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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter V. The Holy Spirit, as well as the Father and the Son, is pointed out in holy Scripture as Creator, and the same truth was shadowed forth even by heathen writers, but it was shown most plainly in the Mystery of the Incarnation, after touching upon which, the writer maintains his argument from the fact that worship which is due to the Creator alone is paid to the Holy Spirit.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.

The Holy Spirit, as well as the Father and the Son, is pointed out in holy Scripture as Creator, and the same truth was shadowed forth even by heathen writers, but it was shown most plainly in the Mystery of the Incarnation, after touching upon which, the writer maintains his argument from the fact that worship which is due to the Creator alone is paid to the Holy Spirit.

32. But who can doubt that the Holy Spirit gives life to all things; since both He, as the Father and the Son, is the Creator of all things; and the Almighty Father is understood to have done nothing without the Holy Spirit; and since also in the beginning of the creation the Spirit moved upon the water.

33. So when the Spirit was moving upon the water, the creation was without grace; p. 119 but after this world being created underwent the operation of the Spirit, it gained all the beauty of that grace, wherewith the world is illuminated. And that the grace of the universe cannot abide without the Holy Spirit the prophet declared when he said: “Thou wilt take away Thy Spirit, and they will fail and be turned again into their dust. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be made, and Thou wilt renew all the face of the earth.” 1046 Not only, then, did he teach that no creature can stand without the Holy Spirit, but also that the Spirit is the Creator of the whole creation.

34. And who can deny that the creation of the earth is the work of the Holy Spirit, Whose work it is that it is renewed? For if they desire to deny that it was created by the Spirit, since they cannot deny that it must be renewed by the Spirit, they who desire to sever the Persons must maintain that the operation of the Holy Spirit is superior to that of the Father and the Son, which is far from the truth; for there is no doubt that the restored earth is better than it was created. Or if at first, without the operation of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son made the earth, but the operation of the Holy Spirit was joined on afterwards, it will seem that that which was made required His aid, which was then added. But far be it from any one to think this, namely, that the divine work should be believed to have a change in the Creator, an error brought in by Manicheus. 1047

35. But do we suppose that the substance of the earth exists without the operation of the Holy Spirit, without Whose work not even the expanse of the sky endures? For it is written: “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the strength of them by the Spirit of His Mouth.” 1048 Observe what he says, that all the strength of the heavens is to be referred to the Spirit. For how should He Who was moving 1049 before the earth was made, be resting when it was being made?

36. Gentile writers, following ours as it were through shadows, because they could not imbibe the truth of the Spirit, have pointed out in their verses that the Spirit within nourishes heaven and earth, and the glittering orbs of moon and stars. 1050 So they deny not that the strength of creatures exists through the Spirit, are we who read this to deny it? But you think that they refer to a Spirit produced of the air. If they declared a Spirit of the air to be the Author of all things, do we doubt that the Spirit of God is the Creator of all things?

37. But why do I delay with matters not to the purpose? Let them accept a plain proof that there can be nothing which the Holy Spirit can be said not to have made; and that it cannot be doubted that all subsists through His operation, whether Angels, Archangels, Thrones, or Dominions; since the Lord Himself, Whom the Angels serve, was begotten by the Holy Spirit coming upon the Virgin, as, according to Matthew, the Angel said to Joseph: “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take Mary thy wife, for that which shall be born of her is of the Holy Spirit.” 1051 And according to Luke, he said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee.” 1052

38. The birth from the Virgin was, then, the work of the Spirit. The fruit of the womb is the work of the Spirit, according to that which is written: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.” 1053 The flower from the root is the work of the Spirit, that flower, I say, of which it was well prophesied: “A rod shall go forth from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise from his root.” 1054 The root of Jesse the patriarch is the family of the Jews, Mary is the rod, Christ the flower of Mary, Who, about to spread the good odour of faith throughout the whole world, budded forth from a virgin womb, as He Himself said: “I am the flower of the plain, a lily of the valley.” 1055

39. The flower, when cut, keeps its odour, and when bruised increases it, nor if torn off does it lose it; so, too, the Lord Jesus, on the gibbet of the cross, neither failed when bruised, nor fainted when torn; and when He was cut by that piercing of the spear, being made more beautiful by the colour of the outpoured Blood, He, as it were, grew comely again, not able in Himself to die, and breathing forth upon the dead the gift of eternal life. On this flower, then, of the royal rod the Holy Spirit rested.

40. A good rod, as some think, is the Flesh of the Lord, which, raising itself from its earthly root to heaven, bore around the whole world the sweet-smelling fruits of religion, the mysteries of the divine generation, pouring grace on the altars of heaven.

p. 120 41. So, then, we cannot doubt that the Spirit is Creator, Whom we know as the Author of the Lord’s Incarnation. For who can doubt when you find in the commencement of the Gospel that the generation of Jesus Christ was on this wise: “When Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of [ex] the Holy Spirit.” 1056

42. For although most authorities read “de Spiritu,” yet the Greek from which the Latins translated have “χ πνεύματος ἁγίου,” that is, “ex Spiritu Sancto.” For that which is “of” [ex] any one is either of his substance or of his power. Of his substance, as the Son, Who says: “I came forth of the Mouth of the Most High;” 1057 as the Spirit, “Who proceedeth from the Father;” 1058 of Whom the Son says: “He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine.” 1059 But of the power, as in the passage: “One God the Father, of Whom are all things.” 1060

43. How, then, was Mary with child of the Holy Spirit? If as of her substance, was the Spirit, then, changed into flesh and bones? Certainly not. But if the Virgin conceived as of His operation and power, who can deny that the Holy Spirit is Creator?

44. How is it, too, that Job plainly set forth the Spirit as his Creator, saying: “The Spirit of God hath made me”? 1061 In one short verse he showed Him to be both Divine and Creator. If, then, the Spirit is Creator, He is certainly not a creature, for the Apostle has separated the Creator and the creature, saying: “They served the creature rather than the Creator.” 1062

45. He teaches that the Creator is to be served by condemning those who serve the creature, whereas we owe our service to the Creator. And since he knew the Spirit to be the Creator, he teaches that we ought to serve Him, saying: “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision, for we are the circumcision who serve the Spirit of God.” 1063

46. But if any one disputes because of the variations of the Latin codices, some of which heretics have falsified, let him look at the Greek codices, and observe that it is there written: “οἱ πνεύματι Θεοῦ λατρεύοντες,” which is, being translated, “who serve the Spirit of God.”

47. So, then, when the same Apostle says that we ought to serve the Spirit, who asserts that we must not serve the creature, but the Creator; without doubt he plainly shows that the Holy Spirit is Creator, and is to be venerated with the honour due to the eternal Godhead; for it is written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” 1064



Ps. 104:29, 30.


Manes, or Manicheus, born about a.d. 240, seems to have desired to blend Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The fundamental point of his teaching was the recognition of a good and an evil creator. For a full account, see art. “Manicheans,” in Dict. Ch. Biog.


Psa. 33.6.


Gen. i. 1.


Virg. Æn. VI. 724.


S. Matt. i. 20.


S. Luke i. 35.


S. Luke i. 42.


Isa. xi. 1.


Song of Sol. 2.1.


S. Matt. i. 18.


Ecclesiasticus 24.3.


S. John xv. 20.


S. John xvi. 14.


1 Cor. viii. 6. The argument from the exact force of prepositions is often urged by the Fathers, as by St. Athanasius and St. Basil among the Greeks. The Latins also use it, as St. Ambrose here, but occasionally the same Greek prepositions are variously rendered, which destroys the force of the argument. With regard to the two prepositions ex and de St. Augustine gives a very good explanation, De Natura Bon, c. 27: “Ex ipso [of Him] does not always mean the same as de ipso [from Him]. That which is from Him can be said to be of Him, but not everything which is of Him is rightly said to be from Him. Of Him are the heavens and the earth, for He made them, but not from Him, because not of His substance.” But neither the Vulgate nor even St. Ambrose himself is quite consistent in this matter.


Job xxxiii. 4.


Rom. i. 25.


Phil. 3:2, 3.


S. Matt. iv. 10.

Next: Chapter VI. To those who object that according to the words of Amos the Spirit is created, the answer is made that the word is there understood of the wind, which is often created, which cannot be said of the Holy Spirit, since He is eternal, and cannot be dissolved in death, or by an heretical absorption into the Father. But if they pertinaciously contend that this passage was written of the Holy Spirit, St. Ambrose points out that recourse must be had to a spiritual Interpretation, for Christ by His coming established the thunder, that is, the force of the divine utterances, and by Spirit is signified the human soul as also the flesh assumed by Christ. And since this was created by each Person of the Trinity, it is thence argued that the Spirit, Who has before been affirmed to be the Creator of all things, was the Author of the Incarnation of the Lord.

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