McDonnell, Kilian & Montague, George T. "Chapter Eleven: Hilary of Poitiers: The River of God and Intense Joy." Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991, 139-157.
McDonnell observes that throughout his life, Hilary of Poitiers considered spiritual gifts to be a normal part of Christian life (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 139). McDonnell surveys his mentions of gifts to see what Hilary undersood as the purpose and proper use of those gifts.
Hilary considered the baptism of Jesus to serve as a paradigm for the Christian life, as heaven was opened after the baptism and God the Father affirmed Jesus as the Son (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 141). The impartation of the Holy Spirit at the time of baptism was also important to Hilary. He expected, at our baptism, that we also would receive the power of the Holy Spirit (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 142). These ideas of Hilary are drawn from McDonnell's survey of his relatively early work, the commentary on Matthew.
At a later date, writing On the Trinity, Hilary endorses a view that the Holy Spirit calls people to partake of prophetic and apostolic gifts (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 144). McDonnell notes that this was written in Asia Minor and that Montanism, with its fervor over spiritual gifts, was flourishing. In this work, McDonnell notes that "Hilary cites Paul's full list of charisms in 1 Corinthians 12 four times, and twice repeats a partial list" (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 144). The gifts are important and evidently belong in the Christian life.
McDonnell does ask why Hilary would have discussed the spiritual gifts so much in a book about the Trinity. He concludes that Hilary must have considered a proper understanding important, particularly in his region, where there were accusations of misuse of the gifts (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 147).
In his comments on the Psalms, Hilary sees eucharistic symbolism in food and symbolism of the Holy Spirit in flows of water(McDonnell & Montague 1991, 148). The work of the Holy Spirit is compared to a river, coming from God, washing us and eventually running over. All this is initiated in us at baptism (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 151). In this way we also find ourselves as participants in Jesus' life in the Holy Spirit. Hilary sees this as a way Jesus directs our ministry (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 152).
Hilary is clear that the gifts of the Holy Spriit are not used in isolation, but in the context of the church and together to produce a cumulative effect (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 153). Again, he describes it as the effect of rainfall which can eventually create a mighty river. The effect of the spiritual gifts, likewise, may not be on the individual but rather on the whole church and its life in society (McDonnell & Montague 1991, 154).