Richard Sibbes


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

Author Quotes

It is over-curious to be exact about the first beginnings of grace because it falls by degrees like the dew undiscernably, and further, there is a great deal of wisdom as well as power in the working of grace. God offers no violence to the soul, but works sweetly yet strongly, and strongly yet sweetly. He goes so far without nature that we shall freely delight in grace. So that now the man sees great reason why he should alter his course. God does not overthrow nature; the stream is but changed, the man is the same.

No sin is so great but the satisfaction of Christ and His mercies are greater; it is beyond comparison. Fathers and mothers in tenderest affections are but beams and trains to lead us upwards to the infinite mercy of God.

Take heed of Satan's policy, that God has forgotten me because I am now in extremity; nay rather, God will then show mercy, for now is the special time of mercy; therefore beat back Satan with his own weapons.

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor drink nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

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. "Clouds and darkness are round about him" (Psalm 97:2); you cannot see Him; He is hid in a cloud, but "righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne." Howsoever He may wrap Himself up in a thick cloud that none can see Him, yet He is just and righteous; therefore when anything befalls us for which we can see no reason, yet we must reverence the Lord and adore His counsels and submit to Him who is infinitely wiser than we.

To discern our state in grace, let us chiefly look to our affections for they are intrinsic and not subject to hypocrisy. Men of great parts know much and so does the devil, but he lacks love. In fire all things may be painted by the heat; so all good actions may be done by a hypocrite but there is a heat of love which he has not. We should therefore chiefly examine the truth and sincerity of our affections towards God.

What is the gospel itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ's obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid upon him, wherein God, from being a judge, becomes our Father, pardoning our sins and accepting our obedience, though feeble and blemished? We are now brought to heaven under the covenant of grace by a way of love and mercy.

When we are young carnal delight leads us, and when we are old covetousness drowns us, so that if our knowledge be not spiritual we shall never hold out; and the reason why at the hour of death so many despair is because they had knowledge without the Spirit.

It is rebellion against God for a man to make away with himself; the very heathens could say that we must not go out of our station till we be called. It is the voice of Satan, "Cast thyself down," but what says Paul to the jailer, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here." We should so carry ourselves that we may be content to stay here till God has done that work He has to do in us and by us, and then He will call us hence in the best time.

None can be truly confident but God's children. Other men's confidence is like a madman's strength; he may have the strength of two or three for a time, but it is a false strength, and it is when they are lifted up upon the wings of ambition and favor of men; but these men in the time of trial sink. The hope of the hypocrite shall perish (Job 8:13).

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.

The whole life? should be nothing but praises to God.

There is through sin venom and vanity in everything (without grace) wherewith we are tainted, but when grace comes it removes the curse and takes out the sting of all evil, and then we find a good even in the worst.

To glory in any creature whatsoever is idolatry, first, because the mind sets up something to glory in which is not God; secondly, it must be spiritual adultery to cleave to anything more than to God; thirdly, it is bearing false witness to ascribe excellency where there is none. We have a prohibition, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches (Jeremiah 9:23). God will not give His glory to another, and therefore when men will be meddling with that glory which belongs to God alone He blasts them aside as broken vessels and even disdains to use them.

What is the reason that God's children sink not to hell when troubles are upon them? Because they have an inward presence strengthening them; for the Holy Ghost helps our infirmities, not only to pray, but to bear crosses, lightening them with some views of God's gracious countenance; for what supports our faith in prayer but inward strength from God?

When we come to be religious, we lose not our pleasure, but transform it; perhaps before we fed upon profane authors, now we feed upon holy truths. A Christian never knows what comfort is in religion till he comes to say with Augustine, "Lord, I have long lacked the true manna, all my former food was nothing but husks."

It is the endeavor of an evil man to quench a great deal of good for a little ill; but Christ cherishes a little grace though there be a great deal of corruption, which yet is as offensive to Him as smoke to us, therefore we should labor to gain all we can by love and meekness.

Our desires are holy if they are exercised about spiritual things. David desires not to be great, to be rich in the world, or to have power to be revenged upon his enemies, but that he may dwell in the house of the Lord and enjoy His ordinances there.

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.

The winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.

There should not be intimate familiarities except where we judge men true Christians; and towards those whom upon good grounds we judge to be such, we must be gentle and easy to be entreated. We therefore wrong them if we show ourselves strange to them.

To walk by faith is to be active in our walking, not to do as we like, but it is an acting by rule. Since the fall we have lost our hold of God, and we must be brought again to God by the same way we fell from Him. We fell by infidelity, and we must be brought again by faith, and lead our lives upon such grounds as faith affords. We must walk by faith, looking upon God's promise and God's call and God's commandments, and not live by opinion, example nor reason.

What we are afraid to speak before men, and to do for fear of danger, let us be much more afraid to think before God; therefore we should stifle all evil ideas in the very conception, in their very rising: let them be used as rebels and traitors, be smothered at the very first.

When we come to be religious, we lose not our pleasure, but translate it. Before we fed on common notions, but now we live on holy truths.

It is the peculiar wisdom of a Christian to pick arguments out of his worst condition to make him thankful; and if he be thankful he will be joyful; and so long as he is joyful he cannot be miserable, but happy.

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