Theologian and Biblical scholar Charles Bridges explains the nature of psalm 119, popularly renowned as one of the lengthiest and most spiritually rich of the psalms.
In this superb narrative, Bridges undertakes an intensive narration of each verse. He discusses at length the meanings and constructions behind each - on average, the author devotes over 750 words of exposition and discussion to each verse. The length of Bridges' work alone makes it noteworthy; that the style of the author's writing sometimes ranges to a stream of consciousness renders it both interesting and worthy of examination.
With his scholarship and gifts for evocation at the ready, Charles Bridges delivers clarity and depth to the ancient verses, allowing Christians to appreciate the value of the famous psalm. He manages to be lively and entertaining, yet supremely respectful of the spiritual advice and faceted meanings in each of the verses, revealing what the Bible teaches about the character of God and our earthly existence.
Published in many editions during and following his life, Bridges' exposition of psalm 119 attained great respect. While the author published other expositions, his work upon psalm 119 gained the greatest and most enduring acclaim.
The classic of Christian ministerial thought by Charles Bridges is presented to the reader anew in this superb edition, complete with the author's annotations.
For the author, the curious point that the ministry failed in many of its core duties was sufficient genesis for a book. Why did this failure occur? Had modern priests and ministers lost their way from the tradition and essence of Christian belief? Were corruptions of the heart frequent and getting commoner? These questions are answered with unflinching sincerity: humans, including the ordained, have shortfalls which can only be assuaged by opening one's heart completely to God.
The later parts of the text focus upon the essential duties of the churchman: preaching with the aim of uniting the congregation and community in an unstinting belief in the Lord is not a simple matter. Rather we discover it to be a diverse practice; the preacher must not only incorporate aspects of the doctrinal and scriptural truths, but be sensitive to the emotions of his churchgoers. The virtues of faith, be it a celebration of diligence or steadfastness against adversity, should be balanced against the human needs for well-being and spiritual contentment.
A further element of ministerial duty is the pastoral work in the local community. This can be appealing to the unbelievers or infidels in the locality, visiting the sick or dying and offering comfort to their family, and being a source of spiritual counsel. A ready guard against backsliding, wherein members of a community gradually renounce their beliefs in God, equates to a need of vigilance in the minister.
A lifelong man of God, Bridges was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge. Graduating with honors, he entered the ministry and spent decades as a vicar in Old Newton, Suffolk and - in later life - Weymouth in Dorset. Together with his pastoral duties, he delved into the Bible and other ancient texts, becoming a theologian of great repute. Popular in his lifetime for his commentaries of scripture, the famed 19th century preacher C. H. Spurgeon declared one of Bridges' works to be "worth its weight in gold."
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