The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 1 - Quotes

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Puritan Board Graduate
Well because I am Type A, I have realized I have cataloged quotes from Volume 2 - 4, leaving out Vol. 1. So I will circle back to complete the set in hopes that this serves as a encouragement for others to read Brakel. This was my first Systematic Theology work to read cover-to-cover, no regrets.

In the age of division, splitting, leaving your congregation to get your favorite brand of wine, and needing a cooler youth group, I will start this thread off with my favorite A’ Brakel quote. This comes from Vol. 1 and is found in the Preface Biographical Sketch by Dr. W. Fiercest, page lxviii :

Dr. Fiercest:
Rev. à Brakel, with the Labadists, confessed the corruption (“de verdorvenheyt”) of the church; she was corrupt from the head to the sole of the foot. The field of the Lord was filled with weeds and His threshing floor was filled with chaff. The vineyard of the Lord had become a wilderness; thorns and thistles were growing in it. After having enumerated a variety of sins which were committed by members of the church, giving a description of the government as not manifesting itself as the guardian of the church, and deploring the fact that so many ministers proved to be unfaithful shepherds, à Brakel writes:
“Who would not weep when he thinks upon Zion and perceives that the Lord is departing from her?” Yet, departure from a church which is that corrupt is not permitted! “May we say that she is no longer the church of Christ due to her corruption? Shall we despise her? Shall we walk away from her? No, that is foolishness. It is certain that a corrupt church is nevertheless a church and that from the beginning until the present God has always permitted His church to be filled with many corruptions. Therefore, he who despises a church for its corruption acts contrary to God‟s Word and all experience, thereby denying her to be a church.”
The Regulative Principle of Religion, pg. 4:
The Regulative Principle of Religion
Thirdly, essential to religion is the revelation of God‟s will as the regulative principle according to which man, as a servant, must engage himself. It has not been left to man to determine the manner in which he would serve God, for then he would stand above God. Anyone who engages himself in this way exalts himself above God and displeases the Lord in all his activity. “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9).
Rather, the Lord Himself establishes for and reveals to man the regulative principle, indicating what He requires man to do and in which manner He wishes this to be accomplished. should not a people seek unto their God ...”To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa 8:19- 20); “That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2).
Brakel summarizes the position of a Atheist along with a historical reference, pg. 11:
Atheists acknowledge no law except the law of nature which they propose to be such as to endorse a pleasurable pursuit of their own lusts. They consider it sin when one does something contrary to his own interest and advantage; and they consider it a virtue if one engages himself in promoting the fulfillment of his lust. They consider salvation to consist merely in finding joy in eating, drinking, fornicating, boasting, indulging in pleasure, as well as yielding to one‟s lusts. Lying and deceit are considered honorable means to obtain such bliss, or to enable them to avoid whatever would disturb them in their bliss. They know of no punishment except when damage and shame are experienced, and no damnation except for a restless and melancholy frame of mind. Their motto is Ede, bibe, lude, post mortem nulla voluptas! that is, eat, drink, and play, for after death there is no pleasure. Irrespective of whether a man, horse, or any other creature dies, dead is dead. They ridicule the existence of a soul, angels, and devils and relegate them to the realm of fables. They are at peace with this conviction, having no acquaintance with a stirring and remorseful conscience. In this the wretched Jew, Baruch de Spinoza—born in December, 1633 and deceased in February, 1677 in The Hague—led the way. It is obvious that other atheists have borrowed sentiments from him.
Lastly for this Lord’s Day, Brakel answers the question of Natural Revelation, which comes up when explaining the “why” behind ALL men/women being without excuse. Pg. 12:
Objection #3: Only by faith, and consequently not through nature, does one know that there is a God, which is evident from Heb 11:6, “He that cometh to God must believe that He is.”

Answer: This issue of faith can be viewed in various ways. Nature teaches that God is who He is by virtue of the maintenance and government of all things; Scripture teaches that God is who He is in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6). In Heb 11 the apostle refers to the latter, whereas in the previously quoted texts from Rom 1-2 he refers to the former. The recognition of the Godhead by faith does not exclude the knowledge of God from the realm of nature; rather, it includes and presupposes it.
Brakel on the purpose and usefulness of Natural Law, pg. 16-17:
Even though the natural knowledge of God is not salvific, it nevertheless serves a purpose and is useful for the following reasons:
(1) It teaches that God exists; that He is an invisible, spiritual Being; is infinite; is the first cause of all things; in His Being is infinitely exalted above all that exists; and is holy, omnipotent, good, and just.
(2) It teaches that God is the cause of all things (also of him who meditates about God), and thus is sovereign Lord over all. It teaches that by His influence He upholds, governs, and directs all things according to His will, so that no one can stay His hand or say, “What doest Thou?”
(3) It teaches that every human being is obligated to Him with an irrevocable obligation to do His will as expressed in His law, which is revealed to him by virtue of the light of nature.
(4) By this man can view his sin and guilt against the background of God‟s justice.
(5) It also promotes the maintenance of human society.
(6) Man, by means of the revelation of Holy Writ, is a fit subject to be led in the way of true godliness by the
Spirit of God.
Brakel gives and encouragement to saints who may find themselves troubled by atheistic thoughts, pg. 22:
From the foregoing, the godly may conclude that they are merely being tempted when they are troubled by atheistic thoughts. Their dismay concerning this is sufficient evidence that they know God and believe that He is.” Do not yield to such thoughts, but resist them. Even if for some time you cannot rid yourself of these temptations, still hold to your inner conviction. As troublesome as it may be to you now, it shall make you more steadfast later. Persevere in reading God‟s Word and join yourself to the godly in order to hear them speak about the delight they may have in God. Refrain from reading books authored by atheists or those who encourage atheism. Avoid interaction and disputation with confirmed atheists. Instead, turn to the Lord by continually engaging yourself in prayer; live in simplicity, knowing what the will of God is. In so doing you shall grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
A most refreshing reminder to this lowly man who has himself been in a long season of such troubling!
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Brakel, speaking against the error of looking for a verbatim proof text for every doctrine, pg. 46
Question: Must all doctrines relative to faith and practice be established on the basis of words expressly recorded in Scripture, and are they to be disqualified as being according to truth if such is not the case? Can the meaning of a text be determined by applying the logical principle of necessary consequence?

Answer: Anabaptists, in order to deny infant baptism, hold to the first principle. We hold to the second with this understanding—that we do not accept what people deduce with their darkened and corrupt intellects, but that which is contained in the text and becomes evident by virtue of necessary consequence.
Given the historical context of Brakel’s writing, it should come as no surprise that Brakel defended the position of Geocentricity. Ironically, in Vol. I, Brakel argues against another verse about the position of the Sun and Moon, which has been used by critics of inerrancy to “undercut” the Bible. In Brakel’s argument, he uses good reason, in my opinion, to defend inerrancy, BUT he also seems to undercut his own argument for geocentricity (a position I myself do not hold to). See for yourself on pg. 65:
Objection #3: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon” (Josh 10:12). The fact is that the sun was neither in Gibeon, nor the moon in the valley of Ajalon; rather, it merely appeared to be so. Thus, a statement is made which is congruent with erroneous opinion. This is also true for that which follows, that is, that the sun and moon stood still.

Answer: Were people at that time so naive to be of the opinion that the sun and moon were actually upon earth? Far be it from us to suggest such a thing! Therefore this is neither an example of an erroneous opinion nor of an erroneous statement. It merely indicates that to their perception the sun then appeared to be near Gibeon and the moon to be near Ajalon, and that they remained in those apparent locations. A miracle occurred here. This miracle did not occur in reference to the earth as if her circuit were interrupted, but it occurred in reference to the sun and the moon whose circuits were interrupted. ……….

But then he goes own (pg. 65-66):
All this clearly proves that sun and moon revolved around the earth. There is neither the least indication of error, nor do we have a falsehood here.
Notice the irony?
I do not really have a problem with Geocentrism as such, though I am not convinced that the Bible teaches it. I am all for people questioning The Science™, but not to the point where they force the Bible to say more than it actually says.
I do not really have a problem with Geocentrism as such, though I am not convinced that the Bible teaches it. I am all for people questioning The Science™, but not to the point where they force the Bible to say more than it actually says.
I agree Daniel. Otherwise we end up doing harm to scripture AND to the reformed teaching that we can still learn MANY non-salvific things from Nature.
Brakel discussing translations of the Word of God, pg. 70 - 71
As accurate as a translation may be, it nevertheless is neither authentic nor infallible. The meaning of a given word can be inaccurate and therefore when there are differences of opinion, a careful comparison of each translation to the original text is a necessity. A faithful translation will convey all that is contained in the original text; however, since it is a different language, there will also be distinct linguistic differences as far as vocabulary is concerned.

The original texts are directly inspired by God and originate with God—both as to doctrinal content as well as the words. In translations, however, only the doctrinal content is divinely inspired, not the words. An unlearned person, being incapable of comparing translations with the original languages, can nevertheless be assure of the veracity of the doctrinal content of the translation if he may perceive the internal doctrinal cohesiveness and harmony of a translation. There is also the witness of the Holy Spirit who in speaking through this Word bears witness to the veracity of God‟s Word in its translated form.
Brakel gives a simple statement to explain how the Word of God is profitable to all, no matter one’s age or station in life, pg. 73 (emphasis added by me):

The Word of God is necessary and profitable not only for beginners and little ones but also for the most advanced and spiritual believers here upon earth. It is a brook from which a lamb may drink and an ocean in which an elephant can drown. He who is of the opinion that he has advanced beyond Scripture is a fool.
May we hear Brakel’s charge to the ungodly and tremble ourselves by chance we ourselves have been deceived, pg. 109:

(1) God perceives and knows your heart and its spiritual frame. He knows what is concealed in it as well as what can issue forth from it. He knows your thoughts, vain imaginations, and contemplation upon both habitual and spontaneous sins. He is cognizant of the motives of all your actions—whether it is your objective to end in yourself, to get your own way, or to harm your neighbor. He is aware of the hatred and contempt you foster for your neighbor, your wrathful emotions, as well as your envy regarding your neighbor‟s prosperity. In sum, God truly perceives all that transpires in your heart even though you may neither discern it nor be conscious of it.

(2) God is cognizant of your immoral inclinations, adulterous eyes, licentious words, secret promiscuity, fornication, immoral conduct, as well as all the persons with whom you have engaged in such activity.
Lastly for today, Brakel gives 5 reminders to assist believers in taking comfort in the omniscience of our Lord, pg. 111:
(1) He is cognizant of your sincerity relative to Him and your desire to please Him. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron 16:9); “such as are upright in their way are His delight” (Prov 11:20); “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright” (Ps 37:18).

(2) The Lord knows of your religious exercises in secret, prayers, supplications, wrestlings of faith, sighs,
weeping, cleaving to Him, reading, meditation, holy intentions, fear of God, and godly walk. He saw the eunuch reading (Acts 8:28-29), and Paul praying (Acts 9:11). “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry” (Ps 34:15); “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him” (Ps 145:18).

(3) The Lord knows of your secret strife; of your wrestling against unbelief; of your sorrow over your sins, lack of light, and being afar from God; and of all your spiritual anxieties. “Lord, all my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee” (Ps 38:9); “I dwell ... with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57:15); “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps 34:18).

(4) The Lord perceives your bodily needs, adversities, poverty, and tribulations. He saw the need of the widow of Zarephath, and provided for her (1 Kings 17), as well as of another widow (2 Kings 4). He saw Hagar in her misery (Gen 16:13) and the tribulation of Israel in Egypt. “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exod 3:7); “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?” (Ps 56:8).

(5) The Lord is cognizant of your innocence when people with lies speak evil of you and slander you. May it be to your comfort that, “if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21); “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience” (2 Cor 1:12). Oh, what strong consolation may believers derive from the omniscience of God, for He does not merely take note of their misery in an external sense, but He beholds them with compassion and is ready to help them in the time of His good pleasure!
Maybe a riff on Gregory's original often attributed to Augustine in various phrasings?
The Word of God is necessary and profitable not only for beginners and little ones but also for the most advanced and spiritual believers here upon earth. It is a brook from which a lamb may drink and an ocean in which an elephant can drown. He who is of the opinion that he has advanced beyond Scripture is a fool.
Brakel explains some of the benefits of studying and dwelling upon the attributes our Lord, pg. 136 (I added emphasis to my favorite phrase in this section):
All virtue which does not issue forth from such a representation and contemplation of God in Christ is of little value for it lacks true essence. A view of God, as outlined above, elevates the soul above all creature activity and unites him with God and His will, which teaches him his duty as well as the manner in which he is to perform it. Such a view of God will bring forth the most effective and purest motives to stir up the soul. In this view of God the soul may find all sweetness and peace—indeed, it brings heaven in the soul and the soul in heaven. It prevents sinful lusts from issuing forth; and if they emerge, it enables the soul to subdue them. This is the fear of God, love to God, submission to God, and obedience to God, which causes the soul to radiate holiness as the countenance of Moses was radiant when for forty days he had communion with God upon the mountain. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that He may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple” (Ps 65:4).
Brakel on his chapter on The Divine Persons, pg. 179-180:

Question: Do believers receive the gifts of the Spirit, or is the Person Himself communicated to them?
Answer: (1) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer is
not just a mere presence, such as is true for the omnipresence of His Godhead.
(2) Neither is it an external relationship, viewing them as children of God and the objects of His operation.
(3) Nor is it a communication of His gifts, such as faith, hope, and charity, etc.
(4) Rather, it is the Person Himself who is given to believers, dwelling in them in a manner which is
incomprehensible and inexpressible to us. This presence infinitely exceeds the limits of their person, and yet is in an extraordinary manner within them.
First, this becomes evident in those texts where the Holy Spirit is expressly said not only to be given to them, but also to dwell in them. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17); “... the Spirit of Christ which was in them ...” (1 Pet 1:11); “Know ye not ... that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).
Brakel with an admonition to dwell upon the Holy Trinity, pg. 191
Behold, must you not admit that faith in the Holy Trinity is profitable? Is it not the only foundation of a truly godly life and the fountain of all comfort? Therefore, consider God as being one in essence and existing in three Persons. Take notice of the operation of each Person in the administration of the covenant of grace, especially as it occurs within you. If you may entertain appropriate thoughts, make appropriate comments, and have appropriate exercises concerning each Person of the Trinity, you will experience considerable and consistent progress in godliness. There will be a wondrous illumination concerning the unity of the Godhead as you consider each individual Person, and of the Godhead in its Trinity as you contemplate its unity. If so much light, comfort, joy, and holiness may be derived from perceiving what is but an obscure glimmer of the Trinity, what will it be and how will the soul be affected when he may behold God‟s face in righteousness, and awake, satisfied with His likeness? (Ps 17:15). Then they will walk by sight (2 Cor 5:7), and they will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Therefore, “Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (Ps 33:12).
Brakel on God’s Decrees, pg. 198:
God has indeed decreed that many things will come to pass by virtue of secondary causes and means. These secondary causes, however, are not conditional to the decree; as if God has made a conditional decree which would change if these conditions were not met; as if these conditions were subject to the control of the creature or to chance. Rather, these secondary causes are merely the means whereby the decree is executed. Both these means as well as the ultimate outcome of the decree have been most certainly decreed, even though there may be much uncertainty and contingency relative to these secondary causes. Such contingency exists relative to the creature, but never with God.

Does God Change His Decree?, pg. 200:
God does not change His decree in response to man‟s mutability, but all human changes occur in harmony with the immutable decree of God, who by means of human mutability immutably executes the comprehensive relationship which He has decreed between the means and the end, between sin and its punishment, and between godliness and the experience of salvation.
In light of the Doctrine of God’s Decrees, Brakel exhorts us to renounce our own wills! Pg. 207-208:

First, seek to rid yourself of inordinate and close attachment to earthly things, and be diligent in renouncing your own will. The things of this earth are not your portion, and therefore cannot satisfy. Have you not often experienced that instead of resulting in more holiness, they rob you of your peace and spiritual liberty, hindering you from running your course with joy? Have you not often perceived in retrospect that it was God‟s wisdom and goodness that He did not give you the desire of your heart, and that at times you were uncomfortable when your desire was granted? Why then are you so set upon receiving your desire? Is it not much better to rest in God‟s decree?
Brakel on a distinction regarding reprobation, pg. 215-216:
God prevents no one from obtaining salvation, but man excludes himself since he sins willfully. The election of some unto salvation is not to the detriment of others. Reprobation is neither the cause that someone sins, nor why someone is damned, but the sinner himself and his sin are the cause. It is true that those who have not been elected will not be saved; it is equally true that none but sinners will be damned. It is also true that whoever repents, believes in Christ, and lives holily will not be damned but saved. Man is therefore to be blamed for not doing so. Likewise when God converts someone, brings him to Christ, and sanctifies him, it is to be attributed to His sovereign grace.
Reprobation, pg. 220
(2) Reprobation proceeds solely from God‟s good pleasure. Although the ungodliness of the reprobates is the cause of their damnation, this nevertheless was not the reason why God, to the glory of His justice, was moved to decree their reprobation.
Though God does not offer salvation to all, there is no contradiction with God’s Decree of Election and an Unconditional Offer given out by ministers. Hear Brakel pg. 232
Objection #4: If there was such a thing as an election of specific individuals, the gospel could not be proclaimed to everyone unconditionally, nor could a reprobate be commanded to believe in Christ, with the promise of salvation annexed to it. It would be contradictory not to will someone‟s salvation and nevertheless to promise salvation to him if he believes in Christ. Consequently, God has not chosen specific individuals by name.

Answer: The fact that there is such a specific election has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is equally true that there is an unconditional offer of the gospel, to which the promise of salvation is annexed upon the conditions of faith and repentance. There is no contradiction here, for the one is absolute and the other conditional. The one is a decree, whereas the other is a command. There is a difference between the objective of the worker and the ultimate realization of his work. It is a manifestation of God‟s goodness to present the gospel to the unrepentant with a conditional promise, and it is man‟s duty to obey that gospel. Election does not prevent the unrepentant from obedience, but rather their own evil nature, and God is thus glorified when He damns them for their own disobedience.
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May Brakel’s exhortation from his chapter on the Covenant of Redemption (he held the tri-covenant view) be a blessing for you this Lord’s Day, pg. 263:

Love moved the Father and love moved the Lord Jesus. It is a covenant of love between those whose love proceeds from within themselves, without there being any loveableness in the object of this love. Oh, how blessed is he who is incorporated in this covenant and, being enveloped and irradiated by this
eternal love, is stirred up to love in return, exclaiming, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Here Brakel calls his readers to dwell on the infinite chain of secondary causes set in place by our Lord as a means to take in nature in way that lifts one’s eyes to the glory of God. A little longer, but worth the read, pg. 282:
Fourthly, observe the infinite chain of secondary causes, and how one thing serves and assists the other; how heaven and earth interact, as is stated in Hos 2:21-22, “I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.” When you sit down at your table to eat, has not the entire edifice of heaven and earth been in motion to set this table before you? What an innumerable multitude of people have served you in this, who have labored to provide you with a table, a table cover, knives, dishes, spoons, glasses, bread, meat, fruits, wine, and beer? Through how many hands did all these things pass before coming to your table? But who sets all of this in motion and who caused them to serve you in the sweat of their brow? Behold, oh, behold the good hand of your Father! It is He who gave life to the bird, the animal, or the fish. It is He who gave them food with the intent to raise them for your benefit, and who directed men to catch them, to deliver them to your home, and to prepare them for you. It is He who causes a little tree to be planted on your behalf, and prevents all His creatures from picking that apple, cluster of grapes, etc., rather directing them to leave it until, being ripe, it be delivered to your home, even if it were thousands of miles from your residence. Is all of this not suitable to prompt you to observe the hand and glory of God in a variety of ways? Does this not draw the soul which loves God towards Him?
Brakel Quotes from his Chapter on Angels and Devils. The last quote from this chapter is an exhortation for saints to have stronger hatred towards Satan.

Pg. 287-288:
Angels are incorporeal personal beings; that is, beings which exist without a body. It is their very nature to be spirits, and thus there is no essential union with a body. A body is trinam dimensionem; that is, three-dimensional, having length, breadth, and height. We emphatically deny this to be true for angels, even if one were to think of a body of the minutest dimensions. There is not the least relationship between angels and that which is corporal. “... a spirit hath not flesh and bones ...” (Luke 24:39). They have been created by God to exist independently, without being united to a body.

Pg. 288:
As is true of the angels, the soul of man is also incorporeal, that is, a spirit. The concept of three-dimensionality is also entirely absent here, for the soul can exist without a body, as is true after man‟s death. This does not mean that the soul is then an angel, but as there are various bodily forms, the soul is likewise a different kind of spirit. It has spirituality and incorporeality in common with the angels, albeit in a lower degree, as the essential difference between the two is hidden from us. We also are not fully cognizant of the form of existence of our souls. We do know this, however, that they are not angels, nor are they ever referred to as angels. Rather, they are expressly distinguished from angels. “But ye are come unto ... an innumerable company of angels ... and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb 12:22-23).

Pg. 303:
In accordance with God‟s declaration, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed” (Gen 3:15), there is a special hatred between the devil and believers, the members of the Lord Jesus Christ. The hatred from the side of the devil is as bitter and evil as possible. It is only a lack of power which hinders him from executing his evil intent, as God continually prevents him from executing his premeditated intentions. How I wish that I could be instrumental in causing the hatred of believers towards the devil to be more lively and intense, that they may be more careful against being beguiled by his subtle temptations or cooperating with him in other ways! That all of this would motivate believers with bitter hatred for, and antipathy against, the wicked enemy of our Lord Jesus, to be courageous and to do battle against his assaults. “Whom (the devil, vs. 8) resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet 5:9).
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