AND HE STAYED YET OTHER SEVEN DAYS; AND SENT FORTH THE DOVE; WHICH RETURNED NOT AGAIN UNTO HIM ANY MORE."--GENESIS viii c.-12 v.
"DOTH GOD," asks the Apostle Paul, "take care for oxen?" when he had quoted a precept of the law of Moses, "Thou shat not muzzle the month of the ox that treaded) out the corn," to show to the Christians at Corinth, the equity and reasonableness of the ordination of God, that, "they who preached the gospel should live of the gospel." "Saith he it," asks the Apostle, "altogether for our sakes?" and adds, "for our sakes, no doubt this is written; that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope." Yet for their sakes as well as for our's, God from the beginning hath, as we may deem, had special regard to the members of the inferior creation; and the more, as these have continued sinless, since we men have become sinners; for the thought, that to this hour, the brute creation is without sin, though mysteriously suffering, as every earthly object cloth, with the sinful lord of the earth, (and even plants and trees in their thrivings and fadings, their hewings down and pluckings off, may suffer for aught we know,) is a most serious thought. We read, that at the first, "the Lord God brought unto Adam, the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air," with a solemnity all but equal to that with which He presented to him his bride and helpmate Eve, "to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof;" and the simplicity of [5/6] the names of some of these creatures in different tongues, is to the present day an indication of their origin with the father of our race. Afterwards in the judgment of the flood, though the whole population of the globe perished, whatsoever their cast or kind, except a single family, not one of the meaner tribes was lost: "of every living thing of all flesh" said God, "two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female;" and "thus did Noah, according to all that God commanded him so did he." Afterwards, God remembered the beasts of the field in His holy law; with that of the sons, and daughters, and guests of His people, did He join the right of the cattle to rest upon the day He had hallowed; while by the benevolent influence of the precepts of Moses, as we know, the disposition of the Israelite was so modified, that he was instinctively kind to the brute creation; so that no Jew ever thought of taking his morning's meal, till he had first given food and drink to the animals about his house, even the smallest: and to use the words of a modern Jewish writer, "the Jews, unlike us who call ourselves Christians, required no Societies for the 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,' to teach them how to behave to the brute." Doth not God, then, take care for oxen? Are not these things proofs that He doth? And saith He it altogether for our sakes? Yea, doubtless; that while we behold His care of these, we may be ashamed, if we question his care of us; for what saith the Psalmist? "He giveth fodder unto the cattle, and feedeth the young ravens, (yet unable to prey for their food as the old ones,) that call upon Him." And what saith Jesus Christ? "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father, (not their as it has been noted, but) your heavenly Father feedeth them; are ye not much better than they?" Are we better than they? As Jesus hath said it, it must be so; but if we look at ourselves might we not hesitate if we be better or nearly so good? for many a glorious Saint at the sight of his own unworthiness, hath wished that himself were a beast, a bird, or a worm, rather than a partaker of humanity.
But since the apostacy of the world in Adam, God hall, if we may speak thus, put special honour upon the creatures, which [6/7] though put under us, did not become polluted with us. At his first estate, the creatures were man's servants, but since he fell God hath made them to teach, to reprove, to counsel him. "Ask now the beasts," saith Job, "and they shalt teach thee; and the fowls of the air and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." And Esaias saith, "The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people loth not consider." And Solomon, "Go to the ant thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise; which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provided: her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest" And St. James, "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and bath been tamed of mankind; but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil full of deadly poison." Again, "Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt." Again, "Be ye wise as serpents, harmless as doves." Surely man is not what God made him, or he would not be addressed thus; and the beasts, the birds, the very reptiles, be set above him who was made but "a little lower than the angels." What honour God hath put upon the lamb, Christ's figure! What honour upon the dove, the symbol of the Holy Ghost! Yea what honour upon the patient, lowly ass, which once reproved the madness of a prophet, and afterwards bore Israel's Monarch in triumph to the royal city! And in connection with the preceding remarks, there is a passage in the book of Psalms which speaks volumes against the sons of men; it is this--"All Thy works praise Thee O Lord, and Thy Saints give thanks unto Thee:" but why this mighty hiatus between "all God's works," the beasts, the birds, the fishes, the creeping things, the insects, the stars, the hills, the trees, the flowers, and God's Saints? Who ought to fill up this hiatus? Ought not the whole world of the children of men? Ought not the whole earth to praise the Lord? But doth it? "All Thy works praise Thee O Lord," then comes the blank of silence, unbroken by myriads who ought to praise Him with those works, "and Thy Saints give thanks unto Thee;" but where is the world at large?
 Our text leads us to preach to you of a bird; and lest any should ask, "Is this to preach the gospel?' we might urge the example of Israel's royal preacher, Solomon, of whom it is recorded, that, "he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes," and truly it were better for a man to preach of these, than to preach himself, or to deck his discourse with the tinsel of worldly wisdom--and in speaking of the things whereof Solomon spake, it would be hard to avoid preaching the gospel therein: for if we speak of trees, should we not speak of the "tree of life, in the midst of the paradise of God, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations," and its perennial fruits for the repast of the perfected blessed; and of the "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified." If we speak of beasts, should we not speak of the Paschal lamb, and so of the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world?" If we speak of fowls, could we omit to speak of the bird, in whose shape, as upon this day, the Holy Ghost descended upon the Lord of Glory, and of the gifts and virtues of that same Holy Ghost, typified by the nature and habits of that bird? If we speak of creeping things, could we forget Him, who said of Himself, "As for Me, I am a worm and no man, a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people?" If we speak of fishes, should we not revert to that fish, which was once the living sepulchre of an hasty, yet godly prophet, and so a type of the burial and resurrection of the Son of God? Yes, beloved in Christ, he that is truest to unless nature, is the nearest to the gospel; the bestial, feathery, finny, flowery, starry worlds, tell to man no falsehood as doth man's world--the gospel is one with nature: supernatural it may be, but it is not unnatural.
The bird of which we speak, the dove, hath been, yea is now, one of the greatest of natural preachers; beasts, the lamb, the heifer, the goat, did in past days, preach to a whole nation of sin, of expiation, of penitence; but their preaching is at an end; for the true propitiation hath been offered, Christ hath "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," "repentance unto life," hath been bestowed, upon those who otherwise would have had so often to [8/9] repent of their repentance as to be in danger of never repenting of their sins; but the dove is a preacher still. At the first descent of the Holy Ghost, the dove appeared, not as a tenant out of the green twilight of the forest below, but as a visitant out of the celestial courts above, enshrining beneath her wings the dread presence of the Comforter, imparted then only to the "first born" of the many brethren of the universal fellowship of Christ; but possessed by Him without measure, as a pledge that out of His fulness it should be given unto us, and that under the dispensation of the Spirit, the dove should be a chief teacher to lead the thoughtful lookers upon creation, to God. To this day, the dove preacheth to us of what Christ is to His Church, and the Church to Christ, of what the Holy Spirit is in Himself, and of what they are who "walk in the Spirit."
This chapter of the oldest book, speaks of this devoted bird, the dove, while yet her Creator had not set her specially apart for His service; beginning at this place, we observe that the dove was employed as a divine messenger, at two most solemn baptisms; the one as here, the baptism of the earth, whose pollutions could not be washed away but by the waters of the flood. We need only refer to the language of the chapter, at the sixth verse we read, "It came to pass at the end of forty days" from the time the rain ceased its downward torrent, and the gashes of the great deep began to be healed, the like period that the rain had taken to overflow the earth, "that Noah opened the door of the ark," as though afraid before to look upon the ocean's wilderness of woe; "and he sent forth a raven which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from the earth." But this bird, it is probable, was but a faithless messenger, wandering about the earth as it listed, returning to the ark at irregular intervals, or perhaps not at all, soon content if its carnivorous propensity were gratified, even with the carcases of the dead: apt figure of too many, who though admitted into the ark of Christ's Church by holy baptism, lightly regard the home of the faithful, and forsake its shelter, to rove abroad in a world which groaneth with the blood of the souls whom sin bath slain; which was once destroyed by water, and now awaits its destruction by fire. But mark the contrast of the dove: "And he sent forth a dove from him to see [9/10] if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were upon the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark." She, the type of purity, gentleness, simplicity, and meekness, like all those, who from the Spirit of whom she is the symbol, have received the like temper, could find no rest in a world which still bore traces of the ruin of sin, and the wasting wrath of its Almighty Avenger; no food was there for the dove, that feedeth only upon the purest grain, in the pallid corpses of the men who had transgressed against the majesty and mercy of the Most High, or in the hosts of dead creatures whose duplicates God had preserved in the ark. "And he stayed yet other seven days, (a hint that at that early time a sanctity was attached to a seventh portion of the week,) and again he sent forth the dove, out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth." The exclamation, lo! with which the mention of the olive leaf is introduced, betokens the surprise of the patriarch; glad surprise indeed, after that the waste of waters had effaced the last spot of the earth's verdure, even from the top of "all the high hills," to behold that token in the mouth of the winged messenger which he had sent forth, which from ages lost in the backward vista of time, hath been esteemed the emblem of peace; as if that Spirit, who ere the going forth from the God of order, of order's decree, moved upon the face of the dark wave, trembling in its gloom at the approach of the mighty voice, "Let there be light," had Himself descended out of the celestial temple, chosen to Himself the dove as His perpetual minister, and sent her back to the ark, with His own most cherished symbol, for the comfort of man's second progenitor, saved from a drowned creation. "And he stayed yet other seven days and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more." Hereby Noah knew that the baptism of the earth had done its work; that the waters of the deluge, so far as they could, had washed out the black guilt of the past; that if the earth were fit once more to be the abode of the bird whose loaf of olive told deeply of heaven's mysteries and mercies, it was [10/11] a fit dwelling for himself; that though purified, it was not destroyed; he therefore prepared to depart from the ark and to do God's work in the new generation which would be raised up from his offspring.
But did God hereafter, pass by the dove? No--she was remembered of Him; the incidents of the divine government are ever being repeated in that government; what God did once, He doeth again; what with us are the trifles of to-day, become under His rule, the tremendous events of to-morrow; the shadows of the past, burst into the bright lights of the future. When the Almighty gave forth in His wisdom His holy law of type, and figure, and eloquent ceremony, the dove was again honoured; for death itself is honour, if He who is Life, commandeth any to die for His sake, or in His service. The dove was the only bird selected or permitted by the law of Moses, to be offered in sacrifice: when woman "forgot her anguish for joy that a man was born into the world," that she should not forget her sin, God ordered her to bring a sacrifice; "as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons." A lamb was also ordered to be offered as a burnt offering; but the poor were allowed to dispense with this; (and St. Mary, the mother of Him who "had not where to lay His head," was of the number of these poor,) but none could dispense with the dove: teaching us, that womanhood, and wifehood, and motherhood, are not themes or jests for the world's triflers, but sacred estates; for woman is not the creature's but God's, since she hath borne the God--man. And why was beast or bird offered in sacrifice, but that beast and bird were innocent? for whether in type or truth, the victim offered for the sinful, had need be sinless: wherefore, "such an high priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."
But the ministry of the dove passed not away, even when the law itself was about to pass; she, the patriarch's faithful messenger, she, the sin offering of Moses, in the power of a life not her own but His, who is "the Resurrection and the Life," was present at a nobler baptism than that, which while it was the destruction of the world was the salvation of Noah; she that had skimmed the waters of the deluge, afraid to dip her hallowed wing [11/12] in the flood which had. entombed an universe of pollution, was afterwards permitted to hover over and sanctify the river of God at Jordan at the baptism of the Holy One; she, whose mouth no strange flesh had ever defiled, was allowed to brood above the immaculate body of the Lord Jesus; she, that was once the companion of beast, and bird of prey, and reptile, in the ark of Noah, yet clinging to that ark, when the unclean raven, (type of those who despise the spiritual mother, their unholy life dishonours)) forsook it, was counted worthy to be fellow minister with the greatest born of woman, at the inauguration of the everlasting High Priest; she, that under the law had but to die for the guilt of others, at "the beginning of the gospel," was privileged to be the associate of the living and life giving Three, before whom Cherubim and Seraphim veil their faces. "Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove," or as St. Luke writes, "in a bodily shape like a dove, and lighting upon Him." And if at this baptism of Him, who came not to drown the world with water, but to drown its sin in His precious blood, the dove descended, from whence did she descend, but from heaven; for was not heaven opened, at her descent? and if so, is not the dove in heaven, as the embodiment to the gaze of the adoring blessed of "the Holy Ghost the Comforter," as the glorified human nature of the Son is the embodiment of the unapproachable brightness of the Father, as the "Lamb in the midst of the throne" is, of the once crucified yet deified manhood? And think it not strange that the dove should be a guest in heaven; for doth not St. John, the bosom disciple, tell us of beasts bespangled with eyes that are there which rest not day nor night in their cryings to the Great Eternal? And is it not easy for Him, who "turned the sea into dry land," and the rock into a fountain, and the water into wine, and Lot's wife into a "pillar of salt," and king Nebuchadnezzar into a brute, and Manasseh and Magdalene into saints, to turn the dove into an archangel, and to make her "silver wings and her feathers of gold" a shrine for the glory and beauty of the God who lighteth up heaven and all its extatic hearts with the smile of His countenance?
 The religion of the gospel "dearly beloved brethren," is the religion of the dove; not a particle of God's religion, of the religion which will abide the test of the last fire that burneth up all things, is there in us, (though of our own, or the world's religion there may be,) except as the Holy Dove broodeth over the dark and drear corners of our hearts: there is no beginning in religion without the "Holy Ghost the Lord and giver of life." At the baptism of the world the Dove was there; at the baptism of "Him who overcame the world," the Dove was there, at our baptism when we were taken out of the world, ere it cared to claim us, the Dove was there; wheresoever water is used "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," thither cometh the Dove as at the first she came: unbelief, carelessness, irreverence, a doubting priest, or a thoughtless people, may be there, but the Dove will not thus be chased away; for "if we believe not, yet God abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself." True, we see not the Dove as the Holy Baptist saw her; and men say that "to see is to believe," but we say that not to see, is more truly to believe; for "faith is the evidence of things not seen;" and we know Him who said, "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." And why pray we, "sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin?" Who can do this, but the Dove that hallowed the waters of the Jordan, when He, who "knew no sin," was for our sakes baptized with the "baptism of repentance;" sorrowing for us that He might bring us to sorrow for ourselves?
Let the Dove then, whose blessed wing we trust, hath not ceased to over-shadow and protect our souls even from infant years, from the days, when father and mother, and little ones like ourselves, but lately "signed with the sign of the cross," and sunny skies, it may be, and nature's music, and young birds, and bright insects, and field flowers, and wild fruits, and He, who spake of the grass, and the lilies, and the sparrows, and the hairs of our heads, were our only delights upon earth, be our teacher; and in learning of the dove, we shall learn of Him from whom we cannot separate her, that Spirit "by whom we have all been baptized into one body;" not forgetting the reality in the symbol, (for be they many or few, they are but weak-minded Christians who [13/14] could do this,) but taking hold of both in one. Man alone separateth the thing signified from the sign, God hath in instances numberless joined them together, and shall we put them asunder? The creation itself is but a vast sign, signifying unto us its Creator and Preserver; yet who but the atheist would separate from it, its signification, and say, 'it created, it preserves itself?' Shall man look upon the rainbow, and not praise Him that made it? The dove, then, leads us to the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost sends us for His lessons to the dove. Ask now of the dove and she shall teach thee, and the Holy Ghost, whose symbol she is, shall bless to thee her teachings; and as she abode with Jesus, she will abide with thee, and the Father will say, "Thou art My beloved Son," if thou dost learn of her; and her beauteous colours shall deck thy soul in virtues divinely glorious; and He who is Beauty itself, shall delight in thee because of her. Very simple is the dove; be ye also simple, Christian souls; let the simplicity that is in Christ be your wisdom;" for the "simple, the Lord preserveth," as saith the psalm which the Church useth at her thanksgiving, for whom the dove was wont to be offered: very innocent is the dove; "keep ye innocency, and take heed unto the thing that is right, for that shall bring ye peace at the last;" very meek is the dove; "walk ye in meekness;" "in meekness instruct them that oppose themselves, if God peradventure may give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;" "in meekness restore brethren overtaken in a fault:" very peaceable is the dove; "follow ye peace with all men;" "let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which ye are called in one body and be ye thankful:" very loving is the dove; "walk ye in love as Christ also hath loved us;" "little children love one another:" very fearful is the dove; "Be ye in the fear of the Lord all the day long;" fear the world, when it smiles upon you, fear your neighbour when he speaks well of you, fear yourselves, when ye are satisfied with yourselves: little gall hath the dove; "let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour be put away from you with all malice:" very kind is the dove; "be ye kind one to another:" very tender is she; "be ye tender hearted:" very forgetful of injuries is she; "forgive ye one another as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you:" very harmless is the dove; "be [14/15] ye blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world:" very chaste is the dove; be ye also chaste, for "ye have been espoused to one husband, that ye may be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ:" very pure in her food is the dove; desire ye only the "bread of God which cometh down from heaven," the "water of life," and "the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" very true to her home is the dove; be ye also true; "dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of your life," "forget not Jerusalem, lest your right hands forget their cunning:" very faithful to her mate is the dove, faithful as human fidelity, or wedded love, as Christ to His Church, of which He saith, "My dove my undefiled is One;" be ye "faithful unto death, and Christ will be faithful to you beyond death: molested by her foes is the dove, though she molest not; do ye no wrong, what wrong soever ye may suffer; "for Christ also hath suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps:" very quick of sight is the dove; "be your eyes ever up unto the Lord," espying His coming afar off: very mournful is the dove; she singeth not as do other birds; mourn ye also that ye may be comforted: the rocks the dove maketh her refuge from her enemies; make the rock Christ your refuge from yours.
And "who is he that shall harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?" Harm what is of you, which you cannot, and would not take away with you when ye die, men may; the body, the estate, the possessions, yea health itself may fail, and worldly happiness be spoiled through men's ill usage; but you, that hidden, internal, indestructible individuality, which you are conscious, is all that will be you, "when your dust shall have returned to the earth as it was, and your spirits unto God that gave them," that you which Christ hath "washed, and justified, and sanctified," and which we trust He will also glorify, is out of their power to harm. Yet a little while, and the wings of the dove for which David longed shall be lent unto your spirits, and ye will flee away to the land of the dove, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."
 And now, "little flock," in closing our ministrations among you, ere we bid you farewell, (for the sorrowful word must be spoken,) let us rejoice, though in much depression, and "anguish of heart," that we have met, though it he but to part, on this festive day, the day of the Dove: not that on this day only, as some among us can testify, hath the Dove been here, and imparted to us His blessed temper. Injured, bitterly, unchristianly injured, hath our cause been, yet not our's but Christ's, by men who we fear, "suppose," or at least seem to act upon the supposition that "gain is godliness," yet we know not that we have injured any, and we wish evil to none. We have but asked to be allowed to rejoice when the Church bids us rejoice, and to sorrow when she bids us sorrow, and to sing when she bids us sing, and to teach all she would have us to teach, yet in a land of boasted liberty, bat withal in a parish where religion has been grievously lost in religious disputes, we have scarcely been allowed these privileges. The "two or three gathered together" here, may not meet again except in the invisible temple; yet if we have ever made you joyous in this house of prayer, and we have tried to do so; if we have corroborated to you what ye knew of the "truth of the gospel," or unfolded to you what ye did not know, and this we have sought to do; if we have brought you to love in England's Church, what ought to be loved, and to lament what ought to be lamented, and this has been our aim; if we have spoken to your hearts, by speaking from our own, and this was our intention; if we have told you what to do, and led you to ask of God, help to do it, and this was our wish; these are fruits better than we expected, more than we deserve--to God be the praise. And though our voice may not again meet your ears, the voice of the Dove, under whose guidance we trust, we have spoken to you, and assuredly so, if we have spoken to any purpose, is ever with you; and "as the anointing which ye have received, teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it bath taught you, ye shall abide in Him. And now little children, abide in Him, that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."