Ames’s method in this book is not an analysis of the Catechism itself. Rather, he chooses a particular text of Scripture that supports the main thoughts for a given Lord’s Day. While the exposition is directly from the Bible, Ames’s doctrinal conclusions interact with the corresponding Questions and Answers of the Heidelberg Catechism.
Joel R. Beeke and Todd M. Rester’s introduction provides valuable background on Ames and his work. Rester’s fresh translation from the Latin opens several avenues of interest for modern day English readers. Historians of 16th and 17th century thought will value the critical English translation of a much neglected text, and the fact that it demonstrates the interaction between English Puritanism and the Dutch Further Reformation. Reformed pastors will also take interest in this, as it provides another important resource on a classic doctrinal standard.
Classic Reformed Theology
Ames’s Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism is the inaugural volume of the Classic Reformed Theology series, edited by Dr. R. Scott Clark. This series seeks to produce and provide critical English translations of some of the more important but generally neglected texts of the orthodox period. It is the sincere hope of the editor and the board that at least one volume shall appear annually.
We call this series Classic Reformed Theology because, by definition, a period is classical when it defines an approach to a discipline. During the period of Protestant orthodoxy, Reformed theology reached its highest degree of definition and precision. It was in this period when the most important Reformed confessions were formed, and when the Reformed churches took the form they have today.
There are at least three reasons why classic Reformed theology ought to be studied and thus why this series of critical English translations should exist. First, Reformed orthodoxy forms the intellectual background of modern theology. Second, Reformed orthodoxy merits attention by those who identify with the Reformed confessions because it is their heritage and thus shapes their theology, piety, and practice. Third, contemporary scholarship has shown that it must be regarded as a vital intellectual and spiritual movement, and thus an important subject for continued study.