Ambrose selected works 24209

Chapter IX.

24209 A passage of St. Paul abused by heretics, to prove a distinction between the Divine Persons, is explained, and it is proved that the whole passage can be rightly said of each Person, though it refers specially to the Son. It is then proved that each member of the passage is applicable to each Person, and as to say, of Him are all things is applicable to the Father, so may all things are through Him and in Him also be said of Him.

85). Another similar passage is that which they say implies difference, where it is written: “But to us there is one Father, of Whom are all things and we unto Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him.”122 For they pretend that when it is said “of Him,” the matter is signified, when “through Him,” either the instrument of the work or some office, but when it is said “in Him,” either the place or the time in which all things that are made are seen.

86. So, then, their desire is to prove that there is some difference of substance, being anxious to make a distinction between as it were the instrument, and the proper worker or author, and also between time or place and the instrument. But is the Son, then, alien as regards His Nature from the Father, because an instrument is alien from the worker or author? or is the Son alien from the Spirit, because either time or place is not of the same class as an instrument?

87. Compare now our assertions. They will have it that matter is of God as though of the nature of God, as when you say that a chest is made of wood or a statue of stone; that after this fashion matter has come forth from God, and that the same matter has been made by the Son as if by some sort of instrument; so that they declare that the Son is not so much the Artificer as the instrument of the work; and that all things have been made in the Spirit, as if in some place or time; they attribute each part severally to each Person severally and deny that all are in common.

88. But we show that all things are so of God the Father, that God the Father has suffered no loss because all things are either through Him or in Him, and yet all things are not of Him as if of matter; then, too, that all things are through the Lord the Son, so that He is not deprived of the attribute that all things are of the Son and in Him; and that all things are in the Spirit, so that we may teach that all things are through the Spirit, and all things from the Spirit.

89. For these particles, like those of which we have spoken before, imply each other. For the Apostle did not so say, All things are of God, and all things are through the Son, as to signify that the substance of the Father and the Son could be severed, but that he might teach that by a distinction without confusion the Father is one, the Son another. Those particles, then, are not as it were in opposition to each other, but are as it were allied and agreed, so as often to suit even one Person, as it is written: “For of Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things.”123

90. But if you really consider whence the passage is taken you will have no doubt that it is said of the Son. For the Apostle says, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?”124 And he adds: “For of Him and in Him are all things.” Which Isaiah had said of the Artificer of all, as you read: “Who hath measured out the water with his hand, and the heaven with a span, and all the earth with his closed hand? Who hath placed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?”125

91. And the Apostle added: “For of Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things.” What is “of Him”? That the nature of everything is of His will, and He is the Author of all things which have come into being. “Through Him” means what? That the establishment and continuance of all things is His girl. What is “in Him”? That all things by a wonderful kind of longing and unspeakable love look upon the Author of their life, and the Giver of their graces and functions, according to that which is written: “The eyes of all look unto Thee,” and “Thou openest Thine hand and fillest every living creature with Thy good pleasure.”126

92. And of the Father, too, you may rightly say “of Him,” for of Him was the operative Wisdom, Which of His own and the Father’s will gave being to all things which were not. “Through Him,” because all things were made through His Wisdom. “In Him,” because He is the Fount of substantial Life, in Whom we live and move and have our being.

93. Of the Spirit also, as being formed by Him, strengthened by Him, established in Him, we receive the gift of eternal life.

94. Since, then, these expressions seem suitable either to the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, it is certain that nothing derogatory is spoken of in them, since we both say that many things are of the Son, and many through the Father, as you find it said of the Son: “That we may be increased through all things in Him, Who is Christ the Head, from Whom,” says he, “the whole body, flamed and knit together through every joint of the supply for the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.”127 And again, writing to the Colossians of those who have not the knowledge of the Son of God, he says: “Because they hold not the Head, from Whom all the body being supplied and joined together through joints and bands, increaseth to the increase of God.”128 For we said above that Christ is the Head of the Church. And in another place you read: “Of His fulness have all we received.”129 And the Lord Himself said: “He shall take of Mine and show it unto you.”130 And before, He said: “I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me.”131

95. In like manner that you may recognize the Unity, it is also said of the Spirit: “For he that soweth in the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.”132 And John says: “Hereby we know that He is in us because He hath given us of His Spirit.”133 And the Angel says: “That Which shall be born of her is of the Holy Spirit.”134 And the Lord says: “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.”135

96. So, then, as we read that all things are of the Father, so, too, that all things can be said to be of the Son, through Whom are all things; and we are taught by proof that all things are of the Spirit in Whom are all things.

97. Now let us consider whether we can teach that anything is through the Father. But it is written: “Paul the servant of Christ through the will of God;”136 and elsewhere: “Wherefore thou art now not a servant but a son, and if a son an heir also through God;”137 and again: “As Christ rose from the dead by the glory of God.”138 And elsewhere God the Father says to the Son: “Behold proselytes shall come to Thee through Me.”139

98. You will find many other passages, if you look for things done through the Father. Is, then, the Father less because we read that many things are in the Son and of the Son, and find in the heavenly Scriptures very many things done or given through the Father?

99. But in like manner we also read of many things done through the Spirit, as you find: “But God hath revealed them to us through His Spirit;”140 and in another place: “Keep the good deposit through the Holy Spirit;”141 and to the Ephesians: “to be strengthened through His Spirit;”142 and to the Corinthians: “To another is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom;”143 and in another place: “But if through the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live;”144 and above: “He Who raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies through the indwelling of His Spirit in you.”145

100. But perhaps some one may say, Show me that we can read expressly that all things are of the Son, or that all things are of the Spirit. But I reply, Let them also show that it is written that all things are through the Father. But since we have proved that these expressions suit either the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, and that no distinction of the divine power can arise from particles of this kind, there is no doubt but that all things are of Him through Whom all things are; and that all things are through Him through Whom all are; and that we must understand that all things are through Him or of Him in Whom all are. For every creature exists both of the will. and through the operation and in the power of the Trinity, as it is written: “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness;”146 and elsewhere: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all their power by the Spirit of His mouth.”147

Chapter X.

Being about to prove that the will, the calling, and the commandment of the Trinity is one, St. Ambrose shows that the Spirit called the Church exactly as the Father and the Son did, and proves this by the selection of SS. Paul and Barnabas, and especially by the mission of St. Peter to Cornelius. And by the way he points out how in the Apostle’s vision the calling of the Gentiles was shadowed forth, who having been before like wild beasts, now by the operation of the Spirit lay aside that wildness. Then having quoted other passages in support of this view, he shows that in the case of Jeremiah cast into a pit by Jews, and rescued by Abdemelech, is a type of the slighting of the Holy Spirit by the Jews, and of His being honoured by the Gentiles.

101). And not only is the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit everywhere one but also there is one and the same will, calling, and giving of commands, which one may see in the great and saving mystery of the Church. For as the Father called the Gentiles to the Church, saying: “I will call her My people which was not My people, and her beloved who was not beloved;”148 and elsewhere: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations,”149 so, too, the Lord Jesus said that Paul was chosen by Him to call forth and gather together the Church, as you find it said by the Lord Jesus to Ananias: “Go, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me to bear My name before all nations.”150

102. As, then, God the Father called the Church, so, too, Christ called it, and so, too, the Spirit called it, saying: “Separate Me Paul and Barnabas for the work to which I have called them.” “So,” it is added, “having fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them forth. And they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia.”151 So Paul received the apostleship by the will not only of Christ, but also of the Holy Spirit, and hastened to gather together the Gentiles.

103. And not only Paul, but also, as we read in the Ac of the Apostles, Peter. For when he had seen in his prayer heaven opened and a certain vessel tied at the four corners, as it were a sheet in which were all kinds of four-footed beasts and wild beasts and fowls of the air, “a voice came to him saying, Arise, Peter, kill and eat. And Peter said, Be it far from me, Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean. And again a voice came to him, saying, What God hath cleansed call not thou common. And this was done three times, and the vessel was received back into heaven.”152 And so when Peter was silently thinking over this with himself, and the servants of Cornelius appointed by the Angel had come to him, the Spirit said to him, “Lo, men are seeking thee, rise therefore, and go down and go with them; doubt not, for I have sent thee.”153

104. How clearly did the Holy Spirit express His own power ! First of all in that He inspired him who was praying, and was present to him who was entreating; then when Peter, being called, answered“Lord,” and so was found worthy of a second message, because he acknowledged the Lord. But the Scripture declares Who that Lord was, for He Whom he had answered spoke to him when he answered. And the following words show the Spirit clearly revealed, for He Who formed the mystery made known the mystery.

105. Notice, also, that the appearance of the mystery three times repeated expressed the operation of the Trinity. And so in the mysteries154 the threefold question is put, and the threefold answer made, and no one can be cleansed but by a threefold confession. For which reason, also, Peter in the Gospel is asked three times whether he loves the Lord, that by the threefold answer the bonds of the guilt he had contracted by denying the Lord might be loosed.

106. Then, again, because the Angel is sent to Cornelius, the Holy Spirit speaks to Peter: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the faithful of the earth.”155 Nor is it without a purpose that when He had said before, “What God hath cleansed call not thou common,”156 the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles to purify them, when it is manifest that the operation of the Spirit is a divine operation. But Peter, when sent by the Spirit, did not wait for the command of God the Father, but acknowledged that that message was from the Spirit Himself, and the grace that of the Spirit Himself, when he said: “If, then, God has granted them the same grace as to us, who was I that I should resist God?”

107. It is, then, the Holy Spirit Who has delivered us from that Gentile impurity. For in those kinds of four-fooled creatures and wild beasts and birds there was a figure of the condition of man, which appears clothed with the bestial ferocity of wild beasts unless it grows gentle by the sanctification of the Spirit. Excellent, then, is that grace which changes the rage of beasts into the simplicity of the Spirit: “For we also were aforetime foolish, unbelieving, erring, serving divers lusts and pleasures. But now by the renewing of the Spirit we begin to be heirs of Christ, and joint-heirs with the Angels.”157

108. Therefore the holy prophet David, seeing in the Spirit that we should from wild beasts become like the dwellers in heaven, says, “Rebuke the wild beasts of the wood,”158 evidently signifying, not the wood disturbed by the running of wild beasts, and shaken with the roaring of animals, but that wood of which it is written: “We found it in the fields of the wood.”159 In which, as the prophet said: “The righteous shall flourish as the palm-tree, and shall be multipled as the cedar which is in Libanus.”160 That wood which, shaken in the tops of the trees spoken of in prophecy, shed forth the nourishment of the heavenly Word. That wood into which Paul entered indeed as a ravening wolf, but went forth as a shepherd, for “their sound is gone out into all the earth.”161

109. We then were wild beasts, and therefore the Lord said: “Beware of false prophets, which come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”162 But now, through the Holy Spirit, the rage of lions, the spots of leopards, the craft of foxes, the rapacity of wolves, have passed away from our feelings; great, then, is the grace which has changed earth to heaven, that the conversation of us, who once were wandering as wild beasts in the woods, might be in heaven.163

110. And not only in this place, but also elsewhere in the same book, the Apostle Peter declared that the Church was built by the Holy Spirit. For you read that he said: “God, Which knoweth the hearts of men, bare witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as also to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”164 In which is to be considered, that as Christ is the Cornerstone, Who joined together both peoples into one, so, too, the Holy Spirit made no distinction between the hearts of each people, but united them.

111. Do not, then, like a Jew, despise the Son, Whom the prophets foretold; for you would despise also the Holy Spirit, you would despise Isaiah, you would despise Jeremiah, whom he who was chosen of the Lord raised with rags and cords from the pit of that Jewish abode.165 For the people of the Jews, despising the word of prophecy, had cast him into the pit. Nor was there found any one of the Jews to draw the prophet out, but one Ethiopian Abdemelech, as the Scripture testifies.

112. In which account is a very beautiful figure, that is to say, that we, sinners of the Gentiles, black beforehand through our transgressions, and aforetime fruitless, raised from the depth the word of prophecy which the Jews had thrust down, as it were, into the mire of their mind and carnality. And therefore it is written: “Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.”166 In which is signified the appearance of holy Church, who says in the Song of Songs: “I am black and comely, O daughters of Jerusalem;”167 black through sin, comely through grace; black by natural condition, comely through redemption, or certainly, black with the dust of her labours. So she is black while fighting, is comely when she is crowned with the ornaments of victory.

113. And fittingly is the prophet raised by cords, for the faithful writer said: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.”168 And fittingly with rags; for the Lord Himself, when those who had been first invited to the marriage made excuse, sent to the partings of the highways, that as many as were found, both bad and good, should be invited to the marriage. With these rags, then, He lifted the word of prophecy from the mire.

Chapter XI.

24211 We shall follow the example of Abdemelech, if we believe that the Son and Holy Spirit know all things. This knowledge is attributed in Scripture to the Spirit, and also to the Son. The Son is glorified by the Spirit, as also the Spirit by the Son. Also, inasmuch as we read that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit say and reveal the same things, we must acknowledge in Them a oneness of nature and knowledge. Lastly, that the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God is not a mark of ignorance, since the Father and the Son are likewise said to search, and Paul, although chosen by Christ, yet was taught by the Spirit.

114). And you, too, shall be Abdemelech,169 that is, chosen by the Lord, if you raise the Word of God from the depth of Gentile ignorance; if you believe that the Son of God is not deceived, that nothing escapes His knowledge, that He is not ignorant of what is going to be. And the Holy Spirit also is not deceived, of Whom the Lord says: “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He shall lead you into all truth.”170 He Who says all passes by nothing, neither the day nor the hour, neither things past nor things to come.

115. And that you may know that He both knows all things, and foretells things to come, and that His knowledge is one with that of the Father and the Son, hear what the Truth of God says concerning Him: “For He shall not speak from Himself, but what things He shall hear shall He speak, and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come.”171

116. Therefore, that you may observe that He knows all things, when the Son said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the Angels of heaven,”172 He excepted the Holy Spirit. But if the Holy Spirit is excepted from ignorance, how is the Son of God not excepted?

117. But you say that He numbered the Son of God also with the Angels. He numbered the Son indeed, but He did not number the Spirit also. Confess, then, either that the Holy Spirit is greater than the Son of God, so as to speak now not only as an Arian, but even as a Photinian,173 or acknowledge to what yon ought to refer it that He said that the Son knew not. For as man He could [in His human nature] be numbered with creatures Who were created).

118. But if you are willing to learn that the Son of God knows all things, and has foreknowledge of all, see that those very things which you think to be unknown to the Son, the Holy Spirit received from the Son. He received them, however, through Unity of Substance, as the Son received from the Father. “He,” says He, “shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall declare it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine, therefore said I, He shall receive of Mine, and shall declare it unto you.”174 What, then, is more clear than this Unity? What things the Father hath pertain to the Son; what things the Son hath the Holy Spirit also has received.

119. Yet learn that the Son knows the day of judgment. We read in Zechariah: “And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him. In that day there shall not be light, but cold and frost, and it shall be one day, and that day is known unto the Lord.”175 This day, then, was known unto the Lord, Who shall come with His saints, to enlighten us by His second Advent.

120. But let us continue the point which we have commenced concerning the Spirit. For in the passage we have brought forward you find that the Son says of the Spirit: “He shall glorify Me.” So, then, the Spirit glorifies the Son, as the Father also glorifies Him, but the Son of God also glorifies the Spirit, as we said above. He, then, is not weak who is the cause of the mutual glory through the Unity of the Eternal Light, nor is He inferior to the Spirit, of Whom this is true that He is glorified by the Spirit.

122. And you too shall be chosen, if you believe that the Spirit spoke that which the Father spoke, and which the Son spoke. Paul, in fine, was therefore chosen because he so believed and so taught, since, as it is written, God “hath revealed to us by His Spirit that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”176 And therefore is He called the Spirit of revelation, as you read: “For God giveth to those who thus prepare themselves the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that He may be known.”177

123. There is, then, a Unity of knowledge, since, as the Father, Who gives the Spirit of revelation, reveals, so also the Son reveals, for it is written: “No one knoweth the Son save the Father, neither doth any one know the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall will to reveal Him.”178 He said more concerning the Son, not because He has more than the Father, but lest He should be supposed to have less. And not unfittingly is the Father thus revealed by the Son, for the Son knows the Father even as the Father knows the Son.

124. Learn now that the Spirit too knows God the Father, for it is written that, “As no one knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit which is in him, so too the things of God no one knoweth save the Spirit of God.” “No one,” he says, “knoweth save the Spirit of God.”179 Is, then, the Son of God excluded? Certainly not, since neither is the Spirit excluded, when it is said: “And none knoweth the Father, save the Son.”

125. Therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of one nature and of one knowledge. And the Spirit is not to be numbered with all things which were made by the Son, since He knew the Father, Whom (as it is written) who can know save the Son? But the Holy Spirit knows also. What then? When the totality of created things is spoken of, it follows that the Holy Spirit is not included.

126. Now I should like them to answer what it is in man which knows the things of a man. Certainly that must be reasonable which surpasses the other powers of the soul, and by which the highest nature of man is estimated. What, then, is the Spirit, Who knows the deep things of God, and through Whom Almighty God is revealed? Is He inferior in the fulness of the Godhead Who is proved even by this instance to be of one substance with the Father? Or is He ignorant of anything Who knows the counsels of God, and His mysteries which have been hidden180 from the beginning? What is there that He knows not Who knows all things that are of God? For “the Spirit searcheth even the deep things of God.”181

127. But lest you should think that He searches things unknown, and so searches that He may learn that which He knows not, it is stated first that God revealed them to us through His Spirit, and at the same time in order that you may learn that the Spirit knows the things which are revealed to us through the Spirit Himself, it is said subsequently: “For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? so, too, the things of God knoweth no one save the Spirit of God.”182 If, then, the spirit of a man knows the things of a man, and knows them before it searches, can there be anything of God which the Spirit of God knows not? Of Whom the Apostle said not without a purpose, “The things of God knoweth no one, save the Spirit of God;” not that He knows by searching, but knows by nature; not that the knowledge of divine things is an accident in Him, but is His natural knowledge.

128. But if this moves you that He said “searcheth,” learn that this is also said of God, inasmuch as He is the searcher of hearts and reins. For Himself said: “I am He that searcheth the heart and reins.”183 And of the Son of God you have also in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Who is the Searcher of the mind and thoughts.”184 Whence it is clear that no inferior searches the inward things of his superior, for to know hidden things is of the divine power alone. The Holy Spirit, then, is a searcher in like manner as the Father, and the Son is a searcher in like manner, by the proper signification of which expression this is implied, that evidently there is nothing which He knows not, Whom nothing escapes.

129. Lastly, he was chosen by Christ, and taught by the Spirit. For as he himself witnesses, having obtained through the Spirit knowledge of the divine secrets, he shows both that the Holy Spirit knows God, and has revealed to us the things which are of God, as the Son also has revealed them. And he adds: “But we received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are given to us by God, which we also speak, not in persuasive words of man’s wisdom, but in manifestation of the Spirit and in the power of God.”185

Chapter XII.

24212 After proof that the Spirit is the Giver of revelation equally with the Father and the Son, it is explained how the same Spirit does not speak of Himself; and it is shown that no bodily organs are to be thought of in Him, and that no inferiority is to be supposed from the fact of our reading that He hears, since the same would have to be attributed to the Son, and indeed even to the Father, since He hears the Son. The Spirit then hears and glorifies the Son in the sense that He revealed Him to the prophets and apostles, by which the Unity of operation of the Three Persons is inferred; and, since the Spirit does the same works as the Father, the substance of each is also declared to be the same.

130). It has then been proved that like as God has revealed to us the things which are His, so too the Son, and so too the Spirit, has revealed the things of God. For our knowledge proceeds from one Spirit, through one Son to one Father; and from one Father through one Son to one Holy Spirit is delivered goodness and sanctification and the sovereign right of eternal power. Where, then, there is a manifestation of the Spirit, there is the power of God, nor can there be any distinction where the work is one. And therefore that which the Son says the Father also says, and that which the Father says the Son also says, and that which the Father and the Son say the Holy Spirit also says.

131. Whence also the Son of God said concerning the Holy Spirit: “He shall not speak from Himself,”186 that is, not without the participation of the Father and Myself. For the Spirit is not divided and separated, but speaks what He hears. He hears, that is to say, by unity of substance and by the property of knowledge. For He receives not hearing by any orifices of the body, nor does the divine voice resound with any carnal measures, nor does He hear what He knows not; since commonly in human matters hearing produces knowledge, and yet not even in men themselves is there always bodily speech or fleshly hearing. For “he that speaketh in tongues,” it is said, “speaketh not to men but to God, for no one heareth, but in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries.”187

132. Therefore if in men hearing is not always of the body, do you require in God the voices of man’s weakness, and certain organs of fleshly hearing, when He is said to hear in order that we may believe that He knows? For we know that which we have heard, and we hear beforehand that we may be able to know; but in God Who knows all things knowledge goes before hearing. So in order to state that the Son is not ignorant of what the Father wills, we say that He has heard; but in God there is no sound nor syllable, such as usually signify the indication of the will; but oneness of will is comprehended in hidden ways in God, but in us is shown by signs.

133. What means, then, “He shall not speak from Himself”? This is, He shall not speak without Me; for He speaks the truth, He breathes wisdom. He speaks not without the Father, for He is the Spirit of God; He hears not from Himself, for all things are of God.

134. The Son received all things from the Father, for He Himself said: “All things have been delivered unto Me from My Father.”188 All that is the Father’s the Son also has, for He says again: “All things which the Father hath are Mine.”189 And those things which He Himself received by Unity of nature, the Spirit by the same Unity of nature received also from Him, as the Lord Jesus Himself declares, when speaking of His Spirit: “Therefore said I, He shall receive of Mine and shall declare it unto you.”190 Therefore what the Spirit says is the Son’s, what the Son hath given is the Father’s. So neither the Son nor the Spirit speaks anything of Himself. For the Trinity speaks nothing external to Itself.

135. But if you contend that this is an argument for the weakness of the Holy Spirit, and for a kind of likeness to the lowliness of the body, you will also make it an argument to the injury of the Son, because the Son said of Himself: “As I hear I judge,”191 and “The Son can do nothing else than what He seeth the Father doing.”192 For if that be true, as it is, which the Son said: “All things which the Father hath are Mine,”193 and the Son according to the Godhead is One with the Father, One by natural substance, not according to the Sabellian194 falsehood; that which is one by the property of substance certainly cannot be separated, and so the Son cannot do anything except what He has heard of the Father, for the Word of God endures forever,195 nor is the Father ever separated from the operation of the Son; and that which the Son works He knows that the Father wills, and what the Father wills the Son knows how to work.

136. Lastly, that one may not think that there is any difference of work either in time or in order between the Father and the Son, but may believe the oneness of the same operation, He says: “The works which I do He doeth.”196 And again, that one may not think that there is any difference in the distinction of the works, but may judge that the will, the working, and the power of the Father and the Son are the same, Wisdom says concerning the Father: “For whatsoever things He doeth, the Son likewise doeth the same.”197 So that the action of neither Person is before or after that of the Other, but the same result of one operation. And for this reason the Son says that He can do nothing of Himself, because His operation cannot be separated from that of the Father. In like manner the operation of the Holy Spirit is not separated. Whence also the things which He speaks, He is said to hear from the Father.

137. What if I demonstrate that the Father also hears the Son, as the Son too hears the Father? For you have it written in the Gospel that the Son says: “Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me.”198 How did the Father hear the Son, since in the previous passage concerning Lazarus the Son spoke nothing to the Father? And that we might not think that the Son was heard once by the Father, He added: “And I knew that Thou hearest Me always.”199 Therefore the hearing is not that of subject obedience, but of eternal Unity.

138. In like manner, then, the Spirit is said to hear from the Father, and to glorify the Son. To glorify, because the Holy Spirit taught us that the Son is the Image of the invisible God,200 and the brightness of His glory, and the impress of His substance.201 The Spirit also spoke in the patriarchs and the prophets, and, lastly, the apostles began then to be more perfect after that they had received the Holy Spirit. There is therefore no separation of the divine power and grace, for although “there are diversities of gifts, yet it is the same Spirit; and diversities of ministrations, yet the same Lord; and diversities of operations, yet the same God Who worketh all in all.”202 There are diversities of offices, not severances of the Trinity.

139. Lastly, it is the same God Who worketh all in all, that you may know that there is no diversity of operation between God the Father and the Holy Spirit; since those things which the Spirit works, God the Father also works, “Who worketh all in all.” For while God the Father worketh all in all, yet “to one is given 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; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of sayings; but all these worketh one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one as He will.”203

140. There is then no doubt but that those things which the Father worketh, the Spirit worketh also. Nor does He work in accordance with a command, as he who hears in bodily fashion, but voluntarily, as being free in His own will, not the servant of the power of another. For He does not obey as being bidden, but as the giver He is the controller of His own gifts.

141. Consider meanwhile whether you can say that the Spirit effects all things which the Father effects; for you cannot deny that the Father effects those things which the Holy Spirit effects; otherwise the Father does not effect all things, if He effects not those things which the Spirit also effects. But if the Father also effects those things which the Spirit effects, since the Spirit divides His operations, according to His own will, you must of necessity say, either that what the Spirit divides He divides according to His own will, against the will of God the Father; or if you say that the Father wills the same that the Holy Spirit wills, you must of necessity confess the oneness of the divine will and operation, even if you do it unwillingly, and, if not with the heart, at least with the mouth.

142. But if the Holy Spirit is of one will and operation with God the Father, He is also of one substance, since the Creator is known by His works. So, then, it is the same Spirit, he says, the same Lord, the same God.204 And if you say Spirit. He is the same; and if you say Lord, He is the same; and if you say God, He is the same. Not the same, so that Himself is Father, Himself Son, Himself Spirit [one and the selfsame Person]; but because both the Father and the Son are the same Power. He is, then, the same in substance and in power, for there is not in the Godhead either the confusion of Sabellius nor the division of Arius, nor any earthly and bodily change.

Ambrose selected works 24209