The previous 2 chapters were tough slugging, but these two were a delight to read! What a writer! I was 'tweeting' as I was reading and my vast horde of followers (15) were privy to a Sibbes-a-palooza! Here are the tweets that chapters 12 and 13 generated:
- Grace conquers us first, and we, by it, conquer all else; whether corruptions within us, or temptations from outside us. Sibbes
- Let us assure ourselves that God's grace ... is stronger than man's free will in the state of original perfection. Sibbes
- Christ as king brings in a commanding light into the soul and bows the neck, and softens the iron sinew of the inner man... Sibbes
- We learn likewise that men of an ill governed life have no true judgment. No wicked man can be a wise man. Sibbes
- There must be grace to alter the bent and sway of the will before it will yield to be wrought upon by the understanding. Sibbes
- Sibbes on the gracious man: "His life is a commentary on his inward man. " from The Bruised Reed
- The same Spirit who enlightens the mind inspires gracious inclinations into the will and affections and infuses strength into the whole man. Sibbes
- God, indeed, uses carnal men to very good service ... He works by them, but not in them. Sibbes
- The whole conduct of a Christian is nothing else but knowledge reduced to will, affection and practice. Sibbes
- ... no man's judgment is the measure of things further than it agrees to truth stamped upon things themselves by God. Sibbes
- God has put an eternal difference between light and darkness, good and ill, which no creature's conceit can alter ... Sibbes
- Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not. Sibbes
First, the following excerpt describes the process through which the Holy Spirit works in the inner man:
From this we see that godliness begins with judgment which is a function of the mind and knowledge; it begins with the head. From the head it moves to the heart thereby influencing our affections and our wills. From the head, to the heart, and then on to our hands is the way I first heard it from Bruce Ware. In case any suggest that this is reducing Christianity to a intellectual pursuit, consider this admonition by Sibbes,
This will teach us the right method of godliness: to begin with judgment, and then to beg of God, together with illumination, holy inclinations of our will and affections, that so a perfect government may be set up in our hearts, and that our knowledge may be `in all judgment' (Phil. 1:9), that is, with experience and feeling. When the judgment of Christ is set up in our judgments, and thence, by the Spirit of Christ, brought into our hearts, then it is in its proper place and throne.
Clearly, the process is a continual one which, however, begins with the head, moves to the heart, and results in the work of our hands.
Not that judgment alone will work a change. There must be grace to alter the bent and sway of the will before it will yield to be wrought upon by the understanding. But God has so joined these together that whenever he savingly shines on the understanding he gives a soft and pliable heart. For without a work upon the heart by the Spirit of God it will follow its own inclination to that which it loves, whatever the judgment shall say to the contrary.
The other passage which I could not leave out of this post is as follows:
I love this! This is assurance; it's not about me and what I do, but rather, it is about Christ and what He has done! It matters not what ill is in me; that is a good thing because there is a lot of ill. "Such is the goodness of our sweet Saviour that he delights still to show his strength in our weakness."
Failings, with conflict, in sanctification should not weaken the peace of our justification and assurance of salvation. It matters not so much what ill is in us, as what good; not what corruptions, but how we regard them; not what our particular failings are so much as what the thread and tenor of our lives are, for Christ's dislike of that which is amiss in us turns not to the hatred of our persons but to the victorious subduing of all our infirmities.