The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 4 - Quotes

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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings from China (work detail)!!!

Brakel opens Volume 4 with a chapter on the Christian exscerises of Fasting and Watchfulness (spiritual & physical). At the end of the chapter on Watchfulness Brakel comments on the lack of earnestness and zeal in his day, but provides an encouragement that the excercises of fasting and even special times of forfeiting sleep might renew our zeal when we become lazy. Oh, how easy it is to become a lazy servant of the Lord.

Vol. IV, page 17:

From all this we observe what earnestness and zeal these holy men had; if we only had more zeal, we would emulate them more. However, alas! this earnestness and zeal is lacking in these days which are void of zeal, and therefore, why am I even speaking here of specific days of fasting and night-watches? However, the Lord can yet let this be a means so that it will not be entirely forgotten. May someone yet be stirred up by this—or at least be convinced of his lack of zeal, being even too hasty in his morning and evening exercises. May he be convinced how far removed he is from a frame which would stir him to arise in the night or that would move him to set apart a portion of the beginning or end of the night to be watchful for the purpose of engaging in prayer.

Volume 4 is setting up to be unique to the other volumes in reminding the Christian of different spiritual exercises, that are often not taught or encouraged anymore (or worse not even known!!). Next up: Time of Solitude.
 
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JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Excited about this. Even though I have read Vol.4, I am keen to see what you draw out of it. Keep it up!
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Do we seek times of solitude? Here Brakel gives a definition of this intentional Christian practice on pg. 19:
Solitude is a separation from all men for a period of time in order to be enabled to express one’s self more earnestly and freely as one engages himself in seeking after God.

As he closes the chapter, he list some clarifying points on the practice of intentional solitude. I found point 4 to be very encouraging for me from pg. 24 (particularly the Dutch Poem):
(4) Continually occupy yourself with prayer, thanksgiving, waiting, reading, and singing—even if you do so without feeling and cannot get your heart involved in it. The Lord will be pleased with your efforts and will grant you a blessing.

Take heed that you keep your secret place holy, Or else it will not be safe there.
When do you keep your secret place holy? When you have intimate fellowship with God.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Oh, how easy it easy to become a lazy servant of the Lord.

In prayer and in my singing of the Psalms, whenever I come across the term servant, I never apply it to myself. I pray about this that I could still become a true servant of the Lord even at this late stage in my life. A faithful servant of the Lord just implies too much for what I know to be true about myself. I still hope to use the terminology and apply it to myself, but in the few months I turn 70 years old, and I still can not boldly say the word.

Psalm 119:174‭-‬176 ESV
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
In prayer and in my singing of the Psalms, whenever I come across the term servant, I never apply it to myself. I pray about this that I could still become a true servant of the Lord even at this late stage in my life. A faithful servant of the Lord just implies too much for what I know to be true about myself. I still hope to use the terminology and apply it to myself, but in the few months I turn 70 years old, and I still can not boldly say the word.

Psalm 119:174‭-‬176 ESV
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
1. Thank you for quoting me because I needed correction to my typo.
2. I think Christians should feel comfortable using the terminology assigned to them in God’s word. I think I understand your sentiment, but I would still encourage you to be okay with viewing yourself as a servant of the Lord. Our flesh and the Devil often do not want us to look to God’s Word for a corrective view. This can manifest itself in many ways. For example:

a. Men who do not view themselves as sinners (the Bible says otherwise).

b. Many a saint, myself included, can go through seasons of letting shame keep them from drawing near to the
Lord (the Bible gives us commands/promises to remember our High Priest and to draw near).

c. Viewing oneself as a servant (Jesus teaches we cannot serve 2 Masters, this presupposes the Master/Servant relationship). More simply put, it’s just categorically and biblically appropriate.

So my own take is that I am either a servant of the devil or of Christ. Yes, many days I am so lazy. I too feel your hesitancy especially when singing some of the Psalms. However, viewing myself as scripture views me has been vital not only to humbling my pride, but also to pulling me out of low places. This view has also helped in training up and praying for my children (we often pray as a family, Lord help us to be faithful children and faithful servants of You our Father and King). So I dwell less on being hesitant with the term “servant” because that is what the Lord has made us in Christ (slaves of righteousness). I focus more on the distinction (including in prayer & song) of faithful vs unfaithful; that is where my own hesitancy lies. I am the Lord’s servant (whether I like it or not) and thankfully even in my darkest times, I have always felt him drawing me back away from my sin and shame and into the riches of his mercy, truth, and love.
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel next touches on the Christian Exercise of Spiritual Meditation. I felt Brakel provided some helpful warnings and encouragements for those of us who sometimes go through seasons of feeling empty of spiritual emotions. So below are 2 quotes from the chapter on Spiritual Meditation, 1 a self-check for those of us who may at times run to books for the wrong reason & 2 to encourage those of us who may not feel spiritually GIANT enough to practice Christian Meditation:

Pg. 27:
His best mental activity consists in being occupied in the acquiring of knowledge of the Word; however, his objective in doing so is not sound, for it is his objective to be esteemed as a wise man, to be knowledgeable like others, and to be able to converse well. We dealt with such natural meditation in chapter 43.

Instead, spiritual meditation is the activity of a godly person who has spiritual light and life—the one less and the other more. He knows God and has a desire after God; this is the reason why his heart is repeatedly drawn to God. It was so sweet and delightful to him to have seen and tasted something of God that he could not forget it. Time and again it comes to mind and he desires to experience this again in a greater measure. Such meditation gives this experience a new sense of sweetness and stirs up his desires.

And further down Pg. 27-28:
At times the heart is empty and does not yield any food for thought; this could result in wandering thoughts. Then we are to select subject matter for meditation, and it is advisable initially to select an easy subject matter, such as the way in which the Lord has led us since childhood; that is, the parents from whom we were born, what transpired in our families, how we were raised, how we conducted ourselves, where we attended school or labored and what has transpired there, the sins committed in our youth, how things progressed after that, and how we conducted ourselves during our teenage years. One could also meditate upon the prosperity and adversity we have encountered, the ways in which the Lord has led us unto the means of salvation, what initially moved us to repent, and how—by way of falling and rising—this came to pass. If we thus proceed from season to season, from experience to experience, from location to location, and from encounter to encounter, it will time and again stir special motions within us.
 
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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Brakel next touches on the Christian Exercise of Spiritual Meditation. I felt Brakel provided some helpful warnings and encouragements for those of us who sometimes go through seasons of feeling empty of spiritual emotions. So below are 2 quotes from the chapter on Spiritual Meditation, 1 a self-check for those of us who may at times run to books for the wrong reason & 2 to encourage those of us who may not feel spiritually GIANT enough to practice Christian Meditation:

Pg. 27:




And further down Pg. 27-28:

In line with your last quote, it's sometimes helpful to default to some attribute of God in our meditations. I often find thoughts of God's holiness or blessedness to be invigorating. I don't want to call it a "jump start", but if you know some aspect of God or the persons well, recalling those aspects of God can make it easier to shift to a meditative mindset.

Thank you for posting these.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel dealing with Loving our Neighbor and calling us to ponder how far we fall short of the truths expressed in 1 Cor. 13, pg. 61:

Furthermore, if one considers the conduct of many of the truly regenerate, how much they fall short of this standard! It is true: They love the godly because God loves them and because they love God in Christ. Their heart is knit to them in that respect—with the exclusion of all other men. They esteem them, their heart goes out toward them, they rejoice when they perceive the godly in their essential nature; but when it comes to their deeds, it is manifest how weak their love is. They keep to themselves and it is as if all others were strangers to them, or they exercise fellowship with only one or with but a few, and ignore others. If one of the godly has a fault, they will immediately render his godliness suspect. If he is perceived as a challenge to us and he does not act according to our wishes, then displeasure, wrath, strife, and backbiting surface, and one gives him the cold shoulder—acting as if their spiritual life did not proceed from one and the same Spirit. And in regard to the unconverted, where is the heartfelt affection for them? Where is the joy about their prosperity, the grief over their mishaps, and the exercise concerning their spiritual and physical welfare?
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
The Object of Humility, pg. 68:

(1) It is man himself, for due to self-knowledge he knows that there is neither excellence nor anything desirable to
be found in him. In his own eyes he is a great nothing, and he views himself as such. He thus sinks away in his own nothingness as a stone cast into the water, not resting until it reaches the bottom; that is its proper position and there it will come to rest. It is likewise true that the lowest place will be the place of the humble man; there he finds rest and is in his element as a fish in water. He is able to accept the fact that others receive honor and love, enjoy themselves, and are prosperous, as long as he may be humble in himself, and in that way of humility can engage in his duty by the grace and power God affords him. He is able to end in humility when he has done something, and with that humility he can suffer and endure that which the Lord causes to come his way, either without or by the instrumentality of men—it is all well with him.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
From pgs. 100-101, Brakel provides some advice on how the Christian can be better equipped to exercise Peaceableness (Bold added to show summary):

If you are desirous to live in peace:
(1) Crucify your desire for money, honor, and love; it is impossible to have and maintain a peaceable heart without self-denial. Or else you yourself will be the cause of others quarrelling with you, since you are seeking after what they pursue. It can easily be that you will encounter them while in such a disposition, and your inner peace will thereby be disturbed. Whatever stirs in the heart will soon spill forth from our mouths. Greediness is a breaker of the peace.…….

(2) Keep to yourself and let others govern their own matters. Do not appoint yourself as a detective and judge concerning the deeds of others; close your ears for backbiters. Do not listen for what is being said about you. “A whisperer separateth chief friends” (Prov 16:28); “Where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov 26:20). Solomon therefore wisely counseled: “Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee” (Eccles 7:21). And regarding you, remain silent in order that you speak no evil about your neighbor, for that will continually bring you in trouble and frequently stir up discord……..

(3) Be always the least—both in your own eyes as well as in your conduct toward others. Endure being wronged, and forgive such deeds (Col 3:13). In all things yield to the will of others, insofar as this is not contrary to the will of God, following Abraham‟s example: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee ... if thou wilt take the left hand, then I shall go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I shall go to the left”…….
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
From pg. 104 on Diligence. This chapter resonated with me greatly this Lord’s Day. Admittedly in my circle of influence I am known for being one who is very diligence. BUT oh how the Lord gave me a shock to my core when I read the below on how my own flesh can use diligence for sin. I realized that often my diligence has been self-serving:(

May this quote cause you to reflect on your own “diligence”:

The diligence of a natural man proceeds from a perverted heart filled with vices. His heart has neither desire nor love for that task as being the will of God. Instead, his objective is to earn a living, please people, or to attain some other objective.

That diligence which is a Christian virtue, however, proceeds from a regenerate and believing heart. Faith unites the soul with Christ, and proceeds through Christ unto God as a reconciled Father. This in turn begets love toward God which motivates one to please the Lord, and thus believers view their task as having been commanded them by God. This engenders a willingness to accept this task, joyfulness in performing it, and industriousness to bring it to a good end—all this because it is the will of God and in order that God might be pleased with that work.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel calls us to self-examine our own hearts pertaining to the Christian‘s Duty of Compassion. What a lovely topic to reflect on before Public Worship. Admittedly, it is often far too easy to become hardened and self-serving even in our “acts” of being compassionate to others. From pg.117 - 118:

Now turn within and observe yourself in the mirror we have held before you in delineating the nature of compassion. Do you belong to the compassionate? Is there compassion in your heart flowing forth out of union with the Lord Jesus, having become a partaker of His loving nature by faith? Are there motions of sympathy, mercy, and compassion to be found within you toward outcasts, the poor in general—and particularly toward those who hate and evil entreat you? Are you mostly compassionate toward the godly and the members of the household of faith? Do you take their misery to heart? Do you seek them out, and do you focus upon their need so that you might be moved by it and become willing and zealous to help them? Do you provide shelter for the poor who are homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked? Do you visit and encourage those among the sick who are poor? Do you help and support those who have come to their wit‟s end, and do you lend to them without hoping for something in return? What are your answers upon these questions?
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel on Spiritual Growth:

Here Brakel confirm’s the existence of dwarfs, thus dogmatically proving LOTR to be non-fiction, pg. 142 (of course I am just be sarcastic, but the quote did make be chuckle):

…….there are giants, men of medium height, and dwarfs.

Being a naturally Zealous person in all matters, the below was a shaking question for me to ponder from Brakel on examining my own spiritual growth, pg. 150:
(1) Some may perhaps have become convinced of not only having failed to make any progress, but rather that they never even have had any grace, and that until now they have only been a run-along. All their activity has only been a product of their mind and natural zeal.

Lastly, a reminder of how love for the world can still creep in under “innocent” pretenses, pg. 153-154:
Fourthly, world conformity enters the picture here. Believers still have a desire for the things of the world under the cover and pretense that they are lawful, necessary, and fitting—even though the real motive is love for the world. The world and the Spirit are enemies, and the one is always intent on expelling the other; they are a mutual impediment to each other, and therefore we must either fully yield to the world, or must yield fully and entirely to grace. As long as we halt between two opinions, and as long as we attempt to join together Christ and Belial, so long shall we make no progress. A bird which has been fastened to the earth will fall back to the earth when it wants to fly upward. Thus, he who wishes to fly heavenward must divorce himself from the world.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
A word from Brakel to those saints in a season of backsliding and to those in a position to provide brotherly rebuke, pg. 164:

Believers Exhorted to Seek Restoration
He who finds himself guilty of one of these acts of backsliding ought to acknowledge that he himself is the cause of his backsliding. Let him justify God, and if he desires to grow, let him improve this situation. Even though we would have just cause to rebuke him sharply and to threaten him, we prefer to have compassion with him in his sinful frame, and lament over him. Such persons are generally mortally wounded, and therefore we wish to take them by the hand and lift them up. And you (to whom this applies), do not resist, but allow yourself to be persuaded and exert yourself to arise.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Personally I have not heard/read much regarding the Christian’s temptation towards Atheism. Admittedly, I resonated much with the below in my current season of life and am thankful Brakel devoted a full chapter to the topic.

Firstly, read Brakel’s diagnosis, pg. 193 - 194 (longer BUT piercing):
The temptation toward atheism is a more common tribulation for believers than one may think—especially for those who have a keen intellect. For many this is a concealed matter, so that they do not clearly perceive it to be the case. Nevertheless, it is the cause of not gleaning much comfort and peace from faith. Others do indeed perceive it, but conceal it, being of the opinion that no one else is acquainted with such an abomination, and that everyone would despise them for such evil thoughts. Sometimes there are the sudden interjections: “Is there indeed a God? Is there indeed a heaven or a hell? Is my soul indeed immortal? Is all this nothing more than an illusion and imagination?” Some immediately reject such interjections, without them causing much harm. Others begin to reflect upon them, whereby this bent toward atheism increases, shoots forth deeper roots, becomes a torment, and becomes detrimental to religious exercise.

And finally, Brakel offers some instructions for perseverance, pg. 197:
(2) You are thus to start from the beginning. Neither reach out for lofty matters, nor exert your intellect and mental faculties; rather, stay with the Word. Read it, and in reliance upon that Word, flee to the Lord Jesus as Surety and receive Him. Do not strain yourself to get a view of Him, however, for that would be counterproductive. Rather, do so humbly and, so to speak, with closed eyes. Rely upon Him because the Word enjoins you to do so, promising that those who put their trust in Him will not be ashamed. Likewise humbly pray and hear the Word, refrain from that which is forbidden, and perform that which is commanded. I assure you that if you thus begin to engage yourself, the Lord will gradually restore you—even though unbelieving thoughts may initially assault you vehemently, and even though you may for some time engage yourself without finding delight and sweetness in doing so.

(3) Keep your condition concealed from others, be it that they are unconverted, beginners in grace, or weak Christians—and especially from those of whom you notice that they are also under assault. Rather than being of mutual help to each other, you would cast each other down. Instead, go to an experienced minister or another godly person who is strong in faith and reveal your condition to him. Do not contradict him, however, but listen attentively to what he has to say to you and consider quietly whether it pleases the Lord to apply these words to your heart. If not, then upon your return, use the means by renewal which the Lord has instituted in His Word, doing so quietly and without much ado. Neither by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord you will be restored.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel continuing his theme of helping the saints diagnose and treat the seasons of Christian Doubt. Here Brakel lays out 3 reminders with regards to our conversion. These reminders were stated to assist those who may doubt their conversion for various reasons. From pg. 211:

Thirdly, conversion rarely occurs in such a clear manner. Rather, it transpires as gradually as the rising of the sun, so that we are able to perceive only at some later date that we have changed. Yes, some are converted in their childhood so that they cannot recall having been in an unconverted state. Their progression is not a qualitative change, but rather a progression in spiritual light and life. They who have been converted in their adult years, after having lived an ungodly life, are better able to observe an evident difference when comparing the period prior to being under conviction and the period following their conviction.

Fourthly, it is not necessary that conversion be preceded by being greatly troubled, and by fear and trembling.
Some are quietly changed by the knowledge of the truth, and without much strife and comfort. Others, due to the preciousness of the gospel, are changed in a joyful manner as Zacchaeus was. Others experience this in a way of falling and rising again, and we may therefore not conclude from one type of conversion that another conversion is not right.

Fifthly, even if you were motivated by self-love, you may from this not doubt your conversion. In this respect, self-love is a virtue and is the initial motivation of many—if not all—converted persons. The same argument applies if terror persuaded you. It is immaterial whether Naaman‟s leprosy, the blindness of Bartimaeus, the curiosity of Zacchaeus, or the fear of the jailer have been the initial motives whereby you have been led to Christ. Therefore, do not occupy yourself with such thoughts. If you perceive true grace, acknowledge it and let your heart be encouraged thereby.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Brakel continuing his theme of helping the saints diagnose and treat the seasons of Christian Doubt. Here Brakel lays out 3 reminders with regards to our conversion. These reminders were stated to assist those who may doubt their conversion for various reasons. From pg. 211:

The first point is very relevant to the recent discussion of needing a date on which one was saved. Judged by the standard that you need a date of conversion, most godly people in the Bible must have been unconverted.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
The first point is very relevant to the recent discussion of needing a date on which one was saved. Judged by the standard that you need a date of conversion, most godly people in the Bible must have been unconverted.
Agreed. I was raised to “know” the date. However as I have grown older, I have looked back on my upbringing from my parents always having me in church (a baptist church mind you) and I can see that the Lord has always worked on me even as a young child. Well before I “walked the isle”, both times that is:p. I remember once during a bath as a small child how the Lord overwhelmed me with a fear of death and the devil. It left me crying in my mother’s arms. Yet, looking back now I can see how the Lord was working.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Agreed. I was raised to “know” the date. However as I have grown older, I have looked back on my upbringing from my parents always having me in church (a baptist church mind you) and I can see that the Lord has always worked on me even as a young child. Well before I “walked the isle”, both times that is:p. I remember once during a bath as a small child how the Lord overwhelmed me with a fear of death and the devil. It left me crying in my mother’s arms. Yet, looking back now I can see how the Lord was working.

The mischievous side of me thought that the reference to the bath was a reference to your immersion. ;)
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Sorry friends I cannot finish this thread out for this season. My conscience has been burdened by what the PB has morphed into during the COVID season. I am taking a break. I hope the board can move away from what I feel has been a long season of broad strokes of slander for entire groups and organizations. I stress the word “broad” as specific criticisms are certainly warranted, but oh how we should be much more hesitant to receives bad reports than good. And for the record “no” disagreements with me do not equal 9Cvs. But broad strokes condemning bodies of Christians that are unproved are just wrong and do not speak well for onlookers. My email is [email protected].
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry friends I cannot finish this thread out for this season. My conscience has been burdened by what the PB has morphed into during the COVID season. I am taking a break. I hope the board can move away from what I feel has been a long season of broad strokes of slander for entire groups and organizations. I stress the word “broad” as specific criticisms are certainly warranted, but oh how we should be much more hesitant to receives bad reports than good. And for the record “no” disagreements with me do not equal 9Cvs. But broad strokes condemning bodies of Christians that are unproved are just wrong and do not speak well for onlookers. My email is [email protected].
I hope you will reconsider this. Some of us would miss your insights. It's a big board with a lot of activity, and it's easy to focus on certain parts of it and ignore others. Maybe you could make a personal resolve to avoid COVID-related posts (though as I said before I have found them personally quite helpful), or maybe an appeal to the mods would be in order.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Closing the thread.

Sorry to see a profitable devotions thread turn into a complaint about moderation on a different topic.

Steady, folks....
 
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