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Our Chief Care


Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

—1 Peter 4:19

All that God has given us is a trust that we are to steward, to the best of our abilities, for his glory. We do not want to be like the Gnostics, who consider the material to be of no account. Our possessions, families, bodies—all that has been entrusted to our care—is to be managed responsibly. In doing so, we must recognize that we are inadequate for the task. We must, therefore, entrust all that God has given us back to him. And, while rejecting Gnosticism, we must give our spiritual beings priority, even at the cost of all else. Sibbes writes,


Our chief care must be over our souls. We must desire God to preserve our souls, whatsoever becomes of these; our principal care must be that that be not blemished in the least kind; for, alas! other things must be parted with first or last. This body of ours, or whatsoever is dear in the world, must be stripped from us, and laid in the dust ere long. But here is our comfort, though our body be dead, yet our souls are themselves still; dead St Paul is Paul still. Our body is but the case or tabernacle wherein our soul dwells; especially a man's self is his soul; keep that and keep all. I beseech you, therefore, as things are in worth and excellency in God's account, let our esteem be answerable. You have many compliments in the world, how doth your body, &c., mere compliments indeed, but how few will inquire how our souls do? alas! that is in poor case. The body perhaps is well looked unto, that is clothed, and care taken that nothing be wanting to it, but the poor soul is ragged and wounded, and naked. Oh that men were sensible of that miserable condition their poor souls are in.

Beloved, the soul is the better part of a man, and if that miscarries, all miscarries. If the soul be not well, the body will not continue long in a good estate. Bernard saith sweetly, ‘Oh, body, thou hast a noble guest dwelling in thee, a soul of such inestimable worth that it makes thee truly noble.' Whatsoever goodness and excellency is in the body, is communicated from the soul; when that once departs, the body is an unlovely thing, without life or sense. The very sight of it cannot be endured of the dearest, friends. What an incredible baseness is it therefore, that so precious a thing as the soul is, should serve these vile bodies of ours! Let the body stay its leisure; the time of the resurrection is the time of the body. In this life it should be serviceable to our souls in suffering and doing whatsoever God calls us unto. Let our bodies serve our souls now, and then body and soul shall for ever after be happy; whereas, if we, to gratify our bodies, do betray our souls, both are undone.

—Richard Sibbes, The Saint's Hiding-Place in the Evil Day, Works (Banner of Truth, 2001), 1:408.

Posted 2017·08·11 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Richard Sibbes · Works of Richard Sibbes

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