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Consider Your Ways – J.C.Ryle. Part 4

16/10/2011

We continue to read Bishop Ryle’s letter, urging us to consider our ways…

I wish the elect of God to be indeed a holy nation, and the sons of adoption to live as becomes the children of a King. I want those who are light in the Lord to walk as children of light, shining more and more every day. And I say it for the good of the world. You are almost the only book that worldly people read. Surely your lives should be epistles of Christ, so plain that he who runs may read them. The world cares little for doctrine- the world knows nothing of experience- but the world can understand a close walk with God. And not least I say it because of the times you live in. I write it down deliberately, I believe there never were so many lukewarm saints as there are now. There never was a time in which a low and carnal standard of Christian behaviour so much prevailed. There never were so many babes in grace in the family of God; so many who seem to sit still, and live on old experience; so many who appear to have need of nothing, and to be neither hungering nor thirsting after righteousness, as at the present time. I write this with all sorrow. It may be too painful to please some. But I ask you, as in God’s sight, is it not true?

There is a generation of Christians in this age who grieve me to the heart. They make my blood run cold. I cannot understand them. For anything that man’s eye can see, they make no progress. They never seem to get on. Years roll on, and they are just the same- the same besetting sins, the same infirmities of disposition, the same weakness in trial, the same chilliness of heart, the same apathy, the same faint resemblance to Christ; but no new knowledge, no increased interest in the kingdom, no freshness, no new strength, no new fruits, as if they grew. Are they not forgetting that growth is the proof of life- that even the tree grows, and the snail and the sloth move? Are they not forgetting how awfully far a man may go, and yet not be a true Christian? He may be like a wax figure, the very image of a believer, and yet not have within him the breath of God- he may have a name to live, and be dead after all.

Brethren, these are the reasons why I write so strongly. I want your Christianity to be unmistakable. I want you all to grow really, and to do more than others. Let us all henceforth remember Sardis and Laodicea- let us resolve to be more holy and more bright. Let us bury our idols. Let us put away all strange gods. Let us cast out the old leaven. Let us lay aside every weight and besetting sin. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God. Let us renew our covenant with our beloved Lord. Let us aim at the highest and best things. Let us resolve by God’s blessing to be more holy, and then I know and am persuaded we shall be more useful and more happy. I name some things for prayerful consideration.

1. Let us then, for one thing, begin with a humble confession of past unprofitableness and shortcomings. Let us acknowledge with shame and contrition that we have not hitherto lived up to our light. We ought to have been the salt of the earth- but there has been little savour of Christ about us. We ought to have been the light of the world- but we have most of us been little glimmering sparks that could scarcely be seen. We ought to have been a peculiar people- but the difference between us and the world has been faint and small. We ought to have been, like the Levites in Israel, a distinct people among professing Christians- but we have too often behaved as if we belonged to some other tribe. We ought to have looked on this world as an inn, and we have settled down in it as if it were our home- it ought to have been counted our school of training for eternity, and we have been at ease in it as if it were our continuing city, or trifled away time in it, as if we were meant to play and not to learn.

To be continued…

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