A Heavenly Conference – A Review by Rev I D MacDonald
Those who know what it is to say of Christ, ‘I sought Him but I found Him not’, will find much which resonates with their experience in this work by Sibbes; it is taken from volume 6 of Sibbes’ Works. In the early part of the book he deals with Mary’s experience of seeking, and eventually finding, the risen Christ at the tomb. As we are told in the address ‘To The Reader’, we learn how diligent Mary was to seek, and how ready Christ was to be found. Sibbes expounds the truth beautifully and applies it to the reader throughout. In referring to Mary’s mistaking Christ for the gardener, he suggests that it is ‘the hardest matter in the world for a distressed conscience to apprehend God aright, and to apprehend Christ aright’.
The book then takes an almost unexpected turn and proceeds to a more doctrinal exposition of the commission which Christ gave to Mary: ‘Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God’ (Jn 20:17). If the early part of the book provides ‘milk’, the remainder brings out ‘meat’. Numerous doctrines are drawn out of the text, including the believer’s relationship to Christ as one of His brethren, the significance of Christ’s ascension, the Fatherhood of God with regard to Christ and His people, and God’s covenant relationship to Christ and His people.
Sibbes gives the reader sublime views of the love which God the Son has to His people under the sweet title, ‘My brethren’. For example, the timing of their being called Christ’s brethren is significant. We are told: ‘They had dealt most unbrotherly with Him, for everyone had forsaken Him, and Peter had denied Him; yet, ‘Go tell My brethren’. One would think this water would have quenched this fire; this unkind and unbrotherly dealing would have quenched this love in Christ’s breast’, but ‘nothing could conquer it’. No less glorious is his view of the love of God the Father to those who are united to Christ. He tells us that “fathers on earth are but poor fathers, and they be but beams of the fatherly affection that is in God. God will let us see by these beams of compassion that is in a father to a child what real compassion He beareth to us. The true reality of fatherhood is in God.’
A few sentences here and there read a little awkwardly, but overall, simplicity of style complements profundity of matter. Careful and prayerful readers will discover that in the field of this book, ‘the stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold’ (Job 28:6).
Those who know what it is to say of Christ, ‘I sought Him but I found Him not’, will find much which resonates with their experience in this work by Sibbes; it is taken from volume 6 of Sibbes’ Works. In the early part of the book he deals with Mary’s experience of seeking, and […]
Taken with permission from the Free Presbyterian Magazine, April 2016
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