The Smoking Flax
This chapter takes a bit of thought for the modern mind (and for post-moderns as well). In our day and age, when we want flame we strike a match, flick a switch, or turn a knob. In Sibbes' day, as during the entire Biblical period, things were a bit more complicated. To obtain a flame you might need to strike flint against steel, directing the sparks into some type of tinder, possibly a piece of flax. The tinder would begin to smolder, but was still unusable until you had gently fanned it into flame.
The fact that we don't see this process daily might keep us from seeing the significance of the "smoking flax" (KJV) or "smoldering" or "faintly burning wick" (ESV) in Matthew 12:20 and Isaiah 42:3. We may be smoky wicks of flax, putting off more smoke than useable flame at present, but He will bring about the fire.
In this chapter Sibbes give several Biblical examples of how the fire was kindled in the lives of God's precious children. At the same time he shows that traces of smoke remain, due to our deficiencies.
Christ has begun a work in us, and it might now appear to be but a wisp of smoke, and not a full blown flame. We can trust that He will gently fan that spark into a raging fire for His glory.
My prayer for the week? More flame, less smoke.