William BridgeWilliam Bridge (1600- 1670), puritan divine, was born in Cambridgeshire about 1600. He entered Emmanuel College at the age of sixteen, became M.A. in 1626, and was many years a fellow of the college. In 1631 he was appointed to the lectureship of Colchester, where he continued but a short time. In 1633 he held a Friday lecture at St. George’s Tombland, Norwich, for which he was paid by the corporation. In 1636 he was the rector for St. Peter’s Hungate, Norwich, a living at that time worth no more than 22l. per annum. Here he was silenced by Bishop Wren. He continued, however, in the city for some time after his suspension until he was ‘excommunicated ‘ and the writ ‘de capiendo’ came forth against him. He took refuge in Holland and settled at Rotterdam, succeeding as pastor the celebrated Hugh Peters, and he was thus associated in the pastorate with Jeremiah Burroughs. From a passage in the ‘Apologetical Narration’ it may be inferred that Bridge received much support from the magistrates of the city, and that many wealthy persons joined the church, some of whom had fled from the persecution of Bishop Wren. While at Rotterdam he renounced the ordination which he had received when he entered the church of England, and was again ordained, after the independent way, by Samuel Ward, B.D., after which he similarly ordained Ward.

He returned to England in 1642, frequently preached before the Long parliament, and on 30 July 1651 the sum of 100/. per annum was voted to him, to be paid out of the impropriations. It would seem from two letters preserved in Peck’s ‘Desiderata Curiosa’ that he was consulted by the parliament in reference to a general augmentation of ministers’ salaries. Dr. Nathaniel Johnson, in his book entitled ‘The King’s Visitorial Power asserted,’ gives a petition from the fellows of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, signed, amongst others, by Bridge, and says, ‘He was a great preacher, and one of the demagogues of this parliament.’ He was in the assembly of divines at Westminster, and was one of the writers of the ‘Apologetical Narration,’ published in 1643. His name is also subscribed to the ‘Reasons of the Dissenting Brethren against certain Propositions concerning Presbyterial Government,’ which was published in 1648.

After a brief sojourn at Norwich, where he preached a sermon to the volunteers, Bridge at length settled at Great Yarmouth, where he continued his labours till 1662. It is very probable that at Yarmouth his congregation, at least for some time, met in the parish church, for in 1650 the north part of the church was enclosed for a meeting-place at an expense of 900l. When ejected he went to reside at Clapham, near London, and preached in, if not founded, the ‘Independent Meeting’ there. He died at Clapham on 12 March 1670, aged 70. From an epitaph in Yarmouth church it appears that he was twice married. The name of his first wife is not known; he afterwards married the widow of John Arnold, merchant and bailiff of that town.

Bridge’s printed works are nearly all sermons. His first publication is dated 1640, and was printed at Rotterdam. In 1649 the works of Bridge were published in three volumes, quarto, printed by Peter Cole, London. Another collection was published under the title of ‘Twenty-one Books of Mr. William Bridge, collected into Two Volumes,’ London, Peter Cole, 1657, 4to. Other publications followed in 1665, 1668, and 1671, and after his death eight sermons were published as ‘Remains,’ 1673. In 1845 the whole works of Bridge were printed in five volumes, octavo, from copies chiefly in the possession of the Rev, Frederick Silver, of Jewry Street. Fifty-nine separate titles are given in the table of contents of the five volumes; a complete list is in Darling’s ‘Cyclopædia.’ A very antique-looking portrait of the author, ‘Obit 1670, W. Sherwin sculp.,’ accompanies the first volume of 1845. It originally appeared in a volume of Bridge’s sermons. A different and very pleasing portrait of Bridge may be seen in Dr. William’s library.

Those Now Empty Shall be Filled

There is a generation of men in the world that have the law of God in their hearts, though they cannot act and work towards God as they would.  These sometimes are in a dry and barren condition, where no water or comfort is; yet if in this condition they dig pits, go to prayer, wait upon God in duty, though they find no comfort springing up in their duty for the present, yet in due time the rain of God’s blessing will fill those dry pits and empty duties, whereby their life shall be like unto a pool of water, and they shall go from strength of grace to strength of grace, until they see the Lord. Know ye, therefore, any man that is in this valley of Baca, where no water is, yet if he can find in his heart to dig pits, to pray, read, hear, meditate, confer, and perform duties; though those duties be empty of comfort for the present, yet the rain of grace and mercy shall fall upon those pits, and he shall go from strength to strength until he appear before the Lord in Glory. ~ A Lifting up for the Downcast by William Bridge

Christ’s Love toward Poor Sinners

The more you see Christ walking in the sweet shades of divine love toward poor sinners, the sooner will your faith revive, and your comforts be restored. ~ A Lifting up for the Downcast by William Bridge

Take Heed How You Walk with Doubting Company

Do you want peace and comfort and quietude of soul? Take heed how you walk with doubting company … one opposer of godliness draws on another, and one adulterer makes another; so one doubting Christian makes another. You that are weak, and full of doubtings, should go and lean upon those that are strong and have full assurance; and you that have assurance should give the shoulder to those that are weak, and say, Come, and lean upon me, and I will be an help unto you. You know how it is with the ivy and the vine; the ivy leans upon the oak, and the vine upon the posts or the house-side; the ivy and the vine do not lean one upon another; if the ivy and the vine should come and lean upon one another, what twisting would there be. Both would fall to the ground: but the ivy leans upon the oak, and the vine upon the posts or the house-side. ~ A Lifting up for the Downcast by William Bridge