The Poignancy of Compassion


Charles Bridges was ordained in 1817, and he spent his life as a country pastor in the Church of England. Known as a scholar and a clear writer, Bridges wrote moving commentaries on Scripture. In his exposition of Psalm 119:53, Bridges reminds us of the necessity of feeling compassion towards our lost world, realizing that even in the midst of seeming chaos, God is still on his throne and is bringing men to Himself.

The remembrance of the Lord’s judgments of old, while it brings comfort to his people as regards themselves, stirs up a poignancy of compassionate feeling for the ungodly. And indeed to a feeling and reflecting mind, the condition of the world must excite commiseration and concern! A “whole world lying in wickedness!” lying therefore in ruins! the image of God effaced! the presence of God departed! “Horror hath taken hold of me!” to see the law of Him, who gave being to the world, so utterly forsaken! so much light and love shining from heaven in vain! The earthly heart cannot endure that any restraint should be imposed; much less that any constraint, even of love, should be employed to change its bias, and turn it back to its God. Are you then a believer? then you will be most tender of the honor of the law of God. Every stroke at his law you will feel as a stroke at your own heart. Are you a believer? then will you consider every man as your brother; and weep to see so many of them around you, crowding the broad road to destruction, and perishing as the miserable victims of their own deceivings. The prospect on every side is, as if God were cast down from his throne, and the creatures of his hand were murdering their own souls.1


1 Charles Bridges, “Exposition of Psalm 19,” in Works of the Rev. Charles Bridges, M.A., vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1849), 85-86.

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