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who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.
3. The dove, in the book of Canticles, is an emblem of cheerfulness and joy.
"Lo, the winter is past and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come; the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
The dovelike temper of the gospel is sweet, serene and pleasant. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit: It is one of the characters of Christ's religion: It is the temper with which we acceptably serve him. "The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and he that in these things serveth Christ, is accepted of God, and approved of men." True christians have joy and peace, in believing, and abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.
With joy they contemplate the glorious discoveries of the gospel; the wonderful mercy of God to a guilty world; the astonishing interposition of a divine Saviour for the redemption of our perishing race; and the free and gracious offers of salvation to the chief of sinners.
The precepts of Christ's religion they approve and choose, as divinely excellent, suited to guide their actions, refine their tempers, and prepare their hearts for heavenly pleasures.
They rejoice in that holy and benevolent government, which God exercises in the world; and in the liberty, which he indulges them, to repair to his throne for the supply of all their wants, and for protection in all their dangers.
When they can appropriate the rich promises of God, and ascertain their interest in them, their religious joy, feeling its present security, and anticipating its approaching felicity, will sometimes swell past utterance, and rise beyond the reach of de
scription. "The trial of your faith," says Saint Peter, "will be found to glory and honour at the appearing of Christ; whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
The religion of Christ, where it has its genuine influence, produces a holy, humble joy in God. It does not make men sour, morose and peevish; but contented, screne and thankful. It disposes them, not to censure, but to justify the ways of Godnot to complain of, but to acquiesce in the plan of his government. It does not depress their spirits, and spread a gloom over their faces; but inspires their souls with cheerful and pleasing hopes, which a stranger intermeddles not with. It teaches them to contemplate the wisdom, justice and goodness of God in all his dispensations, and thus gives a relish to prosperity, and consolation in adversity. It extends the prospects beyond this mortal state, and opens to the view more glorious scenes of delight above the skies, from whence faith and hope look down, with indifference, on the transient and unsatisfying objects of the world. It ministers to the mind matter of meditation and employment, sweetly adapted to its renewed and spiritual taste; and thus secures it from that restless anxiety, which vexes and torments earthly souls.
It is not, then, the sour and complaining, the gloomy and fretful, but it is the cheerful and contented, the serene and thankful christian, who discovers the genuine spirit, the dovelike temper of Christ's religion.
4. Doves are distinguished by their mutual fidelity and love.
To this social and affectionate property there are frequent allusions in scripture. The bridegroom, VOL. II. Hh
in the book of Canticles, calls the bride by this, a mong other endearing names, O, my dove, let me see thy face, and hear thy voice, for thy voice is sweet, and thy face is comely." People in affliction are described as "mourning like doves," who have lost their companions.
Mutual love is the temper of the gospel. This is Christ's command to his disciples, "Love one another, as I have loved you." "By this," ," says he, "shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." Christians are required "to love one another with a pure heart fervently, and above all things to have fervent charity among themselves."
Under the influence of this fervent charity, they will esteem and regard one another for that similarity of temper and manners, which is common to them all, and which they have all learnt from the same gospel, They will take pleasure in each other's company, and delight to associate for the joint worship of their common Lord. They will maintain a strict fidelity. Having covenanted together for mutual edification and comfort, they will walk in the same steps, and by the same rule. They will not rove and scatter abroad; but, like the flock of Christ, they will come together in one place, and keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. They will walk in all lowliness and meekness, bearing offences, forgiving injuries, and returning again to peace if fellowship happens to be interrupted. They will take a sensible share in each others pleasures and affections. If one suffers, they will suffer with him; if one is honoured, all will rejoice. If one wanders away, or seems to be lost, all will mourn his unhappy case, and pray for his recovery. They will bewail such as have sinned and have not repented; and him who re
pents they will restore in the spirit of meekness, considering themselves, lest they also be tempted.
5. The dove is a defenceless bird. Hence she is described as "dwelling in the clefts of the rocks, and in the secret places of the stairs"; and as " fly. ing to her windows" in times of danger.
In this view she is an emblem of christian faith and humility.
True believers, sensible of their weakness, and of the dangers which attend them, trust not in themselves, but in the power and grace of their Saviour. They dare not wander from him, and commit themselves to the world at large, for they know that birds of prey, the powers of the air, are seeking whom they may destroy. They keep near to their Divine Protector, dwell in his house, and live on the food which is there provided. They venture not to depart from the sight, or the reach of his windows. When temptations pursue them, hither they fly for security. To the selfrighteous hypocrite, his own goodness and strength is a strong city, a high wall in his own conceit. But to humble believers, the name of their Redeemer is a strong tower; into this they run, and are safe.
6. The excellent glory, which descended like a dove, and rested on Jesus, might be intended to represent the beauties of his church, adorned and dig. nified by the graces of his spirit..
The church of Christ is compared to a fair prin-cess, all glorious within, and clothed in garments of wrought gold. The dove, which is a beautiful bird, is a natural emblem of the virtuous and good works, which distinguish the christian character. By this allusion, the Psalmist describes the glori ous change made in the people of God, when they were delivered from the bondage and superstitions of Egypt, and admitted to enjoy the p.culiar privileges of the sanctuary, "Though ye have lien a
mong the pots, yet ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
The reformation of the church, after a time of great declension, is expressed by her "rising from the dust, putting on her beautiful garments, and shining forth in the glory of her Lord." The professors of godliness are exhorted to adorn themselves, not with gold, and pearls, and costly array, but with good works, and the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; for these are of great price in the sight of God. The righteousness of the saints is compared to white raiment. They who watch and keep their garments, will walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy.
But lest I pursue the allusions too far, I will onJy observe, once more,
7. The dove, which is a fruitful bird, is, by Isaiah, made an emblem of the increase of the church in her happy and prosperous periods. Then converts shall fly unto God's altar, "as doves to their windows,"
He says, "The Redeemer shall come to Zionhis Spirit shall be upon her, and his words shall not depart out of her mouth, nor out of the mouth of her seed-and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her. The Gentiles shall come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising. Lift up thine eyes, and see; all they gather themselves together; they come unto thee. Thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. The abundance of the sea shall be converted to thee, and the forces of the Gentiles shall come to thee."
Having mentioned, by name, several countries, from whence converts shall come to glorify God in his house, the prophet is surprised with still new accessions from unknown, or unexpected parts of