NPNF2-01 Eusebius 139
1 Serapion,307 who, as report says, succeeded Maximinus308 at that time as bishop of the church of Antioch, mentions the works of Apolinarius309 against the above-mentioned heresy. And he alludes to him in a private letter to Caricus and Pontius,310 in which he himself exposes the same heresy, and adds the following words:311
2 “That you may see that the doings of this lying band of the new prophecy, so called, are an abomination to all the brotherhood throughout the world, I have sent you writings312 of the most blessed Claudius Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia.”
3 In the same letter of Serapion the signatures of several bishops are found,313 one of whom subscribes himself as follows:
“I, Aurelius Cyrenius, a witness,314 pray for your health.”
And another in this manner:
140 “Aelius Publius Julius,315 bishop of Debeltum, a colony of Thrace. As God liveth in the heavens, the blessed Sotas in Anchialus desired to cast the demon out of Priscilla, but the hypocrites did not permit him.”316
4 And the autograph signatures of many other bishops who agreed with them are contained in the same letter.
So much for these persons.
1 Irenaeus317 wrote several letters against those who were disturbing the sound ordinance of the Church at Rome. One of them was to Blastus On Schism;318 another to Florinus On Monarchy,319 or That God is not the Author of Evil. For Florinus seemed to be defending this opinion. And because he was being drawn away by the error of Valentinus, Irenaeus wrote his work On the Ogdoad,320 in which he shows that he himself had been acquainted with the first successors of the apostles.321
2 At the close of the treatise we have found a most beautiful note which we are constrained to insert in this work.322 It runs as follows:
“I adjure thee who mayest copy this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by his glorious advent when he comes to judge the living and the dead, to compare what thou shalt write, and correct it carefully by this manuscript, and also to write this adjuration, and place it in the copy.”
3 These things may be profitably read in his work, and related by us, that we may have those ancient and truly holy men as the best example of painstaking carefulness.
4 In the letter to Florinus, of which we have spoken,323 Irenaeus mentions again his intimacy with Polycarp, saying:
“These doctrines, O Florinus, to speak mildly, are not of sound judgment. These doctrines disagree with the Church, and drive into the greatest impiety those who accept them. These doctrines, not even the heretics outside of the Church, have ever dared to publish. These doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to thee.
5 “For when I was a boy, I saw thee in lower Asia with Polycarp, moving in splendor in the royal court,324 and endeavoring to gain his approbation.
141 6 I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner ner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with Jn and with the others who had seen the Lord. And as he remembered their words, and what he heard from them concerning the Lord, and concerning his miracles and his teaching, having received them from eyewitnesses of the ‘Word of life,’325 Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures.
7 These things being told me by the mercy of God, I listened to them attentively, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart. And continually, through God’s grace, I recall them faithfully. And I am able to bear witness before God thatif that blessed and apostolic presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, and as was his custom, would have exclaimed, O good God, unto what times hast thou spared me that I should endure these things? And he would have fled from the place where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words.326
8 And this can be shown plainly from the letters327 which he sent, either to the neighboring churches for their confirmation, or to some of the brethren, admonishing and exhorting them.” Thus far Irenaeus.
1 About the same time, in the reign of Commodus, our condition became more favorable, and through the grace of God the churches throughout the entire world enjoyed peace,328 and the word of salvation was leading every soul, from every race of man to the devout worship of the God of the universe. So that now at Rome many who were highly distinguished for wealth and family turned with all their household and relatives unto their salvation.
2 But the demon who hates what is good, being malignant in his nature, could not endure this, but prepared himself again for conflict, contriving many devices against us. And he brought to the judgment seat Apollonius,329 of the city of Rome, a man renowned among the faithful for learning and philosophy, having stirred up one of his servants, who was well fitted for such a purpose, to accuse him.330
3 But this wretched man made the charge unseasonably, because by a royal decree it was unlawful that informers of such things should live. And his legs were broken immediately, Perennius the judge having pronounced this sentence upon him.331
4 But the martyr, highly beloved of God, being earnestly entreated and requested by the judge to give an account of himself before the Senate, made in the presence of all an eloquent defense of the faith for which he was witnessing. And as if by decree of the Senate he was put to death by decapitation; an ancient law requiring that those who were brought to the judgment seat and refused to recant should not be liberated,332 Whoever desires to know his arguments before the judge and his answers to the questions of Perennius, and his entire defense before the Senate will find them in the records of the ancient martyrdoms which we have collected.333
In the tenth year of the reign of Commodus, Victor334 succeeded Eleutherus,335 the latter havingheld the episcopate for thirteen years. In the same year, after Julian336 a had completed his tenth year, Demetrius337 received the charge of the parishes at Alexandria. At this time the above-mentioned Serapion,338 the eighth from the apostles, was still well known as bishop of the church at Antioch. Theophilus339 presided at Caesarea in Palestine; and Narcissus,340 whom we have mentioned before, still had charge of the church at Jerusalem. Bacchylus341 at the same time was bishop of Corinth in Greece, and Polycrates342 of the parish of Ephesus. And besides these a multitude of others, as is likely, were then prominent. But we have given the names of those alone, the soundness of whose faith has come down to us in writing.
142 1 A Question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover.343 It was therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be. But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this time, as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour.
2 Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account,344 and all, with one consent, through mutual correspondence drew. up an ecclesiastical decree, that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other but the Lord’s day, and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on this day only. There is still extant a writing of those who were then assembled in Palestine, over whom Theophilus,345 bishop of Caesarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem, presided. And there is also another writing extant of those who were assembled at Rome to consider the same question, which bears the name of Bishop Victor;346 also of the bishops in Pontus over whom Palmas,347 as the oldest, presided; and of the parishes in Gaul of which Irenaeus was bishop, and of those in Osrhoëne348 and the cities there; and a personal letter of Bacchylus,349 bishop of the church at Corinth, and of a great many others, who uttered the same opinion and judgment, and cast the same vote.
3 And that which has been given above was their unanimous decision.350
1 But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them.351 He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him:352
2 “We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John,who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate.
3 He fell asleep at Ephesus.
4 And Polycarp353 in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas,354 bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna.
5 Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris355 who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius,356 or Melito,357 the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead?
6 All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith.358 And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people359 put away the leaven.
7 I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’”360
143 8 He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows:
“I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire;361 whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus.”
9 Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.362
10 But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.
11 Among them was Irenaeus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom and after many other words he proceeds as follows:363
12 “For the controversy is not only concerning the day, but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night.364
13 And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors.365 It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to their own simplicity and peculiar mode. Yet all of these lived none the less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.”
14 He adds to this the following account, which I may properly insert:
“Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church which thou now rulest. We mean Anicetus, and Plus, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it366 themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it.367
15 But none were ever cast out on account of this form; but the presbyters before thee who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of other parishes who observed it.368
16 And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome369 in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with Jn the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him.
144 17 But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect.370 And they parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.”
18 Thus Irenaeus, who truly was well named,371 became a peacemaker in this matter, exhorting and negotiating in this way in behalf of the peace of the churches. And he conferred by letter about this mooted question, not only with Victor, but also with most of the other rulers of the churches.372
1 Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus,373 and with them Cassius,374 bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them,375 having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles, at the close of their writing add these words:376
2 “Endeavor to send copies of our letter to every church, that we may not furnish occasion to those who easily deceive their souls. We show you indeed that also in Alexandria they keep it on the same day that we do. For letters are carried from us to them and from them to us, so that in the same manner and at the same time we keep the sacred day.”377
Besides the works and letters of Irenaeus which we have mentioned,378 a certain book of his On Knowledge, written against the Greeks,379 very concise and remarkably forcible, is extant; and another, which he dedicated to a brother Martian, In Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching;380 and a volume containing various Dissertations,381 in which he mentions the Epistle to the Hebrews and the so-called Wisdom of Solomon, making quotations from them. These are the works of Irenaeus which have come to our knowledge.
Commodus having ended his reign after thirteen years, Severus became emperor in less than six months after his death, Pertinax having reigned during the intervening time.382
Numerous memorials of the faithful zeal of the ancient ecclesiastical men of that time are still preserved by many. Of these we would note particularly the writings of Heraclitus On the Apostle, and those of Maximus on the question so much discussed among heretics, the Origin of Evil, and on the Creation of Matter.383 Also those of Candidus on the Hexaemeron,384 and of Apion385 on the same subject; likewise of Sextus386 on the Resurrection, and another treatise of Arabianus,387 and writings of a multitude of others, in regard to whom, because we have no data, it is impossible to state in our work when they lived, or to give any account of their history.388 And works of many others have come down to us whose names we are unable to give, orthodox and ecclesiastical, as their interpretations of the Divine Scriptures show, but unknown to us, because their names are not stated in their writings.389
145 1 In a laborious work by one of thesewriters against the heresy of Artemon,390 which Paul of Samosata391 attempted to revive again in our day, there is an account appropriate to the history which we are now examining.
2 For he criticises, as a late innovation, the above-mentioned heresy which teaches that the Saviour was a mere man, because they were attempting to magnify it as ancient392 Having given in his work many other arguments in refutation of their blasphemous falsehood, he adds the following words:
3 “For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter,393 but that from his successor, Zephyrinus,394 the truth had been corrupted.
4 And what they say might be plausible, if first of all the Divine Scriptures did not contradict them. And there are writings of certain brethren older than the times of Victor, which they wrote in behalf of the truth against the heathen, and against the heresies which existed in their day. I refer to Justin395 and Miltiades396 and Tatian397 and Clement398 and many others, in all of whose 5 works Christ is spoken of as God.399
5 For who does not know the works of Irenaeus400 and of Melito401 and of others which teach that Christ is God and man?402 And how many psalms and hymns,403 written by the faithful brethren from the beginning, celebrate Christ the Word of God, speaking of him as Divine.
6 How then since the opinion held by the Church has been preached for so many years, can its preaching have been delayed as they affirm, until the times of Victor? And how is it that they are not ashamed to speak thus falsely of Victor, knowing well that he cut off from communion Theodotus, the cobbler,404 the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy, and the first to declare that Christ is mere man? For if Victor agreed with their opinions, as their slander affirms, how came he to cast out Theodotus, the inventor of this heresy?”
7 So much in regard to Victor. His bishopric lasted ten years, and Zephyrinus was appointed his successor about the ninth year of the reign of Severus.405 The author of the above-mentioned book, concerning the founder of this heresy, narrates another event which occurred in the time of Zephyrinus, using these words:
8 “I will remind many of the brethren of a fact which took place in our time, which, had it happened in Sodom, might, I think, have proved a warning to them. There was a certain confessor, Natalius,406 not long ago, but in our own day.
9 This man was deceived at one time by Asclepiodotus407 and another Theodotus,408 a money-changer. Both of them were disciples of Theodotus, the cobbler, who, as I have said, was the first person excommunicated by Victor, bishop at that time, on account of this sentiment, or rather senselessness.409
10 Natalius was persuaded by them to allow himself to be chosen bishop of this heresy with a salary, to be paid by them, of one hundred and fifty denarii a month.410 When 11 he had thus connected himself with them, he was warned oftentimes by the Lord through visions.
12 For the compassionate God and our Lord Jesus Christ was not willing that a witness of his own sufferings, being cast out of the Church, should perish. But as he paid little regard to the visions, because he was ensnared by the first position among them and by that shameful covetousness which destroys a great many, he was scourged by holy angels, and punished severely through the entire night.411 Thereupon having risen in the morning, he put on sackcloth and covered himself with ashes, and with great haste and tears he fell down before Zephyrinus, the bishop, rolling at the feet not only of the clergy, but also of the laity; and he moved with his tears the compassionate Church of the merciful Christ. And though he used much supplication, and showed the welts of the stripes which he had received, yet scarcely was he taken back into communion.”
146 13 We will add from the same writer some other extracts concerning them, which run as follows:412
“They have treated the Divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scriptures declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be devised to sustain their impiety. And if any one brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive form of syllogism can be made from it.
14 And as being of the earth and speaking of the earth, and as ignorant of him who cometh from above, they forsake the holy writings of God to devote themselves to geometry.413 Euclid is laboriously measured414 by some of them; and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen, perhaps, by some is even worshiped.
15 But that those who use the arts of unbelievers for their heretical opinions and adulterate the simple faith of the Divine Scriptures by the craft of the godless, are far from the faith, what need is there to say? Therefore they have laid their hands boldly upon the Divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them.
16 That I am not speaking falsely of them in this matter, whoever wishes may learn. For if any one will collect their respective copies, and compare them one with another, he will find that they differ greatly.
17 Those of Asclepiades,415 for example, do not agree with those of Theodotus. And many of these can be obtained, because their disciples have assiduously written the corrections, as they call them, that is the corruptions,416 of each of them. Again, those of Hermophilus417 do not agree with these, and those of Apollonides418 are not consistent with themselves. For you can compare those prepared by them at an earlier date with those which they corrupted later, and you will find them widely different.
18 But how daring this offense is, it is not likely that they themselves are ignorant. For either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit, and thus are unbelievers, or else they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and in that case what else are they than demoniacs? For they cannot deny the commission of the crime, since the copies have been written by their own hands. For they did not receive such Scriptures from their instructors, nor can they produce any copies from which they were transcribed.
19 But some of them have not thought it worth while to corrupt them, but simply deny the law and the prophets,419 and thus through their lawless and impious teaching under pretense of grace, have sunk to the lowest depths of perdition.”
Let this suffice for these things).
147 1 When Severus began to persecute the churches,1 glorious testimonies were given everywhere by the athletes of religion. This was especially the case in Alexandria, to which city, as to a most prominent theater, athletes of God were brought from Egypt and all Thebais according to their merit, and won crowns from God through their great patience under many tortures and every mode of death. Among these was Leonides, who was called the father of Origen,2 and who was beheaded while his son was still young. How remarkable the predilection of this son was for the Divine Word, in consequence of his father’s instruction, it will not be amiss to state briefly, as his fame has been very greatly celebrated by many.
1 Many things might be said in attempting to describe the life of the man while in school; but this subject alone would require a separate treatise. Nevertheless, for the present, abridging most things, we shall state a few facts concerning him as briefly as possible, gathering them from certain letters, and from the statement of persons still living who were acquainted with him.
2 What they report of Origen seems to me worthy of mention, even, so to speak, from his swathing-bands.
It was the tenth year of the reign of Severus, while Laetus4 was governor of Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, and Demetrius5 had lately received the episcopate of the parishes there, as successor of Julian.6
3 As the flame of persecution had been kindled greatly,7 and multitudes had gained the crown of martyrdom, such desire for martyrdom seized the soul of Origen, although yet a boy, that he went close to danger, springing forward and rushing to the conflict in his eagerness.
4 And truly the termination of his life had been very near had not the divine and heavenly Providence, for the benefit of many, prevented his desire through the agency of his mother.
5 For, at first, entreating him, she begged him to have compassion on her motherly feelings toward him; but finding, that when he had learned that his father had been seized and imprisoned, he was set the more resolutely, and completely carried away with his zeal for martyrdom, she hid all his clothing, and thus compelled him to remain at home.
6 But, as there was nothing else that he could do, and his zeal beyond his age would not suffer him to be quiet, he sent to his father an encouraging letter on martyrdom,8 in which he exhorted him, saying, “Take heed not to change your mind on our account.” This may be recorded as the first evidence of Origen’s youthful wisdom and of his genuine love for piety.
7 For even then he had stored up no small resources in the words of the faith, having been trained in the Divine Scriptures from childhood. And he had not studied them with indifference, for his father, besides giving him the usual liberal education,9 had made them a matter of no secondary importance.
8 First of all, before inducting him into the Greek sciences, he drilled him in sacred studies, requiring him to learn and recite every day. Nor was this irksome to the boy, but he was eager and diligent in these studies. And he was not satisfied with learning what was simple and obvious in the sacred words, but sought for something more, and even at that age busied himself with deeper speculations. So that he puzzled his father with inquiries for the true meaning of the inspired Scriptures.
148 10 And his father rebuked him seemingly to his face, telling him not to search beyond his age, or further than the manifest meaning. But by himself he rejoiced greatly and thanked God, the author of all good, that he had deemed him worthy to be the father of such a child.
11 And they say that often, standing by the boy when asleep, he uncovered his breast as if the Divine Spirit were enshrined within it, and kissed it reverently; considering himself blessed in his goodly offspring. These and other things like them are related to Origen when a boy.
12 But when his father ended his life in martyrdom, he was left with his mother and six younger brothers when he was not quite seventeen years old.10
13 And the poverty of his father being confiscated to the royal treasury, he and his family were in want of the necessaries of life. But he was deemed worthy of Divine care. And he found welcome and rest with a woman of great wealth, and distinguished in her manner of life and in other respects. She was treating with great honor a famous heretic then in Alexandria;11 who, however, was born in Antioch. He was with her as an adopted son, and she treated him with the greatest kindness.
14 But although Origen was under the necessity of associating with him, he nevertheless gave from this time on strong evidences of his orthodoxy in the faith. For when on account of the apparent skill in argument12 of Paul, — for this was the man’s name, — a great multitude came to him, not only of heretics but also of our people, Origen could never be induced to join with him in prayer;13 for he held, although a boy, the rule of the Church,14 and abominated, as he somewhere expresses it, heretical teachings.15 Having been instructed in the sciences of the Greeks by his father, he devoted him after his death more assiduously and exclusively to the study of literature, so that he obtained considerable preparation in philology16 and was able not long after the death of his father, by devoting himself to that subject, to earn a compensation amply sufficient for his needs at his age.17
1 But while he was lecturing in the school, as he tells us himself, and there was no one at Alexandria to give instruction in the faith, as all were driven away by the threat of persecution, some of the heathen came to him to hear the word of God.
2 The first of them, he says, was Plutarch,18 who after living well, was honored with divine martyrdom. The second was Heracles,19 a brother of Plutarch; who after he too had given with him abundant evidence of a philosophic and ascetic life, was esteemed worthy to succeed Demetrius in the bishopric of Alexandria.
3 He was in his eighteenth year when he took charge of the catechetical school.20 He was prominent also at this time, during the persecution under Aquila,21 the governor of Alexandria, when his name became celebrated among the leaders in the faith, through the kindness and goodwill which he manifested toward all the holy martyrs, whether known to him or strangers.
4 For not only was he with them while in bonds, and until their final condemnation, but when the holy martyrs were led to death, he was very bold and went with them into danger. So that as he acted bravely, and with great boldness saluted the martyrs with a kiss, oftentimes the heathen multitude round about them became infuriated, and were on the point of rushing upon him.
5 But through the helping hand of God, he escaped absolutely and marvelously. And this same divine and heavenly power, again and again, it is impossible to say how often, on account of his great zeal and boldness for the words of Christ, guarded him when thus endangered.22 So great was the enmity of the unbelievers toward him, on account of the multitude that were instructed by him in the sacred faith, that they placed bands of soldiers around the house where he abode.
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