This isn’t an outline of the whole book, but of what I found most helpful.
The book is vintage Beeke. While not a collection of independent essays, most of them can be read independently, although the essays on the Erskines build on each other. In this book the reader gets an outstanding (if sometimes limited) perspective on Reformed and Puritan spirituality. Aside from some editorial hiccups, this book is a treasure.
The Holy Spirit is the bond that unites us to Christ. Excellent opening by Beeke. Places the internum testimonium Spiritus within the larger working of salvation, and not just as it relates to Scripture.
Calvin and Piety
- Piety is rooted in the mystical union (3).
- Communion and Participation
- Piety’s Double-bond: The Spirit and Faith
- The Holy Spirit is the channel through which Christ is communicated to his people.
- “Engrafting.” “Secret energy” (Calvin, quoted in Beeke 5).
Calvin’s Paradoxes on Assurance of Faith
- Faith is assent, trust, knowledge.
- Assurance of the essence of faith
- “Sure and secure possession of those things which God promised us” (quoted in Beeke 37).
- Assurance can be quenched at times
- Calvin set the ought/is dichotomy against the backdrop of spirit/flesh.
- The germ of faith is not necessarily the same thing as the consciousness of faith.
- Trinitarian framework
- Movement of the grace of faith from the Father in the Son through the Spirit.
- Election and Missionary spirit:
Anthony Burgess on Assurance
- The possibility of assurance (Beeke 174).
- False Assurance
- True Assurance
- Lacking consciousness of true assurance
- The foundations of assurance
- Primary objective ground: divine promises in Christ.
- Secondary, internal grounds: testimony of the Holy Spirit.
- Practical syllogism:
- Mystical syllogism: only those who possess saving faith will receive the Spirit’s testimony. Second premise: I cannot deny that I possess the Spirit’s testimony. Conclusion: I have saving faith.
- Cultivation of Assurance: God uses conflicts, doubts, and trials to strengthen a believer’s faith.
- Privilege of assurance usually doesn’t come right away.
- Assurance lost and renewed:
Puritans and Nadere Reformatie
- The Puritans stressed the grounds of assurance
- They warned against elevating secondary grounds of assurance
- Assurance understood in a Trinitarian framework.
- Assurance is a gift of God involving the whole man.
- Stressed the act of faith.
- The Dutch emphasized the “steps of grace.”
- Stressed the Spirit’s immediate witness.
- Stressed the habitus of faith.
John Brown of Haddington
Brown’s Compendius View
- Federal theologian
- Covenant: “an agreement between different persons on certain terms” (quoted in Beeke, 216).
- “Brown rejects the idea of a covenant of redemption separate from a covenant of grace” (216).
- Distinguishes between contracting and administering.
- CoG conditional in nature but Christ fulfills all conditions.
Life and Theology of Thomas Boston
- Federal Theologian
- Covenant of Works.
- Covenant of Grace
- Says CoG and CoR are two sides of the same covenant (231).
- CoG established in eternity.
Puritan Practice of Meditation
- Clear your heart from things of the world.
- Have your heart cleansed from guilt and pollution.
- Begin with Scripture reading
- Memorize the selected verses.
Ames and the Marrow of Theology
- Moderate Voluntarism: Ames held to the primacy of volition
- Maccovius held to primacy of intellect
- Puritan Preaching was Biblical
- Puritan preaching was doctrinal
- God’s starting point in eternity did not demean his activit in time.
- Witsius was formally a Cocceian and materially a Voetian.
- Economy of the Covenants
- Covenants between God and man are monopleuric.
- All covenants are dipleuric in administration.
- Election is the backdrop of the covenant