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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 9

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 9.—All are Sometimes Understood in One Person.

But this is said, not on account of any inequality of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit, but as though the presence of the Son of man with them would be a hindrance to the coming of Him, who was not less, because He did not “empty Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant,” 101 as the Son did. It was necessary, then, that the form of a servant should be taken away from their eyes, because, through gazing upon it, they thought that alone which they saw to be Christ. Hence also is that which is said, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said, ‘I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I:’” 102 that is, on that account it is necessary for me to go to the Father, because, whilst you see me thus, you hold me to be less than the Father through that which you see; and so, being taken up with the creature and the “fashion” which I have taken upon me, you do not perceive the equality which I have with the Father. Hence, too, is this: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” 103 For touch, as it were, puts a limit to their conception, and He therefore would not have the thought of the heart, directed towards Himself, to be so limited as that He should be held to be only that which He seemed to be. But the “ascension to the Father” meant, so to appear as He is equal to the Father, that the limit of the sight which sufficeth us might be attained there. Sometimes also it is said of the Son alone, that He himself sufficeth, and the whole reward of our love and longing is held forth as in the sight of Him. For so it is said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” 104 Pray, because He has not here said, And I will show the Father also to him, has He therefore excluded the Father? On the contrary, because it is true, “I and my Father are one,” when the Father is manifested, the Son also, who is in Him, is manifested; and when the Son is manifested, the Father also, who is in Him, is manifested. As, therefore, when it is said, “And I will manifest myself to him,” it is understood that He manifests also the Father; so likewise in that which is said, “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” it is understood that He does not take it away from Himself; since, when He shall bring believers to the contemplation of God, even the Father, doubtless He will bring them to the contemplation of Himself, who has said, “And I will manifest myself to him.” And so, consequently, when Judas had said to Him, “Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” 105 Behold, that He manifests not only Himself to him by whom He is loved, because He comes to him together with the Father, and abides with him.

19. Will it perhaps be thought, that when the Father and the Son make their abode with him who loves them, the Holy Spirit p. 28 is excluded from that abode? What, then, is that which is said above of the Holy Spirit: “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not: but ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and is in you”? He, therefore, is not excluded from that abode, of whom it is said, “He abideth with you, and is in you;” unless, perhaps, any one be so senseless as to think, that when the Father and the Son have come that they may make their abode with him who loves them, the Holy Spirit will depart thence, and (as it were) give place to those who are greater. But the Scripture itself meets this carnal idea; for it says a little above: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” 106 He will not therefore depart when the Father and the Son come, but will be in the same abode with them eternally; because neither will He come without them, nor they without Him. But in order to intimate the Trinity, some things are separately affirmed, the Persons being also each severally named; and yet are not to be understood as though the other Persons were excluded, on account of the unity of the same Trinity and the One substance and Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 107



Phil. 2.7Phil. ii. 7


John 14.28John xiv. 28


John 20.17John xx. 17


John 14.21John xiv. 21


John 14:22, 23John 14:22, 23


John 14.16-23John xiv. 16-23


[An act belonging eminently and officially to a particular trinitarian person is not performed to the total exclusion of the other persons, because of the numerical unity of essence. The whole undivided essence is in each person; consequently, what the essence in one of its personal modes, or forms, does officially and eminently, is participated in by the essence in its other modes or forms. Hence the interchange of persons in Scripture. Though creation is officially the Father’s work, yet the Son creates (Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:3Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 3). The name Saviour is given to the Father (1 Tim. 1.11 Tim. i. 1). Judgment belongs officially to the Son (John 5:22, Matt. 25:31John v. 22; Matt xxv. 31); yet the Father judgeth (1 Pet. 1.171 Pet. i. 17). The Father raises Christ (Acts 13.30Acts xiii. 30); yet Christ raises himself (John 10:18, Acts 10:41, Rom. 14:9John x. 18; Acts x. 41; Rom. xiv. 9).—W.G.T.S.]

Next: Chapter 10

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