If there is one book I wish someone had given to me as a teenager it would be Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle. To be honest, I probably would not have read it since I didn’t like to read at the time; that being said, this book should be in the hands of every teenage young man who is in your life. Is there a birthday that’s coming up? Buy the book as a gift. Graduation? Perfect timing! Christmas is only six and a half months away so why not an early Christmas gift?
Quickly: Ryle was a minister in the Church of England during the 19th century. He had a love for God’s Word and God’s people that is clearly shown in this book. His words in this book are not only for young men, but for anyone, however they apply especially to young men. Believe me when I say, these are timeless truths that Ryle proclaims by pen and paper. He understood that the heart and mind of young men in his day are the same hearts and minds of young men in any day.
But why should young men everywhere read this book from the 19th century? Besides the reason that it is timeless, it’s not a hard read. A thirteen year old would have absolutely no problem understanding what the author is writing. If there are any “archaic” words, places or people mentioned, they are explained in short, concise footnotes. But Ryle also deals with a whole gamut of issues that men face: pride, idleness, lust, Bible-reading and study, and the list goes on. Nearly every paragraph is packed with wisdom that cannot, or at least should not, be dismissed. I read this with a highlighter in my hand, but my problem was keeping myself from highlighting too much (it does no good to highlight the entire book).
I have read other short pieces by J. C. Ryle before, but this book has made me a fan. I cannot wait to pick up another of his books to read. I can only imagine what it may have in store for me. He has definitely helped me in “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–[to] dwell on these things,” (Phil 4:8, HCSB).