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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VIII. St. Ambrose examines and refutes the heretical argument that because God is said to be glorified in the Spirit, and not with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is therefore inferior to the Father. He shows that the particle in can be also used of the Son and even of the Father, and that on the other hand with may be said of creatures without any infringement on the prerogatives of the Godhead; and that in reality these prepositions simply imply the connection of the Three Divine Persons.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VIII.

St. Ambrose examines and refutes the heretical argument that because God is said to be glorified in the Spirit, and not with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is therefore inferior to the Father. He shows that the particle in can be also used of the Son and even of the Father, and that on the other hand with may be said of creatures without any infringement on the prerogatives of the Godhead; and that in reality these prepositions simply imply the connection of the Three Divine Persons.

70. But what wonder is it if foolish men question about words, when they do so even about syllables? For some think that a distinction should be made and that God should be praised in the Spirit, but not with the Spirit, and consider that the greatness of the Godhead is to be estimated from one syllable or some custom, arguing that if they consider that God should be glorified in the Spirit, they point to some office of the Holy Spirit, but that if they say that God receives glory or power with the Spirit, they seem to imply some association and communion of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

71. But who can separate what is inp. 124 capable of separation? who can divide that association which Christ shows to be inseparable? “Go,” says He, “baptize all nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 1095 Has He changed either a word or a syllable here concerning the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit? Certainly not. But He says, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The expression is the same for the Spirit as for the Father and for Himself. From which is inferred not any office of the Holy Spirit, but rather a sharing of honour or of working when we say “in the Spirit.”

72. Consider, too, that this opinion of yours tends to the injury of the Father and the Son, for the latter did not say, “with the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” but in the Name, and yet not any office but the power of the Trinity is expressed in this syllable,

73. Lastly, that you may know that it is not a syllable which prejudices faith, but faith which commends a syllable, Paul also speaks in Christ. Christ is not less, because Paul spoke in Christ, as you find: “We speak before God in Christ.” 1096 As, then, the Apostle says that we speak in Christ, so, too, is that which we speak in the Spirit; as the Apostle himself said: “No man saith Lord Jesus, except in the Holy Spirit.” 1097 So, then, in this place not any subjection of the Holy Spirit, but a connection of grace is signified.

74. And that you may know that distinction does not depend upon a syllable, he says also in another place: “And these indeed were you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” 1098 How many instances of this I can bring forward. For it is written: “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” 1099 and elsewhere: “To those sanctified in Christ Jesus,” 1100 and again: “That we might be the righteousness of God in Him,” 1101 and in another place: “Should fall from the chastity which is in Christ Jesus.” 1102

75. But what am I doing? For while I say that like things are written of the Son as of the Spirit, I am rather leading on to this, not that because it is written of the Son, therefore it would appear to be reverently written of the Holy Spirit, but that because the same is written of the Spirit, therefore men allege that the Son’s honour is lessened because of the Spirit. For say they, Is it written of God the Father?

76. But let them learn that it is also said of God the Father: “In the Lord I will praise the word;” 1103 and elsewhere: “In God we will do mighty deeds;” 1104 and “My remembrance shall be ever in Thee;” 1105 and “In Thy Name will we rejoice;” 1106 and again in another place: “That his deeds may be manifested, that they are wrought in God;” 1107 and Paul: “In God Who created all things;” 1108 and again: “Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus to the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;” 1109 and in the Gospel: “I in the Father and the Father in Me,” and “the Father that dwelleth in Me.” 1110 It is also written: “He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord;” 1111 and in another place: “Our life is hid with Christ in God.” 1112 Did he here ascribe more to the Son than to the Father in saying that we are with Christ in God? or does our state avail more than the grace of the Spirit, so that we can be with Christ and the Holy Spirit cannot? And when Christ wills to be with us, as He Himself said: “Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am,” 1113 would He disdain to be with the Spirit? For it is written: “Ye coming together and my spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus.” 1114 Do we then come together in the power of the Lord, and dare to say that the Lord Jesus would not be willing to come together with the Spirit Who does not disdain to come together with us?

77. So the Apostle thinks that it makes no difference which particle you use. For each is a conjunctive particle, and conjunction does not cause separation, for if it divided it would not be called a conjunction.

78. What, then, moves you to say that to God the Father or to His Christ there is glory, life, greatness, or power, in the Holy Spirit, and to refuse to say with the Holy Spirit? Is it that you are afraid of seeming to join the Spirit with the Father and the Son? But hear what is written of the Spirit: “For the law of the Spirit is life in Christ Jesus.” 1115 And in another place God the Father says: “They shall worship Thee, and in Thee they shall make supplication.” 1116 God the Father says that we ought to pray in Christ; and do you think that it is any derogation to the Spirit if the glory of Christ is said to be in Him?

p. 125 79. Hear that what you are afraid to acknowledge of the Spirit, the Apostle did not fear to claim for himself; for he says: “To be dissolved and to be with Christ is much better.” 1117 Do you deny that the Spirit, through Whom the Apostle was made worthy of being with Christ, is with Christ?

80. What, then, is the reason that you prefer saying that God or Christ is glorified in the Spirit rather than with the Spirit? Is it because if you say in the Spirit, the Spirit is declared to be less than Christ? Although your making the Lord greater or less is a matter which can be refuted, yet since we read, “For Christ was made sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him,” 1118 He is found chiefest in Whom we are found most low. So, too, elsewhere you read, “For in Him all things consist,” 1119 that is, in His power. And the things which consist in Him cannot be compared to Him, because they receive from His power the substance whereby they consist.

81. Do you then understand that God so reigns in the Spirit that the power of the Spirit, as a kind of source of substance, imparts to God the origin of His rule? But this is impious. And so our predecessors 1120 spoke of the unity of power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, when they said that the glory of Christ was with the Spirit, that they might declare their inseparable connection.

82. For how is the Holy Spirit separated from the Son, since “the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are sons of God, and if sons, also heirs, heirs, indeed, of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” 1121 Who, then, is so foolish as to wish to dissever the eternal conjunction of the Spirit and Christ, when the Spirit by Whom we are made joint-heirs with Christ conjoins even what is severed.

83. “If so be,” he says, “we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” 1122 If we then shall be glorified together with Christ through the Spirit, how do we refuse to admit that the Spirit Himself is glorified together with Christ? Do we dissociate the life of Christ and of the Holy Spirit when the Spirit says that we shall live together with the Son of God? For the Apostle says: “If we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with Him;” and then again: “For if we suffer with Him we shall also live with Him, and not only shall we live with Him, but shall be also glorified with Him, and not only be glorified but shall also reign with Him.” 1123

84. No division, then, is implied in those particles, for each is a particle of conjunction. And lastly, we often find in holy Scripture the one inserted and the other understood, as it is written: “I will enter into Thy house in whole burnt-offerings,” 1124 that is, “with whole burnt-offerings;” and in another place: “He brought them forth in silver and gold,” 1125 that is, “with silver and gold.” And elsewhere the Psalmist says: “Wilt Thou not go forth with us in our hosts?” 1126 for that which is really meant, “with our hosts.” So, then, in the use of the expression no lessening of honour can be implied, and nothing ought to be deduced derogatory to the honour of the Godhead, it is necessary that with the heart man should believe unto righteousness, and that out of the faith of the heart confession should be made in the mouth unto salvation. But they who believe not with the heart spread what is derogatory with their mouth.


Footnotes

124:1095

S. Matt. xxviii. 19.

124:1096

2 Cor. ii. 17.

124:1097

1 Cor. xii. 3.

124:1098

1 Cor. vi. 11.

124:1099

Gal. iii. 28.

124:1100

1 Cor. i. 2.

124:1101

2 Cor. v. 21.

124:1102

2 Cor. xi. 3.

124:1103

Psa. 56.4.

124:1104

Psa. 60.12.

124:1105

Psa. 71.6.

124:1106

Psa. 89.16.

124:1107

S. John iii. 21.

124:1108

Eph. iii. 9.

124:1109

2 Thess. i. 2.

124:1110

S. John xiv. 10.

124:1111

2 Cor. x. 17.

124:1112

Col. iii. 3.

124:1113

S. John xvii. 24.

124:1114

1 Cor. v. 4.

124:1115

Rom. viii. 2.

124:1116

Isa. xlv. 14 [LXX.].

125:1117

Phil. i. 23.

125:1118

2 Cor. v. 21.

125:1119

Col. i. 17.

125:1120

See St. Basil, De Sp. Sancto, III. 29.

125:1121

Rom. 8:16, 17.

125:1122

Rom. 8:16, 17.

125:1123

2 Tim. 2:11, 12.

125:1124

Psa. 66.13.

125:1125

Psa. 105.37.

125:1126

Psa. 44.10.


Next: Chapter IX. A passage of St. Paul abused by heretics, to prove a distinction between the Divine Persons, is explained, and it is proved that the whole passage can be rightly said of each Person, though it refers specially to the Son. It is then proved that each member of the passage is applicable to each Person, and as to say, of Him are all things is applicable to the Father, so may all things are through Him and in Him also be said of Him.

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