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Basil the Great

On the Holy Spirit

From: Schaff - Wace, (ed)., Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series II, v. 8, tr. by the Rev. Blomfield Jackson, London 1894.


Proof from Scripture that the Spirit is called Lord.

52. BUT why get an unfair victory for our argument by fighting over these undignified questions, when it is within our power to prove that the excellence of the glory is beyond dispute by adducing more lofty considerations? If, indeed, we retreat what we have been taught by Scripture, every one of the Pneumatomachi will peradventure raise a loud and vehement outcry, stop their ears, pick up stones or anything else that comes to hand for a weapon, and charge against us. But our own security must not be regarded by us before the truth. We have learnt from the Apostle, "the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ" for our tribulations. Who is the Lord that directs into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ for tribulations? Let those men answer us who are for making a slave of the Holy Spirit. For if the argument had been about God the Father, it would certainly have said, 'the Lord direct you into His own love,' or if about the Son, it would have added 'into His own patience.' Let them then seek what other Person there is who is worthy to be honoured with the title of Lord. And parallel with this is that other passage, "and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do towards you; to the end He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." Now what Lord does he entreat to stablish the hearts of the faithful at Thessalonica, unblamable in holiness before God even our Father, at the coming of our Lord? Let those answer who place the Holy Ghost among the ministering spirits that are sent forth on service. They cannot. Wherefore let them hear yet another testimony which distinctly calls the Spirit Lord. "The Lord," it is said, "is that Spirit;" and again "even as from the Lord the Spirit." But to leave no ground for objection, I will quote the actual words of the Apostle;--"For even unto this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which yell is done away in Christ. ... Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit." Why does he speak thus? Because he who abides in the bare sense of the letter, and in it busies himself with the observances of the Law, has, as it were, got his own heart enveloped in the Jewish acceptance of the letter, like a veil; and this be-falls him because of his ignorance that the bodily observance of the Law is done away by the presence of Christ, in that for the future the types are transferred to the reality. Lamps are made needless by the advent of the sun; and, on the appearance of the truth, the occupation of the Law is gone, and prophecy is hushed into silence. He, on the contrary, who has been empowered to look down into the depth of the meaning of the Law, and, after passing through the obscurity of the letter, as through a veil, to arrive within things unspeakable, is like Moses taking off the veil when he spoke with God. He, too, turns from the letter to the Spirit. So with the veil on the face of Moses corresponds the obscurity of the teaching of the Law, and spiritual contemplation with the turning to the Lord. He, then, who in the reading of the Law takes away the letter and turns to the Lord,--and the Lord is now called the Spirit,--becomes moreover like Moses, who had his face glorified by the manifestation of God. For just as objects which lie near brilliant colours are themselves tinted by the brightness which is shed around, so is be who fixes his gaze firmly on the Spirit by the Spirit's glory somehow transfigured into greater splendour, having his heart lighted up, as it were, by some light streaming from the truth of the Spirit. And, this is "being changed from the glory of the Spirit "into" His own "glory," not in niggard degree, nor dimly and indistinctly, but as we might expect any one to be who is enlightened by the Spirit. Do you not, O man, fear the Apostle when he says "Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you"? Could he ever have! brooked to honour with the title of "temple" the quarters of a slave? How can he who calls Scripture "God-inspired," because it was written through the inspiration of the Spirit, use the language of one who insults and belittles Him?

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