The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 2 - Quotes

G

Puritan Board Senior
Your turn Ruling Elders, be reminded and encouraged by Brakel Vol.II, pg. 145 - 147

The Duties of an Elder
Their purpose for being in church is not to sit upon a soft pillow in front of the church, nor to imagine that they stand above other members and thus can order them around. They may also not behave as if they were lords and masters over the ministers, it being their duty to give heed to the doctrine and life of the ministers. It is also the task of ministers to give heed to the doctrine and life of the elders. They also may neither oppose the good counsel of the ministers within the consistory, nor deem it to be a masterpiece if they succeed in checkmating the minister. Neither is it intended that the elders be but “yes-men” who blindly follow the minister in his wishes. Rather, it is their task in all humility, and with wisdom and love, to assist the ministers in promoting the welfare of the church. As is true for ministers, the labor of elders is also twofold, for they perform these labors either individually or in cooperation with other consistories, Classes, and Synods.
Every elder has a duty toward the congregation. He must view himself as having been sent by the Lord to perform these labors. With this impression and in this capacity he must accept and perform all his labors.
Heeding the walk of every member (a little longer but MUCH needed):

Secondly, they must particularly give heed to the walk of each member. There must be careful supervision as to how one conducts himself at home; that is, whether there is love and harmony, and whether each member in his particular position of the household conducts himself properly towards others. They must inquire whether family worship is conducted, whether God‟s Word is read, whether the children are instructed, whether they are raised appropriately, whether they are attending school, and whether they are being trained for an honest profession. They must inquire whether the father of the home has an honest profession, as well as how he conducts himself in this profession. Elders must inquire what reputation each member has among the local population, in order that they may know how they ought to deal with each member. In one word, they must keep an eye upon everything, and if they are informed that something is not well somewhere, they must immediately make work of correcting the situation. For this purpose it is necessary for elders to divide the congregation into sections, similar to what ministers do in the cities. They will then be able to take much more careful note of things. Elders must not think that they have performed their duty if they accompany the minister onfamily visitation, even if they do not say a word. No, the purpose of this is to make this family visitation all the more credible, and to make a deeper impression upon the members concerning the necessity of preparation for the Lord‟s Supper. It will also enable them to assist the minister in word and deed if there are situations which require this, and to learn from the minister how to deal with souls. He is also to observe where the minister, upon having conducted family visitation, needs to visit to follow up whatever needs to be attended to. The elder must, however, also do this work himself.
P.S. Deacons are next.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
To Deacons, from pg. 151:

Secondly, they must distribute. In distributing funds they must use wisdom and caution, seeing to it that they do not give thoughtlessly. They must give most to those who have the greatest need, and less to those who are lazy and waste that which has been given to them, in order to teach them to work and to be frugal. Orphans, the aged, the sick, or mothers who have given birth each require a different approach. Those who are to blame for their poverty and who are capable of working must again be treated differently. This is also true for those who, due to a handicap, cannot work, even though they are healthy. It is again different with those who would rather perish from hunger with their families (which is a sin), than to allow it to be known that they are receiving something from the deaconry. A different approach is also needed for those who would be reduced to poverty unless some monetary help be given to them enabling them to remain solvent. Much wisdom is needed to clearly discern time, manner, and circumstances in making these decisions.

Thirdly, the deacons must also care for the souls of their poor, for they are as fathers to them; and whatever one member is obligated to do to another, they must excel in doing to those over whom the Lord has placed them.
(1) They must instruct the ignorant, and bring them to the church services and to catechism instruction.
(2) They must exhort, rebuke, and comfort according to individual circumstances.
(3) They must visit the sick, either preparing their souls for the hour of death, or exhorting them to increase in
godliness if they may again become healthy.
In doing so they will “purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ
Jesus” (1 Tim 3:13). They will be an ornament to the church, being enabled to be of more benefit to the church than before.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Lastly for today, and may this leave you with much to dwell on this most blessed Lord’s Day, pg. 155 for ALL Officers (both unfaithful and faithful) to consider when our Lord will ask for an account:

How dreadful will this investigation and interrogation be for many overseers! How pitiful and dreadful will be the sentence that will be pronounced upon them! If only they had never been born and had never been an overseer! What will it be to perish due to one‟s own sins, and then also to be burdened by so many souls! They will see you in the last judgment and rise up against you, saying, “You knew very well that I was ignorant, and that I lived in sin. If you had looked after me—had warned, rebuked, instructed, and led me in the way of salvation—I would have been saved. Look, however, you unfaithful minister, you unfaithful elder, I am now going lost! Let God require my blood from your hand, and deal with you as a wicked and lazy servant!”

However, what a precious moment it will be for faithful ministers, elders, and deacons when the Lord will make manifest their labors, their prayers for the congregation, their special discourses, their exhortations, their warnings, and the manner in which they gave direction to souls. He will then cause them to enter into glory, saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25:21).
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel, Pg. 169 & 179 regarding The Relationship of the Civil Government to the Church:

Pg. 169:
Fourthly, members of the clergy and the entire congregation, each in their own position, are obligated to honor and obey the civil government conscientiously—with heart and in deeds. They are to do so not by way of compulsion, but in an affectionate manner, out of love for God, whose supremacy and majesty are reflected in the office of civil government. No one is released from the duty of rendering honor and obedience simply because he is a member of the clergy or of the church. This is true even if the civil government is either pagan, Islamic, heretical or Christian, good or evil, godly or ungodly, compassionate or severe. It is the duty of elders to stir everyone up to render such honor and obedience. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (Rom 13:1).
Pg. 179:
How blessed is the church and the civil state which functions in this way, and where the church and the civil government, each within their own sphere of influence, are faithful in the discharge of their tasks!

We thus observe that none ought to be of the opinion that the government is not to be involved in the church at all, ought not to be concerned about her, and ought merely to be the blind executor of whatever the church wishes her to carry out. There is a certain Jus majestatis circa sacra; that is, a rightful claim, power, or duty of civil governments with regard to that which is holy. The Belgic Confession speaks of this in Article 36:

And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by everyone, as He commands in His Word.


It is the duty of civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God‟s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church, as the darling of the Lord Jesus, is protected and preserved; and that neither internal dissension nor any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Pg. 207/ Regarding Soteriology and the general EXTERNAL call of the gospel:

Objection #1: God would act deceitfully if He were to call someone to salvation, and yet were not sincere in doing so.

Answer: God calls all who hear the gospel unto salvation, and it is His objective and intent to give salvation to all who truly believe. Faith and true repentance are, however, singular gifts of God‟s grace, which He gives to all whom He wills to save. Others, however, God leaves to themselves who, being unwilling—and due to their wickedness, blindness, and unwillingness, are unable—do not fulfil this condition, and thus will not be saved. Since God has prior knowledge of this and has decreed not to give them the gifts of grace, and since He cannot be thwarted in the achievement of His purpose, He therefore also cannot have their salvation in view. God nevertheless does not deal deceitfully by making the way of salvation known to them, in obligating them by way of many arguments to enter upon this way, promising to save them upon repentance and faith in Christ. God sincerely and truly has all this in view. In all this He has in view that the unconverted be convinced of His goodness, their wickedness, and His justice—and to punish them in consequence of this. The fact that man is not able to repent and believe is not God‟s fault, but man is to be blamed. God did purpose to provide them with all the means unto salvation, withhold additional grace from them, leave them over to themselves, and condemn them for their failure to repent and for their wickedness; however, He did not purpose to save them. One matter may relate to various purposes, and thus by purposing or not purposing one thing, one cannot conclude the purposing or not purposing of something else. Here the objective relates to the means and not to the ultimate end of salvation. The gospel is an able and sufficient way unto salvation.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Skipping Ahead, I saw something in Volume 4 and was hoping to get some insight from those knowledgeable of a footnote given on the last Page of Volume 4:

Pg. 535:



Footnote:


Why was Brakel’s commentary on Revelation deemed controversial in nature?

Seems like not the happiest of endings after one makes it through 4 very edifying volumes.
To anyone interested, you can complete your Brakel TCRS set in paperback or kindle from amazon. Kindle $3.09 & Paperback $10.48. This final section was intended to be included by Brakel but not included in the standard 4 volume set..

 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Under the big header of Soteriology, Brakel handles many Arminian Objections, here’s one (pg. 220-221):

Objection #3: Even pagans, as well as many unconverted, do good works as well as the converted. It is thus evident that man has retained the natural ability to do good works.

Answer:
(1) Some pagans have so exceeded in the practice of virtue that they put many Christians to shame. If such virtues had been true virtues, why would there be any need for regeneration?
Since regeneration is necessary, however, it is evident that their virtues did not have the nature of true virtues.

(2) There are four types of good works: natural, civil, externally religious, and spiritual good works. Unconverted persons perform the first three types of good works, but not the fourth. Their good works are good in materialiter, that is, in a substantial sense, but not as far as essence is concerned. They are not formaliter (that is, not truly) good works. Spiritual light, life, and virtue are not distinguished from the natural in degree, but rather in essence, as we have demonstrated above. Therefore we cannot make such an inference.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Dealing specifically with objections against God being the sole cause in regeneratring our souls and giving us new wills to voluntarily submit to Christ. The objectors, Arminians, would believe that our wills are “neutralized” by God so that we can freely reject or accept a genuine INTERNAL call, pg. 229:

Objection #4: By maintaining that there is such an efficacious and immediate operation of God upon the soul, the freedom of man‟s will is destroyed and removed.
Answer: This we deny. God works in harmony with man‟s nature; however, He does not do so as one man would interact with another man. God causes man to will voluntarily, as was true when man was created. If God, who created the will in man, touches the will and the soul without removing the freedom of the will, why can this not be true in re-creation? In the first [creation], man and his will did not exist, but were created. In the second [recreation], man and his will are spiritually dead.
P.S. Admittedly many of of the Arminian arguments are much more “slight-handed” than I once gave credit to and I am now seeing why many reformers went to great lengths to point out the heresy.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Grant, what do you make of Brakel's "Regen comes before faith?"
Forgive me, but I am not sure I follow. Could you be more specific? I do believe regeneration precedes faith logically. I don’t think dead things have faith. Do you have a specific quote in mind?
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Book 2 Chap 32 opening

We place faith following regeneration. This is not to suggest that man is first made alive and regenerated, and then is gifted with faith; on the contrary, faith precedes regeneration. This is not true in a chronological sense, but as far as natural order is concerned, for the Word is the seed of regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23), and the Word cannot be efficacious except by faith (Heb. 4:2).
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Book 2 Chap 32 opening

We place faith following regeneration. This is not to suggest that man is first made alive and regenerated, and then is gifted with faith; on the contrary, faith precedes regeneration. This is not true in a chronological sense, but as far as natural order is concerned, for the Word is the seed of regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23), and the Word cannot be efficacious except by faith (Heb. 4:2).
Well, I would not word it that way myself. I also have not made it that far in my reading yet. However, in the RHB hardback, there is a longish footnote on pg.245 claiming that Brakel does not teach that the exercise of faith precedes regeneration. Take it for what it‘s worth.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
May you find this comforting regarding ways the Lord commonly Regenerates his Elect, pg. 238 - 239:

Regeneration and its Attending Circumstances
Fourthly, we must consider the manner in which regeneration occurs, which varies greatly.
(1) Some are converted in a very sudden manner, as in one moment. Such was the case with Zacchaeus, the thief
on the cross, many on the day of Pentecost, and the jailer. With others this transpires less rapidly.
(2) Some are converted by way of great terror and consternation caused by being confronted with the law, death,
and condemnation, such as was the case on the day of Pentecost, and with the jailor (Acts 16:27).
(3) Some are converted in a very evangelical manner. The salvation and the fullness of the Mediator Jesus Christ overwhelm the soul, and the sweetness of the benefits of the gospel so fill their souls that they have no time to think upon their sins with terror. They are, as it were, swallowed up by the gospel, and as a Zacchaeus they receive Jesus
with joy (Luke 19:3, 10).
(4) Some the Lord converts in a very quiet manner by granting them a view of the truth. Quietly they perceive
their sins and their state of misery outside of Christ, the salvation of the partakers of the covenant, as well as the veracity of the offer of Christ by means of the gospel to them. In thus observing the truth they are gradually and imperceptibly changed, become obedient to the truth, believe in consequence of knowing the truth, and their heart is purified (1 Pet 1:22). They do not experience much grievous sorrow or ecstatic joy, but find a delight in the truth and there is a sweet approbation of it. This is true in reference to their misery, salvation in Christ, as well as to their receiving of Christ and their trusting in Him. These are generally the most consistent and steadfast Christians.
(5) Some are converted in a very gradual fashion, with much vacillation between sorrow and joy, faith and unbelief, strife and victory, and falling and rising again. This is the common method which the Lord generally pursues in the conversion of most people. When I use the word “gradually,” I am referring to conversion in a comprehensive and broad sense; that is, from the first conviction until one consciously receives Christ. For it is otherwise a certainty that conversion [that is, regeneration] transpires in one moment, for the soul in one moment passes from death unto life. There is no intermediate state between being dead and alive. Since this manner of conversion is the most common, we shall deal with it more comprehensively, considering the beginning, continuation, and conclusion of such a conversion. One will thus be able to examine himself accordingly.

We wish to preface this, however, by stating that no one ought to be concerned about the manner of conversion because the manner of his conversion has not been what he himself would prescribe it to be, nor agrees with the manner in which others are converted. If your conversion is a reality, all is well. Therefore, do not be unsettled as you reflect upon the manner in which your conversion has occurred, even if it is such that you have never read or heard of anything like it. The ways of God are mysterious and even in the common way of conversion the one experiences something with which another is not acquainted. One must, however, frequently reflect upon all the providences and ways whereby God has led us. This will give reason for adoration, for glorifying God, and for confirmation of one‟s spiritual state.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel here is structuring his understanding of Regeneration as a Q & A, with questions that might arise from one who realizes they are unconverted and in need of being saved, hearing the call to “Repent and believe the Gospel!”, pg. 258 - 259:

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Question: Am I able to? Is this within the realm of my ability?
Answer (1) Be assured that it is your duty, which is a fact of which you approve.
(2) Try it once, and upon beginning you will first of all experience that you are blind, and that you are neither
acquainted with God, Christ, the way to Christ, the regenerate state of the soul, nor with the essential nature of true holiness. How will you respond to that with which you are not acquainted? Furthermore, you will experience that, when it comes to the point of engaging yourself, you will find yourself unwilling. Your unwillingness is the initial step toward neglect. Furthermore, the wickedness of your nature is so great, sin is so strong, and the matter so difficult, that you will indeed not be able. Therefore sink down in your misery and inability, and as far as you yourself are concerned, be without hope and in despair.
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Question: What counsel do you have? Is there then no hope for me at all?
Answer: There is no hope to be found in you, but there is hope with God. There is hope for you since you live under the ministry of the gospel, which is the means—yes, the only means—whereby God converts souls. Rejoice, therefore, that you may live under the means and that God grants you conviction and a desire for repentance and salvation. Be diligent in the use of the means, in hearing sermons, and in attending catechism classes. Read God‟s Word frequently and attentively, or let someone read it to you. Join yourself to the godly and request that you be admitted to their gatherings. Yield to the inclinations to pray and to be godly.
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Question: Shall I then be converted and saved if I do all this?
Answer: Your efforts will not move God to grant you repentance, but God will also not exclude you if you do not exclude yourself. You have reason to hope since God has thus far brought you under conviction. Wait therefore for the least movement of the Spirit, respond to it, and be careful that you do not resist it. Be thus consistent in your use of the means and do not relent if time and again you are drawn away by your lusts.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel dealing elaborately with Faith (a trusting in and not merely an assent), here deals with Faith's opposite------Unbelief, pg. 294-295:

Unbelief: The Opposite of True Faith
Lastly, we must consider the direct opposite of true faith. Those who are of such a disposition are either outside or within the church. To those persons who possess the contrary of true faith outside the church belong all who reject the true doctrine of faith, such as divers heathens, the Mohammedans, the Jews, the Socinians, and various Anabaptists. Among the papists, Lutherans, and Arminians—although they seriously err in many doctrinal points—temporal believers, yes, even true believers, can be found, since Christ is preached there, albeit not purely.
And to unbelievers within the church:

There are also unbelievers within the church, either entirely ignorant or merely able to mention the name of Christ—but not knowing Him in His natures, offices, states of humiliation and exaltation, indispensability, nor how and to what purpose they must make use of Him. They run their course carelessly, having little or no impression of heaven or hell. If spoken to concerning this and asked how they think they will be saved, they have a ready answer: God is merciful. They hope upon His grace, they will pray and do their best. They are not permitted to be in doubt about their salvation; that would be a grievous thing. A great multitude is thus on their way to hell, and those ministers and elders who allow them to go on so peacefully in their ignorance, and permit them to come to the holy table, will be responsible for their condemnation.
 
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