June 28, St. Irenaeus of Lyons

I know I’m a day late, but here are a couple great quotes from Irenaeus (ca. 130-200).  First, from a fragment recorded by Eusebius:

These4798 opinions, Florinus, that I may speak in mild terms, are not of sound doctrine; these opinions are not consonant to the Church, and involve their votaries in the utmost impiety; these opinions, even the heretics beyond the Church’s pale have never ventured to broach; these opinions, those presbyters who preceded us, and who were conversant with the apostles, did not hand down to thee. For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court,4799 and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse— his going out, too, and his coming in—his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God’s mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God’s grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.

     [4798   This interesting extract we also owe to Eusebius, who (ut sup.) took it from the work De Ogdoade, written after this former friend of Irenæus had lapsed to Valentinianism. Florinus had previously held that God was the author of evil, which sentiment Irenæus opposed in a treatise, now lost, called περὶ μοναρχίας.]

     [4799  Comp. p. 32, this volume, and Phil. iv. 22.]

The second from the excellent Treasury of Daily Prayer for yesterday:

We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith….  But they are altogether deceived who imagine that they may learn from the scriptural text adduced by heretics, that [doctrine] which their words plausibly teach.  For error is plausible and bears a resemblance to the truth but requires to be disguised; while truth is without disguise and, therefore, has been entrusted to children (TDP 472; find it all here and here).

Timotheos

Chesterton on Drinking

I’m searching Chesterton for a particular quote (“Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost his principles”; if you know where it is found, please, please tell me) and I found this in Heretics under “Omar and the Sacred Vine” (Chesterton quoters should be required to give attribution!):

The sound rule in the matter would appear to be like many other sound rules–a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell.  But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.

This is the Scriptural rule as well: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” (Psalm 104:14-15, ESV)

No one can be really hilarious but the serious man.  “Wine,” says the Scripture, “maketh glad the heart of man,” but only of the man who has a heart. The thing called high spirits is possible only to the spiritual. Ultimately a man cannot rejoice in anything except the nature of things.
Ultimately a man can enjoy nothing except religion. Once in the world’s history men did believe that the stars were dancing to the tune of their temples, and they danced as men have never danced since.  With this old pagan eudaemonism the sage of the Rubaiyat has quite as little to do as he has with any Christian variety.  He is no more a Bacchanal than he is a saint. Dionysus and his church was grounded on a serious joie-de-vivre like that of Walt Whitman. Dionysus made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament.  Jesus Christ also made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament.  But Omar makes it, not a sacrament, but a medicine. He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad.  “Drink,” he says, “for you know not whence you come nor why.  Drink, for you know not when you go nor where. Drink, because the stars are cruel and the world as idle as a humming-top. Drink, because there is nothing worth trusting, nothing worth fighting for.  Drink, because all things are lapsed in a base equality and an
evil peace.” So he stands offering us the cup in his hand.  And at the high altar of Christianity stands another figure, in whose hand also is the cup of the vine. “Drink” he says “for the whole world is as red as this wine, with the crimson of the love and wrath of God. Drink, for the  trumpets are blowing for battle and this is the stirrup-cup. Drink, for this my blood of the new testament that is shed for you.  Drink, for I know of whence you come and why. Drink, for I
know of when you go and where.”

Timotheos