From Your Pastor: Richard Sibbes on “Entertaining the Holy Spirit”

There is nothing good in man by nature (Rom. 3:10-23). The Holy Spirit is sent from the risen-ascended Christ to make believing men good (Acts 2:33-36). The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to come and live within believers and to conform them to Christ’s likeness (Rom. 8:29). The Holy Spirit is particularly the “Spirit of Holiness” (cf. Rom. 1:4); Christ’s Spirit is the cause of all holiness in the believer.

Richared Sibbes (1577-1635) wrote “That attribute the Spirit delights in is that of holiness, which our corrupt nature least delights in and most opposeth.”[1] Man was created by God with a desire by nature for holiness, and a desire for happiness. After the fall of man into sin and rebellion against God man still seeks after happiness, but the desire for holiness has been extinguished.[2] The Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in believers to oppose the flesh and fallen nature of man to produce Christ-likeness that brings deep and lasting happiness to the believer.

Sibbes wrote, “Let us labor to be in Christ that we may get the Spirit. It is of great necessity that we should have it (“Him”). Above all things next to redemption by Christ, labor for the Spirit of Christ, Sibbes persuaded believers.”[3] Sibbes taught that the primary ministry of the Spirit of Christ was to enlighten believer’s minds, to soften their hearts, to quicken their wills to faith and action, and to sanctify God’s people.[4] The Spirit’s ministry is a sanctifying ministry, but wonderfully relational as well. God communicates Himself to believers, and believers through the Spirit communicate their hearts back to Him. Without Christ, there could be no Holy Spirit for the believer; without the Spirit there could be no union with Christ and enjoyment of His benefits. Without the Spirit, there could be no real communion with God in Christ.

All the communion that Christ as man had with God was by the Holy Ghost; and all the communion that God hath with us, and we with God, is by the Holy Ghost: for the Spirit is the bond of union between Christ and us, and between God and us.[5]

Sibbes wrote that “God communicates Himself to us by His Spirit, and we communicate with God by His Spirit. God does all in us by His Spirit, and we do all back again to God by His Spirit.[6] Sibbes wrote: “There is nothing in the world so great and sweet a friend that will do us so much good as the Spirit, if we give Him entertainment.”[7]

The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to conform believers to the obedience of Christ as a Holy friend with whom to walk and talk in fellowship together. So for Sibbes, “entertaining the Spirit” is being careful and cautious not to grieve the Spirit of God (cf. Eph. 4:30). To put it positively, “entertaining the Spirit” is to subject ourselves to Christ as Lord and kind king as believers. It is treating the Spirit as a kind friend as well as a king (cf. Malachi 1:6) who has brought glorious and holy fellowship from the Father and the Son to redeemed sinners (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). Sibbes wrote summarizing his understanding of entertaining the Spirit:

…There is the obedience of faith, and the obedience of life. When the soul is wrought to obedience, to believe, and to be directed by God, then the Holy Spirit is given in a farther measure still. The Holy Ghost is given to them that obey, to them that do not resist the Spirit of God….the Spirit is given to them that obey the sweet motions of it…If we have the Spirit of Christ, let us labor to subject ourselves unto it. When we have any good motion by the ministry of the Word, or by conference, or by reading good things (as holy things have a savor in them…)…Oh, give way to the motions of God’s Spirit! (my emphasis)[8]

The obedience that the Holy Spirit equips believers with is no mere morality, or outward show of behavior resulting in hypocrisy, but an inward disposition of particularly “cheerful obedience”. The believer is to be stirred up by the Spirit, motivated by the love of God in Christ that will encourage her to obey the Savior who has loved them and laid down His life for them. Sibbes was cautious to avoid bare moralism that was an unbiblical error of his time. Sibbes emphasized that believers’ love because they have first been loved by God in Christ (cf. 1 John 4:11-19). Sibbes wrote pastorally for believers to understand that the love of God must be the believer’s motivation in all that they do for God if it be true, Christian obedience:

Whatsoever we do else, if it be not stirred by the Spirit, apprehending the love of God in Christ, it is but morality…What are all our performances if they be not out of love to God? And how shall we love God except we be persuaded that he loves us first? …The gospel breeds love in us to God…working a blessed frame of sanctification, whereby we are disposed to every good duty.[9]

“Let the Spirit dwell and rule in us,” captures in summary what it mean for Sibbes for believers to entertain the Spirit of God.[10] Sibbes sweetly called the Spirit the “Blessed Lodger that ever we entertained in all of our lives.”[11] For Sibbes, that entertaining meant to welcome with hospitality and nurture our friendship with the indwelling Spirit.” This relationship with the Holy Spirit as the believer’s holy guest was subject to a deepening and ever-intensifying growth in the love and peace of God. The more the believer seeks to let the Spirit guide, comfort, conform, edify, and guard the soul from sinning, Christ will desire by His Spirit to develop the believer’s soul more maturely and deeply (Eph. 3:17-19). Sibbes wrote, “Christ desires further entertainment in his church’s heart and affection, that he might lodge and dwell there.”[12]

Entertaining the Holy Spirit also meant for Sibbes a further subduing of sinful corruption in the soul, and an enlarging of God’s grace and comfort in the heart:

Let us remember that grace is increased, in the exercise of it, not by virtue of the exercise itself, but as Christ by his Spirit flows into the soul and brings us nearer to himself, the fountain, so instilling such comfort that the heart is further enlarged. The heart of a Christian is Christ’s garden, and his graces are as so many sweet spices and flowers which, when his Spirit blows upon them, send forth a sweet savor…Therefore keep the soul open to entertain the Holy Ghost , for he will bring in continually fresh forces to subdue corruption, and this most of all on the Lord’s day (my emphasis).[13]

Because the souls of believers are still contaminated by sin (Rom. 7:7-25), they are to trust Christ to further subdue the corruption, thus enlarging the believer’s heart, and making the soul a more pleasant and holy place for Christ to dwell. This is to be obtained by prayer to God in Jesus’ name. Entertaining the Spirit meant for Sibbes never to grieve the Holy Spirit of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:30). Sibbes plead with God’s people: “Oh give him entrance and way to come into his own chamber, as it were to provide a room for himself.”[14] Believers can grieve the Spirit when they resist his teaching, direction, strengthening, and/or comfort from Him.[15] When believers receive the delight and comfort brought to them by the Spirit, they entertain his motions of grace and comfort toward them, but when they refuse Him, they grieve Him, and sin against Him.[16] Sibbes taught realistically that the best of believers are prone to grieve the Spirit. Believers who have the Spirit of God within them know experientially that there is an enmity within and without against the workings of the Spirit.[17]

Sibbes taught that believers should remember that the Spirit is a Spirit of Holiness and so he “is grieved with unclean courses, with unclean motions and words and actions.”[18] The Spirit is a Spirit of Love and so he is grieved when believers cherish malice or corruption against other Christians. “He will not rest in a malicious heart who is the Spirit of Love.”[19] There must not be any rottenness or malice that is practiced and performed in the hearts of believers. The Spirit is a Spirit of Humility and wheresover He is, there is humility. Those that are filled with vain and high thoughts, proud conceits, and self-centeredness grieve the Spirit of God (cf. James 4:6-8).[20] The Spirit of God is especially grieved by spiritual wicked sins such as pride and high-mindedness, perhaps even more so offended than by sins against the body, Sibbes taught. Grieving the Spirit can also be a disregard of a well-informed, Biblically-enriched conscience. Sins against conscience can grieve this wonderful Spirit if Christ, and “lay a clog upon Him” as Sibbes says colorfully.[21]

The primary goal of the Christian life is to please Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10), and to enjoy comfort in Him, being equipped with gifts for loving service by the Holy Spirit.[22] We can grieve the Spirit and not properly entertain His sweet and comforting work in and through us when we are distracted by worldly things, and prefer creaturely, created things, more than “His motions leading us to holiness and happiness”.[23] When the mind is troubled with much (as Martha in Luke 10:38-42), then the Spirit is grieved. Especially in our time, believers ought to heed the wisdom of Sibbes here:

…When the soul is like a mill [or loud industrial warehouse], where one cannot hear another, the noise is such as takes away all intercourse. It diminishes of our respect to the Holy Spirit when we give way to a multitude of business (what we would call “busyness”); for multitude of business (“busyness”) begets multitude of passions and distractions; that when God’s Spirit dictates the best things that tend to our comfort and peace, we have no time to heed what the Spirit advises. Therefore we should so moderate our occasions and affairs, that we may be always ready for good suggestions. If a man will be lost, let him lose himself in Christ and in the things of heaven…(my emphasis).[24]

Because the primary office of the Spirit is to “set out Christ, and the favor and mercy of God in Christ,”[25] let believers never slight the good news of Christ in the Gospel. Let God’s people receive God’s grace in Christ as He is held out to them, especially in preaching. Sibbes counseled that eagerness to hear God’s Word preached by God’s called, gifted and ordained ambassadors was a primary way to make “way for God in the heart” and so he said: “Give [the preachers] entertainment.”[26] Sibbes emphasized not only the work of the Spirit within the believer, but the Spirit’s work through the means appointed by God, particularly preaching.

More on Richard Sibbes in the weeks to come… More on preaching and the Spirit of God…

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was affectionately known as the “Sweet Dropper” as a Puritan preacher.[27] He has been distinguished among the Puritans as the “Heavenly” Dr. Sibbes because he was famous for his affective spirituality.[28] Affective spirituality is a focus on the affections or the desires as they are transformed by the Spirit of God motivating believers to joyful obedience in Christ.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs



[1] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:412

[2] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:413

[3] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:212

[4] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:413

[5] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:17

[6] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:17-18

[7] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:431

[8] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:24-25

[9] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:24

[10] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:25

[11] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:25

[12] Sibbes, Bowels Opened in Works, II:58

[13] Sibbes, The Bruised Reed in Works, I:75

[14] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:236

[15] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:415; Sibbes gave advice on specifically how to avoid the grieving of the Spirit. 1. Let believers submit our souls entirely to the Spirit of God as Divine Governor. 2. Let believers walk perfectly (“precisely”) in obeying the Spirit in all things.

[16] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:415

[17] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:414

[18] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:236

[19] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[20] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[21] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[22] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:414

[23] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:416

[24] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:422

[25] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:420

[26] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:426

[27] Packer, J. I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 179.

[28] Kapic, Kelly M. and Gleason, Randall C., Edited. The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 79.

From Your Pastor: Richard Sibbes’ Affective Spirituality: “To Look to Christ”


Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was affectionately known as the “Sweet Dropper” as a Puritan preacher.[1] He has been distinguished among the Puritans as the “Heavenly” Dr. Sibbes because he was famous for his affective spirituality.[2] Affective spirituality is a focus on the affections or the desires as they are transformed by the Spirit of God motivating believers to joyful obedience in Christ. Sibbes’[3] primary emphasis as a preacher was the interior soul, a focus on the hearts, the affections, the desires of the soul toward God in Christ rather than merely external behavior, or an outward conformity to the law of God.[4] He did not undermine the law of God, but emphasized the law as it is written by the Spirit upon the heart that was promised to believers in Christ in the context of the Covenant of Grace (cf. Heb. 8:8-13).[5] Sibbes believed that the primary attention of the Christian ought to be on the love of God as He is revealed in Christ.[6]

Sibbes emphasized the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit as a Christological reality in the believer’s life. His understanding of the Spirit of Christ’s work was Biblically-theologically united in his mind to the obedience and fruitfulness the Spirit would produce in every believer united to Christ. This fruitfulness would fulfill the demands of the law, which is summarized as true love for God in Christ (cf. Rom. 13:8-10). The Spirit of Christ’s primary ministry was to convict, lead to confession, comfort with forgiving love and mercy, and conform believers to Christ. This was not an undermining of God’s holy law, but a different emphasis that Sibbes “contextualized” wisely in his time due to an imbalanced moralistic emphasis that sought to awaken apathetic people living in the covenant of grace in the national church.[7]

In contrast to the much moralistic preaching in his time, Sibbes had a wonderful reputation in the 1600s as one who preached “sweet, soul-melting Gospel-sermons” that refreshed the saints, awakened the apathetic, and encouraged the troubled. He was known for his very experimental (“experiential”), or practical sermons.[8] One of Sibbes’ contemporaries, one Samuel Hartlib referred to Sibbes as “one of the most experimental divines now living”.[9] Sibbes sought to have an eminently practical theology that always was applied to men’s lives and experiences. Sibbes wanted to demonstrate that all theology about God and His salvation was relevant to all of life.[10]  Sibbes would agree with the famous statement made later by the Rev. Dr. Robert Burns that Christian truth should be brought home to “men’s business and bosoms.”[11] Sibbes understood that Christians that are truly recipients of grace in Christ through the Spirit would be particularly obedient Christians characterized by fruitfulness and thankfulness.[12] In this way, Sibbes’ practical or “experiential” emphasis was to produce the obedience of faith that should be evident in a Christian’s life.

Although Sibbes was a Triune Theologian, who had a tremendous emphasis on the Holy Spirit, he asserted strongly that the chief end of man, is “To look to Christ”, or to be “swallowed up in the love of Christ”. Ultimately, then, for Sibbes, the Father and Spirit desired to reveal Christ, and His mediating love to sinners in calling, regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification. This goal to look to Christ has two elements, Sibbes taught: 1. That God might be glorified; 2. That believers might be happy. “And both these are attained by honoring and serving Him.[13] For Sibbes, the Triune theologian, God would be glorified through sinners believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the application of all of Christ’s benefits by the Holy Spirit, would enjoy Him in intimate relationship. This is a summary of what the Westminster Divines would later write (after Sibbes’ death in 1635) as the “chief end of man”, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”[14]

For Sibbes, looking to Christ had a transforming effect on the believers. Like John Owen (1616-1683) after him, the emphasis was “looking on Christ” (cf. Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18).[15] Sibbes wrote of the transforming effect that looking to Christ has on believers. “The very beholding of Christ is a transforming sight…it is a transforming beholding. If we look upon him with the eye of faith, it will make us like Christ….When we see the love of God in the gospel, and the love of Christ giving himself for us, this will transform us to love God.”[16] Sibbes wrote that by looking to the glory of God in Christ we see Christ as our husband, and that breeds a disposition in us to have the affections of a spouse.[17] We see Christ as our head, and that breeds a disposition in us to be members like him.[18] Sibbes encouraged growth in Christ by His Spirit through meditation on His Beautiful Person. Sibbes wrote that Christ is the most beautiful person, particularly as the mediator between the Father and sinners who brings peace and reconciliation. This loveliness and beauty of Christ is “especially spiritual”, Sibbes taught, meaning that it had spiritual efficacy to stir up the graces of Christ’s Spirit.[19] Quoting a spiritual father in the faith, Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153), he wrote, “When I think of Christ, I think at once of God, full of majesty and glory; and, at the same time, of man, full of meekness, gentleness, and sweetness.”[20]

In Sibbes’ rich and biblical Christology and Pneumatology there is no room for Antinomianism, or carelessness with regard to God’s law. If one is truly a believer, they will be becoming like Christ by His Spirit. The believer’s union with Christ demanded this understanding. This transformation would be one of both comfort and conformity. The Spirit’s work would comfort believers with the Father’s love in Christ, and they could boldly draw near to Him for help in their lives (cf. Acts 9:31). This confidence in the Father’s love would dispel all of their fears (1 Jo. 4:18), and they would love God as a Father (Rom. 8:15). The Spirit would also conform believers to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Sibbes wrote that what the believers behold by faith in Christ, they would become. What a believer sees in the Savior would be a reality for them in their sanctification. Sibbes emphasized Christ as Savior first, then Christ as the believer’s example, but one could not be separated from the other any more than justification could be separated from sanctification in the true believer.

This priority or primacy on Christ first as a Savior was important for Sibbes’ doctrine and explanation of sanctification in the believer. For Sibbes, Christ is the Source of the Spirit for believers. If Christ is not understood first as Savior, then the Spirit will not sanctify. Believers only have the Sanctifying Spirit as a gift of the completed work of Christ for sinners (cf. Heb. 2:11ff; Acts 2:33-36). The Spirit that Christ had in his earthly life, He now has in fullness in his exaltation in glory. This same Spirit, the exalted Christ pours out abundantly and graciously upon His people. It is important to note that the emphasis for Sibbes is on the Spirit being particularly the Spirit “of Christ”. This again accentuates Sibbes’ pneumatology being Christological. Sibbes wrote briefly, yet deeply:

…All is first in Christ, then in us….We have not the Holy Ghost immediately from God, but we have Him as sanctifying Christ first, and then us; and whatsoever the Holy Ghost doth in us, He doth the same in Christ first, and He doth it in us because of Christ…Whatsoever the Holy Ghost works in us, He takes of Christ first (my emphasis).[21]

Sibbes wrote of this biblically rich Christological pneumatology throughout his works. He wrote elsewhere, “[The Lord Jesus Christ] hath the Spirit Himself eminently, and dispenses and gives the Spirit unto others; all receiving the Spirit from Him as the common root and fountain of all spiritual gifts.”[22] Jesus Christ is the “man of the Spirit”, and the one who pours out His Spirit on His Church.[23] “The gift of the Holy Ghost especially depends upon the glorifying (“glorification”) of Christ. When [Christ] had fulfilled the work of redemption, and was raised to glory, God being pacified gave the Holy Ghost as a gift of his favor (cf. Acts 2:32-35).[24]

For Sibbes, believers get all their rich spiritual blessings from Christ (cf. Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). As it was with Christ in His life, so believers can expect the same in Him by His grace. Christ was conceived by the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, and sealed by the Spirit, so are believers in the same way. In fact, Sibbes summarized this by clearly teaching that “When we [believers] are knit to Christ by His Spirit, then it works the same in us as it did in him.” As Christ was conceived, anointed and sealed by the Spirit, so those in union with Him are conceived, anointed and sealed as well. Sibbes’ Christological focus was to accentuate all of the spiritual blessings for believers, to encourage them toward a closer communion with the Triune God, and a deeper, more assured salvation and sanctification. All grace that believers have is “from His fullness” received by us by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 1:16). Sibbes wrote: “From Christ, we have grace to know God’s favor towards us, grace for Christ-conformity, and grace to know privileges and benefits towards us…both favor and grace in us, and privileges issuing from grace, we have all as they are in Christ.”[25]

All of the blessings believers have is because of Jesus Christ! All the promises of God are made to Christ first, then to us.[26] Sibbes taught that whatever privilege or blessing that believers enjoy such as justification, adoption, sanctification—any blessing from God the Father from grace to glory–should first be seen in Christ. He wrote: “Our election is in Christ first. He is chosen to be our head. Our justification is in Christ first. He is justified and freed from our sins being laid to his charge as our surety, and therefore we are freed. Our resurrection is in Christ first. We rise, because he is the ‘first-begotten from the dead.’ Our ascension is in Christ, and our sitting at the right hand of God in him first.

All things that are ours, they are first his; what he hath by nature, we have by grace (my emphasis).[27]

In fact, there is no blessing, nor immediate communion between the Father and believers except through Jesus Christ. “Christ is the Father’s, and we are the Father’s in Christ.”[28] God in our nature comes between the Father and us, and all things come from God to us in him…Out of Christ, there is no communion with God. He is a friend to both sides: to us as man, to him as God. All things come originally from the fountain of all, God.[29] All comes down from the Father through the Son to us by the Holy Spirit. “God doth all in Christ to us. He chooseth us in Christ, and sanctifies us in Christ; he bestows all spiritual blessings on us in Christ, as members of Christ. To Christ first, and through him, he conveys it to us.”[30] Christ’s human nature is the first temple wherein the Spirit dwells, and then we become temples by union with Him.”[31] Sibbes taught that if one was truly a believer in Christ then he would begin to look and act and live like Him in gentleness and humility. Sibbes would not have agreed with, nor fathomed the Antinomian way of thinking of a so-called “Savior” that did not become also the Sanctifier of the believer. If Christ was truly the Savior of the believer, then He was also the Sanctifier who transformed her.

More on Richard Sibbes in weeks to come…

If your affective appetite was whet, and you want more “heavenly drippings”, you might start with these excellent books: A Heavenly Conference, The Bruised Reed, and The Love of Christ: Expositions on Song of Solomon. These are available on the KCPC booktable.


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs




[1] Packer, J. I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 179.

[2] Kapic, Kelly M. and Gleason, Randall C., Edited. The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 79.

[3] Manuals for writers are not in agreement on whether to write plural “Sibbes’” or “Sibbes’s”. In this paper, I will use “Sibbes’”; accessed on December 1, 2015.

[4] Harold Patton Shelly, Richard Sibbes: Early Stuart Preacher of Piety, Ph.D. diss. (Temple University, 1972), 55-56.

[5] “[Sibbes stressed covenant as the] ground of the entirety of the Christian life both in justification and sanctification”; Mark Dever, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000), 2.

[6] Harold Patton Shelly, Richard Sibbes: Early Stuart Preacher of Piety, Ph.D. diss. (Temple University, 1972), 55-56. Shelly wrote: “Some earlier Puritans had emphasized the law of God and conformity to its precepts. The goal for which Sibbes strove was not external precision gained by following the law of God but an internal holiness produced by the Spirit of God (my emphasis). God’s love and mercy, not his law and judgment, ought to inspire the saint.”

[7] R. N. Frost, “Richard Sibbes’ Theology of Grace and the Division of English Reformed Theology,” PhD diss. King’s College of the Univ. of London, 1996, 174-77. Frost emphasizes that Sibbes was not an Antinomian, but was ministering in a context that was rife with moralism, and so he emphasized the ministry of the Spirit from within men’s souls. Dever wrote that modern scholarship has wrongly presented Sibbes as a central, “though unwitting, figure in the development of moralism, emphasizing sanctification at the expense of justification.” Dever, “Richard Sibbes,” 99. Dever rightly points out that “Sibbes was not…and unwitting representative of a nascent moralism. He was, rather, one of the last of the great Reformed preachers of England both to believe in theory and to know in practice an officially undivided covenant community,” 134.

[8] Kapic and Gleason, The Devoted Life, 80.

[9] Mark Dever, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000), 1.

[10] Bert Affleck, “Theology of Richard Sibbes (1577-1635),” PhD Diss., Drew University, 1969, 18. Affleck asserts that Sibbes’ legacy to history is a theology relevant to life, a theology for the whole of life.

[11] Cartwright, H.M. “Faith and Justification: Volume One of the Works of Thomas Halyburton.” The James Begg Society. Quote from, accessed November 21, 2015.

[12] Sibbes wrote that believers’ whole lives under the Gospel should be characterized by fruitful and thankfulness demonstrated by obedience. From Divine Meditations in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander B. Grosart (1862-1864); repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2004), VII:206. This edition of Sibbes’ complete works will be cited as Works.

[13] Sibbes, The Christian’s End in Works, V:298; Quoted in Frost, “Richard Sibbes’ Theology of Grace,” 44.

[14] Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism, Question 1: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

[15] John Owen taught often throughout his writings that believers can grow in their communion with God and in their sanctification through the experience of gazing on Christ by faith. See especially John Owen, Mediations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, in Works, I:140; I:274-432; Also, Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, in Works, VII:344-351.

[16] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:14

[17] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:12; Sibbes’ preaching was clearly influenced by Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430), as well as Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Sibbes had a “moderate mysticism” not an “ontological fusion” as taught by radical mystics but a “union analogous to human marriage”. Frost wrote that this covenant-marriage or mystical marriage language placed Sibbes in company with many of the central figures of the Christian-mystical tradition who used marital imagery to describe spirituality. The mystical union emphasized that Christ and believers are one. Sibbes accentuated the benefits of this mystical union: “…With the same love that God loves Christ, he loves all his. He delights in Christ and all his, with the same delight….You see what a wondrous confidence and comfort we have hence, if we labor to be in Christ, that then God loves and delights in us, because he loves and delights in Christ Jesus.” Quoted in Frost, “Richard Sibbes’ Theology of Grace,” 115.

[18] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:271

[19] Sibbes, Bowels Opened in Works, II:138

[20] Sibbes, Bowels Opened in Works, II:138

[21] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:18

[22] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:205

[23] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:205-208

[24] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:209

[25] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:19

[26] Sibbes, A Christian’s Portion in Works, IV:25ff

[27] Sibbes, A Christian’s Portion in Works, IV:26

[28] Sibbes, A Christian’s Portion in Works, IV:32

[29] Sibbes, A Christian’s Portion in Works, IV:33

[30] Sibbes, A Christian’s Portion in Works, IV:33

[31] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:414