Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1

Works of Sibbes 1Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 550 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 1 at The Banner of Truth for $24.30. You can purchase the complete set of 7 volumes for $162.00 at Westminster Books or for a mere $10.00 on Kindle.

Introduction

Richard Sibbes was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577. 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 on 6 July 1635 at the age of 58.

You can read more of my reviews of Richard Sibbes’ writings here.

Summary

Volume one consists of A Memoir of Sibbes by A. B. Grosart, A Description of Christ, The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax, The Soul’s Conflict with Itself and Victory over Itself by Faith, and Safety in Evil Times. Along with several other sermons and a brief series on 1 Peter 4.

These works were edited by Alexander B. Grosart from when the first complete set of Sibbes works appeared back in 1862-1864.

Review

One of the most notable features to this first volume is the memoir of Sibbes authored by Grosart himself which is an excellent introduction the pastoral nature of Richard Sibbes. Much like the modern day JI Packer, Sibbes was very involved in writing and preaching as well as endorsing a number of other works and books for his fellow divines.

Personally, I was most struck by the words I found on one website as I was doing some research on this series that this first volume contains “all the works published during Sibbes’ lifetime.” I literally sat stunned after reading this. The Banner of Truth Trust has published 5 Puritan Paperbacks and one Pocket Puritan by Richard Sibbes. Upon comparing those titles with what is found in this first volume, only The Bruised Reed has been republished as a stand alone book. Every other book is based on Sibbes’ exposition of passages.

This makes this first edition invaluable as we can read today what Sibbes thought most crucial for publication in his day. Even these books that he published in his lifetime are expositions of passages. The difference is they seem to deal with extremely urgent issues of the day and a theme of perseverance seems to arise from the pages. The Bruised Reed and The Saint’s Safety in Evil Times certainly point to this need.

The Soul’s Conflict with Itself points also to the inner turmoil it seems every Christian faces regardless of the era. All of this helps us to understand why Richard Sibbes was known as the Heavenly Doctor. His messages are timeless and perhaps more needed today than ever.

Recommendation

Of the seven volumes in this series, if you are going to purchase only one, this is it. The Bruised Reed is worth the price of the volume, but to be able to set it in the context of the other published works during his lifetime is open your eyes to the need of the gospel every day. If you have never read Richard Sibbes, you are missing out. This volume will show you why.