13 To these therefore there is no return, by repentance unto life; because that to their other sins they have added this, that they have blasphemed the name of the Lord. These kind of men are ordained unto death.
14 But those sheep which thou sawest not leaping, but feeding in one place, are such as have in deed given themselves up to pleasures and delights; but have not spoken anything wickedly against the Lord.
15 These therefore are only fallen off from the truth, and so have yet hope laid up for them in repentance. For such a falling off hath some hope still left of a renewal; but they that are dead, are utterly gone forever.
16 Again we went a little farther forward; and he showed me a great [*4] shepherd, who had as it were a rustic figure, clad with a white goat’s skin, having his bag upon his shoulder, and in his hand a stick full of knots, and very hard, and a whip in his other hand; and his countenance was stern and sour; enough to affright a man; such was his look.
17 He took from that young shepherd such sheep as lived in pleasures, but did not skip up and down; and drove them into a certain steep craggy place full of thorns and briars, insomuch that they could not get themselves free from them.
18 But being entangled in them, fed upon thorns and briars, and were grievously tormented with his whipping. For he still drove them on, and afforded them not any place or time to stand still.
19 When therefore I saw them so cruelly whipped and afflicted, I was grieved for them; because they were greatly tormented, nor had they any rest afforded them.
20 And I said unto the shepherd that was with me; Sir, who is this cruel and implacable shepherd, who is moved with no compassion towards these sheep? He answered, [*5] This shepherd is indeed one of the [*6] holy angels, but is appointed for the punishment of sinners.
21 To him therefore are delivered those who have erred from God, and served the lusts and pleasures of this world. For this cause he punishes them every one according to their deserts, with cruel and various kinds of pains.
22 Sir, said I, I would know, what kind of pains they are which every one undergoes? Hearken, said he; The several pains and torments are those which men every day undergo in their present lives. For some suffer losses; others poverty; others divers sicknesses. Some are unsettled; others suffer injuries from those that are unworthy; others fall under many other trials and inconveniences.
23 For many with an unsettled design aim at many things, and it[p. 238]
profiteth them not; and they say that they have not success in their undertakings.
24 [*1] They do not call to their mind what they have done amiss, and they complain of the Lord. When therefore they shall have undergone all kind of vexation and inconvenience; then they are delivered over to me for good instruction, and are confirmed in the faith of the Lord, and serve the Lord all the rest of their days with a pure mind.
25 And when they begin to repent of their sins, then they call to mind their works which they have done amiss, and give honour to God, saying, That he is a just Judge, and they have deservedly suffered all things according to their deeds.
26 Then for what remains of their lives, they serve God with a pure mind; and have success in all their undertakings, and receive from the Lord whatever they desire.
27 And then they give thanks unto the Lord that they were delivered unto me; nor do they suffer any more cruelty.
28 I said unto him; Sir, I entreat you still to show me now one thing. What, said he, dost thou [*2] ask? I said unto him; Are they who depart from the fear of God, tormented for the same time that they enjoyed their false delight and pleasures? He answered me: They are tormented for the same time.
29 And I said unto him; They are then tormented but little; whereas they who enjoy their pleasures so as to forget God, ought to endure seven times as much punishment.
30 He answered me; Thou art foolish, neither understandest thou the efficacy of this punishment. I said unto him; Sir, if I understood it, I would not desire you to tell me.
31 Hearken, said he, and learn what the force of both is, both of the pleasure and of the punishment. An hour of pleasure is terminated within its own space; but one hour of punishment has the efficacy of thirty days. [*3] Whosoever therefore enjoys his false pleasure for one day, and is one day tormented; that one day of punishment is equivalent to a whole year’s space.
32 Thus look how many days any one pursues his pleasures, so many years is he punished for it. You see therefore how that the time of worldly enjoyments is but short; but that of pain and torments a great deal more.
33 I replied; Sir, forasmuch as I do not understand [*4] at all these times of pleasure and pain;
I entreat you that you would explain yourself more clearly concerning them. He answered me, saying; Thy foolishness still sticks unto thee.
34 Shouldst thou not rather purify thy mind, and serve God? Take heed, lest when thy time is fulfilled, thou be found still unwise. Hear then, as thou desirest, that thou mayest the more easily understand.
35 He that gives himself up one day to his pleasures and delights, and does whatsoever his soul desires, is full of great folly, nor understands what he does, but the day following forgets what he did the day before.
36 For delight and worldly pleasure are not kept in memory, by reason of the folly that is[p. 239]
rooted in them. But when pain and torment befal a man a day, he is in effect troubled the whole year after; because his punishment continues firm in his memory.
37 Wherefore he remembers it with sorrow the whole year; and then calls to mind his vain pleasure and delight, and perceives that for the sake of that he was punished.
38 Whosoever therefore have delivered themselves over to such pleasures, are thus punished; because that when they had life, they rendered themselves liable to death.
39 I said unto him; Sir, what pleasures are hurtful? He answered; That is pleasure to every man which he doth willingly.
40 For the angry man, gratifying his passion, perceives pleasure in it; and so the adulterer and drunkard; the slanderer and liar; the covetous man and the defrauder; and whosoever commits anything like unto these, because he [*1] followeth his evil disposition, he receives a satisfaction in the doing of it.
41 All these pleasures and delights are hurtful to the servants of God. For these therefore they are tormented and suffer punishment.
42 There are also pleasures that bring salvation unto men. For many, when they do what is good, find pleasure in it, and are attracted by the delights of it.
43 Now this pleasure is profitable to the servants of God, and brings life to such men; but those hurtful pleasures, which were before mentioned, bring torments and punishment.
44 And whosoever shall continue in them, and shall not repent of what they have done, shall bring death upon themselves.
That they who repent, must bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.
AFTER a few days I saw the same person that before talked with me, in the same field, in which I had seen those shepherds. And he said unto me; What seekest thou?
2 Sir, said I, I came to entreat you that you would command the shepherd, who is the minister of punishment, to depart out of my house, because he greatly afflicts me.
3 And he answered, It is necessary for thee to endure inconveniences and vexations; for so that good angel hath commanded concerning thee, because he would try thee.
4 Sir, said I; What so great offence have I committed, that I should be delivered to this [*2] messenger? Hearken, said he: Thou art indeed guilty of many sins, yet not so many that thou shouldest be delivered to this [*2] messenger.
5 But thy house hath committed many sins and offences, and therefore that good [*2] messenger being grieved at their doings commanded that for some time thou shouldst suffer affliction; that they may both repent of what they have done, and may wash themselves from all the lusts of this present world.
6 When therefore they shall have repented, and be purified, then that messenger which is[p. 240]
appointed over thy punishment, shall depart from thee.
7 I said unto him; Sir, if they have behaved themselves so as to anger that good angel, yet what have I done? He answered: They cannot otherwise be afflicted, unless thou, who art the head of the family, suffer.
8 For whatsoever thou shalt suffer, they must needs feel it; but as long as thou shalt stand well established, they cannot experience any vexation.
9 I replied; But, sir, behold they also now repent with all their hearts. I know, says he, that they repent with all their hearts; but dost thou therefore think that their offences who repent are immediately blotted out?
10 No, they are not presently; but he that repents must afflict his soul and shew himself humble in all his affairs, and undergo many and divers vexations.
11 And when he shall have suffered all things that were appointed for him; then perhaps he that made him, and formed all things besides, will be moved with compassion towards him, and afford him some remedy; and especially if he shall perceive his heart, who repents, to be pure from every evil work.
12 But at present it is expedient for thee, and for thy house, to be grieved; and it is needful that thou shouldest endure much vexation, as the angel of the Lord who committed thee unto me, has commanded.
13 Rather give thanks unto the Lord, that knowing what was to come, he thought thee worthy to whom he should foretell that trouble was coming upon thee, who art able to bear it.
14 I said unto him; Sir, be but thou also with me, and I shall easily undergo any trouble. I will, said he, be with thee; and I will entreat the messenger who is set over thy punishment, that he would moderate his afflictions towards thee.
15 And moreover thou shalt suffer adversity but for a little time; and then thou shalt again be restored to thy former state; only continue on in the humility of thy mind.
16 Obey the Lord with a pure heart; thou, and thy house, and thy children; and walk in the commands which I have delivered unto thee; and then thy repentance may be firm and pure.
17 And if thou shalt keep these things with thy house, thy inconveniences shall depart from thee.
18 And all vexation shall in like manner depart from all those, whosoever shall walk according to these commands.
That there are many kinds of elect, and of repenting sinners: and how all of them shall receive a reward proportionable to the measure of their repentance and good works.
AGAIN he shewed me a low which covered the fields and the mountains, under whose shadow came all such as were called by the name of the Lord.
2 And by that willow stood an angel of the Lord very excellent and lofty; and did cut down boughs from that willow with a great hook; and reached out to the people that were under the shadow of that willow little rods, as it were about a foot long.
3 And when all of them had taken them, he laid aside his hook, and the tree continued entire, as I had before seen it. At which I wondered, and mused within myself[p. 241]
Click to enlarge
JESUS CHRIST ASCENDING TO HEAVEN WITH TWO ANGELS. FROM ONE OF THE MINIATURE PAINTINGS IN THE ”BIBLE OF ST. PAUL.”
4 Then that shepherd said unto me; Forbear to wonder that that tree continues whole, notwithstanding so many boughs have been cut off from it, but stay a little, for now it shall be shewn thee, what that angel means, who gave those rods to the people.
5 So he again demanded the rods of them, and in the same order that every one had received them, was he called to him, and restored his rod; which when he had received, he examined them.
6 From some he received them dry and rotten, and as it were touched with the moth; those he commanded to be separated from the rest and placed by themselves. Others gave in their rods dry indeed, but not touched with the moth: these also he ordered to be set by themselves.
7 Others gave in their rods half dry; these also were set apart. Others gave in their rods half dry and cleft; these too were set by themselves. Others brought in their rods half dry and half green, and these were in like manner placed by themselves.
8 Others delivered up their rods two parts green, and the third dry; and they too were set apart. Others brought their rods two parts dry, and the third green; and were also placed by themselves.
9 Others delivered up their rods less dry, (for there was but a very little, to wit, their tops dry) but they had clefts, and these were set in like manner by themselves. In the rods of others there was but a little green, and the rest dry; and these were set aside by themselves.
10 Others came, and brought their rods green as they had received them, and the greatest part of the people brought their rods thus; and the messenger greatly rejoiced at these, and they also were put apart by themselves.
11 Others brought in their rods not only green, but full of branches; and these were set aside, being also received by the angel with great joy. Others brought their rods green with branches, and those also some fruit upon them.
12 They who had such rods, were very cheerful; and the angel himself took great joy at them; nor was the shepherd that stood with me, less pleased with them.
13 Then the angel of the Lord commanded crowns to be brought: and the crowns were brought made of palms; and the angel crowned those men in whose rods he found the young branches with fruit; and commanded them to go into the tower.
14 He also sent those into the tower, in whose rods he found branches without fruit, giving a seal unto them. For they had the same garment, that is, one white as snow; with which he bade them go into the tower. And so he did to those who returned their rods green as he had received them; giving them a white garment, and so sent them away to go into the tower.
15 Having done this, he said to the shepherd that was with me, I go my way; but do thou send these within the walls, every one into the place in which be has deserved to dwell; examining first their rods, but examine them diligently that no one deceive thee. But and if any one shall escape thee, I will try them
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