Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VI. To those who object that according to the words of Amos the Spirit is created, the answer is made that the word is there understood of the wind, which is often created, which cannot be said of the Holy Spirit, since He is eternal, and cannot be dissolved in death, or by an heretical absorption into the Father. But if they pertinaciously contend that this passage was written of the Holy Spirit, St. Ambrose points out that recourse must be had to a spiritual Interpretation, for Christ by His coming established the thunder, that is, the force of the divine utterances, and by Spirit is signified the human soul as also the flesh assumed by Christ. And since this was created by each Person of the Trinity, it is thence argued that the Spirit, Who has before been affirmed to be the Creator of all things, was the Author of the Incarnation of the Lord.
To those who object that according to the words of Amos the Spirit is created, the answer is made that the word is there understood of the wind, which is often created, which cannot be said of the Holy Spirit, since He is eternal, and cannot be dissolved in death, or by an heretical absorption into the Father. But if they pertinaciously contend that this passage was written of the Holy Spirit, St. Ambrose points out that recourse must be had to a spiritual Interpretation, for Christ by His coming established the thunder, that is, the force of the divine utterances, and by Spirit is signified the human soul as also the flesh assumed by Christ. And since this was created by each Person of the Trinity, it is thence argued that the Spirit, Who has before been affirmed to be the Creator of all things, was the Author of the Incarnation of the Lord.
48. Nor does it escape my notice that heretics have been wont to object that the Holy Spirit appears to be a creature, because many of them use as an argument for establishing their impiety that passage of Amos, where he spoke of the blowing of the wind, as the words of the prophet made clear. For you read thus: “Behold, I am He that establish the thunders, and create the wind [spirit], 1065 and declare unto man his Christ, that make light and mist, and ascend upon high places, the Lord God Almighty is His Name.” 1066
49. If they make an argument of this, that he said “spirit” was created, Esdras taught us that spirit is created, saying in the fourth book: “And upon the second day Thou madest the spirit of the firmament,” 1067 yet, that we may keep to our point, is it not evident that in what Amos said the order of the passage shows that the prophet was speaking of the creation of this world?
50. He begins as follows: “I am the Lord that establish the thunders and create the wind [spirit].” The order of the words p. 121 itself teaches us; for if he had wished to speak of the Holy Spirit, he would certainly not have put the thunders in the first place. For thunder is not more ancient than the Holy Spirit; though they be ungodly, they still dare not say that. And then when we see what follows concerning light and mist, is it not plain that what is said is to be understood of the creation of this world? For we know by every-day experience, that when we have storms on this earth, thunders come first, blasts of wind follow on, the sky grows black with mists, and light shines again out of the darkness. For the blasts of wind are also called “spirits,” as it is written: “Fire and brimstone and the spirit of storm.” 1068
51. And that you might know that he called this “spirit,” he says: “establishing thunders and creating the wind [spirit].” For these are often created, when they take place. But the Holy Spirit is eternal, and if any one dares to call Him a creature, still he cannot say that He is daily created like the blast of the wind. Then, again, Wisdom herself, speaking after the mystery of the assumed Body, says: “The Lord created Me.” 1069 Although prophesying of things to come, yet, because the coming of the Lord was predestined, it is not said “creates” but “created Me;” that men might believe that the Body of Jesus was begotten of the Virgin Mary, not often, but once only.
52. And so, as to that which the prophet declared as it were of the daily working of God in the thunder and the creation of the wind, it would be impious to understand any such thing of the Holy Spirit, Whom the ungodly themselves cannot deny to exist from before the world. Whence with pious asseveration we testify that He always exists, and abides ever. For neither can He Who before the world was moving upon the waters begin to be visible after the worlds creation; or else it would be allowable to suppose that there are many Holy Spirits, Who come into being by as it were a daily production. Far be it from any one to pollute himself with such impiety as to say that the Holy Spirit is frequently or ever created. For I do not understand why He should be frequently created; unless perchance they believe that He dies frequently and so is frequently created. But how can the Spirit of life die? If, then, He cannot die, there is no reason why He should be often created.
53. But they who think otherwise fall into this sacrilege, that they do not distinguish the Holy Spirit; who think that the Word Which was sent forth returns to the Father, and the Spirit Which was sent forth is reabsorbed into God, so that there should be a reabsorption 1070 and a kind of alternation of one changing himself into various forms; whereas the distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always abiding and unchangeable, preserves the Unity of its power.
54. But if any one thinks that the word of the prophet is to be explained with reference to the Holy Spirit, because it is said, “declaring unto men His Christ,” 1071 he will explain it more easily of the Lords Incarnation. For if it troubles you that he said Spirit, and therefore you think that this cannot well be explained of the mystery of the taking of human nature, read on in the Scriptures and you will find that all agrees most excellently with Christ, of Whom it is thoroughly fitting to think that He established the thunders by His coming, that is, the force and sound of the heavenly Scriptures, by the thunder, as it were, of which our minds are struck with astonishment, so that we learn to be afraid, and pay respect to the heavenly oracles.
55. Lastly, in the Gospel the brothers of the Lord were called Sons of Thunder; and when the voice was uttered of the Father, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again,” 1072 the Jews said that it thundered on Him. For although they could not receive the grace of the truth, yet they confessed unwillingly, and in their ignorance were speaking mysteries, so that there resulted a great testimony of the Father to the Son. And in the Book of Job, too, the Scripture says: “And who knows when He will make the power of His thunder?” 1073 Certainly if these words pertained to the thunders of the heavens, he would have said that their force was already made, not about to be made.
56. Therefore he referred the thunders to the words of the Lord, the sound of which went out into all the earth, and we understand the word “spirit” in this place of the soul, which He took endowed with reason and perfect; 1074 for Scripture often designates p. 122 the soul of man by the word spirit, as you read: “Who creates the spirit of man within him.” 1075 So, too, the Lord signified His Soul by the word Spirit, when He said: “Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” 1076
57. And that you might know that he spoke of the coming down of Jesus, he added that He declared His Christ to men, for in His baptism He declared Him, saying: “Thou art My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” 1077 He declared Him on the mount, saying: “This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him.” 1078 He declared Him in His Passion, when the sun hid itself, and sea and earth trembled. He declared Him in the Centurion, who said: “Truly this was the Son of God.” 1079
58. We ought, then, to take this whole passage either to be simply to be understood of that state in which we here live and breathe, or of the mystery of the Lords Body; for if here it had been stated that the Holy Spirit was created, undoubtedly Scripture would elsewhere have declared the same, as we often read of the Son of God, Who according to the flesh was both made and created.
59. But it is fitting that we should consider His Majesty in the very fact of His taking flesh for us, that we may see His divine power in the very taking of the Body. For as we read that the Father created the mystery of the Lords Incarnation, the Spirit too created it; and so too we read that Christ Himself created His own Body. For the Father created it, as it is written: “The Lord created Me,” 1080 and in another place, “God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” 1081 And the Spirit created the whole mystery, according to that which we read, for “Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” 1082
60. You find, then, that the Father created and the Spirit created; learn, too, that the Son of God also created, when Solomon says: “Wisdom hath made herself a house.” 1083 How, then, can the Holy Spirit Who created the mystery of the Lords Incarnation, which is above all created things, be Himself a creature?
61. As we have shown above 1084 generally that the Holy Spirit is our Creator according to the flesh in the outer man, let us now show that He is our Creator also according to the mystery of grace. And as the Father creates, so too does the Son create, and so too the Holy Spirit creates, as we read in the words of Paul: “For it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any one should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus in good works.” 1085
Spiritus is Latin for wind and spirit. See note on § 63 of this book.120:1066
Amos iv. 13.120:1067
2 Esdras 6.41.121:1068
Prov. viii. 22.121:1070
St. Ambrose would seem to be alluding to a certain party amongst the Sabellians, who, to avoid the charge of being Patripassians, maintained that Christ before His Incarnation was one with the Father, from Whom He then emanated, in Whom after His Passion He was again reabsorbed. Cf. De Fide, V. 162.121:1071
Amos iv. 13.121:1072
S. John xii. 28.121:1073
Job xxvi. 14 [LXX.].121:1074
It has been generally held that our Lords Soul was from the first endowed with all the fulness of which a human soul is capable, having, for instance, perfect knowledge of all things past, present, and to come: the only limit being that a finite nature cannot possess the infinite attributes of the Godhead.122:1075
Zech. xii. 1.122:1076
S. Luke xxiii. 46.122:1077
S. Matt. iii. 17.122:1078
S. Mark ix. 7.122:1079
S. Mark xv. 39.122:1080
Prov. viii. 12.122:1081
Gal. iv. 4.122:1082
S. Matt. i. 18.122:1083
Prov. ix. 1.122:1084
Eph. ii. 8 ff.
Next: Chapter VII. The Holy Spirit is no less the author of spiritual creation or regeneration than the Father and the Son. The excellence of that creation, and wherein it consists. How we are to understand holy Scripture, when it attributes a body or members to God.
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