II-ANSWER TO OBJECTIONS
- First, the Socinians, who have revived the ancient heresies, adduce a negative argument. They say that the Holy Ghost is never called God in the Scriptures, nor is ever proposed to us to be adored and invoked. But St. Augustine (1) thus answers this argument, addressing the Macedonian Maximinus : “When have you read that the Father was not born, but self-existing ? and still it is no less true,” &c. The Saint means to say that many things in the Scriptures are stated, not in express terms, but in equivalent ones, which prove the truth of what is stated, just as forcibly; and, for a proof of that, the reader can refer to N. 4 and 6, where the Divinity of the Holy Ghost is incontestibly proved, if not in express, in equivalent, terms.
- Secondly, they object that St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, speaking of the benefits conferred by God on mankind, mentions the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Ghost. We answer, that it is not necessary, in speaking of God, that we should always expressly name the three Divine Persons, for, when we speak of one, we speak of the three, especially in speaking of the operations, ad extra, to which the three Divine Persons concur in the same manner.
(1) St. Augus. l. 2, alias 3, coiit. Maxim, c. 3.
“Whosoever is blessed in Christ,” says St. Ambrose (2), ” is blessed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, because there is one name and one power; thus, likewise, when the operation of the Holy Ghost is pointed out, it is referred, not only to the Holy Ghost, but also to the Father and the Son.”
- They object, thirdly, that the primitive Christians knew nothing of the Holy Ghost, as we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, when St. Paul asked some newly-baptized, if they had received the Holy Ghost, they answered : ” We have not so much as heard if there be a Holy Ghost” (Acts, xix, 2). We reply that the answer to this is furnished by the very passage itself, for, St. Paul hearing that they knew nothing of the Holy Ghost, asked them : ” In what, then, were you baptized ;” and they answered, ” in John’s Baptism.” No wonder, then, that they knew nothing of the Holy Ghost, when they were not even as yet baptized with the Baptism instituted by Christ.
- They object, fourthly, that the Council of Constantinople, speaking of the Holy Ghost, does not call him God. We answer that the Council does call him God, when it says he is the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, and who, with the Father and the Son, should be adored and glorified. And the same answer will apply, when they object that St. Basil (or any other Father) has not called the Holy Ghost God, for they have defended his Divinity, and condemned those who called him a creature. Besides, if St. Basil, in his sermons, does not speak of the Holy Ghost as God, it was only an act of prudence in those calamitous times, when the heretics sought every occasion to chase the Catholic Bishops from their Sees, and intrude wolves into their places. St. Basil, on the other hand, defends the Divinity of the Holy Ghost in a thousand passages. Just take one for all, where he says, in his Fifth Book against Eunomius, tit. 1 : ” What is common to the Father and the Son is likewise so to the Holy Ghost, for wherever we find the Father and the Son designated as God in the Scripture, the Holy Ghost is designated as God likewise.
(2) St. Amb. l. 1, de Sanc. c. 3.
- Fifthly, they found objections on some passages of the Scripture, but they are either equivocal or rather confirmatory of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. They lay great stress especially on that text of St. John : ” But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceedeth from the Father” (John, xv, 26). Now, they say, when the Holy Spirit is sent, it is a sign that he is inferior, and in a state of subjection, or dependence; therefore, he is not God. To this we answer, that the Holy Ghost is not sent by a command, but sent solely by a procession from the Father, and the Son, for from these he proceeds. Mission, or being sent, means nothing more in Divinis, than this, the presence of the Divine Person, manifested by any sensible effect, which is specially ascribed to the Person sent.
This, for example, was the mission of the Holy Ghost, when he descended into the Cenaculum on the Apostles, to make them worthy to found the Church, just as the eternal Word was sent by the Father to take flesh for the salvation of mankind. In the same way we explain that text of St. John : ” He shall not speak of himself, but what thingssoever he shall hear, he shall speak he shall glorify me, because he shall receive of mine” (John, xvi, 14, 15). The Holy Ghost takes from the Father and the Son, the knowledge of all things, not by learning them, but proceeding from them without any dependence, as a necessary requirement of his Divine Nature. And this is the very meaning of the words : ” He shall receive of mine;” since through the Son, the Father communicates to the Holy Ghost, together with the Divine Essence, wisdom, and all the attributes of the Son. ” He will hear from him,” says St. Augustine (3), ” from whom he proceeds. To him, to hear, is to know, to know, is to exist. Because, therefore, he is not from himself, but from him from whom he proceeds, from whom he has his essence, from him he has his knowledge. Ab illo igitur audientia, quod nihil est aliud, quam scientia.” St. Ambrose expresses the same sentiments (4).
- They object, sixthly, that St. Paul says : ” The Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings” (Rom. viii, 26). Therefore, the Holy Ghost groans and prays, as an inferior. But St. Augustine thus explains the text : “He asketh with groanings that we should understand that he causes us to ask with groanings” (5). Thus St. Paul wishes to instruct us, that by the grace we receive, we become compunctious and groaning, making us pray with ” unspeakable groanings,” just as God makes us triumph, when he says that Jesus Christ triumphs in us : ” Thanks be to God, who always makes us triumph in Christ Jesus” (II. Cor. ii, 14).
(3) St. Augus. Trac. 99, in Joan. (4) St. Ambrose, l. 2, de Sp. San. c. 12. (5) St. Augus. Coll. cum Maxim.
- They object, seventhly, another passage of St. Paul : ” The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I. Cor. ii, 10); and they then say that the word, ” searcheth,” shows that the Holy Ghost is ignorant of the Divine secrets; but we answer, that this expression does not mean seeking or inquiring,
but the simple comprehension which the Holy Ghost has of the whole of the Divine Essence, and of all things, as it is said of God : ” That he searcheth the heart and the reins” (Psalms, vii, 10); which means that God comprehends all the thoughts and affections of mankind. Hence, St. Ambrose (6) concludes : ” The Holy Ghost is a searcher like the Father, he is a searcher like the Son, and this expression is used to show that there is nothing which he does not know.”
- They object, eighthly, that passage of St. John: “All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made” (John, i, 3); therefore, the Holy Ghost was made by him, and is consequently a creature. We answer, that in this sense, it cannot be said that all things were made by the Word, for in that case, even the Father would be made by him. The Holy Ghost is not made, but proceeds from the Father and the Son, as from one principle, by the absolute necessity of the Divine Nature, and without any dependence.
(6) St. Ambrose, l. de Sp. San. c. 11.