Richard Sibbes


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

Author Quotes

Let a particular judgment come upon any man, presently his conscience recalls back what sins long past have been committed by him, so that this waking of conscience shows that we are all sinful creatures.

Prayer exercises all the graces of the Spirit; we cannot pray, but our faith is exercised, our love, our patience, which makes us set a high price upon that we seek after and to use it well.

The convincing of the Spirit may be distinguished from common conviction of conscience by this, that natural conviction is weak, like a little spark, and convinces only of our sins against the second table and not the first, especially of sins against the Gospel. Again, common conviction is against a man's will, it makes him not the better man, only he is tortured and tormented; but a man that is convinced by the Spirit, joins with the Spirit against himself; he accuses himself; he takes God's part against himself; he is willing to have his heart laid open, that he may seek and find the greater mercy.

There are many things to hinder the grace of waiting. There is a great deal of tedious time and many crosses to meet with, such as the scorn and reproach of this world, and many other trials. God seems also to do nothing less than to perform His promise; but let us comfort ourselves that He waits to do them good that wait upon Him.

Those that care not for the Word are strangers to the Spirit, and those that care not for the Spirit never make a right use of the Word. The Word is nothing without the Spirit. It is animated and quickened by the Spirit. The Spirit and the Word are like the veins and arteries in the body, that give quickening and life to the whole body, and therefore, where the Word is most revealed there is most of the Spirit, but where Christ is not opened in the Gospel, there the Spirit is not at all visible in His saving power.

We must look upon Christ not only for healing, but as a perfect pattern to imitate; for wherefore else did He live so long upon the earth, but to show us an example. And let us remember that we shall be accountable for those good examples which we have from others. There is not an example of a humble, holy and industrious life, but shall be laid to our charge; for God purposely lets them shine in our eyes that we might take example by them.

When Joshua cursed the man that should build the walls of Jericho, he was not in any commotion or fury but in a peaceable temper. So when cursing comes from such a one, he is only a declaratory instrument and the conveyer of God's curse. Therefore every man must not take it upon him, for men often curse when they should bless, which is an arrow shot upright that falls down upon their own heads, but those that come in the Name of the Lord and are qualified for that purpose, their curses or blessings are to be regarded, for they are a means oftentimes to convey God's blessing or His curse.

Wicked men depart out of this world like malefactors that are unwilling to go out of prison, but God's children when they die, they die in obedience... To be in the body is a good condition because we live by faith, but it is better to be with the Lord because then we shall live by sight.

Many men oppose the power of divine grace, and rest in common civil things and mere outward performances. But when we do not duly regard the manner, God regards not the matter of the service we do; therefore oftentimes He punishes professors for the ill performance of good duties.

See a flame in a spark, a tree in a seed. See great things in little beginnings.

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.

There are none that in sincerity do frequently promote holy conference but are great gainers thereby. Many men ask questions and are inquisitive to know, but not that they might put into practice. This is but a proud desire to taste of the tree of knowledge? We gain much oftentimes by discourse with those that are young in religion. Paul desires to meet with the Romans though they were his converts, that he might himself be strengthened and comforted by their mutual faith. "That is, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and me" (Rom. 1:12).

Those that care not for the Word of God reject their comfort; all comfort must be drawn out of the Scriptures, which are the breasts of consolation; many are bred up by education to know the truth and are able to discourse of it, but they lack the Spirit of truth, arid that is the reason why all their knowledge vanishes away in time of trial and temptation.

We must not only stand for the truth, but we must stand for it in a holy manner, and not as proud persons do; we must observe that rule, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15). We must not bring passion into God's cause nor must our lives give our tongues the lie.

When men can find no comfort and yet set themselves to teach and encourage weaker Christians, by way of reflection they receive frequently great comfort themselves. So does God reward the conscientious performance of this duty of mutual discourse; that those things we did not so fully understand before, by discourse we come to know and relish far better. This should teach us to be in love with holy conference, for besides the good we do to others we are much profited ourselves.

With our contemplation let us join this kind of reasoning; God so hated pride that He became humbled to the death of the cross to redeem us from it, and shall we be proud? When we are stirred up to revenge, consider that Christ prayed for His enemies; when we are tempted to disobedience, think God in our nature was obedient unto death; and shall we stand upon terms? And when we grow hard-hearted, consider Christ became Man that He might show bowels of mercy; let us reason thus when we are tempted to any sin, and it will be a means to transform us.

Many men would be in Canaan as soon as they were out of Egypt, they would be at the highest pitch presently; but God will lead us through the wilderness of temptations and afflictions till we come to heaven, and it is a part of our Christian meekness to submit to God and not to murmur because we are not as we would be, but let us rather magnify the mercies of God that work in us any love of good things, and that He vouchsafes us any of the first-fruits of glory.

Sight is the noblest sense; it is quick; it can see from earth to heaven in a moment; it is large; it can see the hemisphere of the heavens with one view; it is sure and certain, for in hearing we may be deceived. Lastly, it is the most affecting sense; even so is faith the quickest, the largest, the most certain, and most affecting.

The quintessence and spirit of the things we ask in prayer are in God, as joy and peace and contentedness. Without this joy and peace, what are all the things in the world? And in the want of these outward things, if we have Him we have all, because the spirit of all is in Him and Him alone.

There are some sins that let Satan loose upon us. Such as first, pride. We see it in Paul, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (2 Cor. 12:7). Secondly, conceitedness and presumption, as we may see in Peter. "Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matt. 26:33). Thirdly, security, which is always the forerunner of some great punishment or great sin (which also is a punishment) as we see in David. Fourthly, idleness: it is the hour of temptation when a man is out of God's business. Fifthly, intemperance, either in diet or otherwise. Therefore Christ commands us to pray and watch, and keep to sobriety in the use of created things. Sixthly, there is a more subtle intemperance of passion. In whatever degree we give way to wrath and revenge and covetousness, in that degree Satan has advantage against us. Seventhly, when a man will not believe and submit to truths revealed, though likewise natural truths. Therefore "God gave them up unto vile affections" (Rom. 1:26), because they would not cherish the light of nature, much more when we do not cherish the light of His grace.

Those that have had sweet communion with God, but have lost it, count every day ten thousand till they have recovered it again. When Christ leaves His spouse, He forsakes her not altogether but leaves something in the heart that makes her long after Him. He absents Himself only that He may enlarge and raise the desires of the soul, and after the soul has Him again it will not let Him go. He comes for our good and leaves us for our good; we should therefore judge rightly of our state and not think we are forsaken of God, when we are under desertion.

We ought not at any time to deny the truth nor yet at all times to confess it, for good actions and graces are like princes that only appear abroad on some special occasions, and so if some circumstances in our confession be wanting the action is marred. It is true of actions as of words, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11), therefore wisdom must be our guide, for speech is then only good when it is better than silence.

When once the Spirit fastens the wrath of God upon the conscience of one whom He means to save, then there follow those afflicting affections of grief and shame. From thence come a dislike and hatred of sin and a divorce between the soul and the beloved sin, so that whereas there was before a scepter of sin in the soul, now God begins to dispossess that strong man. Then follows a strong desire to be better, and a holy desperation, so far, as that if God be not merciful, then the soul says, "What shall become of me?" As the Spirit lets in some terrors, so likewise He gives us some hopes, such as, "What shall I do to be saved?" implying a resignation of the will to take any course, if only he may be saved, and then all the world for one drop of God's mercy.

?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.

Sin is not so sweet in the committing as it is heavy and bitter in the reckoning.

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