|He sent forth the dove which returned not again unto him| (Gen. viii.12).
First, we have the dove going forth from the ark, and finding no rest upon the wild and drifting waste of sin and judgment. This represents the Old Testament period, perhaps, when the Holy Ghost visited this sinful world, but could find no resting-place, and went back to the bosom of God.
Next, we have the dove going forth and returning with the olive leaf in her mouth, the symbol and the pledge of peace and reconciliation, the sign that judgment was passed and peace was returning. Surely this may beautifully represent the next stage of the Holy Spirit's manifestation, as going forth in the ministry and death of Jesus Christ, to proclaim reconciliation to a sinful world.
There is a third stage, when, at length, the dove goes forth from the ark and returns no more; but it makes the world its home, and builds its nest amid the habitations of men. This is the third and present stage of the Holy Spirit's blessed work. Let us welcome the Dove to a nest in our hearts.