Brakel, Wilhelmus A
The Christian’s Only Comfort is the sermonic exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism by Theodore VanderGroe (1705–1784), a prominent divine of the Dutch Further Reformation. VanderGroe’s exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism could be considered his magnum opus, and in some ways it was esteemed as highly by the godly in the Netherlands as The Christian’s Reasonable Service of Wilhelmus à Brakel. In this able exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, we find the unmistakable characteristics of the Dutch Further Reformation: it is steeped in Scripture; it is very pastoral; and it promotes a robust, comprehensive form of Reformed piety.
Theodore VanderGroe (1705–1784) is one of the last and most well-known representatives of the Dutch Further Reformation. He devoted fifty-four years of his life to faithful preaching and pastoral ministry, serving two Reformed churches in the Netherlands: Rijnsaterwoude for ten years and Kralingen for forty-four years. His numerous books convey a healthy balance of Reformed doctrine combined with a biblical form of pastoral spirituality. His involvement in various ecclesiastical controversies led him to write extensively on the essence and assurance of faith, justification, and the relationship of law and gospel. His sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism, published here for the first time, have long been regarded as his most important work.
Bartel Elshout is a minister in the Heritage Reformed Congregations, serving in Hull, Iowa, and a translator from Dutch to English of numerous Reformed works, including Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service.
Joel R. Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also serves as a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids.
“Theodore VanderGroe was one of the most renowned Dutch ministers of the eighteenth century. He referred to his doctrine as ‘our healthy, mystical divinity.’ His Reformed experiential mysticism is healthy, for it has God’s Word as its benchmark. Even today, many of his works are well known in the Reformed-experiential segment of the Dutch population. Acquaintance with his exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism is, however, minimal, and I rejoice that this will no longer be the case with this publication. The fundamental tenor of VanderGroe’s preaching that the law wounds and the gospel heals also comes to the fore in his exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism.
Amid the current prevalence of so much superficial literature, it is refreshing to read this exposition of the catechism. His exposition of the preamble of the law, prior to his sermon on Lord’s Day 34, is both surprising and deeply experiential. Never have I read a treatment on this subject that is as clear and as scriptural as this. I wholeheartedly wish to endorse and recommend this beautiful two-volume work that has been forgotten far too long and pray that it will find a wide reception in the English language.” — Cornelis Harinck, prolific author and retired minister of the Gereformeerde Gemeenten in the Netherlands
“Biblical, Christ-centered, and experiential sermons—VanderGroe’s exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism echoes the essence of the Reformation.” — Adriaan C. Neele, director of the doctoral program and professor of historical theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan