26. The Promises Addressed to Jerusalem in the Prophets Refer to the Church, and are Still to Be Fulfilled.
After all this it is proper to ask whether what is narrated as having taken place about the temple has ever taken place or ever will take place about the spiritual house. The argument may seem to pinch in whichever way we take it. If we say that it is possible that something like what is told about the temple may take place with regard to the spiritual house, or has already taken place in it, then those who hear us will, with difficulty, be brought to admit that a change can take place in such good things as these, firstly, because they do not wish it, and secondly, because of the incongruity of thinking that such things admit of change. If, on the other hand, We seek to maintain the unchangeableness of the good things once p. 406 given to the saints, then we cannot apply to them what we find in the history, and we shall seem to be doing what those of the heresies do, who fail to maintain the unity of the narrative of Scripture from beginning to end. If we are not to take the view proper to old wives or Jews, of the promises recorded in the prophets, and especially in Isaiah, if, that is to say, we are to look for their fulfilment in connection with the Jerusalem on earth, then, as certain remarkable things connected with the building of the temple and the restoration of the people from the captivity are spoken of as happening after the captivity and the destruction of the temple, we must say that we are now the temple and the people which was carried captive, but is to come up again to Judæa and Jerusalem, and to be built with the precious stones of Jerusalem. But I cannot tell if it be possible that, at the revolution of long periods of time, things of the same nature should take place again, but in a worse way. The prophecies of Isaiah which we mentioned are the following: 5131 “Behold I prepare for thy stone carbuncle and for thy foundation sapphire; and I will make thy battlements jasper, and thy gates stones of crystal, and thy outer wall choice stones; and all thy sons shall be taught of the Lord, and in great peace shall thy children be, and in righteousness shalt thou be built.” And a little further on, to the same Jerusalem: 5132 “And the glory of Lebanon shall come to thee with cypress, and pine, and cedar, along with those who will glorify My holy place. And the sons of them that humbled thee and insulted thee shall come to thee in fear; and thou shalt be called the city of the Lord, Sion of holy Israel, because thou wert desolate and hated, and there was none to help thee. And I will make thee an eternal delight, a joy of generations of generations. And thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles and shall eat the riches of kings, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord that saveth thee and the God of Israel that chooseth thee. And instead of brass I will bring thee gold, and instead of iron I will bring thee silver, and for wood I will bring thee brass, and for stones iron. And I will establish thy rulers in peace and thy overseers in righteousness. And wickedness shall no more be heard in thy land, nor affliction and distress in thy borders, but thy walls shall be called salvation and thy gates sculpture. And the sun shall no longer be to thee for light by day, nor shall the rising of the moon give light to thee by night, but Christ shall be to thee an everlasting light and thy God thy glory. For thy sun shall no more go down, and thy moon shall not fail, for thy Lord shall be to thee an everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be fulfilled.” These prophecies clearly refer to the age still to come, and they are addressed to the children of Israel in their captivity, to whom He was sent and came, who said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 5133 Such things, though they are captives, they are to receive in their own land; and proselytes also are to come to them at that time through Christ, and are to fly to them, according to the saying, 5134 “Behold, proselytes shall come to thee through Me, and shall flee to thee for refuge.” And if all this is to take place with the captives, then it is plain that they must be about their temple, and that they must go up there again to be built up, having become the most precious of stones. For we find with John in his Apocalyse, 5135 the promise made to him that overcomes, that he will be a pillar in the temple of God, and will go no more out. All this I have said with a view to our obtaining a cursory view at least of the matters pertaining to the temple, and the house of God, and the Church and Jerusalem, which we cannot now take up systematically. Those, however, who, in their reading of the prophets, do not shrink from the labour of seeking after their spiritual meaning, must enquire into these matters with the greatest particularity, and must take account of every possibility. So far of “the temple of His body.”
Isa. liv. 11-14.406:5132
Isa. lx. 13-20.406:5133
Matt. xv. 24.406:5134
Isa. liv. 15.406:5135