The Hermas Series, Part 1
Adultery Of The Heart
He who had bred me up sold a certain young maid at Rome; whom when I saw many years after, I remembered her, and began to love her as a sister.
After a certain time I saw her bathing in the river Tiber; and I gave her my hand, and led her out of the river. So, seeing her beauty, I reasoned in my heart, saying, "Happy were I, if I had such an one to wife both in beauty and in character." I merely reflected on this and nothing more.
After a certain time, as I was journeying to Cumae, and glorifying Yahweh's creatures for their greatness and splendor and power, as I walked I fell asleep. And the spirit took me, and bore me away through a pathless tract, through which no man could pass: for the place was precipitous, and broken into clefts by reason of the waters. When then I had crossed the river, I came into the level country, and knelt down, and began to pray to Yahweh and to confess my sins.
Now, while I prayed, the heaven was opened, and I see the lady, whom I had desired, greeting me from heaven, saying, "Good morrow, Hermas."
And, looking at her, I said to her, "Lady, what doest thou here?" Then she answered me, "I was taken up, that I might convict thee of thy sins before Yahweh."
I said to her, "Dost thou now convict me?" "Nay, not so," said she, "but hear the words, that I shall say to thee. Yahweh, Who dwelleth in the heavens, and created out of nothing the things which are, and increased and multiplied them for His holy Church's sake, is wroth with thee, for that thou didst sin against me."
I answered her and said, "Sin against thee? In what way? Did I ever speak an unseemly word unto thee? Did I not always regard thee as a lady? Did I not always respect thee as a sister? How couldst thou falsely charge me, lady, with such villainy and uncleanness?
"Laughing she saith unto me, "The desire after evil entered into thine heart. Nay, thinkest thou not that it is an evil deed for a righteous man, if the evil desire should enter into his heart? It is indeed a sin and a great one too," saith she; "for the righteous man entertaineth righteous purposes. While then his purposes are righteous, his repute stands steadfast in the heavens, and he finds Yahweh easily propitiated in all that he does. But they that entertain evil purposes in their hearts, bring upon themselves death an captivity, especially they that claim for themselves this present work and boast in its riches, and cleave not to the good things that are to come.
Their souls shall rue it, seeing that they have no hope, but have abandoned themselves and their life. But do thou pray unto Yahweh and He shall heal thine own sins, and those of thy whole house, and of all the saints."
As soon as she had spoken these words the heavens were shut and I was given over to horror and grief Then I said within myself "If this sin is recorded against me, how can I be saved? Or how shall I propitiate Yahweh for my sins which are great and many? Or with which words shall I entreat Yahweh that He may be propitious unto me?
While I was advising and discussing these matters in my heart, I see, before me a great white chair of snow-white wool; and there came an aged lady in glistening raiment, having a book in her hands, and she sat down alone, and she saluted me, "Good morrow, Hermas." Then I grieved and weeping, said, "Good morrow, lady."
And she said to me "Why so gloomy, Hermas, thou that art patient and good-tempered and art always smiling? Why so downcast in thy looks, and far from cheerful?" And I said to her, "Because of an excellent lady's saying that I had sinned against her."
Then she said, "Far be this thing from the servant of Yahweh! Nevertheless the thought did enter into thy heart concerning her. Now to the servants of Yahweh such a purpose bringeth sin. For it is an evil and mad purpose to overtake a devout spirit that hath been already approved, that it should desire an evil deed, and especially if it be Hermas the temperate, who abstaineth from every evil desire, and is full of all simplicity and of great guilelessness.
The Hermas Series, part 1, is continued under Instructing Our Children Against Sin