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Chapter III.—On the Holy Spirit.
1. The next point is to investigate as briefly as possible the subject of the Holy Spirit. All who perceive, in whatever manner, the existence of Providence, confess that God, who created and disposed all things, is unbegotten, and rec252ognise Him as the parent of the universe. Now, that to Him belongs a Son, is a statement not made by us only; although it may seem a sufficiently marvellous and incredible assertion to those who have a reputation as philosophers among Greeks and Barbarians, by some of whom, however, an idea of His existence seems to have been entertained, in their acknowledging that all things were created by the word or reason of God. We, however, in conformity with our belief in that doctrine, which we assuredly hold to be divinely inspired, believe that it is possible in no other way to explain and bring within the reach of human knowledge this higher and diviner reason as the Son of God, than by means of those Scriptures alone which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, i.e., the Gospels and Epistles, and the law and the prophets, according to the declaration of Christ Himself. Of the existence of the Holy Spirit no one indeed could entertain any suspicion, save those who were familiar with the law and the prophets, or those who profess a belief in Christ. For although no one is able to speak with certainty of God the Father, it is nevertheless possible for some knowledge of Him to be gained by means of the visible creation and the natural feelings of the human mind; and it is possible, moreover, for such knowledge to be confined from the sacred Scriptures. But with respect to the Son of God, although no one knoweth the Son save the Father, yet it is from sacred Scripture also that the human mind is taught how to think of the Son; and that not only from the New, but also from the Old Testament, by means of those things which, although done by the saints, are figuratively referred to Christ, and from which both His divine nature, and that human nature which was assumed by Him, may be discovered.
2. Now, what the Holy Spirit is, we are taught in many passages of Scripture, as by David in the fifty-first Psalm, when he says, “And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me;”19881988 Ps. li. 11. and by Daniel, where it is said, “The Holy Spirit which is in thee.”19891989 Dan. iv. 8. And in the New Testament we have abundant testimonies, as when the Holy Spirit is described as having descended upon Christ, and when the Lord breathed upon His apostles after His resurrection, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit;”19901990 John xx. 22. and the saying of the angel to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon thee;”19911991 Luke i. 35. the declaration by Paul, that no one can call Jesus Lord, save by the Holy Spirit.19921992 1 Cor. xii. 3. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit was given by the imposition of the apostles’ hands in baptism.19931993 Acts viii. 18. From all which we learn that the person of the Holy Spirit was of such authority and dignity, that saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all, i.e., by the naming of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by joining to the unbegotten God the Father, and to His only-begotten Son, the name also of the Holy Spirit. Who, then, is not amazed at the exceeding majesty of the Holy Spirit, when he hears that he who speaks a word against the Son of man may hope for forgiveness; but that he who is guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has not forgiveness, either in the present world or in that which is to come!19941994 Cf. Matt. xii. 32 and Luke xii. 10.
3. That all things were created by God, and that there is no creature which exists but has derived from Him its being, is established from many declarations of Scripture; those assertions being refuted and rejected which are falsely alleged by some respecting the existence either of a matter co-eternal with God, or of unbegotten souls, in which they would have it that God implanted not so much the power of existence, as equality and order. For even in that little treatise called The Pastor or Angel of Repentance, composed by Hermas, we have the following: “First of all, believe that there is one God who created and arranged all things; who, when nothing formerly existed, caused all things to be; who Himself contains all things, but Himself is contained by none.”19951995 Cf. Hermæ Past., Vision v. Mandat. 1. [See vol. ii. p. 20.] And in the book of Enoch also we have similar descriptions. But up to the present time we have been able to find no statement in holy Scripture in which the Holy Spirit could be said to be made or created,19961996 Per quem Spiritus Sanctus factura esse vel creatura diceretur. not even in the way in which we have shown above that the divine wisdom is spoken of by Solomon, or in which those expressions which we have discussed are to be understood of the life, or the word, or the other appellations of the Son of God. The Spirit of God, therefore, which was borne upon the waters, as is written in the beginning of the creation of the world, is, I am of opinion, no other than the Holy Spirit, so far as I can understand; as indeed we have shown in our exposition of the passages themselves, not according to the historical, but according to the spiritual method of interpretation.
4. Some indeed of our predecessors have observed, that in the New Testament, whenever the Spirit is named without that adjunct which denotes quality, the Holy Spirit is to be understood; as e.g., in the expression, “Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace;”19971997 Gal. v. 22. and, “Seeing ye began in the Spirit, are ye now made 253perfect in the flesh?”19981998 Gal. iii. 3. We are of opinion that this distinction may be observed in the Old Testament also, as when it is said, “He that giveth His Spirit to the people who are upon the earth, and Spirit to them who walk thereon.”19991999 Isa. xlii. 5. For, without doubt, every one who walks upon the earth (i.e., earthly and corporeal beings) is a partaker also of the Holy Spirit, receiving it from God. My Hebrew master also used to say that those two seraphim in Isaiah, which are described as having each six wings, and calling to one another, and saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts,”20002000 Isa. vi. 3. were to be understood of the only-begotten Son of God and of the Holy Spirit. And we think that that expression also which occurs in the hymn of Habakkuk, “In the midst either of the two living things, or of the two lives, Thou wilt be known,”20012001 Hab. iii. 2. ought to be understood of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. For all knowledge of the Father is obtained by revelation of the Son through the Holy Spirit, so that both of these beings which, according to the prophet, are called either “living things” or “lives,” exist as the ground of the knowledge of God the Father. For as it is said of the Son, that “no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him,”20022002 Luke x. 22. the same also is said by the apostle of the Holy Spirit, when He declares, “God hath revealed them to us by His Holy Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God;”20032003 1 Cor. ii. 10. and again in the Gospel, when the Saviour, speaking of the divine and profounder parts of His teaching, which His disciples were not yet able to receive, thus addresses them: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now; but when the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is come, He will teach you all things, and will bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”20042004 Cf. John xvi. 12, 13, and xiv. 26. We must understand, therefore, that as the Son, who alone knows the Father, reveals Him to whom He will, so the Holy Spirit, who alone searches the deep things of God, reveals God to whom He will: “For the Spirit bloweth where He listeth.”20052005 John iii. 8. We are not, however, to suppose that the Spirit derives His knowledge through revelation from the Son. For if the Holy Spirit knows the Father through the Son’s revelation, He passes from a state of ignorance into one of knowledge; but it is alike impious and foolish to confess the Holy Spirit, and yet to ascribe to Him ignorance. For even although something else existed before the Holy Spirit, it was not by progressive advancement that He came to be the Holy Spirit; as if any one should venture to say, that at the time when He was not yet the Holy Spirit He was ignorant of the Father, but that after He had received knowledge He was made the Holy Spirit. For if this were the case, the Holy Spirit would never be reckoned in the Unity of the Trinity, i.e., along with the unchangeable Father and His Son, unless He had always been the Holy Spirit. When we use, indeed, such terms as “always” or “was,” or any other designation of time, they are not to be taken absolutely, but with due allowance; for while the significations of these words relate to time, and those subjects of which we speak are spoken of by a stretch of language as existing in time, they nevertheless surpass in their real nature all conception of the finite understanding.
5. Nevertheless it seems proper to inquire what is the reason why he who is regenerated by God unto salvation has to do both with Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and does not obtain salvation unless with the co-operation of the entire Trinity; and why it is impossible to become partaker of the Father or the Son without the Holy Spirit. And in discussing these subjects, it will undoubtedly be necessary to describe the special working of the Holy Spirit, and of the Father and the Son. I am of opinion, then, that the working of the Father and of the Son takes place as well in saints as in sinners, in rational beings and in dumb animals; nay, even in those things which are without life, and in all things universally which exist; but that the operation of the Holy Spirit does not take place at all in those things which are without life, or in those which, although living, are yet dumb; nay, is not found even in those who are endued indeed with reason, but are engaged in evil courses, and not at all converted to a better life. In those persons alone do I think that the operation of the Holy Spirit takes place, who are already turning to a better life, and walking along the way which leads to Jesus Christ, i.e., who are engaged in the performance of good actions, and who abide in God.
6. That the working of the Father and the Son operates both in saints and in sinners, is manifest from this, that all who are rational beings are partakers of the word, i.e., of reason, and by this means bear certain seeds, implanted within them, of wisdom and justice, which is Christ. Now, in Him who truly exists, and who said by Moses, “I Am Who I Am,”20062006 Ex. iii. 14. all things, whatever they are, participate; which participation in God the Father is shared both by just men and sinners, by rational and irrational beings, and by all things universally which exist. 254The Apostle Paul also shows truly that all have a share in Christ, when he says, “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (i.e., to bring Christ down from above;) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith the Scripture? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”20072007 Rom. x. 6–8. By which he means that Christ is in the heart of all, in respect of His being the word or reason, by participating in which they are rational beings. That declaration also in the Gospel, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin,”20082008 John xv. 22. renders it manifest and patent to all who have a rational knowledge of how long a time man is without sin, and from what period he is liable to it, how, by participating in the word or reason, men are said to have sinned, viz., from the time they are made capable of understanding and knowledge, when the reason implanted within has suggested to them the difference between good and evil; and after they have already begun to know what evil is, they are made liable to sin, if they commit it. And this is the meaning of the expression, that “men have no excuse for their sin,” viz., that, from the time the divine word or reason has begun to show them internally the difference between good and evil, they ought to avoid and guard against that which is wicked: “For to him who knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”20092009 Jas. iv. 17. Moreover, that all men are not without communion with God, is taught in the Gospel thus, by the Saviour’s words: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! but the kingdom of God is within you.”20102010 Luke xvii. 20, 21. But here we must see whether this does not bear the same meaning with the expression in Genesis: “And He breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”20112011 Gen. ii. 7. For if this be understood as applying generally to all men, then all men have a share in God.
7. But if this is to be understood as spoken of the Spirit of God, since Adam also is found to have prophesied of some things, it may be taken not as of general application, but as confined to those who are saints. Finally, also, at the time of the flood, when all flesh had corrupted their way before God, it is recorded that God spoke thus, as of undeserving men and sinners: “My Spirit shall not abide with those men for ever, because they are flesh.”20122012 Gen. vi. 3. By which, it is clearly shown that the Spirit of God is taken away from all who are unworthy. In the Psalms also it is written: “Thou wilt take away their spirit, and they will die, and return to their earth. Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou wilt renew the face of the earth;”20132013 Ps. civ. 29, 30. which is manifestly intended of the Holy Spirit, who, after sinners and unworthy persons have been taken away and destroyed, creates for Himself a new people, and renews the face of the earth, when, laying aside, through the grace of the Spirit, the old man with his deeds, they begin to walk in newness of life. And therefore the expression is competently applied to the Holy Spirit, because He will take up His dwelling, not in all men, nor in those who are flesh, but in those whose land20142014 Terra. has been renewed. Lastly, for this reason was the grace and revelation of the Holy Spirit bestowed by the imposition of the apostles’ hands after baptism. Our Saviour also, after the resurrection, when old things had already passed away, and all things had become new, Himself a new man, and the first-born from the dead, His apostles also being renewed by faith in His resurrection, says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”20152015 John xx. 22. This is doubtless what the Lord the Saviour meant to convey in the Gospel, when He said that new wine cannot be put into old bottles, but commanded that the bottles should be made new, i.e., that men should walk in newness of life, that they might receive the new wine, i.e., the newness of grace of the Holy Spirit. In this manner, then, is the working of the power of God the Father and of the Son extended without distinction to every creature; but a share in the Holy Spirit we find possessed only by the saints. And therefore it is said, “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”20162016 1 Cor. xii. 3. And on one occasion, scarcely even the apostles themselves are deemed worthy to hear the words, “Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.”20172017 Acts i. 8. For this reason, also, I think it follows that he who has committed a sin against the Son of man is deserving of forgiveness; because if he who is a participator of the word or reason of God cease to live agreeably to reason, he seems to have fallen into a state of ignorance or folly, and therefore to deserve forgiveness; whereas he who has been deemed worthy to have a portion of the Holy Spirit, and who has relapsed, is, by this very act and work, said to be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Let no one indeed suppose that we, from having said that the Holy Spirit is conferred upon the saints alone, but that the benefits or operations of the Father and of the Son extend 255to good and bad, to just and unjust, by so doing give a preference to the Holy Spirit over the Father and the Son, or assert that His dignity is greater, which certainly would be a very illogical conclusion. For it is the peculiarity of His grace and operations that we have been describing. Moreover, nothing in the Trinity can be called greater or less, since the fountain of divinity alone contains all things by His word and reason, and by the Spirit of His mouth sanctifies all things which are worthy of sanctification, as it is written in the Psalm: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens strengthened, and all their power by the Spirit of His mouth.”20182018 Ps. xxxiii. 6. There is also a special working of God the Father, besides that by which He bestowed upon all things the gift of natural life. There is also a special ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ to those upon whom he confers by nature the gift of reason, by means of which they are enabled to be rightly what they are. There is also another grace of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon the deserving, through the ministry of Christ and the working of the Father, in proportion to the merits of those who are rendered capable of receiving it. This is most clearly pointed out by the Apostle Paul, when demonstrating that the power of the Trinity is one and the same, in the words, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”20192019 1 Cor. xii. 4–7. From which it most clearly follows that there is no difference in the Trinity, but that which is called the gift of the Spirit is made known through the Son, and operated by God the Father. “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every one severally as He will.”20202020 1 Cor. xii. 11.
8. Having made these declarations regarding the Unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, let us return to the order in which we began the discussion. God the Father bestows upon all, existence; and participation in Christ, in respect of His being the word of reason, renders them rational beings. From which it follows that they are deserving either of praise or blame, because capable of virtue and vice. On this account, therefore, is the grace of the Holy Ghost present, that those beings which are not holy in their essence may be rendered holy by participating in it. Seeing, then, that firstly, they derive their existence from God the Father; secondly, their rational nature from the Word; thirdly, their holiness from the Holy Spirit,—those who have been previously sanctified by the Holy Spirit are again made capable of receiving Christ, in respect that He is the righteousness of God; and those who have earned advancement to this grade by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, will nevertheless obtain the gift of wisdom according to the power and working of the Spirit of God. And this I consider is Paul’s meaning, when he says that to “some is given the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.” And while pointing out the individual distinction of gifts, he refers the whole of them to the source of all things, in the words, “There are diversities of operations, but one God who worketh all in all.”20212021 1 Cor. xii. 6. Whence also the working of the Father, which confers existence upon all things, is found to be more glorious and magnificent, while each one, by participation in Christ, as being wisdom, and knowledge, and sanctification, makes progress, and advances to higher degrees of perfection; and seeing it is by partaking of the Holy Spirit that any one is made purer and holier, he obtains, when he is made worthy, the grace of wisdom and knowledge, in order that, after all stains of pollution and ignorance are cleansed and taken away, he may make so great an advance in holiness and purity, that the nature which he received from God may become such as is worthy of Him who gave it to be pure and perfect, so that the being which exists may be as worthy as He who called it into existence. For, in this way, he who is such as his Creator wished him to be, will receive from God power always to exist, and to abide for ever. That this may be the case, and that those whom He has created may be unceasingly and inseparably present with Him, Who IS, it is the business of wisdom to instruct and train them, and to bring them to perfection by confirmation of His Holy Spirit and unceasing sanctification, by which alone are they capable of receiving God. In this way, then, by the renewal of the ceaseless working of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in us, in its various stages of progress, shall we be able at some future time perhaps, although with difficulty, to behold the holy and the blessed life, in which (as it is only after many struggles that we are able to reach it) we ought so to continue, that no satiety of that blessedness should ever seize us; but the more we perceive its blessedness, the more should be increased and intensified within us the longing for the same, while we ever more eagerly and freely receive and hold fast the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But if satiety should ever take hold of any one of those who stand on the highest and perfect summit of attainment, I do not think that such an one would suddenly 256be deposed from his position and fall away, but that he must decline gradually and little by little, so that it may sometimes happen that if a brief lapsus take place, and the individual quickly repent and return to himself, he may not utterly fall away, but may retrace his steps, and return to his former place, and again make good that which had been lost by his negligence.
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