The Holy Spirit, Gift of God's Love
There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of
the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the
Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is
so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not
removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift,
unless on account of love. And he who has not this love, "though he speak with the
tongues of men and angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the
gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all faith,
so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all his goods to feed
the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it profiteth him nothing."
How great a good, then, is that without which goods so great bring no one to eternal
life! But love or charity itself,--for they are two names for one thing,--if he have it
that does not speak with tongues, nor has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries
and all knowledge, nor gives all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give
or because some necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such
a suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself is only
rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist, but cannot profit.
And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision
availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love:" so
distinguishing it from that faith by which even "the devils believe and
tremble." Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit,
by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity
dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called
also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love,
which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to
God? . . .
Wherefore, if Holy Scripture proclaims that God is love, and that love is of God, and
works this in us that we abide in God and He in us, and that hereby we know this, because
He has given us of His Spirit, then the Spirit Himself is God, who is love. Next, if there
be among the gifts of God none greater than love, and there is no greater gift of God than
the Holy Spirit, what follows more naturally than that He is Himself love, who is called
both God and of God? And if the love by which the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves
the Father, ineffably demonstrates the communion of both, what is more suitable than that
He should be specially called love, who is the Spirit common to both? For this is the
sounder thing both to believe and to understand, that the Holy Spirit is not alone love in
that Trinity, yet is not specially called love to no purpose.
On the Trinity XV.18.32, 19.37.
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