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letters
        

james smith

July 2010

 from Richard Sibbes

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was a Christian minister regarded as one of the most significant preachers of the Puritan period. His ministry is especially associated with Cambridge and London. He became known as ‘the heavenly Doctor’ (due to his godly preaching and heavenly manner of life) and ‘the sweet dropper’ (because of the confidence and joy to which his sermons gave rise). It was of him that the famous comment was made, ‘Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven’.

Poverty of spirit should accompany us all our life long, to let us see that we have no righteousness of our own to 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.

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises to God.

Having given up ourselves to God, let us comfort our souls that God is our God. When riches, and men, and our lives fail, yet God is ours … We have an everlasting being with him, as one with Jesus Christ his Son.

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

Even as the true soul that is touched with the Spirit, desires nearer and nearer communion with Christ; so he seeks nearer and nearer communion with his spouse, by all sanctified means. Christ hath never enough of the soul. He would have them more and more open to him.

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

We should watch and labour daily to continue in prayer, strengthening and backing them with arguments from the word and promises, and marking how our prayers speed. When we shoot an arrow, we look to the fall of it; when we send a ship to sea, we look for the return of it; and when we sow seed, we look for a harvest; and so when we sow our prayers into God’s bosom, shall we not look for an answer, and observe how we speed?

‘I commend and bequeath my soul into the hands of my gracious Saviour, who hath redeemed it with his most precious blood, and appears now in heaven to receive it’
(the beginning of his will and testament, dictated the day before he died).