by Charles Bridges (1794 – 1869)
A striking picture of the two great devourers — hell and destruction (Prov. 15:11 ) — never full! Hell — the grave — ever since Adam’s sin has been insatiable. It has opened its mouth to receive countless millions; and still it yawns, craving for more. Generations have sunk into destruction, doing the work, and earning “the wages, of sin.” Still the pit is not full. The broad mouth still opens for more.
Thus insatiable are the eyes — the desires (1 John 2:16 ) — of man, always requiring new gratification. “He enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.” His “eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor his ear filled with hearing.” Curiosity, love of novelty, covetousness, ambition — all these desires, like thirst in the dropsy, are aggravated in their indulgence. (Eccl. 6:7 .) Man is always seeking for what he can never find, satisfaction in earthly things. He toils after his object, and when he has grasped it, he toils still; the possessor of abundance, not of happiness. His best efforts only bring him a meager enjoyment, not deserving the name. The summit of ambition, when reached, is not his resting-place; only the point, whence he stretches after something higher. All the affections of fallen man are filled with unquenched thirst. He may fancy his desires to be moderate. He may set bounds to them, and flatter himself, that he shall never overpass them. But give him a world, and, like the far-famed conqueror, he will weep for another, and sink at last into a wretched eternity of unsatisfied desires. Nor is this altogether the effect of his depravity. Corruption indeed leads us to seek rest in something short of God. But it is our nature not to find it.
How can an immortal being quench his thirst but from an infinite source?
The soul was originally created to find a suitable and infinite gratification in the love of its Creator. And now that it is turned aside by the fall, it has an immortal depth, that craves to be filled. Nor do we speak here of refined and educated minds. The most unlettered being, awakened to a sense of his consciousness, might breathe out Augustine’s confession — ‘Thou hast made us for thyself; and our heart can have no rest, till it rests in thee.’ And here the gospel meets the case — “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 .) So often as the eager question starts up — “Who will shew us any good?” (Psalm 4:6 ) — listen to the voice — “Ho! Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that cometh to me shall never thirst.” Here our desires are at once increased and satisfied. A fountain of infinite fullness is at our door. We are bid welcome to a haven of rest, to a bosom of peace and love. And when new-created in the image of God, and made capable of communion with him in grace, and of enjoying him in glory, can our desires be satisfied with anything less, with anything beside? Is he not now our supreme delight, our satisfying object, never leaving us without complete satisfaction for a single moment? (Psalm 16:5 . Lam. 3:24 .)
Now let me ask — Have I seen God, as that, which alone is sufficient for my soul? Have I made the important discovery, that all my uneasy cravings from morning to night arise from not seeking him as my only satisfaction? Let me sit down to the richest banquet of life, and every dish will be tasteless, and without nourishment, if he is not above all, and in all. To delight in anything independent of him (Psalm 73:25 ), is as if we cast him down from his throne. All is misery and delusion. Delighting in him, all ministers to our comfort, flowing from this great center. At the grand consummation how will the satisfaction of the eyes and heart be complete! — The eternity of being will be an eternity of joy — “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Isa. 33:17 . Psalm 17:15 .)
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Charles Bridges, MA (1794 – 1869), was a preacher and theologian in the Church of England, and a leader of that denomination’s Evangelical Party. As a preacher he was well regarded by his contemporaries, but is remembered today for his literary contributions.
Educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1817 and served from 1823 to 1849 as vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk. Thomas Chalmers wrote, ‘My excellent friend, the Rev. Charles Bridges, of Old Newton, Suffolk, finds, I am sure, most ample occupation among those six hundred people whom he may be said to have domesticated into one parochial family; and, were it not for his still more important services to the Christian church at large, would show, by his incessant labours, how possible it were to make out a most beneficial expenditure of all his strength and all his time amongst them.’
In 1849, he became vicar of Weymouth, Dorset, later serving as vicar of Hinton Martell, Dorset (c. 1857). Bridges participated (with J. C. Ryle) in the Clerical Conference at Weston-super-Mare of 1858, and also participated in the consecration of the Bishop of Carlisle in York Minster in 1860.