The fact that this Victorian biography is still being read testifies to its timelessness. Taking 11 leaders of the Methodist/Evangelical revival, Ryle shows through their lives what faithful evangelical ministry looks like.
Whilst not unaware of their faults, Ryle honours these men’s fidelity to Christ and holds them up as examples. I recommend this book highly to all readers, especially to those in the Christian ministry or considering it.
The Argument of the Book
J.C. Ryle takes 11 Christian Leaders of the 18th Century (some famous like Wesley, some not like Venn) and gives a summary of their lives, character and theology.
Primary Audience & Purpose
Ryle writes chiefly to Anglicans in the Victorian era, persuading them to stand firm in the evangelical faith.
Literary Features of the Book
The book is well ordered and easy to read. It’s also broken down into reasonable chunks. His summaries of the men’s character and theology is very challenging and helpful.
Is it Biblical?
Ryle and the subjects of the book all preach the Gospel. Ryle does not only write about biblical faith, he demonstrates it. Although a Calvinist, he graciously honours Wesley and Fletcher the two Arminians he covers.
Does it apply truth?
Yes. To his own century chiefly, but some of the examples these men give are timeless.
Is it Christ centred?
Yes. Many of the leaders started off moralists and Ryle makes absolutely clear that they needed Christ. He also demonstrates how the truth about Christ changed their ministries for the better. An excellent biography, well worth reading. (Buy it UK)