Слике страница
PDF
ePub

6

6

Ruinart,* in his edition of this Epistle, has put down in the margin, Rev. xxii. 11, against these words : “ That the * scripture might be fulfilled,' “ Let the wicked be wicked still, and the righteous be righteous still.” But I rather think they refer to Dan, xii. Il, which is set by Valesius in the margin of Eusebius over against those words.

CHAP. XVII.

ST. IRENÆUS.

I. His history, time, works, and character. II. His testi

mony to the Scriptures of the New Testament, particularly to the Gospels. Ill. The Acts of the Apostles. IV. St. Paul's Epistles. V. The Catholic Epistles. VI. The Revelation. VII. An observation. VIII. A summary account of the books of the New Testament received by him. IX. Titles and divisions of the books of Scripture. X. Respect for the Scriptures. XI. Of reading the Scriptures. XII. Whether he received any other writings, as of authority. XIII. Upon what grounds he received the Gospels of St. Mark, and St. Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles.

1. THE age and authority of Irenæus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, have been already shown in part in the history of St. Polycarp. His country is not certainly known: but it is probable, froin his name, that he was a Greek; and, froin his early acquaintance with St. Polycarp, that he was of Asia. It is likewise probable, that he was from the beginning educated in the christian religion. When he came into Gaul is unknown. Some have supposed that he came to Rome with St. Polycarp, in the time of Anicetus, about the year 157, and from thence passed into Gaul. But concerning this we have no information in antiquity; and it is in vain to form conjectures.

Learned men are not entirely agreed about the time of Irenæus himself, or of his principal work against heresies. Dodwella supposes he was born in the reign of Nerva, in * Act. Martyr. p. 69.

y P. 165. Diss. Irenæ. 3. sect. 4.

a

the year 97; wrote his books against heresies in 176 or 177; and did noto outlive the year 190. Grabed is unwilling to differ from Dodwell, but thinks Irenæus was not born till about the year 108, and speaks dubiously about the time of writing the work against heresies. Du Pine says, Irenæus was born in the latter part of the reign of Adrian, or the beginning of that of Antoninus, a little before the year 140, and died a martyr in 202. Massuetf differs little from him, supposing that Irenæus was born in the

year 140, and died in 202: and that he wrote the forementioned work about the year 192. Tillen ontle thinks that Irenæus was born about the year 120, and died in 202; and that thei work against heresies might be written partly in the latter end of the time of Eleutherus, who died, according to him, in 192, and the remaining part in the time of his successor Victor.

I shall now put down some few of the testimonies of the ancients concerning this father, and then make some remarks.

Thek martyrs of Lyons, in their letter to Eleutherus, make a very honourable mention of him, and give him the title of presbyter.

Tertullian mentions him as one of the most considerable writers of the christian church, and says,' he was a “ dili

gent enquirer of all sorts of opinions. He means, it is likely, that Irenæus had well studied the sentiments of the heathen philosophers, and of heretics, as well as the principles of the christian religion.

Eusebius says: “WhenPothinus had been put to · death with the martyrs in Gaul, Irenæus succeeded him

in the bishopric of the church of Lyons; who, in his ' youth, had been a disciple of Polycarp.' He there observes likewise, that his book against heresies was written when Eleutherus was bishop of Rome.

Of the works of Irenæus, Eusebius has made this mention in several places : Irenæus" wrote,' says he, several • Jetters against those which at Rome corrupted the true • doctrine of the church: one to Blastus concerning schism; • another to Florinus, concerning the monarchy; or, that

6

m

6

b Diss. 4. sect. 41.

c Diss. 3. sect. 29. Prolegomena de Vit. et Script. Irenæi, sect. 1, 2. e Nouv. Bibl. Irenée.

f Dissertat. ii. sect. 2. 8 Ibid. sect. 47.

h Mem. Ecc. Irenée, article ii. i Ibid. artic, vii.

Apud Eus. H. E. I. v. c. 4, ut Irenæus omnium doctrinarum curiosissimus explorator. Contra Valentin. c. 5. H. E. 1. v. p. 170.

· Cap. 20.

k

1

[ocr errors]

n

6

6

a

• God is not the author of evil; and concerning the num• ber eight.' Again : • Beside the treatises and epistles of • Irenæus already mentioned, there is extant a short, but * very necessary, discourse of his against the Gentiles, en" titled, Concerning Knowledge; another inscribed to a • brother named Marcianus, being a Demonstration of the apostolical preaching; and a little book of divers disputations, [or discourses,] in which he makes mention of the • epistle to the Hebrews, and the book called the W’isdom • of Solomon, alleging some passages out of them.' Eusebius P also gives an account of a letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, concerning the controversy about the time of celebrating Easter; which, he says, was written in the name of the brethren in Gaul, over whom he presided. And beside all these, he has moreover quoted divers' large passages out of the work, Against Heresies.

It is proper to show here what Eusebius had observed in his works concerning the scriptures of the New Testament, beside what has been already said relating to the epistle to the Hebrews.

Her first takes a passage from the third book of Irenæus concerning the four evangelists, which will be found at length below. Eusebius then proceeds: 'In his fifth book • he thus discourses of the Revelation of John, and the * computation of the name of Antichrist : “ These things

being thus, and this number being in all the exact and • ancient copies, and they who saw John attesting the same * things, and reason teaching us, that the number of the

of the beast, according to the computation of the • Greeks, is expressed by the letters contained in it.” And a • little after, of the same matter he says: “We therefore will • not run the hazard of affirming any thing too positively • of the name of Antichrist. For if his name were to have

been openly declared at this time, it would have been * mentioned by him who saw the Revelation. For it was • not seen long ago, but almost in our age, near the end of • the reign of Domitian.” He also mentions the first • epistle of John, alleging many testimonies out of it. • He also in like manner mentions the former (epistle] of • Peter.'

It is perhaps needless to put down after these St. Jerom's testimony: I shall, however, take a part of his account of this excellent person, which we have in his book of Illustrious Men. • Cap. 26.

p Cap. 24. p. 192. C. D. 4 L. v. c. 6, 7, 8.

H. E. I. v. c. 8.

Cap. 35.

[ocr errors]

6

6 name

6

6

8

6

6

6

• Irenæus, presbyter of Pothinus, who was bishop of the • church of Lyons in Gaul, carried a letter from the mar' tyrs of that city concerning some disputes of the church *10 Eleutherus, bishop of Rome, in which letter he is • honourably mentioned. Afterwards, Pothinus having ob• tained the crown of martyrdom, when he was almost ninety years

of

age, he was substituted in his room. It • is certain, he was a disciple of Polycarp, bishop and mar• tyr. He wrote five books against heresies;' and divers others, which Jerom there mentions agreeable to Eusebius. He concludes : · He flourished chiefly under the emperor Commodus, who succeeded M. Antoninus Verus.'

Though then it is not in our power at present to determine exactly the time, either of the birth or death of Irenæus; we have good reason to believe he was a disciple of St. Polycarp, presbyter in the church of Lyons under Pothinus, whose martyrdom happened in the year 177, and that he succeeded Pothinus in the bishopric of that church. His antiquity is farther confirmed, from the frequent mention he makes of a presbyter who had conversed with the immediate successors of the apostles. But who this was, cannot be determined; whether Papias, whom he has quoted by name, or Pothinus, or some other. Eusebius, who also has particularly taken notice of this, says: • Irenæus" has mentioned the sayings of a certain aposto• lical presbyter, without telling us his name, and puts * down his expositions of the divine scriptures.'

As for the time of writing his five books against heresies, it is the opinion of divers learned men, that they were not written and published all together, but rather at some distance of time. In his very first book he gives an account of the heresies of Tatian, who is not supposed to have left the Catholic church before the year 172. In his third book he expressly mentions Eleutherus, as being then the twelfth bishop of Rome. He also speaks of the translation of Theodotion, which is generally allowed to have been published in the reign of Commodus. These are some notes of time that are commonly insisted on: but I shall not attempt to settle exactly the year in which this work was completed. It seems to me however most probable, that it was not written till some time after he was bishop.

u

V

W

х

+ Quemadmodum audivi a quodam presbytero, qui audierat ab his qui apostolos viderant, et ab his qui didicerant. Adv. H. l. iv. c. 27. sect. l. Massuet, [al. c. 45. in.] et alibi.

u Eus. H. E. ). v. c 8. "L. i. cap. 31. al. 28.

* L. 3. cap. 24. al. 21.

p. 173. C.

w L. 3. cap. 3.

That he may stand near those christians to whom he was particularly related, I shall place him in the year 178; though I am rather inclined to think his five books, Against Heresies, were not published quite so soon.

It is commonly said, that Irenæus died a martyr: but from the silence of Tertullian, and Eusebius, and others, concerning this matter, it is justly argued by y Cave, and Basnage, anda Dodwell, that there is no good ground for that supposition.

There is nothing now remaining of Irenæus, beside his five books Against Heresies, and fragments of some other pieces; and those five books, which were written by him in Greek, are extant only in an ancient Latin version, excepting some fragments preserved by Eusebius, and other Greek writers who have quoted them.

Irenæus has shown himself, in this large work, Against Heresies, well acquainted with the heathen authors, and the absurd and intricate notions of heretics, as well as with the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He was at the same time a very humble, modest man, and, agreeable to his name, a lover of peace; as appears from his letter b to Victor, on occasion of the controversy about the time of keeping Easter.

Photius indeed says of him, that in some of his writings he weakens the certain truth of the doctrines of the church by false reasonings. However, he at the same time calls him the divined Irenæus: but I shall not now offer a particular apology for any of those reasonings to which Photius may be supposed to refer. Irenæus, though his writings may not be free from imperfections, has given such proofs of learning, integrity, and good sense in the main, that all good judges must esteen him, (as doubtless Photius did,) an ornament to the sect he was of.

IJ. I shall now show particularly how the books of the New Testament are quoted by him.

1. The first will be a long passage concerning the four gospels, the writers of them, their ability and fitness for the work: having been first filled with the knowledge of the doctrine of the gospel by the Spirit; and, having first preached that doctrine, then set it down in writing. • • Fore we have not received,' says he, the knowledge of

y Hist. Lit. in Irenæ.

2 Annal. 194. sect. 4. a Vid. Diss. iii. in Iren. cap. 21.

b Eus. H. E. I. v. c. 24. Ει και εν τισιν αυτων ή της κατα τα εκκλησιαστικα δογματα αληθειας ακριβεια νοθοις λογισμοις κιβδηλευεται. Cod. 120. Τα θεσπεσια Ειρηναι8.

Adv. Hær. lib. iii. cap. 1.

с

[ocr errors]

e

« ПретходнаНастави »