Review of J. C. Ryle, Christmas Thoughts, ed. by Andrew Atherstone, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, reprinted 2022.

            J. C. Ryle was an unusual clergyman in that he could preach and write, and he could write in different styles while all the time being clear and engaging. Andrew Atherstone has gathered and edited five of Ryle’s Christmas tracts written during the 1850s and 1860s, and published them for our benefit. I have written some tracts of a couple of hundred words each, but Ryle’s are much more numerous (he wrote hundreds) and substantial. Yet they readily capture the interest of the reader. All one needs to say is that they are splendid. Each one is solid and warm-hearted at once.  

            Here is one example, taken from ‘The Whole Family’, based on Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:15,

If you do not yet belong to God’s family, I invite you this day to join it without delay. Open your eyes to see the value of your soul, the sinfulness of sin, the holiness of God, the danger of your present condition, the absolute necessity of a mighty change … Open your eyes to see the great head of God’s family, even Christ Jesus, waiting to save your soul … See how he offers you free, full, immediate pardon, if you will believe in him … Seek Christ at once.

Like all of Ryle’s works, this is to be commended most earnestly to believer and unbeliever alike.

–  Peter  Barnes