The Shepherd and The Devil

People who think out evil in their hearts bring death and captivity upon themselves, especially those who seize upon this present world for themselves and boast of their wealth and do not turn their will toward the good things that are to come. The Lord is near to those who turn to him, as is written in the book of Eldad and Medad, who prophesied to the people in the desert. Because the church was created before all other things, she is old. It was for her sake that the world was formed.

The stones that are white and round and do not fit into the building are the people who have faith but at the same time possess the riches of this world. When the suffering of persecution comes upon them, they deny their Lord because of their wealth, and their business affairs. Once their wealth which entices their souls is cut off from them on all sides, they will be useful to God. Just as a round stone cannot be squared and made useful for the building unless it is hewn and thus loses one part of itself after another, so also the wealthy in this world-age cannot be used by the Lord unless their wealth is cut off from them on all sides. Learn this first from your own life's experience: when you were rich you were useless, but now you are useful, now you can be accepted into life. Be useful to God, all of you! For you yourself will also be taken from these very stones...

  The man who only imagines that he has the Spirit exalts himself. He want to have the place of honor, and he straight away becomes  impudent, shameless, and talkative, given to excessive eating and drinking, and well versed in all kinds of trickery. He accepts payment for his prophesying, and if he does not get it he does not prophesy. It is impossible for the prophet of God to act like this. For your part, then, trust the Spirit who comes from God and has power, but do not believe the earthly, empty spirit at all, for it has no power because it comes the Devil. Listen now to the parable I am going to tell you. Take a stone and throw it up to heaven; see whether you can hit the firmament with it! Or again, squirt water up to heaven; see whether you can make a hole in the firmament. 

  Just as this is impossible, so are the earthly spirits impotent and weak. In the same way, the divine spirit who comes down from above is mighty. Therefore trust this spirit, but keep away from the other one!

Hermas, The Shepherd, ca 140-150 AD

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