JC Ryle on the type of preaching that awakened England

JC Ryle in his study

We’re busy enjoying JC Ryle’s description of the preaching of the Evangelists whom God used to change the culture of 18th century England. (This is Part Four of a short series on Ryle. See Part One, Two and Three)

Having emphasised that it was specifically preaching that was used by God, he describes the type of messages the Evangelists preached.

1. They preached attractive, accessible messages
‘They used illustrations and anecdotes in abundance, and like their divine Master, borrowed lessons from every object in nature.

‘They revived the style of sermons in which Luther and Latimer used to be so eminently successful.’ Ryle then applies a saying of Luther to the 18th century Evangelists: ‘No one can be a good preacher to the people who is not willing to preach in a manner that seems childish and vulgar to some.’ (p.25)

2. They preached fervently and directly
‘They cast aside that dull, cold, heavy, lifeless mode of delivery which had long made sermons a very proverb for dullness.

‘They proclaimed the words of faith, and the story of life with life!

‘They spoke with fiery zeal, like men who were thoroughly persuaded that what they said was true, and that it was of the upmost importance to your eternal interest to hear it.

‘They spoke like men who had got a message from God to you, and must deliver it, and must have your attention while they delivered it.

‘They threw heart and soul and feeling into their sermons and sent their hearers home convinced, at any rate, that the preacher was sincere and wished them well.

‘They believed that you must speak from the heart if you wish to speak to the heart.’ (p.25)

3. Their sermons were full of Biblical content

‘I would have it understood that it was eminently doctrinal, positive, dogmatical and distinct.

‘The trumpets which blew down the walls of Jericho were trumpets which gave no uncertain sound.

‘The English evangelists of last century were not men of an uncertain creed…’ (p.25)

Next time we’ll look at the main points the Evangelists’ preached, and which had such a transforming impact on their culture.

All quotes from Christian Leaders Of The 18th Century by J. C. Ryle, Banner of Truth edition.
You can Purchase Ryle’s excellent book from the Banner of Truth website

© 2010 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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