Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
THE PASTOR OF HERMAS: Similitude Ninth. The Great Mysteries in the Building of the Militant and Triumphant Church.
The Great Mysteries in the Building of the Militant and Triumphant Church.
After I had written down the commandments and similitudes of the Shepherd, the angel of repentance, he came to me and said, “I wish to explain to you what the Holy Spirit 345 that spake with you in the form of the Church showed you, for that Spirit is the Son of God. For, as you were somewhat weak in the flesh, it was not explained to you by the angel. When, however, you were strengthened by the Spirit, and your strength was increased, so that you were able to see the angel also, then accordingly was the building of the tower shown you by the Church. In a noble and solemn manner did you see everything as if shown you by a virgin; but now you see [them] through the same Spirit as if shown by an angel. You must, however, learn everything from me with greater accuracy. For I was sent for this purpose by the glorious angel to dwell in your house, that you might see all things with power, entertaining no fear, even as it was before.” And he led me away into Arcadia, to a round hill; 346 and he placed me on the top of the hill, and showed me a large plain, and round about the plain twelve mountains, all having different forms. The first was black as soot; and the second bare, without grass; and the third full of thorns and thistles; and the fourth with grass half-withered, the upper parts of the plants green, and the parts about the roots withered; and some of the grasses, when the sun scorched them, became withered. And the fifth mountain had green grass, and was ragged. And the sixth mountain was quite full of clefts, some small and others large; and the clefts were grassy, but the plants were not very vigorous, but rather, as it were, decayed. The seventh mountain, again, had cheerful pastures, and the whole mountain was blooming, and every kind of cattle and birds were feeding upon that mountain; and the more the cattle and the birds ate, the more the grass of that mountain flourished. And the eighth mountain was full of fountains, and every kind of the Lords creatures drank of the fountains of that mountain. But the ninth mountain [had no water at all, and was wholly a desert, and had within it deadly serpents, which destroy men. And the tenth mountain 347 ] had very large trees, and was completely shaded, and under the shadow of the trees sheep lay resting and ruminating. And the eleventh mountain was very thickly wooded, and those trees were productive, being adorned with various sorts of fruits, so that any one seeing them would desire to eat of their fruits. The twelfth mountain, again, was wholly white, and its aspect was cheerful, and the mountain in itself was very beautiful.
And in the middle of the plain he showed me a large white rock that had arisen out of the plain. And the rock was more lofty than the mountains, rectangular in shape, so as to be capable of containing the whole world: and that rock was old, having a gate cut out of it; and the cutting out of the gate seemed to me as if recently done. And the gate glittered to such a degree under the sunbeams, that I marvelled at the splendour of the gate; 348 and round about the gate were standing twelve virgins. The four who stood at the corners seemed to me more distinguished than the others—they were all, however, distinguished—and they were standing at the four parts of the gate; two virgins between each part. And they were clothed with linen tunics, and gracefully girded, having their right shoulders exposed, as if about to bear some burden. Thus they stood ready; for they were exceedingly cheerful and eager. After I had seen these things, I marvelled in myself, because I was beholding great and glorious sights. And again I was perplexed about the virgins, because, although so delicate, they were standing courageously, as if about to carry the whole heavens. And the Shepherd said to me “Why are you reasoning in yourself, and perplexing your mind, and distressing yourself? for the things which you cannot understand, do not attempt to comprehend, as if you were wise; but ask the Lord, that you may receive understanding and know them. You cannot see what is behind you, but you see what is before. Whatever, then, you cannot see, let alone, and do not torment yourself about it: but what you see, make yourself master of it, and do not waste your labour about other things; and I will explain to you everything that I show you. Look therefore, on the things that remain.”
I saw six men come, tall, and distinguished, and similar in appearance, and they summoned a multitude of men. And they who came were also tall men, and handsome, and powerful; and the six men commanded them to build a tower 349 above the rock. And great was the noise of those men who came to build the tower, as they ran hither and thither around the gate. And the virgins who stood around the gate told the men to hasten to build the tower. Now the virgins had spread out their hands, as if about to receive something from the men. And the six men commanded stones to ascend out of a certain pit, and to go to the building of the tower. And there went up ten shining rectangular stones, not hewn in a quarry. And the six men called the virgins, and bade them carry all the stones that were intended for the building, and to pass through the gate, and give them to the men who were about to build the tower. And the virgins put upon one another the ten first stones which had ascended from the pit, and carried them together, each stone by itself.
And as they stood together around the gate, those who seemed to be strong carried them, and they stooped down under the corners of the stone; and the others stooped down under the sides of the stones. And in this way they carried all the stones. 350 And they carried them through the gate as they were commanded, and gave them to the men for the tower; and they took the stones and proceeded with the building. Now the tower was built upon the great rock, and above the gate. Those ten stones were prepared as the foundation for the building of the tower. And the rock and gate were the support of the whole of the tower. And after the ten stones other twenty [five] came up out of the pit, and these were fitted into the building of the tower, being carried by the virgins as before. And after these ascended thirty-five. And these in like manner were fitted into the tower. And after these other forty stones came up; and all these were cast into the building of the tower, [and there were four rows in the foundation of the tower, 351 ] and they ceased ascending from the pit. And the builders also ceased for a little. And again the six men commanded the multitude of the crowd to bear stones from the mountains for the building of the tower. They were accordingly brought from all the mountains of various colours, and being hewn by the men were given to the virgins; and the virgins carried them through the gate, and gave them for the building of the tower. And when the stones of various colours were placed in the building, they all became white alike, and lost their different colours. And certain stones were given by the men for the building, and these did not become shining; but as they were placed, such also were they found to remain: for they were not given by the virgins, nor carried through the gate. These stones, therefore, were not in keeping with the others in the building of the tower. And the six men, seeing these unsuitable stones in the building, commanded them to be taken away, and to be carried away down to their own place whence they had been taken; [and being removed one by one, they were laid aside; and] they say to the men who brought the stones, “Do not ye bring any stones at all for the building, but lay them down beside the tower, that the virgins may carry them through the gate, and may give them for the building. For unless,” they said, “they be carried through the gate by the hands of the virgins, they cannot change their colours: do not toil, therefore,” they said, “to no purpose.”
And on that day the building was finished, but the tower was not completed; for additional building was again about to be added, and there was a cessation in the building. And the six men commanded the builders all to withdraw a little distance, and to rest, but enjoined the virgins not to withdraw from the tower; and it seemed to me that the virgins had been left to guard the tower. Now after all had withdrawn, and were resting themselves, I said to the Shepherd, “What is the reason that the building of the tower was not finished?” “The tower,” he answered, “cannot be finished just yet, until the Lord of it come and examine the building, in p. 45 order that, if any of the stones be found to be decayed, he may change them: for the tower is built according to his pleasure.” “I would like to know, sir,” I said, “what is the meaning of the building of this tower, and what the rock and gate, and the mountains, and the virgins mean, and the stones that ascended from the pit, and were not hewn, but came as they were to the building. Why, in the first place, were ten stones placed in the foundation, then twenty-five, then thirty-five, then forty? and I wish also to know about the stones that went to the building, and were again taken out and returned to their own place? On all these points put my mind at rest, sir, and explain them to me.” “If you are not found to be curious about trifles,” he replied, “you shall know everything. For after a few days [we shall come hither, and you will see the other things that happen to this tower, and will know accurately all the similitudes.” After a few days 352 ] we came to the place where we sat down. And he said to me, “Let us go to the tower; for the master of the tower is coming to examine it.” And we came to the tower, and there was no one at all near it, save the virgins only. And the Shepherd asked the virgins if perchance the master of the tower had come; and they replied that he was about to come 353 to examine the building.
And, behold, after a little I see an array of many men coming, and in the midst of them one man 354 of so remarkable a size as to overtop the tower. And the six men who had worked upon the building were with him, and many other honourable men were around him. And the virgins who kept the tower ran forward and kissed him, and began to walk near him around the tower. And that man examined the building carefully, feeling every stone separately; and holding a rod in his hand, he struck every stone in the building three times. And when he struck them, some of them became black as soot, and some appeared as if covered with scabs, and some cracked, and some mutilated, and some neither white nor black, and some rough and not in keeping with the other stones, and some having [very many] stains: such were the varieties of decayed stones that were found in the building. He ordered all these to be taken out of the tower, and to be laid down beside it, and other stones to be brought and put in their stead. [And the builders asked him from what mountain he wished them to be brought and put in their place. 355 ] And he did not command them to be brought from the mountains, [but he bade them be brought from a certain plain which was near at hand. 356 ] And the plain was dug up, and shining rectangular stones were found, and some also of a round shape; and all the stones which were in that plain were brought, and carried through the gate by the virgins. And the rectangular stones were hewn, and put in place of those that were taken away; but the rounded stones were not put into the building, because they were hard to hew, and appeared to yield slowly to the chisel; they were deposited, however, beside the tower, as if intended to be hewn and used in the building, for they were exceedingly brilliant.
The glorious man, the lord of the whole tower, having accordingly finished these alterations, called to him the Shepherd, and delivered to him all the stones that were lying beside the tower, that had been rejected from the building, and said to him, “Carefully clean all these stones, and put aside such for the building of the tower as may harmonize with the others; and those that do not, throw far away from the tower.” [Having given these orders to the Shepherd, he departed from the tower 357 ], with all those with whom he had come. Now the virgins were standing around the tower, keeping it. I said again to the Shepherd, “Can these stones return to the building of the tower, after being rejected?” He answered me, and said, “Do you see these stones?” “I see them, sir,” I replied. “The greater part of these stones,” he said, “I will hew, and put into the building, and they will harmonize with the others.” “How, sir,” I said, “can they, after being cut all round about, fill up the same space?” He answered, “Those that shall be found small will be thrown into the middle of the building, and those that are larger will be placed on the outside, and they will hold them together.” Having spoken these words, he said to me, “Let us go, and after two days let us come and clean these stones, and cast them into the building; for all things around the tower must be cleaned, lest the Master come suddenly 358 and find the places about the tower dirty, and be displeased, and these stones be not returned for the building of the tower, and I also shall seem to be neglectful towards the Master.” And after two days we came to the tower, and he said to me, “Let us examine all the stones, and ascertain those which may return to the building.” I said to him, “Sir, let us examine them!”p. 46
And beginning, we first examined the black stones. And such as they had been taken out of the building, were they found to remain; and the Shepherd ordered them to be removed out of the tower, and to be placed apart. Next he examined those that had scabs; and he took and hewed many of these, and commanded the virgins to take them up and cast them into the building. And the virgins lifted them up, and put them in the middle of the building of the tower. And the rest he ordered to be laid down beside the black ones; for these, too, were found to be black. He next examined those that had cracks; and he hewed many of these, and commanded them to be carried by the virgins to the building: and they were placed on the outside, because they were found to be sounder than the others; but the rest, on account of the multitude of the cracks, could not be hewn, and for this reason, therefore, they were rejected from the building of the tower. He next examined the chipped stones, and many amongst these were found to be black, and some to have great cracks. And these also he commanded to be laid down along with those which had been rejected. But the remainder, after being cleaned and hewn, he commanded to be placed in the building. And the virgins took them up, and fitted them into the middle of the building of the tower, for they were somewhat weak. He next examined those that were half white and half black, and many of them were found to be black. And he commanded these also to be taken away along with those which had been rejected. And the rest were all taken away by the virgins; for, being white, they were fitted by the virgins themselves into the building. And they were placed upon the outside, because they were found to be sound, so as to be able to support those which were placed in the middle, for no part of them at all was chipped. He next examined those that were rough and hard; and a few of them were rejected because they could not be hewn, as they were found exceedingly hard. But the rest of them were hewn, and carried by the virgins, and fitted into the middle of the building of the tower; for they were somewhat weak. He next examined those that had stains; and of these a very few were black, and were thrown aside with the others; but the greater part were found to be bright, and these were fitted by the virgins into the building, but on account of their strength were placed on the outside.
He next came to examine the white and rounded stones, and said to me, “What are we to do with these stones?” “How do I know, sir?” I replied. “Have you no intentions regarding them?” “Sir,” I answered, “I am not acquainted with this art, neither am I a stone-cutter, nor can I tell.” “Do you not see,” he said, “that they are exceedingly round? and if I wish to make them rectangular, a large portion of them must be cut away; for some of them must of necessity be put into the building.” “If therefore,” I said, “they must, why do you torment yourself, and not at once choose for the building those which you prefer, and fit them into it?” He selected the larger ones among them, and the shining ones, and hewed them; and the virgins carried and fitted them into the outside parts of the building. And the rest which remained over were carried away, and laid down on the plain from which they were brought. They were not, however, rejected, “because,” he said, “there remains yet a little addition to be built to the tower. And the lord of this tower wishes all the stones to be fitted into the building, because they are exceedingly bright.” And twelve women were called, very beautiful in form, clothed in black, and with dishevelled hair. And these women seemed to me to be fierce. But the Shepherd commanded them to lift the stones that were rejected from the building, and to carry them away to the mountains from which they had been brought. And they were merry, and carried away all the stones, and put them in the place whence they had been taken. Now after all the stones were removed, and there was no longer a single one lying around the tower, he said, “Let us go round the tower and see, lest there be any defect in it.” So I went round the tower along with him. And the Shepherd, seeing that the tower was beautifully built, rejoiced exceedingly; for the tower was built in such a way, that, on seeing it, I coveted the building of it, for it was constructed as if built of one stone, without a single joining. And the stone seemed as if hewn out of the rock; having to me the appearance of a monolith.
And as I walked along with him, I was full of joy, beholding so many excellent things. And the Shepherd said to me, “Go and bring unslacked lime and fine-baked clay, that I may fill up the forms of the stones that were taken and thrown into the building; for everything about the tower must be smooth.” And I did as he commanded me, and brought it to him. “Assist me,” he said, “and the work will soon be finished.” He accordingly filled up the forms of the stones that were returned to the building, and commanded the places around the tower to be swept and to be cleaned; and the virgins p. 47 took brooms and swept the place, and carried all the dirt out of the tower, and brought water, and the ground around the tower became cheerful and very beautiful. Says the Shepherd to me, “Everything has been cleared away; if the lord of the tower come to inspect it, he can have no fault to find with us.” Having spoken these words, he wished to depart; but I laid hold of him by the wallet, and began to adjure him by the Lord that he would explain what he had showed me. He said to me, “I must rest a little, and then I shall explain to you everything; wait for me here until I return.” I said to him, “Sir, what can I do here alone?” “You are not alone,” he said, “for these virgins are with you.” “Give me in charge to them, then,” I replied. The Shepherd called them to him, and said to them, “I entrust him to you until I come,” and went away. And I was alone with the virgins; and they were rather merry, but were friendly to me, especially the four more distinguished of them.
The virgins said to me, “The Shepherd does not come here to-day.” “What, then,” said I, “am I to do?” They replied, “Wait for him until he comes; and if he comes he will converse with you, and if he does not come you will remain here with us until he does come.” I said to them, “I will wait for him until it is late; and if he does not arrive, I will go away into the house, and come back early in the morning.” And they answered and said to me, “You were entrusted to us; you cannot go away from us.” “Where, then,” I said, “am I to remain?” “You will sleep with us,” they replied, “as a brother, and not as a husband: for you are our brother, and for the time to come we intend to abide with you, for we love you exceedingly!” But I was ashamed to remain with them. And she who seemed to be the first among them began to kiss me. [And the others seeing her kissing me, began also to kiss me], and to lead me round the tower, and to play with me. 359 And I, too, became like a young man, and began to play with them: for some of them formed a chorus, and others danced, and others sang; and I, keeping silence, walked with them around the tower, and was merry with them. And when it grew late I wished to go into the house; and they would not let me, but detained me. So I remained with them during the night, and slept beside the tower. Now the virgins spread their linen tunics on the ground, and made me lie down in the midst of them; and they did nothing at all but pray; and I without ceasing prayed with them, and not less than they. And the virgins rejoiced because I thus prayed. And I remained there with the virgins until the next day at the second hour. Then the Shepherd returned, and said to the virgins, “Did you offer him any insult?” “Ask him,” they said. I said to him, “Sir, I was delighted that I remained with them.” “On what,” he asked, “did you sup?” “I supped, sir,” I replied, “on the words of the Lord the whole night.” “Did they receive you well?” he inquired. “Yes, sir,” I answered. “Now,” he said, “what do you wish to hear first?” “I wish to hear in the order,” I said, “in which you showed me from the beginning. I beg of you, sir, that as I shall ask you, so also you will give me the explanation.” “As you wish,” he replied, “so also will I explain to you, and will conceal nothing at all from you.”
“First of all, sir,” I said, “explain this to me: What is the meaning of the rock and the gate?” “This rock,” he answered, “and this gate are the Son of God.” “How, sir?” I said; “the rock is old, and the gate is new.” “Listen,” he said, “and understand, O ignorant man. The Son of God is older than all His creatures, so that He was a fellow-councillor with the Father in His work of creation: 360 for this reason is He old.” “And why is the gate new, sir?” I said. “Because,” he answered, “He became manifest 361 in the last days of the dispensation: for this reason the gate was made new, that they who are to be saved by it might enter into the kingdom of God. You saw,” he said, “that those stones which came in through the gate were used for the building of the tower, and that those which did not come, were again thrown back to their own place?” “I saw, sir,” I replied. “In like manner,” he continued, “no one shall enter into the kingdom of God unless he receive His holy name. For if you desire to enter into a city, and that city is surrounded by a wall, and has but one gate, can you enter into that city save through the gate which it has?” “Why, how can it be otherwise, sir?” I said. “If, then, you cannot enter p. 48 into the city except through its gate, so, in like manner, a man cannot otherwise enter into the kingdom of God than by the name of His beloved Son. You saw,” he added, “the multitude who were building the tower?” “I saw them, sir,” I said. “Those,” he said, “are all glorious angels, and by them accordingly is the Lord surrounded. And the gate is the Son of God. This is the one entrance to the Lord. In no other way, then, shall any one enter in to Him except through His Son. You saw,” he continued, “the six men, and the tall and glorious man in the midst of them, who walked round the tower, and rejected the stones from the building?” “I saw him, sir,” I answered. “The glorious man,” he said, “is the Son of God, and those six glorious angels are those who support Him on the right hand and on the left. None of these glorious angels,” he continued, “will enter in unto God apart from Him. Whosoever does not receive His 362 name, shall not enter into the kingdom of God.”
“And the tower,” I asked, “what does it mean?” “This tower,” he replied, “is the Church.” “And these virgins, who are they?” “They are holy spirits, and men cannot otherwise be found in the kingdom of God unless these have put their clothing upon them: for if you receive the name only, and do not receive from them the clothing, they are of no advantage to you. For these virgins are the powers of the Son of God. If you bear His name but possess not His power, it will be in vain that you bear His name. Those stones,” he continued, “which you saw rejected bore His name, but did not put on the clothing of the virgins.” “Of what nature is their clothing, sir?” I asked. “Their very names,” he said, “are their clothing. Every one who bears the name of the Son of God, ought to bear the names also of these; for the Son Himself bears the names 363 of these virgins. As many stones,” he continued, “as you saw [come into the building of the tower through the hands 364 ] of these virgins, and remaining, have been clothed with their strength. For this reason you see that the tower became of one stone with the rock. So also they who have believed on the Lord 365 through His Son, and are clothed with these spirits, shall become one spirit, one body, and the colour of their garments shall be one. And the dwelling of such as bear the names of the virgins is in the tower.” “Those stones, sir, that were rejected,” I inquired, “on what account were they rejected? for they passed through the gate, and were placed by the hands of the virgins in the building of the tower.” “Since you take an interest in everything,” he replied, “and examine minutely, hear about the stones that were rejected. These all,” he said, “received the name of God, and they received also the strength of these virgins. Having received, then, these spirits, they were made strong, and were with the servants of God; and theirs was one spirit, and one body, and one clothing. For they were of the same mind, and wrought righteousness. After a certain time, however, they were persuaded by the women whom you saw clothed in black, and having their shoulders exposed and their hair dishevelled, and beautiful in appearance. Having seen these women, they desired to have them, and clothed themselves with their strength, and put off the strength of the virgins. These, accordingly, were rejected from the house of God, and were given over to these women. But they who were not deceived by the beauty of these women remained in the house of God. You have,” he said, “the explanation of those who were rejected.”
“What, then, sir,” I said, “if these men, being such as they are, repent and put away their desires after these women, and return again to the virgins, and walk in their strength and in their works, shall they not enter into the house of God?” “They shall enter in,” he said, “if they put away the works of these women, and put on again the strength of the virgins, and walk in their works. For on this account was there a cessation in the building, in order that, if these repent, they may depart into the building of the tower. But if they do not repent, then others will come in their place, and these at the end will be cast out. For all these things I gave thanks to the Lord, because He had pity on all that call upon His name; and sent the angel of repentance to us who sinned against Him, and renewed our spirit; and when we were already destroyed, and had no hope of life, He restored us to newness of life.” “Now, sir,” I continued, “show me why the tower was not built upon the ground, but upon the rock and upon the gate.” “Are you still,” he said, “without sense and understanding?” “I must, sir,” I said, “ask you of all things, because I am wholly unable to understand them; for all these things are great and glorious, and difficult for man to understand.” “Listen,” he said: “the name of the Son of God is great, and cannot be contained, and supports the whole world. 366 If, then, the whole creation is supported by the p. 49 Son of God, what think ye of those who are called by Him, and bear the name of the Son of God, and walk in His commandments? do you see what kind of persons He supports? Those who bear His name with their whole heart. He Himself, accordingly, became a foundation 367 to them, and supports them with joy, because they are not ashamed to bear His name.”
Chap. XV. 368
“Explain to me, sir,” I said, “the names of these virgins, and of those women who were clothed in black raiment.” “Hear,” he said, “the names of the stronger virgins who stood at the corners. The first is Faith, 369 the second Continence, the third Power, the fourth Patience. And the others standing in the midst of these have the following names: Simplicity, Innocence, Purity, Cheerfulness, Truth, Understanding, Harmony, Love. He who bears these names and that of the Son of God will be able to enter into the kingdom of God. Hear, also,” he continued, “the names of the women who had the black garments; and of these four are stronger than the rest. The first is Unbelief, the second: Incontinence, the third Disobedience, the fourth Deceit. And their followers are called Sorrow, Wickedness, Wantonness, Anger, Falsehood, Folly, Backbiting, Hatred. The servant of God who bears these names shall see, indeed, the kingdom of God, but shall not enter into it.” “And the stones, sir,” I said, “which were taken out of the pit and fitted into the building: what are they?” “The first,” he said, “the ten, viz., that were placed as a foundation, are the first generation, and the twenty-five the second generation, of righteous men; and the thirty-five are the prophets of God and His ministers; and the forty are the apostles and teachers of the preaching of the Son of God.” 370 “Why, then, sir,” I asked, “did the virgins carry these stones also through the gate, and give them for the building of the tower?” “Because,” he answered, “these were the first who bore these spirits, and they never departed from each other, neither the spirits from the men nor the men from the spirits, but the spirits remained with them until their falling asleep. And unless they had had these spirits with them, they would not have been of use for the building of this tower.”
“Explain to me a little further, sir,” I said. “What is it that you desire?” he asked. “Why, sir,” I said, “did these stones ascend out of the pit, and be applied to the building of the tower, after having borne these spirits?” “They were obliged,” he answered, “to ascend through water in order that they might be made alive; for, unless they laid aside the deadness of their life, they could not in any other way enter into the kingdom of God. Accordingly, those also who fell asleep received the seal of the Son of God. For,” he continued, “before a man bears the name of the Son of God 371 he is dead; but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive. And to them, accordingly, was this seal preached, and they made use of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God.” “Why, sir,” I asked, “did the forty stones also ascend with them out of the pit, having already received the seal?” “Because,” he said, “these apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after falling asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached it not only to those who were asleep, but themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching. Accordingly they descended with them into the water, and again ascended. [But these descended alive and rose up again alive; whereas they who had previously fallen asleep descended dead, but rose up again alive. 372 ] By these, then, were they quickened and made to know the name of the Son of God. For this reason also did they ascend with them, and were fitted along with them into the building of the tower, and, untouched by the chisel, were built in along with them. For they slept in righteousness and in great purity, but only they had not this seal. You have accordingly the explanation of these also.”
“I understand, sir,” I replied. “Now, sir,” I continued, “explain to me, with respect to the mountains, why their forms are various and diverse.” “Listen,” he said: “these mountains are the twelve tribes, which inhabit the whole world. 373 The Son of God, accordingly, was preached unto them by the apostles.” “But why are the mountains of various kinds, some having one form, and others another? Explain that to me, sir.” “Listen,” he answered: “these twelve tribes that inhabit the whole world are twelve nations. And they vary in prudence and understanding. As numerous, then, as are the varieties of the mountains which you saw, p. 50 are also the diversities of mind and understanding among these nations. And I will explain to you the actions of each one.” “First, sir,” I said, “explain this: why, when the mountains are so diverse, their stones, when placed in the building, became one colour, shining like those also that had ascended out of the pit.” “Because,” he said, “all the nations that dwell under heaven were called by hearing and believing upon the name of the Son of God. 374 Having, therefore, received the seal, they had one understanding and one mind; and their faith became one, and their love one, and with the name they bore also the spirits of the virgins. 375 On this account the building of the tower became of one colour, bright as the sun. But after they had entered into the same place, and became one body, certain of these defiled themselves, and were expelled from the race of the righteous, and became again what they were before, or rather worse.”
“How, sir,” I said, “did they become worse, after having known God?” 376 “He that does not know God,” he answered, “and practices evil, receives a certain chastisement for his wickedness; but he that has known God, ought not any longer to do evil, but to do good. If, accordingly, when he ought to do good, he do evil, does not he appear to do greater evil than he who does not know God? For this reason, they who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death; but they who have known God, and have seen His mighty works, and still continue in evil, shall be chastised doubly, and shall die for ever. 377 In this way, then, will the Church of God be purified. For as you saw the stones rejected from the tower, and delivered to the evil spirits, and cast out thence, so [they also shall be cast out, and 378 ] there shall be one body of the purified; as the tower also became, as it were, of one stone after its purification. In like manner also shall it be with the Church of God, after it has been purified, and has rejected the wicked, and the hypocrites, and the blasphemers, and the waverers, and those who commit wickedness of different kinds. After these have been cast away, the Church of God shall be one body, of one mind, of one understanding, of one faith, of one love. And then the Son of God will be exceeding glad, and shall rejoice over them, because He has received His people pure.” 379 “All these things, sir,” I said, “are great and glorious.”
“Moreover, sir,” I said, “explain to me the power and the actions of each one of the mountains, that every soul, trusting in the Lord, and hearing it, may glorify His great, and marvellous, and glorious name.” “Hear,” he said, “the diversity of the mountains and of the twelve nations.”
“From the first mountain, which was black, they that believed are the following: apostates and blasphemers against the Lord, and betrayers of the servants of God. To these repentance is not open; but death lies before them, and on this account also are they black, for their race is a lawless one. And from the second mountain, which was bare, they who believed are the following: hypocrites, and teachers of wickedness. And these, accordingly, are like the former, not having any fruits of righteousness; for as their mountain was destitute of fruit, so also such men have a name indeed, but are empty of faith, and there is no fruit of truth in them. They indeed have repentance in their power, if they repent quickly; but if they are slow in so doing, they shall die along with the former.” “Why, sir,” I said, “have these repentance, but the former not? for their actions are nearly the same.” “On this account,” he said, “have these repentance, because they did not blaspheme their Lord, nor become betrayers of the servants of God; but on account of their desire of possessions they became hypocritical, and each one taught according to the desires of men that were sinners. But they will suffer a certain punishment; and repentance is before them, because they were not blasphemers or traitors.”
“And from the third mountain, which had thorns and thistles, they who believed are the following. There are some of them rich, and others immersed in much business. The thistles are the rich, and the thorns are they who are immersed in much business. Those, [accordingly, who are entangled in many various kinds of business, do not 380 ] cleave to the servants of God, but wander away, being choked by their business transactions; and the rich cleave with difficulty to the servants of God, fearing lest these should ask something of them. Such persons, accordingly, shall have difficulty in entering the kingdom of God. For as it is disagreeable to walk among thistles with naked feet, so also it is hard for such to enter the kingdom of God. 381 But to all these repentance, and that speedy, is open, in order that what they did not do in former p. 51 times they may make up for in these days, and do some good, and they shall live unto God. But if they abide in their deeds, they shall be delivered to those women, who will put them to death.”
“And from the fourth mountain, which had much grass, the upper parts of the plants green, and the parts about the roots withered, and some also scorched by the sun, they who believed are the following: the doubtful, and they who have the Lord upon their lips, but have Him not in their heart. On this account their foundations are withered, and have no strength; and their words alone live, while their works are dead. Such persons are [neither alive nor 382 ] dead. They resemble, therefore, the waverers: for the wavering are neither withered nor green, being neither living nor dead. For as their blades, on seeing the sun, were withered, so also the wavering, when they hear of affliction, on account of their fear, worship idols, and are ashamed of the name of their Lord. 383 Such, then, are neither alive nor dead. But these also may yet live, if they repent quickly; and if they do not repent, they are already delivered to the women, who take away their life.”
“And from the fifth mountain, which had green grass, and was rugged, they who believed are the following: believers, indeed, but slow to learn, and obstinate, and pleasing themselves, wishing to know everything, and knowing nothing at all. On account of this obstinacy of theirs, understanding departed from them, and foolish senselessness entered into them. And they praise themselves as having wisdom, and desire to become teachers, although destitute of sense. On account, therefore, of this loftiness of mind, many became vain, exalting themselves: for self-will and empty confidence is a great demon. Of these, accordingly, many were rejected, but some repented and believed, and subjected themselves to those that had understanding, knowing their own foolishness. And to the rest of this class repentance is open; for they were not wicked, but rather foolish, and without understanding. If these therefore repent, they will live unto God; but if they do not repent, they shall have their dwelling with the women who wrought wickedness among them.”
“And those from the sixth mountain, which had clefts large and small, and decayed grass in the clefts, who believed, were the following: they who occupy the small clefts are those who bring charges against one another, and by reason of their slanders have decayed in the faith. Many of them, however, repented; and the rest also will repent when they hear my commandments, for their slanders are small, and they will quickly repent. But they who occupy the large clefts are persistent in their slanders, and vindictive in their anger against each other. These, therefore, were thrown away from the tower, and rejected from having a part in its building. Such persons, accordingly, shall have difficulty in living. If our God and Lord, who rules over all things, and has power over all His creation, does not remember evil against those who confess their sins, but is merciful, does man, who is corruptible and full of sins, remember evil against a fellow-man, as if he were able to destroy or to save him? 384 I, the angel of repentance, say unto you, As many of you as are of this way of thinking, lay it aside, and repent, and the Lord will heal your former sins, if you purify yourselves from this demon; but if not, you will be delivered over to him for death.”
“And those who believed from the seventh mountain, on which the grass was green and flourishing, and the whole of the mountain fertile, and every kind of cattle and the fowls of heaven were feeding on the grass on this mountain, and the grass on which they pastured became more abundant, were the following: they were always simple, and harmless, and blessed, bringing no charges against one another, but always rejoicing greatly because of the servants of God, and being clothed with the holy spirit of these virgins, and always having pity on every man, and giving aid from their own labour to every man, without reproach and without hesitation. 385 The Lord, therefore, seeing their simplicity and all their meekness, multiplied them amid the labours of their hands, and gave them grace in all their doings. And I, the angel of repentance, say to you who are such, Continue to be such as these, and your seed will never be blotted out; for the Lord has made trial of you, and inscribed you in the number of us, and the whole of your seed will dwell with the Son of God; for ye have received of His Spirit.”
“And they who believed from the eighth mountain, where were the many fountains, and where all the creatures of God drank of the fountains, were the following: apostles, and teachers, who preached to the whole world, and who taught solemnly and purely the word of the Lord, and p. 52 did not at all fall into evil desires, but walked always in righteousness and truth, according as they had received the Holy Spirit. Such persons, therefore, shall enter in with the angels.” 386
“And they who believed from the ninth mountain, which was deserted, and had in it creeping things and wild beasts which destroy men, were the following: they who had the stains as servants, 387 who discharged their duty ill, and who plundered widows and orphans of their livelihood, and gained possessions for themselves from the ministry, which they had received. 388 If, therefore, they remain under the dominion of the same desire, they are dead, and there is no hope of life for them; but if they repent, and finish their ministry in a holy manner, they shall be able to live. And they who were covered with scabs are those who have denied their Lord, and have not returned to Him again; but becoming withered and desert-like, and not cleaving to the servants of God, but living in solitude, they destroy their own souls. For as a vine, when left within an enclosure, and meeting with neglect, is destroyed, and is made desolate by the weeds, and in time grows wild, and is no longer of any use to its master, so also are such men as have given themselves up, and become useless to their Lord, from having contracted savage habits. These men, therefore, have repentance in their power, unless they are found to have denied from the heart; but if any one is found to have denied from the heart, I do not know if he may live. And I say this not for these present days, in order that any one who has denied may obtain repentance, for it is impossible for him to be saved who now intends to deny his Lord; but to those who denied Him long ago, repentance seems to be possible. If, therefore, any one intends to repent, let him do so quickly, before the tower is completed; for if not, he will be utterly destroyed by the women. And the chipped stones are the deceitful and the slanderers; and the wild beasts which you saw on the ninth mountain, are the same. For as wild beasts destroy and kill a man by their poison, so also do the words of such men destroy and ruin a man. These, accordingly, are mutilated in their faith, on account of the deeds which they have done in themselves; yet some repented, and were saved. And the rest, who are of such a character, can be saved if they repent; but if they do not repent, they will perish with those women, whose strength they have assumed.”
“And from the tenth mountain, where were trees which overshadowed certain sheep, they who believed were the following: bishops 389 given to hospitality, who always gladly received into their houses the servants of God, without dissimulation. And the bishops never failed to protect, by their service, the widows, and those who were in want, and always maintained a holy conversation. All these, accordingly, shall be protected by the Lord for ever. They who do these things are honourable before God, and their place is already with the angels, if they remain to the end serving God.”
“And from the eleventh mountain, where were trees full of fruits, adorned with fruits of various kinds, they who believed were the following: they who suffered for the name of the Son of God, and who also suffered cheerfully with their whole heart, and laid down their lives.” “Why, then, sir,” I said, “do all these trees bear fruit, and some of them fairer than the rest?” “Listen,” he said: “all who once suffered for the name of the Lord are honourable before God; and of all these the sins were remitted, because they suffered for the name of the Son of God. 390 And why their fruits are of various kinds, and some of them superior, listen. All,” he continued, “who were brought before the authorities and were examined, and did not deny, but suffered cheerfully—these are held in greater honour with God, and of these the fruit is superior; but all who were cowards, and in doubt, and who reasoned in their hearts whether they would deny or confess, and yet suffered, of these the fruit is less, because that suggestion came into their hearts; for that suggestion—that a servant should deny his Lord—is evil. Have a care, therefore, ye who are planning such things, lest that suggestion remain in your hearts, and p. 53 ye perish unto God. And ye who suffer for His name ought to glorify God, because He deemed you worthy to bear His name, that all your sins might be healed. [Therefore, rather deem yourselves happy], and think that ye have done a great thing, if any of you suffer on account of God. The Lord bestows upon you life, and ye do not understand, for your sins were heavy; but if you had not suffered for the name of the Lord, ye would have died to God on account of your sins. These things I say to you who are hesitating about denying or confessing: acknowledge that ye have the Lord, lest, denying Him, ye be delivered up to prison. If the heathen chastise their slaves, when one of them denies his master, what, think ye, will your Lord do, who has authority over all men? Put away these counsels out of your hearts, that you may live continually unto God.”
“And they who believed from the twelfth mountain, which was white, are the following: they are as infant children, in whose hearts no evil originates; nor did they know what wickedness is, but always remained as children. Such accordingly, without doubt, dwell in the kingdom of God, because they defiled in nothing the commandments of God; but they remained like children all the days of their life in the same mind. All of you, then, who shall remain stedfast, and be as children, 391 without doing evil, will be more honoured than all who have been previously mentioned; for all infants are honourable before God, and are the first persons with Him. 392 Blessed, then, are ye who put away wickedness from yourselves, and put on innocence. As the first of all will you live unto God.”
After he had finished the similitudes of the mountains, I said to him, “Sir, explain to me now about the stones that were taken out of the plain, and put into the building instead of the stones that were taken out of the tower; and about the round stones that were put into the building; and those that still remain round.”
“Hear,” he answered, “about all these also. The stones taken out of the plain and put into the building of the tower instead of those that were rejected, are the roots of this white mountain. When, therefore, they who believed from the white mountain were all found guileless, the Lord of the tower commanded those from the roots of this mountain to be cast into the building of the tower; for he knew that if these stones were to go to the building of the tower, they would remain bright, and not one of them become black. 393 But if he had so resolved with respect to the other mountains, it would have been necessary for him to visit that tower again, and to cleanse it. Now all these persons were found white who believed, and who will yet believe, for they are of the same race. This is a happy race, because it is innocent. Hear now, further, about these round and shining stones. All these also are from the white mountain. Hear, moreover, why they were found round: because their riches had obscured and darkened them a little from the truth, although they never departed from God; nor did any evil word proceed out of their mouth, but all justice, virtue, and truth. When the Lord, therefore, saw the mind of these persons, that they were born good, 394 and could be good, He ordered their riches to be cut down, not to be taken 395 away for ever, that they might be able to do some good with what was left them; and they will live unto God, because they are of a good race. Therefore were they rounded a little by the chisel, and put in the building of the tower.
“But the other round stones, which had not yet been adapted to the building of the tower, and had not yet received the seal, were for this reason put back into their place, because they are exceedingly round. Now this age must be cut down in these things, and in the vanities of their riches, and then they will meet in the kingdom of God; for they must of necessity enter into the kingdom of God, because the Lord has blessed this innocent race. Of this race, therefore, no one will perish; for although any of them be tempted by the most wicked devil, and commit sin, he will quickly return to his Lord. I deem you happy, I, who am the messenger of repentance, whoever of you are innocent as children, 396 because your part is good, and honourable before God. Moreover, I say to you all, who have received the seal of the Son of God, be clothed with simplicity, and be not mindful of offences, nor remain in wickedness. Lay aside, therefore, the recollection of your offences and bitternesses, and you will be formed in one spirit. And heal and take away from you those wicked schisms, that if the Lord of the flocks come, He may rejoice concerning you. And He will rejoice, if He find all things sound, and none of you shall perish. But if He find any one of these sheep strayed, woe to the shepherds! And if the shepherds themselves have p. 54 strayed, what answer will they give Him for their flocks? 397 Will they perchance say that they were harassed by their flocks? They will not be believed, for the thing is incredible that a shepherd could suffer from his flock; rather will he be punished on account of his falsehood. And I myself am a shepherd, and I am under a most stringent necessity of rendering an account of you.
“Heal yourselves, therefore, while the tower is still building. The Lord dwells in men that love peace, because He loved peace; but from the contentious and the utterly wicked He is far distant. Restore to Him, therefore, a spirit sound as ye received it. For when you have given to a fuller a new garment, and desire to receive it back entire at the end, if, then, the fuller return you a torn garment, will you take it from him, and not rather be angry, and abuse him, saying, I gave you a garment that was entire: why have you rent it, and made it useless, so that it can be of no use on account of the rent which you have made in it? Would you not say all this to the fuller about the rent which you found in your garment? If, therefore, you grieve about your garment, and complain because you have not received it entire, what do you think the Lord will do to you, who gave you a sound spirit, which you have rendered altogether useless, so that it can be of no service to its possessor? for its use began to be unprofitable, seeing it was corrupted by you. Will not the Lord, therefore, because of this conduct of yours regarding His Spirit, act in the same way, and deliver you over to death? Assuredly, I say, he will do the same to all those whom He shall find retaining a recollection of offences. 398 Do not trample His mercy under foot, He says, but rather honour Him, because He is so patient with your sins, and is not as ye are. Repent, for it is useful to you.”
“All these things which are written above, I, the Shepherd, the messenger of repentance, have showed and spoken to the servants of God. 399 If therefore ye believe, and listen to my words, and walk in them, and amend your ways, you shall have it in your power to live: but if you remain in wickedness, and in the recollection of offences, no sinner of that class will live unto God. All these words which I had to say have been spoken unto you.”
The Shepherd said to me, “Have you asked me everything?” And I replied, “Yes, sir.” “Why did you not ask me about the shape of the stones that were put into the building, that I might explain to you why we filled up the shapes?” And I said, “I forgot, sir.” “Hear now, then,” he said, “about this also. These are they who have now heard my commandments, and repented with their whole hearts. And when the Lord saw that their repentance was good and pure, and that they were able to remain in it, He ordered their former sins to be blotted out. 400 For these shapes were their sins, and they were levelled down, that they might not appear.”
The Spirit.—Vat. [He is called “the Spirit of Christ” by St. Peter (i. 11); and perhaps this is a key to the non-dogmatic language of Hermas, if indeed he is here speaking of the Holy Spirit personally, and not of the Son exclusively. See Simil. v. 6, Isa. v. 1.]43:346
To a fruitful hill.—Pal. Omitted in Vat. [Hermas delights in the picturesque, and introduces Arcadia in harmony with his pastoral fiction.]43:347
Omitted in Lips.43:348
[As of Eden. Gen. iii. 24; Rev. xxi. 11. The Tsohar.]43:349
[Vision iii. 1, 2.]43:350
All carried the gate.—Pal.43:351
Omitted in Lips.45:352
Omitted in Lips.45:353
And they replied that he would forthwith come.—Vat.45:354
2 Esdras ii. 43.45:355
Omitted in Lips. The text is from Vat.; slight variations in Pal. And Æth.45:356
Also omitted from Lips. The text is in all the translations.45:357
Omitted in Lips. The text is in all the translations.45:358
[Mark xiii. 36; Matt. xxiv. 46-51.]47:359
[This curious chapter, be it remembered, is but a dream and a similitude. In the pure homes of Christians, it is almost unintelligible. Amid the abominations of heathenism, it taught a lesson which afterwards required enforcement by the canons and stern discipline of the whole Chuirch. The lesson is, that what “begins in the spirit” may “end in the flesh.” Those who shunning the horrible inpurities of the pagans abused spiritual relationships as “brothers and sisters,” were on the verge of a precipice. “To the pure, all things are pure;” but they who presume on this great truth to indulge in kissings and like familiarities are tempting a dangerous downfall. In this vision, Hermas resorted to “watching and praying;” and the virgins rejoiced because he thus saved himself. The behaviour of the maidens was what heathen women constantly practiced, and what Christian women, bred in such habits of life, did, perhaps, without evil thought, relying on their “sun-clad power of chastity.” Nothing in this picture is the product of Christianity, except the self-mastery inculcated as the only safeguard even amongst good women. But see “Elucidation,” at end of this book.]47:360
[Hermas confirms the doctrine of St. John (i. 3); also Col. 1:15, 16. Of this Athanasius would approve.]47:361
[1 Pet. i. 20.]48:362
[Exod. 28:12, 29.]48:364
Omitted in Lips. The text in Vat. and Pal. The Æth different in form, but in meaning the same.48:365
[Heb. i. 3. Hermas drips with Scripture like a honeycomb.]49:367
[Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Cor. iii. 11.]49:368
This portion of the Leipzig Codex is much eaten away, and therefore the text is derived to a considerable extent from the translations.49:369
[The tenacity with which Hermas everywhere exalts the primary importance of Faith, makes it inexcusable that he should be charged with mere legalizing morality.]49:370
[Eph. ii. 20; Rev xxi. 14.]49:371
The name of the Son of God. The name of God.—Lips. [1 John 5:11, 12.]49:372
All the translations and Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom., vi. 6, 46) have this passage. It is omitted in Lips.49:373
[Rev. vii. 4.]50:374
Name of the Son of God. Name of God.—Lips. [Rom. x. 17.]50:375
[Rev. xiv. 4.]50:376
God in Pal.; Lord in Vat. and Æth.; Christ in Lips.50:377
[Luke 12:47, 48.]50:378
Omittted in Vat., Æth., Lips.50:379
[Eph. v. 27.]50:380
Omitted in Lips. The text from Vat. Substantially the same in the other two. [Matt. xiii. 5.]50:381
Matt. 19:23, 24. [Mark x. 23.]51:382
Omitted in Lips.51:383
[The imagery of our Lords parables everywhere apparent. Also, the words of Scripture recur constantly.]51:384
Jas. iv. 12. [Matt. xviii. 33.]51:385
Ecclus. xx. 15, xli. 22; Jas. i. 5.52:386
Cf. Donaldsons Hist. of Christ. Lit., vol. i. p. 291. [This beautiful chapter, and its parable of the fountains of living water, may well be read with that passage of Leighton which delighted Coleridge: Com. on 1 Pet. i. 10-12.]52:387
διάκονοι. [Deacons, evidently, or stewards. Acts vi. 1]52:388
[Ezek. xxxiv. 3.]52:389
Bishops. Bishops, that is, presidents of the churches.—Vat. [This textual peculiarity must have originated at the period when the Ignatian use of episcopus was becoming naturalized in Rome. It was originally common to all pastors, local or regionary.]52:390
[This passage (with Vision iii. 2, and especially Similitude v. 3) has been pressed into the service of those who seek to find “super-erogatory merit” in the Fathers. See 1 Cor. vii. 38. But why not begin with the Scriptures which Hermas doubtless has in mind, such as Rev. 3:4, 5, “They are worthy”? Does this ascribe to them any merit apart from (“worthy is the Lamb”) the only meritorious cause of salvation? So also Rev. vii. 14, xiv. 4, 5. The primitive Fathers accepted such truths like innocent children, and loved them. They believed St. Paul as to degrees of glory (1 Cor. xv. 41), and our Lord Himself as to the awards (Matt. xx. 21-23) of mercy to fruits of grace: and they are no more responsible for forced constructions that have been put upon them by afterthought and subsequent heresy, then our blessed Lord can be charged with all that has overloaded His precious sayings (Matt. xix. 12 or xiv. 18). The principle of deficient works of faith, which is the corresponding idea of the negative side, appears in St. Paul (1 Cor. iii. 13-15), and has been abused to sustain the whole system of creature merit, and the monstrous atfterthought of purgatory. Those, therefore, who read such ideas into “The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” to diminish their credit, often, unintentionally (1) help the perverters of truth to claim the Fathers, and (2) give them the like aid in claiming the Scriptures. See p. 34, supra, note 3.]53:391
Matt. xviii. 3.53:392
[Mark ix. 36.]53:393
Here ends Codex Lipsiensis. The rest of the text is from common translation corrected by the Palatine and Æthiopic.53:394
[Born good. Not in the text of Gebhardt and Harnack (the Greek is wanting); nor do they note any such text, though the Æthiopic favours it. See p. 42, supra, note 2.]53:395
[Here again the Latin has the reading before noted, on the circumcision of wealth, p. 15, note 2, supra.]53:396
Matt. xviii. 3, xix. 14.54:397
[Jer. xiii. 20; Zech. xi. 15-17.]54:398
[Jas. v. 9. Who can fail to feel the searching spirit of the gospel here? Matt. 5:23, 24, vi. 14.]54:399
Servants of God. Servant of the Lord.—Æth.54:400
[Heb. viii 12, x. 17.]
Next: Similitude Tenth. Concerning Repentance and Alms-Giving.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: http://St-Takla.org / Contact us at