Friday, January 25, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 8

I had to read this chapter a couple of times. It is loaded with knowledge. Up until this point it is as if Sibbes has been giving us a few quick powerful jabs, it appears that in this chapter he is sizing us up (laying the foundation) for a knockout punch. Although this chapter is not the knockout punch itself, I believe it will serve to build a foundation for that later on. Maybe if Sibbes were here today he would prefer I say hugs instead of knockout punches, but maybe not, there is a reason why we are called bruised reeds.

Quick Outline:

  • We Should Persist in Duties
  • Overcoming Discouragements
  • The Source of Discouragements
  • Some Uneasy Feelings Removed
  • What are Sins of Weakness?

Sibbes' main concern in this chapter is to keep us from discouragement and to encourage us to press on in our duties despite our hearts being "altogether averse to them". He first gives four reasons; paraphrased they are:

  1. If we do not corruption will gain ground
  2. God strengthens us as we go about our duties
  3. Obedience is most direct when there is nothing to else to sweeten it
  4. Reward follows work; the fruit of our labor will be sweet
Sibbes then offers help in overcoming discouragements. As always he points us to Jesus and the mercy of God therein. In order to most effectively help us he sets about to show us that the Godhead is not the source of our discouragements. "Discouragements, then, must come from ourselves and from Satan, who labours to fasten on us a loathing of duty." Christ has came to free us from these discouragements, yet, "in some such ignorance of that comfortable condition we are in under the covenant of grace as to discourage them greatly". Because of this we must understand three things about our weaknesses: 1) they do not break covenant with God 2) they do not exclude us from mercy 3) If Christ is not merciful to the weak then he will have no one to serve him.

The central thing that Sibbes wants us to understand in this chapter is that, "weaknesses so considered, although a matter of humiliation and the object of our daily mortification, yet may be consistent with boldness with God, or is a good work either extinguished by them or tainted so far as to lose all acceptance with God." In other words weakness, even though it should be battled, does not exclude us from the merciful care of the Lord.

The last part of this chapter honestly confuses me and is difficult for me to summarize. Basically Sibbes closes by teaching us on the sins of infirmity. He shows us four things that we must understand about sins of weakness (they appear to be qualifications). 1) There must be a life of grace begun 2) there must be a sincere and general bent to the best things 3) there must be a right judgment, allowing of the best ways, or else the heart is rotten 4) there must be a conjugal love of Christ.

All of this is to show us that if we have these qualifications, then "Christ counts it his honour to pass by many infirmities, nay, in infirmities he perfect his strength." Or again, "if there be any bruised reed, let him not make an exception of himself, when Christ does not make an exception of him.


There is quite a bit in this chapter that is worthy of discussion. It is loaded with much foundational information; but it seems to me that the most important thing that Sibbes is trying to establish is that if Christ accepts us then we ought to "accept" ourselves. This must be taken carefully otherwise it will drift into New Age heresy. His main point is that we find ourselves accepted in Christ and live in that.

Here are a few questions for us to discuss. 1) Do you agree with Sibbes statement that, "Obedience is most direct when there is nothing else to sweeten the action"? 2) Do you agree with Sibbes statement that "God's children never sin with full will..."? 3) What would you say is Sibbes' key thought in this chapter?

Pearls and Diamonds:
"..none have abilities so meagre as to be beneath the gracious regard of Christ. Where it pleases him to make his choice and exalt his mercy he passes by no degree of understanding, though never so simple." (p.57)

"What course shall such take to recover their peace? They must condemn themselves sharply, and yet cast themselves upon God's mercy in Christ, as at their first conversion. And now they must embrace Christ the more firmly, as they see more need in themselves..." (p.61)

"Therefore, if there be any bruised reed, let him not make an exception of himself, when Christ does not make an exception of him." (p.61)

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