Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
Hence then, we may observe, that the religion of Jesus consists in a dove-like temper. This observation we will endeavour to illustrate. That we may proceed with safety, we will give no indulgence to imagination, but will strictly follow the allusions which we find in Scripture.
1. The dove is an emblem of purity. In the law of Moses this was reckoned a clean bird, and it was selected for an offering in the ceremony of purification. His precepts, His doctrines, His example teach us to be holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
2. Christ directs His disciples to be harmless as doves. The same meek and inoffensive spirit which was in Him must also be in us.
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 dove-like temper of the gospel is sweet, serene, and pleasant.
4. Doves are distinguished by their mutual fidelity and love. To this social and affectionate property there are frequent allusions in Scripture. The bridegroom, in the book of Canticles, calls the bride by this, among 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.
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 "flying 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.
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 dignified by the graces of His Spirit. The dove, which is a beautiful bird, is a natural emblem of the virtuous and good works which distinguish the Christian character. "Though ye have lien among the pots, yet ye shall be as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
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."
(J. Lathrop. D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,