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The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddington Hardcover – June, 2002
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... shows an astonishing grasp of Biblical theology coupled with a deep acquaintance with its divine subject. A magnificent work! (Peace and Truth)
"John Brown does not want you to be amazed at his story, intellect or far-reaching understand of theology. He wants you to look at Scripture for yourself and be amazed at its comprehensive theological tapestry woven from Genesis to Revelation. Brown's intention is nothing short of making you "mighty in the Scriptures." This, by God's grace, is what makes The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddington special." (Tony Reinke ~ Writer for Desiring God & author of Lit!)
"John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) is an honoured name in Scottish church history. For 36 years he ministered to an Associate Presbyterian congregation, and for 20 of those years he was also the denominational professor of divinity. Students came to Haddington for a restricted number of weeks, and then went away to carry on their studies that the professor had prescribed. The introduction to this reprint gives a good overview of Brown's life and work, while the study itself is a facsimile reproduction." (Allan Harman ~ Research Professor of Old Testament, Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, Australia)
"Eighteenth Century Scotland produced many noted ministers, scholars and educators, but none greater, or so greatly loved in his own day or afterwards, as John Brown of Haddington.
It is a thrill and delight to see this excellent title reprinted and available once again to the Christian public. It is an incredible work, and ministers and preachers in particular, ought not to begrudge a single penny spent on the purchase of a copy. Every bible truth in all its relevant parts is stated and explained and carefully laid out, with each phrase precisely crafted. At each point, there are copious Bible references, leaving the reader in no doubt thatwhat Brown has set before us has its roots in the Word of God. This is a well-produced edition with clear print, and is a pleasure to own.
One final comment: this volume ought to be required reading for every candidate for the Christian ministry." (Bible League Quarterly (January March 2005))
Based on his seminary lectures
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Brown's approach was classic Reformed and covenantal, consistent with the Westminster Standards. He makes short statements, each followed by a series of scripture proofs. In fact, the Scripture references come to almost 30 thousand in the course of the book. The format doesn't lend itself to armchair reading; the short, jerky statements separated by scripture references make it impossible to have smooth reading experience. This and the occasional anachronistic and Latinate theological terms definitely limit its readability. On the other hand, the format is perfect for quick glances with supporting scripture references for polemical use.
In addition to the lack of readability, the book's usefulness is limited by its lack of an index, and especially a lack of a scripture index. In contrast, it does have a a very detailed table of contents.
Some of Brown's Seceder compatriots wrote theological manuals more oriented toward the average man in the pews. Ebenezer Erskine, his brother Ralph Erskine, and E.'s son-in-law James Fisher wrote The Assembly's Shorter Catechism Explained: By Way of Question and Answer ... in Two Parts: I. of What Man Is to Believe Concerning God. Ii. of the Duty Which God Requires of Man, and Thomas Boston used the same format for An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion: With Respect to Faith and Practice, Upon the Plan of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism. Comprehending ... the Manuscripts of ... Thomas Boston, ...
Best when paired with Brown's Dictionary of Bible Characters.
Using a covenantal formulation, Brown lays out classic Reformed Theology with copious Scriptural support at every point. For example, Brown masterfully ties Union with Christ directly to Effectual Calling within the context of the Covenant of Grace in a way that directly refutes some modern theological errors at their heart. A man devoted to his Savior, Brown ends many chapters with devotional reflections appropriate to the chapter's material.
There are a number of good Reformed Systematics in my library, but I consistently find myself turning to John Brown's Systematic first. You will, too.