Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why should you read à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service?

The Christian’s Reasonable Service (hereafter CRS) occupies without question a unique place in the genre of Reformed systematic theologies. Though à Brakel breaks no new theological ground in the CRS, it is a classic Reformed theological systematic theology nevertheless, and it is organized according to the classic framework of such systematic theologies.

What makes the CRS so unique, however, is that it is a devotional and experiential systematic theology; that is, it is a systematic theology written specifically for the edification of the church. When reading the CRS, you will quickly discover that à Brakel extracts spiritual instruction from the doctrines he expounds, making experiential application whenever and wherever possible. It is this warm, devotional, and experiential flavor that has endeared the CRS to theologians and believers in the Netherlands for more than three centuries—and is now endearing it to readers throughout the English-speaking world.

To stimulate you to discover this for yourself, let me give you a sample from the CRS’s chapter entitled The Person and Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Meditation upon His Godhead will cause us to trust in Him according to His own command, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Oh, how confident a person may be who has received Him by faith, and when his entire case and all his circumstances have been given over into His hand! How safely is the soul preserved who has surrendered to Him. Such a soul may put all fear and concern aside and say with an assured and steadfast heart, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps 73:24). He is God and therefore supreme goodness Himself. He is omniscient and thus knows the frame, desires, sincerity, and anxieties of the soul. He is almighty to deliver, keep, and comfort the soul, as well as usher him into eternal felicity. How blessed is such a soul which may have the Lord Jesus as his Savior! Let such a soul rejoice in His Name (CRS, Vol. 1, p. 512).

As you read this work, you will discover many such delightful spiritual delicacies. And therefore in addition to being an excellent resource in terms of Reformed systematic theology and Christian ethics (with an unmistakable Puritan flavor!), you will also find it to be devotional reading at its best. Tolle lege!

-- Rev. Bartel Elshout

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