Peace for the Troubled Heart—Reformed Spirituality, by Herman Hoeksema, edited by David J. Engelsma. Reformed Free Publishing Association (www. rfpa.org), 2010. Hard cover, 294 pp. ISBN 978-1-936054-05-3. Reviewed by Charles J. Terpstra.
I have a new book of which to inform our readers, about which I am personally very excited! Peace for the Troubled Heart has recently been published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association (Fall, 2010). It consists of old meditations written by Herman Hoeksema, founding pastor and professor in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, and first published in this very magazine, Standard Bearer, between 1924 and 1947. The editor, David J. Engelsma, has pulled together 37 of these meditations (some translated from the Dutch by Marvin Kamps), divided them into three sections (“Pilgrimage,” “Suffering,” and “Struggle”), and placed them under the above title, for a book that truly is “Reformed Spirituality.”
In Engelsma’s own words in his “Preface”:
These meditations are deliberately and distinctively devotional. In language that is often poetical, they breathe the rich experience of the believing child of God.
Hoeksema’s meditations express and form genuine Reformed spirituality.
Always exegetical (whereas much purported spirituality is rooted in the emotions of the teacher), always biblical (whereas much purported spirituality is fanciful), and always doctrinal (whereas much purported spirituality is mystical), the meditations of Herman Hoeksema are instructive as well as moving (whereas much purported spirituality merely titillates the feelings for a fleeting moment).
I am so grateful to Prof. Engelsma, Marvin Kamps, and the RFPA for seeing to the publication of these meditations (and according to the preface more volumes are to come!). I well remember poring over my old, musty Standard Bearer volumes doing research on various texts, and being carried away by H.H.’s soul-stirring and soul-satisfying devotionals. I have long wished they could be resurrected and preserved in another form—and now they have been! The book is in hardcover form, 294 pages long, and retails for $28.95. Join the RFPA book club (see their website link above) and you can probably get a discount on the book. Or simply watch for their next sale. But even if you pay the full price, this wonderful devotional book is worth the expense!
I have one minor criticism/suggestion. I noticed that, while all of the texts on which the meditations are based are included over the actual meditations, there is no index of texts, nor are the texts included with the titles under “Contents.” I believe this would enhance the value of the book and make it more “user-friendly” for the reader.
Want a little “taste” of this marvelous volume? From the third meditation, based on Hebrews 11:16, and titled “Desiring the Heavenly Fatherland,” Hoeksema writes the following in his description of this precious hope of the believer (and here he speaks to one of his favorite subjects, the covenant of grace):
In that fatherland are all the relationships of the saints, who are strangers and pilgrims here. In that fatherland is the highest realization of God’s covenant of friendship: God’s house of many mansions, the most intimate fellowship with the Almighty, the experience of his favor, the knowing even as we are known, the seeing of one another face-to-face, the heavenly revelation of the charms and sweetness found at God’s right hand. There God’s love is eternally complete and finds its echo in our complete love of him. There we will serve him perfectly with a service of love that never disappoints, as co-workers with God as his covenantal friends. There is our citizenship, and there our joint citizenship with all the saints is perfected. There we will have fellowship in the perfect light with all those who in faith reverence his name. There everyone speaks the same language. There everyone performs the same service. There all live and walk in Christ Jesus in perfect light. There everyone bears the image of the heavenly. There is no death, no sin and no failure, no sorrow and no complaint, no struggle and no distress, and no fear. There is the rest of the perfect service of God.
Does that not breathe those qualities of which the editor spoke?! Get this devotional book and digest it slowly; it truly is food for the soul—good Reformed food.