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Archive for the ‘Ryle, J.C.’ Category

We are told that when the band of men and officers approached his Master, in order to take Him prisoner, Judas "stood with them." Yet this was a man who for three years had been a constant companion of Christ, had seen His miracles, had heard His sermons, had enjoyed the benefit of His private instruction, had professed himself a believer, had even worked and preached in Christ’s name! "Lord," we may well say, "what is man?" From the highest degree of privilege down to the lowest depth of sin, there is but a succession of steps. Privileges misused seem to paralyze the conscience. The same fire that melts wax, will harden clay.

Let us beware of resting our hopes of salvation on religious knowledge, however great; or religious advantages, however many. We may know all doctrinal truth and be able to teach others, and yet prove rotten at heart, and go down to the pit with Judas. We may bask in the full sunshine of spiritual privileges, and hear the best of Christian teaching, and yet bear no fruit to God’s glory, and be found withered branches of the vine, only fit to be burned. "Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12.) Above all, let us beware of cherishing within our hearts any secret besetting sin, such as love of money or love of the world. One faulty link in a chain-cable may cause a shipwreck. One little leak may sink a ship. One allowed and unmortified sin may ruin a professing Christian. Let him that is tempted to be a careless man in his religious life, consider these things, and take care. Let him remember Judas Iscariot. His history is meant to be a lesson.

Source: J.C. Ryle, John 18

Calvin remarks on the course of a backslider, "At first the fault will not be very great; next, it becomes habitual; and at last, after the conscience has been laid asleep, he who has accustomed himself to despise God will think nothing unlawful, but will dare to commit the greatest wickedness."

Henry remarks, "The sin of lying is a fruitful sin, and therefore exceeding sinful. One sin needs another to support it, and that needs another."

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In regard to Jesus’ command to the soldiers that they allow his disciples to leave  Gethsemane so that their faith would not be tested beyond their current ability to endure and so none of them be lost, J.C. Ryle writes:

We need not hesitate to see in this incident an instructive type of all our Savior’s dealings with His people even at this day. He will not allow them "to be tempted above that which they are able to bear." He will hold the winds and storms in His hands, and not allow believers, however sifted and buffeted, to be utterly destroyed. He watches tenderly over every one of His children, and, like a wise physician, measures out the right quantity of their trials with unerring skill. "They shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of His hand." (John 10:28.) Forever let us lean our souls on this precious truth. In the darkest hour the eye of the Lord Jesus is upon us, and our final safety is sure.

Source: J.C. Ryle, John 18

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Election to eternal life, is a truth of Scripture which we must receive humbly, and believe implicitly. Why the Lord Jesus calls some and does not call others, quickens whom He will, and leaves others alone in their sins, these are deep things which we cannot explain. Let it suffice us to know that it is a fact.

God must begin the work of grace in a man’s heart, or else a man will never be saved. Christ must first choose us and call us by His Spirit, or else we shall never choose Christ. Beyond doubt, if not saved, we shall have none to blame but ourselves. But if saved, we shall certainly trace up the beginning of our salvation, to the choosing grace of Christ. Our song to all eternity will be that which fell from the lips of Jonah–"Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah 2:9.)

Armed with such principles as these, we have no cause to be afraid of the doctrine of election. Like any other truth of the Gospel, it is liable to be abused and perverted. But to a pious mind, as the seventeenth Article of the Church of England truly says, it is a doctrine "full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort."

Source: J.C. Ryle, John 15:12-16

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"Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that there is an amount of weakness in all our hearts, of which we have no adequate conception, and that we never know how far we might fall if we were tempted. We fancy sometimes, like Peter, that there are some things we could not possibly do. We look pitifully upon others who fall, and please ourselves in the thought that at any rate we should not have done so. We know nothing at all. The seeds of every sin are latent in our hearts, even when renewed, and they only need occasion, or carelessness and the withdrawal of God’s grace for a season, to put forth an abundant crop. Like Peter, we may think we can do wonders for Christ, and like Peter, we may learn by bitter experience that we have no power and might at all. The servant of Christ will do wisely to remember these things. … A humble sense of our own innate weakness, a constant dependence on the Strong for strength, a daily prayer to be held up, because we cannot hold up ourselves,—these are the true secrets of safety."

Source: J.C. Ryle on John 13:31-38

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The whole passage ought always to be read with affectionate reverence. It contains words which have brought eternal life to myriads of souls.

We should notice … in these verses, what a mighty change our Lord declares to be needful to salvation, and what a remarkable expression He uses in describing it. He speaks of a new birth.

The change which our Lord here declares needful to salvation is evidently no slight or superficial one. It is not merely reformation, or amendment, or moral change, or outward alteration of life. It is a thorough change of heart, will, and character. It is a resurrection. It is a new creation. It is a passing from death to life. It is the implanting in our dead hearts of a new principle from above. It is the calling into existence of a new creature, with a new nature, new habits of life, new tastes, new desires, new appetites, new judgments, new opinions, new hopes, and new fears. All this, and nothing less than this is implied, when our Lord declares that we all need a "new birth."

This mighty change, it must never be forgotten, we cannot give to ourselves. The very name which our Lord gives to it is a convincing proof of this. He calls it "a birth." No man is the author of his own existence, and no man can quicken his own soul. We might as well expect a dead man to give himself life, as expect a natural man to make himself spiritual.

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Some of God’s people have been so much cast down and disquieted, that they have despaired of their safety. Some have fallen sadly, as David and Peter did. Some have departed from the faith for a time … Many have been tried by cruel doubts and fears. But all have got safe home at last, the youngest as well as the oldest, the weakest as well as the strongest. And so it will be to the end. Can you prevent tomorrow’s sun from rising? Can you prevent the tide … from ebbing and flowing? Can you prevent the planets moving in their respective orbits? Then, and then alone, can you prevent the salvation of any believer, however feeble, the final safety of any living stone in that church which is built upon the rock, however small or insignificant that stone may appear.

 

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 13: The Church that Christ Builds)

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Snippets. More can be found here:

http://andrewgroves.s3.amazonaws.com/Classic Writers/Holiness – The Ruler of the Waves (J.C. Ryle).pdf

… Say not, because your heart is lifted up just now with a strong sense of Christ’s mercy, ‘I shall never forget Him as long as I live.’ Oh, learn to abate something of this flattering estimate of yourself. You do not know yourself thoroughly. …

… I do want young Christians to understand what they must expect to find in themselves. I want to prevent their being stumbled and puzzled by the discovery of their own weakness and infirmity. I want them to see that they may have true faith and grace, in spite of all the devil’s whispers to the contrary, though they feel within many doubts and fears. …

… I dare be sure your heart has sometimes been tossed to and fro like the waves in a storm. You have found it agitated like the waters of the troubled sea when it cannot rest. … Jesus can say to your heart, whatever may be its ailment, ‘Peace, be still!’

What though your conscience within be lashed by the recollection of countless transgressions, and torn by every gust of temptation? What though the remembrance of past hideous profligacy be grievous unto you, and the burden intolerable? What though your heart seems full of evil, and sin appears to drag you whither it will like a slave? What though the devil rides to and fro over your soul like a conqueror, and tells you it is vain to struggle against him, there is no hope for you?

I tell you there is One who can give even you pardon and peace. My Lord and Master Jesus Christ can rebuke the devil’s raging, can calm even your soul’s misery, and say even to you, ‘Peace, be still!’ He can scatter that cloud of guilt which now weighs you down. He can bid despair depart. He can drive fear away. He can remove the spirit of bondage, and fill you with the spirit of adoption. Satan may hold your soul like a strong man armed, but Jesus is stronger than he, and when He commands, the prisoners must go free. Oh, if any troubled reader wants a calm within, let him go this day to Jesus Christ, and all shall yet be well!

… there is comfort in Christ. He can speak peace to wounded hearts as easily as calm troubled seas. He can rebuke rebellious wills as powerfully as raging winds. He can make storms of sorrow abate, and silence tumultuous passions, as surely as He stopped the Galilean storm. He can say to the heaviest anxiety, ‘Peace, be still!’ The floods of care and tribulation may be mighty, but Jesus sits upon the water floods, and is mightier than the waves of the sea (Ps. 93:4). The winds of trouble may howl fiercely round you, but Jesus holds them in His hand, and can stay them when He lists. Oh, if any reader of this paper is broken-hearted and care-worn and sorrowful, let him go to Jesus Christ, and cry to Him and he shall be refreshed.

 

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 12: The Ruler of the Waves)

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As God’s Spirit works new creation in me and in the midst of the brokenness that comes under his providence, with all my heart I long to grow in grace.

There is such a thing as growing in grace which is:

evidence of spiritual health and prosperity

is a way to be happy in Christ

causes us to be of usefulness to others

pleases God

a thing for which I am accountable

Growing in grace has the following marks:

Increased humility

Increased faith and love toward the Lord Jesus

Increased holiness of life and conversation

Increased spirituality of taste and mind

Increased love

Increased zeal and diligence in trying to do good to souls

The means of growing in grace:

Diligence in the use of private means of grace – prayer, reading, meditation and self-examination

Carefulness in the use of public means of grace – uniting with the people of God in common prayer and praise, the preaching of the Word, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Seeking friends who will stir us up about our prayers, reading, employment of time, souls, salvation and world to come.

Regular and habitual communion with the Lord Jesus.

Watchfulness over our conduct in the little matters of everyday life. Our tempers, our tongues, the discharge of our several relations of life, our employment of time – each and all must be vigilantly attended to if we wish our souls to prosper. Life is made up of days, and days of hours, and the little things of every hour are never so little as to be beneath the care of a Christian. When a tree begins to decay at root or heart, the mischief is first seen at the extreme end of the little branches. … Let others despise us, if they like, and call us precise and over careful. Let us patiently hold on our way, remembering that ‘we serve a precise God’ (Richard Rogers 1550-1618) … We must aim to have a Christianity which, like the sap of a tree, runs through every twig and leaf of our character, and sanctifies all. This is one way to grow!

 

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 6: Growth)

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Sanctification is that inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.

He not only washes him from his sins in His own blood, but He also separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart and makes him practically godly in life.

The instrument by which the Spirit effects this work is generally the Word of God, though He sometimes uses afflictions and providential visitations ‘without the Word’ (1 Peter 3:1).

Sanctification … is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. ‘He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 15:5).

Sanctification … is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He that is born again and made a new creature receives a new nature and a new principle and always lives a new life.

Sanctification … is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation.

Sanctification … is the only sure mark of God’s election. … It is expressly written that they are ‘elect through sanctification’; ‘chosen to salvation through sanctification’; ‘predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son’, and ‘chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy’. Hence, when St Paul saw the working ‘faith’ and labouring ‘love’ and patient ‘hope’ of the Thessalonian believers, he says, ‘I know your election of God’ (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:3,4).

Sanctification … is a thing which depends greatly on a diligent use of scriptural means. When I speak of ‘means’, I have in view Bible reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God’s Word and regular reception of the Lord’s Supper. I lay it down as a simple matter of fact, that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification. I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them. They are appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace to the soul, and strengthens the work which He has begun in the inward man.

Sanctification … pleases God. This may seem wonderful, and yet it is true. The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance, and in themselves are nothing better than ‘splendid sins’, deserving God’s wrath and condemnation. … however, the Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God. … Let this never be forgotten, for it is a very comfortable doctrine. … our Father in heaven pleased with the poor performances of His believing children. He looks at the motive, principle and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quantity and quality.

Sanctification … is absolutely necessary, in order to train and prepare us for heaven. … To be really happy in heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for heaven while we are on earth. … The favourite idea of many, that dying men need nothing except absolution and forgiveness of sins to fit them for their great change, is a profound delusion.

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 2: Sanctification)

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I have just started each night when I go to bed to read from J.C. Ryle’s classic work ‘Holiness’. Ryle argues that the first step to holiness is to rightly understand sin. I’m going to try to blog what I read.

Sin’s Definition

I say, furthermore, that ‘a sin’ … consists in doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God.

Sin’s Extent

I am convinced that the greatest proof of the extent and power of sin is the pertinacity with which it cleaves to man, even after he is converted and has become the subject of the Holy Ghost’s operations. To use the language of the ninth Article: ‘This infection of nature doth remain – yea, even in them that are regenerate.’ So deeply planted are the roots of human corruption, that even after we are born again, renewed, washed, sanctified, justified and made living members of Christ, these roots remain alive in the bottom of our hearts and, like the leprosy in the walls of the house, we never get rid of them until the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved.

Sin, no doubt, in the believer’s heart, has no longer dominion. It is checked, controlled, mortified and crucified by the expulsive power of the new principle of grace. The life of a believer is a life of victory and not of failure.

But the very struggles which go on within his bosom, the fight that he finds it needful to fight daily, the watchful jealousy which he is obliged to exercise over his inner man, the contest between the flesh and the spirit, the inward ‘groanings’ which no one knows but he who has experienced them – all, all testify to the same great truth, all show the enormous power and vitality of sin. … Happy is that believer who understands it and, while he rejoices in Christ Jesus, has no confidence in the flesh and, while he says, ‘Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory,’ never forgets to watch and pray lest he fall into temptation!

J.C Ryle mentions a prayer from the Prayer Book that is put in the mouth of every churchman before he goes up to the communion table:

The remembrance of our misdoings is grievous unto us; the burden is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past.

source: J.C. Ryle “Holiness’” (Chapter 1: Sin)

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I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin… But it is the excellence of a holy man that he is not a peace with indwelling sin, as others are. He hates it, mourns over it, and longs to be free from its company.

source: J.C. Ryle

In December of 1662, as he lay dying, Scottish Puritan David Dickson said: “

I have taken all my good deeds and all my bad deeds, and cast them through each other in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and betaken myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace!”

source: unknown

To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.”

source: Ichabod S. Spencer

Providence has a voice, if we had an ear. Mercies should draw, afflictions drive. Now when neither fair means nor foul do us good, but we are impenitent under both; this is to wrestle against God with both hands.

source: William Gurnall

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