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Christian Leaders of the 18th Century Paperback – November 1, 1978
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J.C. Ryle's writing style is very pleasant to read and his insight and love of details makes this book compelling. Each short biography describes just enough of the minister's life as to engage the reader's curiosity to learn more. I especially liked reading about what each minister said on his deathbed. There are also excerpts from sermons and letters which are enjoyable to read.
Some of the biographies were more compelling than others. George Whitefield's life was by far the most interesting and I was amazed that anyone could preach eighteen thousand times! William Grimshaw's life was also intriguing. He also endured a lot of persecution and sometimes preached 30 times a week. I thought the example of one of his prayers was stunning. I must say that I laughed with amusement at some of the things he said to people in all honesty. I thought the example of John Wesley's sermon was remarkable.
This book also contains the stories of William Romaine, Daniel Rowlands, John Berridge, Henry Venn, Walker of Truro, James Hervey, Toplady and Fletcher of Madely.
I'd recommend this book to all preachers and to any Christian who is interested in the English Reformation. I am very impressed with the vibrancy with which this book was written. You will be changed by the reading of this book because it presents the message of hope that people need to get out of this world alive.
~The Rebecca Review
The Awakening is incredible. God raised up these men and used them in the preaching of the gospel to hundreds of thousands of people. Most of them were Anglican, and had parishes within the Church of England. Nevertheless, they experienced revival in their parishes, and often went beyond the boundaries of their territory and preached abroad to whoever would listen. Whitefield was the pioneer in this, and others followed his example. Each of these men has different personalities, different strengths and different weaknesses. The book serves as a testimony to the grace of God which uses very different men to accomplish His purposes. "He giveth severally as He will."
This book also serves as a spring board for further study. I cannot recommend highly enough Dallimore's George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival - Volume I and George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth Century - Volume II, as well as Daniel Rowland,William Grimshaw of Haworth, and a man not mentioned here, but used greatly in Wales alongside Daniel Rowland - The Early Life of Howell Harris. One name that you will see over and over again is Selina: Countess of Huntingdon: Her Pivotal Role in the 18th Century Evangelical Awakening. Her biography is highly recommended as a filling in of some background information, as well as a very inspiring life!
These men, "shook England from one end to another," and, "excepting Luther... and our own martyred Reformers, the world has seen no such men since the days of the apostles."
I highly recommend this book. I plan on rereading it this year for the second time and can see doing so many times, and doing as Martyn Lloyd Jones said, "go to the eighteenth century."