This book is thus entitled, because it was composed by Hermas, brother to Pope Pius I (bishop of Rome in A.D. 140-155); and because the Angel, who bears the principal part in it, is represented in the form and habit of a shepherd. The book is actually three books: Visions, Commands, and Similitudes. The Church's reaction to it has always been mixed:
Irenaeus quoted it under the very name of Scripture. Origen thought it a most useful writing and that it was divinely inspired. Eusebius said that, though it was not esteemed canonical, it was read publicly in the churches, which is corroborated by Jerome.
Athanasius cited it as a most useful work, and observed that though it was not strictly canonical, the Fathers appointed it to be read for direction and confirmation in faith and piety.
Jerome, notwithstanding this, and that he applauded it in his catalog of writers, in his comments upon it afterwards, termed it apocryphal and foolish.
Tertullian praised it when he was a Catholic, and abused it when he became a Montanist.
Although Pope Gelasius I (A.D. 492-496) ranked it among the apocryphal books, it is found attached to some of the most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.
Archbishop of Canterbury Wake, believing it the genuine work of an apostolic Father, preserved it for English readers by the translation used here, in which he rendered the books not only more exact, but in greater purity than they had before appeared. The Archbishop procured Dr. Grabe to entirely collate the old Latin version with an ancient manuscript in the Lambeth library; and the learned prelate himself still further improved the whole from a multitude of fragments of the original Greek never before used for that purpose.
Certain sections may sometimes seem tedious, but after reading the three books one is left with a charming impression that is never quite forgotten.
1. Against filthy and proud thoughts, 20. also the neglect of Hermas in chastising his children.
1. He who had bred me up sold a certain young maid at Rome
whom when I saw many years later, I remembered her, and began to
love her as a sister. It happened some time afterwards, that I
saw her bathing in the Tiber River, and I reached out my hand to
her and brought her out of the river.
2. And when I saw her I thought to myself, saying, How happy should I be if I had such a wife, both for beauty and manners. This I thought to myself, nor did I think any more. But not long after as I was walking and musing on these thoughts, I began to admire this creature of God, thinking how noble and beautiful she was.
3. And when I had walked a little, I fell asleep. And the spirit caught me away and carried me toward the right-hand through a certain place through which no man could pass. It was a place among rocks, very steep, and impassable even for water.
4. When I was beyond this place, I came to a plain. Falling down upon my knees there, I began to pray to the Lord, and to confess my sins.
5. And as I was praying, the heaven was opened, and I saw the woman whom I had coveted, saluting me from heaven and saying, Hermas, hail! And I looking upon her, answered, Lady, what are you doing here? She answered, I have been brought up here to accuse you of sin before the Lord.
6. Lady, I said, will you accuse me? No, she said, but hear the words I am about to speak to you. God who dwells in heaven, and has made all things out of nothing, and has multiplied them for his Holy Church's sake, is angry with you because you have sinned against me.
7. And I answering said to her, Lady, if I have sinned against you, tell me where, or in what place, or when did I ever speak an improper or dishonest word to you?
8. Have I not always esteemed you as a lady? Have I not always reverenced you as a sister? Why then do you imagine these wicked things against me?
9. Then she, smiling upon me, said: An indecent desire has risen up in your heart. Does it not seem to you to be an ill thing for a righteous man to have an evil desire rise up in his heart?
10. It is indeed a sin, and that a very great one, to such a one; for a righteous man thinks that which is righteous. And while he does so, and walks uprightly, he shall have the Lord in heaven favorable to him in all his business.
11. But as for those who think wickedly in their hearts take to themselves death and captivity, and especially those who love this present world and glory in their riches, and do not regard the good things that are to come; their souls wander up and down, and know not where to settle.
12. Now this is the case of such as are double-minded, who trust not in the Lord, and despise and neglect their own life.
13. But pray to the Lord, and he will heal your sins, and the sins of your whole house, and of all his saints.
The reason the otherwise righteous Hermas is accused of sin and "evil desire" is because he is a prosperous middleaged businessman who is married with grown children.
14. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As
soon as she had spoken these words the heavens were shut, and I
remained utterly swallowed up with sadness and fear. I said to
myself, If this be laid against me for sin, how can I be saved?
15. Or how shall I ever be able to entreat the Lord for my many and great sins? With what words shall I beseech him to be merciful to me?
16. As I was thinking over these things, and meditating in myself upon them, behold a chair was set over opposite me of the whitest wool, as bright as snow.
17. And here came an old woman in a bright garment, having a book in her hand, and sat alone, and saluted me, saying, Hermas, hail! And I, being full of sorrow and weeping, answered, Hail, Lady!
18. And she said to me, Why are you sad, Hermas, who are accustomed to be patient, and modest, and always cheerful? I answered and said to her, Lady, a reproach has been laid to my charge by an excellent woman, who tells me that I have sinned against her.
19. Far be any such thing from the servant of God. But it may be the desire of her has risen up in your heart. For indeed such a thought makes the servants of God guilty of sin.
20. Nor ought such a detestable thought to be in the servant of God; nor should he who is approved by the Spirit desire that which is evil; but especially Hermas, who restrains himself from all wicked lusts, and is full of all simplicity, and of great innocence.
21. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Nevertheless the Lord is not so much angry with you for your own sake, as upon the account of your house, which has committed wickedness against the Lord, and against their parents.
22. And because out of your fondness towards your sons, you have not admonished your house but have permitted them to live wickedly; for this cause the Lord is angry with you, but he will heal all the evils that are done in your house. For through their sins and iniquities, you are wholly consumed in secular affairs.
Now the real source of his sin is revealed: he has become secularized.
23. But now the mercy of God has taken compassion upon you,
and upon your house, and has greatly comforted you in glory.
Only as for you, do not wander astray, but be of an even mind,
and comfort your house.
24. As the workman brings forth his work and offers it to whomever he pleases, so you must cut off a great sin by teaching every day what is just. Therefore do not cease to admonish your sons, for the Lord knows that they will repent with all their heart, and they will be written in the book of life.
25. And when she had said this, she added to me: Will you hear me read? I answered her, Lady, I will.
26. Hear then, she said, and opening the book she read gloriously, greatly, and wonderfully, such things as I could not keep in my memory. For they were disturbing words, such as no man could bear.
27. Nevertheless I committed her last words to my remembrance, for they were but few, and of great use to us.
28. Behold the mighty Lord, who by his invisible power and with his excellent wisdom made the world, and by his glorious counsel beautified his creature, and with the word of his strength fixed the heaven and founded the earth upon the waters, and by this powerful virtue established his Holy Church, which he has blessed.
29. Behold he will remove the heavens, and the mountains, the hills, and the seas; and all things will be made level for his elect so that he may present to them the promise which he has promised, with much honor and joy; if so be that they will keep the commandments of God they have received with great faith.
30. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And when she had made an end of reading, she rose out of the chair; and behold four young men came and carried the chair to the east.
31. And she called me to her and touched my breast, and said to me, Did my reading please you? I answered, Lady, these last things please me, but what went before was severe and hard.
32. She said to me, These last things are for the righteous, but the foregoing for the revolters and heathen.
33. And as she was talking with me, two men appeared and took her upon their shoulders and went to the east where the chair was.
34. And she went cheerfully away. As she was going, she said to me, Hermas, be of good cheer.
Hermas writes of one vision after another. Either he actually had these visions, or he is a creative writer indeed. In defense of the veridical nature of these visions, it should be noted that they are anything but self-serving; on the contrary, Hermes is constantly criticized by the angel for his inquisitive but dense mind. In any case, one might ask, Why all these visions? Perhaps we can appreciate them as we do our own multi-media presentations, in which all the senses are involved and the images serve as a memory aid for the lessons presented, which if told in a straight narrative, like a long lecture, would soon be forgotten. A vision (or a vivid description of one) is not soon easily forgotten.
Again, of his neglect in correcting his talkative wife; and of his lewd sons.
1. As I was on the way to Cuma, about the same time that I
went the year before, I began to call to mind the vision I
formerly had. And again the spirit carried me away and brought
me into the same place where I had been the year before.
2. And when I was come into the place, I fell down upon my knees and began to pray to the Lord, and to glorify his name that he had esteemed me worthy and had revealed to me my former sins.
3. And when I arose from prayer, behold I saw opposite me the old woman I had seen the last year, walking and reading in a certain book.
4. And she said to me, Can you tell these things to the elect of God? I answered and said to her, Lady I cannot retain so many things in my memory, but give me the book, and I will write them down.
5. Take it, she said, and see that you return it to me.
6. As soon as I had received it, I went aside into a certain place of the field, and transcribed every letter, for I found no syllables.
7. And as soon as I had finished what was written in the book, the book was suddenly caught out of my hand, but I did not see by whom.
8. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After fifteen days, when I had fasted and entreated the Lord with all earnestness, the knowledge of the writing was revealed to me. Now the writing was this:
9. O Hermas! Your offspring have sinned against the Lord and have betrayed their parents through their great wickedness. And they have been called the betrayers of their parents, but have gone on in their treachery.
10. And now have they added lewdness to their other sins, and the pollutions of their indecency: thus they have filled up the measure of their iniquities. But you upbraid your sons with all these words, and your wife, which will be your sister, and let her learn to refrain her tongue, with which she calumniates.
Presumably "which will be your sister" means his wife will become a Christian, or a better one.
Compare with: "A foolish son [is] the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife [are] a continual dropping." (Proverbs 19:13)
11. And when she will hear these things, she will refrain
herself, and will obtain mercy.
12. And they also will be instructed, after you will have reproached them with these words, which the Lord has commanded to be revealed to you.
13. Then they will be forgiven their sins, which they have heretofore committed, and so will the sins of all the saints who have sinned even to this day, if they will repent with all their hearts, and remove all doubts out of their hearts.
14. For the Lord has sworn by his glory concerning his elect, having determined this very time, that if any one will sin after it, he will not be saved.
15. For the repentance of the righteous has its end, and the days of repentance are fulfilled to all the saints, but there is repentance to the heathen even to the last day.
Christian standards always have been higher than Christians want to acknowledge, and even one who has risen to the heights can fall the farthest. Compare with:
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permit. For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame." (Hebrews 6:1-6)
The only satisfactory and safe course is forward, onward, upward -- from repentance, baptism, etc., for if one "falls away" from Christ and apostatizes, there is no other way to turn for salvation. Tertullian, the Montanists, and other ancient schismatics used this fearsomely enigmatic passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews to argue there is no repentance from apostasy. The Church holds that those who apostatize may repent and be brought back into the Church after a period of repentance (Canons VIII, X and XIV of 1 Nicea; Canon II of St. Gregory of Nyssa; and the Canons of the Council of Ancyra, A.D. 314). Nevertheless, such "second conversions" are difficult and rare -- thus this sober warning.
Peter touches the same theme in discussing false teachers and false brethren, but it often takes time to reveal who is false. Compare with: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22; the dog-and-vomit reference is from Proverbs 26:11)
16. You will therefore say to those who are over the church
to order their ways in righteousness, so that they may fully
receive the promise with much glory.
17. Stand fast therefore, you who work righteousness and continue to do it, that your departure may be with the holy angels.
18. Happy are you, as many as will endure the great trial that is at hand, and whoever will not deny his life.
19. For the Lord has sworn by his Son that whoever, being afraid of his life, denies his Son and him, he will also deny him in the world that is to come.
Compare with: "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:33)
The phrase "the world that is to come" may be translated "the days that are coming." The "great trial that is at hand" in verse 18 may refer to coming persecutions.
20. But those who will never deny him, he will of his
exceeding great mercy be favorable to them.
21. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] But you, O Hermas, remember not the injuries your sons have done, neither neglect your sister, but take care that they amend their former sins.
That is, his wife, a sister in Christ.
22. For they will be instructed by this doctrine, if you
will not be mindful of what they have done wickedly.
23. For the remembrance of evils works death, but the forgetting of them life eternal.
Compare "for the remembrance of evils works death..." with Hebrews 10:1-4, in which it is argued that continual animal sacrifices of Judaism (and the same would apply to the Roman practice) never remove the consciousness of sins, but keep reminding of them to no avail.
Hermas is urged not to hold a grudge against his wife or sons, but to forgive those who have sinned against him (Luke 11:4), to forgive them as Christ has forgiven him (Ephesians 4:32), and to be reconciled to them in Christian love, which covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
24. But you, O Hermas, have undergone a great many worldly
troubles for the offenses of your house, because you have
neglected them as matters that did not belong to you, and you are
wholly taken up with your great business.
25. Nevertheless, you will be saved because you have not departed from the living God, and your simplicity and singular continence will preserve you, if you will continue in them.
26. Yes, they will save all those who do such things, and walk in innocence and simplicity.
27. They who are of this kind will prevail against all impiety and continue until life eternal.
28. Happy are all they who do righteousness; they will not be consumed forever.
29. But you will say, Behold there is a great time of affliction coming. If it seem good to you, deny him again.
30. The Lord is near to them who turn to him, as it is written in the book of Heldam and Modal, who prophesied to the people of Israel in the wilderness.
The reference is to Eldad and Medad, found in Numbers 11:26, 27.
31. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Moreover, brethren, it was revealed to me, as I was sleeping, by a very considerate young man, saying to me, What did you think of that old woman from whom you received the book; who is she? I answered, A Sybil.
A sybil was a female diviner of the future.
32. You are mistaken, he said, she is not. I replied, Who
is she then, sir? He answered me, It is the Church of God.
33. And I said to him, Why then does she appear old? He said, She is therefore an old woman, because she was the first of all the creation, and the world was made for her.
34. After this I saw a vision in my own house: the old woman whom I had seen before came to me and asked me whether I had yet delivered her book to the elders of the church. I answered that I had not yet.
35. She replied, You have done well, for I have certain words more to tell you. But when I shall have finished all the words, they will be clearly understood by the elect.
36. And you will write two books, and send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Clement will send it to the foreign cities, because it is permitted to him so to do, but Grapte will admonish the widows and orphans.
Since it is unlikely the Clement who was pope from A.D. 88-97 is meant, the identity of these men is uncertain.
37. But you will read in this city with the elders of the church.
>Of the building of the church triumphant, and of the several sorts of reprobates.
1. The vision which I saw, brethren, was this:
2. When I had often fasted and prayed to the Lord so that he would give me the revelation he had promised by the old woman to show to me, the same night she appeared and said to me:
3. Because you thus afflict yourself and are so desirous to know all things, come into the field, wherever you choose, and about the sixth hour, I will appear to you and show you what you must see.
The sixth hour means noon. (The day began at 6 a.m., the first hour.)
4. I asked her, saying: Lady, into what part of the field?
She answered, wherever you prefer, only choose a good and a
private place. And before I began to speak and tell her the
place, she said to me, I will come there.
5. I was therefore, brethren, in the field, and I observed the hours and came into the place where I had appointed her to come.
6. And I beheld a bench placed there. It was a linen pillow, and over it spread a covering of fine linen.
7. When I saw these things arranged in this manner and that there was nobody in the place, I began to be astonished, and because I was alone, my hair stood on end and a kind of horror seized me.
8. But, being come to myself, and calling to mind the glory of God and taking courage, I fell down upon my knees and began again to confess my sins as before.
9. And while I was doing this, the old woman came there with the six young men whom I had seen before, and stood behind me as I was praying, and heard me praying and confessing my sins to the Lord.
10. And touching me, she said: Stop praying now only for your sins; pray also for righteousness, that you may receive a part of her in your house.
11. And she lifted me up from the place and took me by the hand, and brought me to the seat and said to the young men, Go, and build.
12. And soon as they were departed, and we were alone, she said to me, Sit here. I answered her, Lady, let those who are elder sit first. She replied, Sit down as I bid you.
13. And when I would have sat on the right side, she did not permit me, but made a sign to me with her hand that I should sit on the left.
14. As I was therefore musing and full of sorrow that she would not allow me to sit on the right side, she said to me, Hermas, why are you sad?
15. The place which is on the right hand is theirs who have already attained to God and have suffered for his name's sake. But there is yet a great deal remaining to you before you can sit with them.
16. But continue as you do in your sincerity, and you will sit with them, as will all others who do their works and will bear what they have borne.
17. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] I said to her, Lady, I would know what it is that they have suffered? Hear then, she said: wild beasts, floggings, imprisonments, and crosses for his name's sake.
18. For this reason the right hand of holiness belongs to them and to all others as many as will suffer for the name of God, but the left belongs to the rest.
19. However the gifts and the promises belong to both, to them on the right, and to those on the left hand; only that sitting on the right hand they have some glory above the others.
20. But you are desirous to sit on the right hand with them, and yet your defects are many. But you will be purged from your defects, just as also all who do not doubt will be cleansed from all the sins they have committed to this day.
21. And when she had said this, she would have departed.
22. Therefore, falling down before her feet, I began to entreat her for the Lord's sake that she would show me the vision she had promised.
23. Then she again took me by the hand and lifted me up, and made me sit upon the seat on the left side, and holding up a certain bright wand, said to me, See that great thing? I replied, Lady I see nothing.
24. She answered, Do you not see opposite you a great tower with bright square stones built upon the water?
25. For the tower was built upon a square by these six young men who came with her.
26. But many thousands of other men brought stones; some drew them out of the deep, others carried them from the ground, and gave them to the six young men. And they took them and built.
27. As for those stones that were pulled out of the deep, they put them all into the building, for they were polished, and their squares exactly corresponded to one another that one was joined to the other so that there was no space to be seen where they joined, so much so that the whole tower appeared to be built as if it were of one stone.
28. But as for the other stones that were taken off from the ground, some of them they rejected, others they fitted into the building.
29. As for those that were rejected, some they cut out and cast at a distance from the tower, but many others of them lay round about the tower, which they made no use of in the building.
30. For some of these were rough, others had clefts in them, others were white and round, not proper for the building of the tower.
31. But I saw the other stones cast afar off from the tower and falling into the highway, and yet not continuing in the way, but were rolled from the way into a desert place.
32. Others I saw falling into the fire and burning; others fell near the water, yet could not roll themselves into it, though very desirous to fall into the water.
33. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And when she had showed me these things she would have departed, but I said to her, Lady, what does it profit me to see these things and not understand what they mean?
34. She answered and said to me, You are very shrewd to desire to know those things which relate to the tower. Yes, I said, Lady, so that I may declare them to the brethren, and they may rejoice, and hearing these things may glorify God with great glory.
35. Then she said, Many indeed will hear them, and when they will have heard them, some will rejoice, and others weep. And yet even these, if they will repent, will rejoice too.
36. Hear therefore what I shall say concerning the parable of the tower, and after this do not any longer be importunate with me about the revelation.
37. For these revelations have an end, seeing they are fulfilled. But you do not desist to desire revelations, for you are very persistent.
38. As for the tower which you see built, it is myself, namely the Church, which appeared to you both now and before. Therefore ask what you will concerning the tower, and I will reveal it to you, so that you may rejoice with the saints.
39. I said to her, Lady, because you have thought me once worthy to receive from you the revelation of all these things, declare them to me.
40. She answered me, Whatever is fit to be revealed to you will be revealed; only let your heart be with the Lord, and do not doubt whatever you will see.
41. I asked her, Lady, why is the tower built upon the water? She replied, I said before to you that you were very wise to inquire diligently concerning the building, therefore you will find the truth.
42. Hear therefore why the tower is built upon the water: because your life is and will be saved by water. For it [baptism] is founded by the word of the almighty and honorable name, and is supported by the invisible power and virtue of God.
The water refers to baptism according to the interpretation following in verses 75, 76. See also John 3:5.
43. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] And I
answering, said to her, These things are very admirable, but
Lady, who are those six men that build?
44. She said, They are the angels of God who were first appointed, and to whom the Lord has delivered all his creatures, to frame and build them up, and to rule over them. For by these the building of the tower will be finished.
Compare with: "...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21)
45. And who are the rest who bring them stones?
46. They also are the holy angels of the Lord, but the others are more excellent than these. When the whole building of the tower will be finished, they will all feast together beside the tower, and will glorify God because the structure of the tower is finished.
47. I asked her, saying, I would know the condition of the stones, and the meaning of them, what it is?
48. She answering, said to me, Are you better than all others that this should be revealed to you? For others are both before you, and better than you are, to whom these visions should be made manifest.
49. Nevertheless, that the name of God may be glorified, it has been and will be revealed to you for the sake of those who are doubtful, and wonder in their hearts whether these things are so or not.
50. Tell them that all these things are true, and that there is nothing in them that is not true; but all are firm and truly established.
51. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Hear now then concerning the stones that are in the building.
52. The square and white stones which agree exactly in their joints, are the apostles, and bishops, and doctors, and ministers, who through the mercy of God have come in, and governed, and taught and ministered holily and modestly to the elect of God, both those who have fallen asleep and those who yet remain, who have always agreed with them, and have had peace within themselves, and have heard each other.
53. For this reason their joints exactly meet together in the building of the tower.
54. They which are dug out of the deep and put into the building, and whose joints agree with the other stones that are already built, are those who have suffered for the sake of the Lord's name and are already fallen asleep.
55. And what are the other stones, Lady, that are brought from the earth? I would know what are they.
56. She answered, They that lie upon the ground and are not polished, are those which God has approved because they have walked in the law of the Lord and directed their ways in his commandments.
57. They that are brought and put in the building of the tower are the young in faith and the faithful. And these are admonished by the angels to do well because iniquity is not found in them.
58. But who are those whom they rejected and laid beside the tower?
59. They are such as have sinned and are willing to repent; for this reason they are not cast far from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they will repent.
60. They therefore that are yet to repent, if they will repent, will become strong in the faith; that is, if they repent now, while the tower is building. For if the building will be finished, then there will be no place for them to be put in, but they will be rejected, for he only has this privilege who will now be put into the tower.
61. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] But would you know who they are that were cut out, and cast afar off from the tower? Lady, I said, I desire it.
62. They are the children of iniquity, who believed only in hypocrisy, but departed not from their evil ways; for this they will not be saved, because they are not of any use in the building by reason of their sins.
63. Therefore they are cut out and cast afar off, because of the anger of the Lord, and because they have provoked him to anger against them.
64. As for the great number of other stones you have seen placed about the tower but not put into the buildings, those that are rugged are they who have known the truth, but have not continued in it, nor been joined to the saints, and therefore are of no use.
65. Those that have clefts in them are they that keep up discord in their hearts against each other and live not in peace, who are friendly when present with their brethren, but as soon as they are departed from one another, their wickedness still continues in their hearts: these are the clefts which are seen in those stones.
66. Those that are maimed and short are they who indeed have believed but still are in great measure full of wickedness; this is the reason they are maimed and not whole.
67. But what are the white and round stones, Lady, and which are not suitable for the building of the tower?
68. She answering said to me, How long will you continue foolish and without understanding, asking everything and discerning nothing?
69. They are such as have faith indeed, but have the riches of this present world besides. When therefore any tribulations arise, for the sake of their riches and traffic, they deny the Lord.
70. I answering, said to her, When therefore will they be profitable to the Lord? She said, When their riches in which they take delight will be cut away, then they will be profitable to the Lord for his building.
71. As a round stone's bulk cannot be made square unless it be cut away and part discarded, so they who are rich in this world, unless their riches be pared off, cannot be made profitable to the Lord.
72. Learn this from your own experience, for you also once were one of those stones: when you were rich you were unprofitable, but now you are profitable and fit for the life which you have undertaken;
73. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] As for the rest of the stones which you saw cast afar off from the tower, and running in the way, and tumbled out of the way into desert places, they are such as have believed indeed, but through their doubting have forsaken the true way, thinking they could find a better. But they wander and are miserable, going into desolate ways.
74. Then for those stones which fell into the fire and were burned, they are those who have finally departed from the living God; nor does it ever come into their hearts to repent, by reason of the affection which they bear to their lusts and wickedness which they commit.
75. And what are the rest which fell by the water, and could not roll into the water?
76. They are such as have heard the word and were willing to be baptized in the name of the Lord, but considering the great holiness which the truth requires, have withdrawn themselves and walked again after their wicked lusts.
77. Thus she finished the explication of the tower.
78. But I still being earnest, asked her, Is there repentance allowed to all those stones which are thus cast away and were not suitable to the building of the tower, and will they find a place in this tower?
79. They may repent, she said, but they cannot come into this tower. They will be placed in a much lower rank, and this after they will have been afflicted and fulfilled the days of their sins.
80. They will be removed because they have received the word of righteousness; if they will have a true sense in their hearts of what they have done amiss, then they will be delivered from their afflictions.
81. But if they will not have this sense in their hearts, they will not be saved because of the hardness of their hearts.
82. When I had finished asking her concerning all these things, she said to me, Will you see somewhat else? And being desirous of seeing it, I became very cheerful of countenance.
83. She therefore looking back upon me, and smiling a little, said to me, do you see seven women about the tower? Lady, I said, I see them.
84. This tower, she replied, is supported by them, according to the command of the Lord: hear therefore the effects of them.
85. The first of them, who holds fast with her hand, is called Faith, for by her the elect will be saved. The next, who is ready for action and looks valiant, is named Abstinence: she is the daughter of Faith.
86. Whoever therefore will follow her will be happy in all his life, because he will abstain from all evil works, believing that if he will restrain himself from all concupiscence, he will be the heir of eternal life. And what, Lady, I said, are the other five?
87. She replied, They are the daughters of one another. The first of them is called Simplicity, the next Innocence, the third Modesty, then Discipline, and the last of all is Charity. When therefore you will have fulfilled the works of their mother, you will be able to do all things.
88. Lady, I said, I would know what particular virtue every one of these has.
89. Hear then, she replied: they have equal virtues, and their virtues are knit together, and follow one another as they were born.
90. From Faith proceeds Abstinence; from Abstinence, Simplicity; from Simplicity, Innocence; from Innocence, Modesty; from Modesty, Discipline and Charity. Therefore the works of these are holy, and chaste, and right.
91. Whoever therefore will serve these and hold fast to their works, he will have his dwelling in the tower with the saints of God.
92. Then I asked her concerning the times, whether the end was now at hand.
93. But she cried out with a loud voice, saying, O foolish man! Do you not see the tower yet being built? When therefore the tower will be finished, and built, it will have an end; and indeed it will soon be accomplished.
94. But do not ask me any more. What has been said may suffice you and all the saints for the refreshment of your spirits. For these things have not been revealed to you only, but that you may make them manifest to all.
95. Therefore, O Hermas, after three days you must understand these words which I begin to speak to you, that you may speak them in the ears of the saints; so that when they will have heard and done them, they may be cleansed from their iniquities, and you together with them.
96. Hear me therefore, O my sons! I have brought you up in much simplicity, and innocence, and modesty for the love of God, which has dropped down upon you in righteousness, that you should be sanctified and justified from all sin and wickedness; but you will not cease from your evil doings.
97. Now therefore pay attention to me, and have peace one with another, and visit one with another, and receive one another, and do not enjoy the creatures of God alone.
98. Give freely to those in need. For some by too free feeding contract an infirmity in their flesh and do injury to their bodies; while the flesh of others, who do not have food, withers away, because they lack sufficient nourishment, and their bodies are consumed.
99. This intemperance is hurtful to you who have, and do not communicate to them that need. Prepare for the judgment that is about to come upon you.
100. You who are the more eminent, search out them who are hungry while the tower is yet unfinished. For when the tower will be finished, you will be willing to do good but will not find any place in it.
101. Beware, therefore, you who glory in your riches, for fear perhaps they groan who are in need, and their sighing come up to God, and you be shut out with your goods without the gate of the tower.
102. Behold I now warn you who are set over the church and love the highest seats, do not be like those who work mischief.
103. And they indeed carry about their poison in boxes, but you contain your poison and infection in your hearts, and will not purge them. Mix your sense with a pure heart, so you may find mercy with the Great King.
104. Take heed, my children, that your dissensions do not deprive you of your lives. How will you instruct the elect of God, when you yourselves need correction? Therefore admonish one another and be at peace among yourselves, that I, standing before your Father, may give an account of you to the Lord.
105. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] When she had ended talking with me, the six young men that built came and carried her to the tower; and four others took up the seat on which she had sat, and they also went away again to the tower. I did not see the faces of these, for their backs were towards me.
106. As she was going away, I asked her that she would reveal to me what concerned the three forms in which she had appeared to me.
107. But she answering said to me, Concerning these things you must ask some other, that they may be revealed to you.
108. Now, brethren, in the first vision the last year, she appeared to me exceeding old, and sitting in a chair.
109. In another vision, she indeed had a youthful face, but her flesh and hair were old; but she talked with me standing, and was more cheerful than the first time.
110. In the third vision, she was in all respects much younger, and appealing to the eye; only she had the hair of an aged person; yet she looked cheerful, and sat upon a seat.
111. I was therefore very sad concerning these things, until I might understand the vision.
112. Then I saw the same old woman in a vision of the night saying to me, All prayer needs humiliation. Fast, therefore, and you will learn what you ask from the Lord. I fasted therefore one day.
113. The same night a young man appeared to me and said, Why do you thus often desire revelations in your prayers? Take heed that by asking many things, you hurt not the body. Let these revelations suffice you.
114. Can you see more notable revelations than those you have already received?
115. I answered and said to him, Sir, I only ask this one thing upon the account of the three figures of the old woman who appeared to me, that the revelation may be complete.
116. He answered me, You are not without understanding, but your doubts make you so because you do not have your heart with the Lord.
117. I replied and said, But we shall learn these things more carefully from you.
118. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Hear then, he said, concerning the figures about which you inquire.
119. In the first vision she appeared to you in the shape of an old woman sitting in a chair, because your old spirit was decayed and without strength by reason of the debilitation and doubtfulness of your heart.
120. For as they who are old have no hope of renewing themselves, nor expect anything but their departure; so you, being weakened through your worldly affairs, gave yourself up to sloth, and did not cast away your solicitude from yourself upon the Lord; so your sense was confused, and you became broken by your sadness.
Compare "cast away your solicitude from yourself upon the Lord" with: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
121. But, Sir, I would know why she sat upon a chair?
122. He answered, Because everyone who is weak sits upon a chair because of his infirmity, so that his weakness may be upheld. Consider therefore the figure of the first vision.
123. In the second vision you saw her standing and having a youthful face and more cheerful than before, but her flesh and her hair were ancient. Hear, he said, this parable also.
124. When anyone grows old, he despairs of himself by reason of his infirmity and poverty, and expects nothing but the last day of his life.
125. But suddenly an inheritance is left to him, and he hears of it, and rises; and becoming cheerful, he puts on new strength. Now he no longer sits down, but stands, and is delivered from his former sorrow, and does not sit, but acts manfully.
126. So you, having heard the revelation which God revealed to you because God had compassion upon you and renewed your spirit, both laid aside your infirmities, and strength came to you, and you grew strong in the faith. And God, seeing your strength, rejoiced.
127. For this reason he showed you the building of the tower and will show other things to you, if you will have peace with all your heart among each other.
128. But in the third vision you saw her yet younger, fair and cheerful, and of a serene countenance.
129. For as if some good news comes to him who is sad, he immediately forgets his sadness and regards nothing else but the good news which he has heard, and for the rest he is comforted, and his spirit is renewed through the joy which he has received. Likewise you have been refreshed in your spirit by seeing these good things.
130. And when you saw her sitting upon a bench, it denotes a strong position, because a bench has four feet and stands strongly. And even the world itself is upheld by the four elements.
Meaning the four elements in ancient Greek thought: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
131. Therefore they who repent perfectly will be young, and they who turn from their sins with their whole heart will be established.
Compare with: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things]; so [that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." (Psalm 103:5); "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
132. And now that you have the revelation fully, ask no
more to have anything further revealed to you.
133. But if anything is to be revealed, it will be made plain to you.
Of the trial and tribulation that is about to come upon men.
1. I saw a vision, brethren, twenty days after the former
vision: a representation of the tribulation that is at hand. I
was walking in the field.
2. Now from the public way to the place where I went is about ten furlongs; it is a way very little frequented:
Ten furlongs is one and a fourth miles.
3. As I was walking alone, I entreated the Lord that he
would confirm the revelations he had showed me by his Holy
4. And would grant repentance to all his servants who had been offended, so his great and honorable name might be glorified, and because he thought me worthy to show his wonders, and, that I might honor him and give thanks to him.
5. And behold somewhat like a voice answered me, Doubt not, Hermas. I began to think and say within myself, Why should I doubt, seeing I am thus settled by the Lord and have seen such glorious things?
6. I had gone but a little farther, brethren, when behold I saw a dust rise up to heaven. I began to say within myself, Is there a drove of cattle coming, that raises such a dust?
7. It was about a furlong off from me. And behold I saw the dust rise more and more, so much that I began to suspect that there was something extraordinary in it.
8. The sun shone a little, and behold, I saw a great beast, as it were a whale, and fiery locusts came out of his mouth. The height of the beast was about a hundred feet, and he had a head like a large earthen vessel.
9. I began to weep, and to pray to the Lord that he would deliver me from it. Then I called to mind the words which I had heard: Doubt not, Hermas.
10. Therefore, brethren, putting on a divine faith, and remembering who it was that had taught me great things, I delivered myself bodily to the beast.
11. Now the beast came on in such a manner, as if it could have devoured a city at once.
12. I came near to it, and the beast extended its whole bulk upon the ground, and put forth nothing but its tongue, nor once moved itself till I had quite passed by it.
13. Now the beast had upon its head four colors: first black, then a red and bloody color, then a golden, and then a white.
14. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] After I had passed by it and was gone forward about thirty feet, behold there met me a certain virgin, well adorned as if she had just come out of her bridal chamber, all in white, having on white shoes, a veil down her face, and covered with shining hair.
15. Now I knew by my former visions that it was the Church, and thereupon I grew more cheerful. She saluted me saying, Hail, O Man! I returned the salutation, saying, Lady, Hail!
16. She answering said to me, Did nothing meet you, O man? I replied, Lady, there met me such a beast as seemed able to devour a whole people, but by the power of God and through his singular mercy, I escaped it.
17. You escaped it well, she said, because you cast your whole care upon God, and opened your heart to him, believing that you could be safe only by his great and honorable name.
18. For this reason the Lord sent his angel who is over the beast, whose name is Hegrin, and stopped his mouth, that he should not devour you. You have escaped a great trial through your faith, and because you did not doubt for such a terrible beast.
19. Therefore go and relate to the elect of God the great things that he has done for you. And you will say to them that this beast is the figure of the trial that is about to come.
20. If therefore you will have prepared yourselves, you may escape it, if your heart be pure and without spot, and if you will serve God all the rest of your days without complaint.
21. Cast all your cares upon the Lord, and he will govern them. Believe in God, you doubtful, because he can do all things; he can both turn away his wrath from you, and send you help and security.
22. Woe to the doubtful, to those who will hear these words and will despise them: it would be better for them if they had not been born.
23. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] Then I asked her concerning the four colors which the beast had upon its head. But she answered me saying, Again you are curious in asking concerning these things. But I said to her, Lady, show me what they are.
24. Hear, she said: The black which you saw denotes the world in which you dwell. The fiery and bloody color signifies that this age must be destroyed by fire and blood.
25. You who have escaped out of it are the golden part. For as gold is made profitable by fire, so you who dwell among the men of this world are also to be tried in a similar manner.
Compare with: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:12, 13)
26. They therefore who will be verified by them will be purged and will endure to the end. And as gold by this trial is cleansed and loses its dross, so you also will cast away all sorrow and trouble, and be made pure for the building of the tower.
Compare with: "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin." (Isaiah 1:25)
27. But the white color denotes a time of the world that is to come, in which the elect of God will dwell because the elect of God will be pure and without blemish until life eternal.
Compare with: "...which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment." (Revelation 3:4, 5); "...what are these which are arrayed in white robes?? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:13, 14)
28. Therefore you must not cease to speak these things in
the ears of the saints. Here you have the figure of the great
tribulation about to come, which, if you please, will be nothing
to you. Keep therefore in mind the things I have said to you.
29. When she had spoken this, she departed. I did not see where she went, but suddenly I heard a noise, and I turned back afraid, for I thought the beast was coming toward me.
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