This book is a very interesting book. For one thing, it is a Puritan’s (and Ramist’s!) commentary on the Continental Heidelberg Catechism. This means that there was definitely cross-pollinating going on in the time of the post-Reformation. For more, see the excellent introduction by Joel Beeke and Todd Rester (pp. xii-xxxii). Ames was one of the Puritans invited to the Synod of Dordt. The introduction gives a brief sketch of his life and work, including an excellent discussion of Ramism (pp. xvii-xviii). This volume is the inaugural volume in the series Classic Reformed Theology. There is an excellent introduction to the entire series by R. Scott Clark. The series intends to “produce and provide critical English translations of some of the more important but generally neglected texts of the orthodox period.” One can only say a hearty amen to that!
The commentary itself is not quite what we would expect, however, in a catechism commentary, for he does not primarily comment on the catechism itself, but rather on a passage of Scripture upon which that Lord’s Day of the Catechism was based. So, for instance, Lord’s Day one is a commentary on Psalm 4:6-8, wherein is shown that the Psalmist’s “highest good… is located in God’s favor towards him” (p. 5), an excellent summary of question 1 of the HC. In other words, this book would be an excellent study in moving from Scripture to Catechism, seeing how the Catechism is based on the Word.
Just to take a few ideas from the book, under Lord’s Day 23 on justification, he says several helpful things: “People are justified either by nature, or by law, or by the gospel, but they can be justified neither by nature nor by the law” (p. 116); “In the resurrecting of our Head, Jesus Christ, from the dead, we have all been justified virtually, in whatever manner all of His posterity had been virtually sinners in Adam’s sinning” (p. 117). This latter quotation is especially important, as it proves that the connection between justification and resurrection is not original with Gaffin, however much he emphasized it. In fact, the connection is quite old.
So there is significant historical interest in this book, as a specimen of cross-pollination of the British and the Continental streams of Reformed theology; it is of interest systematically, when considered from the perspective of moving from text to catechism, and it is of interest theologically simply in what it says. I recommend it.