Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter III. The statement of the Apostle, that all things are of the Father by the Son, does not separate the Spirit from Their company, since what is referred to one Person is also attributed to each. So those baptized in the Name of Christ are held to be baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, if, that is, there is belief in the Three Persons, otherwise the baptism will be null. This also applies to baptism in the Name of the Holy Spirit. If because of one passage the Holy Spirit is separated from the Father and the Son, it will necessarily follow from other passages that the Father will be subordinated to the Son. The Son is worshipped by angels, not by the Spirit, for the latter is His witness, not His servant. Where the Son is spoken of as being before all, it is to be understood of creatures. The great dignity of the Holy Spirit is proved by the absence of forgiveness for the sin against Him. How it is that such sin cannot be forgiven, and how the Spirit is one.
The statement of the Apostle, that all things are of the Father by the Son, does not separate the Spirit from Their company, since what is referred to one Person is also attributed to each. So those baptized in the Name of Christ are held to be baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, if, that is, there is belief in the Three Persons, otherwise the baptism will be null. This also applies to baptism in the Name of the Holy Spirit. If because of one passage the Holy Spirit is separated from the Father and the Son, it will necessarily follow from other passages that the Father will be subordinated to the Son. The Son is worshipped by angels, not by the Spirit, for the latter is His witness, not His servant. Where the Son is spoken of as being before all, it is to be understood of creatures. The great dignity of the Holy Spirit is proved by the absence of forgiveness for the sin against Him. How it is that such sin cannot be forgiven, and how the Spirit is one.
32. But perhaps some one may say that there was a reason why the writer said that all things were of the Father, and all things through the Son, 829 but made no mention of the Holy Spirit, and would obtain the foundation of an argument from this. But if he persists in his perverse interpretation, in how many passages will he find the power of the Holy Spirit asserted, in which Scripture has stated nothing concerning either the Father or the Son, but has left it to be understood?
40. Where, then, the grace of the Spirit is asserted, is that of God the Father or of the Only-begotten Son denied? By no means; for as the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, so, too, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who hath been given us.” 830 And as he who is blessed in Christ is blessed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, because the Name is one and the Power one; so, too, when any divine operation, whether of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit, is treated of, it is not referred only to the Holy Spirit, but also to the Father and the Son, and not only to the Father, but also to the Son and the Spirit.
41. Then, too, the Ethiopian eunuch of Queen Candace, when baptized in Christ, obtained the fulness of the sacrament. And they who said that they knew not of any Holy Spirit, although they said that they had been baptized with Johns baptism, were baptized afterwards, because John baptized for the remission of sins in the Name of the coming Jesus, not in his own. And so they knew not the Spirit, because in the form in which John baptized they had not received baptism in the Name of Christ. For John, though he did not baptize in the Spirit, nevertheless preached Christ and the Spirit. And then, when he was questioned whether he were perchance himself the Christ, he answered: “I baptize you with water, but a stronger than I shall come, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” 831 They therefore, because they had been baptized neither in the Name of Christ nor with faith in the Holy Spirit, could not receive the sacrament of baptism.
42. So they were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, 832 and baptism was not repeated in their case, but administered differently, for there is but one baptism. But where there is not the complete sacrament of baptism, there is not considered to be a commencement nor any kind of baptism. But baptism is complete if one confess the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you deny One you overthrow the whole. And just as if you mention in words One only, either the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, and in your belief do not deny either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the faith is complete, so, too, although you name the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and lessen the power of either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, the whole mystery is made empty. And, lastly, they who had said: “We have not heard if there be any Holy Spirit, were baptized afterwards in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 833 And this was an additional abundance of grace, for now through Pauls preaching they knew the Holy Spirit.
43. Nor ought it to seem opposed to this, that although subsequently mention is not made of the Spirit, He is yet believed in, and what had not been mentioned in words is expressed in belief. For when it is said, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the mystery is complete through the oneness of the Name, and the Spirit is not separated p. 99 from the baptism of Christ, since John baptized unto repentance, Christ in the Spirit.
44. Let us now consider whether as we read that the sacrament of baptism in the Name of Christ was complete, so, too, when the Holy Spirit alone is named, anything is wanting to the completeness of the mystery. Let us follow out the argument that he who has named One has signified the Trinity. If you name Christ, you imply both God the Father by Whom the Son was anointed, and the Son Himself Who was anointed, and the Holy Spirit with Whom He was anointed. For it is written: “This Jesus of Nazareth, Whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit.” 834 And if you name the Father, you denote equally His Son and the Spirit of His mouth, if, that is, you apprehend it in your heart. And if you speak of the Spirit, you name also God the Father, from Whom the Spirit proceeds, and the Son, inasmuch as He is also the Spirit of the Son.
45. Wherefore that authority may also be joined to reason Scripture indicates that we can also be rightly baptized in the Spirit, when the Lord says: “But ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit.” 835 And in another place the Apostle says: “For we were all baptized in the body itself into one Spirit.” 836 The work is one, for the mystery is one; the baptism one, for there was one death on behalf of the world; there is, then, a oneness of working, a oneness of setting forth, which cannot be separated.
46. But if in this place the Spirit be separated from the operation of the Father and the Son, because it is said, All things are of God, and all things are through the Son, 837 then, too, when the Apostle says of Christ, “Who is over all, God blessed for ever,” 838 He set Christ not only above all creatures, but (which it is impious to say) above the Father also. But God forbid, for the Father is not amongst all things, is not amongst a kind of crowd of His own creatures. The whole creation is below, over all is the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The former serves, the latter rules; the former is subject, the latter reigns; the former is the work, the latter the author of the work; the former, without exception, worships, the latter is worshipped by all without exception.
47. Lastly, of the Son it is written: “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” 839 You do not find, Let the Holy Spirit worship. And farther on: “To which of the angels said He at any time, Sit thou on My right hand till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet? Are they not all,” says he, “ministering spirits who are sent to minister?” 840 When he says All, does he include the Holy Spirit? Certainly not, because Angels and the other Powers are destined to serve in ministering and obedience to the Son of God.
48. But in truth the Holy Spirit is not a minister but a witness of the Son, as the Son Himself said of Him: “He shall bear witness of Me.” 841 The Spirit, then, is a witness of the Son. He who is a witness knows all things, as God the Father is a witness. For so you read in later passages, for our salvation was confirmed to us by God bearing witness by signs and wonders and by manifold powers and by distributions of the Holy Spirit. 842 He who divides as he will is certainly above all, not amongst all, for to divide is the gift of the worker, not an innate part of the work itself.
49. If the Son is above all, through Whom our salvation received its commencement, so that it might be preached, certainly God the Father also, Who testifies and gives confirmation concerning our salvation by signs and wonders, is excepted from all. In like manner the Spirit, Who bears witness to our salvation by His diversities of gifts, is not to be numbered with the crowd of creatures, but to be reckoned with the Father and the Son; Who, when He divides, is not Himself divided by cutting off Himself, for being indivisible He loses nothing when He gives to all, as also the Son, when the Father receives the kingdom, 843 loses nothing, nor does the Father, when He gives that which is His to the Son, suffer loss. We know, then, by the testimony of the Son that there is no loss in the division of spiritual grace; for He Who breathes where He wills 844 is everywhere free from loss. Concerning which power we shall speak more fully farther on.
50. In the meanwhile, since our intention is to prove in due order that the Spirit is not to be reckoned amongst all things, let us take the Apostle, whose words they call in question, as an authority for this position. For what “all things” would be, whether visible or invisible, he himself declared when he said: “For in Him were all things created in the heavens and in earth.” 845 You see that “all things” is spoken of things in the heavens, and of things in earth, for in p. 100 the heavens are also invisible things which were made.
51. But that no one should be ignorant of this he added those of whom he was speaking: “Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and in Him, and He is before all, and in Him all things consist.” 846 Does he, then, include the Holy Spirit here amongst creatures? Or when he says that the Son of God is before all things, is he to be supposed to have said that He is before the Father? Certainly not; for as here he says that all things were created by the Son, and that all things in the heavens consist in Him, so, too, it cannot be doubted that all things in the heavens have their strength in the Holy Spirit, since we read: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens established and all the strength of them by the Spirit of His mouth.” 847 He, then, is above all, from Whom is all the strength of things in heaven and things on earth. He, then, Who is above all things certainly does not serve; He Who serves not is free; He Who is free has the prerogative of lordship.
52. If I were to say this at first it would be denied. But in the same manner as they deny the less that the greater may not be believed, so let us set forth lesser matters first that either they may show their perfidy in lesser matters, or, if they grant the lesser matters, we may infer greater from the lesser.
53. I think, most merciful Emperor, that they are most fully confuted who dare to reckon the Holy Spirit amongst all things. But that they may know that they are pressed not only by the testimony of the apostles, but also by that of our Lord; how can they dare to reckon the Holy Spirit amongst all things, since the Lord Himself said: “He who shall blaspheme against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he who shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, either here or hereafter.” 848 How, then, can any one dare to reckon the Holy Spirit amongst creatures? Or who will so blind himself as to think that if he have injured any creature he cannot be forgiven in any wise? For if the Jews because they worshipped the host of heaven were deprived of divine protection, whilst he who worships and confesses the Holy Spirit is accepted of God, but he who confesses Him not is convicted of sacrilege without forgiveness: certainly it follows from this that the Holy Spirit cannot be reckoned amongst all things, but that He is above all things, an offence against Whom is avenged by eternal punishment.
54. But observe carefully why the Lord said: “He who shall blaspheme against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him, but he who shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, either here or hereafter.” 849 Is an offence against the Son different from one against the Holy Spirit? For as their dignity is one, and common to both, so too is the offence. But if any one, led astray by the visible human body, should think somewhat more remissly than is fitting concerning the Body of Christ (for it ought not to appear of little worth to us, seeing it is the palace of chastity, and the fruit of the Virgin), he incurs guilt, but he is not shut out from pardon, which he may attain to by faith. But if any one should deny the dignity, majesty, and eternal power of the Holy Spirit, and should think that devils are cast out not in the Spirit of God, but in Beelzebub, there can be no attaining of pardon there where is the fulness of sacrilege; for he who has denied the Spirit has denied also the Father and the Son, since the same is the Spirit of God Who is the Spirit of Christ.
1 Cor. viii. 6.98:830
Rom. v. 5.98:831
S. Matt. 3:11, Luke 4:16, John 1:26, 27.98:832
This passage has given rise to the question whether St. Ambrose taught, as some others certainly did (probably on his authority), that baptism in the Name of Christ alone, without mention of the other Persons, is valid. But it is difficult to believe that St. Ambrose meant more than to refer to the passage in the Acts as implying Christian baptism. He says just below that baptism is not complete unless one confess the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which would seem to imply the full formula, and he would hardly dissent from St. Basil, who distinctly asserts [De Sp. Sanct. XII.] that baptism without mention of the Three Persons is invalid; and St. Augustine [De Bapt. lib. vi. c. xxv. 47] says that it is more easy to find heretics who reject baptism altogether, than such as omit the right form. Compare also St. Ambrose on St. Luke vi. 67; De Mysteriis, IV. 20; De Sacramentis, II. 5 and 7, especially the latter when he says: In uno nomine…hoc est in nomine Patris et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.98:833
Acts xix. 5 ff.99:834
Acts x. 38.99:835
Acts i. 5.99:836
1 Cor. xii. 13.99:837
1 Cor. viii. 6.99:838
Rom. ix. 5.99:839
Heb. i. 6.99:840
Heb. i. 14.99:841
S. John xv. 26.99:842
Heb. 2:3, 4.99:843
1 Cor. xv. 24.99:844
S. John iii. 8.99:845
Col. i. 16.100:846
Col. 1:16, 17.100:847
S. Matt. xii. 32.100:849
S. Matt. xii. 32.
Next: Chapter IV. The Holy Spirit is one and the same Who spake in the prophets and apostles, Who is the Spirit of God and of Christ; Whom, further, Scripture designates the Paraclete, and the Spirit of life and truth.
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