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from scripture, and from the miracles performed in his day in the Catholic church, which the heretics could never perform. In the third he advances tradition against the heretics. In the fourth he pursues the same subject, and answers the objections of those who denied the incorruptible resurrection of the body. And, in the fifth, he explains the mysteries of the church, the fall of man, the consequence of it, the incarnation, the resurrection, &c. These books were written chiefly against the execrable doctrines of the Gnostics, and of Valentinus, a priest, who fell by pride and jealousy, because another was preferred before him to a bishopric in Egypt. Valentinus had been a Platonic philosopher, and revived the errors of Simon Magus, adding to them many other absurd fictions, as of thirty Æones or ages, a kind of inferior dieties, &c. As an author, Irenæus was well versed in the scripture, perfectly understood the Pagan poets, and was thoroughly acquainted with the systems and arguments of the heretics. St. Irenæus was a Greek by birth, and received his instructions in the Christian faith from St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was a disciple of St. John the evangelist, and suffered martyrdom in the fourth persecution, as we have mentioned. Consequently, the doctrines held by this orthodox Christian bishop, and “zealous opposer of heresies in

general," must have been received from the apostles, and were therefore genuine. Let us now see then what these doctrines were.

On the contested points regarding the authority, marks, visibility, apostolicity, and infallibility of the Church, and primacy of the pope, which Catholics now and always did maintain, St. Irenæus writes: “Things

being thus made plain (the descent of doctrine from the apostles) it “ is not from others that truth is to be sought, which may be readily “ learned from the church. For to this church, as into a rich reposi

tory, the apostles committed whatever is of divine truth, that each one, if so inclined, might thence draw the drink of life. This is the

way to life; all other teachers must be shunned as thieves and rob“ bers. For what? Should there be any dispute on a point of small

moment, must not recourse be had to the most ancient churches, “ where the apostles resided, and from them collect the truth?” Adv. Hæreses, lib. 111. c. iv. p. 205. Edit. Oxonii, 1702.

“ It is a duty to obey the priests of the church, who hold their suc“ cession from the apostles, and who, with that succession, received,

agreeably to the will of the Father, the sure pledge of truth. But as to those who belong not to that leading succession, in whatever place " they may by united, they should be suspected, either as heretics,

or as schismatics, proudly extolling, and pleasing themselves, or as “hypocrites actuated by vain glory or the love of lucre. But they who “ impugn the truth, and excite others to oppose the church of God, “ their fate is with Dathan and Abiron; while schismatics, who violate “the church's unity, experience the punishment which fell on king “ Jeroboam.” Ibid. l. iv. c. xliii. p. 343, 344.

“ The church, extended to the boundaries of the earth, received her “ faith from the apostles, and their disciples.-Having received it, she

carefully retains it, as if dwelling in one house, as possessing one soul, “ and one heart: the same faith she delivers and teaches, with one, ac“cord, and as if gifted with one tongue: for though in the world there

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“ be various modes of speech, the tradition of doctrine is one and the

In the churches of Germany, in those df Spain and Gaul, in “ those of the East, of Egypt, and of Africa, and in the middle regions, is the same belief, the same teaching. For as the world is enlight

ned by one sun, so does the preaching of one faith enlighten all men, that are willing to come to the knowledge of truth. Nor, among “ the pastors of the church, does he that is eloquent deliver other doc“ trine-for no one is above his master—nor he that is weak in speech “ diminish the truth of tradition. Faith being one, cannot be affected

by the powers or the want of utterance.” Adversus Hæreses, 1. 1. C. ii. iii. p. 45, 46. Ed. Oxon. 1702.

“God placed in his church apostles, prophets, doctors; and the “whole operation of the spirit, of which they do not partake, who are “not united to the church; but, by their own bad designs and actions,

they deprive themselves of life. For where the church is, there is “ the spirit of God; and where this spirit is, there is the church, and “all grace: the spirit is truth.” Ibid. T. 111. c. xl. p. 266. Vide l. iv.c. 62.

The heretics, of whom I have been speaking, came long after those bishops, to whom the apostles committed the care of their churches, " and they ran into devious paths, foreign from the truth. But they, “ who adhered to the church, continued to profess, with all nations, “ the doctrine, which the apostles had delivered, with one and the same “ faith, believed in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; meditating

on the same precepts; upholding the same ordinances, expecting the

coming of the Lord and the salvation of men. The teaching of the “ church is true and stable, shewing to all men the same one path of salvation; for to her has been committed the light and the wisdom of

As the wise man says: (Prov. c. 1.) she uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth on the highest walls ; she speaketh without ceasing in the city gates. Everywhere the church proclaims the truth; she is the candlestick with the seven lamps ; (Exod. xxv.) bearing the light of Christ.” Adv. Hæreses, l. v. c. 20..p. 430.

The church, receiving her doctrine from Christ and his apostles, " and alone preserving it through all regions, delivered it down to her “ children. Hence it becomes our duty, to afford every assistance

against the assaults of heretics; to withdraw those that are in error, “ and to strengthen the weak; in order that they hold fast the faith, “ which they received from that church, which has preserved it invio“ late.Adv. Hær. Proef. lib. v. p. 392.

“ The apostolic faith, manifested to the whole world, they, who « would behold truth, may see in every church; and we can enume“ rate those bishops, who were appointed by the apostles, and their

successors, down to ourselves, none of whom taught, or even knew, “ the wild opinions of these men (heretics). Had the apostles really

possessed any secret doctrines, which the perfect only were to hear, surely they would have communicated them to those, to whom

they entrusted their churches. However, as it would be tedious to “ enumerate the whole list of successions, I shall confine myself to that " of Rome, the greatest, and most ancient, and most illustrious church, “ founded by the glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; receiving from them “ her doctrine, which was announced to all men, and which, through

56 God.

“ him;

“ the succession of her bishops, is come down to us. Thus we con“ found all those, who, through evil designs, or vain-glory, or per

verseness, teach what they ought not. For to this church, on account “ of its superior headship, every other must have recourse, that is, the “ faithful of all countries; in which church has been preserved the “ doctrine delivered by the apostles. They, therefore, having founded “and instructed this church, committed the administration thereof to

Linus. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in his epistle to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus : then, in the third place, Clement, who “ had himself seen and conversed with those apostles, in whose time “ their preaching yet sounded in his ears. Nor was this alone true of

as many, at that time, were living, whom they had taught. “ To Clement succeeded Evaristus; to him Alexander; and then the “ sixth from the apostles, Sixtus, who was followed by Telesphorus,

Hyginus, Pius, and Anicetus. But Soter having succeeded Anicetus, “ Eleutherius, the twelfth from the apostles now governs the church.

By such regular succession, has the doctrine delivered by the apos“ tles, descended to us : and the proof is most clear, that it is one and the same vivifying faith, which coming from the apostles, is at this “ time maintained and taught.” Adv. Hær. l. 111. c. iii. p. 200, 201, 202, 203,

Against the private interpretation of scripture, now so fashionable among Protestants, and especially the promoters of Bible societies, who condemn, one and all, the Catholics for maintaining that THE CHURCH, and THE CHURCH ONLY, is the expounder of the scriptures, St. Irenæus, the “zealous opposer of heresies in general,” as John Fox justly calls him, teaches thus: “Paul says: God appointed in “ his church apostles, prophets, and doctors. Where therefore are the

holy gifts of God, there must the truth be learned : with them is the

succession from the apostles; and there is the society, whose com“munication is sound and irreproveable, unadulterated, and pure. These

preserve the faith of one God, who made all things; increase our love towards his divine Son; and expound, without danger, the "scriptures to us, not blaspheming the name of God, nor dishonouring “the patriarchs, nor contemning the prophets." Adversus Hær. l. 1v. xlv.

“ To him that believeth, that there is one God, and “ holds to the head, which is Christ-to this man all things will be "plain, if he read diligently the scriptures with the aid of those who

are the priests in the church, and in whose hands, as we have shewn, “rests the doctrine of the apostles.” Ibid. c. iii, p. 355.

“And not only from the evangelical and apostolical writings, which "they perversely interpret, and wickedly expound, do these, (heretics)

attempt to prove their assertions; but also from the law and the prophets. For as there are in these many parables and allegories, which may be forced into various meanings, them they craftily fit to their

own purpose, and thus draw from the truth those who have nôt a “ firm faith in one God the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ.” Adv. Hær, l. 1. c.i. p. 19. “ Such being their positions, which the pro“phets never preached, nor Christ taught, nor the apostles delivered, " they boast their own superior knowledge, and attempt to make it

seem credible ; forming, as it were, a rope of sand, by adducing some


p. 345.


“ words from the parables or sayings of the prophets, or of Christ, or “ of the apostles ; but so, as to violate the arrangement and order of

the sacred writings, and, as far as in them lies, dissolve the whole “ connection of truth."- Ibid. p. 55. “ So varying are their notions " drawn from the scriptures, and when a discourse has been read, "shaking their heads with great gravity, they pronounce, that its se“cret meaning is above the capacity of all, and that silence is the proof of wisdom.-When, therefore, they shall be agreed among them“selves on what they draw from the seriptures, it will be our time to " refute them. Meanwhile, thinking wrongfully, and not agreeing in “ the meaning of the same words, they convict themselves; but we,

having one true and only God for our master, and making his words " the rule of truth, always speak alike of the same things; all acknow

ledging one God, the creator of the universe, who sent his prophets, “ and in the latter times manifested his Son, to confound the incredulous, and draw forth the fruit of justice.” L. IV. c. xix. p. 368.

On the contested point of Tradition, which Protestants reject and Catholics stoutly hold, and which is neither more nor less than PUBLIC OPINION, received and delivered down from age to age, this lous opposer

of heresies in general," says, “When these heretics are “ convicted from the scriptures, they begin to accuse the scriptures " themselves, as not being accurate, and void of authority, and so va

riously expressed, that from them truth cannot be discovered by those “ who are ignorant of tradition. For that truth came not by writing, " but by the living voice: wherefore Paul said: (1 Cor. ii. 6.) How" beit we speak wisdom among the perfeet; yet not the wisdom of this world. “ –Now this wisdom each one of them pretends to possess, as he has “ drawn it from himself. For each one in his own perversity, pervert

ing the rule of truth, blushes not to vaunt himself. On the other "hand, when we appeal to that tradition, which, coming from the “apostles through the succession of ministers, is preserved in the "churches, they object to it, observing that, being themselves wiser ".than those ministers, and the apostles themselves, they have disco"vered the genuine truth.-_Thus they assent neither to the scriptures,

nor to tradition.” Adv. Hæres. l. 111. c. ii. p. 199, 200. “And had " these apostles left us nothing in writing, must not we, in that case, "have followed the rule of doctrine, which they delivered to those to “ whom they entrusted their churches ? To this rule many

barbarous "nations submit, who, deprived of the aid of letters, have the words of “salvation written on their hearts, and carefully guard the doctrine “ which has been delivered.” Ibid. c. iv. p. 205. “ Thus Polycarp "always taught what he had learnt from the apostles, delivering it to "the church; and these things alone are true. To them all the “ churches of Asia, and they who, down to this day, have succeeded to “ St. Polycarp, bear testimony. He was a man of much greater au

thority, and a witness of truth more faithful, than Valentinus and "Marcion, and such perverse thinkers. Coming to Rome, in the time of Anicetus, he converted many heretics to the church of God, an

nouncing the one and only truth, which he had received from the

apostles, and which he delivered to the church. There is an epistle " of Polycarp to the Philippians, from which may be collected, what

« God.

“ was the character of his faith, and the truth which he preached. “ Moreover, the church of Ephesus, which Paul founded, and where “ John resided to the time of Trajan, is itself a witness to the doctrine “ delivered by the apostles.” Adv. Hær. l. 111. c. iii. p. 203.

Of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Lord's supper, and the sacrifice of the Mass, which Catholics steadfastly maintain, and even resign their civil rights for the same, as the Protestants of this country have made the rejection of this doctrine a test of civil capacity, by compelling every person appointed to office to SWEAR it is DAMNABLE and IDOLATROUS, this "zealous opposer of heresies in general," (observe we quote John Fox) writes thus :

It is our duty to make an offering to God, and with a pure heart, a “ sincere faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity to present the Maker “ of all things the first fruits of his creatures. But this pure

oblation “ the church alone makes. The Jews make it not, for their hands are “ stained with blood; and they receive not the word that is offered to

Nor do the assemblies of heretics make it. For how can these prove, that the bread, over which the words of thanksgiving “ have been pronounced, is the body of their Lord, and the cup his " blood, while they do not admit, that he is the Son, that is, the Word “ of the Creator of the world? Or how again do they maintain, that “ the flesh turns to .corruption, and partakes not of life, which is nou“ rished with the body and blood of the Lord ? Wherefore, let them “ either give up their opinion, or cease from making that offering. “ But our sentiment accords with the nature of the Eucharist, and the “ Eucharist again confirms our sentiment. The bread that we receive “ is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two " things, terrestrial and celestial.” Adv. Hær. lib. 1v. c. xxxiv. p. 326, 327.

They are truly vain (the heretics), who contemn the whole “ divine system, and denying the salvation and regeneration of the flesh, “ maintain that it is not susceptible of incorruption. According to this “ then, the Lord did not redeem us by his blood; nor is the cup of the “ Eucharist the participation of his blood, nor the bread, which we “ break, the participation of his body. When therefore the mingled “ chalice and the broken bread receive the word of God, they become “ the Eucharist of the body and blood'of Christ, by which the substance “ of our flesh is increased and strengthened: how then can they pre

tend, that this flesh is not susceptible of eternal life? And as a sec-« tion of the vine laid in the earth produces fruit in due season, and in “ like manner the grain of corn is multiplied, by the blessing of God, “ which afterwards are used for the benefit of man, and receiving on “ them the word of God, become the Eucharist, which is the body and “ blood of Christ : so our bodies, nourished by that Eucharist, and then “ laid in the earth, and dissolved in it, shall, in due time, rise again.” Ibid. 1.5. c. xi. p. 395, 397, 399.

Giving advice to his disciples, to offer their first fruits to God, not as if he stood in need of them, but that they might not seem ungrate“ ful, he took bread into his hands, and giving thanks, said : This is my

body. Likewise he declared the cup to be his blood, and taught the new oblation of the new Testament, which oblation the church receiving from the apo tles, offers it to God over all the earth--to him

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