ONE of the most encouraging and hopeful signs I have observed for many a long day in evangelical circles has been a renewed and increasing interest in the writings of Bishop J. C. Ryle.
In his day he was famous, outstanding and beloved as a champion and exponent of the evangelical and reformed faith. For some reason or other, however, his name and his works are not familiar to modern evangelicals. His books are, I believe, all out of print in this country and very difficult to obtain secondhand.
The differing fates suffered in this respect by Bishop Ryle and his near contemporary, Bishop Moule, have always been to me a matter of great interest. But Bishop Ryle is being re-discovered, and there is a new call for the re-publication of his works.
All who have ever read him will be grateful for this new edition of his great book on Holiness'. I shall never forget the satisfaction--spiritual and mental--with which I read it some twenty years ago after having stumbled across it in a second-hand book shop.
It really needs no preface or word of introduction. All I will do is to urge all readers to read the Bishop's own Introduction. It is invaluable as it provides the setting in which he felt impelled to write the book.
The characteristics of Bishop Ryle's method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong and virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is often described as "devotional."
The Bishop had drunk deeply from the wells of the great classical Puritan writers of the seventeenth century. Indeed, it would be but accurate to say that his books are a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.
Ryle, like his great masters, has no easy way to holiness to offer us, and no "patent" method by which it can be attained; but he invariably produces that "hunger and thirst after righteousness" which is the only indispensable condition to being "filled."
May this book be widely read, that God's name be increasingly honoured and glorified.