« AnteriorContinuar »
us, do it because they hate us. No; rather because they love themselves more than they do us. The fowler does not hate the bird, but he loves the prey.
We are to imitate the bird, being watchful and wary. “Deliver thyself,' is the charge, was a bird from the hand of the fowler.”—Prov. 6: 5. He that is simple will suffer himself to be led blindly into danger, "as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.” Those sudden deaths which in so many awful cases overtake the wicked, are most impressively set forth by the same allusion to the snaring of birds : “For man knowcth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”—Eccl. 9: 12.
What a delightful assurance do the Scriptures give us of God's care for us by reference to the birds. “I know all the fowls of the mountains.”—Ps. 50: 11. We are invited by the Saviour, to consider the fact that God cares for the fowls of the air, as a strong assurance that he will not forget to provide for his children who are worth far more than ravens and sparrows. If he cares for the less, He will also care for the greater. The birds that chirp and sing so cheerfully around our dwellings are daily messengers to us, telling us that the kind Father in heaven has "daily bread" for all that turn affectionately toward Him.
The birds are not only beautiful, but also useful. We have not time here to point out all the various ways in which they serve man. If they rendered us no other service but their company and their songs, we could not well dispense with them. Did you ever reflect how empty the air would be, how still the grove, how lonely the fields and woods without birds. Besides all this, they teach us by their habits, and illustrate to us many divine teachings; and it is a broad command of the Saviour“Behold the fowls of the air !” We will study farther, and more particularly this interesting portion of God's creation. We will look at them, one by one-the sacred Birds of the Bible.
Pleased to be often heard, but seldom seen.
nanger to subsidee is a bird oft has such attes habits.
notice in the Bible is under exceedingly interesting circumstances. It is about the time the flood began to abate from the earth. It flies out from Noah's hand, over the waste of waters, but finds not yet a place for the sole of its foot, and at length returns to the ark, perches again upon Noah's hand, and is taken in. Again it goes forth and brings an olive-branch in its mouth-the emblem of peace. It was a fit messenger to bring to Noah the joyful testimony that God would cause his anger to subside as the floods do, and thus destroy the earth no more. The dove is a bird of peace. .
There is not another bird that has such attractiveness about it as the dove. It is exceedingly neat in all its habits. It eats nothing unclean, drinks only pure water, and feeds upon the purest seeds. There is something in its very looks that wins us in its favor. “The dove is universally admitted to be one of the most beautiful objects in nature. The brilliancy of her plumage, the splendor of her eye, the innocence of her look, the excellence of her disposition, and the purity of her manners, have been the theme of admiration and praise in every age. To the snowy whiteness of her wings, and the rich golden hues, which adorn her neck, the inspired Psalmist has been supposed to allude in these elegant strains : Though ye have lien among pots, yet ye shall be as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.”—Ps. 68: 13. Such is the difference between a sinner before and after he is washed from his sins.
The mildness, tenderness and love of dove eyes' are celebrated in scripture. The Church, which like a mother, regards her children with the utmost tenderness, is several times called a dove, and her influence is compared to dove eyes. Compassion beams in her beautiful and attractive countenance. “Behold, thou art fair, my love ; behold, thou art fair; thou hast dove's eyes.”—Songs 1: 15. The light of love which beams in the eye, is the faithful expression of that which fills the heart. Hence the Church is represented as looking with eyes mild with love towards her confiding children.
Of the blessed Saviour, “mild and meek,” who would not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax, and who when he was reviled answered not again, it is said, “His eye are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of water, washed with milk, and fitly set."-Songs 5: 12. Dove's eyes, which are always bright and lovely, assume a peculiar bright tenderness when the bird has washed and drank at the crystal brook. Then their eyes seem softly bright as if washed with milk, and
beautifully set, like a gem enamelled with gold. This is the symbol of Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.
Oh how benevolent and kind,
How mild! how ready to forgive! We know that the eye is the mirror of love, as the dove is the emblem of it. Even among the ancient pagans doves were sacred to love. They represented the chariot of the god of love as being drawn by doves. How apt is the emblem. Their whiteness represents the purity of love. Their bright eyes exhibit the intelligence and tenderness of love. Their tones of mournful pleasantness are the sighings of love in absence.
There are psssages in the Prophets which represent the dove as fierce and murderous, as in Jeremiah, “The land is desolate because of the fierceness of the dove—Let us go to our own people to avoid the sword of the dove—They shall flee, every one, for fear of the sword of the dove." To make such passages intelligible, and to reconcile them with what we have just said of the mild habits of the dove, it need only be remembered that the nations which warred with the Jews bore a dove on their ensigns. The fierce dove was the banner of their enemies.
The child-like simplicity, purity of intention, and gentleness of manner which characterize the dove is exhibited as a pattern for christians, and especially christian ministers to imitate. "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves,” said our blessed Saviour to his disciples. “The wisdom of the serpent enables the believer to discern between good and evil, truth and error ; the simplicity of the dove renders him inoffensive and sincere, that he may not deceive nor injure his neighbor.”
The cooing of the dove is very plaintive and mournful; it touches the heart, and inspires us with a kind of pleasant sadness, like the music of Ossian that steals in the soft summer moonlight over “Ardven's gloomy vale.” The tones of the dove are said to become still more mournful when it loses its mate; in such bereavements this bird sits alone in solitary places, and seems to be overtaken with real sorrow, and it is said that in some cascs it becomes so disconsolate as even to die of grief ! To this cooing of the dove as a token of deep sorrow, Hezekiah alludes when he refers back to that sickness of which he expected to die : "I did mourn as a dove.”—Is. 38: 14. So also Isaiah represents sinners, who have brought on themselves sorrow at the last, saying: “We are in desolate places as dea men; we roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves! Naham makes allusion to the same mournful habit of this bir
when he speaks of the desolation of Ninevah and their going forth into captivity; they shall be led away “as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts.”—Naham 2: 7.
The dove is a migratory bird; and thus in its return it is one of the heralds of Spring—the season of joy and love. Hence its voice is associated with the Saviour's gracious approach to his people. When he, the sun of righteousness, has been for a time absent, it is winter in the soul and in the church; but when He draws nigh again and smiles, it is as the breath of Spring—then his children may sing in joy and love: "Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."-Songs 2:11, 12
In the New Testament the dove appears to us as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. At the Saviour's baptism “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him."-Luke 3: 22. This, says one, was to signify what Christ is: “I. In his own nature to them that come to him, namely meek, harmless, loving. II. In the execution of his office, even He by whom the Father is pacified, and who brings the tidings that God's wrath is assuaged as the dove with the olive-branch did of the retiring waters of the flood. III. What he is in the operations of his Spirit upon his people, by which they are made meek, harmless and lovely as doves. The dove has an exceedingly forgiving spirit. If a breach takes place between two they are immediately reconciled again; and they manifest their renewed love by embracing one another. It quickly forgets the severest injuries, as the spoiling of its nest, and the taking a way of its young. Of a like spirit are those in whom lives the spirit of all grace.
“They let the present injury die,
And long forget the past." It is well known that doves go in pairs. Two seem bound to each other like Saul and Jonathan. This is the male and female. Their conjugal fidelity, and love for each other, is mentioned and praised by all writers. When they have once chosen each other as mates they continue one with each other through life. Thus they become the emblem of the marriage union, and of that still higher mystical marriage between Christ and the faithful, which the waters of tribulation cannot quench, nor the floods of death drown. The one sets the other as a seal upon its heart, so that no allurement can invade nor divide the heart. Its love belongs all to its faithful mate; so is the Christian's heart bound in holy jealousy to the Saviour and to his Church. mwanamwona This explains the strong language in the Songs of Solomon: “My dove, my undefiled is but one ; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.”—6: 9.
It is said that one kind, namely, the black dove, after the death of her mate, continues in a widowed state for lise, and the turtle-dove, as already mentioned, often dies of grief for her companion. Having lost her companion, the world seems dreary and desolate. She sits in lonely places and calls mournfully for the one who returns no more to her side. Yet still she calls and the woods mourn in symphonious echoes for the departed songster. Perhaps she fancies that her mate has hidden and hears, but being displeased, will not come. This may serve to explain the earnest and affectionate language which the forlorn Church addresses to her absent spouse. "Oh, my dove, that art in the clifts of the rocks, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenace is comely.”-Songs 2: 14.
The dove is a great home-bird. It loves its own grove beyond all other localities; and when it is tamed it is so attached to its homestead, that if it is carried away many miles it will seek its way home. On account of this habit it has become useful in the way of carrying letters. When one of the family goes away from home he takes a dove with him, and when he wishes to communicate anything to those left behind, he ties a letter round the neck of his dove, and it is carried, as news from a far country, more speedily and more faithfully than the mail ! It seems that this use of doves was known very early; and there is no doubt an allusion to this in Ecclesiasties 10: 20, “Curse not the King, no, not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bed chamber; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and they which have wings shall tell the matter."
The dove, no doubt, because like the lamb it is so gentle and innocent, was early offered in sacrifice as a sin-offering. Lev. 22: 6-8. Those who were too poor to offer a lamb were permitted to bring two doves. Mary, the mother of Jesus, brought as a thank-offering for her first-born, “A pair of turtle-doves!" Oh! what thoughts crowd upon us now! He who was Lord of all, and made an offering for all, is presented at his birth with the sacrifices of the poor! But they are doves—beautiful, meek, mild and loving doves. In this we rejoice, for they are embodied prophesies of good things to come.
As it was difficult for those who came from remote parts of the holy land to bring doves with them, the priests permitted the selling of these birds in the holy place of the temple; but