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.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
From pg. 298, Concerning Faith:

Outside of Christ, there is nothing but restlessness and hostility. This causes the soul to be shaken and tossed to and fro as a ship in a violent storm. Rest and support are nowhere to be found. The dove which was let out of the ark found no rest for the sole of its foot, as there was only water everywhere. Such is the condition of a soul outside of Christ. Neither riches, friends, nor one‟s own wisdom or strength can give rest to the soul. They are all broken reeds which not only provide no support, but which moreover cause the one who leans upon them to fall and be injured. Therefore no longer seek refuge there, but forsake it all.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
When is the last time you took time to do self-examination regarding the genuineness of your faith?

Hear Brakel and be reminded from pg. 308-309, Vol. II:

Thirdly, it is most detrimental to neglect self-examination and the searching of one‟s heart. Such neglect holds man captive in the sleep of carelessness. It causes him to waste time. It renders the means of grace useless and impotent. It hardens his heart against all the threatenings and judgments of God. It holds him captive to the world and to sin; yes, it is the key whereby he closes heaven and opens hell for himself.

Fourthly, self-examination is very beneficial. It causes one to become conscious of the evils which dwell in the heart. It causes one to become acquainted with the avenging justice of God. It causes one to become concerned, frightened, and perplexed. It causes one to flee to Jesus for justification and sanctification. It causes one to become serious in heart. And if one may perceive grace, light, life, and faith, it cannot be expressed what joy this generates in the heart and what a strengthening effect this has! It repeatedly provides a person with new courage; he receives more liberty in prayer and he becomes acquainted with the ways in which God deals with souls. It gladdens his heart and it has a sanctifying influence upon all his actions. “And every man that has this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

May this serve to bless you this most glorious Lord’s Day Morning:detective:
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Regarding Justification, pg. 341:

He who errs in this doctrine errs to his eternal destruction. The devil is therefore continually engaged in denying, perverting, and obscuring the truth expressed in this chapter and, if he does not accomplish this, to prevent exercise concerning this truth. When new errors appear on the horizon, even when they initially do not pertain to justification at all, they in time will eventually culminate in affecting this doctrine. One must therefore be all the more earnest to properly understand, defend, and meditate upon this doctrine.

Oh how this has proven true.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Interesting wording and thoughts on Justification from pg. 358:

God justifies man by faith, and thus justification is God‟s judicial pronouncement toward man. This sentence is not only pronounced once upon the first act of faith, but is made as frequently and as often as man exercises faith in Christ unto justification. This is not an assurance that they are justified once and for all, but it constitutes an actual and daily act of forgiveness.

Maybe this helps us to better grasp the active mediation of Christ.:detective:
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
The Papist Fear of Assurance, pg. 391:

Having considered the time when justification occurs, we shall now proceed to consider the secondary aspect or result of justification, assurance.

Question: Can a believer be assured of his justification, and consequently of his salvation?

Answer: The Papists and Arminians answer negatively, whereas we answer in the affirmative. The Papists oppose this with all their might, for they perceive that this will topple their entire ecclesiastical structure. No one will then ask any longer for the merits of the saints, concern themselves with their selling of indulgences, their masses for souls, absolution, nor their fabricated purgatory. Once the truth of assurance as being the result of justification has been established, their treasuries will be empty and their kitchens will smoke. They keep people in a continual state of fright and fear, so that with handfuls of money they will take refuge to them. The Papists maintain that man cannot know whether he is truly regenerated, possesses true faith, is truly sanctified, nor does he know whether he will persevere or become an apostate. Consequently, he cannot be absolutely assured of his salvation, nor must he strive for this assurance. They will admit that one can and may make conjectures concerning this, and that God can reveal and indeed has revealed this to some in an extraordinary manner. Apart from this, however, assurance is but conjecture or imagination.

The Christian’s Comfort in Assurance, pg. 396:

(3) The Holy Spirit operates in harmony with the Word, the infallible rule for believers. There they observe that the Holy Spirit gives assurance after mourning, praying, and wrestling in faith. This brings the soul near to God, and in the enjoyment of communion with God she receives assurance. They find that assurance does not only engender peace with God in the soul, but also love, obedience, and sanctification. It renders the earth and all its glories as insignificant, and it becomes all their desire and joy to live in the realm of the invisible. If a believer, in the enjoyment of assurance, finds himself to be thus, he may know that he is not deceiving himself, but that it is the Holy Spirit who assures and seals him.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Hello on this most blessed Lord’s Day. My job has been a little demanding the past several weeks so I have been a little absent here. However, I am thankful that our Lord has commanded me to set that aside on this day. I hope this quote from Brakel finds you well in the Lord. Here Brakel is unpacking the subject of Spiritual Peace and the uniqueness of this peace in the life of a Christian, pg. 447 - 448:

(2) Those that are at peace still have the old Adam within them, which frequently and very forcefully makes its presence felt. This engenders laxity and laziness in seeking the countenance of the Lord, as well as neglect of exercise to remain near to the Lord and to exercise communion with God. Added to this are more serious sins committed by them against their conscience and contrary to the warning of the Holy Ghost, thereby grieving the Spirit of God. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph 4:30).
(3) Furthermore, the devil secretly assaults them, or shoots at them with his fiery arrows. The world entices them with earthly beauty and terrifies them by its wickedness. Tribulations and various crosses overwhelm them. This tosses their faith to and fro, and darkens their peace; this they sense and it grieves them. It causes them to languish, and they cannot rest until they may have received it again.

And further down pg. 448:

Fifthly, they who truly have peace, actively guard against sin and endeavor to live in tender godliness before the countenance of God. Since they have tasted the sweetness of this peace (the one more and the other less) and know that sin disturbs this peace; since they know that the Lord gives more peace to those who are determined to live a life pleasing unto the Lord; since there can be no peace with God without the love of God—therefore they walk carefully, not as fools, but rather as being wise (Eph 5:15). “He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly” (Ps 85:8).
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Lastly for today, hear Brakel call us back to Spiritual Peace, pg. 452 - 453 (a longer quote but one that is hard to stop reading):

Secondly, calmly search out the cause for the unrest of which we have spoken before. Having discovered this (or if you cannot discover this), labor to humble yourself deeply; that is, sink away in the sense of your sinfulness and the impotency of your soul. It is appropriate to set apart a day of fasting for this purpose, and then do as much as it pleases the Lord to enable you to do. If you have been very barren, dull, listless, and insensitive, you ought to resume this after some days, or after a week or two, bringing yourself before the Lord as you are, and as much as possible make known before Him your desire for peace. The Lord knows the intent of your spirit and for what purpose you have set apart that day, and He will at last speak peace to your soul.

Thirdly, lift up your soul to the covenant and to its Mediator, Jesus. Reflect upon former days, considering how you then were accustomed to wrestle and pray, how you received Him, how you surrendered to Him, but also the exercises and refreshment you indeed enjoyed at that time. This is suitable to quicken your soul in the exercise of faith and to receive Jesus by renewal, as a ransom for sin and as the Prince of Peace. A soul is frequently restored in this way and may receive a greater measure of peace.

Fourthly, do not expect, at first, to receive again the measure of peace and intimacy which you had prior to losing your peace, for that rarely happens; rather, remain humble and acknowledge the crumbs of grace whereby at one time you have been able to pray, weep, and pour out your heart before the Lord in order that some hope may intermittently arise. Therefore, quietly follow the leading of the Spirit who turns His hand to the little ones, comforts the humble ones, and gives them grace.

Fifthly, strictly adhere to your times of spiritual exercise; neither neglect it, nor engage in it hurriedly, as if you would only do so to satisfy your conscience; rather, remain prostrate before the Lord, however barren you may be, and wait to see if some light may not dawn. If not, be not discouraged, but keep your soul humble as a weaned child, and maintain that quiet hope that God will return. Let there be a determined resolution to nevertheless be willing to seek the Lord as long as you live, being desirous rather to die at His feet than to depart from Him. And the Lord who is good to the soul that seeks Him will at last say, “Mary! My child, here am I,” upon which the soul will rejoice. “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means” (2 Thess 3:16).
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Brothers and Sisters may this Lord’s Day morning be a most joyous time for you and your family. Here Brakel has been dealing with the Christian teaching of Spiritual Joy. Brakel explains that the key to Spiritual Joy is always founded on a fear of God. The below quotes are a little longer, but I implore you to take the time to read especially if you presently are dealing with mourning, sorrow, or even a pattern of melancholy.

From Vol. II, Pg. 462:
(3) To mourn over sin at the appropriate time, and in an appropriate measure and manner is needful, and does not prevent one from living cheerfully. However, those who accustom themselves to be sorrowful, consume the strength of their body, and frequently acquire an illness from which they suffer their entire lifetime. This ailment is in turn the cause of sorrow and melancholy, and this sorrow in turn worsens the ailment. “... a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov 17:22); “... by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Prov 15:13).

Pg. 462-463:
(4) It is very harmful for spiritual life, injuring it. It not only impedes its growth, but exhausts it; if God by His omnipotence did not preserve it, this sorrow would extinguish it. If one gives in to such mourning, he can progress so far that he finds no delight in anything except in mourning and in consuming his own heart. He is then not fit for anything—not for prayer, believing, battling and overcoming sin, the practice of virtue, nor for being beneficial to other people—and makes himself unfit to be restored by the common means, since he refuses to be comforted (cf. Ps 77:2). “A wounded spirit who can bear?” (Prov 18:14). Therefore conduct yourself valiantly, for it is as easy to yield to a mournful frame, as it is to collapse for a person who is fainting. However, the harmful consequences are too dangerous. Therefore, lift up your head and endeavor to break out of this.

Lastly, for encouragement for Christian’s that need a reminder of their reason for Spiritual Joy, Pg. 463:
Secondly, believers (even the most feeble) are entitled to and have reason for joy, for it is one of the promises of the covenant of grace. Let those of the world be troubled and fearful, and tremble about their present and future state. You, however, who have been delivered from the devil, hell, and wrath, for whom God is a reconciled God and is your portion, who have been adopted as a child of God, and have become partakers of justification, sanctification, and eternal glorification, what reason do you yet have for sorrow? If you say, “This is still lacking, namely, the actual and effectual enjoyment of all those promised spiritual benefits; and not only the comforts, but also the deliverance from sin itself,” then I respond, “Is God‟s promise null and void with you? Are future benefits of lesser value because they are reserved for the future, where they will be an eternal and unchangeable reality—as if in the future you would be able to get by without them? Is not God a God of truth to you? Would His promises be able to fail? Or do you consider the promises of future blessings to be excuses for not presently fulfilling the promises that supplicants will be heard, that hungry ones will be filled, etc. Be ashamed that you entertain such thoughts about the only wise God who makes all things well at His time.” If a great inheritance has been bequeathed to someone, and the testator subsequently dies, would it then be considered worthless because he does not yet see and have the treasures in his hands, knowing, however, with certainty that he will receive them within a short time? Behold, a natural man will convince you. Therefore, value the excellency of the promised benefits, the infallibility of the testament which is confirmed by the death of the testator. Rejoice therefore in your title to the inheritance and in the certainty of future possession, even though you do not enjoy it as yet. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous” (Ps 97:11-12). It is sown, and it has been sown for you, and therefore you will also harvest at the appointed time; rejoice in this hope: “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple” (Ps 65:4).
 

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Puritan Board Senior
Brakel regarding Immersion or Sprinkling in Holy Baptism, pg. 494-494 (spoiler, he concludes both):
The Ceremony or the Manner of Administration: Immersion or Sprinkling
In early times, and in countries with a warm climate, immersion was used most frequently. The Lord Jesus was baptized by immersion (Matt 3:16), as was the eunuch (Acts 8:38). The apostle also refers to this: “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death” (Rom 6:4). Subsequent to this, however, sprinkling has come into use, just as sprinkling is now generally in use, be it once or three times. The Greeks and Russians still use immersion. One need neither argue about this nor be concerned, however, since it is one and the same as far as the matter itself and the assurance it yields. First, the verb “baptize” can also be translated as “sprinkle.” “... except they wash, they eat not” (Mark 7:4). The washing of hands generally occurs by allowing water to be poured upon the hands. “... Here is Elisha ... which poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11). Secondly, the matter signified, namely, the blood of Christ as cleansing the soul, is expressed as sprinkling. “And to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling” (Heb 12:24). Thirdly, the relationship between the sign and the matter signified is expressed both by sprinkling and immersion, for one cleanses the body by both methods. Concerning sprinkling or pouring out we read, “Then shall I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean” (Ezek 36:25). Fourthly, it is obvious that the apostles also have used sprinkling in baptizing the three thousand upon the day of Pentecost, the jailor, as well as at other occasions. It also makes no difference if one sprinkles the person to be baptized once or three times. If one sprinkles but once, the reference is to the Trinity of the divine Being; if one sprinkles three times, the reference is to the three Persons.

And here Brakel discusses the Question of the necessity of pronouncement, pg. 495 (spoiler he says the omission of the express mention of all 3 persons does not necessarily invalidate the external sign in some circumstances):
In considering the ceremony or manner of sprinkling, one may also consider the pronouncement of the words, “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as belonging to this since 1) Christ in issuing His command to baptize uses these words; 2) it is a certainty that one must be baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, for there is no other God but He; 3) the person baptized is declared to be the property of a triune God; 4) the pronouncement of these words has at all times been used in the church; 5) there is a special relationship between each Person and the person being baptized: that the Father is his Father, the Son is his Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is his Comforter and Sanctifier; and 6) the Holy Trinity is expressly confessed in this manner. One must therefore preserve the pronouncement of these words.
If, however, the church acknowledges and confesses the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and if the adult to be baptized does likewise, I would neither consider such a baptism to be unlawful nor deem it to be null and void, even if the words in question were not expressly pronounced at his baptism. I neither consider the pronouncement of the words to be relevant to the essential nature of baptism, nor does it validate baptism as such. I do not know, however, if such a case has ever transpired, for the baptism of heretics is not baptism, regardless of whether they mention the Trinity or not. When the apostle exhorts the people in Acts 2:38 to let themselves be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and when it is related in Acts 8:16 that those of Samaria were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, this neither proves that baptism was administered upon the pronouncement of the words, “I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ,” nor that the names of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost were not used; rather, these expressions only indicate that baptism was administered upon the command and according to the ordinance of Christ. Baptism in the name of Christ does not exclude, but includes, the Father and the Holy Spirit.
 
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Puritan Board Senior
A clear and concise defense from Scripture for the Baptism of the children of believers, pg. 508-510 (a little long, but a truly excellent summary of the position) :
The Scriptural Defense for the Baptism of Children
Having said this by way of introduction, we must now consider the following question:
Question: May and must children of members of the covenant be baptized?
Answer: Anabaptists, Socinians, and Brownists answer negatively, but we answer in the affirmative for the
following reasons:
First, in the Old Testament children of members of the covenant had to be circumcised; therefore they must also
be baptized in the New Testament. The first part of the statement is above controversy. The argument for the conclusion is as follows:
(1) Since there is one and the same covenant in both testaments, and this identical covenant also pertains to the children of the Old Testament who were obligated to receive the seal of circumcision, this is also true in the New Testament and they must therefore be baptized.
(2) Baptism has come in the place of circumcision; the external sign has changed, but the seal is the same. “In whom also ye are circumcised ... buried with Him in baptism” (Col 2:11-13). He who is baptized is said to be circumcised, since they are in essence one and the same sacrament.
(3) In both sacraments the same matter is signified and the purpose is identical: cleansing by the blood and the Spirit of Christ. If children had to be circumcised then, they must also be baptized today.
Secondly, children were baptized in the Old Testament. “... that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor 10:1-2). It is irrefutable that all their children were included here (Exod 10:24). In a manner comparable to being baptized by immersion in water, they were all in the sea, and the water in the cloud which was always above them, covered them. This baptism was a seal of their spiritual deliverance, having escaped from the hands of Pharaoh by the water of the sea. They were overshadowed by the cloud—and thus protected against the heat of the sun and the Lord Jesus was present in this cloud (Exod 14:24). If children were then baptized as members of the covenant, they must also presently be baptized, for they are as much members of the covenant now as they were then.
Thirdly, the children of members of the covenant are in the covenant, and they therefore are also entitled to the seals of the covenant. Their inclusion in the covenant is evident in Gen 17:7, “And I shall establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations.” This was not only true in the Old but also in the New Testament, for believers from among the Gentiles also are Abraham‟s seed and are thus included in that covenant. “... that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised” (Rom 4:11). Peter also confirms this: “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (Acts 3:25). Add to this 1 Cor 7:14, where we read, “... else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” They do not have internal holiness, as has been proven in the above; rather, they are called holy because one of the parents is a believer, thereby being in the covenant. The holiness of such children is therefore a covenantal holiness.36 An external covenant does not exist, for there is but one covenant between God and believers: the covenant of grace. The children of members of the covenant are therefore in the covenant. In this respect the Lord calls them His children. “Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me ... that thou hast slain My children” (Ezek 16:20-21). If they are in the covenant, they must also indeed receive the seal of the covenant. This is evident in Acts 2:38-39, where we read, “... be baptized every one of you ... for the promise is unto you, and to your children.”
Fourthly, children are partakers of the benefits of the covenant, the merits of Christ, the promises, and salvation itself. “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me
for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:14). These were not children in the spiritual sense of the word, characterized by humility, but rather natural children who were brought to Jesus, and who were kept away from Him by others, since they were deemed to be too unimportant. The Lord Jesus declares them to be partakers of the kingdom of heaven, of which one cannot be a partaker except through Christ. Who then would dare to exclude those children from heaven who die in infancy? Consider also Acts 2:39, where we read that the promise is to your children. Those who are partakers of the promises of the covenant are also entitled to the seal of the covenant and its promises.
 

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Puritan Board Senior
From pg. 534-535 where Brakel is discussing aspects of the Lord’s Supper, namely the communion of believers:

Thirdly, there is the mutual communion of believers. “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). Communion does not occur with all who go to the holy table, for the communion which believers have with the unconverted does not go beyond a common confession. There is only communion with the godly—with those they know as well as those they do not know, and with those that are present as well as those who are absent—and thus not only with those of this particular church, but also with all who are dispersed over the entire world, for they unite themselves with Christ, and in Him with His body which is the church. Their love extends toward them all, and being thus united with them, they are in agreement with all of them in their confession of Christ and His truth.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
From pg. 552 where Brakel summarizes the distinction of the Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper against the view of Rome and the Lutherans:

It now being a certainty that the bread and the wine are not changed into the body and blood of Christ, and that the body and blood of Christ are not physically present in, with, and under the bread and the wine, the sentiments of both have necessarily been invalidated, namely, that the body and blood of Christ are physically present in the Lord‟s Supper and are in a physical manner eaten and drunk with the physical mouth. We maintain that Christ, as to His suffering and death, is spiritually present in the signs of bread and wine. These signs, by reason of and on the basis of Christ‟s institution, are partaken of by faith. Believers are thus united to Christ in His suffering and death—this being the matter signified—and partake of these as seals of the forgiveness of sins. We furthermore maintain that the partaking of Christ by faith is immediately applied to the heart, and that spiritual communion is exercised with Christ by virtue of the operation of the Holy Spirit. Christ is thus truly present and believers truly exercise communion with Christ; however, they do so in a spiritual rather than a physical manner—for that which is spiritual is as real as that which is physical. We reject with abhorrence, however, the physical presence of Christ, and the physical eating and drinking of His natural body and blood by way of the physical mouth.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel dealing very bluntly with what I call Wafer Worship, pg. 555-556
Secondly, in the entire Word of God there is neither a command, example, nor the least semblance of the practice of worshipping the bread of the Lord‟s Supper. Everyone will have to acknowledge that the worship of the wafer is a matter of the greatest significance upon which the salvation of man hinges, for idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:10). Since the worship of the wafer is the entire pith of popish religion, everyone must be convinced that it is a matter of the greatest import; for a matter which is the foundation of an entire religion, and is a daily activity, must be commanded in God‟s Word with utmost clarity, and one ought not to engage in this without an express command. However, there is neither a word, trace, nor example of this practice to be found in God‟s Word—which the Papists themselves know and until now they have not been able to produce one text. Furthermore, since the time of the apostles as well as all the hundreds of years afterwards, the church did not know of the practice of worshipping the wafer. It is thus clear that one must reject the practice of worshipping the wafer as an accursed idolatry (which it is), and desist from founding his salvation upon it.
 
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