J. C. Ryle

Ryle was born in 1816 to a successful merchant family and enjoyed the advantages of wealth and class through his younger years. However, it was at the age of 18 where he encountered evangelicals within the Church of England and began to grow in his conviction of sin. Finally, in 1837, through a severe illness, Ryle began to pray and depend on God and this led to a turning point in his life. After graduating from Oxford, Ryle expected to follow his father into public service, but in 1841, everything came crashing down as his father was bankrupted by bad investments. At this point, Ryle understood this to be God’s sovereign hand moving him into ministry.

Ryle’s first years of ministry were marked by difficulty and growth as he labored among the poor working class, as he grew in his preaching, and also as he experienced severe trials. His first wife would die tragically after complications from the birth of his first daughter. His second wife would struggle with various illnesses for most of their ten years of marriage. Ryle would finally find some stability when he accepted the vicarage at Stadbroke. For the next twenty years, he would revitalize an evangelical ministry in that city, as well as gain national recognition for his tracts and books. Ryle would play a leading role in various evangelical missions and aid societies.

For all his fruitfulness, God still had one more surprise in store. In 1880, due to political circumstances, Ryle was offered the bishopric at the newly formed diocese of Liverpool. At the age of 63, Ryle accepted. For the remainder of his ministry, Ryle would work to raise up and appoint evangelical ministers who would not only preach the gospel, but would visit and pastor their people. As a bishop, he would resist, often alone, the growing Anglo-Catholicism and liberal rationalism within the Church of England, even when it meant confronting his own son, who became a leading proponent of the latter. Up to his death in 1900 and beyond, Ryle stands a model of strength and steadfastness in the truth of the gospel. - GC

Where to Begin

J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone by Iain Murray

Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle

Holiness by J. C. Ryle