True Christian Religion (Chadwick) n. 144

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144. We read that when Jesus was baptised, the heavens were opened and John saw the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21; John 1:32, 33). This was because baptism stands for regeneration and cleansing, and so does a dove. How can anyone fail to see that the dove was not the Holy Spirit, nor was the Holy Spirit in the dove? In heaven doves are often to be seen, and the angels know that, when they are, they are correspondences of affections and consequently of thoughts about regeneration and cleansing in the minds of some bystanders. So as soon as they approach them and engage them in conversation about any subject other than what they were thinking about when they appeared, the doves immediately vanish. This is similar to many of the visions seen by the prophets, as for instance John's vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion (Rev. 14:1 and elsewhere).

[2] Is there anyone who does not know that the Lord was not the Lamb, nor in it, but that the Lamb was a representation of His innocence? This makes clear as daylight the error of those who deduce the three persons of the Trinity from the dove seen over the Lord at His baptism, and the voice then heard from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved Son.' The way the Lord brings about a person's regeneration by faith and charity is meant by what John the Baptist said:

I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who will come after me will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16.

To baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire is to regenerate by means of the Divine truth of faith and by means of the Divine good of charity. The following words of the Lord have a similar meaning:

Unless a person has been born by water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. John 3:5.

Water here as elsewhere in the Word means truth in the natural or external man; spirit means truth arising from good in the spiritual or internal man.

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