Wilhelmus à Brakel on Assurance


This morning I was reading his treatise “EDIFYING DISCOURSES REGARDING THE PREPARATION FOR, THE PARTAKING OF, AND THE REFLECTION UPON THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER” and I encountered a few gems on assurance that seemed worthy to share more broadly. These come from The Second Discourse: Concerning the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper. They come in catechetical form and I leave them here without further comment.

Question #2: Is such assurance essential?

Answer: 1. Believers are commanded to strive for such assurance. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove your own selves. Know your own selves, how Jesus Christ is in you unless you are rejected” (2 Cor. 13:5). “Therefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).

  1. If you neglect pursuing assurance, you will become careless about your spiritual state and you will neglect being serious about your conversion.
  2. Assurance is sweet, yields spiritual liberty, and kindles love to God and for holiness.

Question #3: Why is it that so many are lethargic and neglectful when it comes to seeking assurance?

Answer: This proceeds from:

  1. Despondency. A person thinks, “Whatever is found in me is entirely deficient.”
  2. Slothfulness and laziness. A person makes no effort in this regard, and cannot be bothered making such an effort.
  3. Ignorance as to how such assurance may be extracted from the Word of God.
  4. Erroneously thinking that assurance can only be the result of an immediate pronouncement by the Holy Spirit.
  5. Unbelieving and atheistic thoughts.
  6. Unbelief. A person thinks that this will always be beyond reach; he has been praying for this so long already, and to no avail.

Question #4: How can you attain such assurance?

Answer: You must deduce this from the Word of God.

  1. First, you must look for promises in the Word of God that are addressed to people who have the disposition of being poor in spirit, mourning, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and a looking unto and believing in Jesus. You must then say, “This is true; it cannot be otherwise.”
  2. You must then proceed to examine your heart in the presence of God as to whether such characteristics are found in you.
  3. If your conscience affirms this, then you must finally conclude from these two truths and reason as follows: “The Scriptures say that whoever is of such a disposition are those to whom such promises are addressed. Since, however, I am so disposed, this promise also pertains to me.”

Question #5: What is the essence of assurance?

Answer: It consists neither in tender emotions nor in extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit. A person may have a yearning for them, but this does not constitute the essence of assurance. Rather, it consists in:

  1. A quiet peace and spiritual satisfaction resulting from the aforementioned conclusion and in having a clear grasp of the promised heavenly benefits.
  2. In entrusting one’s soul and salvation to Jesus, doing so without fear, and brushing aside all that may militate against this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: