The series on the Cathethical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jersualem moves forward. Today’s post features the sixteenth lecture, specifically the first part. The subject is the Holy Spirit,but heresy plays a prominent role in the lecture:
1 Corinthians 12:1, 4
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant….Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit, etc.
1. Spiritual in truth is the grace we need, in order to discourse concerning the Holy Spirit; not that we may speak what is worthy of Him, for this is impossible, but that by speaking the words of the divine Scriptures, we may run our course without danger. For a truly fearful thing is written in the Gospels, where Christ has plainly said, Whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. Matthew 12:32 And there is often fear, lest a man should receive this condemnation, through speaking what he ought not concerning Him, either from ignorance, or from supposed reverence. The Judge of quick and dead, Jesus Christ, declared that he has no forgiveness; if therefore any man offend, what hope has he?
2. It must therefore belong to Jesus Christ’s grace itself to grant both to us to speak without deficiency, and to you to hear with discretion; for discretion is needful not to them only who speak, but also to them that hear, lest they hear one thing, and misconceive another in their mind. Let us then speak concerning the Holy Ghost nothing but what is written; and whatsoever is not written, let us not busy ourselves about it. The Holy Ghost Himself spoke the Scriptures; He has also spoken concerning Himself as much as He pleased, or as much as we could receive. Let us therefore speak those things which He has said; for whatsoever He has not said, we dare not say.
3. There is One Only Holy Ghost, the Comforter; and as there is One God the Father, and no second Father;— and as there is One Only-begotten Son and Word of God, who has no brother—so is there One Only Holy Ghost, and no second spirit equal in-honour to Him. Now the Holy Ghost is a Power most mighty, a Being divine and unsearchable; for He is living and intelligent, a sanctifying principle of all things made by God through Christ. He it is who illuminates the souls of the just; He was in the Prophets, He was also in the Apostles in the New Testament. Abhorred be they who dare to separate the operation of the Holy Ghost! There is One God, the Father, Lord of the Old and of the New Testament: and One Lord, Jesus Christ, who was prophesied of in the Old Testament, and came in the New; and One Holy Ghost, who through the Prophets preached of Christ, and when Christ had come, descended, and manifested Him.
4. Let no one therefore separate the Old from the New Testament ; let no one say that the Spirit in the former is one, and in the latter another; since thus he offends against the Holy Ghost Himself, who with the Father and the Son together is honoured, and at the time of Holy Baptism is included with them in the Holy Trinity. For the Only-begotten Son of God said plainly to the Apostles, Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Our hope is in Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost. We preach not three Gods ; let the Marcionites be silenced; but with the Holy Ghost through One Son, we preach One God. The Faith is indivisible; the worship inseparable. We neither separate the Holy Trinity, like some; nor do we as Sabellius work confusion. But we know according to godliness One Father, who sent His Son to be our Saviour; we know One Son, who promised that He would send the Comforter from the Father; we know the Holy Ghost, who spoke in the Prophets, and who on the day of Pentecost descended on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues, here, in Jerusalem, in the Upper Church of the Apostles ; for in all things the choicest privileges are with us. Here Christ came down from heaven; here the Holy Ghost came down from heaven. And in truth it were most fitting, that as we discourse concerning Christ and Golgotha here in Golgotha, so also we should speak concerning the Holy Ghost in the Upper Church; yet since He who descended there jointly partakes of the glory of Him who was crucified here, we here speak concerning Him also who descended there: for their worship is indivisible.
5. We would now say somewhat concerning the Holy Ghost; not to declare His substance with exactness, for this were impossible; but to speak of the diverse mistakes of some concerning him, lest from ignorance we should fall into them; and to block up the paths of error, that we may journey on the King’s one highway. And if we now for caution’s sake repeat any statement of the heretics, let it recoil on their heads, and may we be guiltless, both we who speak, and you who hear.
6. For the heretics, who are most profane in all things, have sharpened their tongue against the Holy Ghost also, and have dared to utter impious things; as Irenæus the interpreter has written in his injunctions against heresies. For some of them have dared to say that they were themselves the Holy Ghost—of whom the first was Simon , the sorcerer spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles; for when he was cast out, he presumed to teach such doctrines: and they who are called Gnostics, impious men, have spoken other things against the Spirit , and the wicked Valentinians again something else; and the profane Manes dared to call himself the Paraclete sent by Christ. Others again have taught that the Spirit is different in the Prophets and in the New Testament. Yea, and great is their error, or rather their blasphemy. Such therefore abhor, and flee from them who blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and have no forgiveness. For what fellowship have you with the desperate, you, who art now to be baptized, into the Holy Ghost also ? If he who attaches himself to a thief, and consents with him, is subject to punishment, what hope shall he have, who offends against the Holy Ghost?
7. Let the Marcionists also be abhorred, who tear away from the New Testament the sayings of the Old. For Marcion first, that most impious of men, who first asserted three Gods , knowing that in the New Testament are contained testimonies of the Prophets concerning Christ, cut out the testimonies taken from the Old Testament, that the King might be left without witness. Abhor those above-mentioned Gnostics, men of knowledge by name, but fraught with ignorance; who have dared to say such things of the Holy Ghost as I dare not repeat.
8. Let the Cataphrygians also be your abhorrence, and Montanus, their ringleader in evil, and his two so-called prophetesses, Maximilla and Priscilla. For this Montanus, who was out of his mind and really mad (for he would not have said such things, had he not been mad), dared to say that he was himself the Holy Ghost—he, miserable man, and filled with all uncleanness and lasciviousness; for it suffices but to hint at this, out of respect for the women who are present. And having taken possession of Pepuza, a very small hamlet of Phrygia, he falsely named it Jerusalem; and cutting the throats of wretched little children, and chopping them up into unholy food, for the purpose of their so-called mysteries —(wherefore till but lately in the time of persecution we were suspected of doing this, because these Montanists were called, falsely indeed, by the common name of Christians;)— yet he dared to call himself the Holy Ghost, filled as he was with all impiety and inhuman cruelty, and condemned by an irrevocable sentence.
9. And he was seconded, as was said before, by that most impious Manes also, who combined what was bad in every heresy ; who being the very lowest pit of destruction, collected the doctrines of all the heretics, and wrought out and taught a yet more novel error, and dared to say that he himself was the Comforter, whom Christ promised to send. But the Saviour when He promised Him, said to the Apostles, But tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49 What then? Did the Apostles who had been dead two hundred years, wait for Manes, until they should be endued with the power; and will any dare to say, that they were not immediately full of the Holy Ghost? Moreover it is written, Then they laid their hands on and they received the Holy Ghost Acts 8:17; was not this before Manes, yea, many years before, when the Holy Ghost descended on the day of Pentecost?
10. Wherefore was Simon the sorcerer condemned? Was it not that he came to the Apostles, and said, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost? For he said not,Give me also the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,butGive me the power;that he might sell to others that which could not be sold, and which he did not himself possess. He offered money also to them who had no possessions ; and this, though he saw men bringing the prices of the things sold, and laying them at the Apostles’ feet. And he considered not that they who trod under foot the wealth which was brought for the maintenance of the poor, were not likely to give the power of the Holy Ghost for a bribe. But what say they to Simon? Your money perish with you, because you have thought to purchase the gift of God with money ; for you are a second Judas, for expecting to buy the grace of the Spirit with money. If then Simon, for wishing to get this power for a price, is to perish, how great is the impiety of Manes, who said that he was the Holy Ghost? Let us hate them who are worthy of hatred; let us turn away from them from whom God turns away; let us also ourselves say unto God with all boldness concerning all heretics, Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate You, and am not I grieved with Your enemies ? For there is also an enmity which is right, according as it is written, I will put enmity between you and her seed Genesis 3:15; for friendship with the serpent works enmity with God, and death.
11. Let then thus much suffice concerning those outcasts; and now let us return to the divine Scriptures, and let us drink waters out of our own cisterns [that is, the holy Fathers ], and out of our own springing wells. Proverbs 5:15 Drink we of living water, springing up into everlasting life ; but this spoke the Saviour of the Spirit, which they that believe in Him should receive. For observe what He says, He that believes in Me (not simply this, but), as the Scripture has said (thus He has sent you back to the Old Testament), out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, not rivers perceived by sense, and merely watering the earth with its thorns and trees, but bringing souls to the light. And in another place He says, But the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of living water springing up into everlasting life,— a new kind of water living and springing up, springing up unto them who are worthy.
12. And why did He call the grace of the Spirit water? Because by water all things subsist; because water brings forth grass and living things; because the water of the showers comes down from heaven; because it comes down one in form, but works in many forms. For one fountain waters the whole of Paradise, and one and the same rain comes down upon all the world, yet it becomes white in the lily, and red in the rose, and purple in violets and hyacinths, and different and varied in each several kind: so it is one in the palm-tree, and another in the vine, and all in all things; and yet is one in nature, not diverse from itself; for the rain does not change itself, and come down first as one thing, then as another, but adapting itself to the constitution of each thing which receives it, it becomes to each what is suitable. Thus also the Holy Ghost, being one, and of one nature, and indivisible, divides to each His grace, according as He will 1 Corinthians 12:11: and as the dry tree, after partaking of water, puts forth shoots, so also the soul in sin, when it has been through repentance made worthy of the Holy Ghost, brings forth clusters of righteousness. And though He is One in nature, yet many are the virtues which by the will of God and in the Name of Christ He works. For He employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another He enlightens by Prophecy; to another He gives power to drive away devils; to another He gives to interpret the divine Scriptures. He strengthens one man’s self-command; He teaches another the way to give alms; another He teaches to fast and discipline himself; another He teaches to despise the things of the body; another He trains for martyrdom: diverse in different men, yet not diverse from Himself, as it is written, But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healing, in the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits; and to another various kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these works that one and the same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.
13. But since concerning spirit in general many diverse things are written in the divine Scriptures, and there is fear lest some out of ignorance fall into confusion, not knowing to what sort of spirit the writing refers; it will be well now to certify you, of what kind the Scripture declares the Holy Spirit to be. For as Aaron is called Christ, and David and Saul and others are called Christs , but there is only one true Christ, so likewise since the name of spirit is given to different things, it is right to see what is that which is distinctively called the Holy Spirit. For many things are called spirits. Thus an Angel is called spirit, our soul is called spirit, and this wind which is blowing is called spirit; great virtue also is spoken of as spirit; and impure practice is called spirit; and a devil our adversary is called spirit. Beware therefore when you hear these things, lest from their having a common name thou mistake one for another. For concerning our soul the Scripture says, His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return to his earth : and of the same soul it says again, Which forms the spirit of man within him. Zechariah 12:1 And of the Angels it is said in the Psalms, Who makes His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. And of the wind it says, You shall break the ships of Tarshish with a violent spirit ; and, As the tree in the wood is shaken by the spirit Isaiah 7:2; and, Fire, hail, snow, ice, spirit of storm. And of good doctrine the Lord Himself says, The words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit John 6:63, and they are life; instead of,are spiritual.But the Holy Spirit is not pronounced by the tongue; but He is a Living Spirit, who gives wisdom of speech, Himself speaking and discoursing.
14. And would you know that He discourses and speaks? Philip by revelation of an Angel went down to the way which leads to Gaza, when the Eunuch was coming; and the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot. Acts 8:29 Do you see the Spirit talking to one who hears Him? Ezekiel also speaks thus, The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and said unto me, Thus says the Lord. Ezekiel 11:5 And again, The Holy Ghost said Acts 13:2 , unto the Apostles who were in Antioch, Separate me now Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. Beholdest thou the Spirit living, separating, calling, and with authority sending forth? Paul also said, Save that the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. For this good Sanctifier of the Church, and her Helper, and Teacher, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, of whom the Saviour said, He shall teach you all things (and He said not only, He shall teach, but also, He shall bring to your remembrance whatever I have said unto you John 14:26; for the teachings of Christ and of the Holy Ghost are not different, but the same)— He, I say, testified before to Paul what things should befall him, that he might be the more stout-hearted, from knowing them beforehand. Now I have spoken these things unto you because of the text, The words which I have spoken unto you, they are spirit; that you may understand this, not of the utterance of the lips , but of the good doctrine in this passage.
15. But sin also is called spirit, as I have already said; only in another and opposite sense, as when it is said, The spirit of whoredom caused them to err. Hosea 4:12 The namespiritis given also to the unclean spirit, the devil; but with the addition of,the unclean;for to each is joined its distinguishing name, to mark its proper nature. If the Scripture speak of the soul of man, it says the spirit with the addition, of the man; if it mean the wind, it says, spirit of storm; if sin, it says, spirit of whoredom; if the devil, it says, an unclean spirit: that we may know which particular thing is spoken of, and you may not suppose that it means the Holy Ghost; God forbid! For this name of spirit is common to many things; and every thing which has not a solid body is in a general way called spirit. Since, therefore, the devils have not such bodies, they are called spirits: but there is a great difference; for the unclean devil, when he comes upon a man’s soul (may the Lord deliver from him every soul of those who hear me, and of those who are not present), he comes like a wolf upon a sheep, ravening for blood, and ready to devour. His coming is most fierce; the sense of it most oppressive; the mind becomes darkened; his attack is an injustice also, and so is his usurpation of another’s possession. For he makes forcible use of another’s body, and another’s instruments, as if they were his own; he throws down him who stands upright (for he is akin to him who fell from heaven Luke 10:18); he twists the tongue and distorts the lips; foam comes instead of words; the man is filled with darkness; his eye is open, yet the soul sees not through it; and the miserable man gasps convulsively at the point of death. The devils are verily foes of men, using them foully and mercilessly.
16. Such is not the Holy Ghost; God forbid! For His doings tend the contrary way, towards what is good and salutary. First, His coming is gentle; the perception of Him is fragrant; His burden most light; beams of light and knowledge gleam forth before His coming. He comes with the bowels of a true guardian: for He comes to save, and to heal, to teach, to admonish, to strengthen, to exhort, to enlighten the mind, first of him who receives Him, and afterwards of others also, through him. And as a man, who being previously in darkness then suddenly beholds the sun, is enlightened in his bodily sight, and sees plainly things which he saw not, so likewise he to whom the Holy Ghost is vouchsafed, is enlightened in his soul, and sees things beyond man’s sight, which he knew not; his body is on earth, yet his soul mirrors forth the heavens. He sees, like Esaias, the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up Isaiah 6:1; he sees, like Ezekiel, Him who is above the Cherubim Ezekiel 10:1; he sees like Daniel, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands Daniel 7:10; and the man, who is so little, beholds the beginning of the world, and knows the end of the world, and the times intervening, and the successions of kings—things which he never learned: for the True Enlightener is present with him. The man is within the walls of a house; yet the power of his knowledge reaches far and wide, and he sees even what other men are doing.