Novation: On the Trinity 7 etc

Chapter VII. Argument.—Moreover, that When God is Called a Spirit, Brightness, and Light, God is Not Sufficiently Expressed by Those Appellations.

But when the Lord says that God is a Spirit, I think that Christ spoke thus of the Father, as wishing that something still more should be understood than merely that God is a Spirit. For although, in His Gospel, He is reasoning for the purpose of giving to men an increase of intelligence, nevertheless He Himself speaks to men concerning God, in such a way as they can as yet hear and receive; although, as we have said, He is now endeavouring to give to His hearers religious additions to their knowledge of God. For we find it to be written that God is called Love, and yet from this the substance of God is not declared to be Love; and that He is called Light, while in this is not the substance of God. But the whole that is thus said of God is as much as can be said, so that reasonably also, when He is called a Spirit, it is not all that He is which is so called; but so that, while men’s mind by understanding makes progress even to the Spirit itself, being already changed in spirit, it may conjecture God to be something even greater through the Spirit. For that which is, according to what it is, can neither be declared by human discourse, nor received by human ears, nor gathered by human perceptions. For if “the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard, nor the heart of man, nor even his mind has perceived;” what and how great is He Himself who promises these things, in understanding which both the mind and nature of man have failed! Finally, if you receive the Spirit as the substance of God, you will make God a creature. For every spirit is a creature. And therefore, then, God will be made. In which manner also, if, according to Moses, you should receive God to be fire, in saying that He is a creature, you will have declared what is ordained, you will not have taught who is its ordainer. But these things are rather used as figures than as being so in fact. For as, in the Old Testament, God is for this reason called Fire, that fear may be struck into the hearts of a sinful people, by suggesting to them a Judge; so in the New Testament He is announced as Spirit, that, as the Renewer and Creator of those who are dead in their sins, He may be attested by this goodness of mercy granted to those that believe.


Chapter XVI. Argument.—Again from the Gospel He Proves Christ to Be God.

If Christ was only man, how is it that He Himself says, “And every one that believeth in me shall not die for evermore?” And yet he who believes in man by himself alone is called accursed; but he who believes on Christ is not accursed, but is said not to die for evermore. Whence, if on the one hand He is man only, as the heretics will have it, how shall not anybody who believes in Him die eternally, since he who trusts in man is held to be ac- cursed? Or on the other, if he is not accursed, but rather, as it is read, destined for the attainment of everlasting life, Christ is not man only, but God also, in whom he who believes both lays aside all risk of curse, and attains to the fruit of righteousness. If Christ was only man, how does He say that the Paraclete “shall take of His, those things which He shall declare?” For neither does the Paraclete receive anything from man, but the Paraclete offers knowledge to man; nor does the Paraclete learn things future from man, but instructs man concerning futurity. Therefore either the Paraclete has not received from Christ, as man, what He should declare, since man could give nothing to the Paraclete, seeing that from Him man himself ought to receive, and Christ in the present instance is both mistaken and deceives, in saying that the Paraclete shall receive from Him, being a man, the things which He may declare; or He does not deceive us,—as in fact He does not,—and the Paraclete has received from Christ what He may declare. But if He has received from Christ what He may declare to us, Christ is greater than the Paraclete, because the Paraclete would not receive from Christ unless He were less than Christ. But the Paraclete being less than Christ, moreover, by this very fact proves Christ to be God, from whom He has received what He declares: so that the testimony of Christ’s divinity is immense, in the Paraclete being found to be in this economy less than Christ, and taking from Him what He gives to others; seeing that if Christ were only man, Christ would receive from the Paraclete what He should say, not the Paraclete receive from Christ what He should declare. If Christ was only man, wherefore did He lay down for us such a rule of believing as that in which He said, “And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent?” Had He not wished that He also should be understood to be God, why did He add, “And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent,” except because He wished to be received as God also? Because if He had not wished to be understood to be God, He would have added, “And the man Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent;” but, in fact, He neither added this, nor did Christ deliver Himself to us as man only, but associated Himself with God, as He wished to be understood by this conjunction to be God also, as He is. We must therefore believe, according to the rule prescribed, on the Lord, the one true God, and consequently on Him whom He has sent, Jesus Christ, who by no means, as we have said, would have linked Himself to the Father had He not wished to be understood to be God also: for He would have separated Himself from Him had He not wished to be under- stood to be God. He would have placed Himself among men only, had He known Himself to be only man; nor would He have linked Himself with God had He not known Himself to be God also. But in this case He is silent about His being man, because no one doubts His being man, and with reason links Himself to God, that He might establish the formula of His divinity for those who should believe. If Christ was only man, how does He say, “And now glorify me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was?” If, before the world was, He had glory with God, and maintained His glory with the Father, He existed before the world, for He would not have had the glory unless He Himself had existed before, so as to be able to keep the glory. For no one could possess anything, unless he himself should first be in existence to keep anything. But now Christ has the glory before the foundation of the world; therefore He Himself was before the foundation of the world. For unless He were before the foundation of the world, He could not have glory before the foundation of the world, since He Himself was not in existence. But indeed man could not have glory before the foundation of the world, seeing that he was after the world; but Christ had—therefore He was before the world. Therefore He was not man only, seeing that He was before the world. He is therefore God, because He was before the world, and held His glory before the world. Neither let this be explained by predestination, since this is not so expressed, or let them add this who think so, but woe is denounced to them who add to, even as to those who take away from, that which is written. Therefore that may not be said, which may not be added. And thus, predestination being set aside, seeing it is not so laid down, Christ was in substance before the foundation of the world. For He is “the Word by which all things were made, and without which nothing was made.” Because even if He is said to be glorious in predestination, and that this predestination was before the foundation of the world, let order be maintained, and before Him a considerable number of men was destined to glory. For in respect of that destination, Christ will be perceived to be less than others if He is designated subsequent to them. For if this glory was in predestination, Christ received that predestination to glory last of all; for prior to Him Adam will be seen to have been predestinated, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and many others. For since with God the order of all, both persons and things, is arranged, many will be said to have been predestinated before this predestination of Christ to glory. And on these terms Christ is discovered to be inferior to other men, although He is really found to be better and greater, and more ancient than the angels themselves. Either, then, let all these things be set on one side, that Christ’s divinity may be destroyed; or if these things cannot be set aside, let His proper divinity be attributed to Christ by the heretics.


Chapter XXIX. Argument.—He Next Teaches Us that the Authority of the Faith Enjoins, After the Father and the Son, to Believe Also on the Holy Spirit, Whose Operations He Enumerates from Scripture.

Moreover, the order of reason, and the authority of the faith in the disposition of the words and in the Scriptures of the Lord, admonish us after these things to believe also on the Holy Spirit, once promised to the Church, and in the appointed occasions of times given. For He was promised by Joel the prophet, but given by Christ. “In the last days,” says the prophet, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon my servants and my handmaids.” And the Lord said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins ye remit, they shall be remitted; and whose ye retain, they shall be retained.” But this Holy Spirit the Lord Christ calls at one time “the Paraclete,” at another pronounces to be the “Spirit of truth.” And He is not new in the Gospel, nor yet even newly given; for it was He Himself who accused the people in the prophets, and in the apostles gave them the appeal to the Gentiles. For the former deserved to be accused, because they had contemned the law; and they of the Gentiles who believe deserve to be aided by the defence of the Spirit, because they earnestly desire to attain to the Gospel law. Assuredly in the Spirit there are different kinds of offices, because in the times there is a different order of occasions; and yet, on this account, He who discharges these offices is not different, nor is He another in so acting, but He is one and the same, distributing His offices according to the times, and the occasions and impulses of things. Moreover, the Apostle Paul says, “Having the same Spirit; as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” He is therefore one and the same Spirit who was in the prophets and apostles, except that in the former He was occasional, in the latter always. But in the former not as being always in them, in the latter as abiding always in them; and in the former distributed with reserve, in the latter all poured out; in the former given sparingly, in the latter liberally bestowed; not yet manifested before the Lord’s resurrection, but conferred after the resurrection. For, said He, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.” And, “When He, the Advocate, shall come, whom I shall send unto you from my Father, the Spirit of truth who proceedeth from my Father.” And, “If I go not away, that Advocate shall not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him to you.” And,“When the Spirit of truth shall come, He will direct you into all the truth.” And because the Lord was about to depart to the heavens, He gave the Paraclete out of necessity to the disciples; so as not to leave them in any degree orphans, which was little desirable, and forsake them without an advocate and some kind of protector. For this is He who strengthened their hearts and minds, who marked out the Gospel sacraments, who was in them the enlightener of divine things; and they being strengthened, feared, for the sake of the Lord’s name, neither dungeons nor chains, nay, even trod under foot the very powers of the world and its tortures, since they were henceforth armed and strengthened by the same Spirit, having in themselves the gifts which this same Spirit distributes, and appropriates to the Church, the spouse of Christ, as her ornaments. This is He who places prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works, offers discrimination of spirits, affords powers of government, suggests counsels, and orders and arranges whatever other gifts there are of charismata; and thus make the Lord’s Church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed. This is He who, after the manner of a dove, when our Lord was baptized, came and abode upon Him, dwelling in Christ full and entire, and not maimed in any measure or portion; but with His whole overflow copiously distributed and sent forth, so that from Him others might receive some enjoyment of His graces: the source of the entire Holy Spirit remaining in Christ, so that from Him might be drawn streams of gifts and works, while the Holy Spirit dwelt affluently in Christ. For truly Isaiah, prophesying this, said: “And the Spirit of wisdom and understanding shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and piety; and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord shall fill Him.” This self-same thing also he said in the person of the Lord Himself, in another place, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He has anointed me, He has sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” SimilarlyDavid: “Wherefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Of Him the Apostle Paul says: “For he who hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of His.” “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” He it is who effects with water the second birth as a certain seed of divine generation, and a consecration of a heavenly nativity, the pledge of a promised inheritance, and as it were a kind of handwriting of eternal salvation; who can make us God’s temple, and fit us for His house; who solicits the divine hearing for us with groanings that cannot be uttered; filling the offices of advocacy, and manifesting the duties of our de- fence,—an inhabitant given for our bodies and an effector of their holiness. Who, working in us for eternity, can also produce our bodies at the resurrection of immortality, accustoming them to be associated in Himself with heavenly power, and to be allied with the divine eternity of the Holy Spirit. For our bodies are both trained in Him and by Him to advance to immortality, by learning to govern themselves with moderation according to His decrees. For this is He who “desireth against the flesh,” because “the flesh resisteth against the Spirit.” This is He who restrains insatiable desires, controls immoderate lusts, quenches unlawful fires, conquers reckless impulses, repels drunkenness, checks avarice, drives away luxurious revellings, links love, binds together affections, keeps down sects, orders the rule of truth, overcomes heretics, turns out the wicked, guards the Gospel. Of this says the same apostle: “We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God.” Concerning Him he exultingly says: “And I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” Of Him he says: “The Spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets.” Of Him also he tells: “Now the Spirit speaketh plainly, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of demons, who speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience cauterized.” Established in this Spirit, “none ever calleth Jesus anathema;” no one has ever denied Christ to be the Son of God, or has rejected God the Creator; no one utters any words of his own contrary to the Scriptures; no one ordains other and sacrilegious decrees; no one draws up different laws. Whosoever shall blaspheme against Him, “hath not forgiveness, not only in this world, but also not in the world to come.” This is He who in the apostles gives testimony to Christ; in the martyrs shows forth the constant faithfulness of their religion; in virgins restrains the admirable continency of their sealed chastity; in others, guards the laws of the Lord’s doctrine incorrupt and uncontaminated; destroys heretics, corrects the perverse, condemns infidels, makes known pretenders; moreover, rebukes the wicked, keeps the Church uncorrupt and inviolate, in the sanctity of a perpetual virginity and truth.