01 February 2014

The Shepherd of Hermas

I. 
First of all believe that God is One and that He created all things and organised them, and out of what did not exist made all things but Alone is Himself uncontained. Trust Him therefore and fear Him, and, fearing Him, be self-controlled. Keep this command and you will cast away from yourself all wickedness, put on every virtue of uprightness, and you will live to God if you keep this commandment.

II.
Be sincere and simple minded. 
Speak evil of nobody and do not enjoy hearing anyone do so. 
Do right and give generously.

III.
Love truth.

IV.
Observe purity. Be pure not only in action but in thinking.

V.
Be patient and understanding. The Lord dwells in patience, but the devil in ill-temper.

VI.
Trust what is right, and do not trust what is wrong. Uprightness has a straight and level way, but wrongdoing a crooked one. There are two of angels with men, one of uprightness and one of wickedness.

VII.
Fear the Lord and keep God's commands.

VIII.
Be self-controlled about what is wrong and do no wrong.
But do not be self-controlled about what is right, and do what is right. Restrain yourself from all evil and follow the right path.

IX.
Cast off doubt from yourself. Ask the Lord without doubting, and you will receive everything. God is not like men who hold grudges, but He is forgiving and feels pity for whom He had made. So cleanse your heart of all vanities of this world.

X.
Put sadness away from you, for it is the sister of doubt and bad temper.

XI. 
A man who consults a false prophet is an idolater and void of truth.
Hermas asked the angel how to distinguish a true prophet from a false. The angel replied that in the first place the man who has made the spirit that is from above is gentle, quiet, and humble. He abstains from all wickedness and the futile desires of the world... but speaks when God wishes him to speak... but all power belongs to the Lord.

A false prophet exalts himself and wants to have a front seat. He is bold, shameless, and talkative, lives in great luxury and accepts pay for his prophesying. Can a divine spirit accept pay for prophesying? The false prophet avoids the upright men and attaches himself to those who are doubtful and vain; and he says everything to them falsely in line with their desires. An empty vessel put among empty ones does not break, but they harmonise with one another. Take a stone and throw it up to heaven; see if you can reach it. On the other hand, take the power that comes from above. Hail is a very small grain, yet when it falls on a man's head what pain it causes! Or again, take a drop of water which falls on the ground from the roof and makes a hole in the stone. So the Divine Power that comes from above is mighty.

XII.
Cast off from yourself every evil desire and clothe yourself in good and holy desires. God created the world for man's sake and made his whole creation subject to man, and gave him complete authority to have dominion over all things under heaven. A man who has the Lord in his heart is able to master all things.
Behave as a slave of God. The devil cannot get control of the slaves of God. The devil can wrestle, but cannot throw them.