Thursday, July 6, 2006

The mercy of an infinite God

So many Puritan classics ... so little time! A good friend and I have decided to read through and discuss Richard Sibbes' (1577-1635) treatise, The Bruised Reed, which is based on a sermon series he delivered on Matthew 12:20:

He will not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick,
until he brings justice to victory ..."

Sibbes highlights the mercy of Christ in dealing with the consciences of his people. God willing, I will post some notable excerpts here from time to time as we make our way through this remarkable Puritan exposition. Here's a gem of comfort from Sibbes' 'Preface to the Reader' (and he's just getting started!):

God knows that as we are prone to sin, so when conscience is thoroughly awaked, we are as prone to despair for sin; and therefore he would have us know that he setteth himself in the Covenant of Grace to triumph in Christ over the greatest evils and enemies we fear, and that his thoughts are not as our thoughts are, that he is God and not man (Hosea 11:9), that there are heights, and depths, and breadths of mercy in him above all the depths of our sin (Ephesians 3:18); that we should never be in such a forlorn condition, wherein there should be ground of despair, considering our sins be the sins of men, his mercy the mercy of an infinite God.

The Bruised Reed is available at monergism.com, Amazon and other fine retailers. There's more about its author here and a good summary of the work by J. William Black at Fire and Ice.

4 comments:

Kenny Wells said...

You're in for such a treat with Sibbes' "The Bruised Reed!" I remember reading portions of it online at work while doing some labeling, my eyes welling up with tears. I think this is the first (and only) book by a Puritan author that I have read all the way through, but it's one of my favorite Christian books. It's a powerful little book! I actually had a telephone conversation with a friend of mine in which I kept quoting different portions of this book.

I thought I'd quote one of my favorite portions as well:

"We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze out as others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false conclusions we may come to sin against the commandment in bearing false witness against ourselves. The prodigal would not say he was no son, but that he was not worthy to be called a son (Luke 15:19). We must niether trust to false evidence, nor deny true; for so we should dishonour the work of God's Spirit in us, and lose the help of that evidence which would cherish our love to Christ, and arm us against Satan's discouragements. Some are as faulty in this way as if they had been hired by Satan, the 'accuser of the brethren' (Rev. 12:10), to plead for him in accusing themselves."

That last line got me, for I'm often guilty of falling prey to such discouragement.

Blessings to you all as you read!

H.C. Ross said...

Kenny,

Thanks, brother, for your encouragement. I really do look forward to hearing (reading) more of Sibbes' wisdom. That's a great passage you shared as well. I think I probably did some 'co-accusing' of myself today with the enemy, in spite of God's gracious promises. A good thought to keep in mind.

Dios te bendiga, hermano!

PS - Hey, I just got a look at your blog and really love it. I like the fact that it's not pretentious, and you share your love for Jesus Christ openly. I wish you the best at Boyce, and if the Lord leads you on to seminary I hope you can maintain your enthusiasm for him. It's all too easy, the more theology (and church history) you learn, to get 'puffed up' and overly-academic, and to lose the simplicity of love for Christ. I grieve over all the needless arguments between Christians that I see on various blogs -- usually over relatively fine points. What a colossal waste of ministry time. It's refreshing to see what you're doing. Thanks!

Another PS - I saw that you like Mel Brooks movies. My dad and I have always loved 'Blazing Saddles', though I realize there are some immoral parts. In the end it ridicules all types of people, which in a funny way makes it seem all right :-). I also saw that you like piano and Billy Joel. Do you play a lot? I hope to teach one of my sons to play that or guitar when they're ready (they're 3 and 1 now). Two of my favorites by Billy Joel (OK, 3) are Goodnight Saigon, This is the Time, and Lullabye. Powerful! What's your opinion of Ben Folds, Counting Crows, and Rufus Wainwright? Take care ...

Hiraeth said...

A chap I used to live with in college had to struggle with depression for some years after graduation. He said this book was a great help for him.

I've just blown my budget on the 7-vol. complete set of Sibbes' works.

Kenny Wells said...

Hermano Ross,

Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. My blog doesn't quite have the glitz and glamour of other sites, but I pray that some find it helpful. I just write my thoughts on different matters, and some of those matters can be quite personal. However, if my struggles in my spiritual walk help others identify with the same Christ who is their source of strength, then I am encouraged.

As far as Mel Brooks movies, I don't watch them quite as frequently as I once did. "History of the World: Part I" is so hilarious, but the humor is pretty risque at times, to say the least!

I will have to show my ignorance with your music question, since I'm not all that familiar with the people and groups that you mentioned. As for Billy Joel though, I love "New York State of Mind" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," among other songs.

As far as playing, I'm the keyboardist at my church, which is a Spanish mission church. I'm not all that great, but they seem to be happy with my work. Most of all, I pray that God is glorified through my feeble efforts. I feel like a cracked vessel at times, but His grace tends to seal up the cracks for times of service.

Anyhow, feel free to send me an e-mail to continue the conversation. I'll give out my public work e-mail: kenneth.wells@kybaptist.org

By the way, do you speak Spanish? "Dios te bendiga" is definitely a handy phrase, as is "Como se dice?" which I say often! :o)

Blessings!

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