It is most wonderful that once, and once only - in the Bible records - has the Spirit of God been actually seen upon the earth; and by one man only - the only man who was filled with that Spirit from birth (Luke 1 : 15). “John bare witness, saying I have beheld the Spirit descending as A DOVE out of heaven” (John 1: 32) :- a descent in the form of a dove which all four Gospels - a rare thing - record.  That it was the actual form of a Dove, though invisible to all except Jesus and John, Luke puts beyond doubt:- “The heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily form, as a dove” (Luke 3: 22).  The heavens opened, and out of those heavens, descending upon the Son of man, came down the Heavenly Bird, the snow-white Dove of the Spirit of God.  The Father shall give you another comforter, that he may be with you forever ; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14: 17).


Now this descent of the Holy Dove of God not only takes us back to the very dawn of creation, but it reveals the unchanging character of the Spirit - the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.  The Revised Margin puts it thus:- “The Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1 : 2); or, as the Talmud exquisitely paraphrases it, - “The Spirit of God was borne over the water as a dove which broods over her young.”  The word in Genesis for ‘brood’ is the same as that used, in Deut. 32: 11, for the eagle fluttering over her young.”  The Holy Spirit, from the first dawn of creation, was the Holy Dove of God: He brooded, germinating life, as “the Lord and Giver of life; and just as He filled the Temple so that the priests could not enter, so He filled a sinless world as the holy temple of God.  The opening of creation and the opening of redemption both behold the Spirit brooding as the Dove of God.


Now before we deal with this exquisite revelation of the character of the Holy Ghost, we observe that He is working that character into us, and that therefore everything we learn of God’s Dove, we learn of our own ultimate character.  The very term ‘dove’ runs through the Bible revelation of the Christian.  The moment Peter made his saving confession, at that moment Jesus said, - “Blessed art thou, Simon, Bar‑jonah” - son of the Dove, child of the Holy Ghost‑ - “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16: 17).  In His charge to the twelve apostles - sample Christians of all ages - our Lord says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless - guileless, defenceless, gentle – “as doves(Matt. 10: 16).  And our ultimate departure from the world, the Holy Dove returning with us to Heaven, is thus described:- “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves” - for doves move in flocks – “to their windows?” (Isa. 60: 8); and the cry that comes, in moments of pain from many a watchful saint to-day, is the inspired cry,- “Oh that I had wings like a dove! then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psa. 55: 6).  What darts more swiftly and surely home than a carrier-pigeon?  All therefore that we learn of the Spirit, we learn concerning God’s ideal for us.


Now the dove is the bird of love.  Little children love it.  The look of the Spirit - as the Song of Solomon reveals - is a look of love:  thine eyes are as doves: let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice” (Song 1: 15; 2 : 14).  It is the only bird of the heaven which is domestic : it does not require to be caged as a prisoner, in order to be kept among men.  The Holy Spirit has alighted amongst us of His own free will: He has alighted at the impulse of love.  The steeple of an old church was to be pulled down, in order to prepare the way for some modern improvements.  Soon everything was ready and the foreman shouted aloud to the men to pull.  As the old steeple began to tremble, and sway from side to side, a beautiful white dove was observed to fly round and round, not daring to go in at its accustomed place, and yet evidently unwilling to depart.  She seemed to be aware that a great calamity was about to happen, while a hundred voices shouted, “See that dove!”  Poor thing!” the foreman observed, “she must have young ones up in the steeple.  Again the workmen gave a vigorous tug at the rope, and the old steeple reeled and tottered.  The distress of the poor dove became so great that everyone felt sorry for her, and not a word was spoken.  The bird hovered a moment on her wings, and at the instant that the creaking timbers began to topple over, she darted into the steeple and was hid from view.  When the rubbish was cleared away, she was found lying between her young ones - all three crushed to death.  Here was a spectacle of devoted love - love even unto death.  So it is with the Lord.  Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,”  The Holy Spirit was the crushed Dove on Calvary, for the whole Spirit dwelt bodily on Jesus, and the Spirit is love.


The second characteristic of the Dove is gentleness.  The dove, unlike the eagle or the hawk, is utterly defenceless: it is a shy, sensitive bird: it is probably the most harmless of all living creatures.  It has no talons, and naturalists tell us it has no gall.  It is remarkable how often the dove is referred to in the Scripture as the bird of gentle, brooding sorrow, - “I did mourn as a dove(Isa. 38: 14).  The Spirit wakes the sweet sorrow of the penitent soul: “they shall be like doves of the valley, all of them mourning, every one in his iniquity” (Ezek. 7: 16); and the Spirit “helpeth our infirmity with groaning that cannot be uttered.”  It is God’s indescribable sorrow over a lost world. Fenelon says,- “We must lend an attentive car, for His voice is soft and low; and it is heard only by those who hear nothing else,” - the sweet, low call of the Better Land.  The Holy Spirit is the very gentleness of God.  The Chaldee Paraphrase of the Song of Solomon, in the passage beginning – “The time of the singing of birds is come,” understands by “the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land” (Song 2 12) the voice of the Holy Spirit.  A pirate once told a naturalist that the soft, melancholy notes of doves, heard beside the wells in the burning sands of the East, first woke memories in his soul that had long slumbered, melted him to repentance, and drove him from his infamous trade, so deeply did they move him.  When we resist the Holy Ghost, it is like taking the sweetest, gentlest, most defenceless person we know, and wantonly striking him in the face: it is driving away from us the Dove in whom is all life and all love and all salvation.


Lastly, the dove has always been the emblem of puity.  It was so pure a bird in the eye of God, as not only to be classed as ‘clean,’ but the only bird allowed on the altars of God.  If his oblation to the Lord be a burnt offering of fowls, then he shall offer” - as the only birds permitted‑ - “his oblation of turtle‑doves, or of young pigeons (Lev. 1: 14). His mother offered for Jesus two white doves.  Both the Dove and the Lamb were offered on the altar of Calvary: our Lord through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot - the milk-white dove – “unto God.”  Doves are remarkable for keenness of vision: “the Spirit searcheth all things”; “thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1 : 13).  All purity dwells in the Spirit of God: so where He enters He brings purity.  Pure doctrine - pure imagination - pure motives - a pure heart, and above all pureness from guilt: what a man that is into whose breast the Dove has entered!  Flee fornication: know ye not that your body IS A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST?” (1 Cor. 6: 19).


Now we see where the Dove rests.  The Dove descended upon the Lamb.  Over the young child stood a star; but over the Lord stood the Dove of God: “upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit” (John 1: 33), - the Christ of God.  There is a Jewish tradition that, as all the world did not know where Noah’s Dove came from, and Noah himself did not at last know where it went to – “it returned not again unto him any more” - so the door would at last open, and – “blowing where it listeth” – ‘the Spirit of Messiah’ would come forth, and abide upon the head of Messiah.  Certain it is that just as the dove that went forth from Noah’s Ark “found no rest for the sole of her foot” in all the corpse-filled waters, so the Dove of God, hovering over all human kind, found only one resting-place - the head and heart of the Lamb.  God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3: 31): in Him alone dwelt “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”  It was not a crown which descended upon the brows of our Lord, but a Dove: all that the Dove is of love, and gentleness, and purity, the Lamb is.  And it is our intense joy that the Dove of God finds a nest in every re-born soul, with these exquisite results:- “The fruit of the Spirit is love” - love is its first fruit – “joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, temperance” (Gal. 5 : 20).


So, finally, the Holy Spirit, abiding on earth since Pentecost, has, in the Bible, only one recorded prayer, a prayer which prays for the return of the Lamb.  Nothing could more decisively enthrone the truth of the Second Advent.  The Spirit and the bride say, COME” (Rev. 22 :17).  The prayer, the preaching, the expectation of the Second Advent has no more massive foundation than this - that it is the one recorded cry to God of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Spirit knows perfectly all evolution, all progress, all Gospel advance, all revival; yet He says that there is one solution, and one only, for world-problems: “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”  He is the master of all knowledge, of all solutions of all problems, and He says there is but one possibility for the world’s salvation: “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.”  None but the Holy Spirit knows the deep things of God - the everlasting plans, the profound purposes, the unrevealed powers of God; yet, knowing all, He says that the one and only hope for the world is the return of' Christ.