The Love of Christ
Expository Sermons on Song of Solomon chapters 4-6
The Puritan John Dod wrote that this book is ‘so full of heavenly treasure, and such lively expressions of the invaluable riches of the love of Christ’ that it kindles ‘in the heart all heavenly affections unto Jesus Christ’. Indeed it does! And that was very much what Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was about in all his ministry.
The Love of Christ is a series of sermons preached on Song of Solomon 4:16-6:3. For Sibbes, this Bible book ‘is nothing else but a plain demonstration and setting forth of the love of Christ to his church, and of the love of the church to Christ’. The Song of Solomon does not simply mouth a doctrine: its sensuous imagery sings its message. It is as if this love story is played on violins. The reader is thus brought, not simply to understand, but to taste and share the delights of the lovers. This is precisely what Christ’s people need, as Sibbes knew: it is not enough to be aware of Christ’s love; we must sense, grasp and enjoy it. Only then will we truly love the Lord our God with all our hearts.
That is one reason why so many avoid books like this one: they want information, and they want it fast. But Sibbes intends to affect you, to hold your eyes on Jesus that you might develop a stronger appetite for him. Such work cannot be fast work, but it is profoundly transforming.
About the Author, Puritan minister Richard Sibbes
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, 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, and 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 in 1635 at the age of 58.