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The Bruised Reed (Puritan Paperbacks) Paperback – March 1, 1998
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'I shall never cease to be grateful to...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...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...The Bruised Reed.. quieted, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.' --D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
About the Author
Richard Sibbes was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577 and went to school in Bury St Edmunds. His father, 'a good sound-hearted Christian', at first intended that Richard should follow his own trade as a wheelwright, but the boy s 'strong inclination to his books, and well-profiting therein' led to his going up to St John's College, Cambridge in 1595. He was converted around 1602-3 through the powerful ministry of Paul Bayne, the successor of William Perkins in the pulpit of Great St Andrew's Church.
After earning his B.D. in 1610, Sibbes was appointed a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. Later, through the influence of friends, he was chosen to be the preacher at Gray's Inn, London, and he remained there until 1626. In that year he returned to Cambridge as Master of St Catherine's Hall, and later returned to Holy Trinity, this time as its vicar. He was granted a Doctorate in Divinity in 1627, and was thereafter frequently referred to as 'the heavenly Doctor Sibbes'. He continued to exercise his ministry at Gray's Inn, London, and Holy Trinity, Cambridge, until his death on 6 July 1635 at the age of 58.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book centers around the third verse in Isaiah 42. It reads, "A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth." Breaking that verse down, Sibbes does a masterful job of comforting and encouraging Christians in their walk with Christ. The great Anglican theologian, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, wrote of The Bruised Reed, saying it was a "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...The Bruised Reed...quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me."
What to like: Widely recognized as a classical piece of Christian literature, The Bruised Reed shows Christians why Isaiah's comparison of us to a bruised reed and a smoking flax are accurate. We are bruised. We are in a body that constantly wars with God's Spirit. And our faith can hardly be compared to a fire, for often we barely give off enough heat to smoke. Yet Sibbes shows us this is no reason to be discouraged. While it is easy for us to get discouraged about our lack of faith at times and our sinful tendencies Christ will not let us break nor let our small spark of faith be quenched. Giving practical advice on Christian living, Sibbes masterpiece is gentle yet firm; theologically deep but practical.
What not to like: I'm going to be honest here - this book was hard for me to read and that's not something I say lightly. The text was written in 1630 and the old English used is exceedingly difficult at times. This is not a book I would recommend to light readers. The book only weighs in at 128 pages but it took me a good while to read it; I would say it took me at least as long as it would normally take me to read a more modern book twice the size. I'm not saying that it was not worth the effort or that I didn't mine significant spiritual gems from the contents - just that, at times, it was mentally draining.
Memorable Quote: The whole conduct of a Christian is nothing else but knowledge reduced to will, affection and practice. If the digestion of food in the stomach is not good, the working of the liver cannot be good; so if there is error in the judgment it mars the whole of practice, as an error in the foundation does a building. God will have no blind sacrifices, no unreasonable services (Isa. 1:13), but will have us to love him with all our mind (Rom. 12:2), that is, with our understanding part, as well as with all our hearts (Luke 10:27), that is, the feeling part of the soul.
Conclusion: Though not for the novice reader, this book is well worth the effort for Christians to read. The wisdom in it will go a long way to help us during those times of discouragement and downheartedness. I would also add that the gentle and humble tone of the book should be an example for all Christians to imitate when communicating the truth of the gospel. All in all, this was a most uplifting read and did much to encourage me to persist in my feeble attempts to live my life for Christ.
Might it be if one is not under affliction of one sort or another that he has not been bruised, broken, or brought to the end of himself? And if not, has he, in his pride, been given over to his depraved mind, unable to hear the thunder of God's voice which grants a man repentance? May it not be for you, me, or anyone! The wise Puritan writes, "This is such a one as our Saviour Chirst terms 'poor in spirit' (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice..." and God lowers us "levelling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature." Let the sinner see his suffering as God's kindness which leads to salvation. Let the saint see his suffering as the means by which God perfects grace in the heart of His servant, mortifying the flesh.
With simple language and Biblical saturation, Sibbes encourages the Christian to take comfort in tribulation while looking to victory, to show grace to the weak, and to believe in Christ's goodness to us despite afflictions undergone. I heartily encourage any and all to read this fine work and now I leave you with some words of wisdom from Richard Sibbes. "In pursuing his calling, Christ will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax...he will not only not break nor quench, but he will cherish those with whom he deals."