Category Archives: William Gurnall

“The only books which do real good” by J.C. Ryle

“It is indeed to be desired that solid Scriptural theology, like that contained in these pages, should be valued and studied in the church.

Books in which Scripture is reverently regarded as the only rule of faith and practice– books in which Christ and the Holy Ghost have their rightful office– books in which justification, and sanctification, and regeneration, and faith, and grace, and holiness are clearly, distinctly, and accurately delineated and exhibited, these are the only books which do real good.

Few things need reviving more than a taste for such books as these among readers. For my own part, I can only say that I read everything I can get hold of which professes to throw light on my Master’s business, and the work of Christ among men.

But the more I read, the less I admire modern theology. The more I study the productions of the new schools of theological teachers, the more I marvel that men and women can be satisfied with such writing.

There is a vagueness, a mistiness, a shallowness, an indistinctness, a superficiality, an aimlessness, a hollowness about the literature of the ‘broader and kinder systems,’ as they are called, which, to my mind, stamps their origin on their face.

They are of the earth, earthy. I find more of definite soul-satisfying thought in one page of Gurnall than in five pages of such books… In matters of theology the old is better.”

–J.C. Ryle, written April 23, 1864, in “A Biographical Account of the Author,” in William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1662/2002), xliii.

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