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NPNF1-03. On the Holy Trinity; Doctrinal Treatises; Moral Treatises
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Chapter 5.—The Son and Holy Spirit are Not Therefore Less Because Sent. The Son is Sent Also by Himself. Of the Sending of the Holy Spirit.

7. But being proved wrong so far, men betake themselves to saying, that he who sends is greater than he who is sent: therefore the Father is greater than the Son, because the Son continually speaks of Himself as being sent by the Father; and the Father is also greater than the Holy Spirit, because Jesus has said of the Spirit, “Whom the Father will send in my name;”225225    John xiv. 26 and the Holy Spirit is less than both, because both the Father sends Him, as we have said, and the Son, when He says, “But if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” I first ask, then, in this inquiry, whence and whither the Son was sent. “I,” He says, “came forth from the Father, and am come into the world.”226226    John xvi. 7, 28 Therefore, to be sent, is to come forth forth from the Father, and to come into the world. What, then, is that which the same evangelist says concerning Him, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not;” and then he adds, “He came unto His own?”227227    John i. 10, 11 Certainly He was sent thither, whither He came; but if He was sent into the world, because He came forth from the Father, then He both came into the world and was in the world. He was sent therefore thither, where He already was. For consider that, too, which is written in the prophet, that God said, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”228228    Jer. xxiii. 24 If this is said of the Son (for some will have it understood that the Son Himself spoke either by the prophets or in the prophets), whither was He sent except to the place where He already was? For He who says, “I fill heaven and earth,” was everywhere. But if it is said of the Father, where could He be without His own word and without His own wisdom, which “reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things?”229229    Wisd. viii. 1 But He cannot be anywhere without His own Spirit. Therefore, if God is everywhere, His Spirit also is everywhere. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, too, was sent thither, where He already was. For he, too, who finds no place to which he might go from the presence of God, and who says, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I shall go down into hell, behold, Thou art there;” wishing it to be understood that God is present everywhere, named in the previous verse His Spirit; for He says,” Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?”230230    Ps. cxxxix. 8, 7

8. For this reason, then, if both the Son and the Holy Spirit are sent thither where they were, we must inquire, how that sending, whether of the Son or of the Holy Spirit, is to be understood; for of the Father alone, we nowhere read that He is sent. Now, of the Son, the apostle writes thus: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”231231    Gal. iv. 4, 5 “He sent,” he says, “His Son, made of a woman.” And by this term, woman,232232    Mulier what Catholic does not know that he did not wish to signify the privation of virginity; but, according to a Hebraism, the difference of sex? When, therefore, he says, “God sent His Son, made of a woman,” he sufficiently shows that the Son was “sent” in this very way, in that He was “made of a woman.” Therefore, in that He was born of God, He was in the world; but in that He was born of Mary, He was sent and came into the world. Moreover, He could not be sent by the Father without the Holy Spirit, not only because the Father, when He sent Him, that is, when He made Him of a woman, is certainly understood not to have so made Him without His own Spirit; but also because it is most plainly and expressly said in the Gospel in answer to the Virgin Mary, when she asked of the angel, “How shall this be?” “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.”233233    Luke i. 34, 35 And Matthew says, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”234234    Matt. i. 18 Although, too, in the prophet Isaiah, Christ Himself is understood to say of His own future advent, “And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me.”235235    Isa. xlviii. 16

9. Perhaps some one may wish to drive us to say, that the Son is sent also by Himself, because the conception and childbirth of Mary is the working of the Trinity, by whose act of creating all things are created. And how, he will go on to say, has the Father sent Him, if He sent Himself? To whom I answer first, by asking him to tell me, if he can, in what manner the Father hath sanctified Him, if He hath sanctified Himself? For the same Lord says both; “Say ye of Him,” He says, “whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God;”236236    John x. 36 while in another place He says, “And for their sake I sanctify myself.”237237    John xvii. 19 I ask, also, in what manner the Father delivered Him, if He delivered Himself? For the Apostle Paul says both: “Who,” he says, “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;”238238    Rom. viii. 32 while elsewhere he says of the Saviour Himself, “Who loved me, and delivered Himself for me.”239239    Gal. ii. 20 He will reply, I suppose, if he has a right sense in these things, Because the will of the Father and the Son is one, and their working indivisible. In like manner, then, let him understand the incarnation and nativity of the Virgin, wherein the Son is understood as sent, to have been wrought by one and the same operation of the Father and of the Son indivisibly; the Holy Spirit certainly not being thence excluded, of whom it is expressly said, “She was found with child by the Holy Ghost.” For perhaps our meaning will be more plainly unfolded, if we ask in what manner God sent His Son. He commanded that He should come, and He, complying with the commandment, came. Did He then request, or did He only suggest? But whichever of these it was, certainly it was done by a word, and the Word of God is the Son of God Himself. Wherefore, since the Father sent Him by a word, His being sent was the work of both the Father and His Word; therefore the same Son was sent by the Father and the Son, because the Son Himself is the Word of the Father. For who would embrace so impious an opinion as to think the Father to have uttered a word in time, in order that the eternal Son might thereby be sent and might appear in the flesh in the fullness of time? But assuredly it was in that Word of God itself which was in the beginning with God and was God, namely, in the wisdom itself of God, apart from time, at what time that wisdom must needs appear in the flesh. Therefore, since without any commencement of time, the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, it was in the Word itself without any time, at what time the Word was to be made flesh and dwell among us.240240    John i. 1, 2, 14 And when this fullness of time had come, “God sent His Son, made of a woman,”241241    Gal. iv. 4 that is, made in time, that the Incarnate Word might appear to men; while it was in that Word Himself, apart from time, at what time this was to be done; for the order of times is in the eternal wisdom of God without time. Since, then, that the Son should appear in the flesh was wrought by both the Father and the Son, it is fitly said that He who appeared in that flesh was sent, and that He who did not appear in it, sent Him; because those things which are transacted outwardly before the bodily eyes have their existence from the inward structure (apparatu) of the spiritual nature, and on that account are fitly said to be sent. Further, that form of man which He took is the person of the Son, not also of the Father; on which account the invisible Father, together with the Son, who with the Father is invisible, is said to have sent the same Son by making Him visible. But if He became visible in such way as to cease to be invisible with the Father, that is, if the substance of the invisible Word were turned by a change and transition into a visible creature, then the Son would be so understood to be sent by the Father, that He would be found to be only sent; not also, with the Father, sending. But since He so took the form of a servant, as that the unchangeable form of God remained, it is clear that that which became apparent in the Son was done by the Father and the Son not being apparent; that is, that by the invisible Father, with the invisible Son, the same Son Himself was sent so as to be visible. Why, therefore, does He say, “Neither came I of myself?” This, we may now say, is said according to the form of a servant, in the same way as it is said, “I judge no man.”242242    John viii. 42, 15

10. If, therefore, He is said to be sent, in so far as He appeared outwardly in the bodily creature, who inwardly in His spiritual nature is always hidden from the eyes of mortals, it is now easy to understand also of the Holy Spirit why He too is said to be sent. For in due time a certain outward appearance of the creature was wrought, wherein the Holy Spirit might be visibly shown; whether when He descended upon the Lord Himself in a bodily shape as a dove,243243    Matt. iii. 16 or when, ten days having past since His ascension, on the day of Pentecost a sound came suddenly from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and cloven tongues like as of fire were seen upon them, and it sat upon each of them.244244    Acts ii. 2–4 This operation, visibly exhibited, and presented to mortal eyes, is called the sending of the Holy Spirit; not that His very substance appeared, in which He himself also is invisible and unchangeable, like the Father and the Son, but that the hearts of men, touched by things seen outwardly, might be turned from the manifestation in time of Him as coming to His hidden eternity as ever present.


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