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portion of natural truths which are agreeable to the moral sense and conscience of mankind, they seem, as they have been generally managed, the very same sort of evils as those which the Apostle to the Colossians speaks against. His guard against philosophy is equally applicable to them; and as they militate generally against the vital truths of christianity, undoubtedly the cultivation of them has corrupted the gospel in our times, as much as the cultivation of more ancient philosophy corrupted it in early ages. Indeed whatever pretends to incorporate with the gospel, and is yet not christian, must do mischief by the effect of the combination, however speciously it may address itself to the reason of man, prejudiced by selfconceit and the love of fin.
And here we shut up the view of the second century, which, for the most part, exhibited proofs of Divine Grace as strong, or nearly so, as the first. We have seen the fame unshaken and fimple faith of Jesus, the same love of God and of the brethren, and that in which they singularly excelled modern christians, the fame heavenly spirit and victory over the world. But a dark shade is enveloping these divine glories. The Spirit of God is grieved already by the ambitious intrusions of self-righteousness, argumentative refinements, and Pharisaic pride; and though it be more common to represent the most sensible decay of godliness as commencing a century later, to me it seems already begun. Yet the effects of the first out-pouring of the Spirit, and some rich communications of the fame Spirit will appear in the
of events in this century, it may be conve. nient to continue the account of authors belonging to the last, whose deaths happened within this. We meet with four celebrated men of this description ; Irenæus, Tertullian, Pantænus, and Clement of Alexandria.
Of Irenæus it were to be wished we had a more copious account. The place of his birth is quite uncertain. His name, however, points him out to be a Grecian. His instructors in christianity were Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, and the renowned Polycarp. The former is generally allowed to have been a man of real sanctity, but of flender capacity. He, as well as Polycarp, had been Disciples of St. John, and with all the imbecillity of judgment which is ascribed to him, might, under God, have been of signal service to Irenæus. But the instructions of Polycarp seem to have made the deepest impressions on his mind from early life.
The church of Lyons, we have seen, was a daughter of the church of Smyrna, or of the other neighbouring churches. Pothinus must have been a Greek as well as Irenæus ; who as Presbyter affifted the venerable Prelate in his old age. His
concern in writing the account of the Martyrdoms of Lyons has been already mentioned. After the death of Pothinus, about the year 169, he succeeded him. Never was any Pastor more severely tried by a tempestuous scene. Violent persecution without, and subtil heresies within, called for the exertion, at once, of confummate dexterity and of magnanimous resolution. Irenæus was favoured with a large measure of both, and weathered out the storm. But heresy proved a more constant enemy than persecution. The multiplication of it in endless refinements induced him to write his book against heresies, which must have been at that time a very seasonable work. His vigour and charity also in composing the insignificant disputes about Easter have been noticed.
The beginning of the third century was marked with the persecution under Septimius Severus, the successor of Julian. He himself had most probably directed the persecution at Lyons, in which Pothinus suffered, and when he began to persecutę as Emperor, he would naturally recall the idea of Lyons, and of the persecution in which he had so large a share*. Gregory of Tours, and the ancient Martyrologists inform us, that after several tor. ments Irenæus was put to death, and together with him almost all the christians of that populous city, whose numbers could not be reckoned, so that the streets of Lyons flowed with the blood of christians. We may easily allow that this is a rhetorical exaggeration. Yet I see no reason with some to deny the truth of this second persecution at Lyons, and of Irenæus suffering martyrdom under it. Gregory of Tours is not the best authority, but there is no circumstance of improbability here. The silence of Eusebius affords no
argument * Cave's Life of Irenæus.
argument to the contrary, because he is far from relating the deaths of all celebrated christians. Of those in the West particularly, he is by no means copious in his narrative, and the natural cruelty of Severus, added to his former connection with Lyons, gives to the fact a strong degree of credibility.
The labours of Irenæus in Gaul were doubtless of the most folid utility. Nor is it a small instance of the humility and charity of this great man, accurately versed as he was in Grecian literature, that he took pains to learn the barbarous dialect of Gaul, conformed himself to the rustic manners of an illiterate people, and renounced the politeness and elegant traits of his own country, for the love of fouls. Rare fruit of christian charity! and highly worthy the attention of pastors in an age like this, in which so many undertake to preach christianity, and yet distinguish themselves in any thing rather than in what peculiarly belongs to their office !
His book of heresies is nearly the whole of his writings that have escaped the injuries of time. His assiduity and penetration are equally remarkable in analyzing and dissecting all the fanciful schemes, with which heretics had disgraced the christian name. It is easy to see that his views of the gospel are in the same style as those of Justin *, whom he quotes, and with whose works he appears to have been acquainted. Like him he is filent, or nearly so, on the election of grace, which from the instructors of his early age he must often have heard. And like him he defends the Arminian notion of free-will, and by similar arguments I. His philosophy seems to have had
• B. 4. C. 14. 1 B. 4. C. 72.-quia in nobis fit, feems equivalent to Justin's αυτεξασια,
the same influence on his mind, to darken fome truths of scripture, and to mix the doctrine of Christ with foine human inventions.
There is not much of pathetic, practical, or experimental religion in the work. The author's plan, which led him to keep up a constant attention to speculative errors, did not admit it. Yet there is every where so serious and grave a spirit, and now and then such displays of godliness, as shew him very capable of writing what imight have been fingularly useful to the church in all ages.
He makes a strong use of the argument of tradition in support of the apostolical doctrine against the povel heresies. His acquaintance with primitive christians gave him a great right to press this argument, and the force of it in a certain degree is obvious. The Papists have perverted these declarations of his into an argument in favour of their church. But what may not men pervert and abuse ? The reasonable use of tradition, as a collateral proof of christian doctrines, is not hence invalidated. What he obferves here concerning the barbarous nations is remarkable*. « If there was any doubt concerning the least article, ought we not to have recourse to the most ancient churches where the Apostles lived ? But what would it fignify if the Apostles had left us no writings ? Ought we not to follow the tradition which they left to those with whom they committed the care of the churches? It is what several barbarous nations observe, who believe in Jesus without paper or ink, having the doctrine of falvation written on their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and faithfully keeping up to ancient tradition concerning one God the Creator and his Son
Jesus * B. 3. C. 4.-See Fleury's Church History on the subject of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. 1. B. 4.