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NPNF2-09. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus
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Chapter IX.—Concerning Faith and Baptism.

We confess one baptism for the remission of sins and for life eternal. For baptism declares the Lord’s death. We are indeed “buried with the Lord through baptism22882288    Col. ii. 12.,” as saith the divine Apostle. So then, as our Lord died once for all, we also must be baptized once for all, and baptized according to the Word of the Lord, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit22892289    St. Matt. xxviii. 19., being taught the confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those22902290    See Clem. Alex., Strom., bk. i; Basil, Ep. Ad Amphiloch. 2; Irenæus, i. 8; Theodor., Hær. fab. c. 12; Euseb., Hist. Eccles., vii. 9; Trullan Canon 95; Tertull., De Bapt., c. 1, &c., then, who, after having been baptized into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and having been taught that there is one divine nature in three subsistences, are rebaptized, these, as the divine Apostle says, crucify the Christ afresh. For it is impossible, he saith, for those who were once enlightened, &c., to renew them again unto repentance: seeing they crucify to themselves the Christ afresh, and put Him to an open shame22912291    Heb. vi. 4.. But those who were not baptized into the Holy Trinity, these must be baptized again. For although the divine Apostle says: Into Christ and into His death were we baptized22922292    Rom. vi. 3., he does not mean that the invocation of baptism must be in these words, but that baptism is an image of the death of Christ. For by the three immersions22932293    See Basil, De Spir. Sanct., c. 28, and Ep. 39; Jerome, Contr. Lucif.; Theodor., Hær. III. 4; Socrates, Hist. c. 23; Sozomen, Hist. VI. 26., baptism signifies the three days of our Lord’s entombment22942294    Auct., Quæst. ad. Antioch.. The baptism then into Christ means that believers are baptized into Him. We could not believe in Christ if we were not taught confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit22952295    Basil., De Bapt., bk. i. ch. 12.. For Christ is the Son of the Living God22962296    St. Matt. xvi. 16., Whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit22972297    Acts x. 38.: in the words of the divine David, Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows22982298    Ps. xlv. 7.. And Isaiah also speaking in the person of the Lord says, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me22992299    Is. lxi. 1.. Christ, however, taught His own disciples the invocation and said, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit23002300    St. Matt. xxviii. 19.. For since Christ made us for incorruption23012301    Text, ἐπ᾽ ἀφθαρσίαν. Variant, ἐπ᾽ ἀφθαρσί& 139·; old interpretation, ‘in incorruption.’ 23022302    Method., De Resurr., and we transgressed His saving command, He condemned us to the corruption of death in order that that which is evil should not be immortal, and when in His compassion He stooped to His servants and became like us, He redeemed us from corruption through His own passion. He caused the fountain of remission to well forth for us out of His holy and immaculate side23032303    St. John xix. 34., water for our regeneration, and the washing away of sin and corruption; and blood to drink as the hostage of life eternal. And He laid on us the command to be born again of water and of the Spirit23042304    Ibid. iii. 5., through prayer and invocation, the Holy Spirit drawing nigh unto the water23052305    Greg., Orat. 48.. For since man’s nature is twofold, consisting of soul and body, He bestowed on us a twofold purification, of water and of the Spirit: the Spirit renewing that part in us which is after His image and likeness, and the water by the grace of the Spirit cleansing the body from sin and delivering it from corruption, the water indeed expressing the image of death, but the Spirit affording the earnest of life.

For from the beginning the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters23062306    Gen. i. 2., and anew the Scripture witnesseth that water has the power of purification23072307    Lev. xv. 10.. In the time of Noah God washed away the sin of the world by water23082308    Gen. vi. 17.. By water every impure person is purified23092309    Text, καθαίρεται. Variant in many Codices is ἐκάθαίρετο. On one margin is, ἠ ἐκεκάθαρτο., according to the law, even the very garments being washed with water. Elias shewed forth the grace of the Spirit mingled with the water when he burned the holocaust by pouring on water23102310    III. Reg. xviii. 32.. And almost everything is purified by water according to the law: for the things of sight are symbols of the things of thought. The regeneration, however, takes place in the spirit: for faith has the power of making us sons (of God23112311    πίστις γὰρ υἱοθετεῖν οἶδε.), creatures as we are, by the Spirit, and of leading us into our original blessedness.

The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination23122312    Text, φωτισμός, illumination. In R. 2626 is added, καὶ ἁγιασμός, which Faber translates, “et illuminatio et sanctificatio.” In R. 2924, ἁγιασμός is read instead of φωτισμός. of another life.

It behoves us, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit23132313    2 Pet. ii. 22., make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith23142314    James ii. 26.. For the true faith is attested by works.

Now we are baptized23152315    Greg. Naz., Orat. 40; Athan. ad Serap. De Spir. Sancto. into the Holy Trinity because those things which are baptized have need of the Holy Trinity for their maintenance and continuance, and the three subsistences cannot be otherwise than present, the one with the other. For the Holy Trinity is indivisible.

The first baptism23162316    Greg. Theol., Orat. 39. was that of the flood for the eradication of sin. The second23172317    Gen. vii. 17. was through the sea and the cloud: for the cloud is the symbol of the Spirit and the sea of the water23182318    1 Cor. x. 1.. The third baptism was that of the Law: for every impure person washed himself with water, and even washed his garments, and so entered into the camp23192319    Lev. xiv. 8.. The fourth23202320    Greg., Orat. 40; Basil, Hom. de Bapt.; Chrys. in Matt. Hom. 10, and others. was that of John23212321    Cf. Basil, De Bapt., I. 2., being preliminary and leading those who were baptized to repentance, that they might believe in Christ: I, indeed, he said, baptize you with water; but He that cometh after me, He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.23222322    St. Matt. iii. 11. Thus John’s purification with water was preliminary to receiving the Spirit. The fifth was the baptism of our Lord, whereby He Himself was baptized. Now He is baptized not as Himself requiring purification but as making my purification His own, that He may break the heads of the dragons on the water,23232323    Ps . lxxiv. 13. that He may wash away sin and bury all the old Adam in water, that He may sanctify the Baptist, that He may fulfil the Law, that He may reveal the mystery of the Trinity, that He may become the type and ensample to us of baptism. But we, too, are baptized in the perfect baptism of our Lord, the baptism by water and the Spirit. Moreover,23242324    Greg. Naz., Orat. 40. Christ is said to baptize with fire: because in the form of flaming tongues He poured forth on His holy disciples the grace of the Spirit: as the Lord Himself says, John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, not many days hence:23252325    Acts i. 5. or else it is because of the baptism of future fire wherewith we are to be chastized.23262326    Greg. Naz., Orat. 40. The sixth is that by repentance and tears, which baptism is truly grievous. The seventh is baptism by blood and martyrdom,23272327    Id. ibid. which baptism Christ Himself underwent in our behalf,23282328    St. Luke xii. 50. He Who was too august and blessed to be defiled with any later stains.23292329    Text, ὡςλίαν...ὅσον. Variants, ὅσων and ὃ καί. The eighth23302330    Greg. Naz., Orat. 40. is the last, which is not saving, but which destroys evil:23312331    See Basil, De Spir. Sanct., c. 13. for evil and sin no longer have sway: yet it punishes without end.23322332    οὐ σωτήριον, ἀλλὰ τῆς μὲν κακίας ἀναιρετικόν οὐκ ἔτι γὰρ κακία καὶ ἁμαρτία πολιτεύεται· κόλαζον δὲ ἀτελεύτητα.

Further, the Holy Spirit23332333    Greg. Naz., Orat. 39. descended in bodily form as a dove, indicating the firstfruits of our baptism and honouring the body: since even this, that is the body, was God by the deification; and besides the dove was wont formerly to announce the cessation of the flood. But to the holy Apostles He came down in the form of fire:23342334    Greg. Naz., Orat. 44: Acts ii. 3. for He is God, and God is a consuming fire.23352335    Deut. iv. 24.

Olive oil23362336    Cf., Allab., De Cousens, bk. iii., c. 16; Cyril of Jerus., Catech. Myst. 2. is employed in baptism as a significant of our anointing,23372337    Reading, χρίσιν. Variant, χάριν. and as making us anointed, and as announcing to us through the Holy Spirit God’s pity: for it was the fruit of the olive that the dove brought to those who were saved from the flood.23382338    Gen. viii. 11.

John was baptized, putting his hand upon the divine head of his Master, and with his own blood.

It does not behove23392339    Greg. Naz., Orat. 40. us to delay baptism when the faith of those coming forward is testified to by their works. For he that cometh forward deceitfully to baptism will receive condemnation rather than benefit.


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