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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Similitude Seventh.

They Who Repent Must Bring Forth Fruits Worthy of Repentance.

After a few days I saw him in the same plain where I had also seen the shepherds; and he said to me, “What do you wish with me?” I said to him, “Sir, that you would order the shepherd who punishes to depart out of my house, because he afflicts me exceedingly.” “It is necessary,” he replied, “that you be afflicted; for thus,” he continued, “did the glorious angel command concerning you, as he wishes you to be tried.” “What have I done which is so bad, sir,” I replied, “that I should be delivered over to this angel?” “Listen,” he said: “Your sins are many, but not so great as to require that you be delivered over to this angel; but your household has committed great iniquities and sins, and the glorious angel has been incensed at them on account of their deeds; and for this reason he commanded you to be afflicted for a certain time, that they also might repent, and purify themselves from every desire of this world. When, therefore, they repent and are purified, then the angel of punishment will depart.” I said to him, “Sir, if they have done such things as to incense the glorious angel against them, yet what have I done?” He replied, “They cannot be afflicted at all, unless you, the head of the house, be afflicted: for when you are afflicted, of necessity they also suffer affliction; but if you are in comfort, they can feel no affliction.” “Well, sir,” I said, “they have repented with their whole heart.” “I know, too,” he answered, “that they have repented with their whole heart: do you think, however, that the sins of those who repent are remitted?305305    The Vat. and Pal. have protinus, “immediately.” [Wake adopts this reading, which appears to be required by the context.] Not altogether, but he who repents must torture his own soul, and be exceedingly humble in all his conduct, and be afflicted with many kinds of affliction; and if he endure the afflictions that come upon him, He who created all things, and endued them with power, will assuredly have compassion, and will heal him; and this will He do when He sees the heart of every penitent pure from every evil thing:306306    The Lips. has lost here a few words, which are supplied from the Latin translations. [Mal. iii. 3; Isa. i. 22; Ps. xxvi. 2, cxxxix. 23, 24. Is there not much teaching here for our easy living, and light ideas of the sinfulness of sin?] and it is profitable for you and for your house to suffer affliction now. But why should I say much to you? You must be afflicted, as that angel of the Lord commanded who delivered you to me. And for this give thanks to the Lord, because He has deemed you worthy of showing you beforehand this affliction, that, knowing it before it comes, you may be able to bear it with courage.”307307    The Vatican has: “But rather give thanks to the Lord, that He, knowing what is to come to pass, has deemed you worthy to tell you beforehand that affiction is coming upon those who are able to bear it.” [1 Cor. x. 13. But the whole argument turns on Jas. i. 2, as Hermas delights in this practical apostle.] I said to him, “Sir, be thou with me, and I will be able to bear all affliction.” “I will be with you,” he said, “and I will ask the angel of punishment to afflict you more lightly; nevertheless, you will be afflicted for a little time, and again you will be re-established in your house. Only continue humble, and serve the Lord in all purity of heart, you and your children, and your house, and walk in my commands which I enjoin upon you, and your repentance will be deep and pure; and if you observe these things with your household, every affliction will depart from you.308308    [Sam. iii. 31, 32, 33.] And affliction,” he added, “will depart from all who walk in these my commandments.”


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