SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XXV. EUSEBIUS, Hist. Eccles. v. 20.


Letter of Irenaeus to Florinus


«Ταῦτα τὰ δόγματα, Φλωρῖνε, ἵνα πεφεισμένως εἴπω, οὐκ ἔστιν ὑγιοῦς γνώμης· ταῦτα τὰ δόγματα ἀσύμφωνά ἐστιν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, εἰς τὴν μεγίστην ἀσέβειαν περιβάλλοντα τοὺς πειθομένους αὐτοῖς· ταῦτα τὰ δόγματα οὐδὲ οἱ ἔξω τῆς ἐκκλησίας αἱρετικοὶ ἐτόλμησαν ἀποφήνασθαί ποτε· ταῦτα τὰ δόγματα οἱ πρὸ ἡμῶν πρεσβύτεροι, οἱ καὶ τοῖς ἀποστόλοις συμφοιτήσαντες, οὐ παρέδωκάν σοι. εἶδον γάρ σε, παῖς ἔτι ὤν, ἐν τῇ κάτω Ἀσίᾳ παρὰ Πολυκάρπῳ, λαμπρῶς πράσσοντα ἐν τῇ βασιλικῇ αὐλῇ καὶ πειρώμενον εὐδοκιμεῖν παρ᾿ αὐτῷ. μᾶλλον γὰρ τὰ τότε διαμνημονεύω τῶν ἔναγχος γινομένων (αἱ γὰρ ἐκ παίδων μαθήσεις συναύξουσαι τῇ ψυχῇ, ἑνοῦνται αὐτῇ), ὥστε με δύνασθαι εἰπεῖν καὶ τὸν τόπον ἐν ᾧ καθεζόμενος διελέγετο ὁ μακάριος Πολύκαρπος, καὶ τὰς προόδους αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰς εἰσόδους καὶ τὸν χαρακτῆρα τοῦ βίου καὶ τὴν τοῦ σώματος ἰδέαν καὶ τὰς διαλέξεις ἃς ἐποιεῖτο πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος, καὶ τὴν μετὰ Ἰωάννου συναναστροφὴν ὡς ἀπήγγελλεν καὶ τὴν μετὰ τῶν λοιπῶν τῶν ἑορακότων τὸν κύριον, καὶ ὡς ἀπεμνημόνευεν τοὺς λόγους αὐτῶν, καὶ περὶ τοῦ κυρίου τίνα ἦν ἃ παρ᾿ ἐκείνων ἀκηκόει, καὶ περὶ τῶν δυνάμεων αὐτοῦ, καὶ περὶ τῆς διδασκαλίας, ὡς παρὰ τῶν αὐτοπτῶν τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ λόγου παρειληφὼς ὁ Πολύκαρπος ἀπήγγελλεν πάντα σύμφωνα ταῖς γραφαῖς. ταῦτα καὶ τότε διὰ τὸ ἔλεος τοῦ θεοῦ τὸ ἐπ᾿ ἐμοὶ γεγονὸς σπουδαίως ἤκουον, ὑπομνηματιζόμενος αὐτὰ οὐκ ἐν χάρτῃ, ἀλλ᾿ ἐν τῇ ἐμῇ καρδίᾳ· καὶ ἀεὶ διὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ γνησίως αὐτὰ ἀναμαρυκῶμαι, καὶ δύναμαι διαμαρτύρασθαι ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι εἴ τι τοιοῦτον ἀκηκόει ἐκεῖνος ὁ μακάριος καὶ ἀποστολικὸς πρεσβύτερος, ἀνακράξας ἂν καὶ ἐμφράξας τὰ ὦτα αὐτοῦ καὶ κατὰ τὸ σύνηθες αὐτῷ εἰπών «Ὧ καλὲ θεέ, εἰς οἵους με καιροὺς τετήρηκας, ἵνα τούτων ἀνέχωμαι», πεφεύγει ἂν καὶ τὸν τόπον ἐν ᾧ καθεζόμενος ἢ ἑστὼς τῶν τοιούτων ἀκηκόει λόγων. καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν δὲ αὐτοῦ ὧν ἐπέστειλεν ἤτοι ταῖς γειτνιώσαις ἐκκλησίαις, ἐπιστηρίζων αὐτάς, ἢ τῶν ἀδελφῶν τισί, νουθετῶν αὐτοὺς καὶ προτρεπόμενος, δύναται φανερωθῆναι».

These opinions, Florinus, that I may speak without harshness, are not of sound judgement; these opinions are not in harmony with the Church, but involve those adopting them in the greatest impiety; these opinions even the heretics outside the pale of the Church have never ventured to broach; these opinions the elders before us, who also were disciples of the Apostles, did not hand down to you. For I saw you, when I was still a boy, in Lower Asia in Company with Polycarp, while you was faring prosperously in the royal court, and endeavouring to stand well with him. For I distinctly remember the incidents of that time better than events of recent occurrence; for the lessons received in childhood, growing with the growth of the soul, become identified with it; so that I can describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp used to sit when he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and his manner of life, and his personal appearance, and the discourses which he held before the people, and how he would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest who had seen the Lord, and how he would relate their words. And whatsoever things he had heard from them about the Lord, and about his miracles, and about his teaching, Polycarp, as having received them from eye-witnesses of the life of the Word, would relate altogether in accordance with the Scriptures. To these discourses I used to listen at the time with attention by God's mercy which was bestowed upon me, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart; and by the grace of God I constantly ruminate upon them faithfully. And I can testify in the sight of God, that if the blessed and Apostolic elder had heard anything of this kind, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, and said after his wont, 'O good God, for what times have you kept me, that I should endure such things?' and would even have fled from the place where he was sitting or standing when he heard such words. And indeed, this can be shown from his letters which he wrote either to the neighbouring Churches for their confirmation, or to certain of the brethren for their warning and exhortation.

L.


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