Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 29

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. V, A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity by Novatian, translated by Robert Ernest Wallis
Part 29

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.”[1] 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.”[2] But this Holy Spirit the Lord Christ calls at one time “the Paraclete,” at another pronounces to be the “Spirit of truth.”[3] 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.”[4] 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.”[5] 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.”[6] And, “If I go not away, that Advocate shall not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him to you.”[7]  And, “When the Spirit of truth shall come, He will direct you into all the truth.”[8] 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,[9] 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.”[10] 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.”[11] Similarly David:  “Wherefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”[12] Of Him the Apostle Paul says: “For he who hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of His.”[13]  “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”[14] 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 defence,—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.”[15] 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.”[16] Concerning Him he exultingly says: “And I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”[17] Of Him he says: “The Spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets.”[18]  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.”[19] Established in this Spirit, “none ever calleth Jesus anathema;”[20] 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.[21] Whosoever shall blaspheme against Him, “hath not forgiveness, not only in this world, but also not in the world to come.”[22] 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.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Joel ii. 28; Acts ii. 17.
  2. John xx. 22, 23.
  3. John xiv. 16, 17.
  4. 2 Cor. iv. 13.
  5. John xiv. 16, 17.
  6. John xv. 20.
  7. John xvi. 7.
  8. John xvi. 13.
  9. [John xiv. 18, Greek.]
  10. Isa. xi. 2, 3.
  11. Isa. lxi. 1.
  12. Ps. xlv. 7.
  13. Rom. viii. 9.
  14. 2 Cor. iii. 17.
  15. Gal. v. 17.
  16. 1 Cor. ii. 12.
  17. 1 Cor. vii. 40.
  18. 1 Cor. xiv. 32.
  19. 1 Tim. iv. 1.
  20. 1 Cor. xii. 3.
  21. [To commit any one of these errors, he thinks, is to prove one’s self “sensual, having not the Spirit.” Jude 19; Rom. viii. 7.]
  22. Matt. xii. 32.