Gregory of Nyssa – On the Holy Spirit; On the Holy Trinity and the Godhead of the Holy Spirit; Not Three Gods

On the Holy Spirit. Against the Followers of Macedonius. [1221]

It may indeed be undignified to give any answer at all to the statements that are foolish; we seem to be pointed that way by Solomon’s wise advice, “not to answer a fool according to his folly.” But there is a danger lest through our silence error may prevail over the truth, and so the rotting sore [1222] of this heresy may invade it, and make havoc of the sound word of the faith. It has appeared to me, therefore, to be imperative to answer, not indeed according to the folly of these men who offer objections of such a description to our Religion, but for the correction of their depraved ideas. For that advice quoted above from the Proverbs gives, I think, the watchword not for silence, but for the correction of those who are displaying some act of folly; our answers, that is, are not to run on the level of their foolish conceptions, but rather to overturn those unthinking and deluded views as to doctrine.

What then is the charge they bring against us? They accuse us of profanity for entertaining lofty conceptions about the Holy Spirit. All that we, in following the teachings of the Fathers, confess as to the Spirit, they take in a sense of their own, and make it a handle against us, to denounce us for profanity [1223] . We, for instance, confess that the Holy Spirit is of the same rank as the Father and the Son, so that there is no difference between them in anything, to be thought or named, that devotion can ascribe to a Divine nature. We confess that, save His being contemplated as with peculiar attributes in regard of Person, the Holy Spirit is indeed from God, and of the Christ, according to Scripture [1224] , but that, while not to be confounded with the Father in being never originated, nor with the Son in being the Only-begotten, and while to be regarded separately in certain distinctive properties, He has in all else, as I have just said, an exact identity [1225] with them. But our opponents aver that He is a stranger to any vital communion with the Father and the Son; that by reason of an essential variation He is inferior to, and less than they in every point; in power, in glory, in dignity, in fine in everything that in word or thought we ascribe to Deity; that, in consequence, in their glory He has no share, to equal honour with them He has no claim; and that, as for power, He possesses only so much of it as is sufficient for the partial activities assigned to Him; that with the creative force He is quite disconnected.

Such is the conception of Him that possesses them; and the logical consequence of it is that the Spirit has in Himself none of those marks which our devotion, in word or thought, ascribes to a Divine nature. What then, shall be our way of arguing? We shall answer nothing new, nothing of our own invention, though they challenge us to it; we shall fall back upon the testimony in Holy Scripture about the Spirit, whence we learn that the Holy Spirit is Divine, and is to be called so. Now, if they allow this, and will not contradict the words of inspiration, then they, with all their eagerness to fight with us, must tell us why they are for contending with us, instead of with Scripture. We say nothing different from that which Scripture says.–But in a Divine nature, as such, when once we have believed in it, we can recognize no distinctions suggested either by the Scripture teaching or by our own common sense; distinctions, that is, that would divide that Divine and transcendent nature within itself by any degrees of intensity and remission, so as to be altered from itself by being more or less. Because we firmly believe that it is simple, uniform, incomposite, because we see in it no complicity or composition of dissimilars, therefore it is that, when once our minds have grasped the idea of Deity, we accept by the implication of that very name the perfection in it of every conceivable thing that befits the Deity. Deity, in fact, exhibits perfection in every line in which the good can be found. If it fails and comes short of perfection in any single point, in that point the conception of Deity will be impaired, so that it cannot, therein, be or be called Deity at all; for how could we apply that word to a thing that is imperfect and deficient, and requiring an addition external to itself?

We can confirm our argument by material instances. Fire naturally imparts the sense of heat to those who touch it, with all its component parts [1226] ; one part of it does not have the heat more intense, the other less intense; but as long as it is fire at all, it exhibits an invariable oneness with itself in an absolutely complete sameness of activity; if in any part it gets cooled at all, in that part it can no longer be called fire; for, with the change of its heat-giving activity into the reverse, its name also is changed. It is the same with water, with air, with every element that underlies the universe; there is one and the same description of the element, in each case, admitting of no ideas of excess or defect; water, for instance, cannot be called more or less water; as long as it maintains an equal standard of wetness, so long the term water will be realized by it; but when once it is changed in the direction of the opposite quality [1227] the name to be applied to it must be changed also. The yielding, buoyant, “nimble” [1228] nature of the air, too, is to be seen in every part of it; while what is dense, heavy, downward gravitating, sinks out of the connotation of the very term “air.” So Deity, as long as it possesses perfection throughout all the properties that devotion [1229] may attach to it, by virtue of this perfection in everything good does not belie its name; but if any one of those things that contribute to this idea of perfection is subtracted from it, the name of Deity is falsified in that particular, and does not apply to the subject any longer. It is equally impossible to apply to a dry substance the name of water, to that whose quality is a state of coolness the name of fire, to stiff and hard things the name of air, and to call that thing Divine which does not at once imply the idea of perfection; or rather the impossibility is greater in this last case.

If, then, the Holy Spirit is truly, and not in name only, called Divine both by Scripture and by our Fathers, what ground is left for those who oppose the glory of the Spirit? He is Divine, and absolutely good, and Omnipotent, and wise, and glorious, and eternal; He is everything of this kind that can be named to raise our thoughts to the grandeur of His being. The singleness of the subject of these properties testifies that He does not possess them in a measure only, as if we could imagine that He was one thing in His very substance, but became another by the presence of the aforesaid qualities. That condition is peculiar [1230] to those beings who have been given a composite nature; whereas the Holy Spirit is single and simple in every respect equally. This is allowed by all; the man who denies it does not exist. If, then, there is but one simple and single definition of His being, the good which He possesses is not an acquired good; but, whatever He may be besides, He is Himself Goodness, and Wisdom, and Power, and Sanctification, and Righteousness, and Everlastingness, and Imperishability, and every name that is lofty, and elevating above other names. What, then, is the state of mind that leads these men, who do not fear the fearful sentence passed upon the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, to maintain that such a Being does not possess glory? For they clearly put that statement forward; that we ought not to believe that He should be glorified: though I know not for what reason they judge it to be expedient not to confess the true nature of that which is essentially glorious.

For the plea will not avail them in their self-defence, that He is delivered by our Lord to His disciples third in order, and that therefore He is estranged from our ideal of Deity. Where in each case activity in working good shows no diminution or variation whatever, how unreasonable it is to suppose the numerical order to be a sign of any diminution or essential variation [1231] ! It is as if a man were to see a separate flame burning on three torches (and we will suppose that the third flame is caused by that of the first being transmitted to the middle, and then kindling the end torch [1232] ), and were to maintain that the heat in the first exceeded that of the others; that that next it showed a variation from it in the direction of the less; and that the third could not be called fire at all, though it burnt and shone just like fire, and did everything that fire does. But if there is really no hindrance to the third torch being fire, though it has been kindled from a previous flame, what is the philosophy of these men, who profanely think that they can slight the dignity of the Holy Spirit because He is named by the Divine lips after the Father and the Son? Certainly, if there is in our conceptions of the Substance of the Spirit anything that falls short of the Divine ideal, they do well in testifying to His not possessing glory; but if the highness of His dignity is to be perceived in every point, why do they grudge to make the confession of His glory? As if any one after describing some one as a man, were to consider it not safe to go on to say of him as well that he is reasoning, mortal, or anything else that can be predicated of a man, and so were to cancel what he had just allowed; for if he is not reasoning, he is not a man at all; but if the latter is granted, how can there be any hesitation about the conceptions already implied in “man”? So, with regard to the Spirit, if when one calls Him Divine one speaks the truth, neither when one defines Him to be worthy of honour, to be glorious, good, omnipotent, does one lie; for all such conceptions are at once admitted with the idea of Deity. So that they must accept one of two alternatives; either not to call Him Divine at all, or to refrain from subtracting from His Deity any one of those conceptions which are attributable to Deity. We must then, most surely, comprehend along with each other these two thoughts, viz. the Divine nature, and along with it a just idea, a devout intuition [1233] , of that Divine and transcendent nature.

Since, then, it has been affirmed, and truly affirmed, that the Spirit is of the Divine Essence, and since in that one word “Divine” every idea of greatness, as we have said, is involved, it follows that he who grants that Divinity has potentially granted [1234] all the rest;–the gloriousness, the omnipotence, everything indicative of superiority. It is indeed a monstrous thing to refuse to confess this in the case of the Spirit; monstrous, because of the incongruity, as applied to Him, of the terms which in the list of opposites correspond to the above terms. I mean, if one does not grant gloriousness, one must grant the absence of gloriousness; if one sets aside His power, one must acquiesce in its opposite. So also with regard to honour, and goodness, and any other superiority, if they are not accepted, their opposites must be conceded.

But if all must shrink from that, as going even beyond the most revolting blasphemy, then a devout mind must accept the nobler names and conceptions of the Holy Spirit, and must pronounce concerning Him all that we have already named, that He has honour, power, glory, goodness, and everything else that inspires devotion. It must own, too, that these realities do not attach to Him in imperfection or with any limit to the quality of their brilliance, but that they correspond with their names to infinity. He is not to be regarded as possessing dignity up to a certain point, and then becoming different; but He is always such. If you begin to count behind the ages, or if you fix your gaze on the Hereafter [1235] , you will find no falling off whatever in dignity, or glory, or omnipotence, such as to constitute Him capable of increase by addition, or of diminution by subtraction. Being wholly and entirely perfect, He admits diminution in nothing. Whereinsoever, on such a supposition as theirs, He is lessened, therein He will be exposed to the inroad of ideas tending to dishonour Him. For that which is not absolutely perfect must be suspected on some one point of partaking of the opposite character. But if to entertain even the thought of this is a sign of extreme derangement of mind, it is well to confess our belief that His perfection in all that is good is altogether unlimited, uncircumscribed, in no particular diminished.

If such is the doctrine concerning Him when followed out [1236] , let the same inquiry be made concerning the Son and the Father as well. Do you not confess [1237] a perfection of glory in the case of the one as in the case of the other? I think that all who reflect will allow it. If, then, the honour of the Father is perfect, and the honour of the Son is perfect, and they have confessed as well the perfection of honour for the Holy Spirit, wherefore do these new theorists dictate to us that we are not to allow in His case an equality of honour with the Father and the Son? As for ourselves, we follow out the above considerations and find ourselves unable to think, as well as to say, that that which requires no addition for its perfection is, as compared with something else, less dignified; for when we have something wherein, owing to its faultless perfection, reason can discover no possibility of increase, I do not see either wherein it can discover any possibility of diminution. But these men, in denying the equality of honour, really lay down the comparative absence of it; and so also when they follow out further this same line of thought, by a diminution arising from comparison they divert all the conceptions that devotion has formed of the Holy Spirit; they do not own His perfection either in goodness, or omnipotence, or in any such attribute. But if they shrink from such open profanity and allow His perfection in every attribute of good, then these clever people must tell us how one perfect thing can be more perfect or less perfect than another perfect thing; for so long as the definition of perfection applies to it, that thing can not admit of a greater and a less in the matter of perfection.

If, then, they agree that the Holy Spirit is perfect absolutely, and it has been admitted in addition that true reverence requires perfection in every good thing for the Father and the Son as well, what reasons can justify them in taking away the Father [1238] when once they have granted Him? For to take away “equality of dignity” with the Father is a sure proof that they do not think that the Spirit has a share in the perfection of the Father. And as regards the idea itself of this honour in the case of the Divine Being, from which they would exclude the Spirit, what do they mean by it? Do they mean that honour which men confer on men, when by word and gesture they pay respect to them, signifying their own deference in the form of precedence and all such-like practices, which in the foolish fashion of the day are kept up in the name of “honour.” But all these things depend on the goodwill of those who perform them; and if we suppose a case in which they do not choose to perform them, then there is no one amongst mankind who has from mere nature any advantage, such that he should necessarily be more honoured than the rest; for all are marked alike with the same natural proportions. The truth of this is clear; it does not admit of any doubt. We see, for instance, the man who to-day, because of the office which he holds, is considered by the crowd an object of honour, becoming tomorrow himself one of those who pay honour, the office having been transferred to another. Do they, then, conceive of an honour such as that in the case of the Divine Being, so that, as long as we please to pay it, that Divine honour is retained, but when we cease to do so it ceases too at the dictate of our will? Absurd thought, and blasphemous as well! The Deity, being independent of us, does not grow in honour; He is evermore the same; He cannot pass into a better or a worse state; for He has no better, and admits no worse.

In what sort of manner, then, can you honour the Deity? How can you heighten the Highest? How can you give glory to that which is above all glory? How can you praise the Incomprehensible? If “all the nations are as a drop of a bucket [1239] ,” as Isaiah says, if all living humanity were to send up one united note of praise in harmony together, what addition will this gift of a mere drop be to that which is glorious essentially? The heavens are telling the glory of God [1240] , and yet they are counted poor heralds of His worth; because His Majesty is exalted, not as far as the heavens, but high above those heavens, which are themselves included within a small fraction of the Deity called figuratively His “span [1241] .” And shall a man, this frail and short-lived creature, so aptly likened to “grass,” who “to-day is,” and to-morrow is not, believe that he can worthily honour the Divine Being? It would be like some one lighting a thin fibre from some tow and fancying that by that spark he was making an addition to the dazzling rays of the sun. By what words, pray, will you honour the Holy Spirit, supposing you do wish to honour Him at all? By saying that He is absolutely immortal, without turning, or variableness, always beautiful, always independent of ascription from others, working as He wills all things in all, Holy, leading, direct, just, of true utterance, “searching the deep things of God,” “proceeding from the Father,” “receiving [1242] from the Son,” and all such-like things, what, after all, do you lend to Him by these and such-like terms? Do you mention what He has, or do you honour Him by what He has not? Well, if you attest what He has not, your ascription is meaningless and comes to nothing; for he who calls bitterness “sweetness,” while he lies himself, has failed to commend that which is blamable. Whereas, if you mention what He has, such and such a quality is essential, whether men recognize it or not; He remains the object of faith [1243] , says the Apostle, if we have not faith.

What means, then, this lowering and this expanding of their soul, on the part of these men who are enthusiastic for the Father’s honour, and grant to the Son an equal share with Him, but in the case of the Spirit are for narrowing down their favours; seeing that it has been demonstrated that the intrinsic worth of the Divine Being does not depend for its contents upon any will of ours, but has been always inalienably inherent in Him? Their narrowness of mind, and unthankfulness, is exposed in this opinion of theirs, while the Holy Spirit is essentially honourable, glorious, almighty, and all that we can conceive of in the way of exaltation, in spite of them.

“Yes,” replies one of them, “but we have been taught by Scripture that the Father is the Creator, and in the same way that it was through the Son [1244] ‘ that all things were made’; but God’s word tells us nothing of this kind about the Spirit; and how, then, can it be right to place the Holy Spirit in a position of equal dignity with One Who has displayed such magnificence of power through the Creation?”

What shall we answer to this? That the thoughts of their hearts are so much idle talk, when they imagine that the Spirit was not always with the Father and the Son, but that, as occasion varies, He is sometimes to be contemplated as alone, sometimes to be found in the closest union with Them. For if the heaven, and the earth, and all created things were really made through the Son and from the Father, but apart from the Spirit, what was the Holy Spirit doing at the time when the Father was at work with the Son upon the Creation? Was He employed upon some other works, and was this the reason that He had no hand in the building of the Universe? But, then, what special work of the Spirit have they to point to, at the time when the world was being made? Surely, it is senseless folly to conceive of a creation other than that which came into existence from the Father through the Son. Well, suppose that He was not employed at all, but dissociated Himself from the busy work of creating by reason of an inclination to ease and rest, which shrank from toil?

May the gracious Spirit Himself pardon this baseless supposition of ours! The blasphemy of these theorists, which we have had to follow out in every step it takes, has caused us unwittingly to soil our discussion with the mud of their own imaginings. The view which is consistent with all reverence is as follows. We are not to think of the Father as ever parted from the Son, nor to look for the Son as separate from the Holy Spirit. As it is impossible to mount to the Father, unless our thoughts are exalted thither through the Son, so it is impossible also to say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be known only in a perfect Trinity, in closest consequence and union with each other, before all creation, before all the ages, before anything whatever of which we can form an idea [1245] . The Father is always Father, and in Him the Son, and with the Son the Holy Spirit. If these Persons, then, are inseparate from each other, how great is the folly of these men who undertake to sunder this indivisibility by certain distinctions of time, and so far to divide the Inseparable as to assert confidently, “the Father alone, through the Son alone, made all things”; the Holy Spirit, that is, being not present at all on the occasion of this making, or else not working. Well, if He was not present, they must tell us where He was; and whether, while God embraces all things, they can imagine any separate standing-place for the Spirit, so that He could have remained in isolation during the time occupied by the process of creating. If, on the other hand, He was present, how was it that He was inactive? Because He could not, or because He would not, work? Did He abstain willingly, or because some strong necessity drove Him away? Now, if He deliberately embraced this inactivity, He must reject working in any other possible way either; and He Who affirmed that “He worketh all things in all, as He wills [1246] ,” is according to them a liar. If, on the contrary, this Spirit has the impulse to work, but some overwhelming control hinders His design, they must tell us the wherefore of this hindrance. Was it owing to his being grudged a share in the glory of those operations, and in order to secure that the admiration at their success should not extend to a third person as its object; or to a distrust of His help, as if His co-operation would result in present mischief? These clever men most certainly furnish the grounds for our holding one of these two hypotheses; or else, if a grudging spirit has no connection with the Deity, any more than a failure can be conceived of in any relation to an Infallible Being, what meaning of any kind is there in these narrow views of theirs, which isolate the Spirit’s power from all world-building efficiency? Their duty rather was to expel their low human way of thinking, by means of loftier ideas, and to make a calculation more worthy of the sublimity of the objects in question. For neither did the Universal God make the universe “through the Son,” as needing any help, nor does the Only-begotten God work all things “by the Holy Spirit,” as having a power that comes short of His design; but the fountain of power is the Father, and the power of the Father is the Son, and the spirit of that power is the Holy Spirit; and Creation entirely, in all its visible and spiritual extent, is the finished work of that Divine power. And seeing that no toil can be thought of in the composition of anything connected with the Divine Being (for performance being bound to the moment of willing, the Plan at once becomes a Reality), we should be justified in calling all that Nature which came into existence by creation a movement of Will, an impulse of Design, a transmission of Power, beginning from the Father, advancing through the Son, and completed in the Holy Spirit.

This is the view we take, after the unprofessional way usual with us; and we reject all these elaborate sophistries of our adversaries, believing and confessing as we do, that in every deed and thought, whether in this world, or beyond this world, whether in time or in eternity, the Holy Spirit is to be apprehended as joined to the Father and Son, and is wanting in no wish or energy, or anything else that is implied in a devout conception of Supreme Goodness [1247]; and, therefore, that, except for the distinction of order and Person, no variation in any point is to be apprehended; but we assert that while His place is counted third in mere sequence after the Father and Son, third in the order of the transmission, in all other respects we acknowledge His inseparable union with them; both in nature, in honour, in godhead, and glory, and majesty, and almighty power, and in all devout belief.

But with regard to service and worship, and the other things which they so nicely calculate about, and bring into prominence, we say this; that the Holy Spirit is exalted above all that we can do for Him with our merely human purpose; our worship is far beneath the honour due; and anything else that in human customs is held as honourable is somewhere below the dignity of the Spirit; for that which in its essence is measureless surpasses those who offer their all with so slight and circumscribed and paltry a power of giving. This, then, we say to those of them who subscribe to the reverential conception of the Holy Spirit that He is Divine, and of the Divine nature. But if there is any of them who rejects this statement, and this idea involved in the very name of Divinity, and says that which, to the destruction of the Spirit’s greatness, is in circulation amongst the many, namely, that He belongs, not to making, but to made, beings, that it is right to regard Him not as of a Divine, but as of a created nature, we answer to a proposition such as this, that we do not understand how we can count those who make it amongst the number of Christians at all. For just as it would not be possible to style the unformed embryo a human being, but only a potential one, assuming that it is completed so as to come forth to human birth, while as long as it is in this unformed state, it is something other than a human being; so our reason cannot recognize as a Christian one who has failed to receive, with regard to the entire mystery, the genuine form of our religion [1248] . We can hear Jews believing in God, and our God too: even our Lord reminds [1249] them in the Gospel that they recognize no other God than the Father of the Only-begotten, “of Whom ye say that he is your God.” Are we, then, to call the Jews Christians because they too agree to worship the God Whom we adore? I am aware, too, that the Manichees go about vaunting the name of Christ. Because they hold revered the Name to which we bow the knee, shall we therefore number them amongst Christians? So, too, he who both believes in the Father and receives the Son, but sets aside the Majesty of the Spirit, has “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” and belies the name of Christ which he bears. The Apostle bids the man of God to be “perfect [1250] .” Now, to take only the general man, perfection must consist in completeness in every aspect of human nature, in having reason, capability of thought and knowledge, a share of animal life, an upright bearing, risibility, broadness of nail; and if any one were to term some individual a man, and yet were unable to produce evidence in his case of the foregoing signs of human nature, his terming him so would be a valueless honour. Thus, too, the Christian is marked by his Belief in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; in this consists the form of him who is fashioned [1251] in accordance with the mystery of the truth. But if his form is arranged otherwise, I will not recognize the existence of anything whence the form is absent; there is a blurring out of the mark, and a loss of the essential form, and an alteration of the characteristic signs of our complete humanity, when the Holy Spirit is not included in the Belief. For indeed the word of Ecclesiastes says true; your heretic is no living man, but “bones,” he says [1252] , “in the womb of her that is with child [1253] “; for how can one who does not think of the unction along with the Anointed be said to believe in the Anointed? “Him,” says (Peter), “did God anoint with the Holy Spirit [1254] .”

These destroyers of the Spirit’s glory, who relegate Him to a subject world, must tell us of what thing that unction is the symbol. It not a symbol of the Kingship? And what? Do they not believe in the Only-begotten as in His very nature a King? Men who have not once for all enveloped their hearts with the Jewish “vail [1255] ” will not gainsay that He is this. If, then, the Son is in His very nature a king, and the unction is the symbol of His kingship, what, in the way of a consequence, does your reason demonstrate? Why, that the Unction is not a thing alien to that Kingship, and so that the Spirit is not to be ranked in the Trinity as anything strange and foreign either. For the Son is King, and His living, realized, and personified Kingship is found in the Holy Spirit, Who anoints the Only-begotten, and so makes Him the Anointed, and the King of all things that exist. If, then, the Father is King, and the Only-begotten is King, and the Holy Ghost is the Kingship, one and the same definition of Kingship must prevail throughout this Trinity, and the thought of “unction” conveys the hidden meaning that there is no interval of separation between the Son and the Holy Spirit. For as between the body’s surface and the liquid of the oil nothing intervening can be detected, either in reason or in perception, so inseparable is the union of the Spirit with the Son; and the result is that whosoever is to touch the Son by faith must needs first encounter the oil in the very act of touching; there is not a part of Him devoid of the Holy Spirit. Therefore belief in the Lordship of the Son arises in those who entertain it, by means of the Holy Ghost; on all sides the Holy Ghost is met by those who by faith approach the Son. If, then, the Son is essentially a King, and the Holy Spirit is that dignity of Kingship which anoints the Son, what deprivation of this Kingship, in its essence and comparing it with itself, can be imagined?

Again, let us look at it in this way. Kingship is most assuredly shown in the rule over subjects. Now what is “subject” to this Kingly Being? The Word includes the ages certainly, and all that is in them; “Thy Kingdom,” it says, “is a Kingdom of ages,” and, by ages, it means every substance in them created in infinite space [1256] , whether visible or invisible; for in them all things were created by the Maker of those ages. If, then, the Kingship must always be thought of along with the King, and the world of subjects is acknowledged to be something other than the world of rulers, what absurdity it is for these men to contradict themselves thus, attributing as they do the unction as an expression for the worth of Him Whose very nature it is to be a King, yet degrading that unction Itself to the rank of a subject, as if wanting in such worth! If It is a subject by virtue of its nature, then why is It made the unction of Kingship, and so associated with the Kingly dignity of the Only-begotten? If, on the other hand, the capacity to rule is shown by Its being included in the majesty of Kingship, where is the necessity of having everything dragged down to a plebeian [1257] and servile lower condition, and numbered with the subject creation? When we affirm of the Spirit the two conditions, we cannot be in both cases speaking the truth: i.e. that He is ruling, and that He is subject. If He rules, He is not under any lord, but if He is subject, then He cannot be comprehended with the Being who is a King. Men are recognized as amongst men, angels amongst angels, everything amongst its kind; and so the Holy Spirit must needs be believed to belong to one only of two worlds; to the ruling, or to the inferior world; for between these two our reason can recognize nothing; no new invention of any natural attribute on the borderland of the Created and the Uncreated can be thought of, such as would participate in both, yet be neither entirely; we cannot imagine such an amalgamation and welding together of opposites by anything being blended of the Created and the Uncreated, and two opposites thus coalescing into one person, in which case the result of that strange mixture would not only be a composite thing, but composed of elements that were unlike, and disagreeing as to time; for that which receives its personality from a creation is assuredly posterior to that which subsists without a creation.

If, then, they declare the Holy Ghost to be blended of both, they must consequently view that blending as of a prior with a posterior thing; and, according to them, He will be prior to Himself; and reversely, posterior to Himself; from the Uncreated He will get the seniority, and from the Created the juniority. But, in the nature of things, this cannot be; and so it must most certainly be true to affirm of the Holy Spirit one only of these alternatives, and that is, the attribute of being Uncreated; for notice the amount of absurdity involved in the other alternative; all things that we can think of in the actual creation have, by virtue of all having received their existence by an act of creation, a rank and value perfectly equal in all cases, and so what reason can there be for separating the Holy Spirit from the rest of the creation, and ranking Him with the Father and the Son? Logic, then, will discover this about Him; That which is contemplated as part of the Uncreated, does not exist by creation; or, if It does, then It has no more power than its kindred creation, It cannot associate itself with that Transcendent Nature; if, on the other hand, they declare that He is a created being, and at the same time has a power which is above the creation, then the creation will be found at variance with itself, divided into ruler and ruled, so that part of it is the benefactor, part the benefited, part the sanctifier, part the sanctified; and all that fund of blessings which we believe to be provided for the creation by the Holy Spirit are present in Him, welling up abundantly, and pouring forth upon others, while the creation remains in need of the thence-issuing help and grace, and receives, as a mere dole, those blessings which can be passed to it from a fellow-creature! That would be like favouritism and respecting of persons; when we know that there is no such partiality in the nature of things, as that those existences which differ in no way from each other on the score of substance should not have equal power; and I think that no one who reflects will admit such views. Either He imparts nothing to others, if He possesses nothing essentially; or, if we do believe that He does give, His possession beforehand of that gift must be granted; this capacity of giving blessings, whilst needing oneself no such extraneous help, is the peculiar and exquisite privilege of Deity, and of no other.

Then let us look to this too. In Holy Baptism, what is it that we secure thereby? Is it not a participation in a life no longer subject to death? I think that no one who can in any way be reckoned amongst Christians will deny that statement. What then? Is that life-giving power in the water itself which is employed to convey the grace of Baptism? Or is it not rather clear to every one that this element is only employed as a means in the external ministry, and of itself contributes nothing towards the sanctification, unless it be first transformed itself by the sanctification; and that what gives life to the baptized is the Spirit; as our Lord Himself says in respect to Him with His own lips, “It is the Spirit that giveth life;” but for the completion of this grace He alone, received by faith, does not give life, but belief in our Lord must precede, in order that the lively gift may come upon the believer, as our Lord has spoken, “He giveth life to whom He willeth.” But further still, seeing that this grace administered through the Son is dependent on the Ungenerate Source of all, Scripture accordingly teaches us that belief in the Father Who engendereth all things is to come first; so that this life-giving grace should be completed, for those fit to receive it, after starting from that Source as from a spring pouring life abundantly, through the Only-begotten Who is the True life, by the operation of the Holy Spirit. If, then, life comes in baptism, and baptism receives its completion in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit, what do these men mean who count this Minister of life as nothing? If the gift is a slight one, they must tell us the thing that is more precious than this life. But if everything whatever that is precious is second to this life, I mean that higher and precious life in which the brute creation has no part, how can they dare to depreciate so great a favour, or rather the actual Being who grants the favour, and to degrade Him in their conceptions of Him to a subject world by disjoining Him from the higher world of deity [1258] . Finally, if they will have it that this bestowal of life is a small thing, and that it means nothing great and awful in the nature of the Bestower, how is it they do not draw the conclusion which this very view makes inevitable, namely, that we must suppose, even with regard to the Only-begotten and the Father Himself, nothing great in Their life, the same as that which we have through the Holy Spirit, supplied as it is from the Father through the Son?

So that if these despisers and impugners of their very own life conceive of the gift as a little one, and decree accordingly to slight the Being who imparts the gift, let them be made aware that they cannot limit to one Person only their ingratitude, but must extend its profanity beyond the Holy Spirit to the Holy Trinity Itself. For like as the grace flows down in an unbroken stream from the Father, through the Son and the Spirit, upon the persons worthy of it, so does this profanity return backward, and is transmitted from the Son to the God of all the world, passing from one to the other. If, when a man is slighted, He Who sent him is slighted (yet what a distance there was between the man and the Sender!), what criminality [1259] is thereby implied in those who thus defy the Holy Spirit! Perhaps this is the blasphemy against our Law-giver [1260] for which the judgment without remission has been decreed; since in Him the [1261] entire Being, Blessed and Divine, is insulted also. As the devout worshipper of the Spirit sees in Him the glory of the Only-begotten, and in that sight beholds the image of the Infinite God, and by means of that image makes an outline, upon his own cognition [1262] , of the Original, so most plainly does this contemner [1263] (of the Spirit), whenever he advances any of his bold statements against the glory of the Spirit, extend, by virtue of the same reasoning, his profanity to the Son, and beyond Him to the Father. Therefore, those who reflect must have fear lest they perpetrate an audacity the result of which will be the complete blotting out of the perpetrator of it; and while they exalt the Spirit in the naming, they will even before the naming exalt Him in their thought, it being impossible that words can mount along with thought; still when one shall have reached the highest limit of human faculties, the utmost height and magnificence of idea to which the mind can ever attain, even then one must believe it is far below the glory that belongs to [1264] Him, according to the words in the Psalms, that “after exalting the Lord our God, even then ye scarcely worship the footstool beneath His feet”: and the cause of this dignity being so incomprehensible is nothing else than that He is holy.

If, then, every height of man’s ability falls below the grandeur of the Spirit (for that is what the Word means in the metaphor of “footstool”), what vanity is theirs who think that there is within themselves a power so great that it rests with them to define the amount of value to be attributed to a being who is invaluable! And so they pronounce the Holy Spirit unworthy of some things which are associated with the idea of value, as if their own abilities could do far more than the Spirit, as estimated by them, is capable of. What pitiable, what wretched madness! They understand not what they are themselves when they talk like this, and what the Holy Spirit against Whom they insolently range themselves. Who will tell these people that men are “a spirit that goeth forth and returneth not again [1265] ,” built up in their mother’s womb by means of a soiled conception, and returning all of them to a soiled earth; inheriting a life that is likened unto grass; blooming for a little during life’s illusion [1266] , and then withering away, and all the bloom upon them being shed and vanishing; they themselves not knowing with certainty what they were before their birth, nor into what they will be changed, their soul being ignorant of her peculiar destiny as long as she tarries in the flesh? Such is man.

On the contrary the Holy Spirit is, to begin with, because of qualities that are essentially holy, that which the Father, essentially Holy, is; and such as the Only-begotten is, such is the Holy Spirit; then, again, He is so by virtue of life-giving, of imperishability, of unvariableness, of everlastingness, of justice, of wisdom, of rectitude, of sovereignty, of goodness, of power, of capacity to give all good things, and above them all life itself, and by being everywhere, being present in each, filling the earth, residing in the heavens, shed abroad upon supernatural Powers, filling all things according to the deserts of each, Himself remaining full, being with all who are worthy, and yet not parted from the Holy Trinity. He ever “searches the deep things of God,” ever “receives” from the Son, ever is being “sent,” and yet not separated, and being “glorified,” and yet He has always had glory. It is plain, indeed, that one who gives glory to another must be found himself in the possession of superabundant glory; for how could one devoid of glory glorify another? Unless a thing be itself light, how can it display the gracious gift of light? So the power to glorify could never be displayed by one who was not himself glory [1267] , and honour, and majesty, and greatness. Now the Spirit does glorify the Father and the Son. Neither does He lie Who saith, “Them that glorify Me I glorify” [1268] ; and “I have glorified Thee [1269] ,” is said by our Lord to the Father; and again He says, “Glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was [1270] .” The Divine Voice answers, “I have both glorified, and will glorify again [1271] .” You see the revolving circle of the glory moving from Like to Like. The Son is glorified by the Spirit; the Father is glorified by the Son; again the Son has His glory from the Father; and the Only-begotten thus becomes the glory of the Spirit. For with what shall the Father be glorified, but with the true glory of the Son: and with what again shall the Son be glorified, but with the majesty of the Spirit? In like manner, again, Faith completes the circle, and glorifies the Son by means of the Spirit, and the Father by means of the Son.

If such, then, is the greatness of the Spirit, and whatever is morally beautiful, whatever is good, coming from God as it does through the Son, is completed by the instrumentality of the Spirit that “worketh all in all,” why do they set themselves against their own life? Why do they alienate themselves from the hope belonging to “such as are to be saved”? Why do they sever themselves from their cleaving unto God? For how can any man cleave unto the Lord unless the Spirit operates within us that union of ourselves with Him? Why do they haggle with us about the amount of service and of worship? Why do they use that word “worship” in an ironical sense, derogatory to a Divine and entirely Independent Being, supposing that they desire their own salvation? We would say to them, “Your supplication is the advantage of you who ask, and not the honouring of Him Who grants it. Why, then, do you approach your Benefactor as if you had something to give? Or rather, why do you refuse to name as a benefactor at all Him Who gives you your blessings, and slight the Life-giver while clinging to Life? Why, seeking for His sanctification, do you misconceive of the Dispenser of the Grace of sanctification; and as to the giving of those blessings, why, not denying that He has the power, do you deem Him not worthy to be asked to give, and fail to take this into consideration, viz. how much greater a thing it is to give some blessing than to be asked to give it? The asking does not unmistakably witness to greatness in him who is asked; for it is possible that one who does not have the thing to give might be asked for it, for the asking depends only on the will of the asker. But one who actually bestows some blessing has thereby given undoubted evidence of a power residing in him. Why then, while testifying to the greater thing in Him,–I mean the power to bestow everything that is morally beautiful [1272] –do you deprive Him of the asking, as of something of importance; although his asking, as we have said, is often performed in the case of those who have nothing in their power, owing to the delusion of their devotees? For instance, the slaves of superstition ask the idols for the objects of their wishes; but the asking does not, in this instance of the idols, confer any glory; only people pay that attention to them owing to the deluded expectation that they will get some one of the things they ask for, and so they do not cease to ask. But you, persuaded as you are of what and how great things the Holy Spirit is the Giver, do you neglect the asking them from Him, taking refuge in the law which bids you worship God and serve Him only [1273] ?’ Well, how will you worship Him only, tell me, when you have severed Him from His intimate union with His own Only-begotten and His own Spirit? This worship is simply Jewish.

But you will say, “When I think of the Father it is the Son (alone) that I have included as well in that term.” But tell me; when you have grasped the notion of the Son have you not admitted therein that of the Holy Spirit too? For how can you confess the Son except by the Holy Spirit? At what moment, then, is the Spirit in a state of separation from the Son, so that when the Father is being worshipped, the worship of the Spirit is not included along with that of the Son? And as regards their worship itself, what in the world do they reckon it to be? They bestow it, as some exquisite piece of honour, upon the God over all, and convey it over, sometimes, so as to reach the Only-begotten also; but the Holy Spirit they regard as unworthy of such a privilege. Now, in the common parlance of mankind, that self-prostration of inferiors upon the ground which they practise when they salute their betters is termed worship. Thus, it was by such a posture that the patriarch Jacob, in his self-humiliation, seems to have wished to show his inferiority when coming to meet his brother and to appease his wrath; for “he bowed himself to the ground,” says the Scripture, “three times” [1274] ; and Joseph’s brethren, as long as they knew him not, and he pretended before them that he knew them not, by reason of the exaltation of his rank reverenced his sovereignty with this worship; and even the great Abraham himself “bowed himself [1275] ” “to the children of Heth,” a stranger amongst the natives of that land, showing, I opine, by that action, how far more powerful those natives were than sojourners. It is possible to speak of many such actions both in the ancient records, and from examples before our eyes in the world now [1276] .

Do they too, then, mean this by their worship? Well, is it anything but absurdity to think that it is wrong to honour the Holy Spirit with that with which the patriarch honoured even Canaanites? Or do they consider their “worship” something different to this, as if one sort were fitting for men, another sort for the Supreme Being? But then, how is it that they omit worship altogether in the instance of the Spirit, not even bestowing upon Him the worship conceded in the case of men? And what kind of worship do they imagine to be reserved especially for the Deity? Is it to be spoken word, or acted gesture? Well, but are not these marks of honour shared by men as well? In their case words are spoken and gestures acted. Is it not, then, plain to every one who possesses the least amount of reflection, that any gift worthy of the Deity mankind has not got to give; for the Author of all blessings has no need of us. But it is we men who have transferred these indications of respect and admiration, which we adopt towards each other, when we would show by the acknowledgment of a neighbour’s superiority that one of us is in a humbler position than another, to our attendance upon a Higher Power; out of our possessions we make a gift of what is most precious to a priceless Nature. Therefore, since men, approaching emperors and potentates for the objects which they wish in some way to obtain from those rulers, do not bring to them their mere petition only, but employ every possible means to induce them to feel pity and favour towards themselves, adopting a humble voice, and a kneeling position [1277] , clasping their knees, prostrating themselves on the ground, and putting forward to plead for their petition all sorts of pathetic signs, to wake that pity,–so it is that those who recognize the True Potentate, by Whom all things in existence are controlled, when they are supplicating for that which they have at heart, some lowly in spirit because of pitiable conditions in this world, some with their thoughts lifted up because of their eternal mysterious hopes, seeing that they know not how to ask, and that their humanity is not capable of displaying any reverence that can reach to the grandeur of that Glory, carry the ceremonial used in the case of men into the service of the Deity. And this is what “worship” is,–that, I mean, which is offered for objects we have at heart along with supplication and humiliation. Therefore Daniel too bends the knees to the Lord, when asking His love for the captive people; and He Who “bare our sicknesses,” and intercedes for us, is recorded in the Gospel to have fallen on His face, because of the man that He had taken upon Him, at the hour of prayer, and in this posture to have made His petition, enjoining thereby, I think, that at the time of our petition our voice is not to be bold, but that we are to assume the attitude of the wretched; since the Lord “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble;” and somewhere else (He says), “he that exalteth himself shall be abased.” If, then, “worship” is a sort of suppliant state, or pleading put forward for the object of the petition, what is the intention of these new-fashioned regulations? These men do not even deign to ask of the Giver, nor to kneel to the Ruler, nor to attend upon the Potentate.

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[1221] Macedonius had been a very eminent Semi-Arian doctor. He was deposed from the See of Constantinople, A.D. 360: and it was actually the influence of the Eunomians that brought this about. He went into exile and formed his sect. He considered the Holy Spirit as “a divine energy diffused throughout the universe: and not a person distinct from the Father and the Son” (Socrates, H. E. iv. 4). This opinion had many partizans in the Asiatic provinces, “but,” says Mosheim, “the Council of Constantinople crushed it.” However, that the final clauses of the Nicene Creed which express distinctly, amongst other truths, the deity and personality of the Third Person of the Trinity were added at that Council to the original form, is extremely doubtful. For–1. We find the expanded form which we now use in the Nicene Creed, in a work written by Epiphanius seven years before the Council of Constantinople. So that at all events the enlarged Creed was not prepared by the Fathers then assembled. 2. It is extremely doubtful if any symbol at all was set forth at Constantinople. Neither Socrates, nor Sozomen, nor Theodoret makes mention of one: but all speak of adherence to the evangelic faith ratified at Nicaea. It is significant too that the expanded form was entirely ignored by the Council of Ephesus, 431. But at the Council of Chalcedon, 451, it was brought forward: though even then it appears that it was far from attaining general acceptance. By 540 it had become the accepted form (according to a letter of Pope Vigilius). “It seems most likely therefore that it was a profession received amongst the churches in the patriarchate of Constantinople, but at first not more widely circulated” (J. R. Lumby, Commentary on Prayer-Book, S. P. C. K., p. 66) F. J. A. Hort, however, (see Two Dissertations by) regards this “Constantinopolitan” Creed as the old Creed of Jerusalem enlarged and expanded; and he suggests that S. Cyril of Jerusalem may have produced it before the Council, which gave it some sort of approval. The addition, moreover, of the later clauses was not, as Mosheim seems to imagine, the only difference between the Nicene Creed and this Creed. That this lateness of accepted definition on a vital point should not excite our wonder, Neander shows “the apprehension of the idea (of the homoousion of the Holy Spirit) had been so little permeated as yet by the Christian consciousness of the unity of God, that Gregory of Nazianzum could still say in 380, Some of our theologians consider the Holy Spirit to be a certain mode of the Divine energy, others a creature of God, others God Himself. Others say they do not know which opinion they ought to accept, out of reverence for the Scriptures which have not clearly explained this point.’ Hilary of Poictiers says in his own original way that he was well aware that nothing could be foreign to God’s nature, which searches into the deep things of that nature. Should one be displeased at being told that He exists by and through Him, by and from Whom are all things, that He is the Spirit of God, but also God’s gift to believers, then will the apostles and prophets displease him; for they affirm only that He exists.'” There can be little doubt, however, that Gregory, in the following fragment, is defending a statement already in existence. He seems even to follow the order of the words, “Lord and giver of Life.” “Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.” Doubtless the next clause, “Who spake by the Prophets,” was dealt with in what is lost. But, essentially a creed-maker as he was, his claim to have himself added these final clauses cannot be substantiated. For the mss. of this treatise, see p. 31.

[1222] sepedonodes…gangraina: both used by Galen.

[1223] eis asebeian graphein. This is Mai’s reading. Cf. asebeias graphe. The active (instead of middle) in this sense is found in Aristoph. Av. 1052: the passive is not infrequent in Demosthenes and AEschines.

[1224] From God, and of the Christ, according to Scripture. This is noticeable. The Greek is ek tou Theou esti, kai tou Christou esti, kathos gegraptai. Compare the words below “proceeding from the Father, receiving from the Son.”

[1225] to aparallakton (but there is something lost before this: perhaps to henomenon). This word is used to express substantial identity. Origen uses it in alluding to the “Stoic resurrection,” i.e. the time when the “Great Year” shall again begin, and the world’s history be literally repeated, i.e. the “identical Socrates shall marry the identical Xantippe, and teach the identical philosophy, &c.” This expression was a favourite one also with Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria to express the identity of Glory, of Godhead, and of Honour, in the Blessed Trinity.

[1226] Reading moriois (cf. the same word below) for morian.

[1227] pros ten enantian poioteta.

[1228] nimble, kouphon; compare Macbeth, I. vi. “The air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our senses.”

[1229] Reading eusebos.

[1230] Reading idion gar touto.

[1231] Reading elattoseos tinos e kata phusin parallages, k. t. l.

[1232] “The Ancient Greek Fathers, speaking of this procession, mention the Father only, and never, I think, express the Son, as sticking constantly in this to the language of the Scriptures (John xv. 26)”–Pearson. The language of the above simile of Gregory would be an illustration of this. So Greg. Naz., Orat. I. de Filio, “standing on our definitions, we introduce the Ungenerate, the Generated, and that which proceeds from the Father.” This last expression was so known and public, that it is recorded even by Lucian in his Philopatris, S:12.

[1233] Reading kai tes eusebous ennoias.

[1234] The edition of Cardinal Mai has ho ekeino dous te dunamei, sunomologese, k. t. l. But the sense requires the comma to be placed after dous.

[1235] Reading to ephexes.

[1236] ephexes.

[1237] Reading homologeis

[1238] i.e.from fellowship with the Spirit. The text is tis ho logos kath’ hon eulogon krinousin patera anairein, dedokasi; (for which dedokosi is a conjecture). But perhaps pneuma anairein, didaskosi, or didaxosi, would be a more intelligible reading; though the examples of the hortatory subjunctive other than in the first person are, according to Porson (ad Eurip. Hec. 430), to be reckoned among solecisms in classical Greek.

[1239] Is. xl. 15. But Mai’s text has stathmos, not stagon (LXX.).

[1240] Ps. xix. 1.

[1241] Is. xl. 12. Tis emetrjse…ton ouranon spithame.

[1242] lambanomenon

[1243] pistos. 2 Tim. ii. 13.

[1244] S. John i. 3

[1245] pro pases kataleptes epinoias.

[1246] 1 Cor. xiii. 6.

[1247] kata to agathon; probably here in its Platonic, rather than its ordinary sense.

[1248] ten alethe morphosin tes eusebeias

[1249] entithetai: suntithetai, “concedes to,” would perhaps be better.

[1250] 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 20.

[1251] Cf. 2 Tim. i. 13 (hupotuposin); Rom. ii. 20 (morphosin); vi. 17 (tupon), all referring to truth as contained in a formula. Cf. also Gal. iv. 19.

[1252] Reading kathos ekeinos phesin.

[1253] Eccles. xi. 5 (LXX.). ouk esti ginoskon tis he hodos tou pneumatos, hos osta en gastri kuophorouses

[1254] Acts x. 38. Cf. iv. 27.

[1255] 2 Cor. iii. 14, 15.

[1256] ek tou periechontos. This expression of Anaxagoras is repeated more than once in the Treatise “On the Soul.”

[1257] idiotiken. On 1 Cor. xiv. 16, O anapleron ton topon tou idiotou, Theodoret says, “idioten kalei ton en to laiko tagmati tetagmenon.” Theophylact also renders the word by the same equivalent.

[1258] “Whether or not the Macedonians explicitly denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost is uncertain; but they viewed Him as essentially separate from, and external to, the One Indivisible Godhead. The Nicene’ Creed declares that He is the Lord, or Sovereign Spirit because the heretics considered Him to be a minister of God; and the Supreme Giver of Life, because they considered Him a mere instrument by which we receive the gift.”–Newman’s Arians, note p. 420.

[1259] katakrisin

[1260] kata tou nomothetou is Mai’s reading. But kata ton nomotheten, i.e. according to S. Mark iii. 29, S. Luke xii. 10, would be preferable. Migne reads para in this sense.

[1261] to has probably dropped out.

[1262] te gnosei heautou.

[1263] Something has dropped out here.

[1264] epiballouses. Cf. Ps. xcix. 5; 2 Chron. xxviii. 2.

[1265] Wisdom xvi. 14.

[1266] biotikes apates.

[1267] It is worth noticing that Gregory maintains (Hom. xv. on Canticles) that Doxa in Scripture means the Holy Ghost.

[1268] Cf. 1 Sam. ii. 30.

[1269] S. John xvii. 4

[1270] S. John xvii. 5

[1271] S. John xii. 28

[1272] kalon.

[1273] Deut. vi. 13; x. 20.

[1274] The LXX. has prosekunesen epi ten gen heptakis, Gen. xxxiii. 3.

[1275] prosekunese to lao tes ges, tois huiois tou Chet, Gen. xxiii. 7.

[1276] tou biou. This is a late use of bios.

[1277] Still the word proskunein became consecrated to the highest Christian worship while therapeuein was employed for address to the angels. “Every supplication, every prayer, every entreaty, and every giving of thanks must be offered to the Almighty through the High Priest who is over all the angels, the incarnate Word and God. And we shall make supplication and prayer to the Word Himself also, and we shall give Him thanks if we can distinguish prayer in its proper meaning from the wrong use of the word,” Origen c. Cels. v. 4 (Cf. viii. 13, where he answers the question whether Gabriel, Michael, and the rest of the archangels should be addressed, therapeuesthai).

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On the Holy Trinity, and of the Godhead of the Holy Spirit.

To Eustathius [1278] .

All you who study medicine have, one may say, humanity for your profession: and I think that one who preferred your science to all the serious pursuits of life would form the proper judgment, and not miss the right decision, if it be true that life, the most valued of all things, is a thing to be shunned, and full of pain, if it may not be had with health, and health your art supplies. But in your own case the science is in a notable degree of double efficacy; you enlarge for yourself the bounds of its humanity, since you do not limit the benefit of your art to men’s bodies, but take thought also for the cure of troubles of the mind. I say this, not only following the common reports, but because I have learnt it from experience, as in many other matters, so especially at this time in this indescribable malice of our enemies, which you skilfully dispersed when it swept like some evil flood over our life, dispelling this violent inflammation of our heart by your fomentation of soothing words. I thought it right, indeed, in view of the continuous and varied effort of our enemies against us, to keep silence, and to receive their attack quietly, rather than to speak against men armed with falsehood, that most mischievous weapon, which sometimes drives its point even through truth. But you did well in urging me not to betray the truth, but to refute the slanderers, lest, by a success of falsehood against truth, many might be injured.

I may say that those who conceived this causeless hatred for us seemed to be acting very much on the principle of AEsop’s fable. For just as he makes his wolf bring some charges against the lamb (feeling ashamed, I suppose, of seeming to destroy, without just pretext, one who had done him no hurt), and then, when the lamb easily swept away all the slanderous charges brought against him, makes the wolf by no means slacken his attack, but carry the day with his teeth when he is vanquished by justice; so those who were as keen for hatred against us as if it were something good (feeling perhaps some shame of seeming to hate without cause), make up charges and complaints against us, while they do not abide consistently by any of the things they say, but allege, now that one thing, after a little while that another, and then again that something else is the cause of their hostility to us. Their malice does not take a stand on any ground, but when they are dislodged from one charge they cling to another, and from that again they seize upon a third, and if all their charges are refuted they do not give up their hate. They charge us with preaching three Gods, and din into the ears of the multitude this slander, which they never rest from maintaining persuasively. Then truth fights on our side, for we show both publicly to all men, and privately to those who converse with us, that we anathematize any man who says that there are three Gods, and hold him to be not even a Christian. Then, as soon as they hear this, they find Sabellius a handy weapon against us, and the plague that he spread is the subject of continual attacks upon us. Once more, we oppose to this assault our wonted armour of truth, and show that we abhor this form of heresy just as much as Judaism. What then? are they weary after such efforts, and content to rest? Not at all. Now they charge us with innovation, and frame their complaint against us in this way:–They allege that while we confess [1279] three Persons we say that there is one goodness, and one power, and one Godhead. And in this assertion they do not go beyond the truth; for we do say so. But the ground of their complaint is that their custom does not admit this, and Scripture does not support it. What then is our reply? We do not think that it is right to make their prevailing custom the law and rule of sound doctrine. For if custom is to avail for [1280] proof of soundness, we too, surely, may advance our prevailing custom; and if they reject this, we are surely not bound to follow theirs. Let the inspired Scripture, then, be our umpire, and the vote of truth will surely be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.

Well, what is their charge? There are two brought forward together in the accusation against us; one, that we divide the Persons; the other, that we do not employ any of the names which belong to God in the plural number, but (as I said already) speak of the goodness as one, and of the power, and the Godhead, and all such attributes in the singular. With regard to the dividing of the Persons, those cannot well object who hold the doctrine of the diversity of substances in the Divine nature. For it is not to be supposed that those who say that there are three substances do not also say that there are three Persons. So this point only is called in question: that those attributes which are ascribed to the Divine nature we employ in the singular.

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as,–“In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [1281] “; and, elsewhere,–“The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [1282] .” If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God [1283] , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any. For we do not know of any differences by way of superiority and inferiority in attributes which express our conceptions of the Divine nature, so that we should suppose it an act of piety (while allowing to the Spirit community in the inferior attributes) to judge Him unworthy of those more exalted. For all the Divine attributes, whether named or conceived, are of like rank one with another, in that they are not distinguishable in respect of the signification of their subject. For the appellation of “the Good” does not lead our minds to one subject, and that of “the Wise,” or “the Mighty,” or “the Righteous” to another, but the thing to which all the attributes point is one; and, if you speak of God, you signify the same Whom you understood by the other attributes. If then all the attributes ascribed to the Divine nature are of equal force as regards their designation of the subject, leading our minds to the same subject in various aspects, what reason is there that one, while allowing to the Spirit community with the Father and the Son in the other attributes, should exclude Him from the Godhead alone? It is absolutely necessary either to allow to Him community in this also, or not to admit His community in the others. For if He is worthy in the case of those attributes, He is surely not less worthy in this. But if He is “less,” according to their phrase [1284] , so that He is excluded from community with the Father and the Son in the attribute of Godhead, neither is He worthy to share in any other of the attributes which belong to God. For the attributes, when rightly understood and mutually compared by that notion which we contemplate in each case, will be found to imply nothing less than the appellation of “God.” And a proof of this is that many even of the inferior existences are called by this very name. Further, the Divine Scripture is not sparing in this use of the name even in the case of things incongruous, as when it names idols by the appellation of God. For it says, “Let the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth perish, and be cast down beneath the earth [1285] “; and, “all the gods of the heathen are devils [1286] “; and the witch in her incantations, when she brings up for Saul the spirits that he sought for, says that she “saw gods [1287] .” And again Balaam, being an augur and a seer, and engaging in divination, and having obtained for himself the instruction of devils and magical augury, is said in Scripture to receive counsel from God [1288] . One may show by collecting many instances of the same kind from the Divine Scripture, that this attribute has no supremacy over the other attributes which are proper to God, seeing that, as has been said, we find it predicated, in an equivocal sense, even of things incongruous; but we are nowhere taught in Scripture that the names of “the Holy,” “the Incorruptible,” “the Righteous,” “the Good,” are made common to things unworthy. If, then, they do not deny that the Holy Spirit has community with the Father and the Son in those attributes which, in their sense of special excellence, are piously predicated only of the Divine nature, what reason is there to pretend that He is excluded from community in this only, wherein it was shown that, by an equivocal use, even devils and idols share?

But they say that this appellation is indicative of nature, and that, as the nature of the Spirit is not common to the Father and the Son, for this reason neither does he partake in the community of this attribute. Let them show, then, whereby they discern this diversity of nature. For if it were possible that the Divine nature should be contemplated in its absolute essence, and that we should find by appearances what is and what is not proper to it, we should surely have no need of other arguments or evidence for the comprehension of the question. But since it is exalted above the understanding of the questioners, and we have to argue from some particular evidence about those things which evade our knowledge [1289] , it is absolutely necessary for us to be guided to the investigation of the Divine nature by its operations. If, then, we see that the operations which are wrought by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit differ one from the other, we shall conjecture from the different character of the operations that the natures which operate are also different. For it cannot be that things which differ in their very nature should agree in the form of their operation: fire does not chill, nor ice give warmth, but their operations are distinguished together with the difference between their natures. If, on the other hand, we understand that the operation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, differing or varying in nothing, the oneness of their nature must needs be inferred from the identity of their operation. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit alike give sanctification, and life, and light, and comfort, and all similar graces. And let no one attribute the power of sanctification in an especial sense to the Spirit, when he hears the Saviour in the Gospel saying to the Father concerning His disciples, “Father, sanctify them in Thy name [1290] .” So too all the other gifts are wrought in those who are worthy alike by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: every grace and power, guidance, life, comfort, the change to immortality, the passage to liberty, and every other boon that exists, which descends to us.

But the order of things which is above us, alike in the region of intelligence and in that of sense (if by what we know we may form conjectures about those things also which are above us), is itself established within the operation and power of the Holy Spirit, every man receiving the benefit according to his own desert and need. For although the arrangement and ordering of things above our nature is obscure to our sense, yet one may more reasonably infer, by the things which we know, that in them too the power of the Spirit works, than that it is banished from the order existing in the things above us. For he who asserts the latter view advances his blasphemy in a naked and unseemly shape, without being able to support his absurd opinion by any argument. But he who agrees that those things which are above us are also ordered by the power of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, makes his assertion on this point with the support of clear evidence from his own life. For [1291] as the nature of man is compounded of body and soul, and the angelic nature has for its portion life without a body, if the Holy Spirit worked only in the case of bodies, and the soul were not capable of receiving the grace that comes from Him, one might perhaps infer from this, if the intellectual and incorporeal nature which is in us were above the power of the Spirit, that the angelic life too was in no need of His grace. But if the gift of the Holy Spirit is principally a grace of the soul, and the constitution of the soul is linked by its intellectuality and invisibility to the angelic life, what person who knows how to see a consequence would not agree, that every intellectual nature is governed by the ordering of the Holy Spirit? For since it is said “the angels do alway behold the Face of My Father which is in heaven [1292] ,” and it is not possible to behold the person of the Father otherwise than by fixing the sight upon it through His image; and the image of the person of the Father is the Only-begotten, and to Him again no man can draw near whose mind has not been illumined by the Holy Spirit, what else is shown from this but that the Holy Spirit is not separated from any operation which is wrought by the Father and the Son? Thus the identity of operation in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shows plainly the undistinguishable character of their substance. So that even if the name of Godhead does indicate nature, the community of substance shows that this appellation is properly applied also to the Holy Spirit. But I know not how these makers-up of all sorts of arguments bring the appellation of Godhead to be an indication of nature, as though they had not heard from the Scripture that it is a matter of appointment [1293] , in which way nature does not arise. For Moses was appointed as a god of the Egyptians, since He Who gave him the oracles, &c., spoke thus to him, “I have given thee as a god to Pharaoh [1294] .” Thus the force of the appellation is the indication of some power, either of oversight or of operation. But the Divine nature itself, as it is, remains unexpressed by all the names that are conceived for it, as our doctrine declares. For in learning that He is beneficent, and a judge, good, and just, and all else of the same kind, we learn diversities of His operations, but we are none the more able to learn by our knowledge of His operations the nature of Him Who works. For when one gives a definition of any one of these attributes, and of the nature to which the names are applied, he will not give the same definition of both: and of things of which the definition is different, the nature also is distinct. Indeed the substance is one thing which no definition has been found to express, and the significance of the names employed concerning it varies, as the names are given from some operation or accident. Now the fact that there is no distinction in the operations we learn from the community of the attributes, but of the difference in respect of nature we find no clear proof, the identity of operations indicating rather, as we said, community of nature. If, then, Godhead is a name derived from operation, as we say that the operation of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, so we say that the Godhead is one: or if, according to the view of the majority, Godhead is indicative of nature, since we cannot find any diversity in their nature, we not unreasonably define the Holy Trinity to be of one Godhead [1295] .

But if any one were to call this appellation indicative of dignity, I cannot tell by what reasoning he drags the word to this significance. Since however one may hear many saying things of this kind, in order that the zeal of its opponents may not find a ground for attacking the truth, we go out of our way with those who take this view, to consider such an opinion, and say that, even if the name does denote dignity, in this case too the appellation will properly befit the Holy Spirit. For the attribute of kingship denotes all dignity; and “our God,” it says, “is King from everlasting [1296] .” But the Son, having all things which are the Father’s, is Himself proclaimed a King by Holy Scripture. Now the Divine Scripture says that the Holy Spirit is the unction of the Only-Begotten [1297] , interpreting the dignity of the Spirit by a transference of the terms commonly used in this world. For as, in ancient days, in those who were advanced to kingship, the token of this dignity was the unction which was applied to them, and when this took place there was thenceforth a change from private and humble estate to the superiority of rule, and he who was deemed worthy of this grace received after his anointing another name, being called, instead of an ordinary man, the Anointed of the Lord: for this reason, that the dignity of the Holy Spirit might be more clearly shown to men, He was called by the Scripture “the sign of the Kingdom,” and “Unction,” whereby we are taught that the Holy Spirit shares in the glory and kingdom of the Only-begotten Son of God. For as in Israel it was not permitted to enter upon the kingdom without the unction being previously given, so the word, by a transference of the terms in use among ourselves, indicates the equality of power, showing that not even the kingdom of the Son is received without the dignity of the Holy Spirit. And for this reason He is properly called Christ, since this name gives the proof of His inseparable and indivisible conjunction with the Holy Spirit. If, then, the Only-begotten God is the Anointed, and the Holy Spirit is His Unction, and the appellation of Anointed [1298] points to the Kingly authority, and the anointing is the token of His Kingship, then the Holy Spirit shares also in His dignity. If, therefore, they say that the attribute of Godhead is significative of dignity, and the Holy Spirit is shown to share in this last quality, it follows that He Who partakes in the dignity will also partake in the name which represents it.

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[1278] The greater part of this treatise is found also among the Letters of S. Basil [[5]Ep. 189 (80): Ed. Gaume, Tom iii. p. 401 (276 c.)]. The Benedictine edition of S. Basil notes that in one ms. a marginal note attributes the letter to Gregory. It may be added that those parts which appear to be found only in the mss. of Gregory make the argument considerably clearer than it is if they are excluded, as they are from the Benedictine text of S. Basil.

[1279] Reading homologountas with Oehler. The Paris Edit. reads homologounton, and so also the Benedictine S. Basil. The Latin translator of 1615, however, renders as if he had read homologountas

[1280] Reading eis orthotetos apodeixin, with Oehler and the Benedictine S. Basil. The Paris Edit. of 1615 reads eis orthoteta logou.

[1281] Col. ii. 9.

[1282] Rom. i. 20.

[1283] Reading, with Oehler, to theon einai.

[1284] Reading with Oehler ei de mikroteron…estin, hoste…kechoristhai. The Paris Edit. and the Benedictine S. Basil read ei de mikroteron…estin, e hoste…choresai. “If, according to their phrase, He is too small to be capable of community,” &c. Oehler’s reading seems to fit better in the argument. If the new idea of “capacity” had been introduced at this point, we should expect some other phrase than metechein axion at the end of the sentence.

[1285] Cf. Jer. x. 11

[1286] Ps. xcvi. 5 (LXX.).

[1287] 1 Sam. xxviii. 13.

[1288] Num. xxii.

[1289] Oehler and Migne’s edit. of S. Basil here read gnosin, the Paris Edit. and the Benedictine S. Basil have mnemen.

[1290] Cf. S. John xvii. 11 and 17.

[1291] This sentence and the passage following, down to the words “is wrought by the Father and the Son,” are omitted in the editions of S. Basil.

[1292] S. Matt. xviii. 10.

[1293] Reading hoti cheirotonete, he phusis ginetai. The Paris Edit. and Migne’s S. Basil read hoti cheirotonia he phusis ou ginetai: the Ben. S. Basil and Oehler read hoti cheirotonete phusis ou ginetai. The point of the argument seems to be that “Godhead” is spoken of in Scripture as being given by appointment, which excludes the idea of its being indicative of “nature.” Gregory shows that it is so spoken of; but he does not show that Scripture asserts the distinction between nature and appointment, which the reading of the Benedictine text and Oehler would require him to do.

[1294] Ex. vii. 1.

[1295] The treatise, as it appears in S. Basil’s works, ends here.

[1296] Ps. lxxiv. 12.

[1297] Acts x. 38.

[1298] Reading with Oehler Christou in place of Theou (the reading of the Paris edition).

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On “Not Three Gods.”

To Ablabius.

Ye that are strong with all might in the inner man ought by rights to carry on the struggle against the enemies of the truth, and not to shrink from the task, that we fathers may be gladdened by the noble toil of our sons; for this is the prompting of the law of nature: but as you turn your ranks, and send against us the assaults of those darts which are hurled by the opponents of the truth, and demand that their “hot burning coals” [1299] and their shafts sharpened by knowledge falsely so called should be quenched with the shield of faith by us old men, we accept your command, and make ourselves an example of obedience [1300] , in order that you may yourself give us the just requital on like commands, Ablabius, noble soldier of Christ, if we should ever summon you to such a contest.

In truth, the question you propound to us is no small one, nor such that but small harm will follow if it meets with insufficient treatment. For by the force of the question, we are at first sight compelled to accept one or other of two erroneous opinions, and either to say “there are three Gods,” which is unlawful, or not to acknowledge the Godhead of the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is impious and absurd.

The argument which you state is something like this:–Peter, James, and John, being in one human nature, are called three men: and there is no absurdity in describing those who are united in nature, if they are more than one, by the plural number of the name derived from their nature. If, then, in the above case, custom admits this, and no one forbids us to speak of those who are two as two, or those who are more than two as three, how is it that in the case of our statements of the mysteries of the Faith, though confessing the Three Persons, and acknowledging no difference of nature between them, we are in some sense at variance with our confession, when we say that the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is one, and yet forbid men to say “there are three Gods”? The question is, as I said, very difficult to deal with: yet, if we should be able to find anything that may give support to the uncertainty of our mind, so that it may no longer totter and waver in this monstrous dilemma, it would be well: on the other hand, even if our reasoning be found unequal to the problem, we must keep for ever, firm and unmoved, the tradition which we received by succession from the fathers, and seek from the Lord the reason which is the advocate of our faith: and if this be found by any of those endowed with grace, we must give thanks to Him who bestowed the grace; but if not, we shall none the less, on those points which have been determined, hold our faith unchangeably.

What, then, is the reason that when we count one by one those who are exhibited to us in one nature, we ordinarily name them in the plural and speak of “so many men,” instead of calling them all one: while in the case of the Divine nature our doctrinal definition rejects the plurality of Gods, at once enumerating the Persons, and at the same time not admitting the plural signification? Perhaps one might seem to touch the point if he were to say (speaking offhand to straightforward people), that the definition refused to reckon Gods in any number to avoid any resemblance to the polytheism of the heathen, lest, if we too were to enumerate the Deity, not in the singular, but in the plural, as they are accustomed to do, there might be supposed to be also some community of doctrine. This answer, I say, if made to people of a more guileless spirit, might seem to be of some weight: but in the case of the others who require that one of the alternatives they propose should be established (either that we should not acknowledge the Godhead in Three Persons, or that, if we do, we should speak of those who share in the same Godhead as three), this answer is not such as to furnish any solution of the difficulty. And hence we must needs make our reply at greater length, tracing out the truth as best we may; for the question is no ordinary one.

We say, then, to begin with, that the practice of calling those who are not divided [1301] in nature by the very name of their common nature in the plural, and saying they are “many men,” is a customary abuse of language, and that it would be much the same thing to say they are “many human natures.” And the truth of this we may see from the following instance. When we address any one, we do not call him by the name of his nature, in order that no confusion may result from the community of the name, as would happen if every one of those who hear it were to think that he himself was the person addressed, because the call is made not by the proper appellation but by the common name of their nature: but we separate him from the multitude by using that name which belongs to him as his own;–that, I mean, which signifies the particular subject. Thus there are many who have shared in the nature–many disciples, say, or apostles, or martyrs–but the man in them all is one; since, as has been said, the term “man” does not belong to the nature of the individual as such, but to that which is common. For Luke is a man, or Stephen is a man; but it does not follow that if any one is a man he is therefore Luke or Stephen: but the idea of the persons admits of that separation which is made by the peculiar attributes considered in each severally, and when they are combined is presented to us by means of number; yet their nature is one, at union in itself, and an absolutely indivisible unit, not capable of increase by addition or of diminution by subtraction, but in its essence being and continually remaining one, inseparable even though it appear in plurality, continuous, complete, and not divided with the individuals who participate in it. And as we speak of a people, or a mob, or an army, or an assembly in the singular in every case, while each of these is conceived as being in plurality, so according to the more accurate expression, “man” would be said to be one, even though those who are exhibited to us in the same nature make up a plurality. Thus it would be much better to correct our erroneous habit, so as no longer to extend to a plurality the name of the nature, than by our bondage to habit to transfer [1302] to our statements concerning God the error which exists in the above case. But since the correction of the habit is impracticable (for how could you persuade any one not to speak of those who are exhibited in the same nature as “many men”?–indeed, in every case habit is a thing hard to change), we are not so far wrong in not going contrary to the prevailing habit in the case of the lower nature, since no harm results from the mistaken use of the name: but in the case of the statement concerning the Divine nature the various use [1303] of terms is no longer so free from danger: for that which is of small account is in these subjects no longer a small matter. Therefore we must confess one God, according to the testimony of Scripture, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord,” even though the name of Godhead extends through the Holy Trinity. This I say according to the account we have given in the case of human nature, in which we have learnt that it is improper to extend the name of the nature by the mark of plurality. We must, however, more carefully examine the name of “Godhead,” in order to obtain, by means of the significance involved in the word, some help towards clearing up the question before us.

Most men think that the word “Godhead” is used in a peculiar degree in respect of nature: and just as the heaven, or the sun, or any other of the constituent parts of the universe are denoted by proper names which are significant of the subjects, so they say that in the case of the Supreme and Divine nature, the word “Godhead” is fitly adapted to that which it represents to us, as a kind of special name. We, on the other hand, following the suggestions of Scripture, have learnt that that nature is unnameable and unspeakable, and we say that every term either invented by the custom [1304] of men, or handed down to us by the Scriptures, is indeed explanatory of our conceptions of the Divine Nature [1305] , but does not include the signification of that nature itself. And it may be shown without much difficulty that this is the case. For all other terms which are used of the creation may be found, even without analysis of their origin, to be applied to the subjects accidentally, because we are content to denote the things in any way by the word applied to them so as to avoid confusion in our knowledge of the things signified. But all the terms that are employed to lead us to the knowledge of God have comprehended in them each its own meaning, and you cannot find any word among the terms especially applied to God which is without a distinct sense. Hence it is clear that by any of the terms we use the Divine nature itself is not signified, but some one of its surroundings is made known. For we say, it may be, that the Deity is incorruptible, or powerful, or whatever else we are accustomed to say of Him. But in each of these terms we find a peculiar sense, fit to be understood or asserted of the Divine nature, yet not expressing that which that nature is in its essence. For the subject, whatever it may be, is incorruptible: but our conception of incorruptibility is this,–that that which is, is not resolved into decay: so, when we say that He is incorruptible, we declare what His nature does not suffer, but we do not express what that is which does not suffer corruption. Thus, again, if we say that He is the Giver of life, though we show by that appellation what He gives, we do not by that word declare what that is which gives it. And by the same reasoning we find that all else which results from the significance involved in the names expressing the Divine attributes either forbids us to conceive what we ought not to conceive of the Divine nature, or teaches us that which we ought to conceive of it, but does not include an explanation of the nature itself. Since, then, as we perceive the varied operations of the power above us, we fashion our appellations from the several operations that are known to us, and as we recognize as one of these that operation of surveying and inspection, or, as one might call it, beholding, whereby He surveys all things and overlooks them all, discerning our thoughts, and even entering by His power of contemplation into those things which are not visible, we suppose that Godhead, or theotes, is so called from thea, or beholding, and that He who is our theates or beholder, by customary use and by the instruction of the Scriptures, is called theos, or God. Now if any one admits that to behold and to discern are the same thing, and that the God Who superintends all things, both is and is called the superintender of the universe, let him consider this operation, and judge whether it belongs to one of the Persons whom we believe in the Holy Trinity, or whether the power extends [1306] throughout the Three Persons. For if our interpretation of the term Godhead, or theotes, is a true one, and the things which are seen are said to be beheld, or theata, and that which beholds them is called theos, or God, no one of the Persons in the Trinity could reasonably be excluded from such an appellation on the ground of the sense involved in the word. For Scripture attributes the act of seeing equally to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. David says, “See, O God our defender [1307] “: and from this we learn that sight is a proper operation of the idea [1308] of God, so far as God is conceived, since he says, “See, O God.” But Jesus also sees the thoughts of those who condemn Him, and questions why by His own power He pardons the sins of men? for it says, “Jesus, seeing their thoughts [1309] .” And of the Holy Spirit also, Peter says to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart, to lie to the Holy Ghost? [1310] ” showing that the Holy Spirit was a true witness, aware of what Ananias had dared to do in secret, and by Whom the manifestation of the secret was made to Peter. For Ananias became a thief of his own goods, secretly, as he thought, from all men, and concealing his sin: but the Holy Spirit at the same moment was in Peter, and detected his intent, dragged down as it was to avarice, and gave to Peter from Himself [1311] the power of seeing the secret, while it is clear that He could not have done this had He not been able to behold hidden things.

But some one will say that the proof of our argument does not yet regard the question. For even if it were granted that the name of “Godhead” is a common name of the nature, it would not be established that we should not speak of “Gods”: but by these arguments, on the contrary, we are compelled to speak of “Gods”: for we find in the custom of mankind that not only those who are partakers [1312] in the same nature, but even any who may be of the same business, are not, when they are many, spoken of in the singular; as we speak of “many orators,” or “surveyors,” or “farmers,” or “shoemakers,” and so in all other cases. If, indeed, Godhead were an appellation of nature, it would be more proper, according to the argument laid down, to include the Three Persons in the singular number, and to speak of “One God,” by reason of the inseparability and indivisibility of the nature: but since it has been established by what has been said, that the term “Godhead” is significant of operation, and not of nature, the argument from what has been advanced seems to turn to the contrary conclusion, that we ought therefore all the more to call those “three Gods” who are contemplated in the same operation, as they say that one would speak of “three philosophers” or “orators,” or any other name derived from a business when those who take part in the same business are more than one.

I have taken some pains, in setting forth this view, to bring forward the reasoning on behalf of the adversaries, that our decision may be the more firmly fixed, being strengthened by the more elaborate contradictions. Let us now resume our argument.

As we have to a certain extent shown by our statement that the word “Godhead” is not significant of nature but of operation, perhaps one might reasonably allege as a cause why, in the case of men, those who share with one another in the same pursuits are enumerated and spoken of in the plural, while on the other hand the Deity is spoken of in the singular as one God and one Godhead, even though the Three Persons are not separated from the significance expressed by the term “Godhead,”–one might allege, I say, the fact that men, even if several are engaged in the same form of action, work separately each by himself at the task he has undertaken, having no participation in his individual action with others who are engaged in the same occupation. For instance, supposing the case of several rhetoricians, their pursuit, being one, has the same name in the numerous cases: but each of those who follow it works by himself, this one pleading on his own account, and that on his own account. Thus, since among men the action of each in the same pursuits is discriminated, they are properly called many, since each of them is separated from the others within his own environment, according to the s

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