Richard Sibbes

Brief Biography

Richard Sibbes, like so many of his peers, was a man of humble origins. He was born in 1577 in Tostock, Suffolk, the first-born son of a wheelwright. In 1595, against his father's wishes that he carry on the family trade, Sibbes joined St John's College, Cambridge. Though of his own spiritual progress we know little, we do know that he undoubtedly heard the preaching of William Perkins in Cambridge, and that he was ultimately converted under the ministry of Perkins' successor, Paul Baynes.
After earning his B.D. in 1610, he was appointed as a lecturer at Holy Trinity in Cambridge, a position from which he was relieved five years later because of his Puritan tendencies. Sibbes, however, had by then become widely known for his preaching, and through the influence of some powerful friends, in 1617 he was chosen to be the preacher at Gray's Inn, one of the most influential pulpits in London. At Gray's Inn, Sibbes' eminence and influence as a preacher continued to grow, to the extent that his foes did not dare move against him.
In 1626, he came back to Cambridge as Master of St Catherine's Hall, while retaining his position at Gray's Inn. And in 1633, he returned to Holy Trinity, this time by crown appointment 'to its perpetual curacy'. Sibbes continued his preaching ministry both there and at Gray's Inn, as well as maintaining his duties at St Catherine's. until his death on 5th July 1635, at the age of 58.
During his lifetime, Sibbes authorised the publishing of only three volumes of his work. One is a treatise entitled The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory over itself by Faith, and the other two are collections of sermons under the titles The Saint's Safety in Evil Times and The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax. Both The Soul's Conflict and The Saint's Safety are able works, exposing their author as a master at the practical application of Scripture and theology. But it is in The Bruised Reed that we find crystallised the foundation and essence of Sibbes' own ministry and preaching.

Useful Links Article on "The Bruised Reed" About works current. Selections selections about puritan thought on the Jews' return. Influence of Sibbes on Baxter. "Description of Christ" Useful list of on-line sermons.

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