by Richard Sibbes
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,' wrote C. H. Spurgeon, `he scatters pearls and diamonds with both hands.'
Since its first publication in 1630, The Bruised Reed has been remarkably fruitful as a source of spiritual help and comfort. Richard Baxter records: `A poor peddler came to the door . . . and my father bought of him Sibbe's Bruised Reed . . . It suited my state . . . and gave me a livelier apprehension of the mystery of redemption and how much I was beholden to Jesus Christ . . . Without any means but books was God pleased to resolve me to himself.' Such testimonies could be multiplied.
Speaking of the preacher's need to suit his reading to the varying conditions he finds within, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones says in his Preaching and Preachers:
You will find, I think, in general that the Puritans are almost invariably helpful . . . I shall never cease to be grateful to one of them called Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil. In that state and condition . . . what you need is some gentle, tender treatment for your soul. I found at that time that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as `the heavenly Doctor Sibbes', was an unfailing remedy. His books The Bruised Reed and The Soul's Conflict quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me."
The prophet Isaiah, being lifted up and carried with the wing of a prophetical spirit, passes over all the time between him and the appearing of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Seeing with the eye of prophecy, and with the eye of faith, Christ as present, he presents him, in the name of God, to the spiritual eye of others, in these words: `Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth' (Isa. 42:1 3). These words are alleged by Matthew as fulfilled now in Christ (Matt. 12:18 20). In them are propounded, first, the calling of Christ to his office; secondly, the manner in which he carries it out.
Table of Contents
1. The Reed and the Bruising
Christ's calling - How Christ pursues his calling –What it is to be bruised -The good effects of bruising
2. Christ Will Not Break the Bruised Reed
Christ's dealings with the bruised reed - For ourselves - Who are the bruised reeds?
3. The Smoking Flax
Grace is little at first - Grace is mingled with corruption
4. Christ Will Not Quench the Smoking Flax
The least spark of grace is precious - Support the weak
5. The Spirit of Mercy Should Move Us
Simplicity and humility - Sound judgment - How those in authority should act - We are debtors to the weak
6. Marks of the Smoking Flax
Our rule is the covenant of grace - The presence of the. heavenly fire
7. Help for the Weak
Temptations which hinder comfort - Weakness should not keep us from duty
8. Duties and Discouragements
We should persist in duties - Overcoming discouragements - The source of discouragements - Some scruples removed - What are sins of infirmity?
9. Believe Christ, Not Satan
How we should think of Christ - When Christ seems to be an enemy - When doubt assails us
10. Quench Not the Spirit
False despair of Christ's mercy - False hope of Christ's mercy - Resisting Christ's mercy - Presuming on Christ's mercy - Seeking another source of mercy - Mistreating the heirs of mercy - Strife among the heirs of mercy - Taking advantage of the bruised - Despising the simple means of mercy
11. Christ's Judgment and Victory
Christ's judgment established in us - Christ's mildness and his government - Pardon leads to obedience - Justification leads to sanctification
12. Christ's Wise Government
Judgment and wisdom - The need for heavenly light - Where Christ's government is set up - How Christ governs us - The effects of this in practice
13. Grace Shall Reign
Why Christ's kingdom must prevail - Why the enemy seems victorious - Consolation for weak Christians - Evidences of Christ's rule in us
14. Means to Make Grace Victorious
Rules for right judgment - Keeping our judgment clear - Reasons for seeming lack of progress - All should side with Christ
15. Christ's Public Triumph
The open glory of Christ in his members - Follow sincerity and truth - Christ alone advances this government - We must not look to ourselves - Christ makes us feel our dependence The triumph of grace
16. Through Conflict to Victory
Why Christ's government is opposed - We must expect opposition - Our victory in Christ is certain - Treasure the
least degree of grace - Encouragement to come to Christ - Christ is the hope of the church - Faith will prevail