parable therefore is applicable to the servants of God, to poor and to rich alike. When then the rich man goeth up to the poor, and assisteth him in his needs, believing that for what he doth to the poor man he shall be able to obtain a reward with God--because the poor man is rich in intercession [and confession], and his intercession hath great power with God--the rich man then supplieth all things to the poor man without wavering.
And the other is still more zealous to assist the poor man, that he may be continuous in his life: for he knoweth that the intercession of the poor man is acceptable and rich before God. The rich man too in like manner furnisheth to the poor man, nothing doubting, the riches which he received from the Lord. And this work great and acceptable with God, because the rich man hath understanding concerning his riches, and worketh for the poor man from the bounties of the Lord, and accomplisheth the ministration of the Lord rightly.
So likewise the poor, by interceding with the Lord for the rich, establish their riches, and again the rich, supplying their needs to the poor, establish their souls. He then that doeth these things shall not be abandoned of God, but shall be written in the books of the living. For they that have this mind shall be able to do some good work. And he saith to me; "Seest thou these trees?
For this world is winter to the righteous, and they are not distinguishable, as they dwell with the sinners. When then the mercy of the Lord shall shine forth, then they that serve God shall be made manifest; yea, and all men shall be made manifest. For the sinners shall be burned, because they sinned and repented not; and the Gentiles shall be burned, because they knew not Him that created them. But abstain from overmuch business, and thou shalt never fill into any sin. For they that busy themselves overmuch, sin much also, being distracted about their business, and in no wise serving their own Lord.
Listen," saith he;. But fast thou [unto God] such a fast as this;. Then, if thou shalt do these things, and fear Him, and control thyself from every evil deed, thou shalt live unto God; and if thou do these things, thou shalt accomplish a great fast, and one acceptable to God. Now keep this my commandment, and thou shalt be free in my house.
And that vineyard became very neat and flourishing, when it had no weeds to choke it. And seeing the vineyard fenced neatly, and digged as well, and [all] the weeds plucked up, and the vines flourishing, he rejoiced [exceedingly] at what his servant had done. And they rejoiced with the servant at the testimony which his master had borne to him. For this work therefore which he has done, I desire to make him joint-heir with my son, because, when the good thought struck him, he did not neglect it, but fulfilled it. But when the servant received [the dainties sent to him by the master], he took what was sufficient for him, and distributed the rest to his fellow servants.
So the master called together again his friends and his son, and announced to them the deed that he had done with regard to his dainties which he had received; and they still more approved of his resolve, that his servant should be made joint-heir with his son. Keep the commandments of the Lord, and thou shalt be well-pleasing to God, and shalt be enrolled among the number of them that keep His commandments. If then, while thou keepest the commandments of God, thou add these services likewise, thou shalt rejoice, if thou observe them according to my commandment. This then is the way, that thou shalt keep this fast which thou art about to observe].
If thou keep these things, this fast shall be perfect for thee. Having fulfilled what is written, on that day on which thou fastest thou shalt taste nothing but bread and water; and from thy meats, which thou wouldest have eaten, thou shalt reckon up the amount of that day's expenditure, which thou wouldest have incurred, and shalt give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to one in want, and so shalt thou humble thy soul, that he that hath received from thy humiliation may satisfy his own soul, and may pray for thee to the Lord.
For I understood that all these things are a parable. Thou oughtest not," [saith he,] "to make any enquiry at all; for if it be right that a thing be explained unto thee, it shall be explained. In like manner also, if thou speak parables to me and interpret them not, I shall have heard a thing in vain from thee. But as many as are sluggish and idle in intercession, these hesitate to ask of the Lord. But thou who hast been strengthened by the holy angel, and hast received from him such powers of intercession and art not idle, wherefore dost thou not ask understanding of the Lord, and obtain it from Him.
But since thou art so obstinate, I will interpret to thee the parable of the estate and all the accompaniments thereof, that thou mayest make them known unto all. Hear now," saith he, "and understand them. And the Son placed the angels in charge of them, to watch over them; and the Son Himself cleansed their sins, by laboring much and enduring many toils; for no one can dig without toil or labor.
Thou seest," saith he, "that He is Himself Lord of the people, having received all power from His Father. Which created the whole creation, God made to dwell in flesh that He desired. This flesh, therefore, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, was subject unto the Spirit, walking honorably in holiness and purity, without in any way defiling the Spirit. Therefore keep both pure, and thou shalt live unto God. They are beautiful. Doubt not at all; but clothe thyself in the faith of the Lord, and thou shalt walk in them.
For I will strengthen thee in them.
If then ye add no further sin at all, ye will depart from your former sins. Walk then in these my commandments, and ye shall live unto God. These things have [all] been told you from me. And we came to a certain plain, and he showeth me a young man, a shepherd, clothed in a light cloak, of saffron color;.
He crusheth the souls of the servants of God, and perverteth them from the truth, leading them astray with evil desires, wherein they perish. In these, therefore, there is not repentance unto life. For the Name of God is being blasphemed through them. The life of such persons is death. These then have been corrupted from the truth. In these there is hope of repentance, wherein they can live. Corruption then hath hope of a possible renewal, but death hath eternal destruction.
And his look was very sour, so that I was afraid of him because of his look. And then they say that they do not prosper in their doings, and it doth not enter into their hearts that they have done evil deeds, but they blame the Lord. But, if they repent, the evil works which they have done rise up in their hearts, and then they glorify God, saying that He is a just Judge, and that they suffered justly each according to his doings. And they serve the Lord thenceforward with a pure heart, and are prosperous in all their doings, receiving from the Lord whatsoever things they may ask; and then they glorify the Lord because they were delivered over unto me, and they no longer suffer any evil thing.
But an hour of the torment hath the power of thirty days. If then one live in self indulgence and be deceived for one day, and be tormented for one day, the day of the torment is equivalent to a whole year. For as many days then as a man lives in self-indulgence, for so many years is he tormented. Thou seest then," saith he, "that the time of the self-indulgence and deceit is very short, but the time of the punishment and torment is long.
Listen then," [saith he,] "even as thou wishest, that thou mayest comprehend the matter. For self-indulgence and deceit have no memories, by reason of the folly, wherewith each is clothed; but when punishment and torment cling to a man for a single day, he is punished and tormented for a whole year long; for punishment and torment have long memories. Every man, therefore, that liveth in self-indulgence and is deceived, is tormented in this way because, though possessing lire, they have delivered themselves over unto death.
This self-indulgence then is expedient for the servants of God, and bringeth life to a man of this disposition; but the harmful self-indulgences afore-mentioned bring to men torments and punishments; and if they continue in them and repent not, they bring death upon themselves. When therefore they shall repent and be cleansed, then shall the angel of punishment depart.
Certainly not; but the person who repents must torture his own soul, and must be thoroughly humble in his every action, and be afflicted with all the divers kinds of affliction; and if he endure the afflictions which come upon him, assuredly He Who created all things and endowed them with power will be moved with compassion and will bestow some remedy. But it is expedient for thee and for thy house that thou shouldest be afflicted now. But why speak I many words to thee?
Thou must be afflicted as the angel of the Lord commanded, even he that delivered thee unto me; and for this give thanks to the Lord, in that He deemed thee worthy that I should reveal unto thee beforehand the affliction, that foreknowing it thou might endure it with fortitude. Only continue to be humble and to minister unto the Lord with a pure heart, thou and thy children and thy house, and walk in my commandments which I command thee, and thus it will be possible for thy repentance to be strong and pure.
But the angel of the Lord took them, and examined them. And others gave up their rods one half withered and one half green; these also stood apart.
And others gave them up two parts withered, and the third part green; these also stood apart. And those men were exceeding gladsome, whose rods were found in this state. And over them the angel exulted, and the shepherd was very gladsome over them. And crowns were brought, made as it were of palm branches; and he crowned the men that had given up the rods which had the shoots and some fruit, and sent them away into the tower.
But be careful in examining them. Take heed lest any escape thee," saith he. If then the rods shall be planted and get a little moisture, many of them will live. And afterwards let us try to pour some water also over them. If any of them shall be able to live, I will rejoice with it; but if it live not, I at least shall not be found neglectful. And they came row after row, and they delivered up the rods to the shepherd.
And the shepherd took the rods, and planted them in rows, and after he had planted them, he poured much water over them, so that the rods could not be seen for the water. And I myself hope that these little rods, after they have got moisture and been watered, will live the greater part of them. For I am perplexed herewith, because, though so many branches were cut off, the tree is sound, and nothing appears to have been cut from it; I am therefore perplexed thereat.
But the people that are under the shadow are they that have heard the preaching, and believed on Him;. For this is he that putteth the law into the hearts of the believers; therefore he himself inspecteth them to whom he gave it, to see whether they have observed it. Thou seest these many rods rendered useless, and thou shalt notice all those that have not observed the law, and shalt see the abode of each severally. But all else thou shalt know, when I have examined these rods that have been planted and watered. And he saith to me; "Gird thyself with a garment of raw flax, and minister to me.
He ordered them to stand apart. Those then that gave them up green he ordered to stand apart; but those that gave them up withered and chipped he ordered to stand with the first. He ordered them to stand each one apart, some in their proper ranks, and others apart. These all gave them up green, and stood in their own company. And the shepherd rejoiced over these, because they all were changed and had put away their cracks.
The rods of some were found entirely green, of some half-withered, of some withered and eaten, and of some green and with shoots. These were all sent away each to his company. These all stood in their own company. Many of them gave them up half-withered, but some withered and eaten, others half-withered and with cracks, and a few green. Of these some gave them up green, and others green and with shoots. These also went away to their own company. The rods of these were found for the most part green and with shoots and fruit on the shoots, and others altogether green.
At these rods the shepherd rejoiced very [greatly], because they were found so. And these went away each to his own company. Seest thou," saith he, "how many repented and were saved? These then perished altogether unto God. But thou seest how not one of them repented, although they heard the words which thou spakest to them, which I commanded thee. From men of this kind life departed. These then have hope of repenting. And as many as shall not repent, have lost their life; but as many of them as repented, became good; and their dwelling was placed within the first walls, and some of them even ascended into the tower.
Thou seest then," [saith he,] "that repentance from sins bringeth life, but not to repent bringeth death. Those whose rods were half-withered throughout are the double-minded; for they neither live nor are dead. Yet even to these," [saith he,] "repentance is given. Thou seest," [saith he,] "that some of them have repented; and there is still," saith he, "hope of repentance among them. They have their habitation, therefore, within the tower. But if any one shall again turn to dissension, he shall be cast out from the tower and shall lose his life. But in the commandments there is nothing about first places, or about glory of any kind, but about long-suffering and humility in man.
In such men, therefore, is the life of the Lord, but in factious and lawless men is death. Therefore the one half of them liveth, but the other half is dead. As many then as repented, have their abode within the tower. But some of them altogether stood aloof These then have no repentance; for by reason of their business affairs they blasphemed the Lord and denied Him.
So they lost their life for the wickedness that they committed. These still have place for repentance, if they repent quickly, and their dwelling shall be within the tower; and if they repent tardily, they shall dwell within the walls; but if they repent not, they too have lost their life.
And some of them were double-minded and caused dissensions. For these then there is repentance, if they repent speedily and continue not in their pleasures; but if they continue in their doings, they likewise procure for themselves death. They clothed themselves with great pride and became high-minded, and abandoned the truth and did not cleave to the righteous, but lived together after the manner of the Gentiles, and this path appeared the more pleasant unto them; yet they departed not from God, but continued in the faith, though they wrought not the works of the faith.
These therefore were numbered with the Gentiles. For these then that were double-minded by reason of their doings there is still repentance; but their repentance ought to be speedy, that their dwelling may be within the tower; but for those who repent not, but continue in their pleasures, death is nigh. But, when they heard my words, the greater part quickly repented, and their dwelling was assigned within the tower. In these then there is still a hope of repentance, because they were found always good; and hardly shall one of them die.
Still they never separated from God, but bore the Name gladly, and gladly received into their houses the servants of God. So hearing of this repentance they repented without wavering, and they practice all excellence and righteousness. All these then shall have their dwelling within the tower. For that Spirit is the Son of God. In fair and seemly manner hast thou seen all things, instructed as it were by a virgin; but now thou seest being instructed by an angel, though by the same Spirit;.