This weeks "thought" consists of many individual thoughts by a man named Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He was one of the greatest Puritans of his age and greatly influenced the direction and content of Puritan preaching, theology, and writing in both his homeland of England and in America.
Of him Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote: "I shall never cease to be grateful to Richard Sibbes, who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil.... I found at that time that Richard Sibbes... was an unfailing remedy. His books The Bruised Reed and The Soul's Conflict quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged, and healed me."
That seems to have been the stated purpose of Sibbes preaching, for he wrote: "To preach is to woo.... The main scope of all [preaching] is, to allure us to the entertainment of Christ's mild, safe, wise, victorious government [or Lordship]." And historian William Haller says of his sermons: "They were the most brilliant and popular of all the utterances of the Puritan church militant.” Charles Spurgeon's so cherished Sibbes writings that he asked his wife Suzanne to read to him from Sibbes' book "The Bruised Reed" when he was bedridden. In fact, just reading that one book, as I've told many, will change your attitude toward the Puritans.
Here are some gems taken from his writings. Enjoy.
On July 4,1635, the day before his death, he told a friend: "I commend and bequeath my soul into the hands of my gracious Savior, who hath redeemed it with his most precious blood, and appears now in heaven to receive it."
Of Jesus' righteous life of obedience, and His atoning death for sin, the merits of which God graciously credits to the the account of the believing sinner, he wrote: “God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives.”
“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us... No sin is so great but the satisfaction of Christ and His mercies are greater; it is beyond comparison. Fathers and mothers in tenderest affections are but beams that point and lead us upwards to the infinite mercy of God in Christ”
"Measure not God's love and favor by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof.”
"Glory follows afflictions, not as the day follows the night but as the spring follows the winter; for the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.”
"Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in us; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies.”
"Whatsoever is good for God's children they shall have it; for all is theirs to help them towards heaven; therefore if poverty be good they shall have it; if disgrace or crosses be good they shall have them; for all is ours to promote our greatest prosperity."
"Self-emptiness prepares us for spiritual fullness."
"The love of a wife to her husband may begin from the supply of her necessities, but afterwards she may love him also for the sweetness of his person; so the soul first loves Christ for salvation but when she is brought to Him and finds what sweetness there is in Him then she loves Him for Himself."
"Partial obedience is not obedience at all; to single out easy things that do not oppose our lusts, which are not against our reputation, therein some will do more than they need; but our obedience must be universal to all God's commandments, and that because He commands it. Empty relationships are nothing; if we profess ourselves God's servants and do not honour Him by our obedience, we take but an empty title."
"When we are foiled, let us believe we shall overcome; when we have fallen, let us believe we shall rise again. Jacob, after he received a blow which made him lame, yet would not give over wrestling (Gen. 32:25) till he had obtained the blessing. So let us never give up, but, in our thoughts knit the beginning, progress and end together, and then we shall see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all enemies."
"Let us lay ourselves open to the Spirit's touch. When the Spirit has ruling sway in our lives he fine-tunes our souls much like a musical instrument, and then he plays our lives as a piano concerto before God... The Holy Spirit must rule; he will have the keys delivered to him. We must submit to his government, and when he is in the heart he will subdue bit by bit all high thoughts, rebellious risings, and despairing fears."