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IV. DISTINGUISHING MARKS OF A WORK OF THE SPIRIT
Mr. Cooper's Preface
Sect. 1. Negative Signs of a Spiritual Work
II. Positive Signs ....
III. Practical Inferences and Application
General Index to the whole Work .....
A DIVINE AND SUPERNATURAL LIGHT, IMMEDIATELY IM.
PARTED TO THE SOUL BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, SHEWN TO
MATT. xyi. 17.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou,
Simon Bar-jona : for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Christ addresses these words to Peter upon occasion of his professing his faith in him as the Son of God. Our Lord was inquiring of his disciples, whom men said that he was; not that he needed to be informed, but only to introduce and give occasion to what follows. They answer, that some said he was John the Baptist, and some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. When they had thus given an account whom others said that he was, Christ asks them, whom they said that he was? Simon Peter, whom we find always zealous and forward, was the first to answer : he readily replied to the question, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.
Upon this occasion, Christ says as he does to him and of him in the text: in which we may observe,
1. That Peter is pronounced blessed on this account. Blessed art thou—“ Thou art an happy man, that thou art not ignorant of this, that I am Christ, the Son of the living God. Thou art distinguishingly happy. Others are blinded, and have dark and deluded apprehensions, as you have now given an account, some thinking that I am Elias, and some that I am Jeremias, and some one thing, and some another; but none of them thinking right, all of them are misled.
• Preached at Northampton, and published at the desire of some of the bearers, in the year 1734.
Happy art thou, that art so distinguished as to know the truth in this matter.”
2. The evidence of this his happiness declared, viz. That God, and he only, had revealed it to him. This is an evidence of his being blessed.
First, As it shews how peculiarly favoured he was of God above others: 9. d. “ How highly favoured art thou, that others, wise and great men, the Scribes, Pharisees, and rulers, and the nation in general, are left in darkness, to follow their own misguided apprehensions; and that thou shouldst be singled out, as it were, by name, that my heavenly Father should thus set his love on thee, Simon Bar-jona.This argues thee blessed, that thou shouldst thus be the object of God's distinguishing love."
Secondly, It evidences his blessedness also, as it intimates that this knowledge is above any that flesh and blood can reveal. 6 This is such knowledge as only my Father which is in heaven can give. It is too high and excellent to be communicated by such means as other knowledge is. Thou art blessed, that thou knowest what God alone can teach thee."
The original of this knowledge is here declared, both negatively and positively. Positively, as God is here declared the author of it. Negatively, as it is declared, that fiesh and blood had not revealed it. God is the author of all knowledge and understanding whatsoever. He is the author of all moral prudence, and of the skill that men bave in their secular business. Thus it is said of all in Israel that were wisehearted, and skilled in embroidering, that God had filled them with the spirit of wisdom. Exod. xxviii. 3.
God is the author of such knowledge; yet so that flesh and blood reveals it. Mortal men are capable of imparting the knowledge of human arts and sciences, and skill in temporal affairs. God is the author of such knowledge by those mcans: flesh and blood is employed as the mediate or second cause of it; be conveys it by the power and influence of natural means. But this spiritual knowledge, spoken of in the text, is what God is the author of, and none else: he reveals it, and flesh and blood reveals it not. He imparts this knowledge immediately, not making use of any intermediate natural causes, as he does in other knowledge.
What had passed in the preceding discourse naturally occasioned Christ to observe this; because the disciples had been telling how others did not know him, but were generally mistaken about him, divided and confounded in their opinions of him: but Peter had declared his assured faith, that he was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, low it was not flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, but God; for if this knowledge were dependent on natural causes or means,