About the Author
There is no better introduction to the Puritans than the writings of Richard Sibbes, who is, in many ways, a typical Puritan. `Sibbes never wastes the student's time,' `he scatters pearls and diamonds with both hands.' (C. H. Spurgeon) Richard Sibbes was known in London in the early 17th century as "the Heavenly Doctor Sibbes." He is known as a Biblical exegete, and as a representative, with William Perkins and John Preston, of what has been called "main-line" Puritanism. He was the author of several devotional works expressing intense religious feeling — The Saint's Cordial (1629), The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax (1631, exegesis of Isaiah 42:3), The Soules Conflict (1635), etc. A volume of sermons appeared in 1630, dedicated to Horace Vere, 1st Baron Vere of Tilbury and his wife Lady Mare. Most of the other works were first published by Thomas Goodwin and Philip Nye, after Sibbes died. The content belied the mainly moderate and conforming attitudes for which Sibbes was known in his lifetime. Beames of Divine Light, A Description of Christ in Three Sermons and Bowels Opened appeared in 1639, as did The Returning Backslider, sermons on the Book of Hosea. A complete edition was published 1862-4 in Edinburgh, in seven volumes, by James Nichol, with a biographical memoir by Alexander Grosart. His works were much read in New England. Thomas Hooker, prominent there from 1633, was directly influenced by Sibbes, and his "espousal theology", using marriage as a religious metaphor, draws on The Bruised Reed and Bowels Opened. The poet George Herbert was a contemporary, and there are suggestions on parallels. Where Herbert speaks in The Church Militant about the westward movement of the propagation of the gospel, Christopher Hill comments that this may have come from The Bruised Reed.[ Other examples have been proposed by Doerksen. Sibbes was cited by the Methodist John Wesley. The Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon studied his craft in Sibbes, Perkins and Thomas Manton. The evangelical Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in the highest terms of his own encounter with the work of Sibbes.
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