A few gems from the Meditations of Richard Sibbes.
God bears not in vain the name of a Father; He fills it up to the full. It is a name of indulgence, of hope, of provision, —a name of protection. It argues the mitigation of punishment: a little is enough for a father. In all temptations, oh let us, by prayer, fly to the arms of our heavenly Father, expect from Him all that a father should do for his child, as provision, protection, indulgence, yea, and seasonable corrections (which are as necessary for us as our daily bread), and when we die we may expect our inheritance, because in Christ He is our Father. But yet we must remember the name of a father is a word of relation; duty is expected from us; we must reverence Him as a father, with fear and love: He is a great God, we ought to fear Him; He is merciful, yea, hath bowels of mercy, we ought to love Him; if we tremble before Him, we forget that He is loving, and if overbold, we also forget that He is a great and holy God ; therefore we should always go to the throne of grace with reverence, holy love, and filial confidence in the name of Jesus.
There are four things observable in the nature of love: first, an estimation of the party beloved; secondly, a desire to be joined to him; thirdly, a settled contentment; fourthly, a desire to please the party in all things. So there is first in every Christian a high estimation of God in Christ; he makes choice of Him above all things, and speaks largely in His commendation: secondly, he desires to be united to Him; and where this desire is, there is an intercourse, he will open his mind to Him by prayer, and go to Him in all his consultations for counsel: thirdly, he places contentment in Him alone, because in the worst condition he finds peace and comfort when the light of His countenance shines upon him: fourthly, he seeks to please Him; he labours so to act, that God may in Christ delight in him; love stirs up his soul to remove all things distasteful to Him. He asks, as David did, ‘Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ How can I honour my God?
A woman, when she marries a husband, gives up her will to him: so doth every Christian when he is married to Christ: he gives up his will, and all that he hath, and saith, Lord, I have nothing, but if Thou callest for it, Thou shalt have it again.
Our happiness consists in due subordination and conformity to Christ; therefore let us labour to carry ourselves as He did to His Father, to His friends, to His enemies. In the days of His flesh, He prayed whole nights to His Father. How holy and heavenly minded! He took occasion from vines, and stones, and sheep, for heavenly discourse; and when He rose from the dead, He spake only of things concerning the kingdom of God. As for His behaviour towards His friends, ‘ He would not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed:’ He did not reproach Peter with his denial; but was of a winning disposition to all: and as for His conduct to His enemies, He did not call for fire from heaven to destroy them, but dropped many tears for those that shed His blood, ‘ O Jerusalem,’ &c.; and upon the cross, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:’ so that to be like minded to Christ, consider how He carried Himself to His Father, to His friends, to His enemies, yea, to the devil himself. Even when he comes to us in wife, children, friends, &c., we must, as Christ did, say to Satan, Get thee hence; and when we deal with those that have the spirit of the devil in them, we must not render reproach for reproach, but answer them, ‘ It is written.’
True zeal for God’s glory is joined with true love to men: therefore, all that are violent, injurious, and insolent, need never talk of glorifying God, so long as they despise the meanest of men.
A child of God is the greatest freeman, and the best servant, even as Christ Himself was the best Servant, yet none so free; and the greater portion any man hath of Christ’s spirit, the freer disposition he hath, for Christ’s sake, to serve every one in love.
It is a comfort in the hour of death, that we yield up our souls to Christ, who has gone before to provide a place for us: this was one end of His being taken up to heaven, to provide a place for us. Therefore, when we die, we have not a place to seek, our house is provided beforehand; Christ was taken up to glory, to provide glory for us. Even as paradise was provided for Adam before he was made, so we have a heavenly paradise provided for us; we had a place in heaven before we were born. What a comfort is this at the hour of death, and at the death of our friends, that they are gone to Christ and to glory! We were shut out of the first paradise by the first Adam; our comfort is, that now the heavenly paradise in Christ is open. ‘This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,’ saith Christ to the penitent thief. There was an angel to keep paradise when Adam was shut out; but there is none to keep us out of heaven; nay, the angels are ready to convey our souls to heaven, as they did Lazarus; and as they accompanied Christ in His ascension to heaven, so they do the souls of His children.