“Thoughts for Young Men,” by J. C. Ryle, is a short yet passionate appeal that, a hundred years after it was written, remains relevant for today. Replete with warnings, exhortations, and instruction about this life’s many trials, temptations, and common pitfalls, Ryle’s classic is biblical, practical, timeless, and wise.
The first chapter of the book covers five reasons, divided into sections, why Ryle believes that young men are in need of special exhortation. The second chapter deals with five special dangers to young men, which are once again divided into separate, easy-to-read, sections. The six sections of Chapter Three offer special counsel to young men on topics ranging from setting priorities and getting to know Jesus to the possibility of true godliness, friend selection, and the importance of the Bible as a guide in life, Chapter Four covers five “Rules for Young Men” that, if followed, would help many a young man steer clear of trouble and sin. The “Conclusion”, or fifth chapter, offers a stirring appeal based on solid logic and the truth of the Scriptures.
The four great temptations that plague most young men: sloth, lust, love of pleasure, and peer pressure, are well covered within this book. One of the last great Puritans, Ryle tackles each subject with unsurpassed tenderness and tact. Readers will chuckle at some of the exhortations to stay away from books and newspapers that lead to sin. If only Ryle could see us now, with TVs blaring and gaming consoles in hand!
With its stirring appeal based on solid logic and the truth of the Scriptures, this book is an excellent read for men of any age, but especially adolescent or teenage boys. Its encouragement to choose the high path of integrity rather than yielding to the many temptations to stray from that path, will, if followed, help many to live a more full and obedient life.
This short but incredibly wise book is the perfect springboard for a youth group, small group study, or father and son discussion. At the conclusion of each chapter section you will find a carefully prepared study guide to assist in reading comprehension and discussion, enough for 21 conversations in all. The language has also been lightly updated in this edition.
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J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) was a prominent writer, preacher, and Anglican clergyman in nineteenth-century Britain. He is the author of the classic Thoughts for Young Men and retired as the bishop of Liverpool.