J.C. Ryle’s “Warnings to the churches,” #11:
13. LET US ARM OUR MINDS WITH THE WORD OF GOD
“. . . if we would be kept from falling away into false doctrine, let us arm our minds with a thorough knowledge of God’s Word. Let us read our Bibles from beginning to end with daily diligence, and constant prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and so strive to become thoroughly familiar with their contents. Ignorance of the Bible is the root of all error, and a superficial acquaintance with it accounts for many of the sad perversions and defections of the present day. In a hurrying age of railways and telegraphs, I am firmly persuaded that many Christians do not give time enough to private reading of the Scriptures.”
“In a hurrying age of railways and telegraphs.” Huh. Even busier and more hurried now.
“I doubt seriously whether English people did not know their Bibles better two hundred years ago than they do now. The consequence is, that they are ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,’ and fall an easy prey to the first clever teacher of error who tries to influence their minds. I entreat my readers to remember this counsel, and take heed to their ways. It is as true now as ever, that the good textuary is the only good theologian, and that a familiarity with great leading texts, is, as our Lord proved in the temptation, one of the best safeguards against error. Arm yourself then with the sword of the Spirit, and let your hand become used to it. I am well aware that there is no royal road to Bible-knowledge. Without diligence and pains no one ever becomes ‘mighty in the Scriptures.’ ‘Justification,’ said Charles Simeon, with his characteristic quaintness, ‘is by faith, but knowledge of the Bible comes by works.’ But of one thing I am certain: there is no labour which will be so richly repaid as laborious regular daily study of God’s Word.”
A laborious and relentless study with, as one fellow put it, “Bible, pads, and pens. Highlighter, commentaries. Application necessary. Oh, yessir we get some in.” We get some Bible study in, and by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit we discern that J.C. Ryle’s theology is damnable.
Ryle’s abysmal view of the cross of Christ is not a Reformed anomaly in the History and Theology of Calvinism. Many Calvinists besides Ryle believed Christ died for those in hell.