Thursday, April 22, 2010
Reading the Classics with Challies - The Bruised Reed - Post 2
We are considering chapters 2 and 3 of Richard Sibbes book The Bruised Reed in this installment of Reading the Classics with Challies.
I would like to comment on a section of chapter 2 that I found both interesting and helpful. It pertains to the bruising we receive as Christians and we ought to think about it. Sibbes gives us instructions saying, "First, we must conceive of bruising either as a state into which God brings us, or as a duty to be performed by us. Both are here meant." Sibbes teaches us that the bruising we encounter is and should be initiated by God and performed by us. Interesting.
The bruising we do towards ourselves is, according to Sibbes, very much like mortification. "We must lay siege to the hardness of our own hearts, and aggravate sin all we can." This aggravation of sin and laying siege to our own hearts points towards the killing of sin. I am reminded of John Owen's saying "Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you."
Our performance of self-bruising has in mind two goals according to this Puritan author: "(1) that we may prize Christ above all, and see that a Saviour must be had; and (2) that we reform that which is amiss". This reforming what is amiss is followed by the staement that drew my attention to the parallels 'bruising' has with mortification; "... though it be to the cutting off of our right hand, or pulling out of our right eye."
Whether we administer our own duty of bruising or are under God's hand in the bruising, Sibbes would counsel us "Therefore let us not take off ourselves too soon, nor pull off the plaster before the cure be wrought, but keep ourselves under this work till sin be the sourest, and Christ the sweetest, of all things." That sin would be sour and nothing would compare to the sweetness of Christ! With those ends in sight, the bruising does not seem so intimidating, does it?
Even as we experience sorrow and grief, we can direct those affections to a Godly profit for our souls: "And when God's hand is upon us in any way, it is good to divert our sorrow for other things to the root of all, which is sin. Let our grief run most in that channel, that as sin bred grief, so grief may consume sin." Directing grief to consume sin is another motivating idea to consider when one finds themselves under a work of bruising.
One of the enjoyable and helpful aspects of many of the Puritan works I have read is there sensibility and practical advice. These men did not live in ivory towers or let their minds wander in ethereal, fantastical realms. They were 'down to earth' and acquainted with sorrows and difficulties; at least their advice points towards that.