Spiritual Baptism

When Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," he was referring to the necessary stages of conversion or regeneration which typify the salvation of mankind from worldliness, from the illusions of life and sensation in matter, to godliness, the spiritual attainment of conscious harmony, immortality, health, and love, the reign of heaven within us. In his epistle to Titus, Paul makes an interesting statement in regard to our being saved: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but ... by the washing of regeneration [literally rendered, "through baptism being born again"], and renewing of the Holy Ghost." In other words, we are not saved by the egotistical method of counting our works, or taking to ourselves undue credit for results, since, as the apostle tells us elsewhere, we may bestow all our "goods to feed the poor," and give our bodies to be burned, and yet if love be lacking we shall have accomplished nothing for ourselves, our neighbor, or for God.

Purification which results from the cleansing process of repentance and wholesome self-knowledge, symbolized in the water baptism of John, precedes in individual experience the baptism of Spirit, the understanding of man's relation to God, revealed in the teachings of Jesus and explained anew in the inspired interpretation of the Scriptures which Mrs. Eddy has given to the world in Christian Science. The baptism of the Holy Ghost, or "the Spirit of truth," understood in Christian Science, becomes indeed the Comforter, because it is the scientific way out of all evil; individual consciousness is purged of corruption, the belief in fleshly origin and mortal selfhood, and puts on incorruption, the comprehension of man's preexistence as God's spiritual, incorporeal idea, created, sustained, and immortalized by Him. Baptized in the consuming fire of self-immolation, affliction, and consecration to Principle, carnal, selfish impulses are burned away, desires and affections are refined, and from "the ashes of dissolving self" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 1) is resurrected "a new creature," born of Spirit, having "his Father's name" written in his forehead, and endowed with spiritual power to accomplish in some degree the works which Jesus did, and which testify to the ever-presence of divine Love among men.

Perhaps no incident in the life of the Master was more truly expressive of "the beauty of holiness"—humility, wisdom, and love—than was the simple act of his coming to John for baptism,—he who was being prepared to baptize "with the Holy Ghost, and with fire," and to whom John said, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" Jesus' conformity with this rite not only exemplified his cooperation with a system which the time and material condition of thought demanded, but it also signified his recognition of the great moral import which prompted the ceremony, showing his willingness to partake of whatever stood for spiritual progress in human experience; for though John's baptism was "with water," it nevertheless was symbolic of an inward purification born of genuine repentance, self-abnegation, and a changed, higher life-purpose.

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October 28, 1916

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