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I PASS now to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It is stated for us in the third article of the Creed. T believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, The giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.'
We shall find here as in all our investigations many theological problems. That is not unnatural, for we are concerned with great and high things; but whatever difficulty there may be, we are conscious also that we are dealing with all that is most real in our religious life. The belief in the Spirit is undoubtedly Biblical; the Old and New Testaments are full of it. It has its basis in religious experience. No religious man can doubt that he has real experiences, whatever their source or origin. Equally certainly there are waves of spiritual life which fill and move the world. We shall find also that there are many religious problems which have quite a different aspect if looked at in the light of the working of God's Spirit – the doctrine of Grace, of Orders and Sacraments, the problems of miracles, of divine immanence and transcendence. All Christian progress also depends on the recognition of the work of the Spirit in the world and the human heart.
We shall discuss first the teaching of the Bible and shall begin with the Old Testament.
The Old Testament word for the Spirit, ruach, and the Greek word TTveCfjta both start with a material signification. The Spirit is the wind or the breath. We have already noticed that the language used to describe mental and spiritual operations is almost always derived from physical analogies and metaphors. The 'Spirit' means originally the breath of man. It passes from that to the principle of vitality, and then to what we call the spiritual element in human life: then from the human to the divine. In the Old Testament the Spirit means the vital energy of the divine nature corresponding to the higher vitality of man. As Professor Robertson Smith tells us, it is the divine working rather than the divine nature which the Hebrew Scriptures regard as spiritual. Much of the Old Testament is as we know anthropomorphic. God is still thought of as in some way material, but his working is thought of as spiritual and described in language drawn from human analogy.
The Spirit then as the activity of the divine nature is represented as working in the world: 'the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters': as giving man intellectual gifts, as inspiring the prophets, as anointing the Messiah. Some passages we must specially refer to. 'The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.''The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.' This passage is quoted by our Lord on more than one striking occasion.
It is expected that there will be a great outpouring of the Spirit in the Messianic age. So Ezekiel: 'A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. ... And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.'
And then there is the well-known passage of Joel: 'And it will come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.'This is quoted in the Acts of the Apostles as fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
Throughout the Spirit is the working energy of God, God working with power. Its acts are personal: it broods, it rules, it speaks, it guides, it quickens, because it is the living
energy of a personal God. Perhaps there is some idea occasionally of separateness: 'Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret: from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God hath sent me, and his spirit.'
We pass next to the Spirit in relation to Christ. The coming of Christ is the work of the Spirit. Our Lord is conceived by the Holy Ghost.It is only in relation to the working of the Spirit that the Virgin Birth becomes comprehensible. As Paulus, one of the most rationalistic of writers, says,
'Through holy inspiration Mary received the hope and the power of conceiving her exalted Son, in whom the Spirit of the Messiah takes up its dwelling.'
Her nature was inspired and strengthened by God's spirit so that she should become the mother of Him who was the Son of God.
The baptism of our Lord was a baptism of the Spirit. 'And straightway coming out of the water, he saw the heavens rent asunder and the Spirit as a dove descending upon him.'So it is described by St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles: 'How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.' And at his baptism the Baptist foretells that he will baptize with the Spirit. I baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.' That means that there was to be in him the fulfilment of the hope of the Messianic kingdom.
He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.He cast out devils and worked miracles by the Spirit of God and through the Spirit he was raised from the dead. It is by recognizing how God's Spirit works in the world that we understand the possibility of miracles. There is a spiritual nature in man responsive to the divine Spirit, and our spiritual nature can influence what we call our material nature. It often does so. In our own experience we have probably known cases where the influence of a man's spiritual nature over his physical has been great. It is not, therefore, unreasonable or irrational to believe that that spiritual nature can be so strengthened and inspired by God's Spirit as to make its powers more effective and enable us in an ultra-normal way to overcome the weakness or cure the ills of our natural bodies. This would be quite in harmony with all that we know about our spiritual life. Only through God's Spirit working in and through Jesus Christ it is much intensified.
So again with regard to what are called nature-miracles. As God is the Creator and sustainer of the Universe, and as the Spirit of God represents his working in the world, it is the Spirit which must represent the fundamental cause of all things. We know in fact nothing more of the material world than that it is the way in which the universe is revealed to our senses. There is nothing, therefore, impossible or irrational or in certain circumstances improbable that miracles should take place in nature as in man. God's Spirit is working in nature. He who was incarnate as Jesus Christ was the Word of God through whom all things were made. A miracle is not inconsistent with the ordinary manifestations of phenomena, for it only represents the appearance of the ultimate nature of things.
The incarnate life of Christ then came through the Spirit. Christ's work was through and in the Spirit – a Spirit who works alike in man and in nature.
The Apostolic age opens with an historical event of great significance – the story of Pentecost – a clear narrative of the gift of the Spirit, which is associated with the promise of the outpouring of the Spirit in the Messianic days. It is
needless to say that some critics look upon this narrative as unhistorical.
There are no adequate reasons for doing so except such as are a priori, but there may quite possibly be a certain amount of symbolism in the story as it has come down to us. But whatever the degree of truth in this narrative, the really important fact is that in the early church the presence of the Spirit was felt as something undoubted. This all the literature of the Apostolic Age shows. It was not the events at Pentecost which were the source of this belief, but the fact that Christians knew that they had the Spirit of God working in them. Supposing the narrative of Pentecost to be completely unhistorical, the fact remains of the reality of spiritual manifestations in the early church. If the narrative be not true, it arose because of the reality of the experience of the Church. That was undoubted. The pouring forth of spiritual power was felt throughout the whole Church, and was naturally and rightly looked upon as the fulfilment of the expectations of the Messianic period.
This manifestation of the Spirit was seen – we may place that first although it is the least important – with tongues in speaking. Here again we are not dependent upon the Acts of the Apostles; we have also the testimony of St. Paul from which we gather that glossalalia (to use the Greek term) was a definite phenomenon of the Apostolic Age. It did not mean speaking in a foreign language. It meant ecstatic utterance such as has often been the accompaniment of great spiritual emotion especially among those of weaker intellect. The spiritual exaltation was something too strong for ordinary expression and produced incoherence.
Secondly, it showed itself in the gift of prophecy or of inspired utterance. The Christian Church was conscious that the gift of prophecy, of speaking with the Spirit, which had been held to have ceased in the Jewish Church for some hundred years, had been restored. The later Jewish literature shows how firm was the belief that prophecy had ceased in Israel. In the Maccabean period we are constantly reminded that there were no longer any true prophets, but a time would come when the gift was to be restored. For example when Judas Maccabaeus cleansed the profaned sanctuary, they 'laid up the stones in the mountain of the house ... until there should come a prophet to give an answer concerning them'.The significance of the preaching of John the Baptist was that at last a true prophet had appeared in Israel. So religious people had begun to feel that the Messianic Age was at hand, and now there had come such an outpouring of the Spirit that there could be no doubt that prophecy had been restored and the Messianic Age had come.
Thirdly the Christian Church felt that through the Spirit many gifts had come to the Church. 'To one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits: to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues.'And later in the same chapter of Corinthians there is the well-known list of officers and functions in the Church, all of whom are inspired by the Spirit. Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. And in Ephesians we are told how Christ ascended into heaven and 'gave gifts to men', 'and he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers'. These gifts are gifts through the Spirit.
Then fourthly the preaching of the Gospel, the missionary enterprise of the Church was the work of the Spirit. 'And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.''While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold three men seek thee.' 'And the Spirit bade me go with them, making no distinction.' 'The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.' 'So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.' We need not multiply instances. It was the gift of the Spirit that first stirred the Apostles to preach the risen Christ. It was the inspiration of the Spirit which sent them out to preach the Gospel. 'Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.' The expansion of the Church was the work of the Spirit.
But lastly, it is important for us to notice what St. Paul considers were the real fruits of the Spirit. Man was essentially religious in the Apostolic Age. There was a tendency no doubt to extravagance and ecstatic utterance as there often is in periods of religious revival. But it was not there that St. Paul saw the real fruits of the Spirit. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.'And when in the Epistle to the Corinthians he is discussing the gifts of the Spirit he ends with the exhortation to covet the best gifts, and then follows the well-known description of the Christian agape. The true sign of the working of God's Spirit in the Church does not lie in religious excitement and emotion, but in ethical gifts, in a heightened and spiritualized moral life. That is the aim and end of the new life in the Spirit. It means a transformed life. It means, as Ezekiel had foretold, a new heart. It means a new creature. Old things are passed away. All things are become new.
Such were some of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. It was the Spirit which had created the Christian Church. Its
teachers were inspired by the Spirit, and therefore their writings when they came to be understood were looked on as inspired like those of the Jewish Scriptures, and became the New Testament. It was the Spirit, which came from Christ, that freed man from sin and death, taught us to walk not after the flesh, but the Spirit, made us Sons of God, and thus worked in us for our salvation.
Such was the work of the Spirit. What was its nature? How was the Spirit thought of? In order to answer this question as correctly as possible we must consider the character of the writings that we are studying. They are not theological treatises. We must not expect accurate or systematic thought. They are the expressions of religious experience in the best language that was available. They may sometimes be obscure; sometimes the phraseology may be confused; the same word may be used in different senses often all the more confusing because closely allied; but what is apparent throughout is that we are dealing with beliefs and experiences which were absolutely real, and real experiences are more valuable than accurate theology. We shall eventually study the way in which the Church formulated the doctrine of the Spirit, and the relation of the Spirit to Father and Son. We shall not find in the Bible the language of later theology, but I do not think that we shall have any reason for thinking that Christian theology has misinterpreted the thought of the Apostolic age.
It will be convenient to clear away first an erroneous opinion which has been quite unnecessarily obtruded by modern criticism. It has been maintained that St. Paul identified Christ with the Spirit. This is demonstrably false. A passage like the following from the First Epistle to the Corinthians is sufficient to disprove it. 'There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God who worketh all things in all.'Now this may imply and does imply very close connexion between the Spirit, the Lord, and God – that we shall study later – but it clearly implies also a definite separateness. So in the Epistle to the Ephesians, we are told that there is one body and one Spirit, ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Here again there may be some obscurity as to how St. Paul thought of the Spirit, but clearly the Spirit is not Christ.
The confusion has arisen from not following the Pauline conception. The Spirit was the gift of Christ. Christ ascended into heaven, and sent thence the Spirit, which is called sometimes the Spirit of Christ, and through the Spirit gave gifts to mankind. Hence the Spirit and Christ can often be interchanged in the sense that Christ gives us the gifts which he gives through the Spirit. But the Spirit and Christ cannot be interchanged in the sense that it was the Spirit that lived on earth, or was crucified, or rose from the dead. It was by the Spirit that Christ rose. I do not think that a careful study of the language will leave any doubt of this separateness.
The Spirit was quite clearly thought of as divine. When we come to discuss the controversies of Christian theology, we shall find a tendency in the fourth century to look upon the Spirit as an inferior created being. There is no evidence at all for this in Biblical language. The Spirit and God, in the same way as the Spirit and Christ, are in a certain sense convertible terms. Take the following passages: 'Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.'Here the meaning seems to be that it is through the Spirit that God is immanent in man. So again: 'Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.' Here again the Holy Spirit is from God and represents God as dwelling in us.
Another passage which is undoubtedly difficult must be referred to. St. Paul is describing the change from the old covenant to the new, from that which was based on the letter of the law to that of the freedom of the Spirit. Under the old covenant there was a veil over men's hearts which prevented them from understanding the Scriptures. That veil is drawn away, when men turn to the Lord. 'Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.'Just as the Spirit is of God, so is it of the Lord, and as God can be spoken of as Spirit, so the Lord can be, for it is by the Spirit that the Lord works among us and transforms us. The Spirit, therefore, which is the Spirit of God, is also the Spirit of Christ, and represents the divine work in man. 'But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.' The Spirit that dwells and works in man can be spoken of indifferently as the Spirit of God and of Christ. God and Christ and Spirit often appear to be almost interchangeable terms.
I do not think that any one can seriously doubt the divine character of the Spirit, although he may have considerable difficulty in understanding how St. Paul thought of the relations of the Spirit to Father and Son. It is when approaching the question of the personality of the Spirit that real difficulties begin. That we must now discuss. What I hope to make clear is that the language and thought of the New Testament imply a conception of the Spirit which can only be described as personal.
First I would ask you to turn to three well-known passages in St. John's Gospel. 'And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.''But the Paraclete, even the the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.' 'But when the Paraclete is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me.'
In these passages the work of the Spirit is looked upon as parallel to the work of Christ. As Christ was our paraclete, our defender, our advocate, so the Spirit is a paraclete. You will notice also, if you turn to the Greek texts, that throughout the Spirit is spoken of as masculine, not as it would be if grammatically correct, neuter, which might imply a non-personal effluence from God.
Next I would pass to the twelfth chapter of the Corinthians, quoted above. A passage like this should be studied from the point of view of the Apostolic times. The conception of the world at that time implied that spiritual things were the work of what might be described as personal beings, good and evil spirits. Both physical and moral evils were due to an outside agency, they were not looked on as due to physical or psychological causes. St. Paul's argument is this. He is condemning Christian dissension and rivalry. In the Christian Church there were various kinds of gifts – some more, some less honourable, and the result was contention and jealousy. All these St. Paul argues have one source. It is not that there is one Spirit that gives you prophecy, another the power of working miracles. That would have been the conception of the heathen world. They had gods many and spirits many giving varied gifts. The Christian conception is that the source of all alike is one Spirit. 'But all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will.'Every man received his gifts from the same source and there was no place for rivalry. St. Paul's conception is that of one Spirit which is God's Spirit working in the world, which gives all spiritual gifts to men, and of which he speaks and thinks in a personal way, just as he thinks of the Lord and God as personal. We shall have to consider this passage further when we speak of the Trinity. What I wish to emphasize now is that to consider that he looked upon the Spirit as impersonal would be to ascribe to him ideas which were not true to his time. The difference between his view and that of the heathen was that he believed in one divine Spirit instead of a multitude of beings of an inferior order.
The other passage to which I would draw your particular attention is the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. If we analyse the language of that chapter we shall find that there is lying behind St. Paul's words a conception of the Spirit such as the Christian Church has conceived it. There is first of all a distinction made between the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit. The spirit represents a characteristic of human nature. Then secondly we find a clear distinction between the human spirit and that Spirit which is sometimes described as the Spirit of God, and sometimes as the Spirit of Christ. 'Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'Then it is spoken of as 'the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead'. That Spirit dwelleth in us, and Christ also is in us. I think it becomes clear that the distinction between the human spirit and the Spirit of God or of Christ is a definite one. To this Spirit are ascribed various characteristics which imply personality. 'As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.' 'The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God.' 'The Spirit helpeth our infirmity.' 'The Spirit himself maketh intercession for us.' 'He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.' ' It is difficult not to see here the work of what we should describe as a person. In this chapter we have a Spirit which is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ which dwells and works in us, and does so because we have a spiritual nature which responds to the Spirit.
We pause for a moment at the conclusion of our study of the New Testament and sum up the results of our investigation.
1. It was expected that the Messianic period would be characterized by a special outpouring of the Spirit.
2. It was the characteristic of our Lord to baptize with the Holy Ghost. His life is represented as being lived under the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit.
3. The Apostolic period was characterized in accordance with Messianic expectation by a great outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit.
4. The Spirit was the source of spiritual, of ethical holiness, and of knowledge of divine things on earth. It was the power through which had come the growth of the Church.
5. The Spirit was of God and represented God's working in the world. It was also the Spirit of Christ.
6. The Spirit is spoken of in language which to us would imply personality.
7. The mind of the Apostolic Age was enshrined in the baptismal formula which co-ordinated the Spirit with the Father and the Son.
We pass now to the teaching about the Spirit in Christian theology. In the earliest period of the history of the Church, there is a close analogy between the teaching about the Spirit and the teaching about the Person of Christ. There is an inherited tradition which is shown in the baptismal formula and the earliest forms of the Creed and there is a deep religious experience, but at first at any rate there is a good deal of imperfect and confused theology. The teaching was less coherent than that of the Apostolic Age, and often seemed to misunderstand the Biblical teaching. Many imperfect attempts were made at formulating the doctrine, and creating a theology. The teaching about the Spirit lagged behind that on the Person of Christ. The great controversies were almost always on the Person of Christ, and the doctrine of the Spirit was only treated in a subordinate fashion and incidentally.
I do not propose to study the development in detail, as historical theology is for our purpose subordinated to doctrinal statement, but there are three points in the earlier history that I would touch on.
You will find in certain writers a tendency to identify the Spirit with the pre-existent Son. A striking instance is in that interesting and curious work The Shepherd of Hermas. The real interest of this work is that it was written not by a philosopher or theologian, but by an ordinary uninstructed and not well-educated Christian, and it represents therefore the sort of confusion which might prevail in popular theology.
Here is a well-known passage:
'The Holy pre-existent Spirit that created the whole creation was made by God to dwell in flesh which He willed it to inhabit. This flesh, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, served the Spirit well, walking in dignity and purity, and never defiling the Spirit in any way. Having then lived well and purely, and having laboured with the Spirit and worked with it in everything ... it was chosen by God as a partner with the Holy Spirit. ... So He took counsel with the Son and the glorious angels that this flesh also, since it had served the Spirit blamelessly, might have a place of rest and not appear to lose the reward due to its service; for all flesh shall receive a reward, that has been found undefiled and without spot, and in which the Holy Spirit dwelt.'
However we may interpret this, it would be difficult to find more confused theological writing. Elsewhere we have direct statements speaking of the Son as the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit as the Son of God.
There is a similar passage in the document which goes by the name of the Second Epistle of Clement: 'If Christ the Lord who saved us was at the first spirit, but was made flesh, and in that condition called us, we too in like manner shall receive our reward in this flesh.'
'The Church was spiritual as our Jesus also was; yet He was manifested in the last days to save us. So the Church, though spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ, showing us that if any of us keep her in the flesh and corrupt her not, he shall receive her in the Holy Spirit. For this flesh of ours is the copy of the Spirit; no one, therefore, after he has corrupted the copy shall receive the original. So then this is what He says: "Keep the flesh that ye may partake of the Spirit." If we say that the flesh is the Church and the Spirit is Christ, then he who maltreats the flesh maltreats the Church, and such a man shall not partake of the Spirit, which is Christ – so great is the life and immortality of which this flesh can partake if the Holy Spirit is joined to it.'
As Dr. Swete says, this passage is very difficult to follow. You will find similar language in various not very important writings. I feel obliged to refer to these passages as a good deal is made out of them in the history of doctrine. I would like to add a few remarks on the subject.
1. This confusion seems to have been made by authors who in other parts of their work clearly distinguish between the second and third Person of the Trinity, for instance Justin Martyr in his Apology, says: 'The Spirit and the Power which is from God must not be thought to be aught else but the Logos who is God's First-begotten ... and this Spirit when it came upon the Virgin and overshadowed her, made her pregnant ... by an act of power.'Here clearly he seems to identify the Spirit and the Logos. But in another passage Justin clearly shows that he distinguishes the second and third persons of the Trinity: 'Rather we will demonstrate that we have reason to honour Jesus Christ who was our teacher in these matters and was born for this end, whom we have learned to be the Son of the living God, and to whom we give the second place, assigning a third rank to the Spirit of prophecy.' This passage would hardly have been considered orthodox at a later date, but it shows clearly that Justin distinguishes the Persons.
2. A good deal of the difficulty comes from a confusion in the use of the word 'spiritual'. These writers desired to point out that the Logos, the divine Word, which became incarnate, was in its nature spiritual. They used the term spirit in contrast with material. It meant divine. When they spoke of the Word as spirit they meant to tell us simply that our Lord Jesus Christ in his pre-existent state was divine. In doing this, however, they got confused both in thought and in language.
3. This confusion was helped by the confusion in the language of St. Paul which has already been referred to. At the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans he tells us that our Lord 'was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness'. He means that our Lord in his spiritual nature was the Son of God, but the expression that he used – 'spirit of holiness' – was quite capable of being confused with the Holy Spirit. I have already discussed other similar passages.
Now it is quite possible out of the words of St. Paul and these passages in second-century literature to make out a case, as a certain number of theologians have done, for the identity of the Son and the Spirit, but I am quite certain that it is a mistaken exegesis, and that the difficulty has arisen from confusion of thought owing to the fact that the word Spirit may be used to mean spiritual as opposed to material, as well as specifically 'the Holy Spirit'.
The next point of interest is Montanism.
About the middle of the second century there arose in Phrygia, in the centre of Asia Minor, a sect which from the name of its founder was called Montanism. It was characterized by violent, ecstatic outbursts of spiritual religion: in particular by a great development of prophecy especially among women. In its origin it taught a lofty and ascetic morality, but if we are to trust its critics, and I think probably they had some grounds for their accusation, it tended to degenerate into immorality. Like other sects in other days, like the Anabaptists of Münster who resembled it in some ways, it proposed to create a new Jerusalem at an obscure village in Phrygia called Pepuza and to organize the Church with a hierarchy of prophets and prophetesses instead of the ordinary Christian ministry. The influence of the sect was not confined to its home, but we find traces of it in other parts of Asia. It spread to Rome, to Lyons in Gaul, and in particular it spread to Africa where its most distinguished convert was Tertullian.
What was the meaning of this sect? There are two things which will account for its origin. The first is that it exhibited Christianity as influenced by the national characteristics of the people of Phrygia. The Roman province of Asia – Asia Minor as we call it – was, as we know from inscriptions, the first part of the world in which Christianity took a real hold on the people. In Phrygia and the district round, Greek Christian inscriptions have been found of as early a date as A.D. 120, and probably in the third century the majority of its inhabitants were Christian. Now Phrygia was famous for the orgiastic worship of Cybele and Atys – a worship of a highly emotional character. The acceptance of Christianity does not at once change human nature. After a nation is converted the old tendencies reassert themselves under a Christian guise. That is one of the keys for understanding the early history of the Christian Church. In Rome for example we find the legal and imperial spirit lived on in the Western Church. In the Eastern Church the philosophical acuteness of the Greeks was preserved, and at Alexandria, the great home of science and philosophy in the early centuries of the Christian era, the first Christian philosophy grew up. So the Church of North Africa reflects the harshness of the African temperament. In the same way in Phrygia the natural instincts of the people asserted themselves when once Christianity had obtained a real hold on the people. It exhibited an ecstatic religion, severe asceticism, outbursts of prophecy – then terrible relapses, the sort of reactions which are often found in connexion with revivalist meetings at the present day.
A second cause of the spread of Montanism, and certainly the reason why it became so attractive to Tertullian, was that it was a reaction of a more spiritual religion against an official religion. In Asia Minor the organization of the Church was early. Councils of bishops took place before the middle of the second century. A conventional and official religion began to grow up. It was against this that Montanism was a reaction. Still more was that the case with Tertullian. He tells us that Christianity consisted in the worship of the Spirit, and not in a crowd of bishops. This is a perpetually recurring characteristic in the history of Christianity. The needs of the Church demand organization. Organization stereotypes religion. Spiritual life grows cold, and the more fiery spirits revolt against organization and establishment.
Was Montanism heretical? According to some accounts which have come down to us it was. Montanus was stated to have said that there were three revelations: the revelation of Jehovah in the Old Testament, the revelation of the Father; the revelation through Jesus Christ in the New Testament, which was the revelation of the Son; the revelation of the Spirit through Montanus. He was accused of having identified himself with the Spirit. We have no trace of anything of the sort in Tertullian, whose theology was not only orthodox but in advance of his time. Probably this account was a caricature. What Montanus really taught was that the Christian Church was the sphere of the revelation of the Spirit. Montanism appears to have meant a revival of spiritual religion, partly healthy, partly unhealthy, arising from the state of the Church, but tending to become undisciplined and uncontrolled. It is the earliest recorded instance in Church history of a spiritual reaction against an over-conventionalized religion. Such reactions have constantly occurred since then with the same advantages and the same dangers.
I would now speak shortly about the beginnings of the theology of the Spirit.
The end of the second and beginning of the third century was, as we have seen, the period of what are called the Monarchian controversies, controversies which arose when the problem first presented itself to the Church: How is it possible to harmonize a belief in one God with a belief in Father, Son, and Spirit? It was a controversy which was bound to arise as soon as people began to reflect upon traditional Christianity, and it was brought home to the Church by heathen criticism.
At first the controversy touched only the Person of Christ, but under one writer, Sabellius, the question of the Holy Spirit began to be discussed. The name of Sabellius is associated particularly with the heresy which denied the separate personality of the Father, Son, and Spirit. These are three names of three different aspects of one divine person, just as there are body, soul, and spirit in man, or light, heat, and its orb in the sun. The three names represent not three persons of the Godhead but three extensions. The Father was revealed in Creation, the Son in the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit in the Church. Each is an extension. The Father has been extended into the Son and into the Spirit. As there has been an extension there will be a contraction. The Spirit which is the Church will be reabsorbed into the Son, and the Son into the Father. Then God will be all in all. This is the earliest instance of a Christian philosophy of the Absolute. All things are the result of the development of a single first principle. Nothing has any permanence apart from the one. All will be reabsorbed into the one. It was a pantheistic explanation of Christianity.
What I would emphasize is the general fullness of the Christian tradition at the end of the second and beginning of the third century on Trinitarian lines. I will speak of this further under the doctrine of the Trinity. At this time we have the great names Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Hippolytus, and we find that they all put forward, not necessarily in identical language, what we may call a Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The language may not always be accurate from the point of view of later theology, but we are concerned with the reality of Christian teaching, and this consensus of opinion from such different parts of the Christian world is evidence that Trinitarian teaching was really the full tradition of the Christian Church, and that the irregular teaching discussed above was an aberration.
The following passage from the treatise of Tertullian against Praxeas may be taken as the most complete statement yet made in the Church. It was written by him as a Montanist, and exhibits very well the unity of Christian doctrine. After speaking of the one God, of the Son, and of the Spirit, he condemns those who thought that belief in the unity could not be maintained unless it was held that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and the same, and then he proceeds:
'As if all were not one so long as all are of one, namely by unity of substance, and the mystery of the economy may nevertheless be preserved, which arranges the Unity in a Trinity, setting in their order three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three, however, not in condition but in relation, not in substance but in mode of existence, and not in power but in special characteristics; or rather of one substance, one condition, and one power, inasmuch as it is one God from whom these relations and modes and special characteristics are reckoned in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.'
We come now to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the controversies of the fourth century. The result of these was to give precision and accuracy to the teaching of the Church, but I doubt whether it really added anything to the teaching of Scripture or to the traditions of the Christian Church in Ante-Nicene times. There had been, as we have seen, a certain amount of confused theological writing, but this does not represent a tradition, but reaction from a tradition. The great influence in the theology of the third and fourth centuries was fear of Sabellianism, and Arianism was a reaction in the other direction. The teaching of Arius was primarily concerned with the doctrine of the Person of Christ, but it influenced also the doctrine of the Spirit. He taught that 'the essences of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are separate in nature, alien and diverse, and incapable of participating in each other; and they are altogether and infinitely dissimilar in essence as well as in glory'. I do not think that Arianism in any of its forms has attractions for us at the present day. Many people have a tendency to Sabellianism, but Arianism was really a semi-paganism, a half-way house to Christianity, with its belief of a sort of revived pagan hierarchy, a first God, the Unknown, a created Son, an inferior Spirit, angels, and other spiritual beings. It was clearly mythological.
During the early years of the Arian controversy, the doctrine of the Spirit attracted very little attention. It was only about the close of the period – about the year 360 – that definite controversy on the subject began. First in Egypt we hear of the rise of an heretical body who are called the Tropiki – a nickname arising from the way they interpreted Scripture – who were prepared to accept the full divinity of the Son but compromised by saying that the Spirit was a created being. They were condemned at the synod of Alexandria in 361, a synod of importance in the history of the Trinity. The Bishops of this synod said 'they must anathematize also those who say that the Holy Spirit is a creature and separate from the essential nature of Christ, for they who, while they pretend to hold the Nicene faith, venture to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, are Arians at heart, though they may profess to reject that heresy'.
This tendency to compromise, however, continued to prevail, and between the years 360 and 381 the most conspicuous part of the controversy with Arianism turned on the doctrine of the Spirit. Arianism was beginning to be played out, and it was an easy if unintelligent compromise to accept the divinity of the Son and deny that of the Spirit. Those who did so were called Macedonians (from their leader Mace-donius) or Pneumatomachi (those who fight the Spirit) or Semi-Arians. Macedonius, we are told, said that 'The Holy Spirit had no claim to the divine honours which were attributed to the Son, being but a minister and a servant, as the Holy Angels may without offence be called'.
We find the same teaching in a more extreme form in Eunomius. He is best known by the work of Basil of Caesarea against him. The Holy Spirit, he taught, was third not only in dignity and order but in nature also: he was made by the Son at the bidding of the Father – the first and greatest of the works of the Only-begotten, but yet a creature possessing no creative power.
The orthodox position was represented by a Roman Council held under Bishop Damasus in 369. At this it was laid down that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 'of one Godhead, one power, one character, one essence'. 'In no respect do we separate the Holy Spirit, but we adore him together with the Father and the Son as perfect in all things, in power, honour, majesty, and Godhead.' At the Second General Council the Eunomians, and the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachi were condemned, and it was at this time that the clauses relating to the Holy Spirit were added to the Creed.
From this time onward the full doctrine of the Holy Ghost as of the same essence with the Father and the Son has been accepted by the Christian Church. It was worked out and developed by a succession of Fathers, of whom one or two may be referred to.
Athanasius definitely taught that the Spirit is of the essence of God. The Spirit is the sanctifying and illuminating living energy and gift of the Son, which is said to proceed from the Father, because it shines forth from the Word, who is from the Father. The Father sends the Son, and the Son the Spirit; the Son glorifies the Father, and the Spirit the Son: the Son receives from the Father, and the Spirit from the Son.
Epiphanius works out the doctrine of the Spirit fully in the treatise called the Ancoratus written in A.D. 374. 'The Holy Spirit is ever with the Father and the Son, and is from
God, proceeding from the Father and receiving of the Son.' 'The Spirit is God, from the Father and the Son.'
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit as of the Trinity was worked out in its most complete form by the Cappadocian theologians, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa. Some account of Basil's teaching as given by Dr. Swete may be sufficient for our purpose.
'In view of the titles which, the Spirit bears in Scripture – "Spirit of God", "Spirit of Truth", "Holy Spirit", the last being "His proper and peculiar appellation" – we cannot think of His nature being circumscribed or liable, as created natures are, to change. Rather, He must be conceived of as an intelligent Essence of unlimited power, magnitude, and duration, whose goodness overflows to all that turn to it for sancti-fication; a Power simple in essence, manifold in its potencies, wholly present in each individual, and yet present everywhere. Souls that carry the presence of the Spirit, and are illuminated by it, not only themselves become spiritual but emit grace to others. It is from this source that men receive foreknowledge, the understanding of mysteries, a share in spiritual gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the company of Angels, endless joy, the power to dwell in God, to become like God, and that highest end after which the creature can reach, to be made partakers of the Divine nature.'
And more technically:
'When we say that the Spirit is of God,we do not mean in the same sense in which all things are of God, but as proceeding from God, not by way of generation as the Son does, but as the Breath of His mouth; yet not like our breath that vanishes, but as a living essence which has the power to sanctify – a Person whose relationship to God is revealed by His procession, but the manner of whose being is kept secret and ineffable.'
I will conclude this section with extracts from St. John of Damascus, who presents the teaching of the earlier Church in its most systematic and scholastic form.
'We believe,' he says, 'in one God ... one Essence, one Godhead, one Power, Will . . . known and worshipped with one worship in three perfect hypostases. ... We believe in one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, as being both co-essential with them and co-eternal.'
I come now to a doctrine which from one point of view it is difficult to look upon as important; from another point of view has had a great and unfortunate influence in Christian history, what is called the doctrine of the Procession. This is one of those subjects which any one who professes to know about theology must understand as a technical question, although it does not appear to have any real bearing on religious life. There are times when theological discussion passes from reality to words. The doctrine of the Procession seems to be one of those cases where unfortunately words have had an excessive influence in the history of Christianity; but it is not possible to unravel the entanglements and remedy the disasters, without having the patience to know the history and meaning of the controversy.
The doctrine of the Procession turns on what is called the filioque clause. The original Creed of Chalcedon speaks of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father, the Creed as we say it in Church adds the words, 'and the Son' – 'Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son'. The Eastern Church still uses the uninterpolated Creed, the Western Church the interpolated, and this difference, which I find it difficult to look upon as anything but a difference of words, became the cause or the symbol of the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches.
We take first the doctrine. Procession is the technical term used by theologians to express the relation of the Holy Ghost to the Father and the Son. Hooker in his summary of the doctrine of the Trinity says that it is the special characteristic of the Son to be begotten, of the Holy Spirit to proceed. The Cappadocian theologians to whom in particular we owe the formulation of this doctrine tell us that these words are not adequate but only used for the sake of clearness of thought. So Gregory of Nazianzus writes:
Do you ask what is meant by the procession of the Spirit? Tell me what you mean by the Father being ingenerate, and I will give you the physiology of the Son's generation and the Spirit's procession. Who are we that we should handle matters such as these? We who cannot count the sand of the sea or the drops of rain or the days of eternity, not to speak of intruding into the depths of God and giving an account of a Nature so far beyond our words and reason.'
'It is enough to be able to distinguish the Persons by the use of terms which accord with the revealed manner of the subsistence of each, and with regard to the Person of the Spirit to say that he goes forth from the Father, but not as a Son, since he is produced not by generation but by procession. It is only for the sake of clearness that we are compelled to use these novel terms.'
The source of the phrase is in the Gospel of St. John: 'But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father.' Here two words are used, the first denotes the going forth of the Spirit in time, the ἔκπεμψις, the second the derivation of the Holy Spirit from the Father, the ἐκπόρευσις. Now a tendency grew up among Eastern and Western theologians to look at the question from different points of view and to use different language. Western theologians spoke generally of the Holy Ghost coming from the Father and the Son. For instance Hilary of Poitiers in the first half of the fourth century says 'We are bound to confess him, deriving his origin as he does from the Father and the Son'.They did not do this without reason. It seemed to them to be a natural deduction from the fact that whatever the Father had he had given to the Son. As St. Augustine said: 'As the Father hath life in himself, so, our Lord teaches, hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. ... Hence, when the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the Father, it is to be understood that he proceeds also from the Son.' Similar and more definite language is used by Leo the Great, and generally we find that Western theologians hold that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
But when we turn to the East, we find different language used. The Eastern theologian thought primarily of the fact that there could be only one source in the Godhead. Everything was derived from the Father. In order to guard this truth he avoided what seemed to him the somewhat unguarded language of the West. Epiphanius for example had said proceeds from the Father and receives from the Son.Basil of Caesarea, to take another example, writes as follows:
'The Holy Spirit is attached to the Son, with whom he is apprehended inseparably; while his being depends upon the Father as Cause, from whom also he proceeds. The Person of the Spirit is characterized by the two-fold note of deriving subsistence from the Father, and being known as following after and with the Son.'
The final and as we shall see the conciliatory expression of Greek orthodoxy we find in John of Damascus. I have already quoted the expression that he proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son. 'We speak', he says, 'of the Son as from the Father, and the Son of the Father: and similarly we say that the Holy Spirit is from the Father and we call him the Spirit of the Father; ... we call him also the Spirit of the Son, but
we do not speak of him as from the Son ... ' 'The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.'
So far nothing had occurred which was not quite in accordance with many other things that happened in Church history. Different schools of theology emphasized different doctrines, and developed them in different ways. Unfortunately this doctrine became involved in the controversies between the Churches, and unfortunately also, pfobably in the beginning quite accidentally, the Western Church altered the Creed. The ordinary language in the West was to speak of the Procession from the Father and the Son. In the year 589 we find the Creed recited at the Third Council of Toledo, as we in the West recite it now with the filioque added. There is no reason for thinking that it was inserted on purpose. It probably crept in from the current theological language of the day, perhaps from a marginal gloss. From that time onwards the interpolated Creed gradually spread in the West.
At the end of the eighth century came the Iconoclastic controversy. The Seventh General Council which allowed the veneration of images was condemned by a Council held at Frankfurt in 794, and at that Council the Western doctrine and the Western form of the Creed were definitely and decisively accepted. Then about the year 809 we find difficulties prevailing at Jerusalem. There were Latin monks living in a monastery on the Mount of Olives, and they were accused of having interpolated the Creed. They were quite unconscious of having done so. They merely used it in the form which had become habitual in the West. The question was referred to the Pope Leo III. Though he accepted the Western doctrine he condemned the alteration, and had the Creed in its original form transcribed on two shields of silver in Greek and Latin and put up in St. Peter's. But the antagonism between East and West grew stronger, largely owing to the rivalry between the See of Rome and the See of Constantinople. Sixty years later we find Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicating Nicholas I for having interpolated the Creed. The breach did not become final until the eleventh century, but ever since then the doctrine of the double procession and the filioque clause have been the symbol of the schism between East and West – one of the gravest evils which have weakened the Christian Church.
There have been two attempts at uniting East and West which are worth referring to. The first is the Council of Florence which was held in 1439. In the decrees of that Council it is stated that while some said that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son, others said that it proceeded from the Father through the Son, and that both had the same meaning. The formula of agreement adopted was that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, but it was explained in a way which would hardly have been looked upon as satisfactory in the East, for it was said that it signified that the Son equally with the Father according to the Greeks was a cause and according to the Latins a first principle of the Holy Spirit. The Council of Florence was entirely unsuccessful. The delegates who had assented to the union with the Western Church were received in Constantinople with contempt, and the only result was, instead of uniting East and West against the Turks, to aggravate the situation in Constantinople.
A second discussion which has had great influence on public opinion was the Bonn Conferences in 1875, 1876. It was organized by the Old Catholics and Dr. Dollinger, the well-known Bavarian theologian, and attended by representatives of the Eastern Church and the Church of England. Among the latter was Canon Liddon. It recognized that the addition of \hefilioque to the Creed did not take place in an ecclesiastically regular manner. It rejected every proposition and every method of expression which in any way acknowledged two principles or causes in the Godhead, and it accepted certain statements of St. John of Damascus as representing the teaching of the ancient undivided Church.
1. The Holy Spirit issues out of the Father, as the beginning, the cause, the source of the Godhead.
2. The Holy Spirit does not issue out of the Son because there is in the Godhead but one beginning, one cause through which all that is in the Godhead is produced.
3. The Holy Ghost issues out of the Father through the Son.
4. The Holy Spirit is the image of the Son who is the image of the Father, issuing out of the Father, and resting in the Son as his revealing power.
5. The Holy Spirit is the personal production out of the Father, belonging to the Son, but not of the Son, because he is the Spirit of the mouth of God declarative of the Word.
6. The Holy Spirit forms the link between the Father and the Son and is linked to the Father by the Son.
As one surveys this history, I do not think that we can doubt that it is a great misfortune that such a controversy should ever have arisen. It is not real nor would it have had any importance if it had not been involved in the dispute between Constantinople and Rome. As regards one point, the interpolation of the Creed, I do not think that there can be any doubt that the Western Church is wrong. The Councils, as I have already pointed out, condemn any addition to the Creed. An addition made by one branch of the Christian Church is irregular. When East and West meet it is the uninterpolated Creed that must be recited.
Let us pass from the discussion of these technicalities, which we cannot treat as unimportant for they have played a great part in Christian history, and turn to the realities of the religious life. We accept the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, not only because of the testimony of Scripture and the teaching of the Church, but because it corresponds to the facts of religious experience. The experience is both that of our own religious life and our observation of the religious phenomena of the world. Our experience may vary and may be conditioned by our intellectual presuppositions, but the good Christian is convinced that he hears the voice of God speaking in his heart. He hears it when he obeys the voice of conscience. He hears it at moments of exalted religious life. He hears it (as did the early Christians) when he feels himself filled with a new power. He hears it when he is carried away by some divine inspiration, and his tongue is loosed, and his heart enlarged, and his insight illuminated. All these are realities of religious experience.
This religious experience has been investigated in a work of considerable interest, The Varieties of Religious Experience, by Professor William James. Professor James had been trained as a man of science, and approached the study of religion from an inductive and scientific point of view. He carried out by himself and with the assistance of others an investigation of great thoroughness of religious phenomena. He arrived at the conclusion that the religious faculty in man is something real and beneficent; that there is a spiritual nature in man which harmonizes with and responds to a spiritual nature in the universe.
He sums up his conclusions as follows:
'Summing up', he says, 'in the broadest possible way the characteristics of the religious life, ... it includes the following beliefs:
'1. That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it draws its chief significance.
'2. That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our true end.
'3. That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof – be that spirit "God" or "law" – is a process wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, psychological or material, within the phenomenal world.
'4. As a result you get a new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the form either of lyrical enchantment or of appeal to earnestness and heroism, and
'5. An assurance of safety and a temper of peace, and, in relation to others, a preponderance of loving affections.'
These propositions, I think, sum up as the result of scientific investigation what we mean by the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and we shall find that there are three explanations given of these phenomena.
1. The first is that all these phenomena are merely psychological experiences and have no objective reality.
2. The second would look upon them as the result of an impersonal spiritual influence in man and in the universe.
3. The third is that they come from that personal divine influence which we denominate God.
It is I think necessary that the achievements and limitations of psychological science should be clearly defined. The psychologist studies the workings of the human mind just as a man of science studies animate or inanimate nature. He is able to describe how things happen just as they do, but like them also he is unable to discover or describe the ultimate causes. The knowledge that he attains may be of great practical utility; it may enable us to understand and cure many of the diseases of the mind; it may be conducive to mental health, but that represents the limits of its power. It has sometimes been attempted to find the ultimate cause of all mental phenomena in the material structure of the brain and body. The arguments in favour of such an opinion seem most inadequate. It is true that if the brain, which is the instrument of the soul or spirit, be injured, the spirit cannot work in the world, just as injury to the body, which is also an instrument of the spirit, prevents it from accomplishing its purpose, but there is no evidence to prove that the powers or capacities of the spirit originate in our bodily structure. The evidence seems on the whole to be the other way. The spirit brings power to the body. The mind moved by purely spiritual influences, intellectual ideas, religious emotion, personal influence, can stir up the body to new work, can give it greater strength, can help to produce physical equally with mental health.
Nor is there any proof that the mind or spirit is not influenced from without. The evidence of human experience would be clearly on the other side. The prophet feels that the message he has to give comes from some source or influence outside him. The artist or the poet feels he is under the influence of some inspiration. The reformer or the statesman is doubly strong for his mission if he believes that he is God's instrument to fulfil his will. Let us take the phenomenon of prayer. I suppose few doubt that prayer may be a power: 'More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of: but it would be asserted that prayer is really 'auto-suggestion'. 'The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much'; but it does so, it would be claimed, because it has a reflex action on the man who prays and influences his mental state, stirring him to fresh action or giving him peace and calm and resignation. Now I do not think that that would correspond with the experience of the religious man. He knows that his prayer will be answered, but he does not know how. He prays with the implied petition, 'Thy will be done', and sometimes the result of his prayer seems to be an unexpected and almost miraculous accomplishment of what he prays for, and sometimes a recognition that his prayer is wrong. Sometimes he receives new strength for the work that he is set upon accomplishing, sometimes he learns resignation and patience. If he were asked to say what hypothesis would best explain the phenomena of prayer, the answer of the religious man would be that he was dealing with a person of wisdom and power and mercy, in whose hands he was ready to place himself.
I do not think there is any substantial evidence in favour of a materialistic explanation of mental phenomena, or against the belief in the influence of a spiritual environment. But a further question that arises is whether this environment is personal or impersonal.
The spiritual has been conceived as a semi-physical influence. A power more subtle than anything material which influences the human mind, as a drug might do. It is explained by analogy with the non-spiritual world. Now I believe that any such explanation is contrary to all our experience. We only know spirit as an attribute of a person. The real analogy is to the influence of one man on another. That influence does not lie in any infusion of some non-materialistic force, but simply in the influence of one mind on the other, an influence which may be partly intellectual, but also lies in the power of one personality or the other. Let me quote a description of what is meant by moral influence:
'When we pass to the sphere of moral goodness we find exactly the same principle at work. It is a commonplace, confirmed by all experience, that the chief factor in moral achievement is personal influence. It works by way of word and example, and it is for this reason that we insist on the value of reading the exploits and the life-story of good men and women. But it works most powerfully through personal contact. The presence of a good man or woman with the gift of a sympathetic personality is admittedly the greatest human force in developing character. This gift is found in very varying degrees. There are some whose lives seem to be lived on a high level, yet they do not attract or influence. On the contrary their presence by a kind of instinctive reaction fills us with an unreasoning desire to be as wicked as possible. Certain teachers notoriously have this effect upon many of their children, they have neither the charm of goodness nor the spell of personality. Others whose lives may sometimes be more open to obvious criticism, have it to a marked degree. To be with them is the safeguard against sin and the inducement to goodness. Once more there is a blending of spirit with spirit, but the self of the one who is influenced remains his own self, discovering unrealized capacities of moral greatness and hidden depths of character.'
It is by this analogy that we understand the working of God's Spirit. In the Old Testament the Spirit is the power of God, in the New Testament the Spirit is personal. When we study the doctrine of the Trinity we shall learn why there is this difference of personality. At the moment it is sufficient to emphasize that the Spirit is always conceived of as personal, and that nothing else from a religious point of view is possible. Spirit has no meaning except as an attribute of a person, and if we have once conceived of the world around us as inspired by a personal spirit many other phenomena become comprehensible. The beauty of the universe and the power of the artists are alike the influence of a person.
'So in poetry and all art there is an implied dogma that all beauty is personal. The artist affirms that in his art, even if he would deny it in his creed; and our joy in his art is a joy in that sense of the personal everywhere which he communicates to us. It is not his own person that he tries to express to us, but the personal in that which is not himself. That likeness of which we are aware in all art, even music, and which we call truth, is a likeness to the personal which the artist has seen or felt and which he communicates to us, whether in speech or lines or music. If he has not seen or felt it, he cannot draw its likeness, but when he can and does, then we recognize it. The truth of art is not a likeness to things as we see them, when we do not feel the personal in them.'
I think then that the reality and personality of God's Holy Spirit is the necessary basis of our religious life and the natural explanation of our experience. In discussing the doctrine of God we concluded that no meaning could be attached to the epithets we applied to him except in relation to a Person; reason, or purpose, or righteousness, or love cannot exist in our minds except as being the characteristics of what we conceive of as Person. So it is with Spirit, Spirit must be the attribute of a Person, and religion means the relation of free spirits to a personal God.
We may for the time stop here, but it will become apparent as we proceed how this conception should control all our theological thought and speculation, and this especially in three directions, in the theology of grace, in the theology of the Sacraments, and in the doctrine of human freedom. Grace will be seen to be not 'an external, semi-physical "something" which comes into some souls at certain times and under certain conditions much like an electric current', but 'the result of contact of man's personality or spirit with God's'. The Sacraments are found to have nothing mechanical or magical about them, but are the divinely appointed means by which man approaches God, and receives from God his spiritual life. The action of divine grace or the loving-kindness of God no more destroys the freedom, the responsibility, and moral life of man, than does the influence of a human personality in stimulating our intellectual life, in inspiring our purpose, or guiding our moral instincts.
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