English Puritan Divine and Theologian
Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)
English Puritan Divine and Theologian
That is spiritual knowledge which alters the relish of the soul; for we must know there is a bitter opposition in our nature against all saving truths; especially, there is a contrariety between our nature and that doctrine which teaches us we must deny ourselves and be saved by another. The soul must relish before it can digest.
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.
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.
Those who are given to quarrelling with themselves always lack comfort, and through their infirmities they are prone to feed on such bitter things as will most nourish that disease which troubles them ... We must not judge of ourselves always according to present feeling ... We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze out as others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false conclusions we may come to sin against the commandment in bearing false witness against ourselves.
Whatsoever is good for God's children they shall have it, for all is theirs to further them to heaven; therefore, if poverty be good, they shall have it; if disgrace be good, they shall have it; if crosses be good, they shall have them; if misery be good, they shall have it; for all is ours, to serve for our greatest good.
Whatsoever is good in a natural man is depraved by a self-end; self-love rules all his actions. He keeps within himself and makes his chief end himself, and he is a god to himself. God is but his idol. This is true of all natural men in this world; they make themselves their last end, and where the end is depraved, the whole course is corrupted.
Those that are at peace in their own consciences will be peaceable towards others. A busy, contentious, quarrelsome disposition, argues that it never felt peace from God, and though many men think it commendable to censure the infirmities of others, yet it argues their own weakness; for it is a sign of strength, where we see in men anything good, to bear with their weakness.
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.
This life is not a life for the body but for the soul, and therefore the soul should speak to the body
There is not only a mystery but a depth in the mystery, as of election and reprobation, so of providence. There is no reason can be given why some of God's children are in quiet and others are vexed, why one should be poor and another rich.
The reason why the world sees not the happy condition of God's children is because their bodies are subject to the same infirmities with the worst of men, nor are they exempted from troubles; they are also subject to fall into gross sins, and therefore worldly men think,
The winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.
Temptations at first are like Elijah's cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, but if we give way to them they will soon overspread the whole soul. Satan nestles himself when we dwell upon the thoughts of sin; we cannot prevent the sudden risings of sin, but by grace we may keep them down, and they should never long remain without opposition. Let us labor therefore as much as we can to be in good company, and run in a good course, for as the Holy Ghost works by these advantages, so we should wisely observe and improve them.
That a man may be fit to persuade others, he must have love to their persons, a clear knowledge of the cause, and grace that he may be able to speak in wisdom to their souls and consciences. As we are saved by love, so we are persuaded by the arguments of love, which is most agreeable to the nature of man that is led by persuasion not by compulsion. Men may be compelled to the use of the means but not to faith. Many labor only to unfold the Scriptures for the increase of their knowledge, that they may be able to discourse, whereas the special intent of the ministry is to work upon the heart and affections.
Poverty of spirit should accompany us all our life long to let us see that we have no righteousness nor strength of our own for sanctification; that all the grace we have is out of ourselves, even for the performance of every holy duty; for though we have grace, yet we cannot bring that grace into act without new grace, even as there is a fitness in trees to bear fruit, but without the influence of heaven they cannot be fruitful. That which oftentimes makes us miscarry in the duties of our callings is this, we think we have strength and wisdom sufficient, and then what is begun in self-confidence is ended in shame. We set about duties in our own pride and strength of parts, and find no better success; therefore it is always a good sign that God will bless our endeavors, when out of a deep sense of our own weakness, we in prayers and supplications like our Lord also water our business with strong crying and tears
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.
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.
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.
It is much to be desired that there were that love in all men to teach what they know, and that humility in others to be instructed in what they know not. God humbles sometimes great persons to learn of others that are meaner, and it is our duty to embrace the truth whoever brings it, and oftentimes ordinary persons are instruments of knowledge and comfort to many that are greater than themselves
God takes a safe course with His children, that they may not be condemned with the world. He permits the world to condemn them, that they may not love the world. The world hates them, that they may not love the world; that they may be crucified to it, the world is to be crucified to them. Therefore they meet with such crosses and abuses and wrongs in the world. Because He will not suffer them to perish with the world, He sends them afflictions in and by the world.
God's children are neither madmen nor fools; it is but a scandal cast upon them by the madmen of the world. They are the only wise men if it be well considered. First, they make the highest end their aim, which is to be children of God here, and saints hereafter in heaven. Secondly, they aim to be found wise men at their death, and therefore are always making their accounts ready. Thirdly, they labor to live answerable to the rule; they observe the rule of the Word to be governed continually by it. Fourthly, they improve all advantages to advance their grand end; they labor to grow better by blessings and crosses, and to make a sanctified use of all things. Fifthly, they swim against the stream of the times and though they eat and drink and sleep as other men, yet (like the stars) they have a secret settled course of their own which the world cannot discern; therefore a man must be changed and set in a higher rank before he can have a sanctified judgment of the ways of God.
If we will walk aright in God's ways, let us have heaven daily in our eye, and the day of judgment, and times to come; so faith will steer the course of our lives, and breed love in the use of the means, and patience to pass under all conditions; let us have our eye with Moses upon Him that is invisible.