Brethren dearly beloved, in the Lessons which are now being read to us day by day, I have warned you that we must not follow the letter which kills, and thereby abandon the quickening spirit. For it is thus that the Apostle says: “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” If we desire to understand only what is in the letter, we shall get little or no edification from our readings in the sacred Scriptures. All those things whereof we hear were types and images of things to come; and those things which were foreshadowed in the history of the Jews are, by the gift of God, fulfilled in us.
The blessed Elias, for instance, was a type of the Saviour. Just as Elias was rejected by Jewry, so was the true Elias, even our Lord, rejected and despised by Jewry. Elias went away out of his own country, and Christ must needs leave the synagogue. Elias went into the desert, and Christ has come into the world. Elias, when he was in the desert, was fed by ravens, and Christ in the desert of this world is comforted by the faith of the Gentiles.
For the ravens which, at the command of the Lord, ministered to Elias, may be understood as a type of the flock of the Gentiles. Wherefore also it is said for the Gentile Church: “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.” Why is the Church black but comely? She is black in the natural order but comely by grace. Because she must own this truth: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Why is she comely by grace? Because she can go on and say: “Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Read more.)