True Christianity #667

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667. Chapter 12: Baptism

Without Knowing That the Word Has a Spiritual Meaning, No One Can Know What the Two Sacraments (Baptism and the Holy Supper) Entail and What They Do for Us

The chapter on Sacred Scripture showed that there is a spiritual meaning throughout the Word and in every part of it [189-192], and that this meaning has been unknown until now [193-209]. It also showed that this meaning is now disclosed for the sake of the new church that is being established by the Lord [207, 271]. The nature of the spiritual meaning can be seen not only in that chapter but also in the chapter on the Ten Commandments [291-328]; the spiritual meaning of the commandments is explained there.

If the spiritual meaning of the Word had not been disclosed, would people be able to think beyond the earthly meaning or literal sense of the two sacraments, baptism and the Holy Supper? They might mutter and say to themselves, "What is baptism but pouring water on a baby's head? What does that do for the baby's salvation? What is the Holy Supper but taking bread and wine? What does that do for our salvation? For that matter, what is holy about these rituals, other than the fact that the ecclesiastical hierarchy has traditionally accepted them as sacred and divine and has commanded us to observe them? Although the churches claim that when the Word of God is brought near the elements they become sacred, these rituals are essentially just ceremonial. "

[2] I call on you, lay people and even clergy, to examine whether the sense you have in your heart or spirit concerning these two sacraments is any different from this. Have you practiced them as divine rituals for different reasons and with different thoughts in mind than these?

Yet from the point of view of their spiritual meaning, these two sacraments are the holiest acts of worship. The following pages, where the true functions of these sacraments are described, will make this clear.

None of us could ever understand the true functions of the sacraments unless the spiritual meaning uncovered and unfolded them for us. Therefore if we do not know their spiritual meaning, we are not in a position to realize that they are more than mere ceremonies established as holy only by the fact that we have been commanded to do them.

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True Christian Religion 698

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.