Sibbes, Richard. Josiah’s Reformation. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2011. 176 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster for less.
Josiah’s Reformation is the latest in the Puritan Paperbacks Series published by the Banner of Truth Trust. This work was originally published in 1629. Sibbes “always sought to get under the superficial layer of his listeners’ behavior and deal with their hearts.” It is for this reason that Richard Sibbes is one of the more beloved of the Puritans by today’s readers.
Josiah’s Reformation is a compilation of four sermons preached by the Puritan, Richard Sibbes from Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
In explaining the doctrinal truth behind this verse, Sibbes exposits for his readers from 2 Chronicles 34:26-28 and offers four keys to true personal reformation. He looks at the tender heart first and foremost as the only means by which one can be humbled. He next looks at the art of self-humbling and the art of mourning. Both are necessary if true reformation is to take place in the soul. The last sermon (4th chapter) is entitled the Saint’s Refreshing. Here the reader is treated to true nourishment for the soul.
You do not pick up the Puritans and expect to read something light and fluffy that does not impact you for in the here and now as well as later on down the road. Josiah’s Reformation offers sweet nourishment for the soul on most every page. The chapter on self-humbling is much needed today with our “me-first” theologies. I have said that there is much pride in the pastorate and many will know this to be true. Sibbes sought to not only teach his hearers how to properly self-judge, but he also offers, from Scripture, the importance of keeping ourselves humble. The art is when we are able to maintain that proper humility.
Far from being a book that will “work you over the coals,” Sibbes will bring you time and again to worship the Lord who alone enables the Christian to accomplish anything resembling reformation.
Again, Sibbes offers a wonderful treatise on the art of mourning…over sin. Not just your own sin, but the sins of others including your own nation. When was the last time you grieved over sin? Chapter three on Josiah’s Reformation will take you to that place of grief over sin once again.
All in all, while the language may be tough for some to overcome, it is well worth the effort to take the time and read through Josiah’s Reformation. To do so will be to take a break from the craziness of the world and to bask in the glory of the salvation granted to those who believe.
I heartily recommend to any who call on the name of Christ as Lord and Savior this work by Richard Sibbes entitled Josiah’s Reformation. It may be best to sit down and read it one chapter at a time (there are only four which take about an hour or so to read), but it is also worth putting on your nightstand and reading a page or two in the evening and meditate on the contents while drifting off to sleep.