Review of J. C. Ryle, The upper Room – Being A Few Truths For The Times, The Banner Of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, first published 1888, this (retypeset) edition 2022.

Sure `tis not just Anglican eyes are smiling when the name J.C. Ryle appears in a new retypeset (and therefore easier to read) edition of one of his many books; the eyes of Bible-believers in other branches of ‘the family and household of faith’ surely light up too. The first Bishop of Liverpool (appointed by Queen Victoria) was a Christian leader ‘not ashamed of the Gospel’ nor of upholding and proclaiming ‘the whole counsel of God’ – and we ‘thank our God in every remembrance of (him)’.

Our godly author has compiled here what he referred to as ‘a very miscellaneous selection of papers which I have sent forth from time to time, in one shape or another, during a forty-five years’ ministry … I venture humbly to think (they) will be found to contain some useful truths for the times, and words in season … I have therefore resolved to gather them together in the volume I now send forth, which I heartily pray God to bless, and to make it a permanent blessing to many souls.’

I’m sure that the only King and Head of the Church has answered Bishop Ryle’s prayer ‘far more abundantly than ever he could have asked or imagined’ and that He will do this for a rising generation of all who care to read it.

            Christians just can’t afford to face tomorrow while living today as though there were no yesterday. So many of today’s issues are yesterday’s issues recycled, and they will be tomorrow’s issues as well. ‘Simplicity In Preaching’ is an address delivered to fellow preachers in St Paul’s Cathedral London in 1887. Its intrigue for me is that it follows the pattern Ryle developed in his commentaries on the Gospels: logical progression of point after point, each point being simply profound and profoundly simple in order to make a direct hit on the target – a methodology needed as much today as yesterday and even more so tomorrow in an increasingly illogical world.

            ‘Thoughts For Young Men’ is another case of giving timely advice to the rising generation, who faced and will face the problems we older ones faced in our younger days. Ryle reminds us that, ‘When St Paul wrote his Epistle to Titus about his duty as a minister, he mentioned young men as a class requiring peculiar attention. After speaking of aged men and aged women, and young women, he adds this pithy advice: ‘Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded’ (Titus 2:6). I am going to follow the Apostle’s advice. I propose to offer a few words of friendly exhortation to young men.’

            In his ‘pithy advice’, Ryle notes how few young men in the general population were true followers of Christ in 1887. Does this sound familiar to us? If so, read and learn from J.C. Ryle how to help them – help so urgently needed by our rising generations facing all the assaults on their faith and lifestyle being hurled at them in the world today.

            This book traverses a number of seemingly random issues facing Christians, yet the author’s sound advice in dealing with each one draws them all together. Do you need advice about giving advice to others? I do, and I commend this book to you, because I suspect you might need it too.                                                                                         

Bob Thomas