After the knowledge and explanation of the dogmas to be believed, the knowledge and explanation follow of the Mysteries to be celebrated, through which the observers of the celebration, being regenerated into a new life and living in the Spirit of God according to God’s will, escape the danger of eternal punishment in accordance with the assurance of the Lord: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned,” (Mark 16:16.) The Lord delivered to the Church seven Mysteries to be celebrated for sanctification and salvation, named as follows:
- The baptism of water
- The baptism of the Spirit, which is called also Chrism
- The mystic reception of His body and blood, which is also called the Eucharist
- The mystery of repentance and confession unto forgiveness of possible sins after baptism
- Honorable marriage
- Anointing with oil for the healing of the sick, in both soul and body
- Holy orders for the celebration of all the mysteries and of holy orders itself.
These religious ceremonies are called Mysteries, because undervisible signs and symbols they hide the invisible power and grace of the Holy Spirit, of which the subjects concerned become partakers and participants, and because under the symbols as they appear exist the general truths and laws of man’s reformation and salvation, arising from the good and righteous will of God.
These four things are to be considered with reference to the ceremony of each mystery and of all together: 1. the celebrants are priests; 2. the participants are believers; 3. the substance of each mystery; 4. the laws of the ceremony which constitute the species of the mystery and without which it is not a mystery. Therefore the essential components of the mysteries are the material of each mystery and the laws of their ceremony. Neither the laws of the ceremony without the material constitute the mystery, nor does the material without the laws of the ceremony; but the virtue of the mystery is constituted of both. Each mystery is to be investigated according to its essential components and with reference to the virtue which it has and the benefit conferred upon the recipients. First let us investigate the baptism of water, which naturally precedes the other mysteries; because, before he who believes is baptized none of the other mysteries can be celebrated for his benefit.
The Mystery of Baptism
The mystery of baptism has water as an essential element and triune immersion in the water and the rising of the baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the one and only true God, in whom the baptized, having been instructed, has believed. The priest celebrating the mystery in the first immersion and rising says: “The servant of God is baptized in the name of the Father, amen;” in the second he says: “And of the Son, amen;” and in the third: “And of the Holy Spirit, amen.” Thus he performs three baptisms of one induction according to the fiftieth Apostolical canon, and according to the command of the Lord, who said to His own disciples and Apostles: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19.)
The meaning of the mystery so administered is interpreted for us by the Apostle Paul, who says:
“So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, th.at our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath. no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord,“ (Rom. 6:3-11).
According to these words the baptism of triune immersion in water and rising again represents and typifies the three day’s burial of the Lord and His resurrection from the dead after three days. He who is baptized dies according to the old man of sin and rises according to the new man, who lives without sin in God and eternally. In this mystery of baptism there is written this law of divine righteousness: as Christ died for the sake of our sins and arose for the sake of our justification, so also should each one of us die with Christ that we may arise with Him to life eternal. He dies with Christ who puts to death his own flesh with its affections and lusts, and is unable to commit a sin; and he arises with Christ who lives in the Spirit of God and works righteousness. Wherefore he who is baptized into Christ and has become planted in the likeness ·of His death and resurrection ought to reckon himself dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus our Lord; and this reckoning ought to produce the result of withdrawal from every evil thing and of working righteousness and goodness.
In the mystery of baptism, as in a book, has been written the law of death, and the law of life, and the law of passing through death into life. The law of death operates, sin having previously existed, and the sinner is condemned, to death. But the law of life safeguards life to him who worketh righteousness; because the righteous is not condemned to death, but is permitted with the forgiveness of his sins freely to live in the realm of life. The place of life for the body is the air; and the sea and much water is the place of death for the body. Our body lives in the air; but plunged into the water it dies. Baptism, therefore, in water expresses the entrance of death because of sin and transgression of the law; but the rising up out of. the water into the air expresses restoration to the life which came into existence by the power of the resurrection of Christ. He died unjustly. He had the right to rise and to return into life. Since He died unjustly He acquired also the right to bestow life from the dead upon those who believe on Him. But he who has passed from death into life in like manner as Christ dieth no more. Death has no more dominion over him; but He lives in God, forever dead in his standing towards sin.
Therefore, in the mystery of baptism there is written the law of death and the law of life and the law of restoration to life through transitory death. Through this mystery we are taught to die the good death for the acquisition of the divine and eternal life. To die to sin and to live to God is called a good death, and this good death he who is baptized ceremonially and in reality dies, having been crucified with Christ and raised again with Him, becoming a sharer of His sufferings and glory. To die to God and to live to sin is called an evil death, and is justly condemned with eternal punishment. All die this evil death who do not believe in Christ and believe in that which is false.
From these laws of divine righteousness, written in the mystery of baptism, there spring naturally the following consequences: (1) the cleansing and freeing of the soul from all original as well as voluntary sin; (2) regeneration and adoption by God and its attendant rights; because, when he is baptized he has died as to the old man of sin. All his sin which was before baptism, whether original or voluntary, is forgiven him, and he is no longer responsible for it; because he who has died is justified from sin. For this reason baptism is spoken of as a bath and cleansing of the soul from all sin. And since the nature of the old man is cast aside and the nature of the new man put on, for this reason baptism is called the mystery of new birth or regeneration, through which he who is baptized becomes a son of God and rejoices in the expectations of the children of God. Baptism has such virtue in itself, regenerating the baptized and making him a son of God and an heir of His eternal kingdom.
He who is baptized ought, before the baptism, to confess sincerely that he renounces Satan, and all his works, all his angels and all his service, and all his pomp, and that he ranges himself with Christ and believes in Him as King and God. And he confesses also all the dogmas of the Symbol of the faith. But this his confession is a covenant with God and His Church, with which the baptism is administered, which works the cleansing of the baptized and regeneration according to his faith and the uprightness of his own heart.
When an infant is to be baptized the covenant is assumed on the part of the sponsor and surety who takes upon himself the engagement to instruct the baptized child when it attains a proper age in its own duties, and to hold the child responsible for the engagements which he himself has assumed in its behalf. The parents, however, are none the less responsible for their own children, whom they ought to bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
After the ceremony of this first mystery there follows the ceremony of Chrism, which Christ calls also the baptism of the Spirit, and which He connects inseparably with the former which He calls the baptism of water.