Richard Sibbes always sought to get under the superficial layer of his listeners’ behavior and deal with their hearts. He knew that the outward acts of sin spring from the inner desires of the heart. Merely to alter a person’s behavior without dealing with those desires would cultivate hypocrisy, the self-righteous cloak for a cold and vicious heart. Sibbes believed that hearts must be turned, and evil desires eclipsed by stronger ones for Christ.
This book is as relevant today as when first published in 1629. Our busyness and activism so easily degenerate into a hypocrisy in which we keep up all the appearance of holiness without the heart of it. Christians even use Christ as a package to pass on to others, instead of enjoying him first and foremost as their own Savior. But true reformation must begin in the heart, with love for Christ. And that can only come when the free grace of God in Christ Jesus is preached. Reading Sibbes is like sitting in the sunshine: he gets into your heart and warms it to Christ.
Table of Contents
- The Tender Heart
- The Art of Self-Humbling
- The Art of Mourning
- The Saint’s Refreshing
About the Author
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577 and went to school in Bury St. Edmunds. His father, ‘a good sound-hearted Christian’, at first intended that Richard should follow his own trade as a wheelwright, but the boy’s ‘strong inclination to his books, and well-profiting therein’ led to his going up to St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1595. He was converted around 1602-3 through the powerful ministry of Paul Bayne. Bayne was the successor of William Perkins in the pulpit of Great St. Andrew’s Church.
After earning his B.D. in 1610, Sibbes was appointed a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. Later, through the influence of friends, he was chosen to be the preacher at Gray’s Inn, London. He remained there until 1626. In that year he returned to Cambridge as Master of St Catherine’s Hall, and later returned to Holy Trinity, this time as its vicar. He was granted a Doctorate in Divinity in 1627, and was thereafter frequently referred to as ‘the heavenly Doctor Sibbes’. He continued to exercise his ministry at Gray’s Inn, London, and Holy Trinity, Cambridge, until his death on 6 July 1635 at the age of 58.