Josiah’s Reformation – A Review by Trevor Kirkland
Josiah’s Reformation by Richard Sibbes has just been published by the Banner of Truth Trust1. Richard Sibbes is widely known amongst evangelicals who are familiar with Christian literature. Sadly, few have actually read him beyond the various quotations that appear in numerous Christian magazines. Here is an opportunity to read, learn and enjoy for yourself.2
The work itself consists of four chapters entitled: ‘The Tender Heart’, ‘The Art of Self Humbling’, ‘The Art of Mourning’ and ‘The Saint’s Refreshing’. Do not let the titles of the various chapters be off-putting. The following reasons, taken from each chapter, show why such a book should be eagerly read.
First, this book should be read because we are too often strangers to our own heart. That is to say, we think we know both what we are like and what we should be like. Sibbes by contrast begins by explaining what it means to have a tender heart; that is, a heart which has a genuine interest in spiritual things. There can be no progress in spiritual reformation unless we begin with the heart. Too often our spirituality degenerates in a shell of religion. Sibbes shows us what such a heart is like and why we should have it.
Second, this book should be read because we need to know how to have such a heart. In an age of the quick fix, the claim to secret keys and short cuts, Sibbes shows to us the nature, extent, means and motives to acquire a tender heart. Along the way we learn something about the kind of rulers we need from the example of Josiah. Sibbes also answers questions that arise, especially how we can tell the difference between the genuine and the false. The Puritans excelled in showing such differences, to the encouragement of the truly converted and the discouragement of hypocrites. Too often preaching flatters the hypocrite and undermines the sincere.
Third, this book should be read because we have lost the art of mourning. In an age of shallowness, superficiality and banality that passes for Christianity, here is the antidote – humiliation without being morose or morbid. Naturally such a subject raises objections and questions, for example, are we not supposed to be always rejoicing, so how can we engage in mourning? If you want the answer get the book!
Finally, this book should be read because we need our last days to be our best days. We all want to so live the Christian life that our remaining years are filled with joy and delight. Too often believers become whiners and complainers the older they get. Here is a biblical way of looking at death that enables Christians, as Sibbes puts it, ‘to be content to put their bodies, life and all, to hazard’.
Sibbes has this goal, that we may not boast we are God’s people while others are idolaters unless we engage in reformation after the pattern of Josiah. As a postscript it is refreshing that Banner of Truth didn’t change the biblical text used by Sibbes but retained the AV throughout.
7 Volume Set
Josiah’s Reformation by Richard Sibbes has just been published by the Banner of Truth Trust1. Richard Sibbes is widely known amongst evangelicals who are familiar with Christian literature. Sadly, few have actually read him beyond the various quotations that appear in numerous Christian magazines. Here is an opportunity to read, learn and enjoy for yourself.2 […]
The Banner of Truth also publishes the following individual titles:
In the Puritan Paperbacks series – The Bruised Reed, Glorious Freedom, The Love of Christ.
In the Pocket Puritans series – The Tender Heart, a chapter taken from Josiah’s Reformation.
Rev E. T. Kirkland is Pastor of Templepatrick Reformed Church, Antrim, N. Ireland. This review is taken with permission from the Free Church Witness, December 2011 (notes added).
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