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Thoughts for Young Men Paperback – May 27, 2013
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'[Ryle's writings are] a distillation of true Puritan theology presented in a highly readable and modern form.' --D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
'I see [Ryle] as a single-minded Christian communicator of profound biblical, theological, and practical wisdom, a man and minister of giant personal stature and electric force of utterance that sympathetic readers still feel.' --J.I. Packer
'His exhortations are timeless and just as relevant to today s young man as they were when he penned them over 100 years ago. This is the first book I recommend to pastors, youth leaders, and parents, who are looking for a resource that will assist them in training young men to be bold, stalwart followers of Christ, who will impact the world.' --Grant Castleberry --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
There are four great temptations that plague most young men: sloth, lust, love of pleasure, and peer pressure. J.C. Ryle -- the last of the great Puritans -- tackles each of these subjects with a tenderness and tact which is unsurpassed. First written toward the end of the nineteenth century, it remains to this day the most relevant and helpful book on the subject in print. I was first introduced to Ryle about fifteen years ago, and he remains my favorite teacher on personal holiness. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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These messages pull no punches and the unflinching condemnation of Sin -- yes, some preachers still use that word in its original Biblical context -- will no doubt disturb those readers not accustomed to straight talk about the teachings of Jesus on choosing a life of purity and full obedience to God. Our discussion of this book over 4 or 5 weekly studies engendered some serious but lively discussions on the differences between what the World calls a "good" life and the behaviors that our society tolerates today, in contrast to what the Word of God commands for Followers of the Way. There are many challenging statements in these chapters, some of which may sound "Puritanical" or "judgmental" at first, but are quickly revealed to come directly from Scripture.
If your church is not accustomed to hearing the Gospel proclaimed boldly, without apology, this will be a tough slog for many of you; but if you're willing to be challenged, and to face your own shortcomings honestly, without guilt, these teachings will prove very valuable to you and the younger men in your life. Some sections will seem repetitive at first; that's how the writer emphasizes his key points. But if you picture the words actually being preached to a large gathering it soon becomes obvious that Brother Ryle is entreating his audience, especially its younger members, to treat these admonitions seriously, and to act on them without further delay.
For this speaker, "sooner" means NOW. Highly recommended.
Thus, Ryle's simple thesis. The outline of the book is simple as well. Ryle continues,
"There are four things which I propose to do:
1. I will mention some general reasons why young men need exhorting.
2. I will mention some special dangers against which young men need to be warned.
3. I will give some general counsels which I entreat young men to receive.
4. I will set down some special rules of conduct which I strongly advise young men to follow.
On each of these four points I have something to say and I pray God that what I say may do good to some soul."
Ryle unfolds these four thoughts in clear, straightforward, convicting fashion. And, although this book was written in the late 1800's, the exhortations contained therein could have easily been written for today's young men. Ryle laments,
Young men, you are a large and most important class in the population of this country; but where, and in what condition are you immortal souls?...Let us ask any faithful minister of the gospel, and mark what he will tell us...Who are the most backward about the means of grace,--the most irregular about Sunday services,--the most difficult to draw to weekly lectures and prayer meetings,--the most inattentive under preaching at all times?...Who are the first to be led away from what is right, and the last to remember cautions and good advice?
Granted, this is not the case with all young men, but we would certainly agree that it is the case, unfortunately, with many. Young men are hard to convince of their need for Christ because they do not see that death is near. They see themselves as young, happy, free, with much life ahead of them. But Ryle reminds the young men, "...it is appointed unto you once to die; and however strong and healthy you may be now, the day of your death is perhaps very near."
Some might cringe at the morbidity of such a statement. Others might be refreshed with such a bold statement proclaimed in a society where young men rarely consider the weight of death and immortality. Ryle continues and exhorts young men to wake up and to stop putting off spiritual priorities to the next day.
Tomorrow is the devil's day, but today's is God's. Satan cares not how spiritual your intentions may be, and how holy your resolutions, if only they are fixed for tomorrow. Oh, give not place to the devil in this matter! Answer him, "No Satan! It shall be today: today!
Ryle goes on to outline specific dangers that young men face. In particular, he mentions, pride, love of pleasure, thoughtlessness and inconsideration, contempt of Christianity and the fear of man's opinion. Young men must be aware of how susceptible they are to such dangers and take care to steer clear of these potential snares.
In the third section, he instructs his readers to 1) get a good view of the evil of sin; 2) become well acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ; 3) never forget that nothing is as important as their souls; 4) remember that it is possible to be a young man and yet serve God, 5) make the Bible their guide and advisor and finally; 6) never make an intimate friend of anyone who is not a friend of God. In this last point, he makes sure his readers understand that he is referring not to acquaintances, but our most intimate friends.
In the final section of the book, Ryle give his final admonitions. Ryle exhorts his young readers to 1) break off from any known sin, no matter how small; 2) stay away from tempting situations; 3) remember that God's eyes see all; 4) be regular in making good use of the means of grace (church, listening to preaching, fellowship, etc.); and 5) pray. Under each of these exhortations, Ryle gives practical advice as to how to carry out his counsel, further Scriptural support for his exhortations, and various illustrations. Benefits that will flow from such pursuits will be a happy soul and eternal blessing; not to mention joyous parents.
This is a wonderful little book and deserves to be read and reread. It will benefit any young man who takes serious its contents. I highly recommend it!