Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed

I would highly recommend to you Richard Sibbes’ classic The Bruised Reed based on Is. 42:3–4.

It is one of the most edifying and encouraging of the Puritan Paperbacks. I would like to provide here a brief sample of his insights.

  1. It points us to a merciful and compassionate Savior. “If Christ had stood upon his own greatness, he would have rejected him that came with his ‘if.’ But Christ answers his ‘if” with a gracious and absolute grant, ‘I will, be thou clean'” (21). He points us to the graciousness and glory of the Gospel:

    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? (36)

  2. At the same time, he does not want us to use Christ’s graciousness as an excuse for not repenting. I find that he is particularly good at calling us to this in a challenging way consonant with the tenor of the Gospel:

    There are those who take up a hope of their own, that Christ will suffer them to walk in the ways to hell, and yet bring them to heaven; whereas all comfort should draw us nearer to Christ. Otherwise it is a lying comfort, either in itself or in our application of it. (67)

  3. Sibbes states that sanctification must come with our justification. However, on pp. 77ff., he offers several qualifications to this point such as: “The first and chief ground of our comfort is that Christ as a priest offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father for us.”
  4. As usual, he offers advice for how to enjoy Christ and work out our own salvation:

    Keep our hearts closer to God, seasoning them with heavenly meditations in the morning, storing up good matter, so that our heart may be a good treasury, while we beg of Christ and his Holy Spirit to stop that cursed issue and to be a living spring of better thoughts in us. (48)

  5. He also gives some helpful advice in how minister should apply “the bruised reed principle.” He notes that we should be careful about how we treat other Christians who may, for example, be overly harsh, when we see the grace of God in them. We should look at the good things that will be there forever more than the sinful corruption which will only be there for a short time. He wants us to remember that: “The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other, so all have occasion to exercise the spirit of wisdom and meekness” (34).

I would highly recommend that you read this book. Read it slowly and think about the greatness of the mercy of the Savior during this Christmas season. It would also make a nice Christmas gift, especially for someone who might be particularly “bruised.” For those who are bruised, there is a Savior who is compassionate enough not to break them and powerful enough to help them.


One Reply to “Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed

  1. One of my top five books of all time. The only thing is that I recommended it so heavily from the pulpit one day, I had a member go and purchase and then say the language too thick for them. But I sure liked it and returned to it many times! Such balm.

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