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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.


That our opponents refuse to concede in the case of the Spirit the terms which Scripture uses in the case of men, as reigning together with Christ.

69. BUT let us see if we can bethink us of any defence of this usage of our fathers; for they who first originated the expression are more open to blame than we ourselves. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians says, "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision ... hath He quickened together with" Christ. Did then God give to a whole people and to the Church the boon of the life with Christ, and yet the life with Christ does not belong to the Holy Spirit? But if this is impious even to think of, is it not rightly reverent so to make our confession, as They are by nature in close conjunction? Furthermore what boundless lack of sensibility does it not shew in these men to confess that the Saints are with Christ,(if, as we know is the case, Paul, on becoming absent from the body, is present with the Lord, and, after departing, is with Christ) and, so far as lies in their power, to refuse to allow to the Spirit to be with Christ even to the same extent as men? And Paul calls himself a "labourer together with God" in the dispensation of the Gospel; will they bring an indictment for impiety against us, if we apply the term "fellow-labourer" to the Holy Spirit, through whom in every creature under heaven the Gospel bringeth forth fruit? The life of them that have trusted in the Lord "is hidden," it would seem, "with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall" they themselves also "appear with Him in glory;" and is the Spirit of life Himself, "Who made us free from the law of sin," not with Christ, both in the secret and hidden life with Him, and in the manifestation of the glory which we expect to be manifested in the saints? We are "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ," and is the Spirit without part or lot in the fellowship of God and of His Christ? "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God;" and are we not to allow to the Spirit even that testimony of His fellowship with God which we have learnt from the Lord? For the height of folly is reached if we through the faith in Christ which is in the Spirit hope that we shall be raised together with Him and sit together in heavenly places, whenever He shall change our vile body from the natural to the spiritual, and yet refuse to assign to the Spirit any share in the sitting together, or in the glory, or anything else which we have received from Him. Of all the boons of which, in accordance with the indefeasible grant of Him who has promised them, we have believed ourselves worthy, are we to allow none to the Holy Spirit, as though they were all above His dignity? It is yours according to your merit to be "ever with the Lords" and you expect to be caught up" in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and to be ever with the Lord." You declare the man who numbers and ranks the Spirit with the Father and the Son to be guilty of intolerable impiety. Can you really now deny that the Spirit is with Christ?

70. I am ashamed to add the rest. You expect to be glorified together with Christ; ("if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together;") but you do not glorify the "Spirit of holiness" together with Christ, as though He were not worthy to receive equal honour even with you. You hope to "reign with" Christ; but you" do despite unto the Spirit of grace" by assigning Him the rank of a slave and a subordinate. And I say this not to demonstrate that so much is due to the Spirit in the ascription of glory, but to prove the unfairness of those who will not ever give so much as this, and shrink from the fellowship of the Spirit with Son and Father as from impiety. Who could touch on these things without a sigh? Is it not so plain as to be within the perception even of a child that this present state of things preludes the threatened eclipse of the faith? The undeniable has become the uncertain. We profess belief in the Spirit, and then we quarrel with our own confessions. We are baptized, and begin to fight again. We call upon Him as the Prince of Life, and then despise Him as a slave like ourselves. We received Him with the Father and the Son, and we dishonour Him as a part of creation. Those who "know not what they ought to pray for," even though they be induced to utter a word of the Spirit with awe, as though coming near His dignity, yet prune down all that exceeds the exact proportion of their speech. They ought rather to bewail their weakness, in that we are powerless to express in words our gratitude for the benefits which we are actually receiving; for He "passes all understanding," and convicts speech of its natural inability even to approach His dignity in the least degree; as it is written in the Book of Wisdom,' "Exalt Him as much as you can, for even yet will He far exceed; and when you exalt Him put forth all your strength, and be not weary, for you can never go far enough." Verily terrible is the account to be given for words of this kind by you who have heard from God who cannot lie that for blasphemy against the Holy Ghost there is no forgiveness.

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