God the Holy Spirit is the third Person in the one Being of the Holy Trinity, coequal and coeternal with God the Father and God the Son, and equally worthy of our honor and worship. (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30; Matthew 3:16–17; 28:19; John 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
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Wherefore were the heavens opened? To inform you that at your baptism also this is done, God calling you to your country on high, and persuading you to have nothing to do with earth. And if you see not, yet never doubt it. For so evermore at the beginnings of all wonderful and spiritual transactions, sensible visions appear, and such-like signs, for the sake of them that are somewhat dull in disposition, and who have need of outward sight, and who cannot at all conceive an incorporeal nature, but are excited only by the things that are seen: that so, though afterward no such thing occur, what has been declared by them once for all at the first may be received by your faith. For in the case of the apostles too, there was a sound of a mighty wind, Acts 2:2 and visions of fiery tongues appeared, but not for the apostles’ sake, but because of the Jews who were then present. Nevertheless, even though no sensible signs take place, we receive the things that have been once manifested by them. Since the dove itself at that time therefore appeared, that as in place of a finger (so to say) it might point out to them that were present, and to John, the Son of God. Not however merely on this account, but to teach you also, that upon you no less at your baptism the Spirit comes. But since then we have no need of sensible vision, faith sufficing instead of all. For signs are not for them that believe, but for them that believe not. 1 Corinthians 14:22 But why in the fashion of a dove? Gentle is that creature, and pure. Forasmuch then as the Spirit too is a Spirit of meekness, He therefore appears in this sort. And besides, He is reminding us of an ancient history. For so, when once a common shipwreck had overtaken the whole world, and our race was in danger of perishing, this creature appeared, and indicated the deliverance from the tempest, and bearing an olive branch, Genesis viii published the good tidings of the common calm of the whole world; all which was a type of the things to come. For in fact the condition of men was then much worse, and they deserved a much sorer punishment. To prevent your despairing, therefore, He reminds you of that history. Because then also, when things were desperate, there was a sort of deliverance and reformation; but then by punishment, now, on the contrary, by grace and an unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15 Therefore the dove also appears, not bearing an olive branch, but pointing out to us our Deliverer from all evils, and suggesting the gracious hopes. For not from out of an ark does she lead one man only, but the whole world she leads up into heaven at her appearing, and instead of a branch of peace from an olive, she conveys the adoption to all the world’s offspring in common. Reflect now on the greatness of the gift, and do not account His dignity the less for His appearing in such a likeness. For I actually hear some saying, that such as is the difference between a man and a dove, so great is that between Christ and the Spirit: since the one appeared in our nature, the other in the likeness of a dove. What must we say then to these things? That the Son of God did indeed take upon Him the nature of man, but the Spirit took not on Him the nature of a dove. Therefore the evangelist also said not, in the nature of a dove, but in the form of a dove. Accordingly, never after did He so much as appear in this fashion, but at that moment only. And if on this account you affirm His dignity to be less, the cherubim too will be made out by this reasoning much His superior, even as much so as an eagle is to a dove: because they too were figured into that visible shape. And the angels too superior again, for they no less have many times appeared in the fashion of men. But these things are not so, indeed they are not. For the truth of an economy is one thing, and the condescension of a temporary vision another. Do not now, I pray you, become unthankful towards your Benefactor nor with the very contraries requite Him that has bestowed on you the fountain of blessedness. For where adoption is vouchsafed, there is also the removing of evils, and the giving of all good things. 4. On this very account the Jewish baptism ceases, and ours takes its beginning. And what was done with regard to the Passover, the same ensues in the baptism also. For as in that case too, He acting with a view to both, brought the one to an end, but to the other He gave a beginning: so here, having fulfilled the Jewish baptism, He at the same time opens also the doors of that of the Church; as on one table then, so in one river now, He had both sketched out the shadow, and now adds the truth. For this baptism alone has the grace of the Spirit, but that of John was destitute of this gift. For this very cause in the case of the others that were baptized no such thing came to pass, but only in the instance of Him who was to hand on this; in order that, besides what we have said, you might learn this also, that not the purity of the baptizer, but the power of the baptized, had this effect. Not until then, assuredly, were either the heavens opened, nor did the Spirit make His approach. Because henceforth He leads us away from the old to the new polity, both opening to us the gates on high, and sending down His Spirit from thence to call us to our country there; and not merely to call us, but also with the greatest mark of dignity. For He has not made us angels and archangels, but He has caused us to become sons of God, and beloved, and so He draws us on towards that portion of ours. Having then all this in your mind, show forth a life worthy of the love of Him who calls you, and of your citizenship in that world, and of the honor that is given you. Crucified as you are to the world, and having crucified it to yourself, show yourself with all strictness a citizen of the city of the heavens. And do not, because your body is not translated unto heaven, suppose that you have anything to do with the earth; for you have your Head abiding above. Yea with this very purpose the Lord, having first come here and having brought His angels, did then, taking you with Him, depart there; that even before your going up to that place, you might understand that it is possible for you to inhabit earth as it were heaven. Let us then keep watch over that noble birth, which we received from the beginning; and let us every day seek more and more the palaces there, and account all that is here to be a shadow and a dream. For so, had any king among those on earth, finding you poor and a beggar, made you suddenly his son, never would you have thought upon your cottage, and your cottage’s mean appointments. Yet surely in that case the difference is not much. Do not then either in this case take account of any of the former things, for you are called unto much greater. For both He who calls is the Lord of the angels, and the good things that are given surpass all both word and thought. Since not from earth to earth does He remove you, as the king does, but from earth to heaven, and from a mortal nature to an immortal, and to glory unspeakable, then only possible to be properly manifested, when we shall actually enjoy it. Now then, having to partake of such blessings, do I see you minding money, and clinging to the pomp which is here? And do you not esteem all that is seen to be more vile than beggars rags? And how will you appear worthy of this honor? And what excuse will you have to plead? Or rather, what punishment will you not have to suffer, who after so great a gift art running to your former vomit? For no longer are you punished merely as a man, but as a son of God that has sinned; and the greatness of your honor becomes a mean of bringing a sorer punishment on you. Since we too punish not equally slaves that do wrong, and sons committing the same offense; and most of all when they have received some great kindness from us. For if he who had paradise for his portion, for one disobedience underwent such dreadful things after his honor; we, who have received Heaven, and have become joint heirs with the Only Begotten, what excuse shall we have, for running to the serpent after the dove? For it will be no longer, Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return, Genesis 3:19 and you till the ground, and those former words, that will be said to us; but what is far more grievous than these, the outer darkness, Matthew 25:30 the bonds that may not be burst, the venomous worm, the gnashing of teeth; and this with great reason. For he that is not made better even by so great a benefit, would justly suffer the most extreme, and a yet more grievous punishment. Elias once opened and shut Heaven, but that was to bring down rain, and restrain it; whereas to you the heaven is not so opened, but in order for you to ascend there; and what is yet more, not to ascend only, but to lead up others also, if you will; such great confidence and power has He bestowed on you in all that is His. 5. Forasmuch then as our house is there, there let us store up all, and leave nothing here, lest we lose it. For here, though you put a lock on it, and doors, and bars, and set thousands of servants to watch it; though you get the better of all the crafty ones, though you escape the eyes of the envious, the worms, the wasting that comes of time; which is impossible—death at any rate you will never escape, but will be deprived of all those things in one moment of time; and not deprived of them only, but wilt have to transfer them into the hands often of your very enemies. Whereas if you would transfer them into that house, you will be far above all. For there is no need to apply either key, or doors, or bars; such is the virtue of that city, so inviolable is this place, and by nature inaccessible to corruption and all wickedness. How then is it not of the utmost folly, where destruction and waste is the lot of all that is stored, there to heap up all, but where things abide untouched and increase, there not to lay up even the least portion; and this, when we are to live there forever? For this cause the very heathens disbelieve the things that we say, since our doings, not our sayings, are the demonstration which they are willing to receive from us; and when they see us building ourselves fine houses, and laying out gardens and baths, and buying fields, they are not willing to believe that we are preparing for another sort of residence away from our city. For if this were so, say they, they would turn to money all they have here, and lay them up beforehand there; and this they divine from the things that are done in this world. For so we see those who are very rich getting themselves houses and fields and all the rest, chiefly in those cities in which they are to stay. But we do the contrary; and with all earnest zeal we get possession of the earth, which we are soon after to leave; giving up not money only, but even our very blood for a few acres and tenements: while for the purchase of Heaven we do not endure to give even what is beyond our wants, and this though we are to purchase it at a small price, and to possess it forever, provided we had once purchased it. Therefore I say we shall suffer the utmost punishment, departing there naked and poor; or rather it will not be for our own poverty that we shall undergo these irremediable calamities, but also for our making others to be such as ourselves. For when heathens see them that have partaken of so great mysteries earnest about these matters, much more will they cling themselves to the things heaping much fire upon our head. For when we, who ought to teach them to despise all things that appear, do ourselves most of all urge them to the lust of these things; when shall it be possible for us to be saved, having to give account for the perdition of others? Do you not hear Christ say, that He left us to be for salt and for lights in this world, in order that we may both brace up those that are melting in luxury, and enlighten them that are darkened by the care of wealth? When therefore we even cast them into more thorough darkness, and make them more dissolute, what hope shall we have of salvation? There is none at all; but wailing and gnashing our teeth, and bound hand and foot, we shall depart into the fire of hell, after being full well worn down by the cares of riches. Considering then all these things, let us loose the bands of such deceit, that we may not at all fall into those things which deliver us over to the unquenchable fire. For he that is a slave to money, the chains both here and there will have him continually liable to them; but he that is rid of this desire will attain to freedom from both. Unto which that we also may attain, let us break in pieces the grievous yoke of avarice, and make ourselves wings toward Heaven; by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.