Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost: The ministration of the Spirit is glorious

Opening Sentence
On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Collect of the Day
O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 118

Lessons: Deuteronomy 16:9-12, Acts 4:18-33, John 4:19-26

55. Furthermore man crowned with glory and honour," and "glory, honour and peace" are laid up by promise "to every man that worketh good." There is moreover a special and peculiar glory for Israelites "to whom," it is said "pertaineth the adoption and the glory ... and the service," and the Psalmist speaks of a certain glory of his own, "that my glory may sing praise to Thee ;" and again "Awake up my glory" and according to the Apostle there is a certain glory of sun and moon and stars, and "the ministration of condemnation is glorious." While then so many things are glorified, do you wish the Spirit alone of all things to be unglorified? Yet the Apostle says "the ministration of the Spirit is glorious." How then can He Himself be unworthy of glory? How according to the Psalmist can the glory of the just man be great and according to you the glory of the Spirit none? How is there not a plain peril from such arguments of our bringing on ourselves the sin from which there is no escape? If the man who is being saved by works of righteousness glorifies even them that fear the Lord much less would be deprive the Spirit of the glory which is His due.

Grant, they say, that He is to be glorified, but not with the Father and the Son. But what reason is there in giving up the place appointed by the Lord for the Spirit, and inventing some other? What reason is there for robbing of His share of glory Him Who is everywhere associated with the Godhead; in the confession of the Faith, in the baptism of redemption, in the working of miracles, in the indwelling of the saints, in the graces bestowed on obedience? For there is not even one single gift which reaches creation without the Holy Ghost; when not even a single word can be spoken in defence of Christ except by them that are aided by the Spirit, as we have learnt in the Gospels from our Lord and Saviour. And I know not whether any one who has been par-taker of the Holy Spirit will consent that we should overlook all this, forget His fellowship in all things, and tear the Spirit asunder from the Father and the Son. Where then are we to take Him and rank Him? With the creature? Yet all the creature is in bondage, but the Spirit maketh free. "And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Many arguments might be adduced to them that it is unseemly to coordinate the Holy Spirit with created nature, but for the present I will pass them by. Were I indeed to bring forward, in a manner befitting the dignity of the discussion, all the proofs always available on our side, and so overthrow the objections of our opponents, a lengthy dissertation would be required, and my readers might be worn out by my prolixity. I therefore propose to reserve this matter for a special treatise, and to apply thyself to the points now more immediately before us.

56. Let us then examine the points one by one. He is good by nature, in the same way as the Father is good, and the Son is good; the creature on the other hand shares in goodness by choosing the good. He knows "The deep things of God;" the creature receives the manifestation of ineffable things through the Spirit. He quickens together with God, who produces and preserves all things alive, and together with the Son, who gives life. "He that raised up Christ from the dead," it is said, "shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the spirit that dwelleth in you;" and again "my sheep hear my voice, ... and I give unto them eternal life;" but Spirit" also, it is said, "giveth life," and again "the Spirit," it is said, "is life, because of righteousness." And the Lord bears witness that "it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." How then shall we alienate the Spirit from His quickening power, and make Him belong to lifeless nature? Who is so contentious, who is so utterly without the heavenly gift, and unfed by God's good words, who is so devoid of part and lot in eternal hopes, as to sever the Spirit from the Godhead and rank Him with the creature?

57. Now it is urged that the Spirit is in us as a gift from God, and that the gift is not reverenced with the same honour as that which is attributed to the giver. The Spirit is a gift of God, but a gift of life, for the law of "the Spirit of life," it is said, "hath made" us "free;" and a gift of power, for "ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." Is He on this account to be lightly esteemed? Did not God also bestow His Son as a free gift to mankind? "He that spared not His own Son," it is said, "but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" And in another place, "that we might truly know the things that are freely given us of God," in reference to the mystery of the Incarnation. It follows then that the maintainers of such arguments, in making the greatness of God's loving kindness an occasion of blasphemy, have really surpassed the ingratitude of the Jews. They find fault with the Spirit because He gives us freedom to call God our Father. "For God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into" our "hearts crying Abba, Father," that the voice of the Spirit may become the very voice of them that have received him.

Basil the Great
On the Holy Spirit

Veni Sancte Spiritus