A High Point in Dutch Reformed Theology: Affirming the Covenant of Works

The Christian's Reasonable Service, 4 VolsI pointed out in a previous post on Johannes Vanderkemp (c. 1700) that “old-school” Dutch Reformed theology had a robust view of the Covenant of Works.  There was another “huge” Dutch theologian writing at that same time: Wilhelmus a Brakel.  In 1700, he published his massive dogmatics, The Christian’s Reasonable Service.  In his day and following, a Brakel was a giant.  In the 18th century alone, this 4-volume dogmatics was reprinted 20 times! 

So what does he say about the Covenant of Works? 

“Acquaintance with this covenant is of the greatest importance, for whoever errs here or denies the covenant of works, will not understand the covenant of grace, and will readily err concerning the mediatorship of the Lord Jesus.  Such a person will very readily deny that Christ by His active obedience has merited a right to eternal life for the elect.  This is to be observed with several parties who, because they err concerning the covenant of grace, also deny the covenant of works.  Conversely, whoever denies the covenant of works, must rightly be suspected to be in error concerning the covenant of grace as well.”

 Clarity. Precision.  No equivocation or ambiguity.  Outstanding!

Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books), 355.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

1 thought on “A High Point in Dutch Reformed Theology: Affirming the Covenant of Works”

  1. That is a great quote, and I relish it every time I read it. I also discussed this chapter from a Brakel on my blog with this quote. Muller also quoted it in his excellent work, After Calvin, where he has an excellent chapter on Brakel’s view of the covenant of works.

    I’m glad that you finally got a Brakel. Where did you get it from?:)

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