I’ve been binge reading J.C. Ryle recently and I thought it would be a sin not to share with you some of the most powerful bits I’ve come across in his books.
If you’re not familiar with J.C. Ryle he was an Anglican bishop who served in Liverpool during most of the 19th century. His wrote prolifically and passionately on theology, Scripture and practical issues. His writing is known for its straight forward no-nonsense approach. Reading his words you will sense the love and concern of a fatherly pastoral figure and the humility of one who knows he also needs the same exhortations.
Check out his author page on Amazon here, many of his books are free or 99 cents on Kindle.
A good short book to start with would be Repentance.
For more in-depth reading I highly recommend Practical Religion.
A genuine Gospel-faith has nothing selfish about it – it never makes a man think only of his own salvation. It stirs him up, on the contrary, to concern about the souls of others. I always suspect that those who care nothing whether their brethren are saved or not, must in reality be ignorant or thoughtless about their own state.The Character of a True Christian
Let it be a settled principle in our minds that the first and chief business of the Church of Christ is to preach the Gospel. The words of Paul ought to be constantly remembered – “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 1:17). When the Gospel of Christ is faithfully and fully preached we need not fear that the sacraments will be undervalued. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will always be most truly reverenced in those churches where the truth of Jesus is most fully taught and known.
How can that man suppose he is ready to meet Christ who never takes any trouble to pour out his heart to Him in private as a Friend, and is satisfied with saying over a string of words every morning and evening, under the name of prayer, scarcely thinking what he is about? How could that man be happy in heaven forever who finds Sunday a dull, gloomy, tiresome day–who knows nothing of hearty prayer and praise, and cares nothing whether he hears truth or error from the pulpit, or scarcely listens to the sermon?
Take advice this day. Search your own heart, and see whether the fault is not entirely your own. Very likely you are sitting at ease, content with a little faith, and a little repentance, a little grace and a little sanctification, and unconsciously shrinking back from extremes. You will never be a vary happy Christian at this rate, if you live to the age of Methuselah. Change your plan, if you love life and would see good days, without delay. Come out boldly, and act decidedly. Be thorough, thorough, very through in your Christianity, and set your face fully towards the sun. Lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily overtakes you. Strive to get nearer to Christ, to abide in Him, to cleave to Him, and to sit at His feet like Mary, and drink full portions out of the fountain of life.
He that has union with Christ does well; but he that enjoys communion with Him does far better.
Happy indeed is that church whose members not only desire to reach heaven themselves, but desire also to take others with them.
Whatever you do for God, do it with all your heart and mind and strength. In other things be moderate, and dread running into extremes. In soul matters fear moderation just as you would fear the plague.
No man was ever sorry that he served the Lord. No man ever said at the end of his days, “I have read my Bible too much, I have thought of God too much, I have prayed too much, I have been too concerned about my soul. Oh, no! The people of God would always say, “Had I my life over again, I would walk far more closely with God than ever I have done. I am sorry that I have not served God better—but I am not sorry that I have served Him. The way of Christ may have its cross. But it is a way of pleasantness, and a path of peace.”
Let no man ever delude you into supposing that you can be happy in this world without repentance. Oh, no! You may laugh and dance, and go upon vacations, and crack good jokes, and sing good songs, and say, “Cheer, boys, cheer!” and “There’s a good time coming!”—but all this is no proof that you are happy. So long as you do not quarrel with sin, you will never be a truly happy man. Just as an opium-eater needs a larger and larger doses—so does the man who seeks happiness in anything except in God need greater excitement every year that he lives, and after all is never really happy
Believe me, you cannot stand still in your souls. Habits of good or evil are daily strengthening in your hearts. Every day you are either getting nearer to God, or further off. Every year that you continue unrepentant, the wall of division between you and heaven becomes higher and thicker, and the gulf to be crossed deeper and broader. Oh, dread the hardening effect of constant lingering in sin!
Thoughts for Young Men
You may be very sure people fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world. Like Peter, they first disregard the Lord’s warning to watch and pray, and then like Peter, their strength is gone, and in the hour of temptation they deny their Lord. The world takes notice of their fall, and scoffs loudly. But the world knows nothing of the real reason.
A Call to Prayer