Saturday, 12 March 2016

Old Paths

It has been a habit of mine on Sunday night to read a sermon by J.C. Ryle. I first stumbled upon Ryle when I was preparing for a sermon on prayer, and I was convicted by what Ryle said about prayer. That sermon was put in the book, Holiness, of which is probably his most popular book.

Old Paths, is a collection of 19 evangelical sermons, that is they are all about getting saved. While this is a good thing to talk about, as I went through the book each chapter felt more of the same. I can't really blame Ryle for the repetition of theme in this book, as it is kinda the point. Ryle even says he is not trying to say anything new, but rather "old fashioned Evangelical theology", hence the title of "Old Paths".

Each chapter followed the same formula. There would be a verse about salvation, sins, the cross or the Holy Spirit and then Ryle would have 3 or 4 points about that topic, why it is important, what some mistakenly believe about it and then how good salvation in Christ is. Then to conclude Ryle would challenge the non-believer to believe and the believer to perserve and be encouraged. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, every preacher has their own style, it's just that it felt a little sameness from chapter to chapter. To be fair, the topics do broaden a little near the end.

While this may sound like a downer of a review, please remember that this guys books are still in print more than 115 years after his death. Ryle is known for his clarity, and sometimes bluntness, meaning you know where he stands on an issue; and I appreciate that. If I was going to give an outreachy talk, I would come back to this book to get a sense of tone, and maybe to steal an illustration or two. I just wouldn't sit down and read it again from cover to cover, unlike say his Holiness book.

Since this book is out of copyright you can download this book for free.

Other books by J. C. Ryle that I have read
Holiness - This is most famous one, if you are going to read anything of his, start here.
Practical Religion - This lived up to it's title and challenged you to think about your practical religion
Knots Untied - In this book Ryle ties to "untangle" controversial issues held with in the Church.


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