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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Shepherd of Hermas: Sixth Mandate

...I commanded you...in the first commandment to protect faith and fear and self-control. ...I want to explain to you their powers, so that you may understand what the power and effect of each of them is. For their effects are twofold, they relate to righteousness and to unrighteousness. Be sure, therefore, to trust righteousness, but do not trust unrighteousness. For the way of righteousness is straight, but that of unrighteousness is crooked. But follow the straight and level way, and leave the crooked one alone. For the crooked way has paths but only uneven ground and many obstacles, and is rough and thorny. Consequently, it is harmful to those who follow it. But those who follow the straight path walk smoothly and without stumbling, for it is neither rough nor thorny. You see, then, it is more advantageous to follow this way. ... (6:1)

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...Now hear...about faith. There are two angels with man, one of righteousness and one of wickedness. ...Listen...and understand them. The angel of righteousness is sensitive and modest and gentle and tranquil. When this one enters your heart, immediately he talks with you about righteousness, about purity, about holiness, about contentment, about every righteous deed, and about every glorious virtue. Whenever all these things enter your heart, you know that the angel of righteousness is with you. Now observe the works of the angel of wickedness. First of all, he is ill-tempered and bitter and senseless, and his works are evil, tearing down GOD's servants. So whenever this one enters your heart, recognize him by his works. ...

...When some angry tempermental outburst or bitterness comes over you, recognize that he is in you. Then comes the desire for much business, and extravagant kinds of foods and drink, and much drunkeness, and various kinds of unnecessary luxuries, and the desire for women, and greed and arrogance and pretentiousness, and whatever else resembles or is similar to these things. So whenever these things enter your heart, you know that the angel of wickedness is with you. Recognizing, therefore, his works, shun him and do not trust him at all, because his works are evil and harmful to GOD's servants.

You now have, then, the working of both angels: understand them and trust the angel of righteousness. But shun the angel of wickedness, because his teaching is evil in every respect. For even if one is a man of faith, and the thought of that angel enters one's heart, it is inevitable that the man or woman will commit some sin. On the other hand, if one is an extremely sinful man or woman, and the works of the angel of righteousness enter his heart, of necessity he must do something good. You see, then...that it is good to follow the angel of righteousness, but to shun the angel of wickedness.

This commandment explains the things about faith, in order that you may trust the works of the angel of righteousness, and that doing them, you may live to GOD. But believe that the works of the angel of wickedness are dangerous, so that by not doing them you will live to GOD. (6:2) --The Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 6 (mid second century AD).

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