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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XVIII. As he purposes to establish the Godhead of the Holy Spirit by the points already discussed, St. Ambrose touches again on some of them; for instance, that He does not commit but forgives sin; that He is not a creature but the Creator; and lastly, that He does not offer but receives worship.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVIII.

As he purposes to establish the Godhead of the Holy Spirit by the points already discussed, St. Ambrose touches again on some of them; for instance, that He does not commit but forgives sin; that He is not a creature but the Creator; and lastly, that He does not offer but receives worship.

132. But to sum up, in order at the end more distinctly to gather up the arguments which have been used here and there, the evident glory of the Godhead is proved both by other arguments, and most especially by these four. God is known by these marks: either that He is without sin; or that He forgives sin; or that He is not a creature but the Creator; or that He does not give but receives worship.

133. So, then, no one is without sin except God alone, for no one is without sin except God. 1402 Also, no one forgives sins except God alone, for it is also written: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 1403 And one cannot be the Creator of all except he be not a creature, and he who is not a creature is without doubt God; for it is written: “They worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, Who is God blessed for ever.” 1404 God also does not worship, but is worshipped, for it is written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” 1405

134. Let us therefore consider whether the Holy Spirit have any of these marks which may bear witness to His Godhead. And first let us treat of the point that none is without sin except God alone, and demand that they prove that the Holy Spirit has sin.

135. But they are unable to show us this, and demand our authority from us, namely, that we should show by texts that the Holy Spirit has not sinned, as it is said of the Son that He did no sin. 1406 Let them learn that we teach by authority of the Scriptures; for it is written: “For in Wisdom is a Spirit of understanding, holy, one only, manifold, subtle, easy to move, eloquent, undefiled.” 1407 The Scripture says He is undefiled, has it lied concerning the Son, that you should believe it to have lied concerning the Spirit? For the prophet said in the same place concerning Wisdom, that nothing that defiles enters into her. She herself is undefiled, and her Spirit is undefiled. Therefore if the Spirit have not sin, He is God.

136. But how can He be guilty of sin Who Himself forgives sins? Therefore He has not committed sin, and if He be without sin He is not a creature. For every creature is exposed to the capability of sin, and the eternal Godhead alone is free from sin and undefiled.

137. Let us now see whether the Spirit forgives sins. But on this point there can be no doubt, since the Lord Himself said: “Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whosesoever sins ye forgive they shall be forgiven.” 1408 See that sins are forgiven through the Holy Spirit. But men make use of their ministry for the forgiveness of sins, they do not exercise the right of any power of their own. For they forgive sins not in their own name but in that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They ask, the Godhead gives, the service is of man, the gift is of the Power on high.

138. And it is not doubtful that sin is forgiven by means of baptism, but in baptism the operation is that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If, therefore, the Spirit forgives sin, since it is written, “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” 1409 certainly He Who cannot be separated from the oneness of the name of the Nature is also incapable of being severed from the power of God. Now if He is not severed from the power of God, how is He severed from the name of God.

139. Let us now see whether He be a creature or the Creator. But since we have above 1410 most clearly proved Him to be the Creator, as it is written: “The Spirit of God Who hath made me;” 1411 and it has been declared that the face of the earth is renewed by the Spirit, and that all things languish without the Spirit, 1412 it is clear that the Spirit is the Creator. But who can doubt this, since, as we have shown above, not even the generation of the Lord from the Virgin, which is more excellent than all creatures, is without the operation of the Spirit?

140. Therefore the Spirit is not a creature, but the Creator, and He Who is Creator is certainly not a creature. And because He is not a creature, without doubt He is the p. 155 Creator Who produces all things together with the Father and the Son. But if He be the Creator, certainly the Apostle, by saying in condemnation of the Gentiles, “Who served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is God blessed for ever,” 1413 and by warning men, as I said above, that the Holy Spirit is to be served, both showed Him to be the Creator, and because He is the Creator demonstrated that He ought to be called God. Which he also sums up in the Epistle written to the Hebrews, saying: “For He that created all things is God.” 1414 Let them, therefore, either say what it is which has been created without the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or let them confess that the Spirit also is of one Godhead with the Father and the Son.

141. The writer taught also that He was to be worshipped, Whom he called Lord and God. For He Who is the God and Lord of the Universe is certainly to be worshipped by all, for it is thus written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” 1415

142. Or let them say where they have read that the Spirit worships. For it is said of the Son of God: “Let all the Angels of God worship Him;” 1416 we do not read, Let the Spirit worship Him. For how can He worship Who is not amongst servants and ministers, but, together with the Father and the Son, has the service of the just under Him, for it is written: “We serve the Spirit of God.” 1417 He is, therefore, to be worshipped by us, Whom the Apostle taught that we must serve, and Whom we serve we also adore, according to that which is written, to repeat the same words again: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”

143. Although the Apostle has not omitted even this point, so as to omit to teach us that the Spirit is to be worshipped. For since we have demonstrated that the Spirit is in the prophets, no one can doubt that prophecy is given by the Spirit, and plainly when He Who is in the prophets is worshipped, the same Spirit is worshipped. And so you find: “If the whole Church be assembled together, and all speak with tongues, and there come in one unlearned or unbelieving, will he not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one unlearned and unbelieving, he is convicted by all, he is judged by all. For the secrets of his heart are made manifest, and so falling down on his face he will worship God, declaring that God is in truth among you.” 1418 It is, therefore, God Who is worshipped, God Who abides and Who speaks in the prophets; but the Spirit thus abides and speaks, therefore, also, the Spirit is worshipped.


Footnotes

154:1402

S. Matt. xix. 17.

154:1403

S. Luke v. 21.

154:1404

Rom. i. 25.

154:1405

Deut. vi. 13.

154:1406

1 Pet. ii. 22.

154:1407

Wisd. vii. 22.

154:1408

S. John xx. 22.

154:1409

S. Mark ii. 7.

154:1410

Cp. B. II. 5, 6.

154:1411

Job xxxiii. 4.

154:1412

Ps. 104:29, 30.

155:1413

Rom. i. 25.

155:1414

Heb. iii. 4.

155:1415

Deut. vi. 13.

155:1416

Heb. i. 6.

155:1417

Phil. iii. 3.

155:1418

1 Cor. xiv. 23-25.


Next: Chapter XIX. Having proved above that the Spirit abides and speaks in the prophets, St. Ambrose infers that He knows all things which are of God, and therefore is One with the Father and the Son. This same point he establishes again from the fact that He possesses all that God possesses, namely, Godhead, knowledge of the heart, truth, a Name above every name, and power to raise the dead, as is proved from Ezekiel, and in this He is equal to the Son.

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