Softens Men’s Hearts

From “On the Holy Spirit,” The Decades (1575)

The Holy Ghost is sent in two manners: visibly, that is to say, under some visible form as of a dove and of fiery tongues, as he is read in the Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles to have been given to Christ and the apostles; and invisibly, he is daily and as it were every moment given to the faithful.

The Spirit of Christ waters us with his grace, giving us faith, hope, and charity… Now there is but one Holy Ghost, because is always one and the selfsame God. It is the same Spirit therefore who spoke to the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles , and which to this day speaks to us in the church.

Thus the Council of Constance confessed, “I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord… who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one catholic and apostolic church.” These sayings are taken out of the holy scripture. For St. Peter testifies in express words that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets, and there was none other spirit within the apostles than the Spirit of Christ. And Paul the apostles says, “Seeing  then we have the same Spirit, as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, we also believe and therefore speak.”… This selfsame Spirit will always be with the church. They erred foully who taught that there was one God and Spirit in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament [i.e. Marcionites]…

Moreover, our Lord himself, in the history of the Gospel, called the Holy Ghost as comforter, saying, “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because the world sees him not, neither knows him. But you know him, for he dwells with you and shall be in you.” For “paraclete” signifies a comforter, a stirrer up or a provoker, an exhorter, an advocate or patron who pleads the cause of his client…

The Holy Ghost truly alone makes the consciences of men void of care, quiet, and at peace before God in the matter of justification and in all temptations of the world… The apostles being beaten with rods, when they were endued with the Holy Ghost and had that comforter present in their minds, went rejoicing from the presence of the council, because they were counted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Christ. So we read in the ecclesiastical history that the martyrs of Christ, being full of the Holy Ghost, even in extreme torments and most bitter deaths were most patient, sang praises, and gave thanks to God.

Furthermore we have heard that the Holy Ghost is called by the Lord the Spirit of truth… The Spirit of truth has taught the apostles all truth that is to be believed and all godliness; and they have delivered the same fully to the church. For the Holy Ghost drives away all errors, destroys all heresies, confounds all idolatries and ungodliness, and pours true faith into our hearts, and establishes true religion in the church. The Acts of the Apostles affords us many examples…

Fire is simple and pure; some things it consumes while others it purges, making them more fine and clean. It also warms and has many profitable and necessary operations. Therefore the Holy Ghost is rightly depicted as fire. For he is pure and simple, he consumes the ungodly, cleanses the faith from the filthiness of sins, and makes them to burn with the love of God and their neighbor, setting them on fire doubtless with the fire of his love.

When the Holy Ghost was given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost there was heard a sound like a mighty wind; this signified that the doctrine of godliness should be spread throughout the whole world by the power of God and wonderful success… For the winds blows through the whole world, pierces all places and no man can keep it out… And the Holy Ghost pierces all thing, softens men’s hearts, and makes the stubborn and rebellious into lowly, modest, and obedient men.

Fiery tongues appear upon the heads of the apostles and disciples endued with the Holy Ghost, signifying doubtless the operation and work of the Holy Ghost… For the Holy Ghost instructs, exhorts, and comforts the faithful; neither does he arm his faithful apostles with cold tongues but with fiery tongues. The apostles, when they preached the gospel, seemed not to speak but to lighten and to thunder. Therefore our savior called some of them “sons of thunder.”

Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) was a Swiss Reformed pastor and theologian, the principal leader of the Church in Zurich for over forty years. He was among the primary drafters of the First and Second Helvetic Confessions and worked with John Calvin to establish a common basis of teaching on the Eucharist among the Swiss Reformed Churches. His Decades were a series of doctrinal sermons, published as a source of theological instruction for pastors and teachers.

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