Ryle on Preaching

11 Oct

I don’t know if you have had the chance to read Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century by J.C. Ryle.

Incredibly encouraging book.

If you haven’t or even if you have just a little reminder.

He begins by describing England in the century preceding his…as basically godless. Quoting Bishop Butler, “It has come to be taken for granted that Christianity is no longer a subject of inquiry; but that it is now at length discovered to be fictitious. And accordingly it is treated as if, in the present age this were an agreed point among all persons of discernment and nothing remained but to set it up as a principal subject for mirth and ridicule.”

Things though had changed by Ryle’s day. “That a great change for the better has come over England in the last hundred years is a fact which I suppose no well-informed person would ever attempt to deny.”

(I love that reminder in and of itself because it’s crazy but I’ve found we can be such pessimists when it comes to the possibility of real revival.)

Anyway, the question he asks: “But what agency was this great change affected?”

His answer:

“It was neither more nor less than the old apostolic weapon of preaching. The sword which St. Paul wielded with such mighty effect, when he assaulted the strongholds of heathenism eighteen hundred years ago was the same sword by which they won their victories.”

Specifically, they preached:

1. Everywhere.

2. Simply.

3. Fervently and directly.

4. The sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture.

5. The corruption of human nature.

6. That Christ’s death upon the cross was the only satisfaction for man’s sin. (“This in fact was the cardinal point in almost all their sermons.”)

7. The great doctrine of justification by faith.

8. The universal necessity of heart conversion and a new creation by the Holy Spirit.

9. The inseparable connection between true faith and personal holiness.

10. God’s eternal hatred against sin and God’s love towards sinners.

God help us to do the same!  And may He bless us with similar results.


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