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On the Holy Waters of Baptism

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Excerpt from On the Spirit, Chapter 15

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fullness of blessing,” (Rom. 15:29) both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise whereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. If such is the earnest, what the perfection? If such the first fruits, what the complete fulfillment? Furthermore, from this too may be apprehended the difference between the grace that comes from the Spirit and the baptism by water: in that John indeed baptized with water, but our Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

“I indeed,” he says, “baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). Here He calls the trial at the judgment the baptism of fire, as the apostle says, “The fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13) and again “The day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire.”

And ere now there have been some who in their championship of true religion have undergone the death for Christ’s sake, not in mere similitude, but in actual fact, and so have needed none of the outward signs of water for their salvation, because they were baptized in their own blood. Thus I write not to disparage the baptism by water, but to overthrow the arguments of those who exalt themselves against the Spirit; who confound things that are distinct from one another, and compare those which admit of no comparison.

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