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THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS First Vision I. ApPEARANCE OF THE FIRST WOMAN DHE PERSON who brought me up sold me to one Rhode in Rome. After many years 1 met her again and began to love her as a sister. 2 Some time later 1 saw her bathing in the Tiber and gave her my hand to lead her out of the river. At the sight of her beauty 1 thought to myself and said: 'How happy 1 would be if 1 had a wife of such beauty and character!' My reflections went thus far and no further. 3 A little later, on my way to Cumae, while praising the magnitude , splendor, and power of God's creatures, 1 fell into a trance as 1 walked. And a spirit seized me and carried me through a pathless region where no man could make his way, because it was steep and broken into ridges by the waters. So, when 1 had crossed that river and came to level ground, 1 knelt down and began praying to the Lord and confessing my sins. 4 During my prayers I saw the heavens open and that woman of whom 1 was enamored saluting me with the words: 'Greetings, Hermas!' 5 With my eyes fixed on her, I said: 'Lady, what are you doing here?' Her answer was: 'I have been taken up to convict you of your sins before the Lord.' 6 To this 1 said: 'Are you my accuser at this moment?' 'No' she said, 'but you must listen to what I am about to tell you. God who dwells in Heaven,l the Creator of beings out of nothing, He who increases2 and multiplies them for the sake of His holy Church, is angry with you for your of1 Ps. 2.4; 122.1; Tob. 5.17. 2 Gen. 1.28; 8.17. 235 236 THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS fenses against me.' 7 For answer I said: 'Offenses against you! How so? Have I eyer made a coarse remark to you? Have I not always regarded you as a goddess? Did I not always show you the respect due to a sister? Lady, why do you make these false charges of wickedness and uncleanness against me?' 8 With a laugh she said: 'In your heart there has arisen the desire of evil. Surely, you think it evil that an evil desire arises in the heart of a good man. It is a sin,' she said, 'yes, a great sin. For the good man aims at justice. And in this aim at justice his good name in Heaven is secure and he keeps the Lord propitious in every action of his, while those who pursue evil draw death and captivity on themselves, in particular those that reach out for this world and glory in their riches and do not hold fast to the blessings to come. 9 Their souls will be sorry, for they have no hope. Instead, they have abandoned their [true] selves and their [real] life. As for you, pray God and He will heaP you of your sins, yours, your whole household's, and those of all the saints.' II. ApPEARA~CE OF THE SECO~D WOMAN After these words of hers the heavens closed, and I sat shuddering and grieving in my whole person. I said to myself : 'If even this sin is down on the record against me, how can I be saved? How can I win God's forgiveness for out-andout sin? With what prayer shall I ask God's indulgence?' 2 As I was weighing and debating this with myself, I saw before me a great white chair of snow-white wool. Then there came a lady advanced in years, in an exceedingly brilliant garment, with a book in her hand. She was sitting alone and saluted me: 'Greetings, Hermas!' In grief and tears I said to her: 'Greetings, lady!' 3 She then said: 'Why this gloom, Hermas? 3 Deut. 30.30; Jer. 3.32. VISIONS 237 You are always so patient and slow to anger, always merry; why so downcast in looks and woe-begone?' My answer was: 'Because a very excellent lady declares that I sinned against her.' 4 Then she said: 'This does not refer at all to the servant of God. However, the thought concerning her did really enter your heart. For God's servants, such a thouEht induces to sin. It is a shockingly evil purpose, you know, so far...


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