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NPNF2-10. Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters
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Chapter XI.

The objection has been made, that the words of St. John, “The Spirit is God,” are to be referred to God the Father; since Christ afterwards declares that God is to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth. The answer is, first, that by the word Spirit is sometimes meant spiritual grace; next, it is shown that, if they insist that the Person of the Holy Spirit is signified by the words “in Spirit,” and therefore deny that adoration is due to Him, the argument tells equally against the Son; and since numberless passages prove that He is to be worshipped, we understand from this that the same rule is to be laid down as regards the Spirit. Why are we commanded to fall down before His footstool? Because by this is signified the Lord’s Body, and as the Spirit was the Maker of this, it follows that He is to be worshipped, and yet it does not accordingly follow that Mary is to be worshipped. Therefore the worship of the Spirit is not done away with, but His union with the Father is expressed, when it is said that the Father is to be worshipped in Spirit, and this point is supported by similar expressions.

69. But perhaps reference may be made to the fact that in a later passage of the same book, the Lord again said that God is Spirit, but spoke of God the Father. For you have this passage in the Gospel: “The hour now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for such also doth the Father seek. God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.”13201320    S. John iv. 23, 24. By this passage you wish not only to deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but also, from God being worshipped in Spirit, deduce a subjection of the Spirit.

70. To which point I will briefly answer that Spirit is often put for the grace of the Spirit, as the Apostle also said: “For the Spirit Himself intercedeth for us with groanings which cannot be uttered;”13211321    Rom. viii. 26. that is, the grace of the Spirit, unless perchance you have been able to hear the groanings of the Holy Spirit. Therefore here too God is worshipped, not in the wickedness of the heart, but in the grace of the Spirit. “For into a malicious soul wisdom does not enter,”13221322    Wisd. i. 4. because “no one can call Jesus Lord but in the Holy Spirit.”13231323    1 Cor. xii. 3. And immediately he adds: “Now there are diversities of gifts.”13241324    1 Cor. xii. 4.

71. Now this cannot pertain to the fulness, nor to the dividing of the Spirit; for neither does the mind of man grasp His fulness, nor is He divided into any portions of Himself; but He pours into [the soul] the gift of spiritual grace, in which God is worshipped as He is also worshipped in truth, for no one worships Him except he who drinks in the truth of His Godhead with pious affection. And he certainly does not apprehend Christ as it were personally, nor the Holy Spirit personally.

72. Or if you think that this is said as it were personally of Christ and of the Spirit, then God is worshipped in truth in like manner as He is worshipped in Spirit. There is therefore either a like subjection, which God forbid that you should believe, and the Son is not worshipped; or, which is true, there is a like grace of Unity, and the Spirit is worshipped.

73. Let us then here draw our inferences and put an end to the impious questionings of the Arians. For if they say that the Spirit is therefore not to be worshipped because God is worshipped in Spirit, let them then say that the Truth is not to be worshipped, because God is worshipped in truth. For although there be many truths, since it is written: “Truths are minished from the sons of men;”13251325    Ps. xii. [xi.] 1. yet they are given by the Divine Truth, which is Christ, Who says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”13261326    S. John xiv. 6. If therefore they understand the truth in this passage from custom, let them also understand the grace of the Spirit, and there is no stumbling; or if they receive Christ as the Truth, let them deny that He is to be worshipped.

74. But they are refuted by the acts of the pious, and by the course of the Scriptures. For Mary worshipped Christ, and therefore is appointed to be the messenger of the Resurrection to the apostles,13271327    S. John xx. 17, 18. loosening the hereditary bond, and the huge offence of womankind. For this the Lord wrought mystically, “that where sin had exceedingly abounded, grace might more exceedingly abound.”13281328    Rom. v. 20. And rightly is a woman appointed [as messenger] to men; that she who first had brought the message of sin to man should first bring the message of the grace of the Lord.

75. And the apostles worshipped; and therefore they who bore the testimony of the faith received authority as to the faith. And the angels worshipped, of whom it is written: “And let all His angels worship Him.”13291329    Heb. i. 6.

76. But they worship not only His Godhead but also His Footstool, as it is written: “And worship His footstool, for it is holy.”13301330    Ps. xcix. [xcviii.] 5. Or if they deny that in Christ the mysteries also of His Incarnation are to be worshipped, in which we observe as it were certain express traces of His Godhead, and certain ways of the Heavenly Word; let them read that even the apostles worshipped Him when He rose again in the glory of His Flesh.13311331    S. Matt. xxviii. 17.

77. Therefore if it do not at all detract from Christ, that God is worshipped in Christ, for Christ too is worshipped;13321332    St. Ambrose here argues against Apollinarianism, who separated the two natures in Christ and taught that He should not be adored except in His Godhead, giving to the orthodox the nickname of ἀνθρωπολάτραι. The Apollinarians held that Christ was Θεὸς σαρκοφόρος, as Nestorians made Him ἄνθρωπος Θεοφόρος, instead of the proper Θεάνθρωπος. Apollinaris said Christ is οὔτε ἄνθρωπος ἅπλος, οὔτε Θεὸς, ἀλλὰ Θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπου μίξις. He denied the complete human nature of our Lord, saying that the Logos supplied the place of the anima rationalis. This stunted humanity could not be accepted by the Church, as it would involve a merely partial redemption. Christ must be a perfect man, in order to be a perfect Redeemer.
   The heresy was opposed by St. Athanasius, St. Basil, and others, condemned in synods at Alexandria 362, Rome 373 and probably 382, Antioch 378 or 379, and decisively at Constantinople in the second œcumenical council. See Dict. Chr. Biog.; Blunt, Dict. of Sects, etc.; Hefele on Council of Constantinople; St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ Letters on the Apollinarian controversy in this series, p. 437 ff.
it certainly also detracts nothing from the Spirit that God is worshipped in the Spirit, for the Spirit also is worshipped, as the Apostle has said: “We serve the Spirit of God,”13331333    Phil. iii. 3. for he who serves worships also, as it is said in an earlier passage: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”13341334    Deut. vi. 13.

78. But lest any one should perchance seem to elude the instance we have adduced, let us consider in what manner that which the prophet says, “Worship His Footstool,” appears to refer to the mystery of the divine Incarnation, for we must not estimate the footstool from the custom of men. For neither has God a body, neither is He other than beyond measure, that we should think a footstool was laid down as a support for His feet. And we read that nothing besides God is to be worshipped, for it is written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” How, then, should the prophet, brought up under the Law, and instructed in the Law, give a precept against the Law? The question, then, is not unimportant, and so let us more diligently consider what the footstool is. For we read elsewhere: “The heaven is My throne, and the earth the footstool of My feet.”13351335    Isa. lxvi. 1. But the earth is not to be worshipped by us, for it is a creature of God.

79. Let us, however, see whether the prophet does not say that that earth is to be worshipped which the Lord Jesus took upon Him in assuming flesh. And so, by footstool is understood earth, but by the earth the Flesh of Christ, which we this day also adore13361336    There can be no doubt that St. Ambrose held what is known as the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and is here asserting the custom of his day, viz., that Christ was worshipped as indivisibly God and Man in that Sacrament. Similar expressions are to be found in other Fathers, and in St. Ambrose elsewhere; e.g. De Fide, V. 10; De Mysteriis, §§ 52–54, 58. Bishop Andrewes, formerly of Winchester (ob. a.d. 1626), refers to St. Ambrose as follows: “Nos vero et in Mysteriis Carnem Christi adoramus cum Ambrosio, et non id, sed eum qui super altare colitur. Nec Carnem manducamus quin adoremus prius cum Augustino.…El Sacramentum tamen nulli adoremus.Resp. ad Bellarmin, p. 195. in the mysteries, and which the apostles, as we said above, adored in the Lord Jesus; for Christ is not divided but is one; nor, when He is adored as the Son of God, is He denied to have been born of the Virgin. Since, then, the mystery of the Incarnation is to be adored, and the Incarnation is the work of the Spirit, as it is written, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and that Holy Thing Which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,”13371337    S. Luke i. 35. without doubt the Holy Spirit also is to be adored, since He Who according to the flesh was born of the Holy Spirit is adored.

80. And let no one divert this to the Virgin Mary; Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore He alone is to be worshipped Who was working in His temple.

81. It makes, then, nothing against our argument that God is worshipped in Spirit, for the Spirit also is worshipped. Although if we consider the words themselves, what else ought we to understand in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the unity of the same power. For what is “must worship in Spirit and in truth”? If, however, you do not refer this to the grace of the Spirit, nor the true faith of conscience; but, as we said, personally (if indeed this word person is fit to express the Divine Majesty), you must take it of Christ and of the Spirit.

82. What means, then, the Father is worshipped in Christ, except that the Father is in Christ, and the Father speaks in Christ, and the Father abides in Christ. Not, indeed, as a body in a body, for God is not a body; nor as a confused mixture [confusus in confuso], but as the true in the true, God in God, Light in Light; as the eternal Father in the co-eternal Son. So not an ingrafting of a body is meant, but unity of power. Therefore, by unity of power, Christ is jointly worshipped in the Father when God the Father is worshipped in Christ. In like manner, then, by unity of the same power the Spirit is jointly worshipped in God, when God is worshipped in the Spirit.

83. Let us investigate the force of that word and expression more diligently, and deduce its proper meaning from other passages. “Thou hast,” it is said, “made them all in wisdom.”13381338    Ps. civ. [ciii.] 24. Do we here understand that Wisdom was without a share in the things that were made? But “all things were made by Him.”13391339    S. John i. 3. And David says: “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established.”13401340    Ps. xxxiii. [xxxii.] 6. So, then, he himself who calls the Son of God the maker even of heavenly things, has also plainly said that all things were made in the Son, that in the renewal of His works He might by no means separate the Son from the Father, but unite Him to the Father.

84. Paul, too, says: “For in Him were all things created in the heavens and in the earth, visible and invisible.”13411341    Col. i. 16. Does he, then, when he says, “in Him,” deny that they were made through Him? Certainly he did not deny but affirmed it. And further he says in another place: “One Lord Jesus, through Whom are all things.”13421342    1 Cor. viii. 6. In saying, then, “through Him,” has he denied that all things were made in Him, through Whom he says that all things exist? These words, “in Him” and “with Him,” have this force, that by them is understood one and like in all respects, not contrary. Which he also made clear farther on, saying: “All things have been created through Him and in Him;”13431343    Col. i. 16. for, as we said above, Scripture witnesses that these three expressions, “with Him,” and “through Him,” and “in Him,” are equivalent in Christ.13441344    Bk. II. 8, 9. For you read that all things were made through Him and in Him.

85. Learn also that the Father was with Him, and He with the Father, when all things were being made. Wisdom says: “When He was preparing the heavens I was with Him, when He was making the fountains of waters.”13451345    Prov. viii. 27. And in the Old Testament the Father, by saying, “Let Us make,”13461346    Gen. i. 26. showed that the Son was to be worshipped with Himself as the Maker of all things. As, then, those things are said to have been created in the Son, of which the Son is received as the Creator; so, too, when God is said to be worshipped in truth by the proper meaning of the word itself often expressed after the same manner it ought to be understood, that the Son too is worshipped. So in like manner is the Spirit also worshipped because God is worshipped in Spirit. Therefore the Father is worshipped both with the Son and with the Spirit, because the Trinity is worshipped.


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