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well pleased.” But let us remember, that the Spirit of Christ resembles the gentle, loving dove, and not any fierce bird of prey: furious contests, therefore, cannot spring from his influence; nay, they banish him from our hearts and assemblies, they weaken the evidences of our adoption, and mar our comfort.
“ For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ;” and by abounding in these, we best glorify the God of our salvation, to whose service we were devoted, when “ baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” to whom be glory for evermore. Amen.
Rev. T. Scott.
Observe, The Spirit of God descended, and lighted on him. In the beginning of the old world, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters - Gen. i. 20.: so here, in the beginning of this new world, Christ, as God, needed not to receive the Holy Ghost, but it was foretold that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him - Isai. lxi. 1, and here he did so : for 1. He was to be a prophet, and prophets always spoke by the Spirit of God, who came upon them : Christ was to execute his prophetic office, not by his Divine nature, (saith Dr. Whitby,) but by the afflatus of the Holy Spirit. 2. He was to be the head of the church, and the Spirit descended upon him, by him to be derived to all believers, in his gifts, graces, and comforts : Christ received gifts for men, that he might give gifts to men.
He descended on him like a dove. If there must be a bodily shape, (Luke iii. 22,) it must not be that of a man, for the being seen in fashion as a man was peculiar to the Second Person ; none therefore more fit than the shape of one of the fowls of heaven, heaven being now opened; and of all fowl none so significant as the dove. 1. The Spirit of Christ is a dovelike spirit ; not like a silly dove without heart,—(Hos. vii. 2.) but like an innocent dove without gall. The Spirit descended, not in the shape of an eagle, which is, though a royal bird, yet a bird of prey, but in the shape of a dove, than which no creature more harmless and inoffensive. Such was the Spirit of Christ, he shall not strive, nor cry; such must Christians be, harmless as doves. 2. The dove was the only fowl that was offered in sacrifice — Lev. i. 14.; and Christ by the Spirit, the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. 3. The tidings of the decrease of Noah's flood were brought by a dove, with an olive leaf in her mouth ; fitly therefore are the glad tidings of peace with God brought by his Spirit as a dove.
REV. M. HENRY.
We behold a peculiar honour put upon Jesus at the conclusion of the ordinance. The solemnity was closed, but he remained in prayer; and immediately, while he looked up, the heavens were opened over his head, and the Spirit visibly descended upon him, resembling a dove, perhaps in shape, as well as its hovering motion. This was like an inauguration of the Saviour, when he was about to enter on his public work, and an intimation, that, as “ the Anointed of God,” he received the most extraordinary influences of the Holy Ghost.
If we be solicitous to obtain for ourselves a testimony of the favour of heaven, let us learn from our Lord to expect it in answer to fervent prayer.
And be the more emboldened to present our supplications in the name of Jesus, since, as we have seen, he is consecrated to, and accepted in, his mediatorial office. “ The residue of the Spirit” is with him; for “ he has received gifts for men." We may rejoice and triumph that the Father is well pleased in him, as our surety and Advocate.
Rev. T. ROBINSON.
Let us remember in how distinguishing a sense Jesus is the Christ, the anointed of God, to whom the Father hath not given the Spirit by measure, but hath poured it out upon him in the most abundant degree. Let us trace the workings of this Spirit in Jesus, not only as a Spirit of miraculous power, but of the richest grace and holiness; earnestly praying that this holy unction may, from Christ our head, descend upon our souls. May his enlivening Spirit kindle its sacred flame there, with such vigour, that many
not be able to quench it, nor floods of temptation and corruption to drown it.
Behold God's beloved Son in whom he is well pleased! As such let us honour and love him, and as such let our souls acquiesce in him, as in every respect such a Saviour as our wishes might have asked and our necessities required. With what amazement should we reflect upon it, that the blessed Jesus, though so early ripened for the most extensive services, should live in retirement even till his thirtieth year. That he deferred his ministry so long, should teach us not to thrust ourselves forward to public stations till we are qualified for them, and plainly discover a Divine call: that he deferred it no longer should be an engagement to us to avoid delays, and to give God the prime of our life.
What really concerns us, is the importance here ascribed to the work of Redemption, in which all the three persons of the Trinity are interested and engaged. The Father “ sends his only begotten Son, that all that believe in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Son consents; and has just set the first example to mankind, that “ it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." The Holy Ghost descends visibly upon him, and intimates in what power he came, and what virtue might be expected to attend his ministry, and to establish his religion. And all this “ for us men and for our salvation !” How great must be the value of the soul, in behalf of which so much was done !
We, who read the narrative, are the objects of this gracious interposition. Do we feel it as we ought ? Strive daily to improve your sense of it, and exalt your gratitude by meditation and prayer. Contemplate the
mercy of God, till his Spirit descends more and more upon you, and leaves his dove-like image upon your hearts, the emblem and characteristic of the religion of Christ, which is peace with God, and meekness towards men !
BISHOP J. B. SUMNER.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of
thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. — Deut. xviii. 15. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto
you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from Heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.—2 Pet. i. 16-18.
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, [to pray, Luke ix. 28.] and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them, [in glory— Luke ix. 31.] Moses and Elias, talking with him: [and who spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem — Luke ix. 31.] Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lift up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked