Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VIII. The Holy Spirit is given by God alone, yet not wholly to each person, since there is no one besides Christ capable of receiving Him wholly. Charity is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit, Who, prefigured by the mystical ointment, is shown to have nothing common with creatures; and He, inasmuch as He is said to proceed from the mouth of God, must not be classed with creatures, nor with things divisible, seeing He is eternal.
The Holy Spirit is given by God alone, yet not wholly to each person, since there is no one besides Christ capable of receiving Him wholly. Charity is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit, Who, prefigured by the mystical ointment, is shown to have nothing common with creatures; and He, inasmuch as He is said to proceed from the mouth of God, must not be classed with creatures, nor with things divisible, seeing He is eternal.
90. Observe at the same time that God gives the Holy Spirit. For this is no work of man, nor gift of man; but He Who is invoked by the priest is given by God, wherein is the gift of God and the ministry of the priest. For if the Apostle Paul judged that he was not able to give the Holy Spirit himself by his own authority, and considered himself so far unequal to this office that he wished us to be filled by God with the Spirit, 903 who is sufficient to dare to arrogate to himself the conferring of this gift? So the Apostle uttered this wish in prayer, and did not claim a right by any authority of his own; he desired to obtain, he did not presume to command. Peter, too, says that he is not capable of compelling or restraining the Holy Spirit. For he spoke thus: “Wherefore if God has granted them the same grace as to us, who was I that I could resist God?” 904
91. But perchance they would not be moved by the example of apostles, and so let us use divine utterances; for it is written: “Jacob is My servant, I will uphold him; Israel is My elect, My soul hath upheld him, I put My Spirit upon him.” 905 The Lord also said by Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me.” 906
92. Who, then, can dare to say that the substance of the Holy Spirit is created, at Whose shining in our hearts we behold the beauty of divine truth, and the distance between the creature and the Godhead, that the work may be distinguished from its Author? Or of what creature has God so spoken as to say: “I will pour out of My Spirit”? 907 He said not Spirit, but “of My Spirit,” for we are not able to receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit, but we receive as much as our Master divides to us of His own according to His will. 908 For as the Son of God thought it not robbery that He should be equal to God, but emptied Himself, that we might be able to receive Him in our minds; but He emptied Himself not that He was void of His own fulness, but in order that He, Whose fulness I could not endure, might infuse Himself into me according to the measure of my capacity, in like manner also the Father says that He pours out of the Spirit upon all flesh; for He did not pour Him forth wholly, but that which He poured forth abounded for all.
93. There was therefore a pouring out upon us of the Spirit, but upon the Lord Jesus, when He was in the form of man, the p. 106 Spirit abode, as it is written: “Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending from heaven, and abiding upon Him, He it is Who baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.” 909 Around us is the liberality of the Giver in abundant provision, in Him abides for ever the fulness of the Spirit. He shed forth then what He deemed to be sufficient for us, and what was shed forth is not separated nor divided; but He has a unity of fulness wherewith He may enlighten the sight of our hearts according to what our strength is capable of. Lastly, we receive so much as the advancing of our mind acquires, for the fulness of the grace of the Spirit is indivisible, but is shared in by us according to the capacity of our own nature.
94. God, then, sheds forth of the Spirit, and the love of God is also shed abroad through the Spirit; in which point we ought to recognize the unity of the operation and of the grace. For as God shed forth of the Holy Spirit, so also “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit;” 910 in order that we may understand that the Holy Spirit is not a work, Who is the dispenser and plenteous Fount of the divine love.
95. In like manner that you may believe that that which is shed abroad cannot be common to the creatures but peculiar to the Godhead, the name of the Son is also poured forth, as you read: “Thy Name is as ointment poured forth.” 911 Of which saying nothing can surpass the force. For as ointment closed up in a vase keeps in its perfume, so long as it is confined in the narrow space of that vase, though it cannot reach many, it yet preserves its strength. But when the ointment has been poured out of that vase wherein it was enclosed, it spreads far and wide; so, too, the Name of Christ before His coming amongst the people of Israel was enclosed in the minds of the Jews as in some vase. For “God is known in Judah, His Name is great in Israel;” 912 that is, the Name which the vases of the Jews held confined in their narrow limits.
96. Even then that Name was indeed great, when it remained in the narrow limits of the weak and few, but it had not yet poured forth its greatness throughout the hearts of the Gentiles, and to the ends of the whole world. But after that He by His coming had shone throughout the whole world, He spread abroad that divine Name of His throughout all creatures, not filled up by any addition (for fulness admits not of increase), but filling up the empty spaces, that His Name might be wonderful in all the world. The pouring forth, then, of His Name signifies a kind of abundant exuberance of graces and copiousness of heavenly goods, for whatever is poured forth flows over from abundance.
97. So as wisdom which proceeds from the mouth of God cannot be said to be created, nor the Word Which is uttered from His heart, nor the power in which is the fulness of the eternal Majesty; so, too, the Spirit which is poured forth from the mouth of God cannot be considered to be created, since God Himself has shown their unity to be such that He speaks of His pouring forth of His Spirit. By which we understand that the grace of God the Father is the same as that of the Holy Spirit, and that without any division or loss it is divided to the hearts of each. That, then, which is shed abroad of the Holy Spirit is neither severed, nor comprehended in any corporeal parts, nor divided.
98. For how can it be credible that the Spirit should be divided by any parcelling out? John says of God: “Hereby know we that He abides in us by the Spirit which He hath given us.” 913 But that which abides always is certainly not changed, therefore if it suffers no change it is eternal. And so the Holy Spirit is eternal, but the creature is liable to fault, and therefore subject to change. But that which is subject to change cannot be eternal, and there cannot therefore be anything in common between the Spirit and the creature, because the Spirit is eternal, but every creature is temporal.
99. But the Apostle also shows that the Holy Spirit is eternal, for: “If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling the ashes of an heifer sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God?” 914 Therefore the Spirit is eternal.
Eph. v. 18.105:904
Acts xi. 17.105:905
Isa. xlii. 1.105:906
Isa. lxi. 1.105:907
Joel ii. 28.105:908
Phil. ii. 6.106:909
S. John i. 33.106:910
Rom. v. 5.106:911
Song of Sol. 1.3.106:912
1 John iii. 24.106:914
Heb. 9:13, 14.
Next: Chapter IX. The Holy Spirit is rightly called the ointment of Christ, and the oil of gladness; and why Christ Himself is not the ointment, since He was anointed with the Holy Spirit. It is not strange that the Spirit should be called Ointment, since the Father and the Son are also called Spirit. And there is no confusion between them, since Christ alone suffered death, Whose saving cross is then spoken of.
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