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Four Eleven books by J.C. Ryle

As readers no doubt know, I think highly of J.C. Ryle, the evangelical Bishop of Liverpool in the late nineteenth century.  It occurred to me that perhaps I could find some of his books in the public domain via the amazing resources of Google Books – and lo and behold, I did find four of them.  They range in date of publication all the way from 1852 to 1898 – and I have to say Bishop Ryle’s message of the need for holiness and fidelity to the Scriptures and to the faith of the Anglican Reformers is remarkably consistent!

  • Living or Dead? (1852) which is a collection of essays/sermons.
  • Coming Events and Present Duties (second edition of 1879) – this one is interesting to me because it is focused on the Second Coming of Christ, and being ready for that event.  I had not seen this text before.
  • Light from Old Times (second edition of 1898) – I find this one notable for Ryle’s respect for the Reformers such as Hooper, Ridley and Latimer, and his disregard for Laud.  The Introduction is certainly worth reading for his defense of “the Evangelical School” of his day.
  • Knots Untied (1898) is a volume in which Ryle looks at some of the theological questions of his day, again from the perspective of the “Evangelical School.”  It is perhaps the best known of these four texts.

In addition, as of November 2010, I have now located Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels and these volumes can be accessed in PDF format below:

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    August 8, 2010 4:18 am

    Will, greetings. I am Kathleen’s mom. We have Ryle’s Expository thoughts on all Four Gospels. We dip into them often. Not only is he solid but so very pastoral and Christ-centered. Have you read Eric Russell’s biography of J.C. Ryle? Also a booklet that we buy in 10’s to give away is “Sickness” by J.C. Ryle published by Matthia Media, Sydney.

    A friend in Christ,

    • August 8, 2010 9:02 am


      What a pleasure to “meet” you! (I know you must be proud of your remarkable daughter.)

      I have read “Sickness” but have never read Russell’s biography of Ryle. That omission will be corrected soon now that you have told me about it. I am looking for “Expository Thoughts” in PDF and have found portions of it online; if I ever find the whole of “Expository Thoughts” I’ll add those to this page.

      May God bless you all!

  2. August 20, 2010 1:53 am


    I’m currently making my way through Ryle’s classic book Knot’s Untied. Fantastic chapters in this gem of a book! I tend to stop every few minutes in order to underline yet another nugget from the great Bishop. ;)

    Ryle’s books have been a constant source of encouragement to me over the past few years.

    By the way, keep up the insightful posts.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    • August 20, 2010 9:17 am


      Thank you for the work you do on your wonderful site!

  3. william hilton goddard permalink
    May 13, 2011 8:43 am

    Bp. Ryles books have been a great blessing to many .. in these days “the old paths ” were stable and not turning from one novelty to another . I have nearly all his writings and autobiographies .He is not infallible . but a good companion and Ihave gained much understanding from his books

    • May 13, 2011 9:38 am

      Thanks for your comments – well said, too. Bishop Ryle is certainly not infallible, but he is sound – which in itself seems to be a “novelty” for our day!

  4. Paul permalink
    October 13, 2011 10:01 am

    You’re missing the classic:

    • October 13, 2011 12:23 pm

      You are certainly right about that; I had been unable to find a PDF of that work by Ryle. I have been told that Google does not always store PDFs of public domain books if those books are still in print at the time, and that may explain why Holiness is not stored as a scanned PDF by Google. That link you provided is of course a very good resource – thanks.

      If readers do want a PDF of Holiness, this link does offer a free PDF at this time:

      Click to access holiness.pdf

  5. November 17, 2011 7:18 am

    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!
    What a great blessing are Ryle’s work for us today.
    Often i am struck by the fact that his writings are over 100 years old (150?)
    The words are so true for our present age…

    • November 17, 2011 8:32 pm

      That is one thing that never ceases to amaze me – Ryle’s words indeed remain true for us, over one hundred years later. I can only surmise it is because he was so grounded in Scripture, which of course is true now as it always has been. Thank YOU for your kind comment!

  6. William Winkelman permalink
    December 17, 2011 11:18 am

    Thank you,

    I was ready to lay down some coin for the hard-copy version of one of these books.

    • December 17, 2011 11:55 am

      My pleasure! Thank YOU for reading Ryle – truly a blessing, is he not?

  7. April 23, 2012 8:01 am

    Ryle is indeed a blessing to all who read him, Will.
    Thank you especially for making Knots Untied and Light From Old Times available.
    I have Holiness & Practical Religion as well as Expository Thoughts, which I always consult for sermon preparation. Of course, as a Lutheran, I don’t agree with every position Ryle takes, but his clarity and evangelical spirit are commendable and deeply impressive respectively.

    • April 23, 2012 3:42 pm

      Thanks for your comment, and I can well believe a Lutheran would find much in common with Ryle. His evangelical zeal for the Gospel is very much in accord with Lutherans, and I could imagine Ryle and Francis Pieper having a great conversation in Heaven!

  8. September 21, 2012 4:52 am

    Good daye Will!

    I have recently acquired Vol 1 of Ryle’s “Expository Thoughts on St John” Volume1. It is exhaustive and thorough. I just loved this piece from his Preface, page vi, [published by Hodder and Stoughton]1896:
    “We live in a day abounding in vagueness and indistinctness on doctrinal subjects in religion……I hold that the Gospel of John rightly interpreted, is the best and simplest answer to those who profess to admire a vague and indistinct christianity.”
    Certainly a truth for our times!!!

    • September 21, 2012 8:58 am


      Thanks for sharing that – it would be a great and valuable reminder for ALL Christians today!

  9. David permalink
    July 13, 2013 8:11 am

    FYI: You are missing Ryle’s Epository Thoughts on St. John Volumes 2 and 3.

    Both are available on Google Books. I have the pdfs and would be happy to send them to you.

    I have also very much enjoyed Ryle’s “Knots Untied,” but what haven’t I enjoyed that he has written?


    • July 13, 2013 8:30 am


      Thanks for letting me know there are THREE volumes on John. I have already found Volume II and will look for Volume III; hopefully I will be able to get those uploaded in the next day. I really appreciate this – thank you again.

  10. Chike orah permalink
    October 5, 2013 9:00 am

    Ryle with his in depth writings filled inspiration is a timeless classic needed and be used by all Christian in all ages.

  11. Steve permalink
    April 3, 2014 1:07 pm

    Hi I think Ryles books need to be better known. I have his book called The True Christian this is one of his best and needs reprinting.

    • April 3, 2014 1:56 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’ll look into that book – am curious as to whether it COULD be put back into print.

  12. April 20, 2014 5:15 pm

    Have you read any words of Ryle akin to these of Spurgeon?

    • April 21, 2014 12:23 am

      On the whole, I would say Ryle was more concerned with spiritual warfare than the warfare of this world’s political powers. The only references of which I am aware are one or two sermons, perhaps, where he talks about how blessed peace is, compared to “war, however just and necessary.”

  13. Dunleigh Hight permalink
    December 22, 2017 12:16 am

    Thank you very much my friend.I just started reading J.C. Ryles & so far his writings seem to be on target, thanks again

    • December 22, 2017 12:23 am

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you have found Ryle…his works are an amazing blend of truth and compassion.

  14. Mike permalink
    August 2, 2019 10:36 am

    Hi the link to Matthew does not work, and I was looking forward to see what Ryle has to say iro the narrow and broad roads. I have found most people take Matthew totally out of context.

    Good work,
    Thanks Mike


  1. Added: a new page of four of J.C. Ryle’s books « Prydain
  2. Two more volumes of Ryle’s “Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John” added as PDFs | Prydain

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