Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 5—Epistola Martyrum Galliae. A.D. 180.

The letter of the Martyrs in France I place here, because it is thought by some learned men[1] to have been drawn up by Irenaeus, who was first a presbyter, and then bishop of the church at Lyons. In what year it was written is not certainly known; it must be after the death of Pothinus, predecessor to Irenaeus, since it gives an account of his martyrdom. The letter is written in a truly grand, noble, Christian spirit; it begins thus: “The servants of Christ dwelling in Vienna, and Lyons in France, to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia, which have the same faith and hope of redemption with us, peace, and grace, and glory, from, God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord. In it they give an account of the sufferings and martyrdom of many excellent and godly persons in those parts, how bravely they endured, persevered, and held out to the end; which constancy and perseverance they all along ascribe to the grace and power of God. Among other expressions they have these:[2] “When,” say they, we were not only driven from houses, baths, and markets, but were entirely forbid to appear in any place, antistrategei de e charis tou Theou, ‘the grace of God fought for us against the adversary,' and delivered the weak, and set against him firm or solid pillars, able, through patience, to draw upon themselves the whole force or power of the wicked one.” And a little after[3] they make mention of others, “who were bitterly tormented, insomuch that it seemed as though they could not live, notwithstanding every kind of medicine they made use of; they remained in prison, destitute indeed of the help and care of men, but anarronumenoi upo ten Kurion kai endunamoumenoi kai somati kai psuche, ‘being afresh strengthened by the Lord, and enabled or assisted in body and soul,' they stirred up and comforted the rest.” And of Blundina, in particular, they say,[4] that “though she was little, and weak, and despicable, yet, megan kai akatagoniston athleten Christon endedumene, ‘being clothed with that great and invincible champion, Christ,' many a time overcame the enemy, and through the combat is crowned with the crown of immortality.” And after having taken notice of some who had denied the faith at first, afterwards, beyond the expectation of the heathens, made a confession of it; whereby Christ was greatly glorified, and all they were added to the number of the martyrs. They speak of others after this manner:[5] “But they remained without, oi me de ichnos popote pisteos, ‘who never had the least appearance of faith,' nor sense of the wedding garment, nor understanding of the fear of God, but through their whole conversation caused the way to be blasphemed; that is to say, the sons of perdition.” From whence it appears, that these early pious Christians, as they observe that such as had the true grace of God held out to the end, which they ascribe to the power of God; so such as finally and totally fell away, were such who never had the root of the matter in them.


[1] Vide Vales. Annot. in Euseb. Eccl. Hist. I. 5, c. 1, p. 86: Fabricii Bibl, Graec. 1. 5. c. 1, p. 86: Fabricii Bibl. 1. 5. c. 1, p. 74.

[2] In Euseb. Eccl Hist. 1. 5, c. 1, p.155.

[3] Ibid. p. 159.

[4] Ibid. p. 162.

[5] Ibid. p. 163.