Memorable quotes from "Holiness" by J.C. Ryle

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Nebrexan

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a far more readable and enjoyable book than I had expected. These are the portions that particularly struck and convicted me. I could have read the book online (see the end of the article for a URL), but it's hard to mark up an online book.

PREFACE

… union with Christ is the root of holiness ….

The older I grow the more I am convinced that real practical holiness does not receive the attention it deserves, and that there is a most painfully low standard of living among many high professors of religion in the land.

… it is far easier to be a Christian among singing, praying, sympathizing, Christians in a public room, than to be a consistent Christian in a quiet, retired, out-of-the-way, uncongenial home.

INTRODUCTION

Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt.

… the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith.

It is thoroughly Scriptural and right to say “faith alone justifies.” But it is not equally Scriptural and right to say “faith alone sanctifies.”

True holiness does not consist merely of believing and feeling, but of doing and bearing, and a practical exhibition of active and passive grace. Our tongues, our tempers, our natural passions and inclinations– our conduct as parents and children, masters and servants, husbands and wives, rulers and subjects–our dress, our employment of time, our behavior in business, our demeanor in sickness and health, in riches and poverty–all, all these are matters which are fully treated by inspired writers. They are not content with a general statement of what we should believe and feel, and how we are to have the roots of holiness planted in our hearts. They dig down lower. They go into particulars. They specify minutely what a holy man ought to do an be in his own family, and by his own fireside, if he abides in Christ.

When people talk of having received "such a blessing,” and of having found “the higher life,” after hearing some earnest advocate of “holiness by faith and self-consecration,” while their family and friends see no improvement and no increased sanctity in their daily tempers and behavior, immense harm is done to the cause of Christ. True holiness, we surely ought to remember, does not consist merely of inward sensations and impressions. It is much more than tears, and sighs, and bodily excitement, and a quickened pulse, and a passionate feeling of attachment to our favorite preachers and our own religious party, and a readiness to quarrel with everyone who does not agree with us. It is something of “the image of Christ.” which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings. (Romans 8:29)

A comparative perfection, a perfection in knowledge, an all-around consistency in every relation of life, a through soundness in every point of doctrine–this may be seen occasionally in some of God’s believing people. But as to an absolute literal perfection, the most eminent saints of God in every age have always been the very last to lay claim to it! On the contrary they have always had the deepest sense of their own utter unworthiness and imperfection. The more spiritual light they have enjoyed the more they have seen their own countless defects and shortcomings. The more grace they have had the more they been “clothed with humility.” (1 Peter 5:5)

When a professing Christian coolly tells me that he has got beyond such hymns as “Just as I am,” and that they are below his present experience, though they suited him when he first took up religion, I must think his soul is in a very unhealthy state!

What I do lay stress upon is the broad fact that the best commentators in every era of the Church have almost invariably applied the seventh chapter of Romans to advanced believers. The commentators who do not take this view have been, with a few bright exceptions, the Romanists, the Socinians, and the Arminians. Against them is arrayed the judgment of almost all the Reformers, almost all the Puritans, and the best modern Evangelical divines.

… in the Divine economy of man’s salvation election is the special work of God the Father–atonement, mediation, and intercession, the special work of God the Son–and sanctification, the special work of God the Holy Spirit.

… “Christ in us” means Christ in us “by His Spirit.”

It is well known that Romish writers often maintain that the Church is divided into three classes–sinners, penitents, and saints. The modern teachers of this day who tell us that professing Christians are of three sorts–the unconverted, the converted, and the partakers of the “higher life” of complete consecration–appear to me to occupy very much the same ground! But whether the idea be old or new, Romish or English, I am utterly unable to see that it has any warrant of Scripture. The Word of God always speaks of the living and the dead in sin–the believer and the unbeliever–the converted and the unconverted–the travelers in the narrow way and the travelers in the broad–the wise and the foolish–the children of God and the children of the devil. Within each of these two great classes there are, doubtless, various measures of sin and grace; but it only the difference between the higher and lower end of an inclined plane. Between these two great classes there is an enormous gulf; they are as distinct as life and death, light and darkness, heaven and hell. But of a division into three classes the Word of God says nothing at all!

… the theory of a sudden, mysterious transition of a believer into a state of blessedness and entire consecration, at one mighty bound, I cannot receive. It appears to me to be a man made invention; and I do not see a single plain text to prove it in Scripture. Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness–all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.

I frankly confess I prefer the old paths. I think it wiser and safer to press on all converted people the possibility of continual growth in grace, and the absolute necessity of going forward, increasing more and more, and in every year dedicating and consecrating themselves more, in spirit, soul, and body to Christ. By all means let us teach that there is more holiness to be attained, and more of heaven to be enjoyed upon earth than most believers now experience. But I decline to tell any converted man that he needs a second conversion, and that he may some day or other pass by one enormous step into a state of entire consecration. I decline to teach it, because I think the tendency of the doctrine is thoroughly mischievous, depressing the humble-minded and meek, and puffing up the shallow, the ignorant, and the self-conceited, to a most dangerous extent.

In justification the word to address to man is believe–only believe; in sanctification the word must be “watch, pray, and fight.”

(Most text has been copied from the Grace Gems Web site; the rest was entered manually.)
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks for the post.

Hebrews 12:14
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
Let us never forget that truth, distorted and exaggerated, can become the mother of the most dangerous heresies - J.C. Ryle, Holiness
 
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