And the series on St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures continues. Today we finish up his 17th lecture:
25. In this power of the Holy Ghost, Philip also in the Name of Christ at one time in the city of Samaria drove away the unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice; and healed the palsied and the lame, and brought to Christ great multitudes of them that believe. To whom Peter and John came down, and with prayer, and the laying on of hands, imparted the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, from which Simon Magus alone was declared an alien, and that justly. And at another time Philip was called by the Angel of the Lord in the way, for the sake of that most godly Ethiopian, the Eunuch, and heard distinctly the Spirit Himself saying, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot. He instructed the Eunuch, and baptized him, and so having sent into Ethiopia a herald of Christ, according as it is written, Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hand unto God , he was caught away by the Angel, and preached the Gospel in the cities in succession.
26. With this Holy SpiritPaul also had been filled after his calling by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let godly Ananias come as a witness to what we say, he who in Damascus said to him, The Lord, even Jesus who appeared to you in the way which you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts 9:17 And straightway the Spirit’s mighty working changed the blindness of Paul’s eyes into newness of sight; and having vouchsafed His seal unto his soul, made him a chosen vessel to bear the Name of the Lord who had appeared to him, before kings and the children of Israel, and rendered the former persecutor an ambassador and good servant—one, who from Jerusalem, and even unto Illyricum, fully preached the GospelRomans 15:19, and instructed even imperial Rome, and carried the earnestness of his preaching as far as Spain, undergoing conflicts innumerable, and performing signs and wonders. Of him for the present enough.
27. In the power of the same Holy Spirit Peter also, the chief of the Apostles and the bearer of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, healed Æneas the paralytic in the Name of Christ at Lydda, which is now Diospolis, and at Joppa raised from the dead Tabitha rich in good works. And being on the housetop in a trance, he saw heaven opened, and by means of the vessel let down as it were a sheet full of beasts of every shape and sort, he learned plainly to call no man common or unclean, though he should be of the Greeks. Acts 10:11-16 And when he was sent for by Cornelius, he heard clearly the Holy Ghost Himself saying, Behold, men seek you; but arise and get you down, and go with them, nothing doubting; for I have sent them. And that it might be plainly shown that those of the Gentiles also who believe are made partakers of the grace of the Holy Ghost, when Peter had come to Cesarea, and was teaching the things concerning Christ, the Scripture says concerning Cornelius and them who were with him; While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word; so that they of the circumcision also which came with Peter were astonished, and when they understood it said that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
28. And in Antioch also, a most renowned city of Syria, when the preaching of Christ took effect, Barnabas was sent hence as far as Antioch to help on the good work, being a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith ; who seeing a great harvest of believers in Christ, brought Paul from Tarsus to Antioch, as his fellow-combatant. And when crowds had been instructed by them and assembled in the Church, it came to pass that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch ; the Holy Ghost, methinks, bestowing on the believers that new Name, which had been promised before by the Lord. And the grace of the Spirit being shed forth by God more abundantly in Antioch, there were there prophets and teachers of whom Agabus was one. Acts 11:28 And as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And after hands had been laid on them, they were sent forth by the Holy Ghost. Now it is manifest, that the Spirit which speaks and sends, is a living Spirit, subsisting, and operating, as we have said.
29. This Holy Spirit, who in unison with Father and Son has established the New Covenant in the Church Catholic, has set us free from the burdens of the law grievous to be borne—those I mean, concerning things common and unclean, and meats, and sabbaths, and new moons, and circumcision, and sprinklings, and sacrifices; which were given for a season, and had a shadow of the good things to comeHebrews 10:1, but which, when the truth had come, were rightly withdrawn. For when Paul and Barnabas were sent to the Apostles, because of the question moved at Antioch by them who said that it was necessary to be circumcised and to keep the customs of Moses, the Apostles who were here at Jerusalem by a written injunction set free the whole world from all the legal and typical observances; yet they attributed not to themselves the full authority in so great a matter, but send an injunction in writing, and acknowledge this: For it has seemed good unto the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication ; showing evidently by what they wrote, that though the writing was by the hands of human Apostles, yet the decree is universal from the Holy Ghost: which decree Paul and Barnabas took and confirmed unto all the world.
30. And now, having proceeded thus far in my discourse, I ask indulgence from your love , or rather from the Spirit who dwelt in Paul, if I should not be able to rehearse everything, by reason of my own weakness, and your weariness who listen. For when shall I in terms worthy of Himself declare the marvellous deeds wrought by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the Name of Christ? Those wrought in Cyprus upon Elymas the sorcerer, and in Lystra at the healing of the cripple, and in Cilicia and Phrygia and Galatia and Mysia and Macedonia? Or those at Philippi (the preaching, I mean, and the driving out of the spirit of divination in the Name of Christ; and the salvation by baptism of the jailer with his whole house at night after the earthquake); or the events at Thessalonica; and the address at Areopagus in the midst of the Athenians; or the instructions at Corinth, and in all Achaia? How shall I worthily recount the mighty deeds which were wrought at Ephesus through Paul, by the Holy GhostActs 19:1-6? Whom they of that City knew not before, but came to know Him by the doctrine of Paul; and when Paul had laid his hands on them, and the Holy Ghost had come upon them, they spoke with tongues, and prophesied. And so great spiritual grace was upon him, that not only his touch wrought cures, but even the handkerchiefs and napkins , brought from his body, healed diseases, and scared away the evil spirits; and at last they also who practised curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men.
31. I pass by the work wrought at Troas on Eutychus, who being borne down by his sleep fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead; yet was saved alive by Paul. I also pass by the prophecies addressed to the Elders of Ephesus whom he called to him in Miletus, to whom he openly said, That the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying — and the rest; for by saying, in every city, Paul made manifest that the marvellous works done by him in each city, were from the operative power of the Holy Ghost, by the will of God, and in the Name of Christ who spoke in him. By the power of this Holy Ghost, the same Paul was hastening to this holy city Jerusalem, and this, though Agabus by the Spirit foretold what should befall him; and yet he spoke to the people with confidence, declaring the things concerning Christ. And when brought to Cesarea, and set amid tribunals of justice, at one time before Felix, and at another before Festus the governor and King Agrippa, Paul obtained of the Holy Ghostgrace so great, and triumphant in wisdom, that at last Agrippa himself the king of the Jews said, Almost you persuade me to be a Christian. This Holy Spirit granted to Paul, when he was in the island of Melita also, to receive no harm when bitten by the viper, and to effect various cures on the diseased. This Holy Spirit guided him, the persecutor of old, as a herald of Christ, even as far as imperial Rome, and there he persuaded many of the Jews to believe in Christ, and to them who gainsaid he said plainly, Well spoke the Holy Ghost by Esaias the Prophet, saying unto your fathers, and the rest.
32. And that Paul was full of the Holy Ghost, and all his fellow Apostles, and they who after them believed in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, hear from himself as he writes plainly in his Epistles; And my speech, he says, and my preaching was not in persuasive words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 1 Corinthians 2:4 And again, But He who sealed us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 1:22 And again, He that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwells in you. Romans 8:11 And again, writing to Timothy, That good thing which was committed to you guard through the Holy Ghost which was given to us.
33. And that the Holy Ghost subsists, and lives, and speaks, and foretells, I have often said in what goes before, and Paul writes it plainly to Timothy: Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in later times some shall depart from the faith1 Timothy 4:1—which we see in the divisions not only of former times but also of our own; so motley and diversified are the errors of the heretics. And again the same Paul says, Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it has now been revealed unto His Holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit. Ephesians 3:5 And again, Wherefore, as says the Holy GhostHebrews 3:7; and again, The Holy Ghost also witnesses to us. And again he calls unto the soldiers of righteousness, saying, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:17 And again, Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. And again, The grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all2 Corinthians 13:14 .
34. By all these proofs, and by more which have been passed over, is the personal, and sanctifying, and effectual power of the Holy Ghost established for those who can understand; for the time would fail me in my discourse if I wished to quote what yet remains concerning the Holy Ghost from the fourteen Epistles of Paul, wherein he has taught with such variety, completeness, and reverence. And to the power of the Holy Ghost Himself it must belong, to grant to us forgiveness for what we have omitted because the days are few, and upon you the hearers to impress more perfectly the knowledge of what yet remains; while from the frequent reading of the sacred Scriptures those of you who are diligent come to understand these things, and by this time, both from these present Lectures, and from what has before been told you, hold more steadfastly the Faith inOne God the Father Almighty; and in our Lord Jesus Christ, His Only-Begotten Son; and in the Holy Ghost the Comforter.Though the word itself and title of Spirit is applied to Them in common in the sacred Scriptures,— for it is said of the Father, God is a SpiritJohn 4:24, as it is written in the Gospel according to John; and of the Son, A Spirit before our face, Christ the Lord , as Jeremias the prophet says; and of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Holy GhostJohn 14:25, as was said—yet the arrangement of articles in the Faith, if religiously understood, disproves the error of Sabellius also. Return we therefore in our discourse to the point which now presses and is profitable to you.
35. Beware lest ever like Simon thou come to the dispensers of Baptism in hypocrisy, your heart the while not seeking the truth. It is ours to protest, but it is yours to secure yourself. If you stand in faithRomans 11:20, blessed are you; if you have fallen in unbelief, from this day forward cast away your unbelief, and receive full assurance. For, at the season of baptism, when you have come before the Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons —(for its grace is everywhere, in villages and in cities, on them of low as on them of high degree, on bondsmen and on freemen, for this grace is not of men, but the gift is from God through men,)— approach the Minister of Baptism, but approaching, think not of the face of him you see, but remember this Holy Ghost of whom we are now speaking. For He is present in readiness to seal your soul, and He shall give you that Seal at which evil spirits tremble, a heavenly and sacred seal, as also it is written, In whom also ye believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
36. Yet He tries the soul. He casts not His pearls before swine; if you play the hypocrite, though men baptize you now, the Holy Spirit will not baptize you. But if you approach with faith, though men minister in what is seen, the Holy Ghost bestows that which is unseen. You are coming to a great trial, to a great muster , in that one hour, which if you throw away, your disaster is irretrievable; but if you be counted worthy of the grace, your soul will be enlightened, you will receive a power which you had not, you will receive weapons terrible to the evil spirits; and if you cast not away your arms, but keep the Seal upon your soul, no evil spirit will approach you; for he will be cowed; for verily by the Spirit of God are the evil spirits cast out.
37. If you believe, you shall not only receive remission of sins, but also do things which pass man’s power. And may thou be worthy of the gift of prophecy also! For you shall receive grace according to the measure of your capacity and not of my words; for I may possibly speak of but small things, yet you may receive greater; since faith is a large affair. All your life long will your guardian the Comforter abide with you; He will care for you, as for his own soldier; for your goings out, and your comings in, and your plotting foes. And He will give you gifts of grace of every kind, if you grieve Him not by sin; for it is written, And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you were sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 What then, beloved, is it to preserve grace? Be ready to receive grace, and when you have received it, cast it not away.
38. And may the very God of All, who spoke by the Holy Ghost through the prophets, who sent Him forth upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost in this place, Himself send Him forth at this time also upon you; and by Him keep us also, imparting His benefit in common to us all, that we may ever render up the fruits of the Holy Ghost, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperanceGalatians 5:22-23, in Christ Jesus our Lord:— By whom and with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory to the Father, both now, and ever, and for ever and ever. Amen.