Quotes from ‘The Bruised Reed’ by Richard Sibbes. Part 1

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)

“It may seem to some unbefitting to offer a discourse of a ‘bruised reed’ to such a strong and flourishing cedar. But experience sheweth that the strongest plants in God’s house are exposed sometimes to strong winds of temptation, and thereupon meet with bruisings, that they may the better know by whose strength they stand, and that the greatest may learn to go out of themselves to the same common rock and fountain of strength with the meanest.”

“…the Lord guide our hearts, tongues, and pens for his glory and the good of his people.”

“He might well prefix Behold, to raise up our thoughts to the highest pitch of attention and admiration.”

“…after conversion we need bruising, that (1) reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks; even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy.”

“The consciousness of the church’s weakness makes her willing to lean on her beloved, and to hide herself under his wing.”

“Therefore desire God that he would bring a clear and a strong light into all the corners of our souls, and accompany it with a spirit of power to lay our hearts low.”

“It were a good strife amongst Christians, one to labour to give no offence, and the other to labour to take none. The best men are severe to themselves, tender over others.”

“Weak Christians are like glasses which are hurt with the least violent usage, otherwise if gently handled will continue a long time. This honour of gentle use we are to give to ‘the weaker vessels,’ 1 Pet. iii.7, by which we shall both preserve them, and likewise make them useful to the church and ourselves.”

The ambassadors of so gentle a Saviour should not be over-masterly, setting up themselves in the heart’s of people where Christ alone should sit as in his own temple. Too much respect to man was one of the inlets of popery. ‘Let a man account of us as ministers of Christ, ‘1 Cor. iv. 1, neither more nor less, just so much. How careful was St. Paul in cases of conscience not to lay a snare upon any weak conscience. They should take heed likewise that they hide not their meaning in dark speeches, speaking in the clouds. Truth feareth nothing so much as concealment, and desireth nothing so much as clearly to be laid open to the view of all: when it is most naked, it is most lovely and powerful. Our blessed Saviour, as he took our nature upon him, so he took upon him our familiar manner of speech, which was part of his voluntary abasment. St. Paul was a profound man, yet became as a nurse to the weaker sort, 1 Thess. ii. 7.”

“Christ came down from heaven, and emptied himself of majesty in tender love to souls; shall we not come down form our high conceits to do any poor soul good? shall man be proud after God hath been humble?”

“A looseness of life is cruelty to ourselves, and to the soul of others.”

“Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endue nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak.”

“Grace altereth the relish.”

“A Christian complaineth he cannot pray. O I am troubled with so many distracting thoughts, and never more than now. But hath he put into thine heart a desire to pray? He will hear the desires of his own Spirit in thee. ‘We know not what to pray for as we ought’ (nor do anything else as we ought), ‘but the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, with inexpressible sighs and groans.’ Rom. viii. 26, which are not hid from God. ‘My groanings are not hid rom thee,’ Ps. xxxviii. 9. God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. These desires cry louder in his ears than thy sins. Sometimes a Christian hath such confused thoughts, he can say nothing, but as a child crieth, O Father, not able to shew it needs, as Moses at the Red Sea. Oh, but is it possible, thinketh the misgiving heart, that so holy a God should accept such a prayer? Yes, he will accept that which is his own, and pardon that which is ours.”‘

“Ofttimes we see that, after a deep humiliation, Christ speaks more peace than before, to witness the truth of this reconciliation, because he knows Satan’s enterprises in casting down such, lower, and because such are most abased in themselves, and are ashamed to look Christ in the face, by reason of their unkindness.”

– Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001).

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