In reply she said to me: "With regard to them, you must ask another to reveal their meaning to you. In the second vision her face was youthful, but her skin and hair betokened age, and she stood while she spoke to me. She was also more joyful than on the first occasion.
But in the third vision she was entirely youthful and exquisitely beautiful, except only that she had the hair of an old woman; but her face beamed with joy, and she sat on a seat. Now I was exceeding sad in regard to these appearances, for I longed much to know what the visions meant.
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Then I see the old woman in a vision of the night saying unto me: "Every prayer should be accompanied with humility: fast, therefore, and you will obtain from the Lord what you beg. That very night there appeared to me a young man, who said, "Why do you frequently ask revelations in prayer? Take heed lest by asking many things you injure your flesh: be content 17 with these revelations. Will you be able to see greater' revelations than those which you have seen?
But your doubts make you senseless, because you have not your hearts turned towards the Lord. Why in the first vision did she appear to you as an old woman seated on a chair? Because your spirit is now old and withered up, and has lost its power in consequence of your infirmities and doubts.
For, like elderly men who have no hope of renewing their strength, and expect nothing but their last sleep, so you, weakened by worldly occupations, have given yourselves up to sloth, and have not cast your cares upon the Lord. Your spirit therefore is broken, and you have grown old in your sorrows. Hear," said he, "this parable also. When one becomes somewhat old, he despairs of himself on account of his weakness and poverty, and looks forward to nothing but the last day of his life.
Then suddenly an inheritance is left him: and hearing of this, he rises up, and becoming exceeding joyful, he puts on strength. And now he no longer reclines, but stands up; and his spirit, already destroyed by his previous actions, is renewed, and he no longer sits, but acts with vigour.
So happened it with you on hearing the revelation which God gave you. For the Lord had compassion on you, and renewed your spirit, and ye laid aside your infirmities. Vigour arose within you, and ye grew strong in faith; and the Lord, seeing your strength, rejoiced. On this account He showed you the building of the tower; and He will show you other things, if you continue at peace with each other with all your heart.
The Shepherd of Hermas - Wikipedia
For, just as when some good news comes suddenly to one who is sad, immediately he forgets his former sorrows, and looks for nothing else than the good news which he has heard, and for the future is made strong for good, and his spirit is renewed on account of the joy which he has received; so ye also have received the renewal of your spirits by seeing these good things. As to your seeing her sitting on a seat, that means that her position is one of strength, for a seat has four feet and stands firmly. For the world also is kept together by means of four elements.
Those, therefore, who repent completely and with the whole heart, will become young and firmly established. You now have the revelation completely given you?
Make no further demands for revelations. If anything ought to be revealed, it will be revealed to you. Twenty days after the former vision I saw another vision, brethren --a representation of the tribulation that is to come. I was going to a country house along the Campanian road. Now the house lay about ten furlongs from the public road.
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The district is one rarely traversed. And as I walked alone, I prayed the Lord to complete the revelations which He had made to me through His holy Church, that He might strengthen me, and give repentance to all His servants who were going astray, that His great and glorious name might be glorified because He vouchsafed to show me His marvels.
And while I was glorifying Him and giving Him thanks, a voice, as it were, answered me, "Doubt not, Hermas;" and I began to think with myself, and to say, "What reason have I to doubt--I who have been established by the Lord, and who have seen such glorious sights? I see dust rising even to the heavens. I began to say to myself, "Are cattle approaching and raising the dust? And, 18 lo! I see the dust rising more and more, so that I imagined that it was something sent from God.
But the sun now shone out a little, and, lo! I see a mighty beast like a whale, and out of its mouth fiery locusts proceeded. But the size of that beast was about a hundred feet, and it had a head like an urn. I began to weep, and to call on the Lord to rescue me from it. Now that beast came on with such noise and force, that it could itself have destroyed a city.
I came near it, and the monstrous beast stretched itself out on the ground, and showed nothing but its tongue, and did not stir at all until I had passed by it. Now the beast had four colours on its head-black, then fiery and bloody, then golden, and lastly white. Now after I had passed by the wild beast, and had moved forward about thirty feet, lo! I knew from my former visions that this was the Church, and I became more joyful. She saluted me, and said, "Hail, O man! On this account the Lord has sent His angel, who has rule over the beasts, and whose name is Thegri, and has shut up its mouth, so that it cannot tear you.
You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly.
Cast your cares upon the Lord, and He will direct them.
Shepherd of Hermas
Trust the Lord, ye who doubt, for He is all-powerful, and can turn His anger away from you, and send scourges" on the doubters. Woe to those who hear these words, and despise them: better were it for them not to have been born.
I asked her about the four colours which the beast had on his head. And she answered, and said to me, "Again you are inquisitive in regard to such matters. For as gold is tested by fire, and thus becomes useful, so are you tested who dwell in it. Those, therefore, who continue stedfast, and are put through the fire, will be purified by means of it. For as gold casts away its dross, so also will ye cast away all sadness and straitness, and will be made pure so as to fit into the building of the tower.
But the white part is the age that is to come, in which the elect of God will dwell, since those elected by God to eternal life will be spotless and pure. Wherefore cease not speaking these things into the ears of the saints. This then is the type of the great tribulation that is to come.
If ye wish it, it will be nothing. Remember those things which were written down before. But I saw not into what place she retired. There was a noise, however, and I turned round in alarm, thinking that that beast was coming. After I had been praying at home, and had sat down on my couch, there entered a man of glorious aspect, dressed like a shepherd, with a white goat's skin, a wallet on his shoulders, and a rod in his hand, and saluted me. I returned his salutation. And straightway he sat down beside me, and said to me, "I have been sent by a most venerable angel to dwell with you the remaining days of your life.
For I know him to whom I have been entrusted. And straightway I became confused, and fear took hold of me, and I was overpowered with deep sorrow that I had answered him so wickedly and foolishly. But he answered, and said to me, "Do not be confounded, but receive strength from the commandments which I am going to give you. For I have been sent," said he, "to show you again all the things which you saw before, especially those of them which are useful to you.
The Shepherd of Hermas (Book III)
First of all, then, write down my commandments and similitudes, and you will write the other things as I shall show you. For this purpose," said he, "I command you to write down the commandments and similitudes first, that you may read them easily, and be able to keep them. If then, when you have heard these, ye keep them and walk in them, and practise them with pure minds, you will receive from the Lord all that He has promised to you. But if, after you have heard them, ye do not repent, but continue to add to your sins, then shall ye receive from the Lord the opposite things.
All these words did the shepherd, even the angel of repentance, command me to write. He alone is able to contain the whole, but Himself cannot be contained. Have faith therefore in Him, and fear Him; and fearing Him, exercise self-control. Keep these commands, and you will cast away from you all wickedness, and put on the strength of righteousness, and live to God, if you keep this commandment.
He said to me, "Be simple and guileless, and you will be as the children who know not the wickedness that ruins the life of men.