Ambrose selected works 24213

Chapter XIII.

24213 Prophecy was not only from the Father and the Son but also from the Spirit; the authority and operation of the latter on the apostles is signified to be the same as Theirs; and so we are to understand that them is unity in the three points of authority, rule, and bounty; yet need no disadvantage be feared from that participation, since such does not arise in human friendship. Lastly, it is established that this is the inheritance of the apostolic faith from the fact that the apostles are described as having obeyed the Holy Spirit.

143). Take, O sacred Emperor, another strong instance in this question, and one known to you: “In many ways and in divers manners, God spake to the fathers in the prophets.”205 And the Wisdom of God said: “I will send prophets and apostles.”206 And “To one is given,” as it is written, “through the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit; to another, the gift of healings, in the one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy.”207 Therefore, according to the Apostle, prophecy is not only through the Father and the Son, but also through the Holy Spirit, and therefore the office is one, and the grace one. So you find that the Spirit also is the author of prophecies.

144. The apostles also said: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”208 And when they say, “It seemed good,” they point out not only the Worker of the grace, but also the Author of the carrying out of that which was commanded. For as we read of God: “It pleased God;” so, too, when it is said that, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit,” one who is master of his own power is portrayed.

145. And how should He not be a master Who speaks what He wills, and commands what He wills, as the Father commands and the Son commands? For as Paul heard the voice saying to him, “I am Jesus, Whom thou persecutest,”209 so, too, the Spirit forbade Paul and Silas to go into Bithynia. And as the Father spake through the prophets, so, too, Agabus says concerning the Spirit: “Thus saith the Holy Spirit, Thus shall the Jews in Jerusalem bind the man, whose is this girdle.”210 And as Wisdom sent the apostles, saying, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,”211 so, too, the Holy Spirit says: “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”212 And so being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, as the Scripture points out farther on, they were distinguished in nothing from the other apostles, as though they were sent in one way by God the Father, in another way by Spirit.

146. Lastly, Paul having been sent by the Spirit, was both a vessel of election on Christ’s part, and himself relates that God wrought in him, saying: “For He that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought for me also unto the Gentiles.”213 Since, then, the Same wrought in Paul Who wrought in Peter, it is certainly evident that, since the Spirit wrought in Paul, the Holy Spirit wrought also in Peter. But Peter himself testifies that God the Father wrought in him, as it is stated in the Ac of the Apostles that Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice amongst us that the Gentiles should hear the word of the Gospel from my mouth.” See, then, in Peter God wrought the grace of preaching. And who would dare to deny the operation of Christ in him, since he was certainly elected and chosen by Christ, when the Lord said: “Feed My lambs.”214

147. The operation, then, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, unless perchance you, who deny the oneness of the same operation upon the Apostle, think this; that the Father and the Spirit wrought in Peter, in whom the Son had wrought, as if the operation of the Son by no means sufficed for him to the attainment of the grace. And so the strength of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit being as it were joined and brought together, the work was manifold, lest the operation of Christ alone should be too weak to establish Peter.

148. And not only in Peter is there found to be one operation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but also in all the apostles the unity of the divine operation, and a certain authority over the dispensations of heaven. For the divine operation works by the power of a command, not in the execution of a ministry; for God, when He works, does not fashion anything by toil or art, but “He spake and they were made.”215 He said, “Let there be light, and there was light,”216 for the effecting of the work is comprised in the commandment of God.

149. We can, then, easily find, if we will consider, that this royal power is by the witness of the Scriptures attributed to the Holy Spirit; and it will be made clear that all the apostles were not only disciples of Christ, but also ministers of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As also the teacher of the Gentiles tells us, when he says: “God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers; then miracles, the gift of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.”217

150. See, God set apostles, and set prophets and teachers, gave the gift of healings, which you find above to be given by the Holy Spirit; gave divers kinds of tongues. But yet all are not apostles, all are not prophets, all are not teachers. Not all, says he, have the gift of healings, nor do all, says he, speak with tongues.218 For the whole of the divine gifts cannot exist in each several man; each, according to his capacity, receives that which he either desires or deserves. But the power of the Trinity, which is lavish of all graces, is not like this weakness.

151. Lastly, God set apostles. Those whom God set in the Church, Christ chose and ordained to be apostles, and sent them into the world, saying: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He that shall believe and be baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe. In My Name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them, they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”219 You see the Father and Christ also set teachers in the Churches; and as the Father gives the gift of healings, so, too, does the Son give; as the Father gives the gift of tongues, so, too, has the Son also granted it.

152. In like manner we have heard also above concerning the Holy Spirit, that He too grants the same kinds of graces. For it is said: “To one is given through the Spirit the gift of healings, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another prophecy.”220 So, then, the Spirit gives the same gifts as the Father, and the Son also gives them. Let us now learn more expressly what we have touched upon above, that the Holy Spirit entrusts the same office as the Father and the Son, and appoints the same persons; since Paul said: “Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock in the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to rule the Church of God.”221

153. There is, then, unity of authority, unity of appointment, unity of giving. For if you separate appointment and power, what cause was there [for maintaining] that those whom Christ appointed as apostles, God the Father appointed, and the Holy Spirit appointed? unless, perhaps, as if sharing a possession or a right, They, like men, were afraid of legal prejudice, and therefore the operation was divided, and the authority distributed.

154. These things are narrow and paltry, even between men, who for the most part, although they do not agree in action, yet agree in will. So that a certain person being asked what a friend is, answered, “A second self.” If, then, a man so defined a friend as to say, he was a second self, that is to say, through a oneness of love and good-will, how much more ought we to esteem the oneness of Majesty, in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, when by the same operation and divine power, either the unity, or certainly that which is more, the tautoth", as it is called in Greek, is expressed, for tauto signifies “the same,” so that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have the same; so that to have the same will and the same power does not arise from the affection of the will, but inheres in the substance of the Trinity.

155. This is the inheritance of apostolic faith and devotion, which one may observe also in the Ac of the Apostles. Therefore Paul and Barnabas obeyed the commands of the Holy Spirit. And all the apostles obeyed, and forthwith ordained those whom the Spirit had ordered to be separated: “Separate Me,” said He, “Barnabas and Saul.”222 Do you see the authority of Him Who commands? Consider the merit of those who obey.

156. Paul believed, and because he believed he cast off the zeal of a persecutor, and gained a crown of righteousness. He believed who used to make havoc of the Churches; but being converted to the faith, he preached in the Spirit that which the Spirit commanded.223 The Spirit anointed His champion, and having shaken off the dust of unbelief, presented him as an insuperable conqueror of the unbelievers to various assemblies of the ungodly, and trained him by many sufferings for the prize of his high calling in Christ Jesus.

157. Barnabas also believed, and obeyed because he believed. Therefore, being chosen by the authority of the Holy Spirit, Which came on him abundantly, as a special sign of his merits, he was not unworthy of so great a fellowship. For one grace shone in these whom one Spirit had chosen.

158. Nor was Paul inferior to Peter, though the latter was the foundation of the Church, and the former a wise builder knowing how to make firm the footsteps of the nations who believed; Paul was not, I say, unworthy of the fellowship of the apostles, but is easily comparable with the first, and second to none. For he who knows not that he is inferior makes himself equal.

1 (
Gn 1,1,
2 (Gn 1,4,
3 (Gn 1,26,
4 S. Jn 5,17.
5 S. Mt 8,8.
6 S. Jn 17,24.
7 (Jg 13,25).
8 (Jg 14,14,
9 S. Jn 7,39.
10 (Jg 14,18,
11 (Rm 11,5,
12 (Jg 14,19,
13 (Ct 2,15,
14 (Jg 15,15,
15 S. Mt 5,39.
16 (Jg 16,7 Jg 16,11 Jg 16,19).
17 (Ct 4,1,
18 (1Co 11,3,
19 (Ct 5,11,
20 S. Mt 10,30.
21 (Jg 16,17,
22 (Jg 13,25,
23 (Jg 14,6,
24 (Jg 16,17,
25 (Jg 16,20,
26 (1Co 1,24,
27 S. Mt 26,64.
28 (Ps 110,1 [cix.] .
29 (Ac 1,8,
30 (Is 11,2,
31 Book I. vi.
32 S. Lc 7,30.
33 (Jl 2,28 Jl 2,
34 S. Lc 24,49.
35 (Ac 2,2).
36 S. Mt 24,30.
37 S. Jn 17,3.
38 S. Jn 17,14-15.
39 (Ps 119,17 [cxviii.] .
40 (Rm 8,11).
41 (Ps 104,29-30[ciii.].
42 Manes, or Manicheus, born about a.d. 240, seems to have desired to blend Christianity and Zoroastrianism. The fundamental point of his teaching was the recognition of a good and an evil creator. For a full account, see art. “Manicheans,” in Dict. Ch. Biog.
43 (Ps 33,6[xxxii.].
44 (Gn 1,1,
45 Virg. Aen. VI. 724.
46 S. Mt 1,20.
47 S. Lc 1,35.
48 S. Lc 1,42.
49 (Is 11,1,
50 (Ct 2,1).
51 S. Mt 1,18.
52 (Si 24,3,
53 S. Jn 15,26.
54 S. Jn 16,14.
55 (1Co 8,6, argument from the exact force of prepositions is often urged by the Fathers, as by St. Athanasius and St. Basil among the Greeks. The Latins also use it, as St. Ambrose here, but occasionally the same Greek prepositions are variously rendered, which destroys the force of the argument. With regard to the two prepositions ex and St. Augustine gives very good explanation, De Natura Bon, , (Ex ipso [of Him] does not always mean the same as de ipso [from Him]. That which is from Him can be said to be of Him, but not everything which is of Him is rightly said to be from Him. Of Him are the heavens and the earth, for He made them, but not from Him, because not of His substance.” But neither the Vulgate nor even St. Ambrose himself is quite consistent in this matter.
56 (Jb 33,4,
57 (Rm 1,25,
58 (Ph 3,2-3,
59 S. Mt 4,10.
60 Spiritus is Latin for wind and spirit. See note on §63 of this book.
61 (Am 4,13,
62 2 [4] Esd 6,41).
63 (Ps 11,6 [x.] .
64 (Pr 8,22.
65 St. Ambrose would seem to be alluding to a certain party amongst the Sabellians, who, to avoid the charge of being Patripassians, maintained that Christ before His Incarnation was one with the Father, from Whom He then emanated, in Whom after His Passion He was again reabsorbed. Cf). De Fide, V. 162.
66 (Am 4,13,
67 S. Jn 12,28.
68 (Jb 26,14 [LXX.].
69 It has been generally held that our Lord’s Soul was from the first endowed with all the fulness of which a human soul is capable, having, for instance, perfect knowledge of all things past, present, and to come: the only limit being that a finite nature cannot possess the infinite attributes of the Godhead).
70 (Za 12,1,
71 S. Lc 23,46.
72 S. Mt 3,17.
73 S. Mc 9,7.
74 S. Mc 15,39.
75 (Pr 8,12,
76 (Ga 4,4,
77 S. Mt 1,18.
78 (Pr 9,1.
79 Ch. V.
80 (Ep 2,8 ff.
81 S. Jn 1,12-13.
82 It has been thought well in translating this verse to keep the words “spirit” and “breath” as suiting the argument of St. Ambrose. But there can be little doubt that the ordinary translation is the correct one. Bp. Westcott has the following note: “In Hebrew, Syriac, and Latin the words [for spirit and wind] are identical, and Wiclif and the Rhemish version keep “spirit” in both cases, after the Latin. But at present the retention of one word in both places could only create confusion, since the separation between the material emblem and the power which it was used to describe is complete. The use of the correlative verb (pnei, ch. 6,18; Ap 7,1 Mt 7,25 Mt 7,27 Lc 12,55 Ac 27,40) and of the word sound (voice) is quite decisive for the literal use of the noun (pneuma), and still at the same time the whole of the phraseology is inspired by the higher meaning. Perhaps also the unusual word (pneuma, 1R 18,45 1R 19,11 2R 3,17) is employed to suggest this. The comparison lies between the obvious physical properties of the wind and the mysterious action of that spiritual influence to which the name “spirit,” “wind,” was instinctively applied. The laws of both are practically unknown, both are unseen, the presence of both is revealed in their effects.”—Westcott on S. Jn 3,8).
83 (Ga 4,28-29,
84 (Ep 4,23-24,
85 (1Co 15,48,
86 (Jb 27,2-3,
87 (Ct 7,8,
88 (Gn 8,21,
89 (Ps 118,16 [cxvii.] ).
90 S. Mt 28,19.
91 (2Co 2,17,
92 (1Co 12,3,
93 (1Co 6,11,
94 (Ga 3,28,
95 (1Co 1,2,
96 (2Co 5,21,
97 (2Co 11,3,
98 (Ps 56,4 [lv.] .
99 (Ps 60,12 [lix.] .
100 (Ps 71,6 [lxx.].
101 (Ps 89,16 [lxxxviii.] .
102 S. Jn 3,21.
103 (Ep 3,9,
104 (2Th 1,2.
105 S. Jn 14,10.
106 (2Co 10,17,
107 (Col 3,3,
108 S. Jn 17,24.
109 (1Co 5,4,
110 (Rm 8,2,
111 (Is 45,14 [LXX.]).
112 (Ph 1,23,
113 (2Co 5,21,
114 (Col 1,17,
115 See St. Basil, De Sp. Sancto, III. 29.
116 (Rm 8,16-17,
117 (Rm 8,16-17,
118 (2Tm 2,11-12,
119 (Ps 66,13 [lxv.] .
120 (Ps 105,37 [civ.] .
121 (Ps 44,10 [xliii.] .
122 (1Co 8,6).
123 (Rm 11,36,
124 (Is 40,13,
125 (Is 40,12
126 (Ps 145,15-16
127 (Ep 4,15-16,
128 (Col 2,19,
129 S. Jn 1,16.
130 S. Jn 16,14.
131 S. Lc 8,46).
132 (Ga 6,8,
133 (1Jn 4,13,
134 S. Mt 1,20.
135 S. Jn 3,6.
136 (1Co 1,1,
137 (Ga 4,7,
138 (Rm 6,4,
139 (Is 54,15 [LXX.].
140 (1Co 2,10,
141 (1Tm 6,20,
142 (Ep 3,16,
143 (1Co 12,8,
144 (Rm 8,13,
145 (Rm 8,11,
146 (Gn 1,26,
147 (Ps 33,6,
148 (Os 2,23 Os 2,
149 (Is 56,7,
150 (Ac 9,15,
151  Ac 13,2 ff).
152 (Ac 10,11 ff.
153 (Ac 10,19-20,
154 The “mysteries” are the sacrament of baptism, and the “three-fold question” those which preceded baptism, viz.: Dost thou believe in Cod the Father Almighty? Dost thou believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His cross? and Dost thou believe in the Holy Spirit? with the answer, “I believe,” to each, as mentioned by the author of De Sacramentis, II. 7 (written probably in the 5th or 6th century).
155 (Ps 101,6 [c.] .
156 (Ac 10,15,
157 (.
158 (Ps 68,30 [lxvii.] .
159 (Ps 132,6 [cxxxi] .
160 (Ps 92,12 [xci.] .
161 (Ps 19,4 [xviii.] .
162 S. Mt 7,15.
163 (Ph 3,20).
164 (Ac 15,8-9,
165 (Jr 38,11,
166 (Ps 68,31 [lxvii.] .
167 (Ct 1,5,
168 (Ps 16,6 [xv.] .
169 Ebedmelech means “servant of the king.”
170 S. Jn 16,13.
171 S. Jn 16,13.
172 S. Mc 13,32.
173 There is some little difficulty in ascertaining exactly what were the tenets of Photinus, but it would appear that St. Ambrose considered that he held our Lord to be mere man, and so was worse than the Arians. See Dict. Chr. Biog. art. “Photinus,” and Blunt, Dict. of Sects and Heresies, art. “Photinians.”
174 S. Jn 16,14-15.
175 (Za 14,5-7 [LXX.].
176 (1Co 2,9-10,
177 (Is 64,4,
178 S. Mt 11,27.
179 (1Co 2,11,
180 (1Co 2,7 ff.
181 1Co 2,10).
182 (1Co 2,11,
183 (Jr 17,10,
184 (He 4,12,
185 (1Co 2,12-13.
186 S. Jn 16,13.
187 (1Co 14,2).
188 S. Mt 11,27.
189 S. Jn 15,15.
190 S. Jn 15,15.
191 S. Jn 5,30.
192 S. Jn 5,19.
193 S. Jn 16,15.
194 Sabellianism denied the doctrine of the Trinity, maintaining that God is One Person only, manifesting Himself in three characters. See Dict. Chr. Biog. art. “Sabellius,” and Blunt, Dict of Sects, etc.
195 (Ps 119,89 [cxviii.] .
196 Either S. Jn 5,17 modified, or a reminiscence of 5,19.
197 S. Jn 5,19.
198 S. Jn 11,41.
199 S. Jn 11,42.
200 (Col 1,15,
201 (He 1,3,
202 (1Co 12,4-6).
203 (1Co 12,8 ff.
204 (1Co 12,5,
205 (He 1,1,
206 S. Lc 11,49.
207 (1Co 12,8-10.
208 (Ac 15,28,
209 (Ac 9,5,
210 (Ac 21,11,
211 S. Mc 16,15.
212 (Ac 13,2).
213 (Ga 2,8,
214 S. Jn 21,15.
215 (Ps 33,9 [xxxii.] .
216 (Gn 1,3,
217 (1Co 12,28,
218 (1Co 12,30,
219 S. Mc 16,15ff.
220 (1Co 12,8-9,
221 (Ac 20,28).
222 (Ac 13,2,
223 (Ac 9,20,

Book III.


Chapter I.

Not only were the prophets and apostles sent by the Spirit, but also the Son of God. This is proved from Isaiah and the evangelists, and it is explained why St. Luc wrote that the same Spirit descended like a dove upon Christ and abode upon Him. N:ext, after establishing this mission of Christ, the writer infers that the Son is sent by the Father and the Spirit, as the Spirit is by the Father and the Son.

1). In the former book1 we have shown by the clear evidence of the Scriptures that the apostles and prophets were appointed, the latter to prophesy, the former to preach the Gospel, by the Holy Spirit in the same way as by the Father and the Son; now we add what all will rightly wonder at, and not be able to doubt, that the Spirit was upon Christ; and that as He sent the Spirit, so the Spirit sent the Son of God. For the Son of God says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me, He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and sight to the blind.”2 And having read this from the Book of Isaiah, He says in the Gospel: “To-day hath this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears;”3 that He might point out that it was said of Himself.

2. Can we, then, wonder if the Spirit sent both the prophets and the apostles, since Christ said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me”? And rightly did He say “upon Me,” because He was speaking as the Son of Man. For as the Son of Man He was anointed and sent to preach the Gospel.

3. But if they believe not the Son, let them hear the Father also saying that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Christ. For He says to John: “Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending from heaven and abiding upon Him, He it is Who baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.”4 God the Father said this to John, and Jn heard and saw and believed. He heard from God, he saw in the Lord, he believed that it was the Spirit Who was coming down from heaven. For it was not a dove that descended, but the Holy Spirit as a dove; for thus it is written: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven as a dove.”5

4. As Jn says that he saw, so, too, wrote Mark; Luke, however, added that the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove; you must not think that this was an incarnation, but an appearance. He, then, brought the appearance before him, that by means of the appearance he might believe who did not see the Spirit, and that by the appearance He might manifest that He had a share of the one honour in authority, the one operation in the mystery, the one gift in the bath, together with the Father and the Son; unless perchance we consider Him in Whom the Lord was baptized too weak for the servant to be baptized in Him.

5. And he said fittingly, “abiding upon Him,”6 because the Spirit inspired a saying or acted upon the prophets as often as He would, but abode always in Christ.

6. Nor, again, let it move you that he said “upon Him,” for he was speaking of the Son of Man, because he was baptized as the Son of Man. For the Spirit is not upon Christ, according to the Godhead, but in Christ; for, as the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, so the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ is both in the Father and in the Son, for He is the Spirit of His mouth. For He Who is of God abides in God, as it is written: “But we received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God.”7 And He abides in Christ, Who has received from Christ; for it is written again: “He shall take of Mine:”8 and elsewhere: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death.”9 He is, then, not over Christ according to the Godhead of Christ, for the Trinity is not over Itself, but over all things: It is not over Itself but in Itself.

7. Who, then, can doubt that the Spirit sent the prophets and apostles, since the Son of God says: “The Spirit of the Lord is. upon Me.”10 And elsewhere: “I am the First, and I am also for ever, and Mine hand hath rounded the earth, and My right hand hath established the heaven; I will call them and they shall stand up together, and shall all be gathered together and shall hear. Who hath declared these things to them? Because I loved thee I performed thy pleasure against Babylon, that the seed of the Chaldaeans might be taken away. I have spoken, and I have called, I have brought him and have made his way prosperous. Come unto Me and hear ye this. From the beginning I have not spoken in secret, I was there when those things were done; and now the Lord God hath sent Me and His Spirit.”11 Who is it Who says: The Lord God hath sent Me and His Spirit, except He Who came from the Father that He might save sinners? And, as you hear, the Spirit sent Him, lest when you hear that the Son sends the Spirit, you should believe the Spirit to be of inferior power.

8. So both the Father and the Spirit sent the Son; the Father sent Him, for it is written: “But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name.”12 The Son sent Him, for He said: “But when the Paraclete is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth.”13 If, then, the Son and the Spirit send each other, as the Father sends, there is no inferiority of subjection, but a community of power.

Chapter II.

24302 The Son and the Spirit are alike given; whence not subjection but one Godhead is shown by Its working.

9). And not only did the Father send the Son, but also gave Him, as the Son Himself gave Himself. For we read: “Grace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins.”14 If they think that He was subject in that He was sent, they cannot deny that it was of grace that He was given. But He was given by the Father, as Isaiah said: “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;”15 but He was given, I dare to say it, by the Spirit also, Who was sent by the Spirit. For since the prophet has not defined by whom He was given, he shows that He was given by the grace of the Trinity; and inasmuch as the Son Himself gave Himself, He could not be subject to Himself according to His Godhead. Therefore that He was given could not be a sign of subjection in the God-head.

10. But the Holy Spirit also was given, for it is written: “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete.”16 And the Apostle says: “Wherefore he that despiseth these things despiseth not man but God, Who hath given us His Holy Spirit.”17 Isaiah, too, shows that both the Spirit and the Son are given: “Thus,” says he, “saith the Lord God, Who made the heaven and fashioned it, Who stablished the earth, and the things which are in it, and giveth breath to the people upon it, and the Spirit to them that walk upon it.”18 And to the Son: “I am the Lord God, Who have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will strengthen Thee; and I have given Thee for a covenant of My people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out of their fetters those that are bound.”19 Since, then, the Son is both sent and given, and the Spirit also is both sent and given, They have assuredly a oneness of Godhead Who have a oneness of action.

Chapter III.

24303 The same Unity may also be recognized from the fact that the Spirit is called Finger, and the Son Right Hand; for the understanding of divine things is assisted by the usage of human language. The tables of the law were written by this Finger, and they were afterwards broken, and the reason. Lastly, Christ wrote with the same Finger; yet we must not admit any inferiority in the Spirit from this bodily comparison.

11). So, too, the Spirit is also called the Finger of God, because there is an indivisible and inseparable communion between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For as the Scripture called the Son of God the Right Hand of God, as it is said: “Thy Right Hand, O Lord, is made glorious in power. Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy;”20 so the Holy Spirit is called the Finger of God, as the Lord Himself says: “But if I by the Finger of God cast out devils.”21 For in the same place in another book of the Gospel He named the Spirit of God, as you find: “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.”22

12. What, then, could have been said to signify more expressly the unity of the Godhead, or of Its working, which Unity is according to the Godhead of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit, than that we should understand that the fulness of the eternal Godhead would seem to be divided far more than this body of ours, if any one were to sever the unity of Substance, and multiply Its powers, whereas the eternity of the same Godhead is one?

13. For oftentimes it is convenient to estimate from our own words those things which are above us, and because we cannot see those things we draw inferences from those which we can see. “For the invisible things of Him,” says the Apostle, “from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by those things which are made.”23 And he adds: “His eternal power also and Godhead.”24 Of which one thing seems to be said of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit; that in the same manner as the Son is called the eternal Power of the Father, so, also, the Spirit, because He is divine, should be believed to be His eternal Godhead. For the Son, too, because He ever lives, is eternal life. This Finger, then, of God is both eternal and divine. For what is there belonging to God which is not eternal and divine?

14. With this Finger, as we read, God wrote on those tables of stone which Moses received. For God did not with a finger of flesh write the forms and portions of those letters which we read, but gave the law by His Spirit. And so the Apostle says: “For the Law is spiritual, which, indeed, is written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of the heart.”25 For if the letter of the Apostle is written in the Spirit, what hinders us from believing that the Law of God was written not with ink, but with the Spirit of God, which certainly does not stain but enlightens the secret places of our heart and mind?

14. Now it was written on tables of stone, because it was written in a type, but the tables were first broken and cast out of the hands of Moses, because the Jews fell away from the works of the prophet. And fitly were the tables broken, not the writing erased. And do you see that your table be not broken, that your mind and soul be not divided. Is Christ divided? He is not divided, but is one with the Father; and let no one separate you. from Him. If your faith fails, the table of your heart is broken. The coherence of your soul is lessened if you do not believe the unity of Godhead in the Trinity. Your faith is written, and your sin is written, as Jeremiah said: “Thy sin, O Judah, is written with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond. And it is written,” he says, “on thy breast and on thy heart.”26 The sin, therefore, is there where grace is, but the sin is written with a pen, grace is denoted by the Spirit.

15. With this Finger, also, the Lord Jesus, with bowed head, mystically wrote on the ground, when the adulteress was brought before Him by the Jews, signifying in a figure that, when we judge of the sins of another, we ought to remember our own.

16. And lest, again, because God wrote the Law by His Spirit, we should believe any inferiority, as it were, concerning the ministry of the Spirit, or from the consideration of our own body should think the Spirit to be a small part of God, the Apostle says, elsewhere, that he does not speak with words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, and that he compares spiritual things with spiritual; but that the natural man receiveth not the things which pertain to the Spirit of God.27 For he knew that he who compared divine with carnal things was amongst natural things, and not to be reckoned amongst spiritual men; “for they are foolishness,” he says, “unto him.”28 And so, because he knew that these questions would arise amongst natural men, foreseeing the future he says: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”29

Chapter IV.

To those who contend that the Spirit because He is called the Finger is less than the Father, St. Ambrose replies that this would also tend to the lessening of the Son, Who is called the Right Hand. That these names are to be referred only to the Unity, for which reason Moses proclaimed that the whole Trinity worked in the passage of the Red Sea. And, indeed, it is no wonder that the operation of the Spirit found place there, where there was a figure of baptism, since the Scripture teaches that the Three Persons equally sanctify and are operative in that sacrament.

17). But if any one is still entangled in carnal doubts, and hesitates because of bodily figures, let him consider that he cannot think rightly of the Son who can think wrongly of the Spirit. For if some think that the Spirit is a certain small portion of God, because He is called the Finger of God, the same persons must certainly maintain that a small portion only is in the Son of God, because He is called the Right Hand of God.

18. But the Son is called both the Right Hand and the Power of God; if, then, we consider our words, there can be no perfection without power; let them therefore take care lest they think that which it is impious to say, namely, that the Father being but half perfect in His own Substance received perfection through the Son, and let them cease to deny that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. For when did the Power of God not exist? But if they think that at any time the Power of God existed not, they will say that at some time Perfection existed not in God the Father, to Whom they think that Power was at some time wanting.

19. But, as I said, these things are written that we may refer them to the Unity of the Godhead, and believe that which the Apostle said, that the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ,30 which dwells also in the Father, and dwells in the Holy Spirit; and that, as there is a unity of the Godhead, so also is there a unity of operation.

20. And this may also be gathered from the Song of Moses, for he, after leading the people of the Jews through the sea, acknowledged the operation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, saying: “Thy Right Hand, O Lord, is glorious in power, Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”31 Here you have his confession of the Son and of the Father, Whose Right Hand He is. And farther on, not to pass by the Holy Spirit, He added: “Thou didst send Thy Spirit and the sea covered them, and the water was divided by the Spirit of Thine anger.”32 By which is signified the unity of the Godhead, not an inequality of the Trinity.

21. You see, then, that the Holy Spirit also co-operated with the Father and the Son, so that just as if the waves were congealed in the midst of the sea, a wall as it were of water rose up for the passage of the Jews, and then, poured back again by the Spirit, overwhelmed the people of the Egyptians. And many think that from the same origin the pillar of cloud went before the people of the Jews by day, and the pillar of fire by night, that the grace of the Spirit might protect His people.

22. Now that this operation of God, which the whole world rightly wonders at, did not take place without the work of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle also declared when he said that the truth of a spiritual mystery was prefigured in it, for we read as follows: “For our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink.”33

23. For how without the operation of the Holy Spirit could there be the type of a sacrament, the whole truth of which is in the Spirit? As the Apostle also set forth, saying: “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”34

24. You see, then, that the Father works in the Son, and that the Son works in the Spirit. And therefore do not doubt that, according to the order of Scripture, there was in the figure that which the Truth Himself declared to be in the truth. For who can deny His operation in the Font, in which we feel His operation and grace?

25. For as the Father sanctifies, so, too, the Son sanctifies, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies. The Father sanctifies according to that which is written: “The God of peace sanctify you, and may your spirit, soul, and body be preserved entire without blame in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”35 And elsewhere the Son says: “Father, sanctify them in the truth.”36

26. But of the Son the same Apostle said: “Who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”37 Do you see that He was made sanctification? But He was made so unto us, not that He should change that which He was, but that He might sanctify us in the flesh.

27. And the Apostle also teaches that the Holy Spirit sanctifies. For he speaks thus: “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren dearly beloved of the Lord; because God chose you as first-fruits unto salvation, in sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.”38

28. So, then, the Father sanctifies, the Son also sanctifies, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies; but the sanctification is one, for baptism is one, and the grace of the sacrament is one.

Ambrose selected works 24213