Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 241), "Take away the spiritual signification of Scripture, and that compilation can do no more for mortals than can moonbeams to melt a river of ice." The third chapter of Matthew has been frequently referred to as an historical account of the baptism of Jesus, and sects have been founded on the belief that he went down into the water and was immersed; or, on the other hand, that the water was poured or sprinkled on him—as though the precise form of baptism was of any importance. The following verse of the chapter in question occurred in a Lesson-Sermon, and one evening, as I was reading it alone in the quiet of my room, the spiritual significance flashed upon me suddenly, like a search-light: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him."

I thought how typical this is of the frequent experience of Christian Scientists. How often do we come up out of the waters of mortal mind, and feel that the Spirit is indeed descending upon us 'like a dove." The true significance of baptism is made very plain by the spiritual sense of this wonderful and beautiful verse, and that it is the true concept we shall find when reference is made to the conditions attending the baptismal event on the banks of the Jordan two thousand years ago. Let us note the circumstances as related. The Pharisees and Sadducees had gathered to be baptized of John. They were ready to accept and have administered to them the form of baptism that John was administering. But what did he say? "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: ... I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me ... shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Then Jesus came to John for baptism, but the apostle demurred, saying, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Then Jesus, answering him, said, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." This shows conclusively that the form was of no value,—neither cleansing the Pharisees nor necessary to Jesus' perfection; but the true baptism, the spiritual, appeared when Jesus came up out of the water and felt the power of the Spirit of God, like a dove of peace, lighting upon him. Although Christian Scientists may never have been "plunged beneath the flood," nor had the waters of Jordan poured or sprinkled upon them, still they may and do experience the true baptism of Spirit, and this is to be gained through the spiritual sense, not the material.

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August 3, 1907

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