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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

IRENÆUS composed various epistles in opposition to those that attempted to disfigure the sound institutions of the church at Rome. One addressed to Blastus, On Schism. One to Florinus, On Sovereignty, or, On the truth that God is not the author of evil: for the latter appeared to maintain this opinion; on whose account, as he was again on the point of being carried away by the Valentinian delusion, Irenæus also wrote the treatise on the Ogdoad, or the number eight; in which book he also shows that he was the first that received the original succession from the apostles. There, also, at the close of the work, we found a most delightful remark of his, which we shall deem incumbent on us also, to add to the present work. It is as follows: “I adjure thee, whoever thou art, that transcribest this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by his glorious appearance, when he shall come to judge the quick and dead, to compare what thou hast copied, and to correct it by this original manuscript, from which thou hast carefully transcribed; and that thou also copy this adjuration, and insert it in the copy.” These things may be profitably read in his works, and we hope with equal profit have been related by us, that we may have these ancient and truly holy men, as the noblest examples before us. In that epistle, indeed, which we have already mentioned, and which Irenæus addressed to Florinus, he again speaks of his intimacy with Polycarp. “These doctrines,” says he, “O Florinus, to say the least, are not of a sound understanding. These doctrines are inconsistent with the church, and calculated to thrust those that follow them into the greatest impiety. These doctrines, not even the heretics out of the church ever attempted to assert. These doctrines were never delivered to thee by the presbyters before us, those who also were the immediate disciples of the apostles. For I saw thee when I was yet a boy in the lower Asia with Polycarp, moving in great splendour at court, and endeavouring by all means to gain his esteem. I remember the events of those times much better than those of more recent occurrence. As the studies of our youth, growing with our minds, unite with them so firmly that I can tell also the very place where the blessed Polycarp was accustomed to sit and discourse; and also his entrances, his walks, his manner of life, the form of his body, his conversations with the people, and his familiar intercourse with John, as he was accustomed to tell, as also his familiarity with those that had seen the Lord. How also he used to relate their discourses, and what things he had heard from them concerning the Lord. Also concerning his miracles, his doctrine, all these were told by Polycarp, in consistency with the holy Scriptures, as he had received them from the eye-witnesses of the doctrine of salvation. These things, by the mercy of God, and the opportunity then afforded me, I attentively heard, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart; and these same facts I am always in the habit, by the grace of God, of recalling faithfully to mind. And I can bear witness in the sight of God, that if that blessed and apostolic presbyter had heard any such thing as this, he would have exclaimed and stopped his ears, and according to his custom, would have said: ‘O good God, unto what times hast thou reserved me, that I should tolerate these things!’ He would have fled from the place in which he had sat or stood, hearing doctrines like these. From his epistles, also, which he wrote to the neighbouring churches, in order to confirm them, or to some of the brethren in order to admonish or to exhort them, the same thing may be clearly shown.” Thus far Irenæus.








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