Eighteenth Century Christian Leaders

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THE volume now in the reader’s hands requires a few prefatory sentences of explanation. I should be sorry if there was any mistake as to its nature and intention.

It consists of a series of biographical papers, contributed to a well-known and most valuable monthly periodical during the years 1866 and 1867. My object in drawing up these papers was to bring before the public in a comprehensive form the lives, characters, and work of the leading ministers by whose agency God was pleased to revive Christianity in England a hundred years ago. I had long felt that these great men were not sufficiently known, and their merit in consequence not sufficiently recognized. I thought that the Church and the world ought to know something more than they seem to know about such men as Whitefield, Wesley, Romaine, Rowlands, Grimshaw, Berridge, Venn, Toplady, Hervey, Walker, and Fletcher. For twenty years I waited anxiously for some worthy account of these mighty spiritual heroes. At last I became weary of waiting, and resolved to take the pen in my own hand, and do what I could in the pages of a periodical. These papers, in compliance with the wishes of friends, are now brought together in a portable form.


J C Ryle (1816-1900) was a faithful evangelical Christian, a prolific writer and bishop of Liverpool. His books Holiness and Practical religion have never been out of print. This present book was originally entitled The Christian leaders of the Last Century; or England 100 Years Ago (it was published in 1869) and came about as a result of the biographies it includes being written as a series. Ryle's intention in the release of the book was more than recounting lives such as those of George Whitefield, Henry Venn, William Grimshaw and Daniel Rowland and others: he applies the lessons from their stories and appeals for a return to the faith and dedication of these excellent men.

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