144. We read:
That when Jesus was baptized the heavens were opened, and John saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21, 22; John 1:32, 33).
This took place because baptism signifies regeneration and purification; and a dove has the same signification. Who cannot see that the dove was not the Holy Spirit; and that the Holy Spirit was not the dove? Doves often appear in heaven; and whenever they appear the angels know that they are correspondences of the affections and the consequent thoughts concerning regeneration and purification of some who are near by; therefore as soon as these are approached and are spoken to about some other subject than was in their thoughts when that appearance took place the doves instantly vanish. This is like many things seen by the prophets; as that John saw a lamb standing upon Mount Zion (Apoc. 14:1); and elsewhere. Who does not know that the Lord was not that lamb, and was not in the lamb, but the lamb was a representation of His innocence? This shows clearly the error of those who deduce a trinity of three persons from the dove seen descending upon the Lord when He was baptized, and from the voice heard out of heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son." That the Lord regenerates man by means of faith and charity is meant by what John the Baptist said:
I baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16).
"To baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire" means to regenerate by the Divine truth that belongs to faith and the Divine good that belongs to charity. The same is meant by these words of the Lord:
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
"Water," here as elsewhere in the Word, signifies truth in the natural or external man; and "spirit" signifies truth from good in the spiritual or internal man.