And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Ever, as upon this day, somewhat we are to speak of the Holy Ghost and of His coming. And this also, here, is a coming of the Holy Ghost. And not a coming only, but a coming in a type or form, by the sense to be perceived; and so suits well with the coming of this day. For so this day He came.
Three such comings there were in all. Once did our Saviour receive the Holy Ghost, and twice did He give It. Give It on earth in the text; and after, from Heaven on the day. So three in all. At Christ's baptism, 'It came upon Him in the shape of a dove.' At this feast It came upon the His Apostles in the likeness of 'tongues of fire.' And here now, in this, comes breath-wise, having breath for the symbolum to represent it. The tongues have been heard speak, the dove has had his flight, and now this third of breath falls to be treated of. The tongues have been heard speak, the dove hath had his flight, and now this third of breath falleth to be treated of.
It is the middle, this, of the three. That of baptism went before it; that serves to make Christians. This of breath comes after it; this serves to make them, as I may say, [261/262] Christian-makers; such, whose ministry Christ would use to make Christians; make them, and keep them; make them so by baptism, and keep them so by the power of the keys here given them in the next words, for the remission of sins.
And as it follows well after that of baptism, so it goes well before the other of tongues. For first, there must be breath, before there be tongues wherewith the speech is to be framed. The tongues but fashion the breath into certain sounds, which without breath they cannot; and when that fails, their office is at an end. So, first breath, then tongues. And another reason yet. It is said in the seventh chapter, 'the Spirit was not to be given then till Christ was glorified,' and 'glorified' He was in part, at His Resurrection. Then therefore given in part, as here we see. But much more glorious after, by His Ascension: given therefore then, in fuller measure. Here but a breath, there a mighty wind. Here but afflatus, 'breathed in,' there effusus, 'poured out'--the Spirit proceeding gradually. For by degrees they were brought on, went through them all, all three. Baptized, and so made Christians; breathed into, and so made what we are; had the tongues sit on them, and so made Apostles properly so called. .
But three things may be said of this here; 1. that of all the three comings, first, it is the most proper. For most kindly it is for the Spirit to be inspired, to come per modum spirationis, in manner of breath; inasmuch as It has the name a spirando and is indeed Itself Flamen, the very breath, as it were, proceeding a Patre Filioque. So one breath by another.
2. Then the most effectual it is. For in both the other, the dove, and the tongues, the Spirit did but come, but light upon them. In this It comes, not upon them, but even into them, instrinsically. It is insufflavit. It went into their inward parts; and so made them indeed.qeopueÚstouj, 'men inspired by God;' and that within.
3. And last it is of the greatest use. Both the other were but for once: baptism but once for every one; the tongues but once for all. This is toties quoties; so often as we sin, and that is often enough, we need it. Look how often that, so often have we use of this breath here breathed, as the next verse shows, for peccato remiseritis, the remission of sins.
Now what is here to do, what business is in hand, we cannot [262/263] know, if ever we have been at the giving of Holy Orders. For by these words are they given, 'Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins ye remit &c.' Were to them, and are to us, even to this day, by these words and no other words; which words had not the Church of Rome retained in their ordinations, it might well have been doubted, for all thier Accipe potestatem sacrificandi pro vivis et mortuis, whether they had any Priests at all, or no. But as God would, they retained them, and so saved themselves. For these are the very operative words for the conferring this power, for performing this act.
Which act is here performed somewhat after the manner of a Sacrament. For here is an outward ceremony, of breathing, instar elementi; and here is a word coming to it, 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' That some have therefore yielded to give that name or title to Holy Orders. As indeed the word Sacrament hath been sometime drawn out wider, and so Orders taken in; and othersome plucked in narrower, and so they left out, as it hath pleased both the old and later writers. And if the grace here given had been gratum faciens, as in a Sacrament it should, and not, as it is, gratis data, but in office or function: and again, if the outward ceremony of breathing had not been changed, as it hath plainly, it had been somewhat. But being changed after into laying on of hands, it may well be questioned. For we all agree there is no Sacrament but of Christ's own institution; and that neither matter nor form He hath instituted, may be changed.
Yet two parts there be evidently: 1. insufflavit, and 2. dixt; 1. 'He breathed,' and 2. 'He said.' Of these two then, first jointly, and then severally. From them jointly, two points. Of the Godhead of our Saviour first; and then of the proceeding of the Holy Ghost from Him.
Then severally. First insufflavit, and in it three points; 1. Of the breath, and the symbolising of it with the Holy Ghost. 2. Secondly, of the parties: He that breathed, Christ; they that breathed into, the Apostles. 3. And last of the act itself; sufflavit, breathing,' insufflavit, 'breathing into' them. After of dixit, 'the word said,' 1. Accipite, 'of the receiving.' 2. Then of the thing received, which is Spiritum, 'the spirit.' And not every, or any Spirit, but Sanctum, [263/264] 'the Holy Ghost.' And because that may be received many ways, whichway of them It is here received.
We proceed first jointly out of both, and begin with matter of faith. Two articles of it; 1. The Godhead of Christ, 2. The proceeding of the Holy Ghost from the second Person.
The first, rising out of the two main parts; for as insufflavit argues His manhood, so dixit doth His Godhead--His saying, 'Receive the Holy Ghost;' for hæc vox hominem non sonat, no man of himself can so say. Versus homo qui spiriare, true man, by His breathing. Verus Deus Qui Spiritum donare, 'true God, by his bidding them take, and so giving them the Holy Ghost.' To give that gift, to breathe such a breath, is beyond the power of men or Angels, is more than any can do save God only.
For that we say them also in our Ordering, the case is far different. We say them not as in our own, but as in His Person. We bid them from Him receive it, not from ourselves. This point will again fall in afterwards.
Next we argue for the Holy Ghost's proceeding from Him; and that evidently. For as He gave of His breath, so did He of the Spirit. The breath from His humanity, the Spirit from His deity. The breath into their bodies, the Spirit into their souls. The outward act teaches visibly without, what is invisibly done within.
Thrice was the Holy Spirit sent, and in three forms. 1. Of 'a dove;' 2. Of breath; 3. Of 'cloven tongues.' From the Father as a 'dove;' from the Son as a breath; from both as 'cloven tongues'--the very cleft showing they came from two. At Christ's Baptism the Father sent Him from heaven 'in a shape of a dove.' So from the Father He proceedeth. After, at His rising here, Christ by 'a breath' sends Him into the Apostles. So, from the Son He proceedeth. After being received up into glory of His Father, He together with the Father, the Father and He both sent Him this day down, 'in tongues of fire.' So, from both He proceedeth. 'Proceeding from the Father,' totidem verbis, and proceeding here from the Son, ad oculum, 'really.' Not in words only; we may believe our eyes, we see Him so to proceed. Enough to clear the point, a Patre Filioque.
This proceeding, as it holds each other-where, so specially [264/265] in this of quorum remiseritis, the remission of sins, for which it is here given. For in that, of all other, the Holy Ghost proceeds from Christ most properly. For inasmuch as the remission of sins came from and by Christ, very meet it was He should have been the dispensing of His own benefit, and the Remitter of sins proceeds from Him also. One by the blood out of His veins, the other by the Spirit, out of His arteries; and He, as bleed the one, so breathe the other. He that should seal the acquittance, from Him that laid down the money. That howsoever in other respects, in this sure from Him, and none but Him, the Holy Ghost to proceed.
Proceed; and proceed by way of breath, rather than any other way; that to be the ceremony or symbolum of it.
I proceed now to the second combination of 'breath,' and the Holy Ghost. It is required in a sign, that choice be made of such a one, as near as may be, as may best suit and serve to express that is conferred by it. Now, no earthly thing comes so near, hath such alliance, is so like, so proper for it, as the breath--I make two stands of it: 1. breath and the Spirit; 2. Christ's 'breath,' and the Holy Spirit.
First, breath is air; and air, the most subtile and, as I may say, the most bodiless body that is, approaching nearest to the nature of a spirit, which is quite devoid of all corporeity. So in that it suits well.
But we waive all, save only the two particulars of the Holy Ghost, set down in the Nicene creed. 1. One, 'The Lord and giver of life;' 2. the other, 'Who spake by the Prophets.'
For first, the Spirit giveth life; and breath is the immediate next means subordinate to the Spirit, for the giving it, and for the keeping it, both. Giving: at the first, God breathed into Adam spiraculum vitae, and straight factus est in animam viventem, 'he became a living soul.' Keeping: for if the breath go away, away goes the life too: both come, both go together.
And as the Spirit it is That quickeneth, so it is the Spirit That speaketh, evidently. Dead men be dumb, all. And the same breath that is organum vitae, is organum vocis, too. That we live by, we speak by also. For what is the voice, but verbum spiritu vestitum, 'the inward word, or conceit, clothed [265/266] with breath or air,' and so presented to the sense of hearing? So vehiculum Spiritus it is in both.
And, as the breath, and the spirit, so Christ's breath, and the Holy Spirit. Accipite Spiritum, gives to man the life of nature; Accipite Spiritum Sanctum, to the Christian man, the life of grace.
And the speech of grace too. For this breath of Christ was it by which the cloven tongues, after, had their utterance. He spake by the Prophets; and the Apostles, they were but as trumpets, or pneumatical wind-instruments; they were to be winded. Without breath they could not; no breath on earth able so to wind, that their 'sound might go into all the lands, be heard to the uttermost parts of the earth.' None but Christ's so far--so that was to be given them. This breath has in it, you see, to make a good symbol for the Spirit; and Christ's breath, for the Holy Spirit.
It may be, at large, all this; but how for the purpose it is here given for, remission of sins? What hath breath to so with sin? not nothing. For, if you be advised, per afflatum spiritûs nequam it came, 'by an evil breath;' and per afflatum Spiritûs Sancti it must be had away. The breathing the pestilent breath of the serpent, that blew upon our first parents, infected, poisoned them at the first; Christ's breath entering, cures it; and, as ever His manner is, by the same way it was taken, cures it--breath, by breath.
For the better conceiving of the manner how, you may call to mind that the Scripture speaks of sin sometime, as of a frost; otherwhile, as of a mist, or fog, that men are lost in, to be dissolved, and so blown away. For as there be two proceedings in the wind, and according to them two powers observed by Elihu; forth of the south, a wind to melt and dissolve; out of the north, a wind to dispel and drive away; and as in the wind of our breath there is flatus, 'a blast,' which is cooler, and which blows away; and halitus, 'a breath,' that is warm, and by the temperate, moist, heat, dissolves; answerable to these, there is in this breath of Christ a double power conferred, and both for the remission of sins; and that, in two senses, set down by St. John. 1. The one of ne peccetis, astringent, to keep men from sin, and so remissio peccandi; 2. the other, siquis autem peccaverit, 'but if any do sin,' [266/267] to loose men from it, and so remissio peccati. Showing them the way, and aiding them with the means to clear their conscience of it, being done; remitting that is past, making that more remiss, that is to come; as it were to resolve the frost first, and turn it into a vapour; and after it is so, then to blow it away.
And other reasons there be assigned, why thus in breath, apt and good. One, to show the absolute necessity, the great need we have of this power, how evil we may be without it. As evil as we can be without breath, so evil can we be without a means for remission of sins. OÙ m©llou pv_omeu tÕu ¢_ra--it is St. Basil. The Christian man, he lives not by the air that he breathes, more than he does by it. Our own breath not more needful, than this breath of Christ's; 'His loving-kindness' in it 'better than the life itself,' and we no longer to draw our breath, than to give Him thanks for it. This for the necessity.
A second, to show the quality, which is mild, of the same temper the breath is. No spiritus procellae, which some would think perhaps more meet, to carry all before it. They know not the Holy Ghost, that so think; they remember not the dove. Violence in His work He could never skill of, His course has ever been otherwise. And not His only, but Theirs, Whom He proceeds from.
Let them but go to Elias' vision, and inform themselves of this point. There came first 'a boisterous whirlwind,' such an one as they wish for--but no God there. After it, a rattling 'earthquake;' and after it, crackling flashes of fire:--God was in none of them all. Then came a soft still voice:--there comes God. God was in it, and by it you may know where to find Him.
And as God, so Christ. How comes He? 'He shall come down like the dew in a fleece of wool,' and that is scarce to be heard. 'He, He shall not roar nor cry, nor His voice be heard out into the street.' How unlike them and their novices, that will needs bear His name!
And how the Holy Ghost comes here, we see. None of all the Three Persons, but in gentle mild manner.
It is against them, this, that take delight in these blustering spirits, and think them the only men, cannot skill of any other. No river they, but the great Euphrates, that runs [267/268] with a huge noise. The waters of Shiloh run too soft for them. Well, the waters of Shiloh though the Prophets commend to us; and to them Christ sends us, and it is they, when all is done, whose 'streams shall make glad the City of God.' This is sure, no spiritual grace is ever so truly wrought by these spirits, that take so on, till they be out of breath. The air indeed they beat, the heart they pierce not. The quiet, calm breath will do it to better purpose than these, that crackle like 'thorns under a pot.' This breath will thither, to the heart directly; and sin never so kindly dissolved, as by audivi vocem insilentio--that way. Tell me not of the 'mighty wind' and the 'fire,' that was for the Apostles. We are none; three degrees lower. And that wind they used very seldom though--once or twice perhaps; but this they used continually. I report me to their Acts, and to their Epistles. For the wind comes but at times but the breath is continually at all times. And this is sure, when the 'mighty wind' and the 'fire' came, it may be St. Peter used it once or twice, and St. Paul as oft; but this of the breath they used more, nay most of all, and by it did more good than by the other.
For as for this, let it not trouble you that it is but breath, and breath but air, and so, one would think, too feeble; as indeed, what feebler thing is there in man than it? The more feeble, the more fit to manifest His strength by. For, as weak in appearance as it is, by it were great things brought to pass. By this puff of breath, was the world blown round about. About came the philosophers, the orators, the emperors. Away went the mists of error, down went the idols and their temples, before it.
Which give us a good passage from the breath to the Breather, Him that is the nominative case to insufflavit.
For we are not to look to the breath altogether, but somewhat too, from whose mouth it comes, whose breath it is. And Christ's it is. He it is That gives the vigour and virtue to it. The touch of His finger, the breath of His mouth, virtue goes from it, sin cannot stand before it, it sends it going, blows it away like a little dust.
Take this with you too. It is not Christ's breath, any breath of His, but His breath now after His rising, and so His immortal breath. A mortal He had, which He breathed out, [268/269] quando emisit Spiritum, when 'He gave up the Ghost' upon the cross. All the while He was mortal, He held His breath. Till it was more than so, He breathed it not, till it had in it the vigour and power of immortality; which neither sin can endure, but scatters straight, nor 'the man of sin' for he also will be 'consumed with the breath of His mouth.' Otherwise, unless it be this of Christ's, there is nothing in our breath to work this effect; not in any man's, to thaw a frost, or to scatter a mist. The soil of sin is so baked on men, they so hard frozen in the dregs of it, our wind cannot dissolve it. Hear the Prophet [Jeremiah], after he had been long blowing at the sins of the people. 'The bellow,' saith he, 'are burnt, the iron of them consumed, the founder melts in vain; for all his blowing, the dross will not away.' But I, said God, let me take it in hand, let Me but blow with My wind, and 'I scatter your trangressions as a mist, and make your sins like a morning cloud to vanish away. 'Turn we then to Him, Whose divine power, Whose immortal breath can do it; do it by Himself, and if by Himself, by others also into whom He will inspire it; whom in that regard the Prophet calleth God's 'mouth,' to 'separate the precious from the vile.'
Which being of His breath immortal, does further show, both that there is nothing in this power but pertains rather to another life than to this mortal of ours, even to that which is the life of the world to come; and that it will never die, this power, but hold as long as there is any sin to be forgiven. Had it been his mortal breath, we might have feared the failing; now will it never fail, so long as there is any to open his mouth to receive it. It is His immortal breath.
This for the Party from Whom. Now for in eos, those 'into whom' it came. Much bound we are to our Blessed Saviour for thus sending, and to the Holy Ghost for being thus sent, for seeing us furnished with a power we so much stand in need of. For sinning as we do, and even running ourselves out of breath in it, and the 'wages' of that being eternal 'death,' what case were we in but for this breath! I see not how we should do without it. To say therefore, with them in the Gospel, Benedictus Deus Qui dedit talem potestam, 'Blessed be God for sending such a power,' for sending it at all.
[269/270] But then secondly, Qui dedit talem potestam hominibus, that 'He gave it to men.' For, as the Son of Man, He gave it; and as Man, to men He gave it; and as Man, to men He gave it--the Sons of men upon earth, that we need not send up and down, and cast 'who shall go up to Heaven for us and fetch it thence.' That if an Angel should come to us, as to Cornelius there did, he hath not this power to impart, he can but bid us, 'send to Joppa for Peter.' He hath it, men have it, Angels have it not.
In eos, is more yet; to men, and to such men, such simple men, for they were God wot, a full unfit and indisposed matter to receive it. 'Idiots,' it is like St. Luke's word, 'men utterly unlearned.' And of no spirit or courage at all--the breath but of a damsel quailed the best of them. Probatur Deus per Apostolos, say the Schoolmen; if there were nothing else, 'His very Apostles were enough to prove Him to be God.' For 'O Lord our Saviour, how excellent is Thy Name in all the world! Thou That out of the mouths of those that were little better than babes hast ordained Thy praise, and stilled Thine enemies,' and put them all to silence.
But there is a worse matter than that. Not only 'simple,' but which is farther off yet, 'sinful men' they were. Take their own confessions. St. Peter's:--'Go forth from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.' St. Paul's: -'Sinners, whereof I am the chiefest.' St. James':--'In many things we offend all' puts himself in the number of them that offend many times. St. John's:- 'If we (I for one) say we have no sin,' what then? we are proud, there is no humility? No, 'but we are liars,' and there is no truth in us. Even such, to sinners, this power given to forgive sins; to them who for sin were in fear themselves to be condemned.
Nay, which is not lightly to be passed by, all this done even at the very time when they were scarce crept out of their sin but three days before committed, in so wretchedly forsaking Him; and some more than so, and after would scarce believe He was risen, when they saw Him; that even then did He thus breathe on them, and made them that He did. Now blessed be God, Who at all gave such power to men, to such men, such simple men, such sinful men, insufflavit in eos, to secure us, be the men what they will, that have received [270/271] it, no sin of man will make the power of God of none effect. This for in eos.
To the act now. It is first sufflavit, 'breathed;' and that was to keep correspondence with His Father at the first. By breathing into Adam, the Father gave the soul, the Author of life natural. Ad idem exemplum, the Son here by breathing gives the Holy Ghost, the Author of life spiritual; the same passage, and the same ceremony held by both.
But insufflavit is more, 'breathed it in,' 'into them.' This in shews it pertains within, to the inward parts, to the very conscience, this act. His breath goeth, saith Solomon, ad interiora ventris, and His word with it, saith the Apostle, 'through, to the division of the soul and spirit.' Thither goes this breath, and thither is farther than man can go. For howsoever the acts and exercises of outward jurisdiction may be disposable, and are disposed by human authority, yet this not so of forum internum. Somewhat there is still that comes from Christ, and none but Christ; somewhat that as it comes higher, so it goes deeper, than any earthly power whatsoever. This inward inspiring brings us to Christ's Deity again. The kings of the nations, send they can, and give power they can, but inspire they cannot. Array whom they will, as Ahasuerus, with rich attire, arm them at all points, induere, in that sense; but not endue the soul with gifts and graces within, not arm their minds with valour and virtue; at leastwise, not with virtus ex alto. Only God, whom He calls, He gives the inward talents to; and Christ, whom He sends, He sends His Spirit into. This argueth God plainly, and so Christ to be God.
Always this insufflavit shows, as wherewith He would do it, the Spirit, so what it is He would work, work upon, and renew. For if we be 'renewed in the spirit of our minds,' the whole man will be so, straight upon it. There is no indication to that; for the change of the whole man is a certain sign the Spirit is come into us. As of Saul it is written, when the Spirit came into him he was 'changed into quite another man,' no more the same Saul he was before; a new, another Saul then. Which holds not only in particular men, but even in the whole world. For when this breath came into it, in interiora, it was cast in a new mould presently, and [271/272] did even wonder at itself, how it was become Christian. For the outward rigorous means of fire, imprisonment, of the whip, of the terror of the magistrate's sword; Pilate's, 'Have I not power to crucify Thee, and power to loose Thee?' These daunt men, make them astonished, make metum peccati, 'fear to commit the outward act of sin.' But odium oportet peccandi, non metum facias, 'if sin shall ever truly be left, it must come of hatred, not of fear.' So it goes away indeed. And there it is, sin must be met with; if ever it will rightly be put away, the spirit to be searched, and inward hearty compunction wrought there. And that is by this breath of Christ piercing thither, or not at all. So much for the in.
And now to et dixit. the words be three, the points according, three too. 1. Accipite, it is to be received; 2. Spiritum, a Spirit it is, that is to be received; 3. Sanctum, and that Spirit is the Holy Ghost. 4. Whereto we add, the Holy Ghost after what manner, for there be more than one.
Accipite, agrees well with breath. For that is received, we open our mouths and draw it in; our styole to meet with His diastole.
For this Accipite, it is certain that at the breathing of this breath the Spirit was given. He gave them what He bade them take, He mocked them not. They received the Holy Ghost then, and, if ye will, really. Yet was not the substance of His breath transubstantiate into that of the Holy Spirit--one has ever imagined that--yet said He truly, Accipite Spiritum, and no less truly in another place, Accipite corpus. Truly said by Him, and received by them in both. And no more need the bread should be changed into His body in that, than His breath into the Holy Ghost in this. No though it be a Sacrament, (for with them both are so) yet as all confess, both truly said, truly given, and truly received, and in the same sense without any difference at all. This for them.
For us, accipite sheweth first, it comes from without, it grows not within us; a breath inspired, not a vapour ascending; not educta e, but inducta in. It is not meditati sumus sicut aranea, 'we spin it not out of ourselves, as the spider does her web.' It is not concipite, but accipite; 'receive it,' we do, 'conceive it' we do not. It were too fond to conceive, seeing [272/273] our breath is made of air, and that is without us, that the Spirit should be made of anything that is within us.
We say again, it is accipite, not assumite. Assumit, qui nemine dante accipit, 'He assumes, who takes that is not given.' But nemo assumit honorem hunc, 'this honour no man takes unto him, or upon him, till it be given him.' As quod acciptur non habetur in the last, so quod acciptur datur in this. And both these are against the voluntaries of our age, with their taken-on callings. That have no mitta vos; insent, set out of themselves. No accipite, no receiving; take it up of their own accords, make themselves what they are; sprinkle their own heads with water, lay their own hands on their own heads, and so take that to them which none ever gave them. They be hypostles--do doth St. Paul well term them, as it were, the mock-apostles--and the term comes home to them, for uoi ØpostolÁj they be, filii substractionis right; work all to substraction, as even then the manner was. This brand hath the Apostle set on them, that we might know them and avoid them.
We may be sure, Christ could have given the Spirit without any ceremony; held His breath, and yet sent the Spirit into them without any more ado. He would not; an outward ceremony He would have, for an outward calling He would have. For if nothing outward had been in His, we should have had nothing but enthusiasts--as them we have notwithstanding; but then we should have had no rule with them; all by divine revelation: into that they resolve. For sending, breathing, laying on of hands, have they none. But if they be of Christ, some must say, mitto vos; sent by some, not run of their own heads. Some say, accipite; receive it from some, not find it about themselves; have an outward calling, and an outward accipite, a testimony of it. This for accipite.
Spiritum. A spirit it is that is to be received, and much is said in this word spirit, it stands as opposed to many. 1. 'The spirit' and 'flesh'--Christ. 2. 'The spirit' and 'the letter'--St. Paul. 3. 'The Spirit' and 'the soul'--St. Jude. 4. 'The spirit' and 'the mind.' 5. 'The spirit and a habit. 6. The Spirit and a sprite, Spiritus and spectrum. 7. The [273/274] Spirit and Hero's pneumatica, that is some artificial motion or piece of work with gins within it. To all these.
1. Not 'the flesh,' saith our Saviour; and if not the flesh, not any humour, for they are of the flesh. Neither they, nor their revelations, profit enough ought to this work.
2. Not the letter, saith St. Paul, not the husk or chaff; we have too much of them every day. Quid paleæ ad triticum? they rather take away life, than give it; a handful of good grain were better than ten load of such staff.
3. Nor animales Spiritum non habentes, saith Jude, 'men that have souls only;' and they serve them but as salt to keep them, that they rot not. They too have no part or fellowship in this business; 'mere natural men, no Spirit in them at all.' Somewhat there is to be in us, more than a natural soul qÚsij is one thing,fÚshsij is another. Some inspiring needs, somewhat of accipite.
4. Nay, saith St. Paul. 'be ye renewed in the spirit of your minds.' For the mind is not all, nor men to think so; if they once have got true positions, true maxims in their mind, then all is well. If the spirit be not also renewed, it is nothing.
5. The spirit, not a habit gotten with practice, and lost again with disuse, as are the arts and moral virtues, against the Philosophers. For though this be virtue, yet is it not virtus ex alto, this. No habitual, but a spiritual virtue, this.
6. Spiritus, non spectrum; for that is a flying shadow void of action--doth nothing. But the Spirit, the first thing we read of It, It did hover and hatch and make fruitful the waters, and fit to bring forth something of substance.
7. And last, which is by writers thought to be chiefly intended, Christ's Spirit, not Hero's pneumatica; not with some artificial, not natural; but the very principium motûs to be within. Of ourselves to move; not wrought to it by any gin or vice, or screw made by art. Else we shall move but while we are wound up, for a certain time, till the plummets be at the ground, and then our motion will cease straight. All which, but these last specially, are against the automata, the spectra, the puppets of religion, hypocrites. With some spring within, their eyes are made to roll, and their lips to wag, and [274/275] their breast to give a sob; all is but Hero's pneumatica, a vizor, not a very face; 'an outward show of godliness, but no inward power of it all.' It is not Accipite Spiritum.
Thirdly, I say it would be known further, what Spirit; for Accipite it may be, somewhat they may have taken, it may be a Spirit. But whatsoever it is, it is not yet home, unless Sanctum come too. Sanctum it would be, if it be right. To be a man of spirit, as we call them who be active and stirring in the world, will not serve here, if that be all. I have formerly told you, there is a Spiritum without Sanctum; Spirit and Holy are two things. Two other spirits there be besides; and they well accepted of, and in great request. One which St. Peter calls the 'private' spirit; the other, that St. Paul calls 'the spirit of the world.' Which two will consort well together for their own turns, and for some worldly end, but neither of them with this; for they are opposed to the Holy Ghost, both.
The 'private' spirit first. And are there not in the world somewhere, some such as will receive none, admit of at no hand no other Holy Ghost but their own spirit, and the idol of their own conceit, the vision of their own heads, the motions of their own spirits, and if you hit not on that that is there in their hearts, reject it, be it what it will; that make their breasts the sanctuary; that in effect say with the old Donatist, Quod volumnus Sanctum est, 'that they will have Holy is Holy,' and nothing else? Men, as the Apostle speaks of them, 'causeless puffed up with their fleshly mind.' His word is to be marked: fuowsij there, fÚshsiij here; inflatit they, afflati these. They puffed up, these inspired. If it makes to swell, then it is but wind, the Spirit doth it not; inspirat, non inflat. The word is insufflavit; there is in sufflavit a sub that bears downwards, and carries not up. So Spiritum Sanctum is not spiritum suum.
Nor spiritus mundi is not Spiritus Christi. Else doth St. Paul wrong to oppose them. It is too sure such a spirit there is as 'the spirit of the world,' and that the greatest part of the world live and breathe and move by it; and that it doth well sometimes, but without references to God, or Christ, or Holy Ghost. For even the acts they do of religion, are out of worldly reasons and respects. Hereod's reason--videns quia placeret populo, saw the world would they way. Demetrius' [275/276] reason--periclitatur portio nostra, it may prove dangerous to their worldly estate. The Shechemites--Oh set forward that point of divinity, for then 'all they have is ours.' See we not whence this wind blows, from what spirit this breath comes? From spiritus mundi plainly. And I know not how, but as it Christ's mouth were stopped and His breath like to fail Him, the world begins to fare as if they had got a new mouth to draw breath from; to govern the Church as if spiritus Prætorii would do things better than Spiritus Sanctuarii, and man's law beomce the best means to teach the fear of God, and to guide religion by. In vain then is all this act of Christ's; He might have kept His breath to Himself. But it will not be so. When all is done, the Spirit must come from the Word, and the Holy Spirit from Christ's mouth, That must do this, govern the Church. Thither we must for Sanctum, even to the Sanctuary, and to no other place.
And a certain note it is, this, to discern the Holy Spirit of God from the spirit of what you will. From Christ It comes if It be true; He breathes It. It cannot but be true, if It come from Him, for He is 'the Truth.' And as the Truth, so the 'Wisdom' of God; that, if it savour of falsehood or folly, it came not from Him, He breathed it not. But His breath will not fail, will ever be able to serve His Church, without all of the private spirit, and without all the additaments of spiritus mundi. And if we gape after them, we make this Accipite more than needs; and if we do so, I know not what shall become of us.
But the Holy Ghost may be received more ways than one. He hath many spiramina; polutrÕpwj. 'in many manners.' He comes, and multiformis gratia He comes with. He and they carry the name of their cause; and to receive them, is to receive the Spirit. There is a gratum faciens, the saving grace of the Spirit, for one to save himself by, received by each without respect to others, and there is gratis data, whatever become of us, serving to save others by, without respect to ourselves. And there is 'the grace of a holy calling;' for it is a grace, to be a conduit of grace any way. All these, and all from one and the same Spirit.
That was here conferred, was not the saving grace of inward sanctimony; they were not breathed on that end. The [276/277] Church to this day gives this still in her ordinations, but the saving grace the Church cannot give; none but God can give that. Nor, the gratis data it is not. That came by the tongues, both the gift of speaking divers languages, and the gift of ¢p\fq_ggesqai, speaking wisely, and to the purpose; and, we know, none is either the holier, or the learneder, by his ordination.
Yet a grace it is; for the very office itself is grace. Mihi data est hæc gratia, saith the Apostle in more places than one, and speaks of his office and nothing else. The Apostleship was a grace, yet no saving grace. Else, should Judas have been saved. Clearly then, it is grace of their calling, this, whereby they were sacred, and made persons public, and their acts authentical; and they enabled to do somewhat about the remission of sins, that is not of like avail done by others, though perhaps more learned and virtuous than they, in that they have not the like mitto vos, nor the same Accipite that these have. To speak with the least: as the act of one that is a public notary is of more validity than of another that is none, though it may be he writes a much fairer hand. And this, lo, was the grace here, by breathing conferred to them: of Spiritum, a spiritual; of Sanctum, a holy calling; and derived from them to us, and from us to others, to the world's end.
But take heed we suck no error our of this word 'holy,' no more than we do out of the word 'anointed.' When times was, it was shewed, the anointing was no inward holiness, or ability to govern by, but the right of ruling only. So here, it is no internal quality infused, but the grace only of their spiritual and sacred function. Good it were, and much to be wished, they were holy and learned all; but if they be not, their office holds good though, He that is a sinner himself, may remit sins for all that, and save others he may, though himself be not saved; for it was not propter se he received this power, to absolve himself, but, as the next word is, quorumcunque, any others whosoever.
Some ado we have to pluck this out, but out it must. For an error it is, an old worn error of the Donatists; and but new dressed over by some fanatical spirits in our days, that teach in corners: one that is not himself inwardly holy, cannot be [277/278] the means of holiness to another. And where they dare too, that: One that is not in state of grace, can have no right to any possession or place. For they of right belong to none, but to the true children of God; that is, to none but to themselves.
Fond, ignorant men! for hath not the Church long since defined it positively, that the baptism Peter gave was no better than that which Judas; and exemplified it, that a seal of iron will give as perfect a stamp as one of gold? That as the carpenters that built the ark wherein Noah was saved, were themselves drowned in the flood; that as the water of baptism that send the child to Heaven, is itself cast down the kennel; semblably is it with these: and they that by the word, the Sacraments, the keys, are unto other the conduits of grace, to make them fructify in all good works, may well so be, though themselves remain unfruitful, as do the pipes of wood or lead, that by transmitting the water make the garden to bear both herbs and flowers, though themselves never bear any. And let that content us, that what is here received, for us, and is given us by them. Severe the office from the men; leave the men to God, to whom they stand or fall; let the ordinance of God stand fast. this breath, though not into them for themselves, yet goeth into and through every act of their office or ministry, and by them conveyeth His saving grace into us all.
But, lest we grow discontent, that some do receive it, and that we all do not so--for this being the feast of the Holy Ghost, and of receiving it, it may grieve any of us to go his way, and not receive it--I will shew it is not so. For though as this breath we cannot all, and as the fiery tongues much less--these are but for some set persons; yet I will shew you a way, how to say Accipite Spiritum to all, and how all may receive it.
And that is by Accipite corpus Meum. For Accipite corpus, upon the matter, is Accipite Spiritum, inasmuch as they two never part, not possible to sever them one minute. Thus when or to whom we say Accipite corpus, we may safely say with the same breath Accipite Spiritum; and as truly every way. For that body is never without this Spirit: he that [278/279]receives the one, receives the other, he who the body, together with it the Spirit also.
And receiving it thus, it is to better purpose than here in the text it is. Better, I say, for us. For in the text it is received for the good of others, whereas we shall receive it for our own good. Now whether is the better, remission of sins, to be able to remit to others, or to have our own remitted? To have our own, no doubt. And that is here to be had. To the establishing of our hearts with grace, to the cleansing and quieting our consciences. Which spiritual grace we receive in this spiritual food, and are made to drink (I will not say of 'the spiritual rock,' but) of the spiritual 'vine' that followeth us, which 'vine' is Christ. To that then let us apply ourselves. Both are received, both are holy, both co-operate to the 'remission of sins.' The 'body'--Matthew the twenty-sixth. The Spirit, here evidently. And there is no better way of celebrating the feast of the receiving the Holy Spirit than so to do, with receiving the same body that came of It at His birth, and that came from It now at His rising again.
And so receiving it, He That breathed, and He That was breathed, both of Them vouchsafe to breathe into those holy mysteries a Divine power and virtue, and make them to us the bread of life, and the cup of salvation; God the Father also sending His blessing upon them, that they may be His blessed means of this thrice-blessed effect! To Whom all, three Persons, &c.