St. Alphonsus Liguori: The History of Heresies and Their Refutation

1. Introductory matter.
2. Rationalists.
3. Hernlmtters, or Moravians.
4. Swedenborgians, or New Jerusalemites.
5. Methodism; Wesley.
6, 7. Doctrines and practices of the Methodists.
8. Johanna Southcott.
9. Mormonism.
10. German Catholics.

1. The holy author, as the reader may perceive, concludes his History of Heresies with the account of the famous Bull Unigenitus, which gave the death-blow to Jansenism. He brings down the history of this most dangerous of sects and its ramifications to the Pontificate of Benedict XIV. A little more than a century has elapsed since, and though heresy has produced nothing new for every heresiarch only reproduces the errors of his predecessors still it will not, I hope, be ungrateful to the reader to have before him a succinct account of the sectaries who have since appeared, especially the Methodists, the most numerous, and, on many accounts, the most remarkable body of the present day. It is a fact which every close observer must be aware of, that heresy naturally tends to infidelity.

When once we lose hold of the anchor of Faith, and set up our own fallible judgments in opposition to the authority of the Church, we are led on from one false consequence to another, till in the end we are inclined to reject Revelation altogether. Such is the case, especially in Germany at the present day, where Rationalism has usurped the place of Religion, and infidelity is promulgated from the Theological Chair. It is true that in Catholic countries infidelity has also not alone appeared, but subverted both the throne and altar, and shaken society to its very foundations; but there it is the daughter of indifferentism. Lax morality produces unbelief, and those whose lives are totally opposed to the austere rule of the Gospel, are naturally anxious to persuade themselves that Religion is altogether a human invention. This madness, however, passes away after a time. Religion is too deeply rooted in the hearts of a truly Catholic people to be destroyed by it. The storm strips the goodly tree of a great deal of its fruit and foliage, the rotten branches are snapped off, and the dead and withered leaves are borne away, but the vital principle of the trunk remains untouched, and in due season produces again fruit a hundred-fold. 

2. That free spirit of inquiry, the boast of Protestantism, which, rejecting all authority, professes to be  guided by reason alone, produced Rationalism. Luther and Calvin rejected several of the most important Articles of the Christian Faith. Why should not their followers do the same ? They appealed to reason so did their disciples; one mystery after another was swept away, till Revelation, we may say, totally disappeared, and nothing but the name of Religion remained. The philosopher Kant laid down a system, by which True and Ecclesiastical Religion were distinguished. True Religion is the Religion of Reason; Ecclesiastical, the Religion of Revelation, and this is only a vehicle for conveying the truths of natural Religion. By this rule, then, the Scriptures were interpreted. Nothing but what reason could measure was admitted; every mystery became a Myth : miracles were all the effects of natural causes, working on an unenlightened and wonder-loving people. Hetzel, Eichhorn, the Rosenmullers, promulgated these blasphemies. Strauss, in his ” Life of Christ,” upsets all Revelation; and Becker teaches that St. John the Baptist and our Lord, with the determination of upsetting the Jewish Hierarchy, whose pride and tyranny they could not bear, plotted together, and agreed that one should play the part of the precursor, and the other of the Messiah. Such is the woeful state of Continental Protestantism, and the worst of it is, that it is a necessary consequence of the fundamental principle of the Reformation, ” unrestricted liberty of opinion” (1).

3. In contra-distinction to the Rationalists, we have the Pietists in Germany, who cannot so much be called a sect as a party. They date their origin from Spener, who flourished in Frankfort in the sixteenth century, and caused a great deal of disturbance in the Lutheran Church in that and the following age. They are entitled to our notice here, as from some of their doctrines originated some extraordinary sects. Among these may be ranked the Hernhutters, otherwise called Moravians, and by themselves, “United Brethren.” They assert that they are the descendants of the Bohemian and Moravian Hussites of the fifteenth century; but it is only in the last century they appeared as a distinct and organized sect, and now they are not only numerous and wealthy, but have formed establishments partly of a Missionary and partly of a trading character in many parts of the world, from Labrador to Southern Africa. Their founder was Count Zinzendorf, who, in 1721, on attaining his majority, purchased an estate called Bertholsdorf, in Lusatia, and collected round him a number of followers, enthusiasts in religion, like himself. A carpenter of the name of Christian David, came to join him from Moravia, and was followed by many of his countrymen, and they built a new town on the estate, which was at first, from the name of a neighbouring village, called Huthberg, but they changed it to Herren Huth, the Residence of the Lord, and from that the sect took its name. They profess to follow the Confession of Augsburg, but their government is totally different from that of Lutheranism. They have both Bishops and Elders, but the former have no governing power; they are merely appointed to ordain, and, individually, are but members of the general governing consistory. Zinzendorf himself travelled all over Europe, to disseminate his doctrines, and twice visited America.

He died in 1760 (2). The doctrines preached by this enthusiast were of the most revolting and horrible nature. All we read of the abominations of the early Gnostics is nothing, compared to the revolting and blasphemous obscenity to be found in his works. An attempt has been made by some of his followers to  defend him, but in vain, and it is truly a melancholy feeling to behold the sacred name of Religion prostituted to such vile abominations (3).

4. Emmanuel Swedenborg, the founder of the New Jerusalemites, was another extraordinary fanatic, and his case is most remarkable, since he was a man of profound learning, a civil and military engineer, and the whole tenor of his studies was calculated to banish any tendency to mystic fanaticism which might have been interwoven in his nature. He was born in Stockholm, in 1689, and was the son of the Lutheran Bishop of West Gotha. From his earliest days he applied himself to the study of science, under the best masters, and made such progress, that he published some works at the age of twenty. His merit recommended him to his Sovereign, Charles XII., the warrior King of Sweden, and he received an appointment as Assessor of the College of Mines. At the siege of Frederickshall, in 1713, he accomplished an extraordinary work, by the transmission of the siege artillery over the ridge of mountains which separates Sweden from Norway. It was considered one of the boldest attempts of military engineering ever accomplished. His application to study was continual, and from time to time he published works which gave him a European scientific reputation. It would have been well for himself had he never meddled in theological speculations; but his extravagances prove that the strongest minds, when destitute of faith, fall into the grossest errors. His system was, that there is a spiritual world around us corresponding in every thing to the material world we inhabit. He used himself, he assures us, converse with people in the most distant climes, and was in daily communication with those who were dead for ages. When a man dies, he says, he exchanges his material body, of which there is no resurrection, for a substantial one, and can immediately enjoy all the pleasures of this life, oven the most gross, just as if he were still in the flesh.

In fact, a man frequently does not well know whether he is living or dead. Jesus Christ is God himself, in human form, who existed from all eternity, but became incarnate in time to bring the hells, or evil spirits, into subjection. he admitted a Trinity of his own, consisting of the Divinity, the Humanity, and the Operation. This Trinity commenced only at the Incarnation. He travelled through a great part of Europe, disseminating his doctrines, and finally died in London, in 1772, and was buried in the Swedish Church, Ratcliffe Highway. His followers have increased since his death, but they still only form small and obscure congregations. They style themselves ” the Church of the New Jerusalem.”

5. The Patriarch of Methodism was John Wesley, who was born in 1703, at Epworth, in Lincolnshire, of which place his father was rector. At the ago of seventeen he was sent to the University of Oxford, and being more seriously inclined than the generality of young men there, applied himself diligently to his studies. One of his favourite books at that period was the famous work of Thomas a Kempis, ” The Imitation of Christ.” During his long and varied life this golden work was his manual, and he published even an edition of it himself in 1735, but, as should be expected, corrupted and mutilated. His brother Charles, a student like himself, at Oxford, and a few other young men, formed themselves into a Society for Scripture reading and practices of piety, and, as the state of morals was peculiarly lax in that seat of learning, they were jeered by their fellow-students, called the Godly Club, and, on account of their methodical manner of living, were nicknamed ” Methodists,” which afterwards became the general designation of the whole sect or society in all its numerous subdivisions. Wesley was ordained in the Anglican Church, and assisted his father for a while as curate, till an appointment was offered him in Georgia. He sailed, accordingly, for America, in company with his brother and two others. He led quite an ascetic life at this period, slept frequently on the bare boards, and continually practised mortification. He remained in America till 1738, and then returned to England. He was disappointed in a matrimonial speculation while there, and had a law-suit also on hands.

Like all Protestant Apostles, a comfortable settlement in life appeared to him the first consideration. This is one of the principal causes of the sterility of all their missions; if, however, they do not seek first the kingdom of God, they take care that all other things that the world can afford shall he added to them, as the investigations into the land tenures of New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific bear witness. While in America he associated a great deal with the Moravians, and became imbued, to a great extent, with their peculiar doctrines of grace, the new birth, and justification, and on his return paid a visit to Herronhutt, to commune with Zinzendorf. He was not at all popular in America; he appears to have been a proud, self-opinionated man, filled up with an extraordinary idea of his own perfections. Indeed, it only requires a glance at his Diary, which, it would appear, he compiled, not so much for his own self-examination as for making a display before others, to be convinced that he was a vain, proud man. He was always a determined enemy of Catholicity, and for his bigoted attacks on Popery, he received a just castigation from the witty and eloquent Father O’Leary. He dates the origin of Methodism himself from a meeting held in Fetter-lane, London, on the 1st of May, 1738. ” The first rise of Methodism,” he says, ” was in November, 1729, when four of us met together at Oxford; the second was in Savannah, in April, 1736, when twenty or thirty persons met at my house; the last in London, when forty or fifty of us agreed to meet together every Wednesday evening, in order to free conversation, begun and ended with singing and prayer.” Whitfield, a fellow-student of Wesley, began to preach at this time to numerous congregations in the open air. He was a man of fervid eloquence, and the people, deserted, in a great measure, by the parsons of the Anglican church, flocked in crowds to hear him, and as he could not obtain leave to preach in the churches, he .adopted the system of field-preaching. 

His doctrine was thoroughly Calvinistic, and this was, ultimately, the cause of a separation between him and Wesley. Indeed it would appear Wesley could bear no competitor, he ruled his society most absolutely; appointed preachers, and removed them, according to his own will changed them from one station to another, or dismissed them altogether, just as he pleased. One of the most extraordinary proceedings of his life, however, was his ordaining a Bishop for the States of America. Both he and Whitfield planted Methodism in our Colonies in North America, and the people, always desirous of religion, ardently took up with it, since no better was provided for them. When the revolutionary war commenced, Wesley wrote a bitter tract against ” the Rebels,” and were it not suppressed in time, his name would be branded with infamy by the patriotic party. The fate of war, however, favoured the ” Rebels,” and our consistent preacher immediately veered round. He was now the apologist of insurrection, and besought them to stand fast by the liberty God gave them. What opinion can we hold of the principles of a man who acts thus ? But to return to the Ordination. Wesley always professed himself not only a member of the Anglican church but a faithful observer of its doctrines, articles, and homilies. His followers in America, however, called loudly for ministers or preachers, and then he became convinced that there was no distinction in fact between Presbyters and Bishops, and thus with the 23rd and 36th articles of his church staring him in the face, he not alone ordained priests, as he called them, but actually consecrated Coke a Bishop for the North American congregations.

“God,” says Coke, ” raised up Wesley as a light and guide in his Church; he appointed to all offices, and, consequently, had the right of appointing Bishops.” We would wish, however, to have some proof of the Divine mission of Wesley, such as the Apostles gave, when ” they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working withal, and confirming the Word with the signs that followed” (Mark, xvi, 20). He travelled through England, Scotland, and Ireland, preaching in towns, hamlets, and villages, and, as usual, giving ” Popery” a blow, whenever he had an opportunity. He married, when advanced in years, but soon separated from his wife, by whom he had no children. He appears, on the whole, to be a man of most unamiable character, and though God was constantly on his lips, self was always predominant.  He died in London in 1781, in the eighty-eighth year of his age.

6. It is rather difficult to give a precise account of the doctrines of Methodism. Wesley always professed himself a member of the Church of England, and maintained that his doctrine was that of the Anglican Church, but we see how far he deviated from it in the Ordination affair. Whitfield was a Calvinist, and some of the first Methodists were Moravians. Salvation by Faith alone, and sudden justification, appear to be the distinguishing marks of the sect. Their doctrines open a wide door for the most dangerous enthusiasm; the poor people imagine, from the ardour of their feelings, that they are justified, though every Christian should be aware that he knows not whether he is worthy of love or hatred, and this has been productive of the most serious consequences. If only the thousandth part of all we hear of the scenes which take place at a ” Revival” in America be true, it should fill us with compassion to see rational beings committing such extravagances in the holy name of Religion. I will not sully the page with a description of the ” Penitents pen,” the groanings in spirit, the sighs, contortions, howlings, and faintings which accompany the “new birth” at these re-unions. It has been partially attempted in these countries to get up a similar demonstration, but we hope the sense of propriety and decorum is too strongly fixed in the minds of our people ever to permit themselves to be thus fooled.

7. The curse of all heresies, the want of cohesion, has fallen also on the Methodist society. They are now divided into several branches, Primitive Wesleyans, &c. They are governed by Conferences, and there are districts, and other minor divisions, down to classes. The form of worship consists generally of extemporaneous prayer and preaching. Wesley established bands, or little companies for self-examination and confession, and it is rather strange that sectaries who reject Sacramental confession, where the penitent pours into the ear of the Priest his sins and his sorrows, under the most inviolable secrecy, should encourage promiscuous confession of sins, which can be productive of no good, but must necessarily cause a great deal of harm. Hear Wesley’s own words on the subject : ” Bands” he says, ” are instituted, in order to confess our faults to one another, and pray for one another; we intend to meet once a week at least; to come punctually at the hour appointed; to begin with singing or prayer; to speak to each of us, in order, freely and plainly, the true state of our soul, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt since our last meeting, and to desire some person among us (thence called a leader) to speak his own state first, and then to ask the rest, in order, as many and as searching questions as may be, concerning their state, sins, and temptations.” Such a shocking practice is only calculated to make men hypocrites and liars, for we know it is not in human nature to confess freely and plainly all the turpitude of their hearts, before five or six, or more, fellow mortals; and did such a thing happen, society would be shaken to its foundations, the peace of families destroyed, and mortal hatred usurp the place of brotherly love. The Methodists have another peculiar custom of holding a love feast, every quarter. Cake and water is given to each person, and partaken of by all, and each is at liberty to speak of his religious experience. There certainly could not be a better nurse of spiritual pride than a practice of this sort. Every year they have a watch-night, that is, they continue in prayer and psalm-singing, till after midnight, on the last night of the year; the new year is then ushered in with a suitable hymn and appropriate service. It is melancholy to see so many people, of really religious dispositions, most of them irreproachably moral, honest, and honourable, led astray by error, buffeted about by every wind of doctrine. Those who are members of the Holy Catholic Church, are bound to praise God daily for the inestimable blessing conferred on them; and, seeing how little in general they correspond to the extraordinary graces they receive by the Sacraments, and the Holy Sacrifice, should be humbled at their own unworthiness, and unceasingly pray to God, that the strayed sheep may be brought into the fold, under the guidance of the one Shepherd. Had Wesley, their founder, been born and disciplined, from his youth, in the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Faith his self-love and spiritual pride corrected by the holy practice of the confessional he might have been one of the lights of his age and, perhaps, have carried the Gospel with effect to the nations still sitting in darkness. But the judgments of God are inscrutable (4).

8. Johanna Southcott. This extraordinary woman was born in Devonshire, in 1750, and is no less remarkable for the extravagance of her tenets, than as a melancholy example of the credulity of her numerous followers. She was, in the early part of her life, only a domestic servant, and scarcely received any education. She joined a Methodist society, and being of an excitable temperament, persuaded herself at first, it is supposed, that she was endowed with extraordinary gifts. She soon found followers, and then commenced as a prophetess, and proclaimed herself the “woman” spoken of in the Book of Revelations. She resided all this time in Exeter, and it is wonderful to find that an ignorant woman could make so many dupes. She had seals manufactured, and sold them as passes to immortal happiness. It was impossible that any one possessed of one of these talismen, could be lost. Exeter soon became too confined a sphere for her operations, and, at the expense of an engraver of the name of Sharp, she came to London, where the number of her disciples was considerably increased, and many persons joined her, whom we would be the last to suspect of fanaticism. She frequently denounced unbelievers, and threatened the unfaithful nations with chastisement. She was now sixty years of age, and put the finishing stroke to her delusions. She proclaimed that she was with-child of the Holy Spirit, and that she was about to bring into the world the Shiloh promised to Jacob. This event was to take place on the 19th of October, 1814. This we would imagine would be enough to shake the whole fabric of imposture she had raised, but, on the contrary, her dupes not only believed it, but actually prepared a gorgeous cradle for the Shiloh, and crowded round her residence at the appointed time, in expectation of the joyful event.

Midnight passed, and they were told she fell into a trance. She died on the 27th of the following December, declaring that if she was deceived, it must be by some spirit, good or bad, and was buried in Paddington churchyard. A post mortem examination showed that she died of dropsy. Among other reveries, she taught the doctrine of the Millennium. The strangest thing of all is that the delusion did not cease at her death; her followers still exist as a sect, though not numerous. They are distinguished by wearing brown coats and long beards, and by other peculiarities. It is supposed they expect the reappearance of their prophetess.

9. A new sect sprung up in the United States of America, only a few years since. They were called Mormons, or Latter- Day Saints. It is very generally believed along the sea-board of the States, that the buccaneers of the seventeenth century, and the loyalists in the late revolution, buried large sums of money, and that all traces of the place of concealment were lost by their death. Several idle persons have taken up the trade of exploring for this concealed treasure, and are known by the name of ” Money Diggers,” calculating, like the alchymists of old, on the avaricious credulity of their dupes. The prophet and founder of Mormonism, Joe Smith, followed this profession. Not he alone, but his whole family, were remarkable for a total absence of every quality which constitutes honest men. Smith was well aware, from his former profession, of the credulity of many of his countrymen; so he gave out that he had a revelation from above that he was received up into the midst of a blaze of light, and saw two heavenly personages, who told him his sins were forgiven that the world was all in error in religious matters and that, in due season, the truth would be revealed, through him. It was next revealed to him, that the aborigines, the “red men,” of America were a remnant of the tribes of Israel, whose colour was miraculously changed, as a punishment for their sins, and whose prophets deposited a book of Divine records, engraved on plates of gold, and buried in a stone chest, in a part of the State of New York. Smith searched for the treasure, and found it, but was not allowed to remove it, until he had learned the Egyptian language, in which it was written. In 1827, he was, at last, allowed to take possession of it, and published an English version, in 1830. His father and others were partners in the scheme. The rhapsody made a deep impression on the uncultivated minds of many especially among the lower orders in the States, and a congregation was formed, usually called Mormonites, from the Book of Mormon, as Smith called it, or, according to the name by which they designated them selves, ” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” 

The book, such as it is, is supposed to have been written by a person of the name of Spaulding, as a sort of novel, and offered to a publisher, who declined having anything to do with it, and it eventually fell into the hands of one Rigdon, a friend of Smith; and, as it was written something in the style of the Old Testament, and purported to be an account of the adventures of a portion of the Tribe of Joseph, who sailed for America, under the guidance of a Prophet, called Nephi, and became the fathers of the Red Indians, they determined to pass it off as a new Revelation. It is evidently the production of a very ignorant person, whose whole knowledge of antiquity was acquired from the English Bible. The sect became so numerous in a little time, that a settlement was made in the State of Missouri; but the sturdy people of the West rose up against them, and banished them. They next settled down in Illinois, and founded a city, which they called Nauvoo, near the Mississipi. A temple on a magnificent scale was commenced, and a residence for the Prophet, who took especial care that his revelations should all turn to his own profit. He established two Orders of Priesthood the Order of Melchizedec, consisting of High Priests and Elders, and the Order of Aaron, containing Bishops, Priests, and Deacons; but ” my servant, Joseph Smith,” was, of course, the autocrat of the whole system, and the others were but his tools. Not alone from the States, but even from the manufacturing districts of England, did multitudes flock to the land of promise. Disputes, however, arose. The Prophet, Joe Smith, was killed by a mob last year, at Carthage, in Illinois, and most of his fanatical followers are dispersed. Numbers have emigrated to California, and intend forming establishments in that country, and time alone will tell whether the delusion will have any duration. The temple remains unfinished, like the Tower of Babel, a standing monument of human folly.

10. The German Catholic Church. Such was the designation adopted by a party raised up within the two last years in Germany; but the reader will perceive what little right it has to such a title, when, at the last meeting, held at Schneidemuhl, they not only rejected the Dogmas and Sacraments, which peculiarly distinguish the Catholic Church from the various Protestant sects, but openly renounced even the Apostles Creed, denied the Divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, and, in fact, their whole Creed now consists, we may say, of one article to believe in the existence of God. The origin of this party was thus : In the Cathedral of Treves, it is piously believed, the seamless garment worn by our Lord is preserved; it is usually called the Holy Robe of Treves. From time to time this is exhibited to the veneration of the people. The Bishop of Treves, Monseigneur Arnoldi, published to the Faithful of Germany and the world, that the robe would be exhibited for a few weeks. Hundreds of thousands responded to the pious invitation. From the snowy summits of the Swiss mountains, to the lowlands of Holland, the people came in multitudes, to venerate the sacred relic. Ronge, an unquiet immoral Priest, who had been previously suspended by his Bishop, imagined that it would be just the time to imitate Luther in his attack on Indulgences, and, accordingly, wrote a letter to the Prelate Arnoldi, which was published, not alone in the German papers, but in several other parts of Europe besides. He then declared that he renounced the Roman Catholic Church altogether, and established what he called the German Catholic Church. He was soon joined by another priest of the same stamp, Czerski; and numbers of the Rationalists of Germany having no fixed religious principles of any sort, ranked themselves under the banners of the new Apostles, not through any love for the new form of faith, but hoping to destroy Catholicity. We have seen, however, at their last Conference, that they have abolished Christianity itself, and the sect, as it is, is already nearly extinct.


(1) Perron, de Protes.
(2) Encyc. Brit, Art. Zinzendorf and United Brethren. 
(3) Mosheim, Cent. XVIII.
(4) Wesley’s Journal; Centenary Report, and Benson’s Apology, &c.
(6) Gotti, Ver. Rel. c. 5.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre



The Catholic Church teaches that there are in God one Nature and three distinct Persons. Arius, of whose heresy we shall have to speak in the next chapter, admits the distinction of Persons in the Trinity, but said that the three Persons had three different Natures among themselves, or, as the latter Arians said, that the three Persons were of three distinct Natures. Sabellius, on the other hand, confessed, that in God there was but one Nature; but he denied the distinction of Persons, for God, he said, was distinguished with the name of the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost, by denomination alone, to signify the different effects of the Divinity, but that in himself, as there is but one Nature, so there is but one Person. The Sabellian heresy was first taught by Praxeas, who was refuted by Tertullian in a special work. In the year 257, the same heresy was taken up by Sabellius (1), who gave it great extension, especially in Lybia, and he was followed by Paul of Samosata. These denied the distinction of the Persons, and, consequently, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and, therefore, the Sabellians were called Patropassionists, as St. Augustine (2) tells us, for, -as they admitted in God only the Person of the Father alone, they should, consequently, admit that it was the Father who became incarnate, and suffered for the redemption of mankind. The Sabellian heresy, after being a long time defunct, was resuscitated by Socinus, whose arguments we shall also enumerate in this dissertation.

(1) Euseb. His. Eccles.
(2) St. Augus. trac. 26, in Jo.


2. In the first place, the plurality and the real distinction of the three Persons in the Divine Nature is proved from the words of Genesis: ” Let us make man to our own image and likeness” (Gen. i, 26); and in chap, iii, v. 22, it is said: “Behold, Adam is become one of us ;” and again, in chap, xi, ver. 7 : ” Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongues.” Now these words, ” let us do,” ” let us go down,” ” let us confound,” show the plurarity of Persons, and can in no wise be understood of the plurality of Natures, for the Scripture itself declares that there is but one God, and if there were several Divine Natures, there would be several Gods; the words quoted, therefore, must mean the plurality of Persons. Theodoret (1), with Tertullian, makes a reflection on this, that God spoke in the plural number, “let us make,” to denote the plurality of Persons, and then uses the singular, “to our image,” not images, to signify the unity of the Divine Nature.

3. To this the Socinians object : First That God spoke in the plural number, for the honour of his Person, as kings say “We” when they give any order. But we answer, by saying, that sovereigns speak thus, “we ordain,” “we command,” in their ordinances, for then they represent the whole republic, but never when they speak of their private and personal acts; they never say, for example, ” we are going to sleep,” or ” we are going to walk,” nor did God speak in the way of commanding, when he said, ” Behold Adam is become as one of us.” Secondly They object, that God did not thus speak with the other Divine Persons, but with the Angels; but Tertullian, St. Basil, Theodoret, and St. Iræneus, laugh at this foolish objection (2), for the very words, ” to our image and likeness,” dispose of it, for man is not created to the image of the Angels, but of God himself. Thirdly They object, that God spoke with himself then, as if exciting himself to create man, as a sculptor might say, ” come, let us make a statue. St. Basil (3), opposing the Jews, disposes of this argument. ”Do we ever see a smith,” he says, ” when sitting down among his tools, say to himself Come, let us make a sword ?” The Saint intends by this to prove, that, when God said, ” let us make,” he could not speak so to himself alone, but to the other Persons; for no one, speaking to himself, says, ” let us make.” It is clear, therefore, that he spoke with the other Divine Persons.   

4. It is proved, also, from the Psalms (ii, 7) : ” The Lord hath said to me, thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Here mention is made of the Father begetting the Son, and of the Son begotten; and in the same Psalm the promise is made : ” I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Here a clear distinction is drawn between the Person of the Son and the Person of the Father, for we cannot say it is the same Person who begets and is begotten. And St. Paul declares that these words refer to Christ the Son of God : ” So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest, but he that said unto him: Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Heb. v, 5).

5. It is also- proved by the 109th Psalm : ” The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand ;” and it was this very passage that our Saviour made use of to convince the Jews, and make them believe that he was the Son of God. ” What think you of Christ, said he ? Whose Son is he ? They say to him : David’s. He saith to them : How, then, doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, &c. If David then call him Lord,  how is he his Son” (Mat. xxii, 42 45). Christ wished by this to prove that, although the Son of David, he was still His Lord, and God, likewise, as his Eternal Father, was Lord.

6. The distinction of the Divine Persons was not expressed more clearly in the Old Law, lest the Jews, like the Egyptians, who adored a plurality of Gods, might imagine that in the three Divine Persons there were three Essential Gods. In the New Testament, however, through which the Gentiles were called to the Faith, the distinction of the three Persons in the Divine Essence is clearly laid down, as is proved, first  from St. John, i, 1: ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now, by the expression, ”the Word was with God,” it is proved that the Word was distinct from the Father, for we cannot say of the same thing, that it is with itself and nigh itself at the same time. Neither can we say that the Word was distinct by Nature, for the text says, ” the Word was God;” therefore, the distinction of Persons is clearly proved, as St. Athanasius and Tertullian agree (4). In the same chapter these words occur : ” We saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father.” Here no one can say, that the Son is begotten from himself; the Son, therefore, is really distinct from the Father.

7. It is proved, also, from the command given to the Apostles : ” Go, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt, xxviii, 19). Hence the words, in the name, denote the unity of Nature, and signify that Baptism is one sole operation of all the three named Persons; and the distinct appellation afterwards given to each Person, clearly proves that they are distinct. And, again, if these three Persons were not God, but only creatures, it would be absurd to imagine that Christ, under the same name, would liken creatures to God.

8. It is proved, also, by that text of St. John : ” Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete” (John, xiv, 9, 16). By the words, ” he that seeth me seeth the Father,” he proves the unity of the Divine Nature; and by the other expression, ” I will ask,” &c., the distinction of the Persons, for the same Person cannot be at once the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is even more fully explained by the words of St. John, xv, 26 : ” But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father shall send in my name.”

9. It is also proved by that text of St. John : ” There are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one” (John, I. Epis. v. 7). Nor is the assertion of the adversaries of the Faith, that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, are merely different in name, but not in reality, of any avail, for then it would not be three testimonies that are given, but only one alone, which is repugnant to the text. The Socinians labour hard to oppose this text especially, which so clearly expresses the distinction of the three Divine Persons, and they object that this verse is wanting altogether in many manuscripts, or, at all events is found only in part; but Estius, in his commentaries on this text of St. John, says, that Robert Stephens, in his elegant edition of the New Testament, remarks that, having consulted sixteen ancient copies collected in France, Spain, and Italy, he found that, in seven of them, the words ” in heaven” alone were omitted, but that the remainder of the text existed in full. The Doctors of Louvain collected a great number of manuscripts for the Edition of the Vulgate brought out in 1580, and they attest, that it was in five alone that the whole text was not found (5). It is easy to explain how a copyist might make a mistake in writing this verse, for the seventh and eighth verses are so much alike, that a careless copyist might easily mix up one with the other. It is most certain that in many ancient Greek copies, and in all the Latin ones, the seventh verse is either put down entire, or, at least, noted in the margin : and, besides, we find it cited by many of the Fathers, as St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, St. Epiphanius, St. Fulgentius, Tertullian, St. Jerome, and Victor Vitensis (6). The Council of Trent, above all, in its Decree of the Canonical Scriptures, Sess. IV., obliges us to receive every book of the Vulgate edition, with all its parts, as usually read in the Church : “If any one should not receive as holy and canonical the entire books, with all their parts, as they are accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and contained in the old Vulgate edition let him be anathema.” The seventh verse quoted is frequently read in the Church, and especially on Low Sunday.

10. The Socinians, however, say that it cannot be proved from that text of St. John, that there are in God three distinct Persons, and one sole essence, because, say they, the words ” these three are one” signify no other union but the union of testimony, as the words of the eighth verse signify, ” There are three that give testimony on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three are one.” These words prove, according to us, that Christ is truly the Son of God, which is what St. John is speaking about; and this, he says, is testified by the water of Baptism, by the blood shed by Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, who teaches it by his illuminations, and in this sense St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and Liranus explain it, and especially Tirinus, who rejects the explanation of an anonymous author, who interprets the water as that which flowed from our Lord’s side; the blood, that which flowed from his heart when it was pierced with a spear, and the spirit, the soul of Jesus Christ. To return to the point, however; I cannot conceive any objection more futile than this. So from the words of St. John, ” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” the distinction of the Divine Persons cannot be proved, because these Persons ” are one,” that is, make one testimony alone, and denote by that, that they are but one Essence. But we answer, that we are not here labouring to prove that God is one, that is, one Essence, and not three Essences; for our adversaries themselves do not call this in doubt, and, besides, it is proved from a thousand other texts of Scripture adduced by themselves, as we shall soon see; so that granting even that the words ” are one” denote nothing else but the unity of testimony, what do they gain by that ? The point is this not whether the unity of the Divine Essence is proved by the text of St. John, but whether the real distinction of the Divine Persons is proved by it, and no one, I think, can deny that it is, when St. John says, ” There are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” If three give testimony, it is not one Person, but three distinct Persons, who do so, and that is what we mean to prove. I have found several other answers to this objection in various authors, but this, I think, is the clearest and the most convincing against the Socinians.

11. The real distinction of the Divine Persons is also proved from the traditions of the Fathers, and from their unanimous consent in teaching this truth. To avoid doubtful meanings, however, it is right to premise that in the fourth century, about the year 380, there were great contests in the Church, even among the Holy Fathers themselves, regarding the word Hypostasis, and they were split into two parties. Those who adhered to Miletius taught that there are in God three Hypostases; and those who followed Paulinus, that there was only one, and so the followers of Miletius called the followers of Paulinus Sabellians, and these retorted by calling the others Arians. The whole dispute, however, arose from the doubtful meaning of the word Hypostasis, as some of the Fathers, the Paulinians, understood by it the Essence or the Divine Nature, and the others, the Miletians, the Person; and the word Ousia was also of doubtful meaning, being taken for Essence or for Person. When the words were, therefore, explained in the Synod of Alexandria, both parties came to an agreement, and from that to this, by the word Ousia we understand the Essence, and by the word Hypostasis, the Person. The doctrine, therefore, of one Essence and three Persons, really distinct in God, is not taught alone by St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, St. Epiphanius, St. Basil, St. Jerom, and St. Fulgentius, already cited (n. 9), but also by St. Hilary, St. Gregory Nazianzan, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. John of Damascus, &c. (10). Among the Fathers of the three first centuries we have St. Clement, St. Polycarp, Athenagoras, St. Justin, Tertullian, St. Irenæus, St. Dionisius Alexandrinus, and St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (11).

Many general Councils declare and confirm the same truth. It is taught by the Nicene (in Symb. Fidei); by the first of Constantinople (in Symb.); by that of Ephesus (act 6), which confirms the Nicene Symbol; of Chalcedon (in Symb.); of the second of Constantinople (act 6); third of Constantinople (act 17); fourth of Constantinople (act 10); fourth of Lateran (cap. 1); second of Lyons (can. 1); of Florence, in the Decree of Union, and finally, by the Council of Trent, which approved the first of Constantinople, with the addition of the word Filioque. It was so well known that the Christians believed this dogma, that the very Gentiles charged them with believing in three Gods, as is proved from the writings of Origen against Celsus, and from the Apology of St. Justin. If the Christians did not firmly believe in the Divinity of the three Divine Persons, they would have answered the Pagans, by saying that they only considered the Father as God, and not the other two Persons; but they, on the contrary, always confessed, without fearing that by doing so they would admit a plurality of Gods, that the Son and the Holy Ghost were God equally with the Father; for although with the Father they were three distinct Persons, they had but one Essence and Nature. This proves clearly that this was the faith of the first ages.


12. The Sabellians bring forward several texts of Scripture, to prove that God is one alone, as ” I am the Lord that make all things, that alone stretch out the heavens, that establish the earth, and there is none with me” (Isaias, xliv, 24); but to this we answer, that the words ” I am the Lord” refer not alone to the Father, but to all the three Persons, who are but one God and one Lord. Again, ” I am God, and there is no other” (Isaias, xlv, 22). Hence, we assert that the word I, does not denote the person of the Father alone, but also the Persons of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, because they are all but one God; and the words “there is no other” signify the exclusion of all other Persons who are not God. But, say they, here is one text, in which it is clearly laid down that the Father alone is God, ” yet to us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I. Cor. viii. 6). To this we answer, that here the Apostle teaches the faithful to believe one God in three Persons, in opposition to the Gentiles, who, in many Persons, adored many Gods. For as we believe that Christ, called by St. Paul ” one Lord,” is not Lord alone, to the exclusion of the Father, so, when the Father is called ” one Lord,” we are not to believe that he is God alone, to the exclusion of Christ and of the Holy Ghost; and when the Apostle speaks of ” one God the Father,” we are to understand that he speaks of the unity of Nature, and not of Person.

13. Again, they object that our natural reason alone is sufficient to prove to us, that as among men three persons constitute three individual humanities, so in God the three Persons, if they were really distinct, would constitute three distinct Deities. To this we reply, that Divine mysteries are not to be judged according to our stunted human reason; they are infinitely beyond the reach of our intellect. ” If,” says St. Cyril of Alexandria, ” there was no difference between us and God, we might measure Divine things by our own standard; but if there be an incomprehensible distance between us, why should the deficiency of our nature mark out a rule for God” (12)? If, therefore, we cannot arrive at the comprehension of Divine mysteries, we should adore and believe them; and it is enough to know that what we are obliged to believe is not evidently opposed to reason. We cannot comprehend the greatness of God, and so we cannot comprehend the mode of his existence. But, say they, how can we believe that three Persons really distinct are only one God, and not three Gods ? The reason assigned by the Holy Fathers is this because the principle of the Divinity is one, that is, the Father, who proceeds from nothing, while the two other Persons proceed from him, but in such a manner that they cease not to exist in him, as Jesus Christ says : ” The Father is in me, and I in the Father” (John, x. 38).

And this is the difference between the Divine Persons and human persons with us three persona constitute three distinct substances, because, though they are of the same species, they are still three  individual substances, and they are also three distinct natures, for each person has his own particular nature. In God, however, the Nature or the substance, is not divisible, but is in fact one one Divinity alone, and, therefore, the Persons, although really distinct, still having the same Nature and the same Divine substance, constitute one Divinity alone, only one God.

14. They next object that rule received by all philosophers : ” Things equal to a third are equal to each other.” Therefore, say they, if the Divine Persons are the same thing as the Divine Nature, they are also the same among themselves, and cannot be really distinct. We might answer this by saying, as before, that a philosophical axiom like this applies very well to created, but not to Divine things. But we can even give a more distinct answer to it. This axiom answers very well in regard to things which correspond to a third, and correspond also among themselves. But although the Divine Persons correspond in everything to the Divine Essence, and are, therefore, the same among themselves as to the substance, still, because in the personality they do not correspond, on account of their relative opposition, for the Father communicates his Essence to the two other persons, and they receive it from the Father, therefore, the Person of the Father is really distinct from that of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

15. They object, Fourthly that as the Divine Presence is infinite, therefore it must be but one, for what is infinite in all perfections, cannot have a second like itself, and that is the great proof of the Unity of God; for if there were many Gods, one could not possess the perfections of the other, and would not, therefore, be infinite, nor be God. To this we answer, that although on account of the infinity of God, there can be no more Gods than one, still from the infinity of the Divine Persons in God, it does not follow that there can be only one Divine Person; for although in God there are three distinct Persons, still each, through the unity of essence, contains all the perfections of the other two. But, say they, the Son has not the perfection of the Father to generate, and the Holy Ghost has not the perfection of the Father and the Son to spirate, therefore the Son is not infinite as is the Father, nor has the Holy Ghost the perfections of the Father and the Son. We reply, that the perfection of anything is that which properly belongs to its nature, and hence it is that the perfection of the Father is to generate, of the Son, to be generated, and of the Holy Ghost to be spirated. Now, as these perfections are relative, they cannot be the same in each Person, for otherwise, the distinction of Persons would exist no longer, neither would the perfection of the Divine Nature exist any longer, for that requires that the Persons should be really distinct among themselves, and that the Divine Essence should be common to each. But then, say they, those four expressions, the Essence, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are not synonymous; they, therefore, mean four distinct things, and that would prove not alone a Trinity, but a Quarternity in God. The answer to this frivolous objection is very simple. We freely admit that these four words are not synonymous, but for all that, the Essence is not distinct from the Persons; the Divine Essence is an absolute thing, but common to all the three Persons, but the three Persons, though distinct among themselves, are not distinct from the Essence, for that is in each of the three Persons, as the Fourth Council of Lateran (can. 2) declares : “In Deo Trinitas est non quaternitas quia qualibet trium personarum, est ilia res videlicet essentia, sive natura Divina quæ sola est universorum principium præter quod aliud inveniri non potest.”

16. The Socinians object, Fifthly The Father generated the Son, either existing or not existing; if he generated him already existing, he cannot be said to be generated at all, and if the Son was not existing, then there was a time when the Son was not; therefore they conclude that there are not in God Three Persons of the same Essence. To this we reply, that the Father has always generated the Son, and that the Son is always existing, for he was generated from all eternity, and will be generated for ever, and, therefore, we read in the Psalms : ” To-day I have begotten thee” (Psalms, ii, 7); because in eternity there is no succession of time, and all is equally present to God. Neither is there any use in saying that the Father has generated the Son in vain, as the Son already existed always, for the Divine generation is eternal, and as the Father generating is eternal, so the Son is eternally generated; both are eternal, but the Father has been always the principium in the Divine Nature.

17. Finally, they object that the primitive Christians did not believe the mystery of the Trinity, for if they did, the Gentiles would have attacked them, on the great difficulties with which this mystery, humanly speaking, was encompassed; at all events, they would have tried to prove from that, that they believed in a plurality of Gods, but we find no such charge made against the Christians by the Gentiles, nor do we find a word about it in the Apologies written by the early Fathers in defence of the Faith. To this we answer : First That even in these early days the Pastors of the Church taught the Catechumens the Apostles Creed, which contains the mystery of the Trinity, but they did not speak openly of it to the Gentiles, who, when their understanding could not comprehend Divine things, only mocked them. Secondly Many of the writings of the Gentiles have been lost in the lapse of centuries, and through the prohibitory decrees of the Christian Emperors, and many of the Apologies were lost in like manner. Praxeas, however, who denied the Trinity, uses this very argument against the Catholics : ” If you admit three Persons in God,” says he, ” you admit a plurality of Gods like the Gentiles.” Besides, in the first Apology of St. Justin, we read that the Idolaters objected to the Christians, that they adored Christ as the Son of God. The pagan Celsus, as we find in Origcn (13), argued that the Christians, by their belief in the Trinity, should admit a plurality of Gods, but Origen answers him, that the Trinity does not constitute three Gods, but only one, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though three Persons, are still only one and the same essence. The acts of the martyrs prove in a thousand places, that the Christians believed that Jesus Christ was the true Son of God, and they could not believe this, unless they believed, at the same time, that there were three Persons in God.

(1) Theod. qu. 19, in Gen. 

(2) Tertull. 1. contra Prax. c. 12; St. Basil, t. 1; Hom. 9 in Hexamer.; Theod. qu. 19, in Gen.; St. Iran. l. 4, n. 37.

(3) St. Basil, loc. cit. p. 87.

(4) Tert. adv. Prax. c. 26; St. Ath. Orat. contr. Sab, Gregal.

(5) Tournel. Theol. Comp. t. 2, qu. 3, p. 41; Juenin, Theol. t. 3, c. 2.

(6) St. Cypr. LI, de Unit. Eccl. St Ath. l. 1, ad Theoph.; St. Epiph. Hær. St. Fulg. 1. contra, Arian. Tertull. 1. adv. Prax. 25; St. Hier. (aut Auctor)  Prol. ad Ep. Canon, Vitens. l. 3, de Pers. Air.

(10) St. Hilar. in 12 lib.; St. Greg. Nazian, in plur. Orat. Nyss. Orat. contra Ennom.; St. Chrys. in 5 Hom.; St. Amb. lib. de Spir. S. St. Augus. l. 15; Jo. Dam. l. 1 de Fide.

(11) St. Clem. Epis. ad Corint; St. Polyear. Orat. in suo marg. apud Euseb. L 4; His. c. 14; Athenagor. Leg. pro. Chris.; St. Iren. in ejus , oper.; Tertullian, contra Prax. Diony. Alex. Ep. ad Paul, Samosat.; St. Gregor. Thaum. in Expos. Fid.

(12) St. Cyril, Alex. l. 11, in Jo. p. 99.

(13) Origen lib. Con. Celsum.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. The Dogma of the Catholic Church is, that the Divine Word, that is, the Person of the Son of God, is, by his nature, God, as the Father is God, and in all things is equal to the Father, is perfect and eternal, like the Father, and is consubstantial with the Father. Arius, on the contrary, blasphemously asserted that the “Word was neither God, not eternal, nor consubstantial, nor like unto the Father; but a mere creature, created in time, but of higher excellence than all other creatures; so that even by him, as by an instrument, God created all other things. Several of the followers of Arius softened down his doctrine; some said that the Word was like the Father, others that he was created from eternity, but none of them would ever admit that he was consubstantial with the Father. When we prove the Catholic doctrine, however, expressed in the proposition at the beginning of this chapter, we shall have refuted, not alone the Arians, Anomeans, Eunomians, and Aerians, who followed in every thing the doctrine of Arius, but also the Basilians, who were Semi- Arians. Those in the Council of Antioch, in 341, and in the Council of Ancyra in 358, admitted that the Word was Omoiousion Patri, that is, like unto the Father, in substance, but would not agree to the term, Omousion, or of the same substance as the Father. The Acacians, who held a middle place between the Arians and Semi- Arians, and admitted that the Son was Omoion Patri, like to the Father, but not of the same substance, will all be refuted. All these will be proved to be in error, when we show that the Word is in all things, not only like unto the Father, but consubstantial to the Father, that is of the very same substance as the Father, as likewise the Simonians, Corinthians, Ebionites, Paulinists, and Photinians, who laid the foundations of this heresy, by teaching that Christ was only a mere man, born like all others, from Joseph and Mary, and having no existence before his birth. By proving the Catholic truth that the Word is true God, like the Father, all these heretics will be put down, for as the Word in Christ assumed human nature in one Person, as St. John says : ” The Word was made flesh;” if we prove that the Word is true God, it is manifest that Christ is not a mere man, but man and God.

2. There are many texts of Scripture to prove this, which may be divided into three classes. In the first class are included all those texts in which the Word is called God, not by grace or predestination, as the Socinians say, but true God in Nature and substance. In the Gospel of St. John we read : ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made” (John i.) St. Hilary looked on this passage as proving so clearly the Divinity of the Word, that he says (1) ” When I hear the Word was God, I hear it not only said but proved that the Word is God. Here the thing signified is a substance where it is said was God. For to be, to exist, is not accidental, but substantial.” The holy doctor had previously met the objection of those who said that even Moses was called God by Pharoe (Exod. viii), and that judges were called Gods in the 81st Psalm, by saying : It is one thing to be, as it were, appointed a God, another to be God himself; in Pharoe’s case a God was appointed as it were (that is Moses), but neither in name or Nature was he a God, as the Just are also called God : ” I said you are gods.” Now the expression ” I said,” refers more to the person speaking than to the name of the thing itself; it is, then, the person who speaks who imposes the name, but it is not naturally the name of the thing itself. But here he says the Word is God, the thing itself exists in the Word, the substance of the Word is announced in the very name: ”Verbi enim appellatio in Dei Filio de Sacramento nativitatis est.” Thus, says the Saint, the name of God given to Pharoe and the Judges mentioned by David in the 81st Psalm was only given them by the Lord as a mark of their authority, but was not their proper name; but when St. John speaks of the Word, he does not say that he was called God, but that he was in reality God : ” The Word was God.”

3. The Socinians next object that the text of St. John should not be read with the same punctuation as we read it, but thus : ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was. God the same was in the beginning,” &c., but this travesty of the text is totally opposed to all the copies of the Scriptures we know, to the sense of all the Councils, and to all antiquity. We never find the text cut up in this way; it always was written ” The Word was God.” Besides, if we allowed this Socinian reading of the text, the whole sense would be lost, it would be, in fact, ridiculous, as if St. John wanted to assert that God existed, after saying already that the Word was with God. There are, however, many other texts in which the Word is called God, and the learned Socinians themselves are so convinced of the weakness of this argument, as calculated only to make their cause ridiculous, that they tried other means of invalidating it, but, as we shall presently see, without succeeding.

4. It is astonishing to see how numerous are the cavils of the Arians. The Word, they say, is called God, not the God the fountain of all nature, whose name is always written in Greek with the article (o Theos), such, however, is not the case in the text; but we may remark that in this very chapter, St. John, speaking of the supreme God, ”there was a man sent from God, whose name was John,” does not use the article, neither is it used in the 12th, 13th, or 18th verses. In many other parts of the Scriptures, where the name of God is mentioned, the article is omitted, as in St. Matthew xiv, 33, and xxvii, 43; in St. Paul’s I. Epistle to the Corinthians, viii, 4, 6; to the Romans, i, 7; to the Ephesians, iv, 6; and on the other hand we see that in the Acts of the Apostles, vii, 43; in the II. Epistle to the Corinthians, iv, 4, and in that to the Galatians, iv, 8, they speak of an Idol as God, and use the article, and it is most certain that neither St. Luke nor St. Paul ever intended to speak of an Idol as the supreme God. Besides, as St. John Chrysostom teaches (2), from whom this whole answer, we may say, is taken, the Word is called God, sometimes even with the addition of that article, on whose omission in St. John they lay such stress, as is the case in the original of that text of St. Paul, Romans ix, 5 : ” Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed forever.” St. Thomas remarks, that in the first cited passage the article is omitted in the name of God, as the name there stands in the position not of a subject, but a predicate : ”Ratio autem quare Evangelista non apposuit articulum hinc nomini Deus est quod Deus ponitur hie in prcedicato et tenetur formaliter, consuetum erat autem quod nominibus in prædicato positis non ponitur articulus cum discretionem importet” (3).   

5. They object, fourthly, that in the text of St. John the Word is called God, not because he is so by Nature and Substance, but only by Dignity and Authority, just as they say the name of God is given in the Scriptures to the angels and to judges. We have already answered this objection by St. Hilary (N. 2), that it is one thing to give to an object the name of God, another to say that he is God. But there is, besides, another answer. It is not true that the name of God is an appellative name, so that it can be positively and absolutely applied to one who is not God by Nature; for although some creatures are called Gods, it never happened that any one of them was called ” God,” absolutely, or was called true God, or the highest God, or singularly God, as Jesus Christ is called by St. John: ”And we know that the Son of God is come, and he hath given us understanding, that we may know the true God, and may be in his true Son” (John I. Epis. v, 20). And St. Paul says ” Looking for the blessed hope and the coming of the glory of the great God, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Epis. to Titus, ii, 13), and to the Romans, ix, 5: ”Of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things God, blessed for ever.” We likewise read in St. Luke, that Zachary, prophesying regarding his Son, says ” And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke i, 76), and again, ver. 78:  ” Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high has visited us.”  (3) St. Thom, in cap. 1, Joan. loc. 2.

6. Another most convincing proof of the Divinity of the Word is deduced from the 1st chapter of St. John, already quoted. In it these words occur: ”All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made.” Now any one denying the Divinity of the Word must admit from these words that either the Word was eternal, or that the Word was made by himself. It is evidently repugnant to reason to say the Word made himself, nemo dat quod non habet. Therefore we must admit that the Word was not made, otherwise St. John would be stating a falsehood when he says, ”Without him was made nothing that was made.” This is the argument of St. Augustine (4), and from these words he clearly proves that the Word is of the same substance as the Father: “Neque enim dicit omnia, nisi quaa facta sunt, idest omnem creaturam; unde liquido apparet, si facta substantia est, ipsum factum non esse, per quem facta sunt omnia. Et si factum non est, creatura non est; si autem creatura non est, ejusdem cum Patre substantiæ cujus Pater, ergo facta substantia, quæ Deus non est, creatura est; et quæ creatura non est, Deus est. Et si non est Filius ejusdem substantiæ cujus Pater, ergo facta substantiæ est : non  omnia per ipsum facta sunt; et omnia per ipsum facta sunt. Ut unius igitur ejusdemque cum Patre substantiæ est, et ideo non tantum Deus, sed et verus Deus.” Such are the words of the Holy Father; the passage is rather long, but most convincing.   

7. We shall now investigate the passages of the second class, in which the Divine Nature and the very substance of the Father is attributed to the Word. First, the Incarnate Word, himself, says : ” I and the Father are one” (John x, 30). The Arians say that Christ here does not speak of the unity of Nature but of Will, and Calvin, though he professes not to be an Arian, explains it in the same manner. “The ancients,” he says, “abused this passage, in order to prove that Christ is, omousion, consubstantial with the Father, for here Christ does not dispute of the unity of substance, but of the consent he had with the Father.” The Holy Fathers, however, more deserving of credit than Calvin and the Arians, always understood it of the unity of substance. Here are the words of St. Athanasius (5) : ” If the two are one they must be so according to the Divinity, inasmuch as the Son is consubstantial to the Father they are, therefore, two, as Father and Son, but only one as God is one.”

Hear also, St. Cyprian (6): ”The Lord says, I and the Father are one, and again it is written of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.” St. Ambrose takes it in the same sense, as do St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, as we shall see presently; why the very Jews took it in this sense, for they took up stones to stone him, as St. John relates, (x, 32): “Many good works I have shown you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me? The Jews answered him : For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” ” See,” says St. Augustine (7) ” how the Jews understood what the Arians will not understand, for they are vexed to find that these words I and the Father are one, cannot be understood, unless the equality of the Son with the Father be admitted.” St. John Chrysostom here remarks that if the Jews erred in believing that our Saviour wished to announce himself as equal in power to the Father, he could immediately have explained the mistake, but he did not do so (8), but, quite the contrary, he confirms what he before said the more* he is pressed; he does not excuse himself, but reprehends them; he again says he is equal to the Father: ”If I do not the works of my Father” he says,” believe me not; but if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (John x, 37, 38). We have seen that Christ expressly declared in the Council of Caiphas, that he was the true Son of God: “Again the High Priest asked him and said to him : Art thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed God ? and Jesus said to him, I am” (Mark xiv, 61, 62). Who shall then dare to say that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, when he himself has said so?

8. Again, say the Arians, when our Saviour prayed to his Father for all his disciples, he said : ” And the glory thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one, as we also are one” (John, xvii, 22). Now in this passage, say they, Christ certainly speaks of the unity of will, and not of the unity of substance. But we reply : It is one thing to say that ” I and the Father are one,” quite another thing, ” that they may be one, as we are also one,” just as it is one thing to say, ” your heavenly Father is perfect,” and another to say, “Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew v, 48).  (6) St. Cyprian, de Unit. Eccles. (7) St. Aug. Tract 48 in Joan (8) St. Joan. Chrysos. Hom. 6 in Jo. For the particle as (sicut) denotes, as St. Athanasius (9) says, likeness or imitation, but not equality of conjunction. So as our Lord here exhorts us to imitate the Divine perfection as far as we can, he prays that his disciples may be united with God as far as they can, which surely cannot be understood except as a union of the will. When he says, however: ”I and the Father are one,” there is no allusion to imitation; he there speaks of a union of substance; he there positively and absolutely asserts that he is one and the same with the Father: ”We are one.”

9. There are, besides, many other texts which most clearly corroborate this. Our Lord says, in St. John, xvi, 15, and xvii, 10; ” All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine.” ” And all my things are thine, and Thine are mine.” Now, as these expressions are used by him without any limitation, they evidently prove his consubstantiality with the Father, for when he asserts that he has every thing the Father has, who will dare to say that the Father has something more than the Son ? And if we denied to the Son the same substance as the Father, we would deny him every thing, for then he would be infinitely less than the Father; but Jesus says that he has all the Father has, without exception, consequently he is in every thing equal to the Father: ”He has nothing less than the Father,” says St. Augustine, ” when he says that All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine, he is, therefore, his equal” (10).

10. St. Paul proves the same when he says, ”Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil, ii, 6). Now here the Apostle says Christ humbled himself, “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,” and that can only be understood of the two Natures, in which Christ was, for he humbled himself to take the nature of a servant, being already in the Divine Nature, as is proved from the antecedent expressions, ” who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” If Christ usurped nothing by declaring himself equal to God, it cannot be denied that he is of the same substance with God, for otherwise it would be a ” robbery” to say that he was equal to God.

St. Augustine, also, explaining that passage of St. John, xiv, 28, ”The Father is greater than I,” says that he is less than the Father, according to the form of a servant, which he took by becoming man, but that, according to the form of God, which he had by Nature, and which he did not lose by becoming man, he was not less than the Father, but his co-equal. ”To be equal to God in the form of God,” says the Saint, ”was, not a robbery, but Nature. He, therefore,” says the Father, ”is greater, because he humbled himself, taking the form of a servant, but not losing the form of God” (11).

11. Another proof is what our Saviour himself says: ”For what things soever he (the Father) doth, these the Son also doth in like manner” (John, v. 19). Hence, St. Hilary concludes that the Son of God is true God, like the Father ”Filius est, quia abs se nihil potest; Deus est, quia quæcunque Pater facit, et ipse eadem facit; unum sunt, quia eadem facit, non alia” (12). He could not have the same individual operation with the Father, unless he was consubstantial with the Father, for in God there is no distinction between operation and substance.

12. The third class of texts are those in which attributes are attributed to the Word, which cannot apply unless to God by Nature, of the same substance as the Father. First The Word is eternal according to the 1st verse of the Gospel of St. John: ”In the beginning was the Word.” The verb was denotes that the Word has always been, and even, as St. Ambrose remarks (13), the Evangelist mentions the word ”was” four times ”Ecce quater erat ubi impius invenit quod non erat.” Besides the word ” was,” the other words, ” in the beginning,” confirm the truth of the eternity of the Word : “In the beginning was the Word,” that is to say, the Word existed before all other things. It is on this very text that the First Council of Nice founded the condemnation of that proposition of the Arians, ”There was a time once when the Word had no existence.”

13. The Arians, however, say that St. Augustine (14) interpreted the expression ” in the beginning,” by saying it meant the Father himself, and according to this interpretation, they say that the Word might exist in God previous to all created things, but not be eternal at the same time. To this we reply, that although we might admit this interpretation, and that ” in the beginning” meant in the Father; still, if we  admit that the Word was before all created things, it follows that the Word was eternal, and never made, because as ” by him all things were made,” if the Word was not eternal, but created, he should have created himself, an impossibility, based on the general maxim admitted by all, and quoted before: “Nemo dat quod non habet” No one can give what he has not.

14. They assert, secondly, that the words ” in the beginning” must be understood in the same way as in the passage in the 1st chapter of Genesis; “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth ;” and as these were created in the beginning, so also the Word was created. The answer to this is, that Moses says : ” In the beginning God created ;” but St. John does not say in the beginning the Word was created, but the Word was, and that by him all things were made.

15. They object, in the third place, that by the expression, ”the Word,” is not understood a person distinct from the Father, but the internal wisdom of the Father distinct from him, and by which all things were made. This explanation, however, cannot stand, for St. John, speaking of the Word, says: ”By him all things were made,” and towards the end of the chapter: ”The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us;” now we cannot understand these expressions as referring to the internal wisdom of the Father, but indubitably to the Word, by whom all things were made, and who, being the Son of God, became flesh, as is declared in the same place : ” And we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father.” This is confirmed by the Apostle, when he says, that by the Son (called by St. John the Word) the world was created. ”In these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also, he made the world” (Heb. i, 2). Besides, the eternity of the Word is proved by the text of the Apocalypse (i, 8): “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, who is, and who was, and who is to come ;” and by the Epistle to the Hebrews (xiii, 8): “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever.”

16. Arius always denied that the Word was eternal, but some of his latter followers, convinced by the Scriptures, admitted that he was eternal, but an eternal creature, and not a Divine Person. The answer given by many Theologians to this newly invented error is, that the very existence of an eternal creature is an impossibility. That a creature, they say, should be said to be created, it is necessary that it should be produced out of nothing, so that from a state of non-existence, it passes to a state of existence, so that we must suppose a time in which this creature did not exist. But this reply is not sufficient to prove the fallacy of the argument, for St. Thomas (15) teaches, and the doctrine is most probable, that in order to assert that a thing is created, it is not necessary to suppose a time in which it was not, so that its nonexistence preceded its existence; but it is quite enough to suppose a creature, as nothing by its own nature, or by itself, but as having its existence altogether from God. ” It is enough,” says the Saint, ” to say that a thing has come from nothing, that its non-existence should precede its existence, not in duration, but nature, inasmuch, as if left to itself, it never would have been anything, and it altogether derives its existence from another.” Supposing then, that it is unnecessary to look for a time in which the thing did not exist, to call it a creature, God, who is eternal, might give to a creature existence from all eternity, which by its own nature it never could have had. It appears to me then, that the fit and proper reply to this argument is, that the Word being (as has been already proved) eternal, never could be called a creature, for it is an article of Faith, as all the Holy Fathers teach (16), that there never existed, in fact, an eternal creature, since all creatures were created in time, in the beginning, when, as Moses says, God created the world : ” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The creation of heaven and earth, according to the doctrine of all Fathers and Theologians, comprises the creation of all beings, both material and spiritual. The Word, on the contrary, had existence before there was any creature, as we see in the book of Proverbs, where Wisdom, that is the Word, thus speaks: ”The Lord possessed me in the beginning, of his ways, before he made anything, from the beginning ” (Prov. viii, 22). The Word, therefore, is not a created being, since he existed before God had made anything.

17. The materialists of modern times, however, cannot infer from this, that matter is eternal of itself, for although we admit that matter might exist from eternity, inasmuch as God could, from all eternity, give to it existence, which it had not of itself, (though he did not do so in fact); still, as we have proved in our  book on the ”Truth of the Faith,” it could not exist from itself, it should have existence from God, for, according to the axiom so frequently repeated Nemo dat quod non habet, it could not give to itself that (existence) which it had not to give. From St. John’s expression regarding the Word, ” by him all things were made,” not alone his eternity is proved, but the power of creating likewise, which can belong to none but God; for, in order to create, an infinite power is necessary, which, as all theologians say, God could not communicate to a creature. Returning, however, to the subject of the eternity of the Word, we say, that if the Father should, by the necessity of the Divine Nature (necessitate naturæ), generate the Son, the Father being eternal, the Son should also be eternal, keeping always in mind, the Father the Generator, the Son as the Generated. Thus, the error of the modern materialists, the basis of whose system is, that matter is eternal, falls to the ground.

18. Now, it being admitted, that by the Word all things were made, it is a necessary consequence, that the Word was not made by Himself, for otherwise, there would exist a being made, but not made by the Word, and this is opposed to the text of St. John, who says, that ” by him all things were made.” This is the great argument of St. Augustine, against the Arians, when they assert that the Word was made: ”How,” says the Saint (17), ” can it be possible, that the Word is made, when God by the Word made all things?  If the Word of God himself was made, by what other Word was he made ? If you say it was by the Word of the Word, that, I say, is the only Son of God; but, if you say it is not by the Word of the Word, then, you must admit, that that Word, by whom all things were made, was not made himself, for he could not, who made all things, be made by himself.”

19. The Arians, too much pressed by this argument to answer it, endeavour to do so by a quibble St. John, say they, does not tell us that all things were made by Him (ab ipso), but rather through Him (per ipsum), and hence, they infer that the Word was not the principal cause of the creation of the World, but only an instrument the Father made use of in creating it, and therefore, they agree that the Word is not God. But we answer that the creation of the World, as described by David and St. Paul, is attributed to the Son of God. ” In the beginning, O Lord,” says David, ”thou foundedst the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands” (Psalm ci, 26); and St. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, dictates almost a whole chapter to prove the same thing; see these passages : ” But to the Son, thy throne, God, is for ever and ever” (i, 8), and again, verse 13, ” But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy footstool.” Here St. Paul declares, that that Son of God called by St. John ” the Word” has created the heavens and the earth, and is really God, and, as God, was not a simple instrument, but the Creator-in-Chief of the world. Neither will the quibble of the Arians on the words per ipsum and ab ipso, avail, for in many places of the Scriptures we find the word per conjoined with the principal cause: Possedi hominem per Deum (Gen. iv); Per me Reges regnant (Prov. viii); Paulus vocatus Apostolus Jem Christi per voluntatem Dei (I. Cor. i).

20. There is another proof of the Divinity of the Word in the 5th chapter of St. John, where the Father wills that all honour should be given to the Son, the same as to himself : ” But he hath given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, as they honour the Father” (John v, 22, 23). The Divinity of the Word and of the Holy Ghost is also proved by the precept given to the Apostles : “Go ye, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt, xxviii, 19). The Holy Fathers, St. Athanasius, St. Hilary, St. Fulgentius, and several others, made use of this text to convince the Arians; for, Baptism being ordained in the name of the three Divine Persons, it is clear that they have equal power and authority, and are God; for if the Son and the Holy Ghost were creatures we would be baptized in the name of the Father, who is God, and of two creatures; but St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, states that this is opposed to our Faith, ” Lest any should say that you are baptized in my name” (I. Cor. i, 15).

21. Finally, there are two powerful arguments, to prove the Divinity of the Word. The first is taken from the power manifested by the Word in the fact related in the fifth chapter of St. Luke, where Christ, in healing the man sick of the palsy, pardoned him his sins, saying : ” Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Luke v, 20). Now, God alone has the power of forgiving sins, and the very Pharisees knew this, for they said : “Who is this who speaketh blasphemies ? who can forgive sins but God alone ?” (Luke, v, 21). 

22. The second proof is taken from the very words of Christ himself, in which he declares himself to be  the Son of God. He several times spoke in this manner, but most especially when he asked his disciples what they thought of him : ” Jesus saith to them, Whom do you think I am ? Simon Peter answered and said : Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him : Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt, xvi, 15, 17.) He also declared it as we have seen above, when Caiphas asked him, ”Art thou Christ, the Son of the Blessed God ? And Jesus said to him, I am” (Mark xiv, 61).. See now the argument. The Arians say that Christ is not the true Son of God, but they never said he was a liar; on the contrary, they praise him, as the most excellent of all men, and enriched, above all others, with virtues and divine gifts. Now, if this man (according to them), called himself the Son of God, when he was but a mere creature, or if he even permitted that others should consider him the Son of God, and that so many should be scandalized in hearing him called the Son of God, when he was not so in reality, he ought at least declare the truth, otherwise he was the most impious of men. But no; he never said a word, though the Jews were under the impression that he was guilty of blasphemy, and allowed himself to be condemned and crucified on that charge, for this was the great crime he was accused of before Pilate, ” according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John, xix, 7). In fine, we reply to all opponents, after Jesus Christ expressly declared himself the Son of God, as we remarked in St. Mark’s Gospel, chap, xiv, 62, ” I am” though this declaration was what cost him his life, who will dare to deny, after it, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? 

(1) Hilar. l. 7, de Trint. n. 10.
(2) St. Jo. Chry. in Jo.
(4) St. Aug. l. ii. cle Trinit. cap. 6.
(5) St. Athan. Orat. con. Arian. n.9.
(9) St. Athan. Orat. 4 ad Arian.
(10) St. Angus, lib. I, con. Maxim, cap. 24.
(11) St. Augus. Ep. 66.
(12) St. Hilar. l. 7, de Trin, n. 21. 
(13) St. Amb. l. 1, de Fide ad Gratian, c. 5.
(14) St. Aug. l. 6, de Trinit. c. 5.
(15) St. Thomas, gates. Disp. de Poteutia, art. 14, ad 7.
(16) St. Thomas, 1. part, ques. 46, art. 2, 3.
(17) St. Augus. Trac. in Joan,
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. Though Arius did not deny the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, still it was a necessary consequence of his principles, for, denying the Son to be God, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, could not be God. However, Aezius, Eunomius, Eudoxius, and all those followers of his, who blasphemously taught that the Son was not like unto the Father, attacked also the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and the chief defender and propagator of this heresy was Macedonius. In the refutation of the heresy of Sabellius, we will prove, in opposition to the Socinians, that the Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Trinity, subsisting and really distinct from the Father and the Son; here we will prove that the Holy Ghost is true God, equal and consubstantial to the Father and the Son.


2. We begin with the Scriptures. To prove that this is an article of Faith, I do not myself think any more is necessary than to quote the text of St. Matthew, in which is related the commission given by Christ to his Apostles: ”Go, ye, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt, xxviii, 19). It is in this belief we profess the Christian religion, which is  founded on the mystery of the Trinity, the principal one of our Faith; it is by these words the character of a Christian is impressed on every one entering into the Church by Baptism; this is the formula approved by all the Holy Fathers, and used from the earliest ages of the Church : ” I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” As the three Persons are named consecutively, and without any difference, the equality of the authority and power belonging to them is declared, and as we say, ” in the name,” and not ” in the names,” we profess the unity of essence in them. By using the article ” and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” we proclaim the real distinction that exists between them; for if we said, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the latter expression, Holy Ghost, might be understood, not as a substantive, as the proper name of one of the Divine Persons, but as an epithet and adjective applied to the Father and the Son. It is for this reason, Tertullian says (15), that our Lord has commanded to make an ablution, in the administration of Baptism, at the name of each of the Divine Persons, that we may firmly believe that there are three distinct Persons in the Trinity. “Mandavit ut tingerent in Patrem et Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum; non in unum nec semel sed ter ad singula nomina in personas singulas tingimur.”

3. St. Athanasius, in his celebrated Epistle to Serapion, says, that we join the name of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son in Baptism, because, if we omitted it, the Sacrament would be invalid : ” He who curtails the Trinity, and baptizes in the name of the Father alone, or in the name of the Son alone, or omitting the Holy Ghost, with the Father and Son, performs nothing, for initiation consists in the whole Trinity being named.” The Saint says that if we omit the name of the Holy Ghost the Baptism is invalid, because Baptism is the Sacrament in which we profess the Faith, and this Faith requires a belief in all the three Divine Persons united in one essence, so that he who denies one of the Persons denies God altogether.

“And so,” follows on St. Athanasius, ” Baptism would be invalid, when administered in the belief that the Son or the Holy Ghost were mere creatures.” He who divides the Son from the Father, or lowers the Spirit to the condition of a mere creature, has neither the Son nor the Father, and justly, for as it is one Baptism which is conferred in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and it is one Faith in Him, as the Apostle says, so the Holy Trinity, existing in itself, and united in itself, has, in itself, nothing of created things. Thus, as the Trinity is one and undivided, so is the Faith of three Persons united in it, one and undivided. We, therefore, are bound to believe that the name of the Holy Ghost, that is, the name of the Third Person expressed by these two words, so frequently used in the Scriptures, is not an imaginary name, or casually invented, but the name of the Third Person, God, like the Father and the Son. We should remember, likewise, that the expression, Holy Ghost, is, properly speaking, but one word, for either of its component parts might be applied to the Father or the Son, for both are Holy, both are Spirit, but this word is the proper name of the Third Person of the Trinity. ” Why would Jesus Christ,” adds St. Athanasius, ” join the name of the Holy Ghost with those of the Father and the Son, if he were a mere creature ? is it to render the three Divine Persons unlike each other ? was there any thing wanting to God that he should assume a different substance, to render it glorious like unto himself?”   

4. Besides this text of St. Matthew, already quoted, in which our Lord not only orders his disciples to baptize in the name of the three Persons, but to teach the Faith : ” Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,” &c., we have that text of St. John:” There are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one” (John, I. Epis. v, 7). These words (as we have already explained in the Refutation of Sabellianism, n. 9), evidently prove the unity of Nature, and the distinction of the three Divine Persons (16). The text says, ” These three are one;” if the three testimonies are one and the same, then each one of them has the same Divinity, the same substance, for otherwise, how, as St. Isidore (17) says, could the text of St. John be verified? ”Nam cum tria sunt unum sunt.” St. Paul says the same, in sending his blessing to his disciples in Corinth : “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all” (II. Cor. xiii, 13).

5. We find the same expressions used in those passages of the Scriptures which speak of the sending of the Holy Ghost to the Church, as in St. John (xiv, 16) : “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever.” Remark how our Lord uses the words, ” another  Paraclete,” to mark the equality existing between himself and the Holy Ghost. Again, he says, in the same Gospel (xv, 26): ”When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.” Here Jesus says, ” he will send” the Spirit of Truth; now this Spirit which he will send is not his own Spirit, for his own Spirit he could communicate or give, but not “send,” for sending means the transmission of something distinct from the person who sends. He adds, “Who proceeds from the Father ;” and ” procession,” in respect of the Divine Persons, implies equality, and it is this very argument the Fathers availed themselves of against the Arians, to prove the Divinity of the Word, as we may see in the writings of St. Ambrose (18). The reason is this : the procession from another is to receive the same existence from the principle from which the procession is made, and, therefore, if the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, he receives the Divinity from the Father in the same manner as the Father himself has it.

6. Another great proof is, that we see the Holy Ghost called God in the Scriptures, like the Father, without any addition, restriction, or inequality. Thus Isaias, in the beginning of his 6th chapter, thus speaks of the Supreme God : ” I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated; upon it stood the seraphim, and they cried to one another, Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God of Hosts, all the earth is full of his glory; and I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Go, and thou shalt say to this people, hearing, hear and understand not. Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy.”

Now, St. Paul informs us that this Supreme God, of whom the Prophet speaks, is the Holy Ghost. Here are his words : ” Well did the Holy Ghost speak to our fathers by Isaias the Prophet, saying : ” Go to this people, and say to them, with the ear you shall hear” &c. (Acts, xxviii, 25, 26). So we here see that the Holy Ghost is that same God called by Isaias the Lord God of Hosts. St. Basil (19) makes a beautiful reflection regarding this expression, the Lord God of Hosts. Isaias, in the prayer quoted, refers it to the Father. St. John (cap. 12), applies it to the Son, as is manifest from the 37th and the following verse, where this text is referred to, and St. Paul applies it to the Holy Ghost : ” The Prophet,” says the Saint, ” mentions the Person of the Father, in whom the Jews believed, the Evangelist the Son, Paul the Holy Spirit” “Propheta inducit Patris in quem Judei credebant personam Evangelista Filii, Paulus Spiritus, ilium ipsum qui visus fuerat unum Dominum Sabaoth communiter nominantes. Sermonem quem de hypostasis instituerunt distruxere indistincta manente in eis de uno Deo sententia.” How beautifully the Holy Doctor shows that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are three distinct Persons, but still the one and the same God, speaking by the mouth of his Prophets. St. Paul, also, speaking of that passage in the Psalms (xciv, 9), ” Your fathers tempted me,” says, that the God the Hebrews then tempted was the Holy Ghost; ”therefore,” says the Apostle, ”as the Holy Ghost saith your fathers tempted me” (Heb. iii, 7, 9).

7. St. Peter confirms this doctrine (Acts, i, 16), when he says that the God who spoke by the mouth of the Prophets is the Holy Ghost himself : ” The Scripture must be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David.” And in the second Epistle (i, 21), he says : ” For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time, but the holy men of God spoke, in spired by the Holy Ghost.” St. Peter, likewise, calls the Holy Ghost God, in contradistinction to creatures. When charging Ananias with a lie, he says : ” Why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost thou hast not lied to man, but to God” (Acts, v, 4). It is most certain that St. Peter, in this passage, intended to say that the Third Person of the Trinity was God, and thus St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory Nazianzen (20), and several other Fathers, together with St. Augustine (21), understood it so. St. Augustine says: ”Showing that the Holy Ghost is God, you have not lied,” he says, ”to man, but to God.

8. Another strong proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost is, that the Scriptures attribute to him qualities which belong alone by nature to God : First Immensity, which fills the world : ” Do not I fill the heaven and the earth, saith the Lord?” (Jer. xxiii, 24). And the Scripture then says that the Holy Ghost fills the world : ” For the Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world” (Wisdom, i, 7). Therefore the Holy Ghost is God. St. Ambrose says (22): ”Of what creature can it be said what is written of the Holy Ghost, that he filled all things ? I will pour forth my Spirit over all flesh, &c., for it is the Lord alone can fill all things, who says, I fill the heaven and the earth.” Besides, we read in the Acts (ii, 4), ” They were all filled with  the Holy Ghost.” ”Do we ever hear,” says Didimus, “the Scriptures say, filled by a creature ? The  Scriptures never speak in this way.” They were, therefore, filled with God, and this God was the Holy Spirit.

9. Secondly God alone knows the Divine secrets. As St. Ambrose says, the inferior knows not the secrets of his superior. Now, St. Paul says, ” The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God, for what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him ? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth but the Spirit of God” (I. Cor. ii, 10, 11). The Holy Ghost is, therefore, God; for, as Paschasius remarks, if none but God can know the heart of man, ” the searcher of hearts and reins is God” (Ps. vii, 10). Much more so must it be God alone who knows the secrets of God. This, then, he says, is a proof of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. St. Athanasius proves the consubstantiality of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son from this same passage, for as the spirit of man, which knows the secrets of man, is nothing foreign from him, but is of the very substance of man, so the Holy Ghost, who knows the secrets of God, is not different from God, but must be one and the same substance with God. “Would it not be the height of impiety to say that the Spirit who is in God, and who searches the hidden things of God, is a creature? He who holds that opinion will be obliged to admit that the spirit of man is something different from man himself” (23).

10. Thirdly God alone is omnipotent, and this attribute belongs to the Holy Ghost. ” By the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the power of them by the Spirit of his mouth” (Psalms, xxxii, 7). And St. Luke is even clearer on this point, for when the Blessed Virgin asked the Archangel how she could become the mother of our Saviour, having consecrated her virginity to God, the Archangel answered : ” The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee because no word shall be impossible with God.” Hence we see the Holy Ghost is all-powerful, that to him there is nothing impossible. To the Holy Ghost, likewise, is attributed the creation of the universe:” Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created” (Psalms, ciii, 30). And in Job we read : ” His Spirit has adorned the heavens” (Job, xxvi, 13). The power of creation belongs to the Divine Omnipotence alone. Hence, concludes St. Athanasius (24), when we find this written, it is certain that the Spirit is not a created, but a creator. The Father creates all things by the Word in the Spirit, inasmuch as when the Word is there, the Spirit is, and all things created by the Word have, from the Spirit, by the Son, the power of existing. For it is thus written in the 32nd Psalm : ” By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the power of them by the Spirit of his mouth.” There can, therefore, be no doubt but that the Spirit is undivided from the Son.

11. Fourthly It is certain that the grace of God is not given unless by God himself : ” The Lord will give grace and glory” (Psalms. Ixxxiii, 12). Thus, also, it is God alone who can grant justification. It is God ” that justifieth the wicked” (Prov. xvii, 15). Now both these attributes appertain to the Holy Ghost. ” The  charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Romans, v, 5). 

Didimus (25) makes a reflection on this : The very expression, he says, ”poured out,” proves the uncreated substance of the Holy Ghost; for whenever God sends forth an angel, he does not say, I will ”pour out” my angel. As to justification, we hear Jesus says to his disciples: ”Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven” (John, xx. 22, 23). If the power of forgiving sins comes from the Holy Ghost, he must be God. The Apostle also says that it is God who operates in us the good we do; ” the same God who worketh all in all” (I. Cor. xii, 6). And then in the llth verse of the same chapter he says that this God is the Holy Ghost: ”But all those things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.” Here then, says St. Athanasius, the Scripture proves that the operation of God is the operation of the Holy Ghost.

12. Fifthly St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of God. ” Know you not that you are the temple of God” (I. Cor. iii, 16). And then further on in the same Epistle he says that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost : ” Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you” (vi,  19). If, therefore, we are the temples of God and of the Holy Ghost, we must confess that the Holy Ghost is God, for if the Holy Ghost were a creature, we would be forced to admit that the very temple of God was the temple of a creature. Here are St. Augustine’s (26) words on the subject : ” If the Holy Ghost be not God, he would not have us as his temple for if we would build a temple to some Saint or Angel, we would be cut off from the truth of Christ and the Church of God, since we would be exhibiting to a creature that service which we owe to God alone. If, therefore, we would be guilty of sacrilege, by erecting a temple to any creature, surely he must be true God to whom we not only erect a temple, but even are ourselves his temple.”

Hence, also, St. Fulgentius (27), in his remarks on the same subject, justly reproves those who deny the Divinity of the Holy Ghost : ” Do you mean to tell me,” says the Saint, ” that he who is not God could establish the power of the heavens that he who is not God could sanctify us by the regeneration of Baptism that he who is not God could give us charity that he who is not God could give us grace that he could have as his temples the members of Christ, and still be not God? You must agree to all this, if you deny that the Holy Ghost is true God. If any creature could do all these things attributed to the Holy Ghost, then he may justly be called a creature; but if all these things are impossible to a creature, and are attributed to the Holy Ghost, things which belong to God alone, we should not say that he is naturally different from the Father and the Son, when we can find no difference in his power of operating.” We must then conclude, with St. Fulgentius, that, where there is a unity of power, there is a unity of nature, and the Divinity of the Holy Ghost follows as a necessary consequence.

13. In addition to these Scripture proofs, we have the constant tradition of the Church, in which the Faith of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and his consubstantiality with the Father and the Son, has been always preserved, both in the formula of administering Baptism, and in the prayers in which he is conjointly invoked with the Father and the Son, especially in that prayer said at the conclusion of all the Psalms and Hymns : ” Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,” or, ” Glory to the Father, by the Son, in the Holy Ghost,” or, ” Glory to the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost,” all three formulæ having been practised by the Church. St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Ambrose, St. Hilary, Didimus, Theodoret, St. Augustine, and the other Fathers, laid great stress on this argument when opposing the Macedonians. St. Basil (28), remarks that the formula, ” Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,” was rarely used in his time in the Church, but generally ” Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, with the Holy Ghost.” However, it all amounts to the same thing, for it is a general rule, in speaking of the Trinity, to use the words ” from whom,” ” by whom,” ” in whom,” (as when we say of the Father, ” from whom are all things ;” of the Son, ” by whom are all things ;” of the Holy Ghost, ” in whom are all things,”) in the same sense. There is no inequality of Persons marked by these expressions, since St. Paul, speaking of God himself, says: ”For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things; to him be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. xi, 36).   

14. This constant faith of the Church has been preserved by the Holy Fathers in their writings from the earliest ages. St. Basil, one of the most strenuous defenders of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (29), cites a passage of St. Clement of Rome, Pope : ” The ancient Clement,” he says, ” thus spoke : The Father lives; he says, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. ” Thus, St. Clement attributes the same life to the three Divine Persons equally, and therefore believed them all three to be truly and substantially God. What makes this stronger is, that St. Clement is contrasting the three Divine Persons with the Gods of the Gentiles, who had no life, while God in the Scriptures is called ” the living God.” It is of no importance either, that the words quoted are not found in the two Epistles of St. Clement, for we have only some fragments of the second Epistle, and we may, therefore, believe for certain, that St. Basil had the whole Epistle before him, of which we have only a part.

15. St. Justin, in his second Apology, says: "We adore and venerate, with truth and reason, himself (the Father), and he who comes from him the Son and the Holy Ghost,” Thus St. Justin pays the same adoration to the Son and the Holy Ghost as to the Father. Athenagoras, in his Apology, says : “We believe in God, and his Son, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, united in power For the Son is the mind, the word, and the wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit is as the light flowing from fire.” St. Iræneus (30) teaches that God, the Father, has created and now governs all things, both by the Word and by the Holy Ghost. ”For nothing,” he says, ”is wanting to God, who makes, and disposes, and governs all things, by the Word and by the Holy Ghost.” We here see, according to St. Iræneus, that God h as no need of any thing; and he afterwards says, that he does all things by the Word and by the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost is, therefore, God the same as the Father. He tells us, in another part of his works (31), that the Holy Ghost is a creator, and eternal, unlike a created spirit. ” For that which is made is,” he says, “different from the maker; what is made is made in time, but the Spirit is eternal.” St. Lucian, who lived about the year 160, says, in a Dialogue, entitled Philopatris, attributed to him, addressing a Gentile, who interrogates him : ” What, then, shall I swear for you?” Triphon, the Defender of the Faith, answers: ” God reigning on high the Son of the Father, the Spirit proceeding from the Father, one from three, and three from one.” This passage is so clear that it requires no explanation. Clement of Alexandria says (32) : ” The Father of all is one; the Word of all is also one; and the Holy Ghost is one, who is also every where.” In another passage he clearly explains the Divinity and Consubstantiality of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son (33) : ” We return thanks to the Father alone, and to the Son, together with the Holy Ghost, in all things one, in whom are all things, by whom all things are in one, by whom that is which always is.” See here how he explains that the three Persons are equal in fact, and that they are but one in essence. Tertullian (34) professes his belief in the ” Trinity of one Divinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;” and, in another place (35), he says : ” We define, indeed, two, the Father and the Son, nay, three, with the Holy Ghost; but we never profess to believe in two Gods, although the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and each one is God,” &c. St. Cyprian (36), speaking of the Trinity, says : ” When the three are one, how could the Holy Ghost be agreeable to him, if he were the enemy of the Father or the Son ?” And, in the same Epistle, he proves that Baptism administered in the name of Christ alone is of no avail, for ” Christ,” he says, ” orders that the Gentiles should be baptized in the full and united Trinity.”

St. Dionisius Romanus, in his Epistle against Sabellius, says: ”The admirable and Divine unity is not, therefore, to be divided into three Deities; but we are bound to believe in God, the Father Almighty, and in Christ Jesus, his Son, and in the Holy Ghost.” I omit the innumerable testimonies of the Fathers of the following centuries; but I here merely note some of those who have purposely attacked the heresy of Macedonius, and these are St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Epiphanius, Didimus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Hilary (37). These Fathers, immediately on the appearance of the Macedonian heresy, all joined in condemning it a clear proof that it was contrary to the Faith of the Universal Church.

16. This heresy was condemned, besides, by several Councils, both General and Particular. First It was condemned (two years after Macedonius had broached it) by the Council of Alexandria, celebrated by St. Athanasius, in the year 372, in which it was decided that the Holy Ghost was Consubstantial in the Trinity. In the year 377, it was condemned by the Holy See, in the Synod of Illiricum; and about the same time, as Theodoret (38) informs us, it was condemned in two other Roman Synods, by the Pope, St. Damasus. Finally, in the year 381, it was condemned in the First Council of Constantinople, under St. Damasus; and this Article was annexed to the symbol of the Faith : ” We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, proceeding from the Father, and with the Father and the Son to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets.” He to whom the same worship is to be given as to the Father and the Son, is surely God. Besides, this Council has been always held as Ecumenical by the whole Church, for though composed of only one hundred and fifty Oriental Bishops, still, as the Western Bishops, about the same time, defined the same Article of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, under St. Damasus, this decision has been always considered as the decision of the Universal Church; and the subsequent General Councils that is, the Council of Chalcedon, the Second and Third of Constantinople, and the Second of Nice confirmed the same symbol. Nay more, the Fourth Council of Constantinople pronounced an anathema against Macedonius, and defined that the Holy Ghost is consubstantial to the Father and to the Son. Finally, the Fourth Council of Lateran thus concludes: ”We define that there is but one true God alone, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons, indeed, but only one Essence, Substance, or simple Nature And that all these Persons are consubstantial, omnipotent, and co-eternal, the one beginning of all things.”

(15) Tertullian, con. Praxeam, c. 26.
(16) St. A than. Epis. ad Serassion, n. 6.
(17) St. Isidore, l. 7; Etymol. c. 4.
(18) St. Ambrose, l. 1 ,de Spir. S. c. 4.
(19) St. Basil, l 5, con. Eunom.
(20) St Basil, l 1, con. Eunom. et lib. de. Sp. S. c. 16; St. Ambrose l.1, de Spir. S. c. 4; St. Gregor. Nazianz. Orat. 37.
(21) St. Augus. l 2, con. Maximin. c. 21.
(22) St. Ambrose, l. 1, de S. S. c. 7.
(23) St. Athanas. Epis. 1, ad Serapion. n. 22.
(24) St. Athanas. ibid,
(25) Dydim. l. de St. San.
(26) St. Augus. in I. Cor. c. 6; Coll. cum Maximin. in Arian.
(27) St. Fulgentius, l. 3, ad Trasimund, c. 35.
(28) St. Basil, l. 1, de S. Sancto, c. 25.
(29) St. Basil, l. de S. Sancto, c. 29.
(30) St. Iræn, l. 1, ad Hæres. c. 19.
(31) St. Iræn. l. 5, c. 12.
(32) Clem. Alex. Pædag. l. 1, c. 6..
(33) Idem, l. 3, c. 7.
(34) Tertul. de Pudic. c. 21.
(35) Idem, con. Praxeam, c. 3
(36) St. Cyp. Ep. ad Juba.
(37) St. Athan. Ep. ad Scrap.; St. de S. San.; St. Cyril, Hieros. Cat. Basil, l. 3, 5, cont. Eunom. & l. de 16, 17; St. Cyril, Alex. l. 7, de Spi. S.; St. Greg. Naz. l. 5, de Trin. & I de S. Sane.; St. Hil. de Theol.; St. Greg. Nys. l. ad Eust.; Trinit. St. Epiphan. Hier. 74; Didimus, l.
(38) Theodoret, l. 2, Hist. c. 22.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. It is necessary to remark here, in order not to confuse the matter, that the heresy of the schismatical Greeks consists in denying the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son; they contend that he proceeds from the Father alone, and this is the difference between the Greek and Latin Churches. The learned have not yet agreed on the author of this heresy. Some say it was Theodoret, in his refutation of the ninth anathematism of St. Cyril, against Nestorius, but others again defend him (as well as several others quoted by the schismatics), and explain that passage of his works which gave rise to this opinion, by saying that he only meant to prove that the Holy Ghost was not a creature, as the Arians and Macedonians asserted. There can be no doubt but that passages from the works both of Theodoret and the other Fathers, which the writers intended as refutations of the errors of the Arians and Macedonians, taken in a wrong sense by the schismatics, have confirmed them in holding on to this error. This heresy, up to the time of Photius, was only held by a few persons, but on his intrusion into the See of Constantinople, in 858, and especially in 863, when he was condemned by Pope Nicholas I., he constituted himself, not alone the chief of the schism, which for so many years has separated the Greek and Latin Churches, but induced the whole Greek Church to embrace this heresy that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone, and not from the Son. Fourteen times, Osius writes (1), up to the time of the Council of Florence, held in 1439, the Greeks renounced this error, and united themselves to the Latin Church, but always relapsed again. In the Council of Florence, they them selves agreed in defining that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, and it was thought that the union would be everlasting, but such was not the case, for after they left the Council, they again (ch. ix, n. 31) returned to their vomit, at the instigation of Mark of Ephesus. I now speak of these Greeks who were under the obedience of the Eastern Patriarchs, for the others who were not subject to them, remained united in Faith to the Roman Church.

(1) Osius, l. de Sac. Conjug,


2. It is proved by the words of St. John : ” When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceedeth from the Father” (John, xv, 16). This text not only proves the dogma decided by the Council of Constantinople against the Arians and Macedonians, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father (” And in the Holy Ghost the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father”); but also that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, as is shown by the words : ” Whom 1 will send you;” and the same expression is repeated in St. John in other places : ” For if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you” (John, xvi, 7). “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name” (John, xiv, 26). In the Divinity, a Person is not spoken of as sent, unless by another Person from whom he proceeds. The Father, as he is the origin of the Divinity, is never spoken of in the Scriptures as being sent. The Son, as he proceeds from the Father alone, is said to be sent, but it is never thus said of the Holy Ghost : ” As the Father living, sent me, &c., God sent his Son, made from a woman, &c.” When, therefore, the Holy Ghost, is said to be sent from the Father and the Son, he proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father; especially as this mission of one Divine Person from another, cannot be understood cither in the way of command or instruction, or any other way, for in the Divine Persons both authority and wisdom are equal. We, therefore, understand one Person as sent by another, according to the origin, and according to the procession of one Person from the other, this procession implying neither inequality nor dependence. If, therefore, the Holy Ghost is said to be sent by the Son, he proceeds from the Son. “He is sent by him,” says St. Augustine (1), ” from whence he emanates,” and he adds, ” the Father is not said to be sent, for he has not from whom to be, or from whom to proceed.

3. The Greeks say that the Son does not send the Person of the Holy Ghost, but only his gifts of grace, which are attributed to the Holy Spirit. But we answer that this interpretation is wrong, for in the passage of St. John, just quoted, it is said that this Spirit of Truth, sent by the Son, proceeds from the Father; therefore, the Son does not send the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of Truth himself, who proceeds from the Father.

4. This dogma is proved from all those texts, in which the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Son ” God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. iv, 6) -just as, in another place, the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father : ” For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (Mat. x, 20). If, therefore, the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father, merely because he proceeds from the Father, he also proceeds from the Son, when he is called the Spirit of the Son. This is what St. Augustine says (2) : ” Why should we not believe that the Holy Ghost proceeds also from the Son, when he is the Spirit of the Son ?” And the reason is evident, since he could not be called the Holy Ghost of the Son, because the Person of the Holy Ghost is consubstantial to the Son, as the Greeks said; for otherwise the Son might be called the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, as he is also consubstantial to the Holy Ghost. Neither can he be called the Spirit of the Son, because he is the instrument of the Son, or because he is the extrinsic holiness of the Son, for we cannot speak thus of the Divine Persons; therefore, he is called the Spirit of the Son, because he proceeds from him. Jesus Christ explained this himself, when, after his Resurrection, he appeared to his disciples, and “breathed on them, and said to them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” &c. (John, xx, 22). Remark the words, ” he breathed on them, and said,” to show that, as the breath proceeds from the mouth, so the Holy Ghost proceeds from him.

Hear how beautifully St. Augustine (3) explains this passage : ” We cannot say that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son also, for it is not without a reason that he is called the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. I cannot see what other meaning he had when he breathed in the face of his disciples, and said, Receive the Holy Ghost. For that corporeal breathing was not, indeed the substance of the Holy Ghost, but a demonstration, by a congruous signification, that the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Father alone, but from the Son, likewise.”

5. It is proved, thirdly, from all those passages of the Holy Scripture, in which it is said that the Son has all that the Father has, and that the Holy Ghost receives from the Son. Hear what St. John says : “But when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak, and the things that are to come he shall show you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine, and show it to you” (John, xvi, 13, &c.) It is expressly laid down in this passage, that the Holy Ghost receives of the Son, ” shall receive of mine ;” and when we speak of the Divine Persons, we can never say that one receives from the other in any other sense but this, that the Person proceeds from the Person he receives from. To receive and to proceed is just the same thing, for it would be repugnant to sense, to say that the Holy Ghost, who is God equal to the Son, and of the same Nature as the Son, receives from him either knowledge or doctrine. It is said, therefore, that he receives from the Son, because he proceeds from him, and from him receives, by communication, the Nature and all the attributes of the Son.

6. The Greeks make a feeble reply to this. Christ, in this passage, they say, does not say that the Holy Ghost receives from me, but ” of mine,” that is, of my Father. This reply carries no weight with it, for Christ himself explains the text in the next passage : ” All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine; therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine.” Now, these words prove that the Holy Ghost receives from the Father and the Son, because he proceeds from the Father and the Son. The reason is plain; for if the Son has all that the Father hath (except Paternity relatively opposed to Filiation), and the Father is the principium esse of the Holy Ghost, the Son must be so likewise, for otherwise he would not have all that the Father has. This is exactly what Eugenius IV. says, in his Epistle of the Union : ” Since all things, which belong to the Father, he gave to his only-begotten Son, in begetting him, with the exception that he did not make him the Father for this the Son, from all eternity, is in possession of that the Holy Ghost proceeds from him, from whom he was eternally begotten.” Before Eugenius’s time, St. Augustine said just the same thing (4) : ” Therefore, he is the Son of the Father, from whom he is begotten, and the Spirit is the Spirit of both, since he proceeds from both. But when the Son speaks of him, he says, therefore, he proceeds from the Father, since the Father is the author of his procession, who begot such a Son, and, begetting him, gave unto him that the Spirit should also proceed from him.” The holy Father, in this passage, forestalls the objection of Mark of Ephesus, who said that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Ghost "proceeds from the Father,” but do not mention the Son, "for,” says St. Augustine, ” although in the Scripture it said only that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, still the Father, by generating the Son, communicated to him also to be the principium of the Holy Ghost, "gignendo ei dedit, ut etiam de ipso procederet Spiritus Sanctus,”

7. St. Anselm(5) confirms this by that principle embraced by all theologians, that all things are one in the Divinity: "In Divinis omnia sunt unum, et omnia unum, et idem, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio.” Thus in God these things alone are really distinguished, among which there is a relative opposition of the producing and the produced. The first producing cannot produce himself, for otherwise he would be at the same time existent and non-existent existent, because he produces himself non existent, because he had no existence till after he was produced. This is a manifest absurdity. That axiom, that no one can give what he has not "Nemo dat, quod non habet,” proves the same thing; for if the producer gave existence to himself before he was produced, he would give that which he had not.

But is not God self-existing? Most certainly; but that does not mean that he gave existence to himself. God exists of necessity; he is a necessary Being that always did and always will exist; he gives existence to all other creatures; if he ceased to exist, all other things, likewise, would cease to exist. Let us return to the point. The Father is the principle (principiumj of the Divinity, and is distinguished from the Son by the opposition that exists between the producer and produced. On the other hand, those things in God, which have no relative opposition among themselves, are in nowise distinguished, but are one and the same thing. The Father, therefore, is the same with the Son, in all that in which he is not opposed relatively to the Son. And as the Father is not relatively opposed to the Son, nor the Son to the Father, by both one and the other being the principle in the spiration of the Holy Ghost, therefore, the Holy Ghost is spirated, and proceeds from the Father and the Son; and it is an Article of Faith, defined both by the Second General Council of Lyons, and by that of Florence, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from one principle and from one spiration, and not from two principles nor from two spirations. ” We condemn and reprobate all,” say the Fathers of Lyons, ” who rashly dare to assert that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, as from two principles, and that he does not proceed from them as from one principle.” The Fathers of the Council of Florence ” define that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son eternally, as from one principle, and by one spiration.” The reason is this (6) : Because the power of spirating the Holy Ghost is found in the Son as well as in the Father, without any relative opposition. Hence, as the world was created by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, still, because the power of creating appertains equally to the three Persons, we say, God the Creator; so, because the power of spirating the Holy Ghost is equally in the Father and in the Son, therefore, we say that the principle is one, and that the spiration of the Holy Ghost is one. We now pass on to other proofs of the principal point, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.

8. The procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son is proved, fourthly, by the following argument used by the Latins against the Greeks in the Council of Florence. If the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Son also, there would be no distinction; the reason is, because, as we have already said, there is no real distinction in God between those things between which there is not a relative opposition of the producer and the produced. If the Holy Ghost did not proceed also from the Son, there would be no relative opposition between him and the Son, and, consequently, there would be no real distinction; one person would not be distinct from the other. To this convincing argument the Greeks replied that even in this case there would be a distinction, because the Son would proceed from the Father by the intellect, and the Holy Ghost by the will. But the Latins answered, justly, that this would not be enough to form a real distinction between the Son and the Holy Ghost, because, at the most, it would be only a virtual distinction such as that which exists in God between the understanding and the will, but the Catholic Faith teaches us that the three Divine Persons, though they are of the same Nature and Substance, are still really distinct among themselves. It is true that some of the Fathers, as St. Augustine and St. Anselm, have said that the Son and the Holy Ghost are also distinct, because they have a different mode of procession, one from the will and the other from the understanding; but when they speak thus they only mean the remote cause of this distinction, for they themselves have most clearly expressed, on the other hand, that the proximate and formal cause of the real distinction of the Son and the Holy Ghost is the relative opposition in the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son. Hear what St. Gregory of Nyssa (7) says: "The Spirit is distinguished from the Son, because it is by him he is.” And St. Augustine himself, whom the Greeks consider as favouring their party (8), says: "Hoc solo numerum insinuant, quod ad invicem sunt.” And St. John of Damascus (9) also says, that it is merely in the properties of Paternity, Filiation, and Procession, that we see the difference, according to the cause and the effect: “In solis autem proprietatibus, nimirum Paternitatis, Filiationis, et Processionis secundum causam, et causatum discrimen advertimus.” The Eleventh Council of Toledo (Cap. I.) says: “In relatione Per sonar urn numerus cernitur; hoc solo numerum insinuat, quod ad invicem sunt.”

9. Finally, it is proved by the tradition of all ages, as is manifest from the text of those Greek Fathers whom the Greeks themselves consider an authority, and of some Latin Fathers who wrote before the Greek schism. St. Epiphanius, in the Anchoratum, thus speaks: "Christ is believed from the Father, God of God, and the Spirit from Christ, or from both;” and in the Heresia he says: "But the Holy Ghost is from both, a Spirit from a Spirit.” St. Cyril (10) writes: "The Son, according to Nature, is indeed from God (for he is begotten of God and of the Father), but the Spirit is properly his, and in him, and from him;” and again (11): "The Spirit is of the essence of the Father and the Son, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” St. Athanasius explains (12) the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son in equivalent expressions. "The Spirit,” he says,"does not unite the Word with the Father, but the Spirit receives from the Word …… whatsoever the Spirit has he has from the Word.” St. Basil (13), replying to a heretic, who asks him why the Holy Ghost is not called the Son of the Son, says, he is not called so, ” not because he is not from God through the Son, but lest it might be imagined that the Trinity consists of an infinite multitude of Persons, if Sons would follow from Sons, as in mankind.” Among the Latin Fathers, Tertullian (14) writes: "The Son is deduced from the Father, the Spirit from the Father by the Son.” St. Hilary (15) says: "There is no necessity to speak of Him who is to be confessed as coming from the Father and the Son.” St. Ambrose says (16), that "the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son,” and in another place (17), "the Holy Ghost, truly a Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, not the Son himself.”

10. I omit the authorities of the other Fathers, both Greek and Latin, collected by the Theologian John, in his disputation with Mark of Ephesus, in the Council of Florence, where he clearly refuted all the cavils of that prelate. It is of more importance to cite the decisions of the General Councils, which have finally decided on this dogma, as the Council of Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon, the Second and Third Councils of Constantinople, by approving the Synodical Epistle of St. Cyril of Alexandria, in which this doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son is expressed in these terms : ” The Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and Christ is the Truth, so that he proceeds from him as he does from the Father.” In the Fourth Council of Lateran, celebrated in the year 1215, under Innocent III., both Greeks and Latins united in defining (cap. 153), ” that the Father was from none, the Son from the Father alone, and the Holy Ghost equally from both, always without beginning and without end.” In the Second Council of Lyons, held in 1274, under Gregory X., when the Greeks again became united with the Latins, it was again agreed on by both that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son : ” With a faithful and devout confession we declare that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle not by two spirations, but by one spiration.

11. Finally, in the Council of Florence, held under Eugenius IV., in the year 1438, in which both Greeks and Latins were again united, it was decided unanimously, "that this truth of Faith should be believed and held by all Christians, and that all should then profess that the Holy Ghost eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son, as from one principle, and by one spiration; we also define, explaining the word "filioque” (and from the Son), that it has been lawfully and rationally introduced into the Creed, for the sake of declaring the truth, and because there was a necessity for doing so at the time.” Now, all those Councils in which the Greeks joined with the Latins in defining the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, supply an invincible argument to prove that the schismatics uphold a heresy, for otherwise we should admit that the whole united Church, both Latin and Greek, has defined an error in three General Councils.

12. As to theological reasons, we have already given the two principal ones : the first is, that the Son has all that the Father has, with the exception of the Paternity alone, which is impossible, on account of the Filiation. ” All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine” (John, xvi, 15); therefore, if the Father has the power of spirating the Holy Ghost, the same power belongs also to the Son, since there is no relative opposition between the Filiation and the active spiration. The second reason is, that if the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Son, he would not be really distinct from the Son, for then there would be no relative opposition or real distinction between them, and, consequently, the mystery of the Trinity would be destroyed. The other arguments adduced by theologians can either be reduced to these, or are arguments a congruentia, and, therefore, we omit them.

(1) St. Augus. l. 4, de Trinit. c. 20.
(2) St. Augus. Trac. 99, in Joan.
(3) St. Augus. l. 4, de Trin. c. 20.
(4) St. August. l. 2 (alias 3), cent.  Maxim, c. 14.
(5) St. Ansel.l de Proc. Spi. S. c. 7.
(6) St. Greg. Nyss. l. ad Ablav.
(7) St. Greg. Nyss. l. ad Ablavium.
(8) St. Angus, trac 39 in Jo.
(9) Jo. Damasc. l.I, de Fide, c. 11.
(10) St. Cyril in Joelem, c. 2.
(11) Idem, l. 14, Thesaur.
(12) St. Athan. Oat. 3, cont. Arian. n . 24
(13) St. Basil, l. 5, cont. Eunom.
(14) Tertul. l. cont. Praxeam, c. 4.
(15) St. Hilar. l. 2, de Trin.
(16) St. Ambrose, l. 1, ile S. S. c. 11,
(17) Idem, de Symb. ap. r. 30. art. 10.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre







1. It is not my intention here to refute all the errors of Pelagius concerning Original Sin and Free Will, but only those concerning Grace. In the historical part of the work (Chap, v, art. ii, n. 5), I have said that the principal heresy of Pelagius was, that he denied the necessity of Grace to avoid evil, or to do good, and I there mentioned the various subterfuges he had recourse to, to avoid the brand of heresy, at one time saying that Grace and Free Will itself was given us by God; again, that it is the law teaching us how to live; now, that it is the good example of Jesus Christ; now, that it is the pardon of sins; again, that it is an  internal illustration, but on the part of the intellect alone, in knowing good and evil, though Julian, his disciple, admitted Grace of the Will also; but neither Pelagius nor his followers ever admitted the necessity of Grace, and have even scarcely allowed that Grace was necessary to do what is right more easily, and they always denied that this Grace was gratuitous, but said it was given us according to our natural merits. We have, therefore, two points to establish : first, the necessity, and next, the gratuity of Grace.


2. It is first proved from that saying of Jesus Christ : “No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me draw him” (John, vi, 44). From these words alone it is clear that no one can perform any good action in order to eternal life without internal Grace. That is confirmed by another text : ” I am the vine, you the branches : he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing” (John, xv, 5). Therefore, Jesus Christ teaches that of ourselves we can do nothing available to salvation, and, therefore, Grace is absolutely necessary for every good work, for otherwise, as St. Augustine says, we can acquire no merit for eternal life : ” Ne quisquam putaret parvum aliquem fructum posse a semetipso palmitem ferre, cum dixisset hic, fert fructum multum, non ait, sine me parum, potestis facere; sed, nihil potestis facere : sive ergo parum, sive multum, sive illo fieri non potest, sine quo nihil fieri potest.” It is proved, secondly, from St. Paul (called by the Fathers the Preacher of Grace), who says, writing to the Philippians : ” With fear and trembling work out your salvation, for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish according to his good-will” (Phil, ii, 12, 13). In the previous part of the same chapter he exhorts them to humility : “In humility let each esteem others better than themselves,” as Christ, who, he says, ” humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death;” and then he tells them that it is God who works all good in them. He confirms in that what St. Peter says : ” God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace” (I. Peter, v, 5). In fine, St. Paul wishes to show us the necessity of Grace to desire or to put in practice every good action, and shows that for that we should be humble, otherwise we render ourselves unworthy of it. And lest the Pelagians may reply, that here the Apostle does not speak of the absolute necessity of Grace, but of the necessity of having it to do good more easily, which is all the necessity they would admit, see what he says in another text : ” No man can say, the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost” (I. Cor. xii, 3). If, therefore, we cannot even mention the name of Jesus with profit to our souls, without the grace of the Holy Ghost, much less can we hope to work out our salvation without Grace.

3. Secondly St. Paul teaches us that the grace alone of the law given to us is not, as Pelagius said, sufficient, for actual Grace is absolutely necessary to observe the law effectually : ” For if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal. ii, 21). By justice is understood the observance of the Commandments, as St. John tells us : ” He that doth justice is just” (I. John, iii, 7). The meaning of the Apostle, therefore, is this : If man, by the aid of the law alone, could observe the law, then Jesus Christ died in vain; but such is not the case. We stand in need of Grace, which Christ procured for us by his death. Nay, so far is the law alone sufficient for the observance of the Commandments, that, as the Apostle says, the very law itself is the cause of our transgressing the law, because it is by sin that concupiscence enters into us : ” But sin taking occasion by the Commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. And I lived some time without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived” (Rom. vii, 8, 9). St. Augustine, explaining how it is that the knowledge of the law sooner renders us guilty than innocent, says that this happens (1), because such is the condition of our corrupt will, that, loving liberty, it is carried on with more vehemence to what is prohibited than to what is permitted. Grace is, therefore, that which causes us to love and to do what we know we ought to do, as the Second Council of Carthage declares : ”Ut quod faciendum cognovimus, per Gratiam præstatur, etiam facere dirigamus, atque valeamus.” Who, without Grace, could fulfil the first and most important of all precepts, to love God ?

“Charity is from God” (I. John, iv, 7). ” The charity of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. v, 5). Holy charity is a pure gift of God, and we cannot obtain it by our own strength. ”Amor Dei, quo pervenitur ad Deum, non est nisi a Deo,” as St. Augustine says (2). Without Grace how could we conquer temptations, especially grievous ones ? Hear what David says : ” Being pushed, I was overturned, that I might fall, but the Lord supported me” (Psalms, cxvii, 13). And  Solomon says : ” No one can be continent (that is, resist temptations to concupiscence), except God gave it” (Wisdom, viii, 21). Hence, the Apostle, speaking of the temptations which assault us, says : ” But in all these things we overcome, because of him that hath loved us” (Rom. viii, 37). And again, ” Thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ” (II. Cor. ii, 14). St. Paul, therefore, thanks God for the victory over temptations, acknowledging that he conquers them by the power of Grace. St. Augustine (3) says, that this gratitude would be in vain if the victory was not a gift of God : ”Irrisoria est enim ilia action gratiarum, si ob hoc gratiæ aguntur Deo, quod non donavit ipse, nec fecit.” All this proves how necessary Grace is to us, either to do good or avoid evil.

4. Let us consider the theological reason for the necessity of Grace. The means should always be proportioned to the end. Now, our eternal salvation consists in enjoying God face to face, which is, without doubt, a supernatural end; therefore, the means which conduce to this end should be of a supernatural order, likewise. Now, every thing which conduces to salvation is a means of salvation; and, consequently, our natural strength is not sufficient to make us do anything, in order to eternal salvation, unless it is elevated by Grace, for nature cannot do what is beyond its strength, and an action of a supernatural order is so. Besides our weak natural powers, which are not able to accomplish supernatural acts, we have the corruption of our nature, occasioned by sin, which even is a stronger proof to us of the necessity of Grace.

(1) St. Augus. l. de Spir. S. et litt.
(2) St. Augus. l. 4, con. Julian, c. 3. (3) St. Augus. loc. cit. ad Corinth


5. The Apostle shows in several places that the Divine Grace is, in every thing, gratuitous, and comes from the mercy of God alone, independent of our natural merits. In one place he says : ” For unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil, i, 29). Therefore, as St. Augustine reflects (1), it is a gift of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, not alone to suffer for love of him, but even to believe in him, and, if it is a gift of God, it cannot be given us through our merits. “Utrumque ostendit Dei donum, quia utrumque dixit esse donatum; nec ait, ut plenius, et perfectius credatis, sed ut credatis in eum.” The Apostle writes similarly to the Corinthians, that ” he had obtained mercy of the Lord, to be faithful” (I. Cor. vii, 25). It is not through any merit of ours, therefore, that we are faithful to the Mercy of God. ”Non ait,” says St. Augustine, in the same place already quoted, ”quia fidelis eram; fideli ergo datur quidem, sed datum est etiam, ut esset fidelis.”

6. St. Paul next shows most clearly, that, whenever we receive light from God, or strength to act, it is not by our own merits, but a gratuitous gift from God. ” For who distinguisheth thee,” says the Apostle, ” or what hast thou, that thou hast not received; and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it” (I. Cor. iv, 7). If Grace was given according to our natural merits, derived solely from the strength of our free will, then there would be something to distinguish a man who works out his salvation from one who does not do so. St. Augustine even says, that if God would give us only free will that is, a will, free and indifferent either to good or evil, according as we use it in case the good will would come from ourselves, and not from God, then what came from ourselves would be better than what comes from God : “Nam si nobis libera quædam voluntas ex Deo, quæ adhuc potest esse vel bona, vel mala; bono vero voluntas ex nobis est, melius est id quod a nobis, quam quod ab illo est” (2). But it is not so; for the Apostle tells us, that whatever we have from God is all gratuitously given to us, and, therefore, we should not pride ourselves on it.

7. Finally, the gratuity of Grace is strongly confirmed by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans (xi, 5, 6) : “Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. (The  Apostle means, by ” the remnant,” those few Jews who were faithful among the multitude of unbelievers.) And if by Grace, it is not now by works : otherwise Grace is no more Grace.” Now, the Apostle could not express in stronger terms the Catholic truth, that Grace is a gratuitous gift of God, and depends not on the merits of our free will, but on the mere liberality of the Lord.

(1) St. Aug. l. 2, dc Præd. S.S.. c. 2.


8. St. Cyprian (1) lays it down as a fundamental maxim in this matter, that we should not glorify ourselves, as we have nothing of ourselves: ”In nullo gloriandum, quando nostrum nihil est.” St. Ambrose says (2) just the same thing: ”Ubique Domini virtus studiis cooperatur humanis, ut nemo possit ædificaro sine Domino, nemo custodire sine Domino, nemo quicquam incipere sino Domino.” And St. John Chrysostom expresses the same sentiments in several parts of his works, and in one passage, in particular, says (3): ”Gratia Dei semper in beneficiis priores sibi partes vindicat.” And again (4): ”Quia in nostra voluntate totum post Gratiam Dei relictum est, ideo et peccantibus supplicia proposita sunt, et bene operantibus retributiones.”

He is even clearer in another passage (5), saying, that all we have is not from ourselves, but merely a gift gratuitously given us: “Igitur quod accepisti, habes, ncque hoc tantum, aut illud, sed quidquid habes; non enim merita tua hæc sunt, sod Dei Gratia; quamvis fidem adducas, quamvis dona, quamvis doctrinæ sermonem, quamvis virtutem, omnia tibi inde provenerunt. Quid igitur habes quæso, quod acceptum non habeas ? Num ipse perte recte operatus es? Non sane, sed accepisti …..Propterea cohibearis oportet, non enim tuum ad munus est, sed largieutis.” St. Jerome (6) says, that God assists and sustains us in all our works, and that, without the assistance of God, we can do nothing: ”Dominum gratia sua nos in singulis operibus juvare, atque substentare.” And again (7): ”Velle, et nolle nostrum est; ipsumque quod nostrum est, sine Dei miseratione nostrum non est.” And in another place (8): ” Velle, et currere meum est, sed ipsum meum, sine Dei semper auxilio non erit meum. “ I omit innumerable other quotations from the Fathers, which prove the same thing, and pass on to the Synodical Decrees.

9. I will not here quote all the Decrees of particular Synods against Pelagius, but only those of some particular Councils, approved of by the Apostolic See, and received by the whole Church. Among these is the Synod of Carthage, of all Africa, approved of by St. Prosper (9), which says, that the Grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is not only necessary to know what is right, and to practise it, but that, without it, we can neither think, say, or do anything conducive to salvation : ”Cum 214. Sacerdotibus, quorum constitutionem contra inimicos gratiæ Dei totus Mundus amplexus est, veraci professionc, quemadmodum ipsorum habet sermo, dicainus Gratiam Dei per Jesum Christum Dominum, non solum ad cognoscendam, verum ad faciendam justitiam, nos per actus singulos adjuvari; ita sine ilia nihil verse sanctæque pietatis habere, cogitare, dicere, agere valeamus.

10. The Second Synod of Orange (cap. vii) teaches, that it is heretical to say that, by the power of nature, we can do anything for eternal life: ”Si quis per naturæ vigorem bonum aliquod, quod ad salute pertinet vitæ æternæ, cogitare, aut eligere posse confirmet, absque illuminatione, et inspiratione Spiritus Sancti hæretico falliter spiritu.” And again it defines: ” Si quis sicut augmentum, ita etiam initium Fidei, ipsumque credulitatis affectum, quo in eum credimus, qui judicat impium, et ad generationem sacri Baptismatis pervenimus, non per gratiæ donum, idest per inspirationem Spiritus Sancti corrigentem voluntatem nostram ab infidelitate ad Fidem, ab impietate ad pietatem, sed naturaliter nobis inesse dicit, Apostolicis documentis adversarius approbatur.”

11. Besides the Councils we have the authority of the Popes who approved of several particular Synods celebrated to oppose the Pelagian errors. Innocent I., in his Epistle to the Council of Milevis, approving the Faith they professed, in opposition to Pelagius and Celestius, says that the whole Scriptures prove the necessity of Grace: ”Cum in omnibus Divinis paginis voluntati liberæ, non nisi adjutorium Dei legimus esse nectendum, eamque nihil posse Cælestibus præsidiis destitutam, quonam modo huic soli possibilitatem hanc, pertinaciter defendentes, sibimet, imo plurimis Pelagius Celcstiusque persuadent.” Besides, Pope Zosimus, in his Encyclical Letter to all the Bishops of the world, quoted by Celestine I., in his Epistle to the Bishops of Gaul, says much the same: ”In omnibus causis, cogitationibus, motibus adjutor et protector orandus est. Supcrbum est enim ut quisquam sibi hum ana natura præsumat.” In the end of the Epistle we have quoted of Celestine I., there are several chapters, taken from the definitions of other Popes, and from the Councils of Africa, concerning Grace, all proving the same thing. The fifth chapter says: ”Quod omnia studia, et omnia opera; ac merita sanctorum ad Dei gloriam, landemque referenda sunt; quia non aliunde ei placet, nisi ex eo quod Ipse donaverit.” And in the sixth chapter it says: ”Quod ita Deus in cordibus hominum, atque in ipso libero operatur, arbitrio ut sancta cogitatio, pium consilium, omnis que motus bona voluntatio ex Deo sit, quia per ilium aliquid boni possumus, sine quo nihil possumus.”

12. The Pelagians were formally condemned in the General Council of Ephesus, as Cardinal Orsi tells us (10). Nestorius received the Pelagian Bishops, who came to Constantinople, most graciously, for he agreed with Pelagius in this, that Grace is given to us by God, not gratuitously, but according to our merits. This erroneous doctrine was agreeable to Nestorius, as it favoured his system, that the Word had chosen the Person of Christ as the temple of his habitation, on account of his virtues, and therefore the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus, knowing the obstinacy of those Pelagian Bishops, condemned them as heretics.

Finally, The Council of Trent (Sess. vi, de Justif.) defines the same doctrine in two Canons. The second Canon says : ”Si quis dixerit Divinam gratiam ad hoc solum dari, ut facilius homo juste vivere, ac ad vitam æternam promoveri possit, quasi per liberum arbitrium sine gratia utrumque, sed ægre tamen et difficulter possit; anathema sit.” And in the third Canon the Council says : ” Si quis dixerit, sine prævenienta Spiritus Sanctus inspiratione, atque ejus adjutoris hominem credere, sperare, diligero, aut pœnitere posse sicut oportet, ut ei justifications gratia confiratur; anathema sit.

(1) St. Cypri. I. 3, acl Quir. c. 4.
(2) St. Aug. I. 2, de Pec. mer. c. 18.
(2) St. Amb. I. 7, in Luc. c. 3.
(3) St. Chrysos. Hom. 13, in Jean. (4) Idem, Hom. 22, in Gen.
(5) St. Chrysos. Hom, in cap. 4, 1, ad Cor
(6) St. Hieron, I 3, con. Pelag..
(7) Idem, Ep. ad Demetri.
(8) Idem, Ep. ad Ctesiphon.
(9) St. Prosp. Resp. ad c. 8, Gallor
(10) C. Orsi; Ir. Ecc t. 13, l. 29, n. 52, cum St. Prosp I, con. Collat. c. 21


13. The Pelagians object, firstly, if you admit that Grace is absolutely necessary to perform any act conducive to salvation, you must confess that man has no liberty, and free will is destroyed altogether. We answer, with St. Augustine, that man, after the fall, is undoubtedly no longer free without Grace, either to begin or bring to perfection any act conducive to eternal life, but by the Grace of God he recovers this liberty, for the strength which he is in need of to do what is good is subministered to him by Grace, through the merits of Jesus Christ; this Grace restores his liberty to him, and gives him strength to work out his eternal salvation, without, however, compelling him to do so: ”Peccato Adæ arbitrium liberum de hominum natura perisse, non dicimus, sed ad peccandum valere in homine subdito diabolo. Ad bene autem, pieque vivendum non valere, nisi ipsa voluntas hominis Dei gratia fuerit liberata, et ad omne bonum actionis, sermonis, cogitationis adjuta.” Such are St. Augustine’s sentiments (1).

14. They object, secondly, that God said to Cyrus: ”Who say to Cyrus, thou art my shepherd, and thou shalt perform all my pleasure” (Isaias, xliv, 28); and, in chap, xlvi, v. 11, he calls him, ”a man of his will.” Now, say the Pelagians, Cyrus was an idolater, and, therefore, deprived of the Grace which is given by Jesus Christ, and still, according to the text of the Prophet, he observed all the natural precepts; therefore without Grace a man may observe all the precepts of the law of nature. We answer, that in order to understand this, we should distinguish, with theologians, between the will of Beneplacitum and the will called of Signum. The Beneplacitum is that established by God by an absolute decree, and which God wills should be infallibly followed by us. This is always fulfilled by the wicked. But the other will (voluntas signi), is that which regards the Divine commandments signified to us, but for the fulfilment of this Divine will our co-operation is required, and this we cannot apply of ourselves, but require the assistance of the Divine Grace to do so; this will the wicked do not always fulfil. Now the Lord in Isaias does not speak of this will (Signum), in respect of Cyrus, but of the other will (Beneplacitum), that is,  that Cyrus should free the Jews from captivity, and permit them to rebuild the city and temple; that was all that was required then from him, but, on the other hand, he was an idolater, and a sanguinary invader of the neighbouring kingdoms, and, therefore, he did not fulfil the precepts of the natural law.

15. They object, thirdly, that fact related by St. Mark, of the man who was exhorted by our Redeemer to observe the commandments, and he answered : ” Master, all these things I have observed from my youth,” and the Evangelist proves that he spoke the truth, for “Jesus, looking on him, loved him” (Mark, x, 20, 21). See here, say the Pelagians, is a man who, without Grace, and who had not even as yet believed in Christ, observed all the natural precepts. We answer, first, this man was a Jew, and, as such, believed in God, and also implicitly in Christ, and there was, therefore, nothing to prevent him from having Grace to observe the commandments of the Decalogue. Secondly We answer, that when he said, ” All these things I have observed from my youth,” we are not to understand that he observed all the Commandments, but only those which Christ mentioned to him : ” Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, & c. Even the Gospel itself proves that he was not ardent in the observance of the precept to love God above all things, for when Christ told him to leave his wealth and follow him, he refused to obey, and, therefore, our Lord tacitly reproved him, when he said : ” How hardly shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God” (ver. 23).

16. They object, fourthly, that St. Paul, while still under the law, and not having yet received Grace, observed all the law, as he himself attests: ”According to the justice that is in the law, conversing without blame” (Phil, iii, 6). We answer, that the Apostle, at that time, observed the law externally, but not internally, by loving God above all things, as he himself says : “For we ourselves, also, were some time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hating one another” (Tit. iii, 3).

17. They object, fifthly, all the precepts of the Decalogue are either possible or impossible; if they are possible, we can observe them by the strength of our free will alone, but if they are impossible, no one is bound to observe them, for no one is obliged to do impossibilities. We answer, that all these precepts are impossible to us without Grace, but are quite possible with the assistance of Grace. This is the answer of St. Thomas (2): ”Illud quod possumus cum auxili Divino, non est nobis omnino impossibile ……..Unde Hieronymus confitetur, sic nostrum esse liberum arbitrium, ut dicamus nos semper indigere Dei auxilio.” Therefore, as the observance of the Commandments is quite possible to us with the assistance of the Divine Grace, we are bound to observe them. We will answer the other objections of the Pelagians in the next chapter, the Refutation of the Semi-Pelagian heresy.

(1) St. Augus. l. 2, con. 2, Epis. Pelag, c. 5.
(2) St. Thom. 1, 2, 9, 109, a. 4, ad. 2.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre


1. The Semipelagians admit that the strength of the will of man has been weakened by Original Sin, and, therefore, allow that Grace is requisite to do what is right; but they deny that it is necessary for the beginning of Faith, or for the desire of eternal salvation; for they say that as the belief of sick people in the utility of medicine, and the wish to recover their health, are not works for which medicine is necessary, so the commencement of belief or call it an affection for the Faith and the desire of eternal salvation, are not works for which Grace is necessary. But we are bound to believe with the Catholic Church, that every beginning of Faith, and every good desire we entertain, is a working of Grace in us.


2. First, that is clearly proved from St. Paul: ”Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God” (II. Cor. iii, 5). Thus the beginning of believing that is, not that beginning of Faith arising from the intellect, which naturally sees the truth of the Faith, but that pious desire of Faith, which is not yet formal faith, for it is no more than a thought, of wishing to believe, and which, as St. Augustine says, precedes belief this good thought, according to St. Paul, comes from God alone. Such is the explanation St. Augustine gives of the text: ”Attendant hie, et verba ista perpendant, qui putant ex nobis esse Fidei coaptum, et ex Deo esse Fidei supplementum. Quis enim non videt, prius esse cogitare quam credere ? Nullus quippe credit aliquid, nisi prius crediderit esse credendum. Quamvis enim rapte, quamvis celerrime credendi voluntatem quaadam cogitations antevolent, moxque ilia ita sequatur, ut quasi conjunctissima comitetur; necesse est tamen, ut omnia quæ credentur, praaveniente cogitatione credantur ……. Quod ergo pertinet ad religionem et pietatem (de qua loquebatur Apostolus), si non sumus idonei cogitare aliquid quasi ex nobis- metipsis, sed sufficientia nostra ex Deo est; profecto non sumus idonei credere aliquid quasi ex nobismetipsis, quod sine cogitatione non possumus, sed sufficientia nostra, qua credere incipiamus, ex Deo est” (1).

3. It is proved, secondly, by another text of St. Paul, in which he shows the reason of our proposition. He says: ”For who distinguished thee ? or what hast thou that thou hast not received” (I. Cor. iv, 7). If the beginning of that good will, which disposes us to receive the Faith from God, or any other gift of Grace, came from ourselves, that would distinguish us from others who had not this commencement of a wish for eternal life. But St. Paul says, that all that we have, in which is comprised every first desire of Faith or salvation, is received from God: “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” St. Augustine was of opinion, for a time, that Faith in God was not from God, but from ourselves, and that by that we obtain afterwards from God the Grace to lead a good life; but this text of the Apostle chiefly induced him to retract this sentiment afterwards, as he himself confesses (2) : “Quo præcipue testimonio etiam ipse convictus sum, cum similiter errarem : putans Fidem, qua in Deum credimus, non esse donum Dei, sed a nobis esse in nobis, et per illam nos impetrare Dei dona, quibus temperanter et juste, et pie vivamus in hoc sæculo.”

4. That is confirmed by what the Apostle says in another place: For by Grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works that no man may glory” (Ephes. ii, 8, 9). St. Augustine (3) says that Pelagius himself, to escape condemnation from the Synod of Palestine, condemned (though only apparently) the proposition, that ” Grace is given to us according to our merits.” Hence, the Saint says : ”Quis, autem, dicat euro, qui jam cœpit credere, ab illo inquara credidit, nihil mereri ? Unde sit, ut jam merenti cetera dicantur addi retributione Divina : ac per hoc gratiam Dei secundum merita nostra dari : quod objectum sibi Pelagius, ne damnaretur, ipse damnavit.”

5. Our proposition is proved, thirdly, from the words of the Incarnate Wisdom himself: “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him” (John, vi, 44). And in another place he says : ” Without me you can do nothing” (John, xv, 5). From this it is manifest that we cannot, with our own strength, even dispose ourselves to receive from God the actual graces which conduce to life everlasting, for actual grace is of a supernatural order, and, therefore, a disposition morally natural cannot dispose us to receive a supernatural grace. ” If by grace it is not now by works,” says St. Paul, ” otherwise grace is no more grace” (Rom. xi, 6). It is certain, therefore, that Grace is given to us by God, not according to our natural merits, but according to his Divine liberality. God who makes perfect in us every good work, He also commenced it : ” He who began a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil, i, 6). And in another place the Apostle says that every good wish has its beginning from God, and is brought to a conclusion by Him : ” For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will” (Phil, ii, 13). And here we are called on to advert to another error of the Semipelagians, who asserted that Grace was necessary to do what was good, but not necessary for perseverance in goodness. But this error was condemned by the Council of Trent (Sess. vi, cap. 13), which teaches that the gift of perseverance can only be obtained from God, who alone gives it: ”Similiter de perseverantiæ munere …….quod quidem aliunde haberi non potest nisi ab eo, qui potens est eum qui stat statuere, ut perseveranter stet.”

(1)St. Aug l. de Præd S. S. c. 2.
(2) Ibid. c, 3.
(3) St. Aug. ibid, c. 1.


6. The Semipelagians object, first, some passages of the Scripture, from which it would appear that a good will and the beginning of good works are attributed to us, and the perfection of them only to God. In the first book of Kings (vii, 3), we read: “Prepare your hearts for the Lord;” and in St. Luke (iii, 4) : ” Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” We also see in Zacchary : ” Be converted to me and I will be converted to you ;” and St. Paul speaks even plainer to the Romans (vii, 18), for he says : ” For to will is present with me; but to accomplish that which is good I find not.” It would appear also, from the Acts of the Apostles (xvii, 7), that the Faith which Cornelius received was to be attributed to his prayers. To these and to similar texts we answer, that the prevening (preveniens) internal Grace of the Holy Ghost is not excluded by them, but they suppose it, and we are exhorted to correspond to this Grace, to remove the impediments to the greater graces, which God has prepared for those who correspond to him. Thus when the Scripture says, ” Prepare your hearts,” “Be converted to me,” &c., it does not attribute to our free will the beginning of Faith or of conversion, without preventing or prevening Grace (gratia preveniens), but admonishes us to correspond to it, and teaches us that this preventing Grace leaves us at liberty either to choose or reject what is good for us. Thus, on the other hand, when the Scripture says, ” The will is prepared by the Lord,” and when we say, ” Convert us, God our Saviour” (Psalms, Ixxxiv, 5), we are admonished that Grace prepares us to do what is good, but does not deprive us of liberty, if we refuse to do so. This is precisely what the Council of Trent says: ”Cum dicitur: Convertimini ad me, et ego convertar advos, libertatis nostræ admonemur. Cum respondemus: Converte nos Domine, et convertemur, Dei nos gratia præveniri confitemur.” The same answer applies to that text of St. Paul : ” For to will is present with me, but to accomplish that which is good I find not” (Romans, vii, 18). The meaning of the Apostle is this, that he, being then justified, had the Grace to desire what was good, but to perfect it was not his work, but the work of God; but he does not say that he had from himself the desire of doing good. The same answer applies to what is said of Cornelius, because, although he obtained his conversion to the Faith by his prayers, still these prayers were accompanied by preventing grace. 

7. They object, secondly, what Christ says in St. Mark (xvi, 16): ”He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Here they say one thing is required, that is Faith; another is promised, salvation. Therefore, what is required is in the power of man; what is promised is in the power of God. We answer, with St. Augustine (1). ” St. Paul,” says the Holy Doctor, ” writes: If by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you are saved. ” (Rom. viii, 13). Here one thing is required, the mortification of the flesh; another tiling is promised, that is eternal life. Now, if the argument of the Semipelagians was worth anything, that what is required is in our power, without the assistance of Grace, it would follow, that without Grace we have it in our power to conquer our passions; but this, the Saint says, ”is the damnable error of the Pelagians.” He then gives a direct answer to the Semipelagians, and tells them that it is not in our power to give what is required of us, without Grace, but with Grace it is, and he then concludes: Sicut ergo, quamvis donum Dei sit facta carnis mortificare, exigitur tamen a nobis proposito præmio vitæ; ita donum Dei est Fides, quamvis et ipsa, dum dicitur, si credideris, salvus eris, proposito præmio salutis exigatur a nobis. Ideo enim hæc et nobis præcipiuntur, et dona Dei esse monstrantur, ut intelligatur, quod et nos ea faciamus, et Deus facit ut ilia faciamus.”

8. They object, thirdly, that God, in a thousand passages in the Scriptures, exhorts us to pray and seek, if we wish to receive Grace; therefore, they say it is in our power to pray at all events, and if the working out of our salvation and faith is not in our own hands, still the desire of believing and being saved is in our power.

St. Augustine (2) also answers this argument. It is not the fact, he says, that prayer (such as it ought to be) is in our own unaided power. The gift of prayer comes from Grace, as the Apostle says: ” Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself asketh for us” (Rom. viii, 26). Hence, St. Augustine says (3): ”Quid est, ipse Spiritus interpellat, nisi interpellare facit;” and he adds: ”Attendant quomodo falluntur, qui putant esse a nobis, non dari nobis, ut petamus, quæramus, pulsemus, et hoc esse dicunt, quod gratia præceditur merito nostro….. Nec volunt intelligere, etiam hoc Divini muneris esse, ut oremus, hoc est petamus, quæramus, atque pulsemus; accepimus enim Spiritum adoptionis, in quo clamamus Abba Pater.” The same Holy Doctor teaches us that God gives to all the Grace to pray, and through prayer the means of obtaining Grace to fulfil the Commandments; for otherwise, if one had not the efficacious Grace to fulfil the Commandments, and had not the Grace to obtain this efficacious Grace, through means of prayer either, he would be bound to observe a law which to him was impossible. But such, St. Augustine says, is not the case. Our Lord admonishes us to pray with the Grace of prayer, which he gives to all, so that by praying we may obtain efficacious Grace to observe the Commandments. He says: ”Eo ipso quo firmissime creditur, Deum impossibilia non præcipere, hinc admonemur et in facilibus (that is in prayer) quid agamus, et in difficilibus (that is observing the Commandments) quid petamus.” This is what the Council of Trent afterwards decreed on the same subject (Sess. vi, c. xi), following the remarkable expressions of the great Doctor: ”Deus impossibilia non jubet, sed jubendo monet, et facere quod possis, et petere quod non possis, et adjuvat ut possis” (4), Thus by prayer we obtain strength to do what we cannot do of ourselves; but we cannot even boast of praying, for our very prayer is a gift from God.

9. That God gives generally to all the Grace of praying, St. Augustine (independently of the passages already quoted) teaches in almost every page of his works. In one place he says: “Nulli enim homini ablatum est scire utilitur quærere” (5). And again: ”Quid ergo aliud ostenditur nobis, nisi quia et petere et quærere. Ille concedit, qui ut hæc faciamus, jubet”(6). In another place, speaking of those who do not  know what to do to obtain salvation, he says they should make use of what they have received, that is, of the Grace of prayer, and that thus they will obtain salvation (7): ”Sed hoc quoque accipiet, si hoc quod accipit bene usus fuerit; accepit autem, ut pie et diligenter quærat, si volet.” Besides, in another passage (8), he explains all this more diffusely, for he says it is for this reason that God commands us to pray, that by prayer we may obtain his gifts, and that he would invite us in vain to pray, unless he first gave us Grace to be able to pray, and by prayer to obtain Grace to fulfil what we are commanded: ”Precepto admonitum est liberum arbitrium, ut quæreret Dei donum; at quidem sine suo fructu admoneretur, nisi prius acciperet aliquid dilectionis, ut addi sibi quæreret, unde quod jubebatur, impleret.” Mark how the words, ”aliquid dilectionis,” that is, the grace by which man prays, if he wishes, and by prayer obtains the actual Grace to observe the Commandments. And thus, on the day of judgment, no one can complain that he is lost for want of Grace to cooperate to his salvation, because if he had not actual Grace to work out his salvation, at all events he had Grace to pray, which is denied to no one, and if he prayed, he would obtain salvation according to the promises of our Lord: ”Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and you shall find” (Matt, vii, 7).

10. They object, fourthly, and say: If even for the beginning of Faith preventing Grace is necessary, then the infidels, who do not believe, are excusable, because the Gospel was never preached to them, and they, therefore, never refused to hear it. Jansenius (9) says that these are not excused, but are condemned, without having had any sufficient Grace, either proximate or remote, to become converted to the Faith, and that is, he says, in punishment of Original Sin, which has deprived them of all help. And those theologians, he says, who in general teach that these infidels have sufficient Grace for salvation, some way or other have adopted this opinion from the Semipelagians. This sentiment of Jansenius, however, is not in accordance with the Scripture, which says that God ” will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I. Tim. ii, 4); ”He was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world” (John, i, 9); ” Who is the Saviour of all men, especially the faithful” (I. Tim. iv, 10); ”And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (I. John, ii, 2); “Who gave himself a redemption for all” (I. Tim. ii, 6). From these texts Bellarmin (10) remarks that St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and St. Prosper, conclude that God never fails to give to all men sufficient assistance to work out their salvation, if they desire it. And St. Augustine (11), especially, and St. Prosper (12), express this doctrine in several parts of their works.

Besides, this sentiment of Jansenius is in direct opposition to the condemnation pronounced by Alexander VIII., in 1690, on that proposition, that Pagans, Jews, &c., have no sufficient Grace : "Pagani, Judæi, Hæritici, aliique hujus generis nullum omnino accipiunt a Jesu Christo influxum : adeoque hinc recte inferes, in illis esse voluntatem nudam et inermem sine omni gratia sufficiente.” Neither does it argue with the condemnation pronounced by Clement XI., on two Propositions of Quesnel (26, 29): “That there are no graces unless by Faith,” and that ” no Grace is granted outside the Church.”

11. Still we answer the Semipelagians, and say, that infidels who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate Grace, still they are not deprived of remote Grace, as a means of becoming converted. But what is this remote Grace ? St. Thomas (13) explains it, when he says, that if any one was brought up in the wilds, or even among brute beasts, and if he followed the law of natural reason, to desire what is good, and to avoid what is wicked, we should certainly believe either that God, by an internal inspiration, would reveal to him what he should believe, or would send some one to preach the Faith to him, as he sent Peter to Cornelius. Thus, then, according to the Angelic Doctor, God, at least remotely, gives to the infidels, who have the use of reason, sufficient Grace to obtain salvation, and this Grace consists in a certain instruction of the mind, and in a movement of the will, to observe the natural law; and if the infidel co-operates with this movement, observing the precepts of the law of nature, and abstaining from grievous sins, he will certainly receive, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Grace proximately sufficient to embrace the Faith, and save his soul.

(1) St. Aug. l. de Dono. persev. c. 23,
(2) St. Aug. de Nat. & Gratia. c. 44
(3) St. Aug. Ibid
(4) Ibid.
(5) St. Aug. I. 3, de Lib. Arb. c. 19, n. 53.
(6) Idem, l. 1, ad Simp.q. 2. 
(7) Idem, Trac. 26, in Joan. c. 22, n. 65.
(8) St. Aug. de Grat. & Lib. Arb. c. 18. 
(9) Jansen. l. 3, de Grat. Christ. c. 11.
(10) Bellar. I 2, de Grat. & Lib. Art. c. 3
(11) St. Aug. 1. de Spir. & lit. c. 33, & in Ps. 18,n.7
(12) St. Pros, dc Voc. Gent. l. 2, . c . 5.
(13) St. Thom. Quæs. 14, de Verit.  art. 11, ad. 1.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre



1. Nestorius is not charged with any errors regarding the mystery of the Trinity. Among the other heresies which he combated in his Sermons, and to punish which he implored the Emperor Theodosius, was that of the Arians, who denied that the Word was consubstantial to the Father. We, therefore, have no reason to doubt that he acknowledged the Divinity of the Word, and his consubstantiality with the Father. His heresy particularly attacked the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Word, for he denied the hypostatic or Personal Union of the Word with the humanity. He maintained that the Word was only united with the humanity of Jesus Christ, just in the same way as with the Saints, only in a more perfect manner, and from the first moment of his conception. In his writings he explains this point over and over in different ways, but always only as a simple moral and accidental union between the Person of the Word and the humanity of Jesus Christ, but he never admits a hypostatic or personal union. At one time he said it was an union of habitation, that is, that the Word inhabited the humanity of Christ, as his temple; next it was, he said, an union of affection, such as exists between two friends. He then said it was an union of operation, inasmuch as the Word availed himself of the humanity of Christ as an instrument to work miracles, and other supernatural operations. Then that it was an union of Grace, because the Word, by means of sanctifying Grace and other Divine gifts, is united with Christ. Finally, he teaches that this union consists in a moral communication, by which the Word communicates his dignity and excellence to the humanity, and on this account the humanity of Christ should, he said, be adored and honoured, as we honour the purple of the Sovereign, or the throne on which he sits. He always denied with the most determined obstinacy, that the Son of God was made man, was born, suffered, or died for the redemption of man. Finally, he denied the communication of the Idioms, which follows from the Incarnation of the Word, and, consequently, he denied that the Blessed Virgin was truly and properly the Mother of God, blasphemously teaching that she only conceived and brought forth a mere man. 

2. This heresy saps the very foundation of the Christian Religion, by denying the mystery of the Incarnation, and we will attack it on its two principal points, the first of which consists in denying the hypostatic union, that is, the union of the Person of the Word with human nature, and, consequently, admits that there are two Persons in Christ the Person of the Word, which dwells in the humanity as in a temple, and the person of man, purely human, and which does not ascend to a higher degree than mere humanity. The second point consists in denying that the Blessed Virgin is truly and properly the Mother of God. These two points we will refute in the two following paragraphs.


3. Our first proof is taken from all those passages in the Scripture, in which it is said that God was made flesh, that God was born of a Virgin, that God emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, that God has redeemed us with his blood, that God died for us on the Cross. Every one knows that God could not be conceived, nor born, nor suffer, nor die. in his Divine Nature, which is eternal, impassible, and immortal; therefore, if the Scripture teaches us that God was born, and suffered, and died, we should understand it according to his human nature, which had a beginning, and was passible and mortal. And, therefore, if the Person in which the human nature subsists was not the Divine Word, St. Matthew would state what is false when he says that God was conceived and born of a Virgin : ” Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the Prophet, saying : Behold a Virgin shall be with child and bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us” (Matt, i, 22, 23). St. John expressly says the same thing : ” The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John, i, 14.) The Apostle also would have stated a falsehood in saying that God humbled himself, taking the form of a servant : ” For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men and in habit found as a man” (Phil, ii, 5 7.) St. John would also state what is not the fact, when he says that God died for us: “In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us” (I. John, iii, 6); and St. Paul says: ”The Holy Ghost placed you Bishops to rule the Church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood” (Acts, xx, 18); and speaking of the death of our Redeemer, he says : ” For if they had known it, they never would have crucified the Lord of glory” (I Cor. ii, 8.)

4. Now it would be false to speak of God in that manner, if God only inhabited the humanity of Jesus Christ accidentally, as a temple, or morally, through affection, or was not united hypostatically or personally, just as it would be false to say that God was born of St. Elizabeth, when she brought forth the Baptist, in whom God inhabited before his birth, by sanctifying grace, and it would be false to say that God died stoned when St. Stephen was stoned to death, or that he died beheaded when St. Paul was beheaded, because he was united to these Saints through the medium of love, and of the many heavenly gifts he bestowed on them, so that between them and God there existed a true moral union. When, therefore, it is said that God was born and died, the reason is because the Person sustaining and terminating the assumed humanity is truly God, that is the eternal Word. There is, therefore, in Christ but one Person, in which two Natures subsist, and in the unity of the Person of the Word, which terminates the two natures, consists the hypostatic union.

5. This truth is also proved, secondly, from those passages of the Scriptures in which Christ-Man is called God, the Son of God, the only begotten Son, the proper Son of God, for a man cannot be called God or Son of God, unless the person who terminates the human nature is truly God. Now Christ-Man is called the supreme God by St. Paul: ”And of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all things God blessed forever” (Rom. xix, 5). We read in St. Matthew that Christ himself, after calling himself the Son of Man asked his disciples whom do they believe him to be, and St. Peter answers that he is the Son of the living God: ”Jesus saith to them, but whom do you say that I am ? Simon Peter answered and said : Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him : Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt, xvi, 1517). Then Jesus himself, at the very time that he calls himself man, approves of Peter’s answer, who calls him the Son of God, and says that this answer was revealed to him by his eternal Father. Besides, we read in St. Matthew (iii, 17), St. Luke (ix, 13), and St. Mark (i, 11), that Christ, while he was actually receiving Baptism as man from St. John, was called by God his beloved Son : ” This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” St. Peter tells us that in Mount Thabor the Eternal Father spoke the same words: ”For, he received from God the Father, honour and glory; this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory : This is my beloved Son, in whom I have pleased myself, hear ye him” (II. Pet. i, 17). Christ, as man, is called the only begotten Son of the Eternal Father, by St. John: ”The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John, i, 18). As man alone, he is called God’s own Son: ”He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Rom. viii, 32). After so many proofs from the Holy Scriptures, who will be rash enough to deny that the man Christ is truly God?

6. The Divinity of Jesus Christ is proved from all these passages of the Scriptures, in which that which can only be attributed to God is attributed to the Person of Christ-Man, and from thence we conclude that this Person, in which the two Natures subsist, is true God. Jesus, speaking of himself, says : ” I and the Father are one” (John, x, 30); and in the same place he says: ” The Father is in me, and I in the Father” (ver. 38). In another passage we read that St. Philip, one day speaking with Jesus Christ, said: ”Lord, show us the Father,” and our Lord answered: "So long a time have I been with thee, and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?” (John, xiv, 8 11). By these words Christ showed he was the same God as the Father. Christ himself said to the Jews that he was eternal : ” Amen, amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was I am” (John, vii, 58); and he says, also, that he works the same as the Father: “My Father worketh until now, and I work for what things soever he doth, these the Son also doth in like manner” (John, v, 17). He also says: ”All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine” (John, xvi, 15). Now, if Christ was not true God all these sayings would be blasphemous, attributing to himself what belongs to God alone.

7. The Divinity of Christ-Man is proved from those other passages of the Scriptures, in which it is said that the Word, or the Son of God, became incarnate: ” The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John, i, 14); “For God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son” (John, iii, 16); ” He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for all of us” (Rom. viii, 32). Now, if the Person of the Word was not hypostatically united that is, in one Person with the humanity of Christ it could not be said that the Word was incarnate, and was sent by the Father to redeem the world, because if this personal union did not exist between the Word and the humanity of Christ, there would be only a moral union of habitation, or affection, or Grace, or gifts, or operation, and in this sense we might say that the Father and the Holy Ghost became incarnate also, for all these sorts of unions are not peculiar to the Person of the Word alone, but to the Father and the Holy Ghost, likewise, for God is united in this manner with the Angels and Saints. God has frequently sent Angels as his ambassadors; but, as St. Paul says, our Lord has never taken the nature of angels: ”For nowhere doth he take hold of the angels, but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold” (Heb. ii, 16).

Thus, if Nestorius means to assert that unions of this sort are sufficient to enable us to say that the Word was incarnate, we should also say that the Father was incarnate, for the Father, by his Graces and his heavenly gifts, was united with, and morally dwelt in, Jesus Christ, according to what our Lord himself says: ”The Father is in me the Father remaining in me” (John, xiv, 10). We should also admit that the Holy Ghost became incarnate, for Isaias, speaking of the Messiah, says: ”The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding” (Isaias, xi, 2). And in St. Luke it is said, that ” Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost” (Luke, iv, 1). In fine, according to this explanation, every Saint or holy person who loves God could be called the Incarnate Word, for our Saviour says: ”If any one love me my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him” (John, xiv, 23). Thus Nestorius should admit, either that the Word is not incarnate, or that the Father and the Holy Ghost are incarnate. This was the unanswerable argument of St. Cyril (1): ”Quod unus sit Christus, ejusmodi in habitatione Verbum non fieret caro, sed potius hominis incola; et conveniens fuerit ilium non hominem, sed humanum vocare, quemadmodum et qui Nazareth inhabitavit, Nazarenus dictus est, non Nazareth. Quinimo nihil prorsus obstiterit hominem vocari una cum Filio etiam Patrem, et Spiritum Sanctum, habitavit enim in nobis.”

8. I might here add all those texts of Scripture in which Christ is spoken of as only one Person subsisting in two Natures, as in St. Paul: ”One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things,” &c. (I. Cor. viii, 6), and several other texts of like import. If Nestorius insisted that there were two Persons in Christ, he makes  out not one, but two Lords one, the Person of the Word which dwells in Christ, and the other the human Person. I will not detain the reader, however, by quoting more Scriptural authorities, for every proof of the Incarnation upsets the whole structure of Nestorianism.

9. We now come to Tradition, which has always taught the Faith of the unity of the Person of Jesus Christ in the Incarnation of the Word. In the Apostles Creed, taught by the Apostles themselves, we say, we believe ”in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.” Now, the same Jesus Christ who was conceived, born, and died, is the only Son of God, our Lord; but that would not be the case, if in Christ, as Nestorius taught, there was not only a Divine, but a human Person, because he who was born and died would not have been the only Son of God, but a mere man.   

10. This profession of Faith is laid down more amply in the Nicene Creed, in which the Fathers defined the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and his consubstantiality with the Father, and thus condemned the heresy of Nestorius, even before it sprung up: ”We believe,” say the Fathers, ” in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, born, not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those on the earth, who for us men, and for our salvation, descended and was incarnate, and was made man; he suffered and arose the third day,” &c. Behold, therefore, how Jesus Christ alone, who is called God, the only begotten of the Father, and consubstantial to the Father, is called man, who was born, died, and rose again. This same Symbol was approved of by the Second General Council, that is, the first of Constantinople, which was also held before Nestorius promulgated his blasphemies; and according to the same Symbol of Nice, he was condemned in the Third General Council, that of Ephesus, which was held against his errors. In the Symbol attributed to St. Athanasius, the dogma is thus established in opposition to Nestorianism: ”Our Lord Jesus Christ is God and man equal to the Father, according to his Divinity; less than the Father, according to his humanity; who, although he is God and man, these are not two, but one Christ one altogether not by the confusion of substance, but by Unity of the Person.

11. Besides those Symbols, we have the authority of the Holy Fathers who wrote before the rise of this  heresy. St. Ignatius the Martyr (2) says: ”Singuli communiter omnes ex gratia nominatim convenientes in una Fide, et uno Jesu Christo, secundum camera ex genere Davidis, Filio hominis, et Filio Dei.” See here how he mentions one Jesus Christ, the Son of man and the Son of God. St. Iræneus says (3): ”Unum et eundem esse Verbum Dei, et hunc esse unigenitum, et hunc incarnatum pro salute nostra Jesum Christum.” St. Dionisius of Alexandria, in a Synodical Epistle, refutes Paul of Samosata, who said that in Christ there were two Persons and two Sons; the one the Son of God, born before all ages; the other the Son of David, called Christ. St. Athanasius (4) says: ”Homo una Persona, et unum animal est ex spiritu et carne compositum, ad cujus similitudinem intelligendum est, Christum unam esse Personam, et non duas” that, as soul and body make but one person in man, so the Divine and human nature constitute but one Person in Christ. St. Gregory of Nazianzen (5) says: ”Id quod non erat assumpsit, non quo factus, sed unum ex duobus fieri substinens; Deus enim ambo sunt id quod assumpsit, et quod est assumtum, naturæ duæ in unum concurrentes, non duo Filii.” St. John Chrysostom (6) thus writes: ”Etsi enim (in Christo) duplex natura; verumta men indivisibilis unio in una filiationis Persona, et substantial. St. Ambrose (7) tersely explains: ”Non alter ex Patre, alter ex Virgine, sed item aliter ex Patre, aliter ex Virgine.” St. Jerome, opposing Elvidius, says, that ” we believe that God was born of a virgin ;” and in another place he says (8): ”Anima et caro Christo cum Verbo Dei una Persona est, unus Christus.

12. It would extend the work too much to quote more from the Holy Fathers, so I will pass on to the Decrees of Councils. The Council of Ephesus (9), after a mature examination of the Catholic dogma, by Scripture and Tradition, condemned Nestorius, and deposed him from the See of Constantinople. Here are the words of the Decree: ”Dominus noster Jesu Christus quem suis ille blasphemis vocibus impetivit per Ss. hunc Synodum eundem Nestorium Episcopali dignitate privatum, et ab universo Sacerdotum consortio, et cœtu alienum esse definit.” The Fourth General Council, that of Chalcedon, defined the same thing (Act. 5): “Sequentes igitur Ss. Patres, unum, eum demque confiteri Filium, et Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum consonanter omnes docemus, eundem perfectum in Deitate, et eundem perfectum in humanitate, Deum verum, et hominem verum non in duas personas partitum, aut divisum, sed unum eundemque Filium, et unigenitum Deum Verbum, Dominum Jesum Christum.” The Third Council of Constantinople that is, the Sixth General Council defined the same doctrine in the last Action; and the Seventh General Council, that is, the Second of Nice, did the same in the Seventh Action.


13. They object, first, certain passages of the Scripture, in which the humanity of Christ is called the temple and habitation of God: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up But he spoke of the temple of his body” (John, ii, 19 21). In another place it is said: ”For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally” (Col. ii, 9). We answer, that in these texts the personal union of the Word with the human nature is not denied, but is even more strongly confirmed. Why should we be surprised that the body of Christ, hypostatically united with his soul to the Divine Word, should be called a temple? Why, even our body united to the soul is called a house and tabernacle: ”For we know if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved” (II. Cor. v, 1). And again (ver. 4): ”For we also who are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened.” As, therefore, it is no argument against the personal union of the body and soul, to call the body a house and tabernacle, so calling the body of Christ a temple does not prove anything against the hypostatic union of the Word with the humanity of Christ; on the contrary, our Saviour even expresses this union himself in the words which follow: ”In three days I will raise it up;” for by that he shows that he was not only man, but God. The Divinity of Christ is also clearly proved by the other text, in which St. Paul says that the followers of the Divinity dwelt bodily in him, thus declaring him to be at the same time true God and true man, according to the words of St. John: ”The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

14. They object, secondly, that text of the Epistle: ” Being made in the likeness of man, and in habit formed as a man” (Phil, ii, 7). According to that, they say that Christ was a man like unto all other men. We answer that in the previous part of the text the Apostle already answers this, for he shows that Christ was God and equal to God: ”Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Therefore the words quoted only prove that the Divine Word being God was made man like unto other men, but that he was not a mere man like all other men.

15. They object, thirdly, that every thing in nature ought to have its own peculiar subsistentia, but the subsistentia of human nature is a human person, therefore if in Christ there was not a human person he was not true man. We reply that this is not necessary, if there be a higher or more noble subsistentia, as was the case in Christ, where the Word sustained both Natures, and, therefore, though in Christ there was only the Divine Person of the Word, still he was true man, because the human nature subsisted in the Word itself.

16. They object, fourthly, if the humanity of Christ consisted of both soul and body, it was complete and perfect; there was, therefore, in him a human person, besides the Divine Person. We answer, that the humanity of Christ was complete by reason of nature, for it wanted nothing, but not by reason of the Person, because the Person in which the Nature subsisted and was comprised was not a human but a Divine Person, and, therefore, we cannot say that there were two Persons in Christ, for one Person alone, that of the Word, sustains and comprises both the Divine and human Nature.

17. They object, fifthly, that St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Athanasius have sometimes called the humanity of Christ the house, the domicile, and the temple of God the Word. Besides that, St. Athanasius, Eusebius of Ceserea, and St. Cyril himself, have spoken of it as the instrument of the Divinity. St. Basil calls Christ ” Deiferous,” the bearer of God. St. Epiphanius and St. Augustine, ”Hominem Dominicum,” and St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, in the ”Te Deum,” say that the Word assumed man. We answer, that the Fathers, as we have already seen, have clearly expressed that Christ is true God and true man, so that if there be any obscure passage in these words it is easily cleared up by many others. St. Basil calls Christ the God-bearing man, not because he admits a human person in Christ, but to quash the error of Apollinares, who denied that Christ had a rational soul, and the Holy Father only intended, therefore, to show by this expression that the Word assumed both a body and soul; when St. Ambrose and St. Augustine say that the Word assumed man, ”assumpsit hominem,” they only use the word ” hominem” for human nature.

18. We may as well also here refute the errors of the Bishops Felix and Elipandus, who taught (ch. v, n. 39), that Jesus Christ as man was not the natural, but only the adopted Son of God. This opinion was condemned by several Councils, and also by the Popes Adrian and Leo X. The learned Petavius (1) says that it is not actually heretical, but at all events it is rash, and approaching to error, for it is more or less opposed to the unity of the Person of Christ, who, even as man, should be called the natural, and not the adopted Son of God, lest we might be drawn in to admit that in Christ there were two Sons, one natural, and the other adopted.

There are, however, two reasons to prove that Christ as man should be called the natural Son of God; the more simple one is found in that passage of the Scriptures, in which the Father speaks of the eternal and continual generation of the Son: ”Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Psalms, ii, 7). Hence, as the Divine Son was generated previous to his Incarnation, without being personally united to human nature by the flesh, so when he took flesh he was generated, and is always generated, with human nature, hypostatically united to the Divine Person; and hence the Apostle, speaking of Christ as man, applies to him the text of David now quoted: ”So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Heb. v, 5). Jesus Christ, therefore, even according to his humanity, is the true Natural Son of God (2).

(1) St. Cyril, Dial. 9.
(2) St. Ignat. Epis. ad Eph. n. 20.
(3) St. Iren. l. 3, c. 26, al. 18, n. 2.
(4) St. Athan l. de Inc Verb. n. 2.
(5) St. Greg. Naz. Orat. 31.
(6) St. Joan. Chry. Ep. ad Cæsar
(7) St. Amb. De Incar. c. 5.
(8) St. Hieron. trac. 49, in Joan. & seq.
(9) Concil. Ephes. t. 3; Con. p. 115,
(1) Petav. l. 7, c. 4, n. 11, et c. 5, n. 8.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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