Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sibbes, Richard
SIBBES, SIBBS, or SIBS, RICHARD, D.D. (1577–1635), puritan divine, eldest son of Paul Sibs, wheelwright, by his wife Johan, was born at Tostock, Suffolk, in 1577. Sibbes was educated at the grammar school of Bury St Edmunds, and by help of John Knewstubs [q. v.], rector of Cockfield, and others, he was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1595. He was elected scholar of his college, commenced B.A. 1599, was admitted fellow 3 April 1601, and proceeded M.A. 1602. His permanent religious convictions he owed to the preaching of Paul Baynes [q. v.], lecturer (1603-6) at St. Andrew's the Great, Cambridge. In 1608 he was appointed taxator, and, having taken orders, was made one of the college preachers on 25 April 1609. He commenced B.D. in 1610, and was appointed lecturer at Holy Trinity, Cambridge. In consequence of his puritanism he was deprived in 1615 of both professorship and lectureship by the high commission. On 5 Feb. 1817, through the influence of Sir Henry Yelverton [q. v.], he was chosen preacher at Gray's Inn, where he had a remarkable auditory. William Gouge, D.D. [q. v.], who often heard him, told Samuel Clarke (15R9-1683) [q. v.] that 'he sometimes had a little stammering in the time of his preaching, but then his judicious hearers alwaies expected some rare and excellent notion from him.' In 1626, on the death of John Hills, D.D., he was elected master of St. Catharine's Hall, Cambridge, still retaining his post at Gray's Inn. 'The wheel of St.. Katharine,' says Fuller, 'having stood still (not to say gone backward) for some years, he left it replenished with scholars, beautified with buildings, better endowed with revenues.' He was one of the twelve feoffees under the short-lived schema (1626-33) for fostering a puritan ministry by buying up impropriations. As early as 1620 he had become a correspondent of James Usher or Ussher [q. v.], who by letter (10 Jan. 1627) made him the offer of the provostship of Trinity College, Dublin. Sibbes declined the prospect. The overture was renewed (19 March) by Archbishop Abbot, but nothing came of it, though there is ground for Grosart's inference that Sibbes visited Dublin. In 1627 he proceeded D.D. He joined in the petition (2 March 1628) promoted by John Davenport [q. v.] on behalf of the distressed protestants in the palatinate, and incurred the reprimand of the high commission. That he was not anxious to provoke a conflict with the authorities is shown by his promoting, on the ground that 'Lambeth House would be obey'd,' the election to a fellowship at St. Catharine's Hall of John Ellis (1606-1681) [q. v.], whom Calamy calls a 'bell ringer’ to Laud [see Knowles, John, 1606?-1685?]. On 1 Nov. 1633 he was presented by the crown to the perpetual curacy of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, on the resignation of Thomas Goodwin, D.D. [q. v.], whom he is said to have weaned from Arminianism.
Sibbes died unmarried at Gray's Inn on 5 July 1635. His name he writes in all three forms set at the head of this article. His portrait has been four times engraved (cf. Bromley). An excellent engraving in Clarke's 'Lives' shows a strong and pleasant countenance, with large aquiline nose, moustache, and peaked beard ; he wears a ruff and a double skull-cap. His memory was cherished by many who were not puritans; Francis Quarles has verses on his works; Izaak Walton wrote this couplet in his copy of 'The Returning Backslider:'
Of this blest man let this just praise be given,
Heaven was in him before he was in heaven.
He published: 1. 'The Saint's Cordials,' 1629, fol. 1637, fol.; this contains ten sermons by Sibbes, with fifteen others ; a volume with same title, 1658, folio, contains eighteen sermons, all by Sibbes; it has been abridged by N. Batson as 'The Saint's Assurance,' 1809, 12mo, and 'The Saints Ark' , 8vo. 2. 'The Bruised Reede Smoaking Flax,' 1630, 12mo (it is often said that to this book Bichard Baxter owed his religious impre,ssions; it confirmed impressions already made by a work of Robert Parsons [q. v.], the Jesuit, as revised by Edmund Bunny [q. v.] ; Job Orton's copy 'cost me 3d., and I would not take 3l, for it; it is my constant companion'). 3. 'The Saint's Safetie in Evill Times,' 1633-4, 12mo. 4. 'The Churches Visitation,' 1634, 8vo. 5. 'The Soules Conflict . . . and Victory over itselfe,' 1635, 8vo. Posthumous were: 6. 'Two Sermons upon the First Words of Christ's Last Sermon,' 1636, 4to (these were Sibbes's last sermons, preached 21 and 28 June at Gray's Inn). 7. 'The Spirituall-Man's Aime,' 1637, 12mo (ed. T. Goodwin and P. Nye). 8. 'A Fountaine Sealed,' 1637, 12mo. 9. 'Light from Heaven: Discovering the Fountaine Opened,' 1638, 4to (ed. by John Sedgwick; also, same date, with title 'The Fountaine Opened, or the Mysterie of Godlinesse'). 10. 'A Glance of Heaven,' 1638 12mo (ed. by Lazarus Seaman [q. v.]). 11. 'Yea and Amen,' 1638, 12mo (ed. T. Goodwin and P. Nye). 12. 'The Christian's Portion,' 1638, 12mo (same editors). 13. 'Emmanuel, God with us,' 1638, 4to. 14. 'Divine Meditations and Holy Contemplations,' 1638, 8vo. 15. 'The Spiritual Jubilee,' 1638, 4to. 16. 'The Bride's Longing for her Bride-Groomes Second Coming,' 1638, 12mo (funeral sermon for Sir Thomas Crew [q. v.]). 17. 'Beames of Divine Light,' 1638-9, 4to (twenty-one sermons, ed. John Sedgwick). 18. 'Bowels Opened; or a Discovery of the neere and deere Love . . . between Christ and the Church,' 1639, 4to (modern editions drop the first title). 19. 'A Breathing after God,' 1639, 12mo. 20. 'Christs Exaltation,' 1639, 12mo. 21. 'The Returning Backslider,' 1639, 4to. 22. 'Violence Victorious,' 1639, 8vo. 23. 'The Hidden Life,' 1639, 4to. 24. 'The Christian's End,' 1639, 4to. 25. 'The Excellencie of the Gospel above the Law,' 1639, 12mo. 20. 'An Exposition of the Third Chapter ... to the Philippians,' 1639, 4to. 27. 'Evangelicall Sacrifices,' 1640, 4to (nineteen sermons, ed. John Sedgwick). 28. 'A Consolatory Letter to an Afflicted Conscience,' 1641 , 4to (portrait). 29. 'The Glorious Feast of the Gospel, 1650, 4to (ed. Arthur Jackson). 30. 'A Learned Commen-tary . . . upon the First Chapter of the Second. . . Corinthians,' 1655, fol. (sermons at Gray's Inn, ed. Thomas Manton). 31. 'A Heavenly Conference between Christ and Mary,' 1656, 4to. 32. 'A Miracle of Miracles,' 1656, 4to. 33. 'Antidotum contra Naufragium Fidei,' 1657, 12mo (university sermon at Cambridge, 9 Oct. 1627).
He contributed verses to 'Epicedia in Obitum Gul. Whitaker,' 1610, and to 'Ducis Eboracensis Fasciae,' 1633. He prefaced works by J. Ball, P. Baynes, R. Capel, E. Culverwell, and H. Scudder; edited T. Gataker's 'Christian Constancy,' 1624; and, with John Davenport, edited many of the works of John Preston [q. v.]. His own 'Works' were collected, Aberdeen, 1809, 8vo, and 1812, 8vo, 3 vols, (with memoir); and by A. B. Grosart, LL.D., Edinburgh, 1862-3, 8vo, vols, (with memoir). Several of his separate pieces have frequently been reprinted; a selection is in Wesley's 'Christian Library. '