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The Puritan John Dod wrote that this book is ‘so full of heavenly treasure, and such lively expressions of the invaluable riches of the love of Christ’ that it kindles ‘in the heart all heavenly affections unto Jesus Christ’. Indeed it does! And that was very much what Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) was about in all his ministry.
The Love of Christ is a series of sermons preached on Song of Solomon 4:16–6:3. For Sibbes, this Bible book ‘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’. The Song of Solomon does not simply mouth a doctrine: its sensuous imagery sings its message. It is as if this love story is played on violins. The reader is thus brought, not simply to understand, but to taste and share the delights of the lovers. This is precisely what Christ’s people need, as Sibbes knew: it is not enough to be aware of Christ’s love; we must sense, grasp and enjoy it. Only then will we truly love the Lord our God with all our hearts.
That is one reason why so many avoid books like this one: they want information, and they want it fast. But Sibbes intends to affect you, to hold your eyes on Jesus that you might develop a stronger appetite for him. Such work cannot be fast work, but it is profoundly transforming.
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