Basil the Great - The Holy Spirit

They are annoyed with us for completing the doxology to the Only Begotten together with the Father, and for not separating the Holy Spirit from the Son.
The origin of the heretics' close observation all syllables.

4. The petty exactitude of these men about syllables and words is not, as might be supposed, simple and straightforward; nor is the mischief to which it tends a small one. There is involved a deep and covert design against true religion

Their pertinacious contention is to show that the mention of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is unlike, as though they will thence find it easy to demonstrate that there is a variation in nature. They have an old sophism, invented by Aetius, the champion of this heresy, in one of whose Letters there is a passage to the effect

that things naturally unlike are expressed in unlike terms, and, conversely,
that things expressed in unlike terms are naturally unlike.

In proof of this statement he drags in the words of the Apostle, "One God and Father of whom are all things, ... and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things " "Whatever, then," he goes on, "is the relation of these terms to one another, such will be the relation of the natures indicated by them; and as the term 'of whom' is unlike the term 'by whom,'

so is the Father unlike the Son." On this heresy depends the idle subtilty of these men about the phrases in question.

They accordingly assign to God the Father, as though it were His distinctive portion and lot, the phrase "of Whom;"

to God the Son they confine the phrase '" by Whom;"
to the
Holy Spirit that of "in Whom,"

and say that this use of the syllables is never interchanged, in order that. as I have already said, the variation of language may indicate the variation of nature. Verily it is sufficiently obvious that in their quibbling about the words they are endeavouring to maintain the force of their impious argument.

By the term

"of whom" they wish to indicate the Creator;
by the term "
through whom," the subordinate agent or instrument;
by the term "in whom," or "in which," they mean to
shew the time or place.

The object of all this is that the Creator of the universe may be regarded as of no higher dignity than an instrument,

and that the Holy Spirit may appear to be adding to existing things nothing more than the contribution derived from place or time.

The systematic discussion of syllables is derived from heathen philosophy.

5. They have, however, been led into this error by their close study of heathen writers, who have respectively

applied the terms "of whom" and "through whom"
to things which are by nature distinct.

These writers suppose that by the term "of whom" or "of which" the matter is indicated, while the term "through whom" or "through which"

represents the instrument, or, generally speaking, subordinate agency?

Or rather--for there seems no reason why we should not take up their whole argument, and briefly expose at once its incompatibility with the truth and its inconsistency with their own teaching--the students of vain philosophy, while expounding the manifold nature of cause and distinguishing its peculiar significations,

define some causes as principal, some as cooperative or con-causal, while others are of the character of "sine qua non," or indispensable?

For every one of these they have a distinct and peculiar use of terms,

so that the maker is indicated in a different way from the instrument.
For the maker they think the proper expression is "by whom," maintaining tha

the bench is produced "by the carpenter;
and for the instrument "through which," in that it is produced "through" or by means of adze and gimlet and the rest.

Similarly they appropriate "of which" to the material, in that the tiring made is "of" wood,

while "according to which" shews the design, or pattern put before the craftsman. For he either first makes a mental sketch, and so brings his fancy to bear upon what he is about, or else he looks at a pattern previously put before him, and arranges his work accordingly.

The phrase "on account of which" they wish to be confined to the end or purpose, the bench, as they say, being produced for, or on account of, the use of man.

"In which" is supposed to indicate time and place. When was it produced? In this time. And where? In this place. And though place and time contribute nothing to what is being produced, yet without these the production of anything is impossible, for efficient agents must have both place and time.

It is these careful distinctions, derived from unpractical philosophy and vain delusion, which our opponents have first studied and admired, and

then transferred to the simple and unsophisticated doctrine of the Spirit,
to the
belittling of God the Word, and the setting at naught of the Divine Spirit.

Even the phrase set apart by non-Christian writers for the case of lifeless instruments or of manual service of the meanest kind, I mean the expression "through or by means of which," they do not shrink from transferring to the Lord of all, and Christians feel no shame in applying to the Creator of the universe language belonging to a hammer or a saw.

That there is no distinction in the scriptural use of these syllables.

6. We acknowledge that the word of truth has in many places made use of these expressions; yet we absolutely deny that the freedom of the Spirit is in bondage to the pettiness of Paganism. On the contrary, we maintain that Scripture varies its expressions as occasion requires, according to the circumstances of the case.

For instance, the phrase "of which" does not always and absolutely, as they suppose, indicate the material, but it is more in accordance with the usage of Scripture to apply this term in the case of the Supreme Cause, as in the words "One God, of whom are all things," and again, "All things of God." The word of truth has, however, frequently used this term in the case of the material, as when it says "Thou shalt make an ark of incorruptible wood;" 'and "Thou shall make the candlestick of pure gold ;" and "The first man is of the earth, earthy; and "Thou art formed out of clay as I am."

But these men, to the end, as we have already remarked, that they may establish the difference of nature,

have laid down the law that this phrase befits the Father alone.

This distinction they have originally derived from heathen authorities, but here they have shewn no faithful accuracy of limitation.

To the Son they have in conformity with the teaching of their masters given the title of instrument, and to the Spirit that of place, for they say in the Spirit, and through the Son. But when they apply "of whom" to God they no longer follow heathen example, but "go over, as they say, to apostolic usage, as it is said, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus," and "All things of God." What, then, is the result of this systematic discussion?

There is one nature of Cause; another of Instrument; another of Place.

So the Son is by nature distinct from the Father, as the tool from the craftsman; and

the Spirit is distinct in so far as place or time is distinguished from the nature of tools or from that of them that handle them.

That "through whom" is said also in the case of the Father, and "of whom" in the case of the Son and of the Spirit.

7. After thus describing the outcome of our adversaries' arguments, we shall now proceed to shew, as we have proposed,

that the Father does not first take "of whom" and then abandon "through whom" to the Son;

and that there is no truth in these men's ruling

that the Son refuses to admit the Holy Spirit to a share in "of whom" or in "through whom," according to the limitation of their new-fangled allotment of phrases.

"There is one God and Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things."

Yes; but these are the words of a writer not laying down a rule, but carefully distinguishing the hypostases.

The object of the apostle in thus writing was not to introduce the diversity of nature,

but to exhibit the notion of Father and of Son as unconfounded.

That the phrases are not opposed to one another and do not, like squadrons in war marshalled one against another, bring the natures to which they are applied into mutual conflict, is perfectly plain from the passage in question.

The blessed Paul brings both phrases to bear upon one and the same subject, in the words "of him and through him and to him are all things." That this plainly refers to the Lord will be admitted even by a reader paying but small attention to the meaning of the words.

The apostle has just quoted from the prophecy of Isaiah, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor, and then goes on, "For of him and from him and to him are all things."

That the prophet is speaking about God the Word, the Maker of all creation, may be learnt from what immediately precedes:

"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?"

Now the word "who" in this passage does not mean absolute impossibility, but rarity, as in the passage "Who will rise up for me against the evil doers?" and "What man is he that desireth life?" and "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" So is it in the passage in question,

"Who hath directed [lxx., known] the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath known him?" "For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things." This is He who holds the earth, and hath grasped it with His hand. who brought all things to order and adornment, who poised the hills in their places, and measured the waters, and gave to all things in the universe their proper rank, who encompasseth the whole of heaven with but a small portion of His power, which, in a figure, the prophet calls a span.

Well then did the apostle add "Of him and through him and to him are all things." For of Him, to all things that are, comes the cause of their being, according to the will of God the Father. Through Him all things have their continuance and constitution, for He created all things, and metes out to each severally what is necessary for its health and preservation. Wherefore to Him all things are turned, looking with irresistible longing and unspeakable affection to "the arthur" and maintainer" of" their "life," as it is written "The eyes of all wait upon thee," and again, "These wait all upon thee," and "Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."

8. But if our adversaries oppose this our interpretation, what argument will save them from being caught in their own trap?

For if they will not grant that the three expressions "of him" and "through him" and "to him" are spoken of the Lord, they cannot but be applied to God the Father.

Then without question their rule will fall through, for we find not only "of whom," but also "through whom" applied to the Father. And if this latter phrase indicates nothing derogatory,

why in the world should it be confined, as though conveying the sense of inferiority, to the Son?
If it always and everywhere implies,
ministry, let them tell us to what superior the God of glory and Father of the Christ is subordinate.

They are thus overthrown by their own selves, while our position will be on both sides made sure.

Suppose it proved that the passage refers to the Son, "of whom" will be found applicable to the Son.

Suppose on the other hand it be insisted that the prophet's words relate to God, then it will be granted that "through whom" is properly used of God,

and both phrases have equal value, in that both are used with equal force of God. Under either alternative both terms, being employed of one and the same Person, will be shewn to be equivalent. But let us revert to our subject.

9. In his Epistle to the Ephesians the apostle says, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head,

even Christ; from whom the whole body filly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body." '

And again in the Epistle to the Colossians, to them that have not the knowledge of the Only Begotten, there is mention of him that holdeth "the head," that is, Christ, "from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered increaseth with the increase of God."

And that Christ is the head of the Church we have learned in another passage, when the apostle says "gave him to be the head over all things to the Church," and "of his fulness have all we received."

And the Lord Himself says "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."

In a word, the diligent reader will perceive that "of whom" is used in diverse manners. For instance, the Lord says, "I perceive that virtue is gone out of me." Similarly we have frequently observed "of whom" used of the Spirit. "He that soweth to the spirit," it is said, "shall of the spirit reap life ever!asting." John too writes, "Hereby we know that he abideth in ns by(e<s218) the spirit which he hath given us." "That which is conceived in her," says the angel, "is of the Holy Ghost," and the Lord says "that which is born of the spirit is spirit." Such then is the case so far. 10. It must now be pointed out that the phrase "through whom" is admitted by scripture in the case of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost alike.

It would indeed be tedious to bring forward evidence of this in the case of the Son, not only because it is perfectly well known, but because this very point is made by our opponents. We now show that "through whom" is used also in the case of the Father. "God is faithful," it is said, "by whom (di ou) ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son," and "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by (dia) the will of God;" and again, "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." And "like as Christ was raised up from the dead by (dia) the glory of God the Father." Isaiah, moreover, says, "Woe unto them that make deep counsel and not through the Lord; " and many proofs of the use of this phrase in the-case of the Spirit might be adduced. "God hath revealed him to us," it is said, "by (dia) the spirit;" and in another place, "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by (dia) the Holy Ghost;" and again, "To one is given by (dia) the spirit the word of wisdom."

11. In the same manner it may also be said of the word "in," that Scripture admits its use in the case of God the Father. In the Old Testament it is said through (en) God we shall do valiantly, and, "My praise shall be Continually of (en) thee;" and again, "In thy name will I rejoice." In Paul we read, "In God who created all things," and, I "Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father; " and "if now at length I might have a prosperous journey by (en) the will of God to come to you;" and, "Thou makest thy boast of God." Instances are indeed too numerous to reckon; but what we want is not so much to exhibit an abundance of evidence as to prove that the conclusions of our opponents are unsound. I shall, therefore, omit any proof of this usage in the case of our Lord and of the Holy Ghost, in that it is notorious. But I cannot forbear to remark that "the wise hearer" will find sufficient proof of the proposition before him by following the method of contraries.

For if the difference of language indicates, as we are told, that the nature has been changed, then let identity of language compel our adversaries to confess with shame that the essence is unchanged.

12. And it is not only in the case of the theology that the use of the terms varies, but whenever one of the terms takes the meaning of the other we find them frequently transferred from the one subject to the other.

As, for instance, Adam says, "I have gotten a man through God," meaning to say the same as from God; and in another passage "Moses commanded ... Israel through the word of the Lord," and, again, "Is not the interpretation through God?" Joseph, discoursing about dreams to the prisoners, instead of saying "from God" says plainly "through God." Inversely Paul uses the term "from whom" instead of "through whom," when he says "made from a woman" (A.V., "of" instead of "through a woman"). And this he has plainly distinguished in another passage, where he says that it is proper to a woman to be made of the man, and to a man to be made through the woman, in the words "For as the woman is from [A.V., of] the man, even so is the man also through [A.V., by] the woman." Nevertheless in the passage in question the apostle, while illustrating the variety of usage, at the same time corrects obiter the error of those who supposed that the body of the Lord was a spiritual body, and, to shew that the God-bearing flesh was formed out of the common lump of human nature, gave precedence to the more emphatic preposition.

The phrase "through a woman" would be likely to give rise to the suspicion of mere transit in the generation, while the phrase "of the woman" would satisfactorily indicate that the nature was shared by the mother and the offspring. The apostle was in no wise contradicting himself, but he shewed that the words can without difficulty be interchanged. Since, therefore, the term "from whom" is transferred to the identical subjects in the case of which "through whom" is decided to be properly used, with what consistency can these phrases be invariably distinguished one from the other, in order that fault may be falsely found with true religion?

Issue joined with those who assert that the Son is not with the Father, but after the Father. Also concerning the equal glory.

13. Our opponents, while they thus artfully and perversely encounter our argument, cannot even have recourse to the plea of ignorance. It is obvious that they are annoyed with us for

completing the doxology to the Only Begotten together with the Father, and

for not separating the Holy Spirit from the Son.

On this account they style us innovators, revolutionizers, phrase-coiners, and every other possible name of insult. But so far am I from being irritated at their abuse, that, were it not for the fact that their loss causes me "heaviness and continual sorrow,"

I could almost have said that I was grateful to them for the blasphemy, as though they were agents for providing me with blessing.

For "blessed are ye," it is said, "when men shall revile you for my sake." The grounds of their indignation are these:

The Son, according to them, is not together with the Father, but after the Father. Hence it follows that glory should be ascribed to the Father "through him," but not "with him;" inasmuch as "with him" expresses equality of dignity, while "through him" denotes subordination.

They further assert that the Spirit is not to be ranked along with the Father and the Son,

but under the Son and the Father; not coordinated, but subordinated; not connumerated, but subnumerated.

With technical terminology of this kind they pervert the simplicity and artlessness of the faith, and thus by their ingenuity, suffering no one else to remain in ignorance, they cut off from themselves the plea that ignorance might demand.

14. Let us first ask them this question: In what sense do they say that the Son is "after the Father;" later in time, or in order, or in dignity? But in time no one is so devoid of sense as to assert that the Maker of the ages holds a second place, when no interval intervenes in the natural conjunction of the Father with the Son. And indeed so far as our conception of human relations goes,

it is impossible to think of the Son as being later than the Father, not only from the fact that Father and Son are mutually conceived of in accordance with the relationship subsisting between them,

but because posteriority in time is predicated of subjects separated by a less interval from the present, and priority of subjects farther off.

For instance, what happened in Noah's time is prior to what happened to the men of Sodom, inasmuch as Noah is more remote from our own day; and, again, the events of the history of the men of Sodom are posterior, because they seem in a sense to approach nearer to our own day. But, in addition to its being a breach of true religion, is it not really the extremest folly to measure the existence of the life which transcends all time and all the ages by its distance from the present? Is it not as though God the Father could be compared with, and be made superior to, God the Son, who exists before the ages, precisely in the same way in which things liable to beginning and corruption are described as prior to one another?

The superior remoteness of the Father is really inconceivable, in that thought and intelligence are wholly impotent to go beyond the generation of the Lord; and St. John has admirably confined the conception within circumscribed boundaries by two words,

"In the beginning was the Word." For thought cannot travel outside "was," nor imagination beyond "beginning."

Let your thought travel ever so far backward you cannot get beyond the "was," and however you may strain and strive to see what is beyond the Son, you will find it impossible to get further than the "beginning ".

True religion, therefore, thus teaches us to think of the Son together with the Father.

15. If they really conceive of a kind of degradation of the Son in relation to the Father, as though He were in a lower place, so that the Father sits above, and the Son is thrust off to the next seat below, let them confess what they mean. We shall have no more to say. A plain statement of the view will at once expose its absurdity. They who refuse to allow that the Father pervades all things do not so much as maintain the logical sequence of thought in their argument.

The faith of the sound is that God fills all things; but they who divide their up and down between the Father and the Son do not remember even the word of the Prophet: "If I climb up into heaven thou art there; if I go down to hell thou art there also."

Now, to omit all proof of the ignorance of those who predicate place of incorporeal things, what excuse can be found for their attack upon Scripture, shameless as their antagonism is, in the passages "Sit thou on my right hand " and "Sat down on the right hand of the majesty of God"?

The expression "right hand" does not, as they contend, indicate the lower place, but equality of relation; it is not understood physically, in which case there might be something sinister about God, but Scripture puts before us the magnificence of the dignity of the Son by the use of dignified language indicating the seat of honour.

It is left then for our opponents to allege that this expression signifies inferiority of rank. Let them learn that "Christ is the power of God and wisdom of God," and that "He is the image of the invisible God" and "brightness of his glory," and that "Him hath God the Father sealed," by engraving Himself on Him.

Now are we to call these passages, and others like them, throughout the whole of Holy Scripture, proofs of humiliation, or rather public proclamations of the majesty of the Only Begotten, and of the equality of His glory with the Father?

We ask them to listen to the Lord Himself, distinctly setting forth the equal dignity of His glory with the Father, in His words, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;" and again, "When the Son cometh in the glory of his Father;" that they "should honour the Son even as they henour the Father;" and, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;" and "the only begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father." Of all these passages they take no account, and then assign to the Son the place set apart for His foes. A father's bosom is a fit and becoming seat for a son, but the place of the footstool is for them that have to be forced to fall.

We have only touched cursorily on these proofs, because our object is to pass on to other points. You at your leisure can put together the items of the evidence, and then contemplate the height of the glory and the preeminence of the power of the Only Begotten. However, to the well-disposed bearer, even these are not insignificant,

unless the terms "right hand" and "bosom" be accepted in a physical and derogatory sense, so as at once to circumscribe God in local limits, and invent form, mould, and bodily position, all of which are totally distinct from the idea of the absolute, the infinite, and the incorporeal.

There is moreover the fact that what is derogatory in the idea of it is the same in the case both of the Father and the Son; so that whoever repeats these arguments does not take away the dignity of the Son,

but does incur the charge of blaspheming the Father; for
whatever audacity a man be guilty of against the Son he cannot but
transfer to the Father.
If he assigns to the Father the
upper place by way of precedence, and asserts that the only begotten Son sits below,

he will find that to the creature of his imagination attach all the consequent conditions of body. And if these are the imaginations of drunken delusion and phrensied insanity, can it be consistent with true religion for men taught by the Lord himself that "

He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father" to refuse to worship and glorify with the Father him who in nature, in glory, and in dignity is conjoined with him? What shall we say? What just defence shall we have in the day of the awful universal judgment of all-creation, if, when the Lord clearly announces that

He will come "in the glory of his Father;" when Stephen beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of God; when Paul testified in the spirit concerning Christ "that he is at the right hand of God;" when the Father says,

"Sit thou on my right hand;" when the Holy Spirit bears witness that he has sat down on
"the right hand of the
majesty" of God;

we attempt to degrade him who shares the honour and the throne, from his condition of equality, to a lower state? Standing and sitting, I apprehend, indicate the fixity and entire stability of the nature, as Baruch, when he wishes to exhibit the immutability and immobility of the Divine mode of existence, says,

"For thou sittest for ever and we perish utterly." Moreover, the place on the right hand indicates in my judgment equality of honour. Rash, then, is the attempt to deprive the Son of participation in the doxology, as though worthy only to be ranked in a lower place of honour.

Against those who assert that it is not proper for "with whom" to be said of the Son, and that the proper phrase is "through whom."

16. But their contention is that to use the phrase "with him" is altogether strange and unusual, while "through him" is at once most familiar in Holy Scripture, and very common in the language of the brotherhood. What is our answer to this? We say, Blessed are the ears that have not heard you and the hearts that have been kept from the wounds of your words. To you, on the other hand, who are lovers of Christ, I say that the Church recognizes both uses, and deprecates neither as subversive of the other. For whenever we are contemplating the majesty of the nature of the Only Begotten, and the excellence of His dignity, we bear witness that the glory is with the Father; while on the other hand, whenever we bethink us of His bestowal on us of good gifts, and of oar access to, and admission into, the household of God, we confess that this grace is effected for us through Him and by Him.

It follows that the one phrase "with whom" is the proper one to be used in the ascription of glory, while the other, "through whom," is specially appropriate in giving of thanks. It is also quite untrue to allege that the phrase "with whom" is unfamiliar in the usage of the devout. All those whose soundness of character leads them to hold the dignity of antiquity to be more honourable than mere new-fangled novelty, and who have preserved the tradition of their fathers unadulterated, alike in town and in country, have employed this phrase. It is, on the contrary, they who are surfeited with the familiar and the customary, and arrogantly assail the old as stale, who welcome innovation, just as in dress your lovers of display always prefer some utter novelty to what is generally worn. So you may even still see that the language of country folk preserves the ancient fashion, while of these, our cunning experts in Iogomachy, the language bears the brand of the new philosophy.

What our fathers said, the same say we, that the glory of the Father and of the Son is common; wherefore we offer the doxology to the Father with the Son. But we do not rest only on the fact that such is the tradition of the Fathers; for they too followed the sense of Scripture, and started from the evidence which, a few sentences back, I deduced from Scripture and laid before you. For "the brightness" is always thought of with "the glory," "the image" with the archetype, and the Son always and everywhere together with the Father; nor does even the close connexion of the names, much less the nature of the things, admit of separation.

In how many ways "through whom" is used; and in what sense "with whom" is more suitable. Explanation of how the Son receives a commandment, and how late is sent.

17. When, then, the apostle "thanks God through Jesus Christ," and again says that "through Him" we have "received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations," or "through Him have access unto this grace wherein we stand and rejoice," he sets forth the boons conferred on us by the Son,

at one time making the grace of the good gifts pass through from the Father to us,
and at another
bringing us to the Father through Himself.

For by saying "through whom we have received grace and apostleship," he declares the supply of the good gifts to proceed from that source; and again

in saying "through whom we have had access," he sets forth our acceptance and being made "of the household of God" through Christ.

Is then the confession of the grace wrought by Him to usward a detraction from His glory? Is it not truer to say that the recital of His benefits is a proper argument for glorifying Him? It is on this account that we have not found Scripture describing the Lord to us by one name, nor even by such terms alone as are indicative of His godhead and majesty.

At one time it uses terms descriptive of His nature, for it recognises the "name which is above every name," the name of Son, and speaks of true Son, and only begotten God, and Power of God, and Wisdom, and Word. Then again, on account of the divers manners wherein grace is given to us, which, because of the riches of His goodness, according to his manifold wisdom, he bestows on them that need, Scripture designates Him by innumerable other titles, calling Him Shepherd, King Physician, Bridegroom, Way, Door, Fountain, Bread, Axe, and Rock.

And these, titles do not set forth His nature,

but, as I have remarked, the variety of the effectual working which,

out of His tender-heartedness to His own creation, according to the peculiar necessity of each, He bestows upon them that need. Them that have fled for refuge to His ruling care, and through patient endurance have mended their wayward ways, He calls "sheep," and confesses Himself to be, to them that hear His voice and refuse to give heed to strange teaching, a "shepherd." For "my sheep, He says, "hear my voice." To them that have now reached a higher stage and stand in need of righteous royalty, He is a King.

And in that, through the straight way of His commandments, He leads men to good actions, and again because He safely shuts in all who through faith in Him betake themselves for shelter to the blessing of the higher wisdom, He is a Door.

So He says, "By me if any man enter in, ... he shall go in and out and shall find pastare." Again, because to the faithful He is a defence strong, unshaken, and harder to break than any bulwark, He is a Rock. Among these titles, it is when He is styled Door, or Way, that the phrase "through Him" is very appropriate and plain.

As, however, God and Son, He is glorified with and together with the Father, in that "at, the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Wherefore we use both terms,

expressing by the one His own proper dignity,
and by the
other His grace to usward.

18. For "through Him" comes every succour to our souls, and it is in accordance with each kind of care that an appropriate title has been devised. So when He presents to Himself the blameless soul, not having spot or wrinkle, like a pure maiden, He is called Bridegroom, but whenever He receives one in sore plight from the devil's evil strokes, healing it in the heavy infirmity of its sins, He is named Physician. And shall this His care for us degrade to meanness oar thoughts of Him?

Or, on the contrary, shall it smite us with amazement at once at the mighty power and love to man of the Saviour, in that He both endured to suffer with us in our infirmities, and was able to come down to our weakness? For not heaven and earth and the great seas, not the creatures that live in the water and on dry land, not plants, and stars, and air, and seasons, not the vast variety in the order of the universe, so well sets forth the excellency of His might as that God, being incomprehensible, should have been able, impassibly, through flesh, to have come into close conflict with death, to the end that by His own suffering He might give us the boon of freedom from suffering.

The apostle, it is true, says, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." But in a phrase of this kind there is no suggestion of any lowly and subordinate ministry, but rather of the succour rendered "in the power of his might." For He Himself has bound the strong man and spoiled his goods, that is, us men, whom our enemy had abused in every evil activity, and made "vessels meet for the Master's use " us who have been perfected for every work through the making ready of that part of us which is in our own control. Thus we have had our approach to the Father through Him, being translated from "the power of darkness to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." We must not, however, regard the oeconomy through the Son as a compulsory and subordinate ministration resulting from the low estate of a slave, but rather the voluntary solicitude working effectually for His own creation in goodness and in pity, according to the will of God the Father.

For we shall be consistent with true religion if in all that was and is from tithe to time perfected by Him, we both bear witness to the perfection of His power, and in no case put it asunder from the Father's will.

For instance, whenever the Lord is called the Way, we are carried on to a higher meaning, and not to that which is derived from the vulgar sense of the word. We understand by Way that advance to perfection which is made stage by stage, and in regular order, through the works of righteousness and" the illumination of knowledge;" ever longing after what is before, and reaching forth unto those things which remain, until we shall have reached the blessed end, the knowledge of God, which the Lord through Himself bestows on them that have trusted in Him.

For our Lord is an essentially good Way, where erring and straying are unknown, to that which is essentially good, to the Father. For "no one," He says, "cometh to the Father but ["by" A.V.] through me." Such is our way up to God "through the Son."

19. It will follow that we should next in order point out the character of the provision of blessings bestowed on us by the Father "through him." Inasmuch as all created nature,

both this visible world and all that is conceived of in the mind, cannot hold together without the care and providence of God, the Creator Word, the Only begotten God, apportioning His succour according to the measure of the needs of each, distributes mercies various and manifold on account of the many kinds and characters of the recipients of His bounty, but appropriate to the necessities of individual requirements.

Those that are confined in the darkness of ignorance He enlightens: for this reason He is true Light. Portioning requital in accordance with the desert of deeds, He judges: for this reason He is righteous Judge. "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son." Those that have lapsed from the lofty height of life into sin He raises from their fall: for this reason He is Resurrection. Effectually working by the much of His power and the will of His goodness He does all things. He shepherds; He enlightens; He nourishes; He heals; He guides; He raises up; He calls into being things that were not; He upholds what has been created.

Thus the good things that come from God reach us "through the Son," who works in each case with greater speed than speech can utter. For not lightnings, not light's course in air, is so swift; not eyes' sharp turn, not the movements of our very thought. Nay by the divine energy is each one of these in speed further surpassed than is the slowest of all living creatures outdone in motion by birds, or even winds, or the rush of the heavenly bodies: or, not to mention these, by our very thought itself.

For what extent of time is needed by Him who "upholds all things by the word of His power," and works not by bodily agency, nor requires the help of hands to form and fashion, but holds in obedient following and unforced consent the nature of all things that are? So as Judith says, "Thou hast thought, and what things thou didst determine were ready at hand." On the other hand, and test we should ever be drawn away by the greatness of the works wrought to imagine that the Lord is without beginning,

what saith the Self-Existent? "I live through [by, A.V.] the Father," and the power of God; "The Son hath power [can, A.V.] to do nothing of himself."

"And the self-complete Wisdom? I received "a commandment what I should say and what I should speak." Through all these words He is guiding us to the knowledge of the Father, and referring our wonder at all that is brought into existence to Him, to the end that "through Him" we may know the Father.

For the Father is not regarded from the difference of the operations, by the exhibition of a separate and peculiar energy; for whatsoever things He sees the Father doing, "these also doeth the Son likewise;" but He enjoys our wonder at all that comes to pass out of the glory which comes to Him from the Only Begotten, rejoicing in the Doer Himself as well as in the greatness of the deeds, and exalted by all who acknowledge Him as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "through whom [by whom, A.V.] are all things, and for whom are all things."

Wherefore, saith the Lord, "All mine are thine," as though the sovereignty over created things were conferred on Him, and "Thine are mine," as though the creating Cause came thence to Him. We are not to suppose that He used assistance in His action, or yet was entrusted with the ministry of each individual work by detailed commission, a condition distinctly menial and quite inadequate to the divine dignity.

Rather was the Word full of His Father's excellences; He shines forth from the Father, and does all things according to the likeness of Him that begat Him. For if in essence He is without variation, so also is He without variation in power. And of those whose power is equal, the operation also is in all ways equal. And Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. And so "all things are made through [by, A.V.] him," and "all things were created through [by, A.V.] him and for him," not in the discharge of any slavish service, but in the fulfilment of the Father's will as Creator.

20. When then He says, "I have not spoken of myself," and again, "As the Father said unto me, so I speak," and" The word which ye hear is not mine. but [the Father's] which sent me," and in another place, "As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,"

it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind.

His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father.

Do not then let us understand by what is called a "commandment" a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do.

Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son. "For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things," so that "all things that the Father hath" belong to the Son, not gradual accruing to Him little by little,

but with Him all together and at once.

Among men, the workman who has been thoroughly taught his craft, and, through long training, has sure and established experience in it, is able, in accordance with the scientific methods which now he has in store, to work for the future by himself.

And are we to suppose that the wisdom of God, the Maker of all creation, He who is eternally perfect, who is wise, without a teacher, the Power of God, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," needs piecemeal instruction to mark out the manner and measure of His operations?

I presume that in the vanity of your calculations, you mean to open a school; you will make the one take His seat in the teacher's place, and the other stand by in a scholars ignorance, gradually learning wisdom and advancing to perfection, by lessons given Him bit by bit.

Hence, if you have sense to abide by what logically follows, you will find the Son being eternally taught, nor yet ever able to reach the end of perfection, inasmuch as the wisdom of the Father is infinite, and the end of the infinite is beyond apprehension.

It results that whoever refuses to grant that the Son has all things from the beginning will never grant that He will reach perfection.

But I am ashamed at the degraded conception to which, by the course of the argument, I have been brought down. Let us therefore revert to the loftier themes of our discussion.

21. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; not the express image, nor yet the form, for the divine nature does not admit of combination; but the goodness of the will, which, being concurrent with the essence, is beheld as like and equal, or rather the same, in the Father as in the Son.

What then is meant by "became subject"? What by "delivered him up"? It is meant that the Son has it of the Father that He works in goodness on behalf of men. But you must hear too the words, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law;" and "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Give careful heed, too, to the words of the Lord, and note how, whenever He instructs us about

His Father, He is in the habit of using terms of personal authority, saying,"

I will; be thou clean;" and "Peace, be still;" and "But I say unto you;" and "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee;" and all other expressions of the same kind, in order that by these we may recognise our Master and Maker, and by the former may be taught the Father of our Master and Creator.

Thus on all sides is demonstrated the true doctrine that the fact that the Father creates through the Son neither constitutes the creation of the Father imperfect nor exhibits the active energy of the Son as feeble, but indicates the unity of the will; so the expression "through whom" contains a confession of an antecedent Cause, and is not adopted in objection to the efficient Cause.

Definitive conceptions about the Spirit which conform to the teaching of the Scriptures.

22. Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of t he Fathers.

First of all we ask, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul, who does not raise his conception to the supreme nature? It is called "Spirit of God," "Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father," "right Spirit," "a leading Spirit." Its proper and peculiar title is "Holy Spirit;" which is a name specially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible.

So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said "God is a spirit." On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature.

We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of It's good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by It's inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification,

light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth;

by nature un-approachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power,

but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to "the proportion of faith"

in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air.

So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives lt, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.

23. Now the Spirit is not brought into intimate association with the soul

by local approximation.

How indeed could there be a corporeal approach to the incorporeal?

This association results from the withdrawal of the passions which, coming afterwards gradually on the soul from its friendship to the flesh,

have alienated it from its close relationship with God.

Only then after a man is purified from the shame whose stain he took through his wickedness, and has come back again to his natural beauty, and as it were cleaning the Royal Image and restoring its ancient form, only thus is it possible for him to draw near to the Paraclete.

And He, like the sun, will by the aid of thy purified eye show thee in Himself the image of the invisible, and in the blessed spectacle of the image thou shalt behold the unspeakable beauty of the archetype.

Through His aid hearts are lifted up, the weak are held by the hand, and they who are advancing are brought to perfection. Shining upon those that are cleansed from every spot,

He makes them spiritual by fellowship with Himself. Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others.

Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God. Such, then, to instance a few out of many, are the conceptions concerning the Holy Spirit, which we have been taught to hold concerning His greatness, His dignity, and His operations, by the oracles of the Spirit themselves.

Against those who say that it is not right to rank the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.

24. But we must proceed to attack our opponents, in the endeavour to confute those "oppositions" advanced against us which are derived from "knowledge falsely so-called."

It is not permissible, they assert, for the Holy Spirit to be ranked with the Father and Son, on account of the difference of His nature and the inferiority of His dignity. Against them it is right to reply in the words of the apostles, "We ought to obey God rather than men,"

For if our Lord, when enjoining the baptism of salvation, charged His disciples to baptize all nations in the name "of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," not disdaining fellowship with Him, and these men allege that we must not rank Him with the Father and the Son, is it not clear that they openly withstand the commandment of God? If they deny that coordination of this kind is declaratory of any fellowship and conjunction, let them tell us why it behoves us to hold this opinion, and what more intimate mode of conjunction they have.

If the Lord did not indeed conjoin the Spirit with the Father and Himself in baptism, do not let them lay the blame of conjunction upon us, for we neither hold nor say anything different. If on the contrary the Spirit is there conjoined with the Father and the Son, and no one is so shameless as to say anything else, then let them not lay blame on us for following the words of Scripture.

25. But all the apparatus of war has been got ready against us; every intellectual missile is aimed at us; and now blasphemers' tongues shoot and hit and hit again, yet harder than Stephen of old was smitten by the killers of the Christ. And do not let them succeed in concealing the fact that, while an attack on us serves for a pretext for the war, the real aim of these proceedings is higher. It is against us, they say, that they are preparing their engines and their snares; against us that they are shouting to one another, according to each one's strength or cunning, to come on. But the object of attack is faith. The one aim of the whole band of opponents and enemies of "sound doctrine" is to shake down the foundation of the faith of Christ by levelling apostolic tradition with the ground, and utterly destroying it. So like the debtors,--of course bona fide debtors.--they clamour for written proof, and reject as worthless the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. But we will not slacken in our defence of the truth. We will not cowardly abandon the cause.

The Lord has delivered to us as a necessary and saving doctrine that the Holy Spirit is to be ranked with the

Father. Our opponents think differently, and see fit to divide and rend asunder, and relegate Him to the nature of a ministering spirit. Is it not then indisputable that they make their own blasphemy more authoritative than the law prescribed by the Lord? Come, then, set aside mere contention. Let us consider the points before us, as follows:

26. Whence is it that we are Christians?

Through our faith, would be the universal answer.
And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were
regenerate through the grace given in our baptism.

How else could we be? And after recognising that this salvation is established through the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, shall we fling away "that form of doctrine" which we received? 

Would it not rather be ground for great groaning if we are found now further off from our salvation "than when we first believed," and deny now what we then received? Whether a man have departed this life without baptism, or have received a baptism lacking in some of the requirements of the tradition, his loss is equal. And whoever does not always and everywhere keep to and hold fast as a sure protection the confession which we recorded at our first admission, when, being delivered "from the idols," we came "to the living Gods" constitutes himself a "stranger" from the "promises" of God, fighting against his own handwriting, which he put on record when he professed the faith. For if to me my baptism was the beginning of life, and that day of regeneration the first of days, it is plain that the utterance uttered in the grace of adoption was the most honourable of all. Can I then, perverted by these men's seductive words, abandon the tradition which guided me to the light, which bestowed on me the boon of the knowledge of God, whereby I, so long a foe by reason of sin, was made a child of God? But, for myself, I pray that with this confession I may depart hence to the Lord, and them I charge to preserve the faith secure until the day of Christ, and to keep the Spirit undivided from the Father and the Son, preserving, both in the confession of faith and in the doxology, the doctrine taught them at their baptism.

That they who deny the Spirit are transgressors.

27. "Who hath woe? Who bath sorrow?" For whom is distress and darkness? For whom eternal doom? Is it not for the trangressors? For them that deny the faith? And what is the proof of their denial? Is it not that they have set at naught their own confessions? And when and what did they confess? Belief in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, when they renounced the devil and his angels, and uttered those saving words. What fit title then for them has been discovered, for the children of light to use? Are they not addressed as transgressors, as having violated the covenant of their salvation? What am I to call the denial of God? What the denial of Christ? What but transgressions? And to him who denies the Spirit, what title do you wish me to apply? Must it not be the same, inasmuch as he has broken his covenant with God? And when the confession of faith in Him secures the blessing of true religion. and its denial subjects men to the doom of godlessness, is it not a fearful thing for them to set the confession at naught, not through fear of fire, or sword, or cross, or scourge, or wheel, or rack, but merely led astray by the sophistry and seductions of the pneumatomachi? I testify to every man who is confessing Christ and denying God, that Christ will profit him nothing; to every man that calls upon God but rejects the Son, that his faith is vain; to every man that sets aside the Spirit, that his faith in the Father and the Son will be useless, for he cannot even hold it without the presence of the Spirit. For he who does not believe the Spirit does not believe in the Son, and he who has not believed in the Son does not believe in the Father. For none "can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost," and "No man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

Such an one hath neither part nor lot in the true worship; for it is impossible to worship the Son, save by the Holy Ghost; impossible to call upon the Father, save by the Spirit of adoption.

Against those who assert that the baptism in the name of the Father alone is sufficient.

28. Let no one be misled by the fact of the apostle's frequently omitting the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit when making mention of baptism, or on this account imagine that the invocation of the names is not observed. "As many of you," he says, "as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ;" and again, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death."

For the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole, shewing forth as it does the God who gave, the Son who received, and the Spirit who is, the unction. So we have learned from Peter, in the Acts, of "Jesus of Nazareth whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost; and in Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me;" and the Psalmist, "Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Scripture, however, in the case of baptism, sometimes plainly mentions the Spirit alone.

"For into one Spirit," it says, "we were. all baptized in one body." And in harmony with this are the passages: "You shaft be baptized with the Holy Ghost," and "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

But no one on this account would be justified in calling that baptism a perfect baptism wherein only the name of the Spirit was invoked. For the tradition that has been given us by the quickening grace must remain for ever inviolate. He who redeemed our life from destruction gave us power of renewal, whereof the cause is ineffable and hidden in mystery, but bringing great salvation to our souls, so that to add or to take away anything involves manifestly a falling away from the life everlasting. If then in baptism the separation of the Spirit from the Father and the Son is perilous to the baptizer, and of no advantage to the baptized, how can the rending asunder of the Spirit from Father and from Son be safe for us? Faith and baptism are two kindred and inseparable ways of salvation: faith is perfected through baptism, baptism is established through faith, and both are completed by the same names. For as we believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, so are we also baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost;

first comes the confession, introducing us to salvation, and baptism follows, setting the seal upon our assent.

Statement of the reason why in the writings of Paul the angels are associated with the Father and the Son.

29. It is, however, objected that other beings which are enumerated with the Father and the Son are certainly not always glorified together with them. The apostle, for instance, in his charge to Timothy, associates the angels with them in the words, "I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels." We are not for alienating the angels from the rest of creation, and yet, it is argued, we do not allow of their being reckoned with the Father and the Son. To this I reply, although the argument, so obviously absurd is it, does not really deserve a reply, that possibly before a mild and gentle judge, and especially before One who by His leniency to those arraigned before Him demonstrates the unimpeachable equity of His decisions, one might be willing to offer as witness even a fellow-slave; but for a slave to be made free and called a son of God and quickened from death can only be brought about by Him who has acquired natural kinship with us, and has been changed from the rank of a slave. For how can we be made kin with God by one who is an alien? How can we be freed by one who is himself under the yoke of slavery? It follows that the mention of the Spirit and that of angels are not made under like conditions. The Spirit is called on as Lord of life, and the angels as allies of their fellow-slaves and faithful witnesses of the truth. It is customary for the saints to deliver the commandments of God in the presence of witnesses, as also the apostle himself says to Timothy, "The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men;" and now he calls the angels to witness, for he knows that angels shall be present with the Lord when He shall come in the glory of His Father to judge the world in righteousness. For He says, "Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God, but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God;" and Paul in another place says," When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his angels." Thus he already testifies before the angels, preparing good proofs for himself at the great tribunal.

30. And not only Paul, but generally all those to whom is committed any ministry of the word, never cease from testifying, but call heaven and earth to witness on the ground that now every deed that is done is done within them, and that in the examination of all the actions of life they will be present with the judged. So it is said, "He shall call to tile heavens above and to earth, that he may judge his people." And so Moses when about to deliver his oracles to the people says, "I call heaven and earth to witness this day;" and again in his song he says, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth;" and Isaiah, "Hear, O heavens. and give ear, O earth;" and Jeremiah describes astonishment in heaven at the tidings of the unholy deeds of the people: "The heaven was astonished at this, and was horribly afraid, because my people committed two evils."

And so the apostle, knowing the angels to be set over men as tutors and guardians, calls them to witness. Moreover, Joshua, the son of Nun, even set up a stone as witness of his words (already a heap somewhere had been called a witness by Jacob), for he says, "Behold this stone shall be a witness unto you this day to the end of days, when ye lie to the Lord our God," perhaps believing that by God's power even the stones would speak to the conviction of the transgressors; or, if not, that at least each man's conscience would be wounded by the force of the reminder.

In this manner they who have been entrusted with the stewardship of souls provide witnesses, whatever they may be, so as to produce them at some future day.

But the Spirit is ranked together with God, not on account of the emergency of the moment, but on account of the natural fellowship; is not dragged in by us, but invited by the Lord.

Church Fathers Index

Home Page


personal injury

Hit Counter