Richard Sibbes


Anglican Theologian, Biblical Exegete, Representative, with William Perkins and John Preston, of what has been called "main-line" Puritanism

Author Quotes

Most of our disquietness in our calling is that we trouble ourselves about God?s work. Trust God and be doing, and let him alone with the rest.

Sincerity is the perfection of Christians. Let not Satan therefore abuse us. We do all things when we endeavor to do all things and purpose to do all things and are grieved when we cannot do better; then in some measure we do all things.

The religious affections of God's people are mixed, for they mingle their joy with weeping, and their weeping with joy; whereas a carnal man's are all simple; if he rejoices, he is mad; if he is sorrowful (unless it be restrained) it sinks him; but grace always tempers the joy and sorrow of a Christian, because he has always something to joy in, and something for which to grieve. What a poorness of spirit is it to be over-joyful or overmuch grieved, when all things are fading and vanish so soon away. Let us therefore bear continually in our minds that all things here below are subordinate to the upper world.

There is a miserable camouflage in sin; naturally men will deny sin or else diminish it as Adam did, and as Saul when Samuel came to convince him. "I have," said he, "done the commandment of the Lord," and when he was driven from that, then 'he did but spare them for sacrifice'; but when nothing could satisfy, then "I pray thee honor me before the people." Things we cannot justify we will excuse; unless God come by His Spirit we are ready to shift them off, but when the Spirit comes and takes away all these fig leaves, then He convinces each of his miserable condition, not only in general, but the Spirit working together with the Word, brings him to confess, "I am the man."

Those that measure lands are very exact in everything, but the poor man whose it is knows the use of the ground better, and delights in it more because it is his own; so it is with those ministers that can exactly speak of heavenly truths yet have no share in them, but the poor soul that hears them rejoices and says, "These things are mine."

We should labor to agree mutually in love, for that wherein any Christian differs from another is but in petty things. Grace knows no difference. The worm knows no difference. The Day of Judgment knows no difference. In the worst things we are all alike base, and in the best things we are all alike happy. Only in this world God will have distinctions for the sake of order, but otherwise there is no difference.

When the soul desires the forgiveness of sin and not grace to lead a new life, that desire is hypocritical, for a true Christian desires power against sin as well as pardon for it. If we have not sanctifying grace we have not pardoning grace. Christ came by water to regenerate as well as by blood to justify. It should therefore be our continual care and endeavor to grow and increase in grace, because without it we shall never get to heaven; without this endeavor our sacrifices are not accepted; without this, we cannot withstand our enemies nor bear any cross. Without it we cannot go on comfortably in our course. Without this we cannot do anything acceptable and pleasing to God.

Natural men labor to quiet all checks of conscience by sensuality; men are loath to know themselves as they are; they are of the devil's mind, they would not be tormented before their time; such men when they are alone, are afraid of themselves.

Spiritual conviction is not total in this life, but always leaves in the heart some dregs of doubting, though the soul be safe. As a ship that rides at anchor is tossed and troubled, but the anchor holds it, so it is with the soul that is somewhat convinced of its good state, it is sure of the main, yet is tossed with many doubts and fears, but the anchor is in heaven.

The righteousness of works leaves, the soul in perplexity; that righteousness which comes by any other means than by Christ leaves the soul unsettled, because the law of God promises life only upon absolute and personal performance. Now the heart of man tells him that this he has not done, such and such duties he has omitted, and this breeds perplexity because he has not any support.

There is no condition but a Christian picks good matter of it, as a good artist sometimes will make a good piece of work out of bad materials to show his skill. A gracious man is not dejected over-much with abasement, nor lifted up over-much with abundance, but by faith carries himself in a uniform manner becoming a Christian in all conditions. Whereas those that have not been brought up in Christ's school nor trained up in a variety of conditions, they learn to do nothing. If they abound, they are proud; if they be cast down, they murmur and fret and are dejected, as if there were no divine providence that ruled the world.

Though Christ is a Head of influence from which rich grace flows into every member, yet He is a voluntary Head, and gives grace according to His own good pleasure, and the exigence of His members. Sometimes we have need of more grace, then it flows plentifully and supplies all our wants. Sometimes we have need to know our own weakness, and then the Lord our strength and our guide leaves us to ourselves that we may know that without Him we cannot stand; that we may know the necessity of His guidance to heaven in the sense of our imperfections, and that we may see our weakness, such corruptions which we thought were wholly subdued, as Moses by God's permission was tempted to murmur - such a meek man; and David to cruelty - such a mild man. They thought they had not had those corruptions so powerful in their hearts.

We should labor to judge ourselves before God for those things that the world takes no notice of, for spiritual, for inward things, e.g. for the motions of pride, of worldliness, of revenge, of security, unthankfulness and such-like unkindness towards God, and for our barrenness in all good duties, that we owe to God and men. Such sins the world cannot see, yet these should humble our hearts, for when we do not make conscience of spiritual sins, God gives us up to some open abominations that stain and publicly disgrace our holy profession.

When the truth of grace is wrought in a Christian, his desires go beyond his strength, and his prayers are answerable to his desires. Whereupon it is that young Christians often call their state in question because they cannot bring heaven upon earth, because they cannot be perfect, but God will have us depend upon Him for increase of grace in a daily expectation.

Nature cannot work above its own powers, as vapors cannot ascend higher than the sun draws them. Our hearts are naturally shut, and God opens them by His Spirit in the use of means. The children of Israel in the wilderness saw wonders upon wonders, and yet when they came to be proved, they would not believe.

Succor us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of his displeasure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; he was troubled, that we should not be desperately troubled; he became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all sufficient comforter is all to be found.

The Spirit of God may be known to be in weak Christians, as the soul is known to be in the body by the pulses; even so the Spirit discovers itself in them by pulses, by groaning, sighing, complaining that it is so with them and that they are no better, so that they are out of love with themselves. This is a happy sign that the Spirit in some good measure dwells in such souls.

There is no true Christian but has a public spirit to seek the good of others, because as soon as he is a Christian he labors for self-denial. He knows he must give up himself and all to God, so that his spirit is enlarged in an increasing measure unto God and towards the church. Therefore the greater portion a man has of the Spirit of Christ the more he seeks the good of all men.

Though God deliver us not out of trouble yet He delivers us from the evil of trouble, from despair in trouble, by supporting the spirit. Nay, He delivers by trouble, for He sanctifies the trouble to cure the soul, and by little troubles He delivers us from greater.

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.

When the Word dwells as a familiar friend in the heart to direct, counsel and comfort us, then it is a sign it abides there. The devil knows good and hates it, therefore knowledge alone is nothing; but when the promise alters the temper of the heart itself, then it is engrafted there.

It is not sufficient for a Christian to have habitual grace; there is no vine can bring forth fruit without the fresh influences of heaven, though it be planted and well rooted in a good soil; so we cannot bring forth fruit unless God assists us; our former strength will not serve when a new temptation comes.

No man is a true divine but the child of God; he only knows holy things by a holy light and life. Other men though they speak of these things, yet practically they know them not. Take the most mystical points in religion such as justification, adoption, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, the sweet benefit of communion of saints, the excellent state of a Christian in extremity, to know what is to be done upon all occasions, inward sight and sorrow for sin; they know not what these things mean, for however aptly they may discourse of them, yet the things themselves are mysteries. Repentance is a mystery; joy in the Holy Ghost is a mystery; no natural man though he be never so great a scholar knows these things experimentally. He knows them only as physicians know physic by their books, but not as a sick man by his own experience.

Take a circumspect Christian and whatsoever he does, he does it in fear; if he calls God, Father, it is with filial fear, and he eats and drinks with cautious fear. Jude speaks of them that eat without fear; but the true servant of God has a holy fear accompanying him in all his actions, in his words, and even in his recreations, in his meat and drink, and throughout his life. He that has not this fear, how bold is he in wicked courses and loose in all his conduct! But mark a true Christian and you shall always see in him some happy expressions of a holy fear.

The tenets of [the Christian life] seem paradoxes to carnal men; as first, that a Christian is the only freeman, and other men are slaves; that he is the only rich man, though never so poor in the world; that he is the only beautiful man, though outwardly never so deformed; that he is the only happy man in the midst of all his miseries.

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Anglican Theologian, Biblical Exegete, Representative, with William Perkins and John Preston, of what has been called "main-line" Puritanism