Walking with Richard Sibbes

One Wednesday gone, Richard Sibbes accompanied me on my walk to our mid-week service. He was an Anglican preacher who lived 1577-1635, and was based at Cambridge. Other famous men were converted by his preaching, including John Cotton and Hugh Peters and it is said that he turned John Preston from “witty preaching” to plain, spiritual admonishment.

Although he is chiefly portrayed wearing a rather unusual headdress, and some of his works have rather dated, unfortunate titles (eg ‘Bowels Opened’), he is still a help to the contemporary Christian. To three hours’ worth of his sermons did I listen, and I was much encouraged. In particular, chapters of his Bruised Reed are a real tonic to the soul. Are you feeling dejected and weak in your faith? Do you feel like you are losing Christ and the gospel’s hope? Take Dr Sibbes’ medicine. Listen here to The Bruised Reed. Charles Spurgeon called Sibbes 'the Sweet Dropper.' Here are some of his sweets:

“‎Measure not God's love and favour 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.”

“Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies.”

“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.”

“Better to be in trouble with Christ, than in peace without him.”

“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.“

As I walked back towards Stocks Lane along the main road, I beheld red lights glowering overhead. They were the average-speed cameras which the County Council installed a couple of years ago. Their red glow I found rather menacing. I felt as though I was being watched and disapproved of. Still, Shank's Pony upon which I rode, might have been a poor mode of transport, but it did exempt me from the cameras’ prosecuting zeal. Sometimes we think we see Jehovah’s dread frown peering down at our lacklustre faith and imperfect lives. Says Mr Sibbes:

“Physicians, though they put their patients to much pain, will not destroy their nature, but will raise it up by degrees. Surgeons will pierce and cut but not mutilate. A mother who has a sick and self-willed child will not cast it away for this reason. And shall there be more mercy in the stream than there is in the spring? Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God, who plants the feeling of mercy in us?”

Top Picture Credit: Gustavus Ellinthorpe Sintzenich and workshop - Art UK, Public Domain.