First published in 1700, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (De Redelijke Godsdienst) ran through 20 Dutch editions in the eighteenth century alone! The title is derived from Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” It expresses what God requires from man, and particularly from the Christian, that he serve him in Spirit and in truth—intelligently, rationally, and in harmony with and response to God’s revelation of himself: his Word.
With a decidedly Puritan flavor and representing Reformed experiential religion at its best, Wilhelmus à Brakel systematically moves through the major doctrines of the Bible in hopes of seeing the minds of God’s people renewed for the purpose of promoting godliness. Throughout his work, but particularly in the practical application of each doctrine, à Brakel strives unceasingly to exalt the name of Jesus as the name that the Father has given above every other name—there being no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). This volume addresses God, Man, and Christ.
“Secondly, the form or essence of religion consists of man’s knowledge, recognition, and heart-felt endorsement of this binding obligation, which is to live unto God at all times and in all things with all that he is and is capable of performing. This is so because He is God and by virtue of His nature this is His worthy due.” (Volume 1, Page 4)
“We understand the decree of God to be the eternal, volitional, all-wise, sovereign, and immutable purpose of God concerning all and every matter, comprehending both the time and the manner in which these matters will occur.” (Volume 194, Page 2)
“From all this it becomes evident that man by nature possesses both an external and internal knowledge of God.” (Volume 1, Page 8)
“Literally, ‘Nadere Reformatie’ means a ‘nearer,’ ‘more intimate,’ or ‘more precise Reformation.’ The intended emphasis lies on working out the initial Reformation more intimately in personal lives, in the church’s worship, and in society as a whole.” (Volume 1, Pages lxxxv–lxxxvi)
“It is certain that the knowledge of Christ and faith in Christ are entirely absent in the natural knowledge of God. He is revealed only in the gospel, a revelation to which the heathen are not privy.” (Volume 1, Page 13)
The Christian’s Reasonable Service represents, perhaps more than any other work, the Puritan heartbeat and balance of the Dutch Second Reformation. Here systematic theology and vital, experiential Christianity are scripturally and practically interwoven with a covenantal framework, the whole bearing the mark of a pastor-theologian deeply taught by the Spirit. Sweeping in coverage, nearly every subject treasured by Christians is treated in an unusually helpful way, always aiming for the promotion of godliness. In my opinion, this pastoral set of books is an essential tool for every pastor and is extremely valuable for lay people as well. Happily, you can now read it freshly translated into contemporary English.
—Joel R. Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service is a tremendously insightful work that showcases the marriage between scholastic precision and a warm pastoral piety. À Brakel not only challenges the mind as he plumbs the depths of the teachings of Scripture, but he also challenges the heart as readers must grapple with the truth and its implications for their growth in grace. Not only can historians read à Brakel to learn about historic Reformed theology, but scholars, pastors, and laymen can all benefit from a close reading of these wonderful volumes.
—J. V. Fesko, academic dean and professor of systematic theology and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California
With its fine balance of Reformed doctrinal statement and application to Christian life and personal piety, à Brakel’s Christian’s Reasonable Service provides a superb illustration of the theological project associated with the late seventeenth century development of the Dutch Nadere Reformatie, or ‘Further Reformation.’ Although it abounds in sound definition and detailed exposition, this vernacular theology was intended not for the academic setting but for the purpose of educating the laity in both faith and practice. It remains a significant study in Reformed theology even as it exemplifies the true sense of the old Reformed maxim, Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda—namely, that the doctrine of the church has been reformed but the life of the Christian is always to be reformed, guided by the teachings of the Reformation. The Elshout translation beautifully conveys the sense and the spirit of à Brakel’s work.
—Richard A. Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
No systematic theology compares to Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service for its explicit concern to weld the objective and subjective in theology. Emerging from the Dutch Further Reformation, à Brakel is without equal in exploring both the intricate details of the Reformed theological system whilst ensuring that at every turn theology is done in the interests of piety and the glory of God. In an era when the subjective has either been lost in a sea of postmodernity or viewed with suspicion for its apparent lack of academic integrity, only those who have never read this monumental treatise would dismiss it as guilty of either. An achievement to place alongside Calvin’s Institutes and the systematic theologies of Turretin, Hodge, and Berkhof.
—Derek W. H. Thomas, professor of systematic and historical theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
With the Logos edition, Logos Bible Software helps you get even more out of systematic reference works The Christian’s Reasonable Service. You’ll easily discover important information you wouldn’t find otherwise by performing searches through all four volumes. Scripture references link directly to the original language texts and your preferred translation. Á Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service incorporates itself into your Logos ecosystem, appearing in other works’ cross-references and linking directly to the sources it cites—enhancing the value of your entire library.