Book Review: Thoughts for Young Men by John Charles Ryle

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John Charles Ryle was a bishop of Liverpool, 1880–1900. He was a prolific writer who enjoyed wide circulation of his writings. More than two million of his publications were distributed in his day.


However, that was the nineteenth century. Since that time, his name has become virtually unknown among mainstream Christians. The republication of his book, Thoughts for Young Men, brings this nineteenth century writer to twentieth century believers. He writes in an expressive, clear style. One may not realize (with the exception of a few archaisms) that this book was written over a century ago!

Thoughts for Young Men is rather brief, but in it Ryle covers many subjects. In pastoral-like fashion, he challenges young men to take life seriously. He identifies the many dangers facing young men – pride, fear of man, bad friends, and an undisciplined mind. The strength of this book lies in his ability to apply truth using many vivid illustrations.

Since J.C. Ryle was Anglican, one can expect to stumble across an occasional misapplied OT principle. In particular, he refers to Sunday as the Sabbath. Also given his theological perspective, on a couple of occasions he speaks of the means of grace. Overall, the book does not suffer because these are treated as minor points.

One of the most unfortunate things about this book is its title, Thoughts for Young Men. Every parent would do well to encourage their teens, guys and girls, to read this book. Mature Christians will also benefit from this book.

This is a quick read, but one which has been and will be reread by this reviewer.

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