Richard Sibbes on the Mercy of God

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was a preacher within the Puritan tradition. In The Beauty and Glory of the Father there is a wonderful chapter on “Richard Sibbes on the Mercy and Faithfulness of the Father” by Paul Smalley. Here are just a few thoughts I thought were well worth dwelling on. But we shouldn’t be content with simply contemplating truths about God. Let us not rest till those truths have broken through our hearts and transformed us closer to the image of Christ.

“Sibbes wrote, ‘Mercy is God’s sweetest attribute, which sweeteneth all his other attributes; for but for mercy, whatsoever else is in God, were matter of terror to us.’ However, in Christ, Sibbes wrote, ‘He will be glorified in showing mercy.’ ‘He doth all for the glory of his mercy, both in the creation, and in the gospel.’

“God shows Himself to be the Father of mercies in all His dealings with us. Before our conversion, He is the Father of mercies in ‘offering and enjoying [urging] mercy’ to us in the gospel. In mercy, He patiently defers His wrath. When we are converted, He is the Father of mercies ‘in pardoning sin freely, in pardoning all sin, the punishment and the guilt, and all.’ When we are living under His grace, He is the Father of mercies ‘to correct his children seasonably,’ yet to soften and sweeten His correction with comforts. His mercies are new every day (Lam. 3:22-23). He has the affection of a mother for her children, and like a father accepts our obedience though it is ‘feeble and weak.’ Everything that ‘comes from God to his children’ is ‘dipped in mercy.’

“How should Christians respond to the Father of mercies? First believers should crave and pray for a deeper experiential knowledge of our Father’s mercy for us. . . . ‘One glance of his fatherly countenance in Jesus Christ, will banish all terrors whatsoever, and make even a very dungeon to be a paradise.’ When our hearts feel ‘cold and dead,’ we must labor to embrace the Father’s mercy by faith. His affection will warm in us ‘new love, and new affections to one another.’ . . . This ‘wonderful mercy’ that the majestic God would adopt ‘traitors, rebels, enemies, to make them his sons’ inspires ‘a mixed affection of fear and love,’ for our Father is fearsome in His greatness and lovely in His goodness.”

“Third, the children of God must imitate our Father in showing mercy to others. If we do not bear the likeness of the Father of mercy, then we have no right to call Him our Father. . . . The Father of mercies begets a spiritual family of mercy. Union with Christ makes us true Christians, but each Christian must be ‘a member of some particular congregation.’ It is God’s way to comfort His people by each Christian sharing his divine comforts with the others: ‘No man is for himself alone.'”

Beauty and Glory of the Father

The Beauty and Glory of the Father is edited by Joel R. Beeke. It is a hardcover from Reformation Heritage Books with 156 pages and sells for $25.00.

 

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