This year sees the anniversary of the birth of J C Ryle, the first Bishop of Liverpool. Iain Murray has researched and written a masterful account of Ryle's life that not only sets out the trajectory of his days but examines it with an historical and theological awareness that means this is not only a tribute to Ryle and a reminder of the providence of God but also a helpful analysis of what made Ryle great that at the same time frankly points to the limitations imposed by his Anglicanism and, without being dismissive, the far more difficult position those who are Anglicans today inevitably find themselves in. At the same time, rather than being dismissive of such views, Murray challenges us to think it through for ourselves.
One odd thing about the book is that although I read it from cover to cover at the end I was not entirely sure whether Ryle was a fully fledged Calvinist or not. Looking at it again it is pretty clear that Ryle was committed to the 39 articles which are Calvinistic and in agreement with Thomas Scott a five point Calvinist. I suppose I wanted a quote like the one American Charles J Ray unearthed in the commentary on John (1:29)
"Christ is an ALMIGHTY Saviour, and a Saviour for all mankind. He "takes away the sin of the world." He did not die for the Jews only, but for the Gentile as well as the Jew. He did not suffer for a few people only, but for all mankind. The payment that He made on the cross was more than enough to make satisfaction for the debts of all. The blood that He shed was precious enough to wash away the sins of all. His atonement on the cross was sufficient for all mankind,though efficient only to those who believe. The sin that He took up and bore on the cross was the sin of the whole world." (Italics added).