John Charles Ryle

This is the day that … John Charles Ryle was born in Macclesfield, England, in 1816.

As Bishop of Liverpool from 1880 to 1900 he became “one of the greatest and most influential Anglican evangelicals of all time”.

Educated at Eton and Oxford, where he showed prowess as a fine sportsman, his thoughts turned to the ministry after a very real conversion experience.  He was 21 years of age at the time and had attended a parish church.

It was not the sermon that influenced him, but the second reading of the Scriptures.  It was from Ephesians chapter 2:  “By grace are ye saved, through faith …” “It was in the simple hearing of those words of Scripture that he grasped the secret of the Gospel” writes Marcus Loane (J.C. Ryle, page 32).

For a while he worked in his father’s bank.  But by 12 December, 1841, he was ordained a clergyman in the Church of England.  Various ministries followed.

He married in 1845 … was widowed in June, 1847;  married again in 1850, widowed again ten years later; and remarried in October, 1861  (J.C. Ryle, by P. Toon, pages 42, 44, 52).

Ryle was not a good mixer – the two places where he was “genuinely happy” were in his pulpit and when he was “in his study surrounded by books” (ibid, page 43).

Thirty books came from his pen, including a vigorous defence of Anglican theology – Knots Untied.  And a classic work on “Holiness”, from a Reformed perspective.  His commentaries on the four Gospels are still in print.

In his preaching “he was at heart an evangelist whose sermons always sounded the note of a singularly clear call to forgiveness of sin and acceptance with God” (Loane, page 105).

This great Bishop heard his Master’s “Well done!” on 10 June, 1900.

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