J. C. Ryle Picture

John Charles Ryle

1816-1900

Miscellaneous Writings

Dean of Salisbury; First Bishop of Liverpool

Biography

J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Thoroughly evangelical in his doctrine and uncompromising in his principles, Ryle was a prolific writer, vigorous preacher, and faithful pastor. Charles Spurgeon considered him "the best man in the Church of England." Ryle was educated at Eton and Oxford and considered entering Parliament but upon his conversion in 1837 decided to go into the ministry instead. He was ordained a minister in the Church of England that same year and became a bishop in 1880.

You will find more writings of Ryle in our "Daily Devotions from the Classics." The entire month of October is devoted to him.

Why Read These Books

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In this little booklet, The Inspiration of the Scriptures, Ryle defines and defends this important doctrine. In his day, as in ours, the inspiration and divine authority of the Scriptures is denied by many, even within Christian circles. Ryle himself states the importance of the doctrine in his opening remarks:

"This is a question of supreme importance in the present day. Ignorance, or want of clear views about the subject, is a worm at the root of much religion in this century."

His statement is just as true in our century as it was in his.

This booklet is short and concise, which makes it an excellent place to start for Christians who would like to learn more about this important doctrine. Ryle starts by describing important facts about the Bible, then discusses the nature of inspiration, and closes with answers to various objections to the doctrine.

For those wishing a more in-depth study, the next step after reading this little booklet would be a full-length book such as Thy Word Is Truth, by E. J. Young.

The Inspiration of the Scriptures

Click the link for the entire book.

In 1867 Rev. J. C. Ryle published a book containing seven highly significant sermons on eschatology, as important today as they were when he gave them: Coming Events and Present Duties: Being Miscellaneous Sermons on Prophetical Subjects, (London: William Hunt & Co., 1867). The sermons here were typed from our copy of this book.

Ryle was a strong proponent of premillennialism within the Church of England during the 1800s. Of special interest is his view of the nation of Israel. We see today a strong resurgence of Augustinian eschatology. Today it is often called by the relatively new term, "replacement theology." According to this view, (1) the Church is the "new Israel," "true Israel," or "Israel of God" (cf. Gal. 6:16), (2) there is no future for ethnic Israel in a national, territorial, or covenantal sense, and (3) there is no future role for "the land" (Palestine or the "Holy Land") in the program of God.

Before the Jewish Zionist movement began with Theodor Herzl in 1897, Ryle strongly defended the view that Israel would be restored to the land in fulfillment of God's promises in the Old Testament.

This perspective on eschatology is much needed today. Modern books that address this same issue include:

Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology by Ronald E. Diprose

Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged by Barry E. Horner

Israel: The Land and the People edited by H. Wayne House

In this series of seven sermons, delivered over a period of twenty years, Ryle discusses a number of issues in eschatology. He writes in the preface that "they are now brought together in their present form, for the convenience of those who wish to have a manual of my views on prophecy, in a compact shape."

Ryle gives a summary of his views on eschatology in the preface to this book. However, in view of the growing influence of replacement theology (see column one), his defense of the future restoration of Israel to their land is especially refreshing in that he held these views before there was any Zionist movement, either Jewish or Christian. In point seven of this summary he writes,

"I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ (Jer. xxx. 10, 11; xxxi. 10; Rom. xi. 25, 26)."

Ryle addresses this issue directly in sermon 5, "Scattered Israel to Be Regathered," and in sermon 2 he points out how the premillennial view is important for our witness to the Jewish people.

In sermon 6, he explains why it is important for all Christians to read and study the Book of Revelation.

Preface

The preface includes Ryle's own concise, 11-point summary of his eschatological beliefs. He also explains what prophetic topics he does not deal with in these sermons. What he does discuss is the "great prophetical principles," about which he makes the following statement: "The older I grow, the more do I feel convinced of their truth, and the more satisfied am I that no other principles can explain the state of the Church and the world."

Sermon 2: Occupy Till I Come (Luke 19:11-13)

In this message Ryle speaks on how the promise of the premillennial return of Christ should inspire us to do our best for Christ. He also gives insightful thoughts on how this doctrine is relevant in our witness to the Jews.

Sermon 3: What Time Is It? (Romans 13:12)

Ryle impresses upon his readers the need to always remember that Christ's second coming is near at hand. Let us devote ourselves to good works while it is day; let us not be found engaged in trivial pursuits of which we'll be ashamed.

Sermon 4: Idolatry to Be Destroyed at Christ's Coming (Isaiah 2:18)

Ryle warns us to beware of idolatry within Christendom, the Roman Catholic Church in particular, which, at the time he wrote, was especially guilty of this sin. The message is relevant for our day also. We must arm ourselves with sound doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that is in him alone.

Sermon 5: Scattered Israel to Be Regathered (Jeremiah. 31:10)

The ill treatment and harsh words heaped upon the Jewish nation by Christians was especially troubling to Ryle. The Scriptures clearly teach a regathering of God's chosen people, and as believers we should be working and praying for their salvation.

Note: this link takes you to our sister Web site, MessiahStudies.org.

Sermon 6: The Reading Which Is Blessed (Revelation 1:1-3)

Ryle addresses the need for all Christians to study the Book of Revelation. He points out that though the symbolic language is mysterious to most of us, its very mysteriousness does, in fact, afford us great comfort.

The story behind how this set of sermons came to be published is succinctly presented in the "Prefatory Note" by T. J. Madden, Archdeacon of Warrington. Here is that introduction:

"Although the Bishop of Liverpool has published many books--Commentaries, biographies, and Theological Dissertations--he has never published a volume of sermons.

"When his many friends heard that he was about to resign the See of Liverpool, they urged him to publish a volume of his sermons as a "memorial" of his sixty years' ministry. The Bishop kindly consented to do so, and invited me to make a selection from his MSS. and to prepare the sermons for the press. I need hardly say that I willingly undertook the task as a "labour of love" for my aged Bishop. The selection I have made for publication sets forth the great doctrines of our Faith--Sin, Redemption, Regeneration, and Sanctification. I have also added sermons which call attention to the Practical side of Christianity, and which especially emphasise the 'DUTIES' of the Christian life. The closing sermons proclaim the coming of our Lord; the Reward of His Saints; and the Rest of Heaven.

"Friends, who knew of the preparation of these sermons for the press, have been praying that the "Message of God" which they contain may bring blessing to many thousands. In the sure and certain hope that His Word will not return unto Him void I have prepared this volume of sermons by the first Bishop of Liverpool--and in this hope it is sent forth."

The sermons in this section of the table are taken from the book, The Christian Race and Other Sermons by J. C. Ryle (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1900).

We have reproduced the original text without modification except that most of the punctuation has been modernized.

Semon 2
Regeneration (Part 1)

Why must we be "born again," and what exactly does the expression mean? Can we be saved from our sins without it? Do we in our natural state even desire it? This sermon by Ryle will prove enlightening.

Semon 3
Regeneration (Part 2)

Can a man by his own ability give himself this new birth? No, he cannot. Yet God does not deal with us as if we were machines, but as those who can read, hear and pray; and so God uses means. Ryle expounds upon these means and closes with this most relevant admonition: "Until you pray for yourselves in earnest, we know there will be little good done; and if any prayerless man shall say in the day of judgment, 'I could not come to Christ,' the answer will be, 'You did not try.' "

Semon 4
Regeneration (Part 3)

Ryle now gives the eight marks of true saving faith. Let us examine ourselves to see if we meet the test, or as Peter admonishes us, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10).

Sermon 15
The Second Advent (The Ten Virgins)

This sermon contains an admonition and warning for us all.

The admonition? We have all been asleep and need to awake. In this day and age our minds and hearts are not saturated with that blessed hope of Christ's second coming, as were those of the first-century Christians. How many days, weeks, even months pass by without a fervent prayer on our part that Christ might return speedily and receive his kingdom!

The warning? Let us examine ourselves and make sure we are not part of that group of five virgins who had no oil for their lamps!

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