Thoughts for Young Men

Thoughts for Young Men, John Charles Ryle (Moscow, 2002: Charles Nolan Publishers).

Occasionally, while browsing through one of Grand Rapids’ fine Christian bookstores, I’ll come across a title I wish everyone would read. I don’t mean a thick volume—maybe less than a hundred pages—but one saturated with timeless truths and invaluable wisdom. Thoughts for Young Men is one such book. Though first written in 1886, its admonitions are equally relevant to young men in our churches in 2004, and certainly no less urgent.

Ryle begins by giving five “general reasons why young men need peculiar exhortation.” One of these reasons is that “death and judgment are before young men, even as others, and they nearly all seem to forget it.” He cites the words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 11:9.

He proceeds to treat five “special dangers against which young men need to be warned.” These dangers include pride, love of pleasure, and thoughtlessness and inconsideration. He makes reference to Job’s burnt offerings on behalf of the thoughtless sins of his sons.

Ryle then gives six “general counsels to young men.” One of these is “never make an intimate friend of anyone who is not a friend of God.” He notes how Amnon’s “subtil” friend Jonadab was the one who invented the deceptive plan to fulfill his lust for Tamar.

He then fills in any gaps by setting down five “particular rules of conduct” which he strongly advises all young men to follow. One of these is “be diligent in the use of all public means of grace.” He quotes Isaiah on the blessings of delighting in the Sabbath.

Ryle concludes with the following: “Young men, these things are true. Suffer the word of exhortation. Be persuaded. Take up the cross. Follow Christ. Yield yourselves unto God.”

At a time when the Protestant Reformed congregations are seeking preachers and their godly young maidens are seeking husbands, “the supply of godly, faithful, trustworthy men, for posts like those I have named, is far below demand.” Even outside our circles, how many of us do not see young men who bear the name Christian wasting their lives? God could surely use Ryle’s plain words to awaken us and them from spiritual slumber.

If this brief review entices you to purchase and read Thoughts for Young Men, you might request it from the Reformed Book Outlet or online at

Who was J. C. Ryle? On May 10, 1816, John Charles Ryle was born to John and Susanna Ryle of Macclesfield, Cheshire County, England. He attended Eton and then went on to Oxford, finishing his Oxford studies in 1837. It was at this time in 1837 that Ryle found salvation and faith in Christ. In 1841 Bishop Charles Sumner of Winchester ordained J. C. Ryle as a minister in the Anglican Church (Church of England). In 1880 Ryle was named the first Bishop of the newly constituted diocese of Liverpool. Throughout his ministry he became known and beloved as a defender of the evangelical reformed faith as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England. In February, 1900, the 83-year-old Bishop Ryle retired after many years of faithful ministry. He went home to be with his Lord on June 10, 1900. [Reproduced from]