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The Love of Christ – Review by Ben Ramsbottom

Category Book Reviews
Date March 2, 2012

It has often been said: if you wish to start reading the Puritans, begin with Sibbes – the point being that he is simple and direct. (Others may suggest Watson or Swinnock.)

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), ‘the heavenly doctor,’ was one of the foremost among Puritan preachers and divines.The Love of Christ was first published under the title Bowels Opene in 1639. It is a wonderful mercy that there is a call for its republication in 2012!

The Love of Christ consists of twenty sermons on the Song of Solomon, from chapter 4, verse 16, right through to chapter 6, verse 3. For Sibbes the Song of Solomon ‘is nothing else but a plain demonstration and setting forth of the love of Christ to his church, and of the love of the church to Christ.’

With the appearance of another recent reprint from the Banner of Truth written by Thomas Goodwin2 it is difficult to make comparisons of these two authors; but perhaps we may say that Sibbes is shorter – simpler – sweeter. This is a beautiful exposition of the Song of Solomon.

Why some modern readers may find the Puritan divines a little tedious in places is because they do labour a point – even Sibbes. For instance, after a lovely piece about the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit blowing upon the garden of the church and of the soul, we have eight reasons why the Holy Spirit is compared to the wind, and then eight reasons why the church is compared to a garden!

But fellow-Puritan John Dod says it all in the original preface:’I found it, I confess, so full of heavenly treasures, and such lively expressions of the invaluable riches of the love of Christ.’ He goes on to speak of ‘the spiritual and sweet consolations’ contained in the book, and concludes: ‘I doubt not but that they [“the godly wise”] shall find their temptations answered, their fainting spirits revived, their understandings enlightened, and their graces confirmed.’

Notes

  1. The reference is to Goodwin’s

Taken from the March 2012 edition of The Gospel Standard, with permission.

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