Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Bruised Reed, Chapter 1

This is the first post related to Timmy Brister's challenge to read deeply from the Puritan Divines during 2008.

January begins with Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed from 1630. Richard Sibbes, 1577-1635, was known as "the heavenly Doctor Sibbes" as a result of the quality of his preaching. Isaak Walton wrote of him: "Of this blest man, let just praise be given: heaven was in him before he was in heaven" (Introduction, page viii).

Chapter One shows us that Sibbes' had a grasp of a great yet merciful God. I include two extracts from the chapter that speak for themselves. As I read them this morning I rejoiced that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) Richard Sibbes was, and is, a humble servant of his Creator.

What a support to our faith is this, that God the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so well pleased with the work of redemption! And what a comfort is this, that, seeing God's love rests on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love rests in a whole Christ, in Christ mystical, as well as Christ natural, because he loves him and us with one love. Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him God's love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour that is furnished with so high a commission." (page 2)

"...bruising is required before conversion that so the Spirit may make way for himself into the heart by levelling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature. We love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers at home, till God bruises us by one cross or other, and then we 'begin to think', and come home to ourselves with the prodigal (Luke 15:17). It is a very hard thing to bring a dull and an evasive heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the Judge. (page 4)

Yet, as Sibbes shows us on page 1, the promise from God is that he will not break that bruised reed (Isaiah 42:1-3) a promise confirmed in Christ (Matthew 18:18-20). Our bruising is for our benefit, something that we need to be constantly reminded of in times of trial and suffering.

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