The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 3 - Quotes

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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
On page 10 of Volume III., Brakel outlines the way our Old Nature still seeks to wage war with the Regenerated Man; specifically regarding how the Old Nature will seek to keep us from doing good. Oh how many times I’ve sinfully used the below reasoning of my flesh to put off that which is good.:(

Secondly, the old nature is likewise always engaged in keeping man from that which is good.
(1) There will be no time for one to engage in his godly exercises of praying, reading, singing, and meditation. Therefore these exercises either do not occur at all, or only in a casual manner to satisfy the conscience. It is as if he is rushed, even though he frequently would have the time.
(2) At another time one will postpone the matter, determining to do it, but to do it in a more quiet and composed manner; certain things first have to be accomplished. In the meanwhile time slips away or the Spirit has departed, and one does not get to it, or it is void of all spirituality.
(3) Then again the task appears as being exceptionally difficult; one looks up against it, and seeks to avoid and postpone it. Having burdened himself with many difficulties, he approaches the duty as a lazy person and, so to speak, crawls forward. It is too difficult and one is not fit to do it.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Pg. 20 and a reminder that we as Christ followers should be known by a pursuit of Holiness. And what is this Holiness?
However, since all that glitters is not gold, everything that has the appearance of holiness and is called holiness is not holiness; this we have demonstrated. There are three requisites for holiness: 1) it proceeds from a good root: faith; 2) it functions according to a good rule: the will of God as revealed in the law; and 3) it has a good objective: the honor of God.
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
What a wonderful day! Here Brakel is setting up his own commentary on each of the 10 Commandments. Firstly, he helps his reader to ensure he/she has a proper understanding of the 10 Commandments both with regard to the Law of Nature and it’s purpose in the CoW and CoG.

From pg. 39:
It cannot be satisfactorily resolved why the law was not written upon paper or parchment, nor in silver or gold. We may, however, turn with this to the human heart, which is as hard as a stone so that no one but God Himself can inscribe His laws there (Ezek 36:26-27). We may thus also reflect upon the eternal duration of the law, which would not be abolished in the Old or New Testament. Neither can it be satisfactorily resolved why the law was not written with letters placed upon the stone rather than by engraven letters. One may, however, conjecture that it is not sufficient to observe and perform the law externally, but rather that it must be engraved in the heart (Jer 31:33). The fact that the tables were inscribed on both sides may also support the suggestion that the law is the rule for all actions, and must govern man wherever he may go or turn, both in body and in soul, with all his faculties, and can neither add to nor subtract from it. Moreover, if someone asks why the law was not written upon one, but upon two tables, we answer that the law pertains to two objects: God and one‘s neighbor, as the Lord Jesus shows in Matt 22:37, 39.

From pg. 43:
Question Is the law of the ten commandments a covenant of works?
Answer: No; we shall demonstrate this to be so for the following reasons:

First, God‘s righteousness cannot permit a sinner to enter into a covenant of friendship without a Surety who bears
the punishment of the broken covenant on behalf of the sinner. However, the Israelites were sinners, and the covenant of works is without a Surety. Thus, the law cannot be a covenant of works.
Secondly, the person with whom God would establish a covenant of works, ought to be able to satisfy the demands of the covenant of works, and to obtain life in consequence thereof, for God‘s holiness, righteousness, and truth will not permit the establishment of a true covenant upon the basis of a dishonest promise of man. These attributes also will not permit, as a condition for salvation, that man be required to perform that which he cannot perform. These attributes will not allow perfection to be again set before the impotent sinner as a condition for salvation, and thus establish a second covenant of works, even though God, by virtue of man‘s original condition when he was included in the covenant of works, may righteously demand perfect obedience from man who wilfully deprived himself of his own power. After the fall man is not able to perfectly satisfy the demands of a covenant of works, and therefore a new covenant of works cannot be established with man, and the law can consequently not be a covenant of works.

From pg. 45:
The Jews corrupted the true purpose for which both the moral and ceremonial laws had been given. They considered it to be a covenant of works and sought for their righteousness in this covenant—as many who are Christians only in name still do. These misconceptions are identified and rebuked in the texts mentioned above.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Dealing with an Objection proposing tolerance for the insisting the the Law of Christ and the Ten Commandments Differ/ Brakel gives the Answer, pg. 58-59:
Objection #1: There is agreement in this, since both insist upon sanctification. Regardless of whether one does so from different motives than another person, one must be tolerant of another.

Answer (1) This is the ancient language of all heretics. They reason as follows: It is already an old issue, and there is agreement as far as the matter itself is concerned, that is, holiness. We both insist on this, and therefore, be tolerant, be tolerant. This has an appearance of excellency, for those who propose moderation are the men of peace, but those who stand in the breach for the truth are deemed to be stubborn. By means of this wonderful illusion they seek to promote their errors all the more forcefully, and upon gaining the upper hand they can no longer tolerate sound doctrine. Instead, they will chase faithful ministers from the pulpit and out of town. This was the result of the toleration of the Arminians.
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
What a Glorious Day! Brakel here is giving a “preface” to his dealing with each of the 10 Commandments.

From pg. 85:
The law is perfect, and man—also regenerate man—is imperfect as far as the intellect and the will are concerned. Therefore he not only needs to pray, ―Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law‖ (Ps 119:18), but he must also be very diligent in acquiring a more thorough knowledge of the law in order that he may discern the holiness comprehended in it, have a clear knowledge of his transgression, humble himself due to this, have a higher esteem for Christ‘s satisfaction and live more purely in accordance with it. It is thus needful that man does not merely focus on the words of the law in the brevity of its presentation without moving beyond this, but he must painstakingly search out all that is comprehended in those brief statements. To that end it will be useful to have the following guidelines at his disposal while thus engaged.

Pg. 85, A solid reminder regarding the the all too popular unbalanced COVID Lingo “Love your Neighbor”, while this be true, we must be balanced!
First, the content of the law is love toward God and our neighbor (Matt 22:37; Rom 13:8-10). Therefore mere observance of the law is not sufficient; rather, it must all be done out of love. God and the neighbor are not placed on the same level, but God is infinitely above man and thus love to God must exceed love to the neighbor. Love to the neighbor must flow out of love to God. If the exercise of love to the neighbor were to conflict with the exercise of love toward God, love to the neighbor must yield to love for God. We must love and obey father and mother; however, if in time of persecution, attachment to them prevents us from confessing God, in such a case—and in that respect alone—we must have no contact with them, but rather depart from them.

And Laslty, pg. 86 - May we remember and not neglect Tthe “postivies” of each command!

Thirdly, each commandment implies a prohibition and each prohibition a command. He who does not kill has not observed the sixth commandment; instead, as much as he is able, he must preserve the life of his neighbor and live in love and peace with him. Neither has the eighth commandment been observed by not stealing; rather, he must preserve the belongings of his neighbor and assist him in doing so. He also has not observed the ninth commandment who merely does not bear false witness; rather, it implies the promotion of the honor of his neighbor.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel tells a story of Witchcraft, which he encountered while serving as a minister in Stavoren, pg. 98-99

Witchcraft Forbidden
The third sin prohibited in this commandment is witchcraft, which is to perform, with the help of the devil, those things which are beyond the reach of man‘s ability, doing so by either making a pact with him, or by wilfully making use of some symbolic devices whereby he operates. I experienced an example of this when I was a minister in Stavoren.5 A member—an upright man—together with some others who had interest in this, wanted to know who had robbed the home of a deceased person, which they would inherit. The other honest men—men with good minds— were said to have heard that one could know this by putting a key at a certain place in the will and then to make use of it in a specified manner. They executed this procedure and thereby found the person. They did their utmost, and even used force to keep the book with the key in their hands. Upon mentioning the thief, however, it wrested itself out of their hands and would turn about several times as a top, doing so not only once, but as frequently as they would do so. Not only did they find the thief, but by the same means they also found the secret place where the loot had been buried in a garden. The people said that it was not their objective to ask the devil for counsel; rather, they had only heard that in this way they could find out things and thus made use of it as a natural means. One person related this to me the following day, I believe, as a historical fact, without realizing that he had done wrong. When I confronted him with his sin and seriously rebuked him, he was greatly frightened and humbled himself deeply, promising never to commit such a deed again, and declaring in uprightness his not having been aware that this was an evil deed. I thus perceived that the devil also carries on his work when people, who have no objective to avail themselves of him, make use of his devices and depart from the way of the Word.

It is very evident from both the Holy Scriptures and experience that there are witches and that there is witchcraft. He who does not believe this is truly bewitched by the devil and his senses have been hardened and blinded. He then stubbornly adheres to his prejudice and blind intellect, and denies the existence of all devils and witchcraft, and will not believe this until God will command judgments to show that it is true, and it will be to their hurt. The Egyptian magicians, who changed their rods into serpents and did other strange things, confirm the existence of witches (cf. Exod 7:11; 8:18). Then there are the witch of Endor, who brought forth an apparition of Samuel (1 Sam 28:11), Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-10), and Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:6, 8). It is also confirmed by God‘s commands to put wizards to death (cf. Lev 20:27; Deut 18:11-12; Rev 21:8). It is also abundantly confirmed by the experience of people being harmed in a peculiar manner, or in the occurrence of strange things. This is not to imply that the devil can do miracles which are supernatural, for this is God‘s prerogative only (Ps 72:18). Rather, he understands the nature of secondary causes, knows how to make use of them, and in this way executes things which are not supernatural, but are beyond human strength. Because the cause of these activities are not known by men, they are therefore strange and miraculous to them.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
A timely season of Superstition deserves a reminder from Brakel on it being forbidden by the 1st Commandment, pg. 100 (ironically he mentions wax candles):

Superstition Forbidden
The fifth sin is superstition. This is practiced when one deems natural things to have a supernatural power or meaning, has respect for it, and is thereby either comforted or frightened. For example: one has respect for a wooden image, not daring to either break or burn it; one fears evil when the salt shaker topples over; one gives heed to dreams, and the manner in which birds fly and call. Then there are such things as the renouncing of fevers, benedictions from witches, consecrated water, wax candles, crosses, etc. ―Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven‖ (Jer 10:2); ―Neither shall ye use enchantment‖ (Lev 19:26).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
One of the sins included in the 2nd Commandment, according to Brakel, pg. 116:

The eighth sin is to have fellowship with idolatrous religious practices. This occurs when one goes to the mass out of curiosity for its idol (be it in their church or carried about on the street); or when one bows himself out of secret respect or reverence for their images; or if one observes the popish holidays known for their revelry (such as St. Nicholas, Three Kings, Copper Monday, Halloween, etc.) and revels, drinks, and plays likewise. One ought to follow in David‘s footsteps, who said, ―Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips‖ (Ps 16:4).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel on the 3rd Commandment, pg. 120:

Secondly, the incentive added to this commandment is extracted from the threat of harm: ―I will not hold him guiltless.‖ Man may consider it to be a very insignificant matter, but God deems it to be a very great matter. Even though man is not sensitive to this and does not believe that he has committed a great sin, God considers him guilty and worthy of being punished, and He will also certainly punish him. For it is an act whereby one greatly despises God as well as a clear manifestation that he does not love God—and thus a direct affront toward God. ―... with the froward Thou wilt show Thyself froward‖ (Ps 18:26).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel’s introduction statement to the 4th Commandment, pg. 139:

This is the commandment which is contradicted by many, and is assaulted with highly elevated shields. If many would have had it in their power, it would have long been forgotten and rejected. As is true for all other commandments, it is still read to the congregation on every sabbath day as a rule of life, in spite of all who regret this.

A call to Reflection as a duty for the saint to spend time doing as the day draws to a close, pg. 146 - 147:

Reflection is also needful to preserve the sabbath disposition and blessing. First, this consists in reflecting upon how the day was spent publicly and privately, and upon the sins which one has committed; that is, laxity, listlessness, lack of spirituality, and the failure to abhor these. Confess this with sorrow before the Lord, and seek forgiveness through Christ.

Secondly, it consists in reflecting upon the good we have performed on this day, upon the upright objective to hallow the sabbath, and the efforts to do everything in such a manner as is pleasing to God. It furthermore consists in reflecting upon the blessings, refreshments, comforts, illumination, and quickening we enjoyed from the Spirit of the Lord. One must acknowledge this and rejoice in this, even if it were ever so little. Even if the insatiable desire of our soul has not been satisfied, we should yet thank the Lord for the good we received.

Thirdly, it consists in the acknowledgment of God‘s goodness to His church in giving her the sabbath, enabling her to gather publicly and conduct all her public worship services, and for the privilege to enjoy a holy rest.

Fourthly, it consists in yearning and longing for the rest which remains for the people of God (Heb 4:9), in rejoicing in this hope, in forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Blessed is he who thus begins, observes, and ends the sabbath.

P.S. More to come of the 4th next week, as Brakel gives a greater number of pages to the 4th commandment than some of the others.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Again Brakel dealing with ceremonial claims towards the 4th commandment. This quote is a little longer but I thought it very interesting as to various items Brakel would see as ceremonial in the NT as well, pg. 151:

It must also be noted that the word ―ceremonial‖ is not found in the Bible and that one therefore ought not to dispute about this word. The common usage of the word signifies an ecclesiastical duty, or an external circumstance, deed, action, or transaction. In this respect there are also ceremonies in the church of the New Testament: preaching with either a covered or uncovered head, sprinkling once or thrice in holy baptism, either immersion or sprinkling at the administration of baptism, either sitting or standing when partaking of the Lord‘s Supper, etc. These are ceremonies which neither add to nor subtract from the essence of the matter. It is common among theologians, however, also to refer to the types of Christ as ceremonies due to their external mode of administration. We maintain, however, that there is no typification of Christ in the fourth commandment. It is in this sense that we maintain that there is nothing ceremonial in it. If, however, one considers an external circumstance which is changeable to be ceremonial—the essence of the matter being preserved—then we can indeed say that there is something ceremonial in it, understanding thereby only the change of day.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel addresses that the 4th Commandment is indeed not ceremonial, pg. 158 - 159:

Evasive Argument: The law of the ten commandments is indeed the moral law, but one commandment must be removed, namely, the fourth—that is, to the extent that it is ceremonial and of a different nature.
Answer:
..........(3) There is nothing in this commandment which resembles anything of a ceremonial nature. It cannot be demonstrated anywhere in the entire Scriptures that the seventh-day sabbath points to Christ nor in which respect it points to Christ. One could say that it points to Christ‘s resting in the grave, but 1) Christ was in the grave three days. 2) Furthermore, Christ‘s burial was a step of His humiliation and He was holden of death. 3) How could such a joyful, happy, refreshing, and God-glorifying rest on the seventhday be an example of Christ‘s state of death when there was to be nothing but mourning? 4) Scripture says nothing of this sort. 5) It is contrary to reason, for the commandment is given in reference to something which has preceded and not to something which was to be in the future. There is not even a semblance of this.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
And lastly for this Lord’s Day, Brakel list some quotes from Church Fathers as he address the testimony of the Church regarding the Lord’s Day, pg. 163 - 164:

Add to this the practice of the churches of Christ from the time of the apostles until today. Take as an example the testimony of ministers in the church who lived shortly after the time of the apostles.
Irenaeus: ―God Himself has proclaimed the words of the ten commandments, and they therefore remain with us, having neither been diminished nor nullified by the coming of Christ‖ (Adv. Hoeres. lib. 4. cap. 31).

Basilius calls the Lord‘s day the sabbath (Epis. ad Caesar. Pater).

Epiphanus: ―The first sabbath is that day which God has decreed from the beginning and incorporated into the creation of the world, which from that day on (take note!) until now continues in the sequence of seven days‖ (Hoeres. 51).

Athanasius: ―Formerly they of old greatly honored the sabbath, and this glorious day the Lord Jesus has changed into the Lord‘s day‖ (de Senin).

Eusebius: ―Christ has obligated all men, wherever they are in the world on water and on land, that they congregate on one day of the week.‖

Augustine: ―The apostles have instituted the Lord‘s day in the stead of the sabbath of the Jews‖ (Epist. 3 ad Magn). ―One ought to know that not only has this been commanded by our holy forefathers, but rather by God Himself: we must rest upon the Lord‘s day‖ (Serm. de Temp. 251).

Justin Martyr: ―Upon the day which is called Sunday, an assembly of all takes place‖ (Orat. ad. Aut. P.).

Chrysostum: ―This doctrine God has already revealed to us from the beginning, teaching that in the rotation of one week, an entire day must be set apart and be used for spiritual work‖ (Gen. Hem. 10).

Constantinus Magus: In ―Teste Eusebio in vita constantini,‖ he gives this injunction: ―Let the entire soul be occupied on that day
with the service of God, and that men rest from the work of the market, from legal transactions, and from plying a trade‖ (lib. 4. 18).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel on the 5th Commandment including a charge for each of us to examine our own disobedience to it!, pg. 190 - 191 (I think a very humbling reminder to our current political time):

Fifthly, they sin when they mock with their superiors, or ridicule them when they see their weaknesses, are rancorous and chagrined, grumbling and snapping when they find fault in them—or, when they are of the opinion that their superior does not conduct himself correctly and wisely, imagining that it ought to be otherwise.

Consider all this together and observe all who are comprehended in the words ―father and mother.‖ Consider in which subordinate and/or superior relationship you are to others. Consider furthermore the duties of superiors toward subordinates and of subordinates toward superiors, and then examine yourself as to how you have conducted yourself to any who are superior to you, and how you have conducted yourself toward those who are in a subordinate relationship to you. Consider your sins, humble yourself concerning them, and seek forgiveness. Be stirred up to order your way in the future in harmony with this commandment. To that end there needs to be a vivid reflection upon the incentive conjoined to this commandment.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
From the 6th Commandment, pg. 195:

Even though man has lost the image of God, He nevertheless created him in His image in the beginning, and man has still retained the picture frame which at one time contained the painting: the spirituality, invisibility, and immortality of the soul. He is still gifted with the faculties of the soul—intellect and will. It is therefore God‘s will that one person not kill another person.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel comments on the 7th Commandment. I have quoted him on 2 matters.

The first, pg. 206 - 207, which is a helpful understanding of how adultery relates to divorce and remarriage:
If the one spouse commits adultery, then the other spouse may leave the adulterous one, file for divorce, and remarry. The person that has been divorced due to committing adultery may not remarry, and whoever marries such a person also commits adultery. If a spouse divorces rashly, that is, without fornication being the cause, such a spouse will be the cause of sin if the one who has been divorced commits fornication. The one who is the cause of the divorce may not remarry, even though this was practiced in Israel. In such a case, where the sin remained, there was the stipulation that the one who was deserted be given a bill of divorcement (Matt 19:7). This is, however, contrary to God‘s commandment. ―What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder‖ (Matt 19:6). The one who has been divorced, however, is not obligated to remain unmarried, but rather is permitted to remarry. However, to divorce for reasons other than fornication is adultery.

The second, pg. 208, which warns against immodest dress:
Fourthly, the wearing of inappropriate clothing and the attire of harlots, as well as the making bare of those members which for decency‘s sake ought to be covered, also belongs to this. This is the manifestation of a heart that is bent on fornication and on alluring others to indulge in it.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
One of the sins included in The Eighth Commandment according to Brakel, pg. 216:
Secondly, there is the theft of human beings.
(1) This sin is committed in those countries where slave trade is practiced. This is stated in Exod 21:16: ―And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death‖ (cf. 1 Tim 1:10).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Ninth Commandment sins of the Speaker, pg. 229 (a very convicting quote, in my opinion):

Thirdly, there is backbiting. There is no sin which is so common among all manner of individuals as this vicious serpent which disturbs peaceful societal living and injures the honor of our neighbor.
First, this sin is committed by the speaker if he:
(1) States untrue things, that is, lies, in the absence of his neighbor, as Potiphar‘s wife toward Joseph (Gen 39:17), Saul‘s servants toward David (1 Sam 18:22), and Absalom toward his father (2 Sam 15:2).

(2) We sin if we recount things of which we are not certain, knowing them from hearsay and not knowing whether they be true or not. Or we sin if we add: ―I do not know, but I have been told this, and I can mention the person who told me.‖ This is nevertheless something which does not promote the honor of our neighbor but only serves to create an evil impression of him. ―Thou shalt not raise a false report‖ (Exod 23:1).

(3) We sin if we have a suspicion that someone has done this or that and we express that suspicion to others. The princes did this concerning David to their king Hanun (2 Sam 10:3).

(4) We sin if we recount the true faults of our neighbor—be it that they were hidden or that everyone knows of them. Thereby we show our delight that he has done wrong and we make the guilty party hateful by renewal—even if we then claim that we are troubled by it and that we would not say it if it were not so, and therefore are asking you not to repeat it. Even if one then recounts his virtues by adding the word ―but,‖ the backbiter is nevertheless not excused. This causes the gossip to be the more readily accepted. ―The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly‖ (Prov 26:22).
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel on the 10 Commandment (covetousness) was very edifying and comforting. In introducing the commandment he points out that the 10th often gets very little attention, yet it is likely one of those commandments with which we sin most frequently. Upon reflection, this is certainly true for me. The whispering‘s of Satan also can greatly assault the saint with regard to temptations of the 10th. Personally, I have been in a strange mental season and I think Brakel, in this chapter, has acted as a skilled physician in diagnosing some of my failures. I hope you find the below quotes helpful:

From pg. 240:

Secondly, dissatisfaction with our current circumstances is forbidden, which manifests itself:.........
(3) in an active lust and desire for something which appears to be able to delight the heart, reasoning as follows:
―If I had the wife or husband which my neighbor has—if I had that house, that garden, that piece of land, that horse, that cow (even if one does not desire this in an inordinate manner)—or if I had a different profession, would practice that trade, held that office, had such an amount of money (even if this does not relate to his neighbor), then I would be happy.‖ Such a person is thus as a ―troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt‖ (Isa 57:20).
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
From pg. 241, still regarding the 10th commandment. I add this quote (a little longer), because I think it highlights a helpful truth. Often when Satan tempts us with covetousness by his poisonous reviling it can be helpful for the Christian to clear their mind with, as Brakel notes, “serious physical activity”:

That such thoughts are not man‘s own, but are only a hearing of the revilings of Satan is evident for the following reasons:............(2) They are recognized by the fact that they come from without, and thought after thought is forcefully impressed, contrary to all opposition. This is similar to a person putting his fingers in his ears in order not to hear what the other person is saying. The other person calls out so loudly, however, and comes so close that he nevertheless hears it. Everyone will then perceive that it is not the sin of the hearer, but of the one who speaks evil. Such is also the case here. Therefore, the one who is assaulted must note this as a trial from God (who gives the devil free reign) as a sorrowful cross, and not as his sin. This consideration will strengthen him and enable him to endure these onslaughts all the better. All he needs to do is flee the temptation and divert himself with some serious physical activity. He must especially not concern himself with it, but rather despise it as an abomination of the devil, who will for this reason be punished. Such a person cannot repel this, but it will strengthen him to give no heed thereto, and it will thus be less injurious. And if he receives some breathing room, he must earnestly pray to the Lord—yes, during these assaults he must cry with his heart to God. He will have that much more liberty to do so if he takes note that it is not his sin, but rather that he is being tormented with these thoughts.

As of late I have noticed an increase of my own fleshly covetousness and an increased amount of Satan’s whisperings. I have tried to be more physically active this week (painting the house, pressure washing, and disc golf), which has greatly helped to silence my racing mind.
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
After going through the 10 Commandments in Vol. 3, Brakel then draws the reader to consider our duties to God (ex. Love, Fear, Hope, and Obedience). Below is a slightly longer yet sobering quote for all to self-reflect on their verbal affirmation of a Love for Jesus Christ. From pg. 278-279:

(2) Many know Jesus according to the letter, but not internally by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, such also have no love for Him. They do desire Him as a servant to protect them from hell and to help them get into heaven—of which they also have no correct perceptions. Beyond that they have no use for Him. There is no entering into covenant with Him, no surrendering to Him, no receiving of Him by faith unto justification and sanctification, no heart-union, and no exercising of fellowship with Him. They are neither acquainted with His presence nor with His absence. They are satisfied if they are but good church members, partake of the Lord‘s Supper, live honestly, and have the illusion that they will be saved. On that basis they proceed—even though Jesus remains a stranger to them, remaining outside of their heart and thoughts. Since you are acquainted with human love, you will thus perceive that you have no love to Jesus whom you ought to love more vehemently than men. You may say that you love Jesus. But then I ask you, ―How is this evident? Is there esteem and reverence for Him? Do you grieve and long for Him? Do you endeavor to live in immediate union with Him? Is there a resemblance between your nature and His? Are you obedient and do you keep His commandments? Is there love for the most eminent among the godly? Is there an aversion toward the unconverted, of whom we have dealt with in the above, and of whom you yourself are convinced that they are such? If you consider your love toward men and apply this to love toward Christ, then you must be convinced that you do not love Jesus—whatever good thoughts you may have concerning yourself.‖
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Love Toward Jesus Christ, pg. 289:

Secondly, be on guard against partial love. If the world and all that is in it is still desirable and attractive to the eye and the heart, and if you are still so set upon your own will, honor, and delight, the love for Jesus cannot be very strong. Jesus wants to have the heart for Himself. If the enemy gains entrance, Jesus departs; and if He departs, your love will become weaker. Therefore, do not halt between two opinions. If you wish to love the world and to be loved by her, then love it in its entirety and let go of Jesus. If, however, you wish to love Jesus and be loved by Jesus, then love Him and Him alone and let go of the world. Pay no attention to it any longer.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel in his Chapter on Hope in God:

From, pg. 317:

Hope is a propensity infused by God into the hearts of believers by means of the Word, whereby they patiently, actively, and with assurance anticipate future promised benefits.

From pg. 330:
Therefore, all who desire to glorify God, be active to exercise hope continually. Be continually engaged in seeking for all manner of promises in the Word of God, appropriating them to yourself, and relying upon them. Do not cease to pray that the Lord may cause you to hope. Stir up others, and let the exhortation of others to hope steadfastly, find entrance into your hearts. While you are thus engaged, you will experience that your hope will not make you ashamed, but that you, upon patiently anticipating their fulfillment, will most certainly become a partaker of these blessings at the appointed time.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I just read this comment from Joel Beeke that may of interest to Brakel readers:

[Theodorus] VanderGroe’s emphasis here on embracing God as a reconciled and gracious Father even when faith may be weak or feeble is related to a mid-eighteenth century debate among Dutch theologians about the relationship of faith and assurance. Whereas VanderGroe taught that assurance is an essential element of faith that believers possessed, Wilhelmus à Brakel regarded assurance as a fruit of faith, and taught that “refuge-taking faith”—that is, hungering and thirsting after Christ and His righteousness—is the essence of faith. Alexander Comrie took a mediating position, agreeing with VanderGroe that assurance belongs to the essence of faith, while also agreeing with Brakel that many believers do not always possess conscious confirmation of their salvation in Christ though they do possess faith that takes refuge in Christ and hungers and thirsts for His righteousness.

Theodorus VanderGroe, The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death: An Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke (1838-44; 2 vols, Grand Rapids MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), 1: 107-08n.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I just read this comment from Joel Beeke that may of interest to Brakel readers:

[Theodorus] VanderGroe’s emphasis here on embracing God as a reconciled and gracious Father even when faith may be weak or feeble is related to a mid-eighteenth century debate among Dutch theologians about the relationship of faith and assurance. Whereas VanderGroe taught that assurance is an essential element of faith that believers possessed, Wilhelmus à Brakel regarded assurance as a fruit of faith, and taught that “refuge-taking faith”—that is, hungering and thirsting after Christ and His righteousness—is the essence of faith. Alexander Comrie took a mediating position, agreeing with VanderGroe that assurance belongs to the essence of faith, while also agreeing with Brakel that many believers do not always possess conscious confirmation of their salvation in Christ though they do possess faith that takes refuge in Christ and hungers and thirsts for His righteousness.

Theodorus VanderGroe, The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death: An Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke (1838-44; 2 vols, Grand Rapids MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), 1: 107-08n.
Very interesting Daniel. Having made it through Brakel’s chapter on assurance, I believe I would agree with Brakel in assurance being a fruit of faith and not the essence of faith. Brakel’s stance has been very conforming for me in the past months as I have been in a season of wrestling with assurance. I believe Brakel’s position is also very well reflected in the Psalms as well. This might be an excellent Lord’s Day topic for discussion!
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Very interesting Daniel. Having made it through Brakel’s chapter on assurance, I believe I would agree with Brakel in assurance being a fruit of faith and not the essence of faith. Brakel’s stance has been very conforming for me in the past months as I have been in a season of wrestling with assurance. I believe Brakel’s position is also very well reflected in the Psalms as well. This might be an excellent Lord’s Day topic for discussion!

That would be my view as well. Brakel's position seems the truest to both scripture and experience.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
That would be my view as well. Brakel's position seems the truest to both scripture and experience.
Yes. While I admire Comrie for seeking resolution, from the believers perspective it seems logical that assurance presupposes being conscience of feeling assured. In other words, his “middle-road” sounds nice, but does not seem logical to me.
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel is addressing Spiritual Courage, specifically sobering descriptions of those who may seem Godly, yet are uncoverted. May this serve for solemn self-reflection this Lord’s Day. Pg. 338 - 339:

Thirdly, there are those who have somewhat more light and also some inclination to repent, live godly, and confess the truth of the gospel. Something remote occurs, however, which could yield them some harm and shame; or it is the time of persecution and there is the prospect of imprisonment, the stake, the gallows, the sword, or being sent to the galleys. Fear will then come upon them and prevent them from proceeding any further, which causes them to dissemble, saying, ―Stop, enough of this!‖ Where is there evidence of the courage here which conquers fear out of love for God and toward spiritual benefits?

Fourthly, some fear damnation and wish to be in heaven subsequent to their death. They also perceive what the way to heaven is, but they do not see how they can traverse this way, and thus yield to desperation and despondency. That halts all their activity, and they have nothing left but an anxious and terrified heart. Or they will drive this despondency away by yielding to their sinful lusts, and thus the conscience is numbed. Or else they may commit suicide, and thus jump into the very hell which they feared.

Really good reminder for our often too-quick posting fingers:
Fifthly, there are those whose disposition resembles spiritual courage to some degree. Nothing is further from the truth, however. They join themselves to the godly, finding delight in being loved and esteemed by them. They speak in a haughty manner, rebuke others, engage in disputes, persevere, and neither fear harm nor shame. They are, however, neither motivated by love for spiritual benefits, by an assured hope, in dependence upon and reception of Christ‘s strength, nor by obedience toward God. It is nothing more than a foolish passion which does not fear danger—either due to not being acquainted with the danger or due to imagining that it neither exists nor will come to pass. It may be the pursuit of their own glory, as if they were saying, ―See my zeal for the Lord.‖ Or they have a brazen and bold disposition, this being the principle which motivates them. They are engaged without having the proper objective in view, without being united to Christ and being active in His strength, and without Christian prudence governing such valor. This is therefore not spiritual courage, but a sinful foolishness, feignedness, and brazenness.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
What a blessed Lord’s Day. From pg. 373 as Brakel is dealing with the subject of professing Christ and His Truth (In word and deed) even during persecution:
Fifthly, the faithful profession of Christ and His truth is of an unspeakably great advantage for the church in general as well as for specific individuals. The church will not be eradicated by torturing and putting martyrs to death, but she is built up by it. When persecutions for the Word‘s sake come about, the church is purified, the chaff blows away, the gold is separated from the dross, the luster of the church becomes brighter, and she inspires more awe in the eyes of the world. The church is much more glorious when she is small and pure than when she is a large, mixed multitude.

And from pg. 376, Brakel concludes the chapter with an charge to his fellow citizens summing up his discussion on persecutions:
Citizens of the Netherlands, we shall now turn again to you. If this discourse has stirred up your heart and you have become desirous to confess the Lord Jesus, make work of this at once. You are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation which neither knows God and the way of salvation, nor has a desire after godliness. Come out from among her, having as your objective to confess Jesus by a godly life, so that every one may come under conviction by reason of your self–denial, humility, meekness, love, and good–naturedness; and so that everyone may perceive the heavenly nature which is within you. Speak of Christ, of the necessity and efficacy of His suffering, and of the nature of faith and regeneration.
 
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