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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter V. The Holy Spirit, since He sanctifies creatures, is neither a creature nor subject to change. He is always good, since He is given by the Father and the Son; neither is He to be numbered amongst such things as are said to fail. He must be acknowledged as the source of goodness. The Spirit of God's mouth, the amender of evils, and Himself good. Lastly, as He is said in Scripture to be good, and is joined to the Father and the Son in baptism, He cannot possibly be denied to be good. He is not, however, said to progress, but to be made perfect in goodness, which distinguishes Him from all creatures.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.

The Holy Spirit, since He sanctifies creatures, is neither a creature nor subject to change. He is always good, since He is given by the Father and the Son; neither is He to be numbered amongst such things as are said to fail. He must be acknowledged as the source of goodness. The Spirit of God’s mouth, the amender of evils, and Himself good. Lastly, as He is said in Scripture to be good, and is joined to the Father and the Son in baptism, He cannot possibly be denied to be good. He is not, however, said to progress, but to be made perfect in goodness, which distinguishes Him from all creatures.

62. The Holy Spirit is not, then, of the substance of things corporeal, for He sheds incorporeal grace on corporeal things; nor, again, is He of the substance of invisible creatures, for they receive His sanctification, and through Him are superior to the other works of the universe. Whether you speak of Angels, or Dominions, or Powers, every creature waits for the grace of the Holy Spirit. For as we are children through the Spirit, because “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father; so that thou art now not a servant but a son;” 870 in like manner, also, every creature is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God, whom in truth the grace of the Holy Spirit made sons of God. Therefore, also, every creature itself shall be changed by the revelation of the grace of the Spirit, “and shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” 871

63. Every creature, then, is subject to change, not only such as has been changed by some sin or condition of the outward elements, but also such as can be liable to corruption by a fault of nature, though by careful discipline it be not yet so; for, as we have shown in a former treatise, 872 the nature of Angels evidently can be changed. It is certainly fitting to judge that such as is p. 102 the nature of one, such also is that of others. The nature of the rest, then, is capable of change, but the discipline is better.

64. Every creature, therefore, is capable of change, but the Holy Spirit is good and not capable of change, nor can He be changed by any fault, Who does away the faults of all and pardons their sins. How, then, is He capable of change, Who by sanctifying works in others a change to grace, but is not changed Himself.

65. How is He capable of change Who is always good? For the Holy Spirit, through Whom the things that are good are ministered to us, is never evil. Whence two evangelists in one and the same place, in words in differing from each other, have made the same statement, for you read in Matthew: “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your Father, Who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him.” 873 But according to Luke you will find it thus written: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” 874 We observe, then, that the Holy Spirit is good in the Lord’s judgment by the testimony of the evangelists, since the one has put good things in the place of the Holy Spirit, the other has named the Holy Spirit in the place of good things. If, then, the Holy Spirit is that which is good, how is He not good?

66. Nor does it escape our notice that some copies have likewise, according to St. Luke: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give a good gift to them that ask Him.” This good gift is the grace of the Spirit, which the Lord Jesus shed forth from heaven, after having been fixed to the gibbet of the cross, returning with the triumphal spoils of death deprived of its power, as you find it written: “Ascending up on high He led captivity captive, and gave good gifts to men.” 875 And well does he say “gifts,” for as the Son was given, of Whom it is written: “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;” 876 so, too, is the grace of the Spirit given. But why should I hesitate to say that the Holy Spirit also is given to us, since it is written: “The love of God is shed forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who is given to us.” 877 And since captive breasts certainly could not receive Him, the Lord Jesus first led captivity captive, that our affections being set free, He might pour forth the gift of divine grace.

67. And He said well “led captivity captive.” For the victory of Christ is the victory of liberty, which won grace for all, and inflicted wrong on none. So in the setting free of all no one is captive. And because in the time of the Lord’s passion wrong alone had no part, which had made captive all of whom it had gained possession, captivity itself turning back upon itself was made captive, not now attached to Belial but to Christ, to serve Whom is liberty. “For he who is called in the Lord as a servant is the Lord’s freedman.” 878

68. But to return to the point. “All,” says He, “have gone aside, all together are become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, not even one.” 879 If they except the Holy Spirit, even they themselves confess that He is not amongst all; if they do not except Him, then they, too, acknowledge that He has gone aside amongst all.

69. But let us consider whether He has goodness in Himself, since He is the Source and Principle of goodness. For as the Father and the Son have, so too the Holy Spirit also has goodness. And the Apostle also taught this when he said: “Now the fruit of the Spirit is peace, love, joy, patience, goodness.” 880 For who doubts that He is good Whose fruit is goodness. For “a good tree brings forth good fruit.” 881

70. And so if God be good, how shall He Who is the Spirit of His mouth not be good, Who searcheth even the deep things of God? Can the infection of evil enter into the deep things of God? And from this it is seen how foolish they are who deny that the Son of God is good, when they cannot deny that the Spirit of Christ is good, of Whom the Son of God says: “Therefore said I that He shall receive of Mine.” 882

71. Or is the Spirit not good, Who of the worst makes good men, does away sin, destroys evil, shuts out crime, pours in good gifts, makes apostles of persecutors, and priests of sinners? “Ye were,” it is said, “sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” 883

72. But why do we put them off? And if they ask for statements since they do not deny facts, let them hear that the Holy Spirit is good, for David said: “Let Thy good Spirit lead me forth in the right way.” 884 For what is the Spirit but full of goodness? Who though because of His nature He cannot be attained to, yet because of His goodness p. 103 can be received by us, filling all things His power, but only partaken of by the just, simple in substance, rich in virtues, present to each, dividing of His own to every one, and Himself whole everywhere.

73. And with good cause did the Son of God say: “Go and baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” 885 not disdaining association with the Holy Spirit. Why, then, do some take it ill that He Whom the Lord disdained not in the sacrament of baptism, should be joined in our devotion with the Father and the Son?

74. Good, then, is the Spirit, but good, not as though acquiring but as imparting goodness. For the Holy Spirit does not receive from creatures but is received; as also He is not sanctified but sanctifies; for the creature is sanctified, but the Holy Spirit sanctifies. In which matter, though the word is used in common, there is a difference in the nature. For both the man who receives and God Who gives sanctity are called holy, as we read: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” 886 Now sanctification and corruption cannot share the same nature, and therefore the grace of the Holy Spirit and the creature cannot be of one substance.

75. Since, then, the whole invisible creation (whose substance some rightly believe to be reasonable and incorporeal), with the exception of the Trinity, does not impart but acquires the grace of the Spirit, and does not share in it but receives it, the whole commonalty of creation is to be separated from association with the Holy Spirit. Let them then believe that the Holy Spirit is not a creature; or, if they think Him a creature, why do they associate Him with the Father? If they think Him a creature, why do they join Him with the Son of God? But if they do not think that He should be separated from the Father and the Son, they do not consider Him to be a creature, for where the sanctification is one the nature is one.


Footnotes

101:870

Gal. 4:6, 7.

101:871

Rom. 8:19, 21.

101:872

De Fid. III. 3.

102:873

S. Matt. vii. 11.

102:874

S. Luke xi. 13.

102:875

Psa. 68.18.

102:876

Isa. ix. 6.

102:877

Rom. v. 5.

102:878

1 Cor. vii. 22.

102:879

Psa. 14.3.

102:880

Gal. v. 22.

102:881

S. Matt. vii. 17.

102:882

S. John xvi. 15.

102:883

Eph. v. 8.

102:884

Psa. 143.10.

103:885

S. Matt. xxviii. 19.

103:886

Lev. xix. 2.


Next: Chapter VI. Although we are baptized with water and the Spirit, the latter is much superior to the former, and is not therefore to be separated from the Father and the Son.

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