p. CXXXI §15. Lastly he displays at length the folly of Eunomius, who at times speaks of the Holy Spirit as created, and as the fairest work of the Son, and at other times confesses, by the operations attributed to Him, that He is God, and thus ends the book.
He goes on to add, “Neither on the same level with the Father, nor connumerated with the Father (for God over all is one and only Father), nor on an equality with the Son, for the Son is only-begotten, having none begotten with Him.” Well, for my own part, if he had only added to his previous statement the remark that the Holy Ghost is not the Father of the Son, I should even then have thought it idle for him to linger over what no one ever doubted, and forbid people to form notions of Him which not even the most witless would entertain. But since he endeavours to establish his impiety by irrelevant and unconnected statements, imagining that by denying the Holy Spirit to be the Father of the Only-begotten he makes out that He is subject and subordinate, I therefore made mention of these words, as a proof of the folly of the man who imagines that he is demonstrating the Spirit to be subject to the Father on the ground that the Spirit is not Father of the Only-begotten. For what compels the conclusion, that if He be not Father, He must be subject? If it had been demonstrated that “Father” and “despot” were terms identical in meaning, it would no doubt have followed that, as absolute sovereignty was part of the conception of the Father, we should affirm that the Spirit is subject to Him Who surpassed Him in respect of authority. But if by “Father” is implied merely His relation to the Son, and no conception of absolute sovereignty or authority is involved by the use of the word, how does it follow, from the fact that the Spirit is not the Father of the Son, that the Spirit is subject to the Father? “Nor on an equality with the Son,” he says. How comes he to say this? for to be, and to be unchangeable, and to admit no evil whatsoever, and to remain unalterably in that which is good, all this shows no variation in the case of the Son and of the Spirit. For the incorruptible nature of the Spirit is remote from corruption equally with that of the Son, and in the Spirit, just as in the Son, His essential goodness is absolutely apart from its contrary, and in both alike their perfection in every good stands in need of no addition.
Now the inspired Scripture teaches us to affirm all these attributes of the Spirit, when it predicates of the Spirit the terms “good,” and “wise,” and “incorruptible,” and “immortal,” and all such lofty conceptions and names as are properly applied to Godhead. If then He is inferior in none of these respects, by what means does Eunomius determine the inequality of the Son and the Spirit? “For the Son is,” he tells us, “Only-begotten, having no brother begotten with Him.” Well, the point, that we are not to understand the “Only-begotten” to have brethren, we have already discussed in our comments upon the phrase “first-born of all creation 484 .” But we ought not to leave unexamined the sense that Eunomius now unfairly attaches to the term. For while the doctrine of the Church declares that in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost there is one power, and goodness, and essence, and glory, and the like, saving the difference of the Persons, this man, when he wishes to make the essence of the Only-begotten common to the creation, calls Him “the first-born of all creation” in respect of His pre-temporal existence, declaring by this mode of expression that all conceivable objects in creation are in brotherhood with the Lord; for assuredly the first-born is not the first-born of those otherwise begotten, but of those begotten like Himself 485 . But when he is bent upon severing the Spirit from union with the Son, he calls Him “Only-begotten, not having any brother begotten with Him,” not with the object of conceiving of Him as without brethren, but that by the means of this assertion he may establish touching the Spirit His essential alienation from the Son. It is true that we learn from Holy Scripture not to speak of the Holy Ghost as brother of the Son: but that we are not to say that the Holy Ghost is homogeneous 486 with the Son, is nowhere shown in the divine Scriptures. For if there does reside in the Father and the Son a life-giving power, it is ascribed also to the Holy Spirit, according to the words of the Gospel. If one may discern alike in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the properties of being incorruptible, immutable, of admitting no evil, of being good, right, guiding, of working all in all as He wills, and all the like attributes, how is it possible by identity in these respects to infer difference in kind? Accordingly the word of godliness agrees in affirming that we ought not to regard any kind of brotherhood as attaching to the Only-begotten; but to say that the Spirit is not homogeneous with the Son, the upright with the upright, the good with the good, the life-giving with the life-giving, this has been clearly demonstrated by logical inference to be a piece of heretical knavery.
Why then is the majesty of the Spirit curtailed by such arguments as these? For there is nothing p. CXXXII which can be the cause of producing in him deviation by excess or defect from conceptions such as befit the Godhead, nor, since all these are by Holy Scripture predicated equally of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, can he inform us wherein he discerns inequality to exist. But he launches his blasphemy against the Holy Ghost in its naked form, ill-prepared and unsupported by any consecutive argument. “Nor yet ranked,” he says, “with any other: for He has gone above 487 all the creatures that came into being by the instrumentality of the Son in mode of being, and nature, and glory, and knowledge, as the first and noblest work of the Only-begotten, the greatest and most glorious.” I will leave, however, to others the task of ridiculing the bad taste and surplusage of his style, thinking as I do that it is unseemly for the gray hairs of age, when dealing with the argument before us, to make vulgarity of expression an objection against one who is guilty of impiety. I will just add to my investigation this remark. If the Spirit has “gone above” all the creations of the Son, (for I will use his own ungrammatical and senseless phrase, or rather, to make things clearer, I will present his idea in my own language) if he transcends all things wrought by the Son, the Holy Spirit cannot be ranked with the rest of the creation; and if, as Eunomius says, he surpasses them by virtue of priority of birth, he must needs confess, in the case of the rest of creation, that the objects which are first in order of production are more to be esteemed than those which come after them. Now the creation of the irrational animals was prior to that of man. Accordingly he will of course declare that the irrational nature is more honourable than rational existence. So too, according to the argument of Eunomius, Cain will be proved superior to Abel, in that he was before him in time of birth, and so the stars will be shown to be lower and of less excellence than all the things that grow out of the earth; for these last sprang from the earth on the third day, and all the stars are recorded by Moses to have been created on the fourth. Well, surely no one is such a simpleton as to infer that the grass of the earth is more to be esteemed than the marvels of the sky, on the ground of its precedence in time, or to award the meed to Cain over Abel, or to place below the irrational animals man who came into being later than they. So there is no sense in our authors contention that the nature of the Holy Spirit is superior to that of the creatures that came into being subsequently, on the ground that He came into being before they did. And now let us see what he who separates Him from fellowship with the Son is prepared to concede to the glory of the Spirit: “For he too,” he says, “being one, and first and alone, and surpassing all the creations of the Son in essence and dignity of nature, accomplishing every operation and all teaching according to the good pleasure of the Son, being sent by Him, and receiving from Him, and declaring to those who are instructed, and guiding into truth.” He speaks of the Holy Ghost as “accomplishing every operation and all teaching.” What operation? Does he mean that which the Father and the Son execute, according to the word of the Lord Himself Who “hitherto worketh 488 ” mans salvation, or does he mean some other? For if His work is that named, He has assuredly the same power and nature as Him Who works it, and in such an one difference of kind from Deity can have no place. For just as, if anything should perform the functions of fire, shining and warming in precisely the same way, it is itself certainly fire, so if the Spirit does the works of the Father, He must assuredly be acknowledged to be of the same nature with Him. If on the other hand He operates something else than our salvation, and displays His operation in a contrary direction, He will thereby be proved to be of a different nature and essence. But Eunomius statement itself bears witness that the Spirit quickeneth in like manner with the Father and the Son. Accordingly, from the identity of operations it results assuredly that the Spirit is not alien from the nature of the Father and the Son. And to the statement that the Spirit accomplishes the operation and teaching of the Father according to the good pleasure of the Son we assent. For the community of nature gives us warrant that the will of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, and thus, if the Holy Spirit wills that which seems good to the Son, the community of will clearly points to unity of essence. But he goes on, “being sent by Him, and receiving from Him, and declaring to those who are instructed, and guiding into truth.” If he had not previously said what he has concerning the Spirit, the reader would surely have supposed that these words applied to some human teacher. For to receive a mission is the same thing as to be sent, and to have nothing of ones own, but to receive of the free favour of him who gives the mission, and to minister his words to those who are under instruction, and to be a guide into truth for those that are astray. All these things, which Eunomius is good enough to allow to the Holy Spirit, belong to the present pastors and teachers of the Church,—to be sent, to receive, p. CXXXIII to announce, to teach, to suggest the truth. Now, as he had said above “He is one, and first, and alone, and surpassing all,” had he but stopped there, he would have appeared as a defender of the doctrines of truth. For He Who is indivisibly contemplated in the One is most truly One, and first Who is in the First, and alone Who is in the Only One. For as the spirit of man that is in him, and the man himself, are but one man, so also the Spirit of God which is in Him, and God Himself, would properly be termed One God, and First and Only, being incapable of separation from Him in Whom He is. But as things are, with his addition of his profane phrase, “surpassing all the creatures of the Son,” he produces turbid confusion by assigning to Him Who “breatheth where He willeth 489 ,” and “worketh all in all 490 ,” a mere superiority in comparison with the rest of created things.
Let us now see further what he adds to this “sanctifying the saints.” If any one says this also of the Father and of the Son, he will speak truly. For those in whom the Holy One dwells, He makes holy, even as the Good One makes men good. And the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are holy and good, as has been shown. “Acting as a guide to those who approach the mystery.” This may well be said of Apollos who watered what Paul planted. For the Apostle plants by his guidance 491 , and Apollos, when he baptizes, waters by Sacramental regeneration, bringing to the mystery those who were instructed by Paul. Thus he places on a level with Apollos that Spirit Who perfects men through baptism. “Distributing every gift.” With this we too agree; for everything that is good is a portion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “Co-operating with the faithful for the understanding and contemplation of things appointed.” As he does not add by whom they are appointed, he leaves his meaning doubtful, whether it is correct or the reverse. But we will by a slight addition advance his statement so as to make it consistent with godliness. For since, whether it be the word of wisdom, or the word of knowledge, or faith, or help, or government, or aught else that is enumerated in the lists of saving gifts, “all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will 492 ,” we therefore do not reject the statement of Eunomius when he says that the Spirit “co-operates with the faithful for understanding and contemplation of things appointed” by Him, because by Him all good teachings are appointed for us. “Sounding an accompaniment to those who pray.” It would be foolish seriously to examine the meaning of this expression, of which the ludicrous and meaningless character is at once manifest to all. For who is so demented and beside himself as to wait for us to tell him that the Holy Spirit is not a bell nor an empty cask sounding an accompaniment and made to ring by the voice of him who prays as it were by a blow? “Leading us to that which is expedient for us.” This the Father and the Son likewise do: for “He leadeth Joseph like a sheep 493 ,” and, “led His people like sheep 494 ,” and, “the good Spirit leadeth us in a land of righteousness 495 .” “Strengthening us to godliness.” To strengthen man to godliness David says is the work of God; “For Thou art my strength and my refuge 496 ,” says the Psalmist, and “the Lord is the strength of His people 497 ,” and, “He shall give strength and power unto His people 498 .” If then the expressions of Eunomius are meant in accordance with the mind of the Psalmist, they are a testimony to the Divinity of the Holy Ghost: but if they are opposed to the word of prophecy, then by this very fact a charge of blasphemy lies against Eunomius, because he sets up his own opinions in opposition to the holy prophets. Next he says, “Lightening souls with the light of knowledge.” This grace also the doctrine of godliness ascribes alike to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. For He is called a light by David 499 , and from thence the light of knowledge shines in them who are enlightened. In like manner also the cleansing of our thoughts of which the statement speaks is proper to the power of the Lord. For it was “the brightness of the Fathers glory, and the express image of His person,” Who “purged our sins 500 .” Again, to banish devils, which Eunomius says is a property of the Spirit, this also the only-begotten God, Who said to the devil, “I charge thee 501 ,” ascribes to the power of the Spirit, when He says, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils 502 ,” so that the expulsion of devils is not destructive of the glory of the Spirit, but rather a demonstration of His divine and transcendent power. “Healing the sick,” he says, “curing the infirm, comforting the afflicted, raising up those who stumble, recovering the distressed.” These are the words of those who think reverently of the Holy Ghost, for no one would ascribe the operation of any one of these effects to any one except to God. If then heresy affirms that those things which it belongs to none save God alone to effect, are wrought by the power of the Spirit, we have in support of the truths for which we are contending the witness even of our adversaries. How does the Psalmist seek his healing p. CXXXIV from God, saying, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed 503 !” It is to God that Isaiah says, “The dew that is from Thee is healing unto them 504 .” Again, prophetic language attests that the conversion of those in error is the work of God. For “they went astray in the wilderness in a thirsty land,” says the Psalmist, and he adds, “So He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to the city where they dwelt 505 :” and, “when the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion 506 .” In like manner also the comfort of the afflicted is ascribed to God, Paul thus speaking, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation 507 .” Again, the Psalmist says, speaking in the person of God, “Thou calledst upon Me in trouble and I delivered thee 508 .” And the setting upright of those who stumble is innumerable times ascribed by Scripture to the power of the Lord: “Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, but the Lord was my help 509 ,” and “Though he fall, he shall not be cast away, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand 510 ,” and “The Lord helpeth them that are fallen 511 .” And to the loving-kindness of God confessedly belongs the recovery of the distressed, if Eunomius means the same thing of which we learn in prophecy, as the Scripture says, “Thou laidest trouble upon our loins; Thou sufferedst men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, and Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place 512 .”
Thus far then the majesty of the Spirit is demonstrated by the evidence of our opponents, but in what follows the limpid waters of devotion are once more defiled by the mud of heresy. For he says of the Spirit that He “cheers on those who are contending”: and this phrase involves him in the charge of extreme folly and impiety. For in the stadium some have the task of arranging the competitions between those who intend to show their athletic vigour; others, who surpass the rest in strength and skill, strive for the victory and strip to contend with one another, while the rest, taking sides in their good wishes with one or other of the competitors, according as they are severally disposed towards or interested in one athlete or another, cheer him on at the time of the engagement, and bid him guard against some hurt, or remember some trick of wrestling, or keep himself unthrown by the help of his art. Take note from what has been said to how low a rank Eunomius degrades the Holy Spirit. For while on the course there are some who arrange the contests, and others who settle whether the contest is conducted according to rule, others who are actually engaged, and yet others who cheer on the competitors, who are acknowledged to be far inferior to the athletes themselves, Eunomius considers the Holy Spirit as one of the mob who look on, or as one of those who attend upon the athletes, seeing that He neither determines the contest nor awards the victory, nor contends with the adversary, but merely cheers without contributing at all to the victory. For He neither joins in the fray, nor does He implant the power to contend, but merely wishes that the athlete in whom He is interested may not come off second in the strife. And so Paul wrestles “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places 513 ,” while the Spirit of power does not strengthen the combatants nor distribute to them His gifts, “dividing to every man severally as He will 514 ,” but His influence is limited to cheering on those who are engaged.
Again he says, “Emboldening the faint-hearted.” And here, while in accordance with his own method he follows his previous blasphemy against the Spirit, the truth for all that manifests itself, even through unfriendly lips. For to none other than to God does it belong to implant courage in the fearful, saying to the faint-hearted, “Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed 515 ,” as says the Psalmist, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me 516 .” Nay, the Lord Himself says to the fearful,—“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid 517 ,” and, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith 518 ?” and, “Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid 519 ,” and again, “Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world 520 .” Accordingly, even though this may not have been the intention of Eunomius, orthodoxy asserts itself by means even of the voice of an enemy. And the next sentence agrees with that which went before:—“Caring for all, and showing all concern and forethought.” For in fact it belongs to God alone to care and to take thought for all, as the mighty David has expressed it, “I am poor and needy, but the Lord careth for me 521 .” And if what remains seems to be resolved into empty words, with sound and without sense, let no one find fault, seeing that in most of what he says, so far as any sane meaning is concerned, he is feeble and untutored. For what on earth he means when he says, “for the onward leading of the better disposed and the guardianship of the more faithful,” neither he himself, nor they who senselessly admire his follies, could possibly tell us.
S. John v. 17CXXXIII:489
S. John iii. 8CXXXIII:490 CXXXIII:491 CXXXIII:492 CXXXIII:493 CXXXIII:494 CXXXIII:495
Cf. Ps. cxliii. 10.CXXXIII:496
Cf. Ps. xxxi. 3CXXXIII:497 CXXXIII:498 CXXXIII:499 CXXXIII:500 CXXXIII:501
Cf. S. Mark ix. 25CXXXIII:502
S. Matt. xii. 28.CXXXIV:503 CXXXIV:504
Is. xxvi. 19 (LXX.).CXXXIV:505 CXXXIV:506 CXXXIV:507 CXXXIV:508 CXXXIV:509 CXXXIV:510 CXXXIV:511 CXXXIV:512 CXXXIV:513 CXXXIV:514 CXXXIV:515 CXXXIV:516 CXXXIV:517
S. John xiv. 27CXXXIV:518
S. Matt. viii. 26.CXXXIV:519
S. Mark vi. 50CXXXIV:520
S. John xvi. 33CXXXIV:521
©st-takla.org : Saint Takla Haymanout Website: General Portal for the Coptic Orthodox Church Faith, Egypt / Contact us at:
Bible | Daily Readings | Agbeya | Books | Lyrics | Gallery | Media | Links | Contact us