Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter VII
Chapter VII.—Even down to those Times Miracles were performed by the Faithful.
1. These things Irenæus, in agreement with the accounts already given by us, 1459 records in the work which comprises five books, and to which he gave the title Refutation and Overthrow of the Knowledge Falsely So-called. 1460 In the second book of the same treatise he shows that manifestations of divine and miraculous power continued to his time in some of the churches.
2. He says: 1461
“But so far do they come short of raising the dead, as the Lord raised them, and the apostles through prayer. And oftentimes in the brotherhood, when, on account of some necessity, our entire Church has besought with fasting and much supplication, the spirit of the dead has returned, 1462 and the man has been restored through the prayers of the saints.”
3. And again, after other remarks, he says: 1463
p. 222 “If they will say that even the Lord did these things in mere appearance, we will refer them to the prophetic writings, and show from them that all things were beforehand spoken of him in this manner, and were strictly fulfilled; and that he alone is the Son of God. Wherefore his true disciples, receiving grace from him, perform such works in his Name for the benefit of other men, as each has received the gift from him.
4. For some of them drive out demons effectually and truly, so that those who have been cleansed from evil spirits frequently believe and unite with the Church. Others have a foreknowledge of future events, and visions, and prophetic revelations. Still others heal the sick by the laying on of hands, and restore them to health. And, as we have said, even dead persons have been raised, and remained with us many years.
5. But why should we say more? It is not possible to recount the number of gifts which the Church, throughout all the world, has received from God in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and exercises every day for the benefit of the heathen, never deceiving any nor doing it for money. For as she has received freely from God, freely also does she minister.” 1464
6. And in another place the same author writes: 1465
“As also we hear that many brethren in the Church possess prophetic gifts, and speak, through the Spirit, with all kinds of tongues, and bring to light the secret things of men for their good, and declare the mysteries of God.”
So much in regard to the fact that various gifts remained among those who were worthy even until that time.
In the various passages referred to in the notes on the previous chapter.221:1460
ἐλέγχου καὶ ἀνατροπῆς τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως (cf. 1 Tim. vi. 20). This work of Irenæus, which is commonly known under its Latin title, Adversus Hæreses (Against Heresies), is still extant in a barbarous Latin version, of which we possess three mss. The original Greek is lost, though a great part of the first book can be recovered by means of extensive quotations made from it by Hippolytus and Epiphanius. The work is directed against the various Gnostic systems, among which that of Valentinus is chiefly attacked. The first book is devoted to a statement of their doctrines, the second to a refutation of them, and the remaining three to a presentation of the true doctrines of Christianity as opposed to the false positions of the Gnostics. The best edition of the original is that of Harvey: S. Irenæi libros quinque adv. Hæreses., Cambr. 1857, 2 vols.; English translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, I. p. 309 ff. For the literature of the subject, see Schaff, II. p. 746 ff. On Irenæus himself, see Book IV. chap. 21, note 9.221:1461
Adv. Hær. II. 31. 2. The sentence as it stands in Eusebius is incomplete. Irenæus is refuting the pretended miracles of Simon and Carpocrates. The passage runs as follows: “So far are they [i.e. Simon and Carpocrates] from being able to raise the dead as the Lord raised them and as the apostles did by means of prayer, and as has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity—the entire Church in that locality entreating with much fasting and prayer [so that] the spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in answer to the prayer of the saints—that they do not even believe this can possibly be done, [and hold] that the resurrection from the dead is simply an acquaintance with that truth which they proclaim.”
This resurrection of the dead recorded by Irenæus is very difficult to explain, as he is a truth-loving man, and we can hardly conceive of his uttering a direct falsehood. Even Augustine, “the iron man of truth,” records such miracles, and so the early centuries are full of accounts of them. The Protestant method of drawing a line between the apostolic and post-apostolic ages in this matter of miracles is arbitrary, and based upon dogmatic, not historical grounds. The truth is, that no one can fix the point of time at which miracles ceased; at the same time it is easy to appreciate the difference between the apostolic age and the third, fourth, and following centuries in this regard. That they did cease at an early date in the history of the Church is clear enough. Upon post-apostolic miracles, see Schaff, Ch. Hist. II. p. 116 ff., J. H. Newmans Two Essays on Biblical and Eccles. Miracles, and J. B. Mozleys Bampton lectures On Miracles.221:1462
See the previous note.221:1463
Adv. Hær. II. 32. 4.222:1464
Cf. Matt. x. 8222:1465
Adv. Hær. V. 6. 1.
Next: Chapter VIII
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