Although much has been written on the evangelical revival of the 18th century, J.C. Ryle’s account remains the best popular introduction to this great spiritual era. With simplicity and vigour, he traces the lives of the eleven Christian leaders who ‘shook England from one end to another’, giving strong reasons for his belief ‘that excepting Luther and his Continental contemporaries, and our own martyred Reformers, the world has seen no such men since the days of the apostles.’
But Ryle does not write to prompt admiration, and his conclusions and applications of his subject are among the most forceful that ever came from his pen. ‘I am obliged to say plainly that, in my judgment, we have among us neither the men nor the doctrines of the days gone by…Once let the evangelical ministry return to the ways of the 18th century, and I firmly believe we should have as much success as before. We are where we are, because we have come short of our fathers.’
At the beginning of last century, Canon A.M.W. Christopher of St. Aldate’s, Oxford, declared that he had turned to Ryle’s book during every summer vacation for thirty years. It is time Christian Leaders was so read again.
About the Author
Ryle, though a true doctrinaire Calvinist, was a great Christian writer, soul-winner and preacher who really excelled in the area of historical portraiture.
The Evangelical Awakening is an incredible event in the history of Christianity. Many have heard of it, but few have dug into the depths of the great work that God did at that time on both sides of the Atlantic, in America, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and of course England. This book by J.C. Ryle focuses on the men who were used in England and Wales. He takes 11 men and gives a short biography and then assessment of their lives and labors. The men are George Whitefield, John Wesley, William Grimshaw, William Romaine, Daniel Rowland, John Berridge, Henry Venn, Samuel Walker of Truro, James Hervey, Augustus Toplady and John Fletcher of Malady. That most of these men are unknown to us today is regrettable, and the reading of this book is a great start to remedying this.