Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Richard Sibbes

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

"Our whole life should speak forth our thankfulness; every condition and place we are in should be a witness to our thankfulness. This will make the times and places we live in better for us. When we ourselves are monuments of God’s mercy, it is fit we should be patterns of His praises, and leave monuments to others. We should think it given to us to do something better than to live in. We live not to live: our life is not the end of itself, but the praise of the giver."

"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! "

"A child of God is the greatest freeman and the best servant, even as Christ was the best Servant, yet none so free; and the greater portion any man has of His Spirit the freer disposition he has to serve everyone in love."

"A Christian has sense and experience of God's love, together with his faith; it is not a naked faith without any relish, but that sense and experience we have here is given to strengthen faith for time to come. Therefore when we have any sweet feelings we must not rest in them, but remember that they are given to encourage us in our way and to look for fullness in another world."

"A child of God may pray and not be heard, because at that time he may be a child under displeasure. If any sin lie unrepented of we are not in a fit state to pray. Will a king regard the petition of a traitor that purposes to go on in his rebellion, or a father hear a disobedient child? Therefore when we come to God, we should renew our repentance, faith and purposes of better pleasing Him, and then remember the Scripture and search all the promises as part of our best riches, and when we have them, we should humbly challenge God with His own promises. This will make us strong and faithful in our prayers when we know we never pray to Him in vain."

"A man may know that he loves the world if he be more careful to get than to use it; we are but stewards, and should consider, "I must be as careful in distributing as in getting," for when we are all in getting, and nothing in distributing, this man is a worldling; though he be moderate in getting without wronging any man, yet the world has got his heart because he makes not that use of it he should."

"A man may know that the Word has wrought upon his conscience when he comes to hear and learn and reform. A man that has a heart without guile is glad to hear the sharpest reproofs because he knows that sin is his greatest enemy. But if we live in a course that we are loath should be reproved it is a sign our hearts are full of guile. Corrupt men mold their teachers and fashion them to their lusts, but a good and upright heart is willing that divine truths should have their full authority in the soul, and continues in the way of duty, though never so contrary to flesh and blood."

"A man ought not to commend himself, but in some special cases, first, because pride and envy in others will not endure it; secondly, it touches upon God's glory and therefore we should take heed; thirdly, it deprives us of comfort and hinders the apology of others. The heathens could say that the praising a man's self is very disagreeable. Let us take heed therefore that we do not snatch our right out of God's hand. But now on the contrary, in some cases we may praise and commend ourselves, as when we have a just call to make an apology in a way of defense, and for the conviction of them that unjustly speak evil of us. Secondly, we may speak well of ourselves in a way of example to others, such as parents to children, and this well becomes them, because it is not ours of pride or vainglory, for the motive is discovered to be love to them."

"A sincere heart that is burdened with sin, desires not heaven so much as the place where he shall be free from sin, but to have the image of God? perfected in his soul; and therefore a sincere spirit comes to hear the Word, not so much because an eloquent man preaches as to hear divine truths, because the evidence of the Spirit goes with it to work those graces."

"A man keeps a good conscience in relation to others when he makes it appear that he can deny himself to do them good. The consciences of others shall think thus; "Such a man regards my good more than his own; he seeks not advantage to himself; he lives so that the world may see he is in good earnest; he speaks well and then makes it good by his life." Now if our care be so to walk, we shall then approve ourselves to the consciences of all mankind."

"After a gracious pardon for sin, there are two things remaining in us, infirmities and weaknesses. Infirmities are corruptions stirred up, which hinder us from good and excite us to evil, but yet they are so far resisted and subdued that they do not break forth into action. Weakness, this appears when we suffer an infirmity to break out into act for want of watchfulness, as if a man be subject to an angry temper; when this is working disturbance in the mind it is infirmity; but when for want of watchfulness it breaks forth into action then it is weakness. These diseases are suffered to attend us to remind us frequently of the bitter root of sin, for if sin did not sometimes break forth we should think our nature perfectly cured. Who would have thought that Moses, so meek a man, could have broken out into passion? We see it also in David and Peter and others, and this is to show that the corruption of nature in them was not fully healed. But there is this difference between the slips and falls of God's children and of other men, when other men fall, they settle in the mire, but when God's children fall, they see their weakness, they see the bitter root of sin, and hate it the more, and are never at rest till it be cast out by the strength of grace and repentance."

"All love and associations that are not begun on good terms will end in hatred. We should take heed with whom we join in league and amity. Before we plant our affections, consider the persons what they are; if we see any signs of grace, then it is good; but if not there will be a rent. Throughout our whole life this ought to be our rule; we should labor in a company either to do good or receive good; and where we can neither do nor receive good we should avoid such acquaintance. Let men therefore consider and take heed how they stand in combination with any wicked persons."

"All the contention between the flesh and the Spirit lies in this, whether God shall have His will or we have ours. Now God's will is straight but ours is crooked, and therefore if God will have us offer up our Isaac we must submit to Him, and even acquiesce in the whole will of God. The more (through grace) emptied of self, the more free and happy we shall be by being more subject to God, for in what measure we part with anything for Him we shall receive even in this world an hundredfold in joy and peace."

"All things out of God are only like the grass. When we rejoice in anything out of God, it is a childish joy as if we rejoiced only in flowers; after we have drawn out their sweetness we cast them away. All outward things are common to sinners as well as to saints, and without grace they will surely prove snares. At the hour of death what comfort can we have in them any further than with humility and love to God we have used them well? Therefore if we would have our hearts seasoned with true joy, let us labor to be faithful in our several places, and endeavor according to the gifts we have to glorify God."

"As children in the womb have eyes and ears, not for that place but for community life afterwards among men, wherein they shall use all their members; even so our life here is not for this world only but for another. We have large capacities, large memories, large affections, large expectations. God does not give us large capacities and large affections for this world, but for heaven and heavenly things."

"As grace is not of our own getting, this should teach us patience and hope towards others, waiting, if God at any time will give them repentance. Though God work not effectually the first time of conviction, nor the second, yet we must still wait, as the man that lay at the pool of Bethesda for the moving of the water."

"As men cherish young plants at first and fence them about with hedges to keep them from hurt, but when they are grown they remove these things and leave them to the wind and weather, so God sustains His children at first with props of inward comforts, but afterwards He ex poses them to storms and winds because they are better able to bear them. Therefore let no man think himself the better because he is more free from troubles than others; it is because God sees him not fit to bear greater."

"As the Spirit is necessary to work faith at first, so is He necessary also to every act of faith, for faith cannot act upon occasion but by the Spirit; and therefore we should not attempt to do, or to suffer anything rashly, but beg the Spirit of God and wait for His assistance, because according to the increase of our troubles must our faith be increased. The life of a Christian commences by the Spirit's working faith at first, but is promoted upon all occasions by His animating our graces already received. Faith stirs up all other graces and holds every grace to the Word, and so long as faith continues active we keep all other graces in exercise."

"As the sun is on its course though we cannot see it move, and as plants and herbs grow though we cannot perceive them to grow, even so it does not follow that a Christian grows not because he cannot see himself grow. Nay, if believers decay in their first love, or in some other grace, yet another grace may grow and increase, such as their humility, their broken-heartedness; they sometimes seem not to grow in the branches when they may grow at the root; upon a check grace breaks out more; as we say, after a hard winter there usually follows a glorious spring."

"As the woman in the law, when she was forced by any man, if she cried out was then blameless; so if we unfeignedly cry and complain of our corruptions that they are too strong for us, this will witness to our hearts that we are not hypocrites."

"As we may know who dwells in a house by observing who go in and come out, so we may know that the Spirit dwells in us by observing what sanctified speech He sends forth and what delight He has wrought in us to things that are spiritual, and what price we set upon them. Whereas a carnal man lowers the price of spiritual things because his soul cleaves to something that he rejoices in far more, and this is the cause why he slights the directions and comforts of the Word; but those in whom the Spirit dwells, will consult with it, and not I regard what flesh and blood will dictate, but will follow the directions of the Word and Spirit of God."

"As we receive all from God, so we should lay all at His feet and say, I will not live in a course of sin, that will not stand with the favor of my God; for He will not lodge in the heart that has a purpose to sin."

"But if ever you have been touched in conscience for your sins, you will then be far from finding fault when God uses all the secrets in the book of nature and translates them to spiritual things to assure us of His mercy and love."

"Christ chiefly manifests Himself to the Christian in times of affliction because then the soul unites itself most closely by faith to Christ. The soul in time of prosperity, scatters its affections and loses itself in the creature, but there is a uniting power in sanctified afflictions by which the soul (as in rain the hen collects her brood) gathers his best affections unto his Father and his God."

"Christians find their corruptions more offensive to them than when they were in the state of nature, and therefore it is that they think their state is not good, but corruption boils more because it is restrained."

"Compared to the best of everything; if to a lily, the fairest; if to a cedar, the tallest; if to an olive tree, the most fruitful; "And his smell shall be as Lebanon." We should therefore make use of natural things and apply them to spiritual things. If we see a lily, think of God's promise and our duty, then we shall grow as lilies; when we see a tall tree, then think "I must grow higher in grace," and when we see a vine, think "I must grow in fruitfulness;" when we go into our orchards or gardens, let a sight of these things raise our thoughts higher, to a consideration of what is required and of what is promised."

"Confidence arises from faith when troubles make it the stronger. Therefore it is a true evidence of grace, when confidence increase with opposition, great troubles breeding great confidence. Again, it is a sign a man's confidence is well-grounded when he can carry himself equal in all conditions, when he has learned to want and to abound. He needs a strong brain that drinks much wine. When a man has an even spirit to be content in all conditions, it argues a well-grounded confidence towards God."

"Desires are the spiritual pulse of the soul, always beating to and fro and showing the temper of it; they are therefore the characters of a Christian and show more truly what he is than his actions do."

"Every man naturally is a god unto himself, not only in reflecting all upon himself, but in setting about divine things in his own strength, as if he were principal in his own actions, coming to them in the strength of his own wit, and in the strength of his own reason. This seed is in all men by nature, until God shall have turned a man out of carnal self by the power of the Holy Ghost."

"Faith is like an eagle in the clouds; at one view it sees Christ in heaven and looks down upon the world; it sees backwards and forwards; it sees things past, present and to come, and therefore it is that this grace is expressed by beholding."

"For want of watchfulness, God often gives us up for a time to such a perplexed state that we shall not know that we have any grace, and though we may have a principle of grace in us, yet we shall not know it, but may even go out of the world in darkness."

"Gifts are for grace and grace for glory. Gifts are peculiar to some men but grace is common to all true Christians. Gifts are peculiar to many, and common to such as are not good. Gifts are found with great sinners, but grace works love and humility, abases and sanctifies the soul. The devil has lost little of his acuteness but yet he remains mischievous. So many men have great parts, but they have also a devilish spirit. Grace comes from more special love, and yet men had rather be reckoned devils than fools; they desire to be accounted men of parts, herein they glory, not in Christ, no, but reject the riches of His grace."

"Glory follows afflictions, not as the day follows the night but as the spring follows the winter; for the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory."

"God comforts us in the exercise and practice of grace; we must not therefore snatch comforts before we be fit for them; when we perform precepts then God will bestow comforts. If we will make it good indeed that we love God, we must keep His commandments; we must not keep one but all; it must be universal obedience fetched from the heart-root, and that out of love."

"God has not in vain taken upon Him the name of a Father; He fills it up to the full. It is a name of indulgence, a name of hope, a name of provision, a name of protection. It argues the mitigation of punishment; a little is enough from a father, therefore, in all temptations, it should teach us by prayer to fly under the wings of our heavenly Father and to expect from Him all that a father should do for his child, as provision, protection, indulgence, yea, and seasonable corrections also (which are as necessary for us as our daily bread), and when we die we may expect our inheritance, because He is our Father. But yet we must understand also that the name of a father is a word of relation, something also He expects from us. We must also reverence Him as a Father, which consists in fear and love. He is a great God and therefore we ought to fear Him. He is also merciful, yea has bowels of mercy, and therefore we ought to love Him. If we tremble at Him we know not that He is loving, and if we be over-bold we forget that He is a great God; therefore we should go boldly to Him with reverence and godly fear."

"God hath two sanctuaries; he hath two heavens: the heaven of heavens and a broken spirit."

"God is never nearer his church than when trouble is near."

"God is rich in mercy, not only to our souls but in providing all things we stand in need of. He keeps us from evil and so He is called a Buckler. He gives us all good things and so He is called a Sun. He keeps us now in a good condition, and will advance us still higher, even so far as our nature shall be capable in the heavenly world."

"God is said to be our God, or to be a God unto us, when He applies for the good of His creature that all-sufficiency that is in Himself. God is our God by covenant because He has made over Himself unto us. Every believing Christian has the title passed over to him so that God is his portion and his inheritance. There is more comfort in this, that God is our God, than the heart of man can conceive. It is larger than the desires of his heart and therefore, though we cannot say that riches or honors or friends are ours, yet, if able to say by the spirit of faith that God is ours, then we have all in Him; His wisdom is ours to find out a way to do us good. If in danger His power is ours to bring us out. If under the guilt of sin His mercy is ours to forgive us. If in any want His all-sufficiency is ours to supply us. If God be ours then, whatsoever God can do is ours, and all things even whatsoever God has shall be ours."

"God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives."

"God loves me better than I do myself."

"God oftentimes makes wicked men friends to His children, without changing their disposition, by only putting into their hearts some kind thoughts for the time, which incline them to show favor."

"God pities our weakness in all our troubles and afflictions; He will not stay too long, lest we put forth our hands to evil; He will not suffer the rod of the wicked to rest upon the lot of the righteous (Psalm 125:3)."

"God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what his Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will"

"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 takes it unkindly if we weep too much and overgrieve for the loss of a wife, child or friend, or for any cross in the things of this life, for it is a sign we fetch not that comfort from Him which we should and may do. Nay, though our weeping be for our sins, we must keep a moderation in that: we must with one eye look upon our sins and with the other look upon God's mercy, and therefore if the best grief must be moderated, much more must the other."

"God takes it unkindly if we weep too much for the loss of a wife, or child, or friend, or for any cross in this life; for it is a sign that we do not fetch our comfort from him. Nay, though our weeping be for sin, we must keep moderation, with one eye looking on our sins, and the other on God?s mercy in Christ. If, therefore, the best grief should be moderated, how much more the other!"

"God's children are hindered in good duties by an inevitable weakness in nature, as after labor with drowsiness; therefore the spirit may be willing when the flesh is weak. If we strive therefore against this deadness and dullness?"

"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."

"God's children are strengthened by their falls; they learn to stand by their falls. Like tall cedars the more they are blown the deeper will they be rooted. That which men think is the overthrow of God's children does but root them the deeper, so that after all outward storms and inward declensions this is the issue, "They take root downward and bear fruit upward" for the Lord restoreth their souls."