Hermes Pastor

, or Hermas commonly called the Shepherd, was an antient father of the church, and is generally supposed to have been the same whom St. Paul mentions in Rom. xvi. 14. He is ranked amongst those who are called Apostolical Fathers, from his having lived in the times of the apostles: but who he was, what he did, and what he suffered for the sake of Christianity, are all in a great measure, if not altogether, unknown to us. He seems to have belonged to the church at Rome, when Clement was bishop of it; that is, according to Dodwell, from the year 64 or 65 to the year 81. This circumstance we are able to collect from his “Second Vision,” of which, he tells us, he was commanded to communicate a copy to Clement. What his condition was before his conversion, we know not; but that he was a man of some consideration, we may conclude from what we read in his “Third Vision;” where he owns himself to have been formerly unprofitable to the Lord, upon the account of those riches which afterwards he seems to have dispensed in works of charity and beneficence. After his conversion he probably | lived a very strict life, since he is said to have been employed in several messages to the church, both to correct their manners, and to warn them of the trials that were about to come upon them. His death, if we may believe the “Roman Marty rology,” was conformable to his life; where we read, that being “illustrious for his miracles, he at last offered himself a worthy sacrifice unto God.” Baronius says, that “having undergone many labours and troubles in the time of the persecution under Aurelius, he at last rested in the Lord July 26th, which is therefore observed in commemoration of him.” But Hermas being sometimes called by the title of “Pastor, or Shepherd,” the Roman martyrologist has divided the good man into two saints: and they observe the memorial of Hennas May the 9th, and of Pastor July the 26th.

Hennas’s book, “The Shepherd,” is the only remains of this father, and has been highly extolled by some of the ancients, while its authenticity has been called in question by others; and most of the fathers, who have spoken of it well themselves, plainly enough insinuate, that there were others who did not put the same value upon it. The moderns in general have not esteemed it so highly; and indeed, as Dupin observes, “whether we consider the manner it is written in, or the matter it contains, it does not appear to merit much regard.” The first part, for it is divided into three, is called “Visions,” and contains many visions, which are explained to Hermas by a woman, who represents the church. These visions regard the state of the church, and the manners of the Christians. The second, which is the most useful, is called “Commands,' 1 and comprehends many moral and pious instructions, delivered to Hernias by an angel and the third is called” Similitudes." Many useful lessons are taught in these books, but the visions, allegories., and similitudes, have little to recommend them.

The original Greek of this piece is lost, and we have nothing but a Latin version of it, except some fragments preserved in the quotations of other authors; which, it is observable, are sufficient to evince the fidelity of this version. The best edition of it is that of 1698; where it is to be found among the other apostolical fathers, illustrated with the notes and corrections of Cotelerius and Le Cierc. with them also it was translated into English by archbishop Wake, and published with a large preliminary discourse | relating to each father; the best edition of which translation is that of 1710. 1


Cave. Lardner’s Works.