by J. C. Ryle
THE following pages contain the substance of a Sermon which I preached, by invitation, in the Nave of Peterborough Cathedral, on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, 1877,—the substance and not the precise words. The plain truth is, that the Sermon was not intended for publication. It was preached from notes, and was one of those popular addresses which will not bear close reporting. A style of language which satisfies the ear when listened to, will seldom satisfy the mind when read. On receiving a manuscript report from the publisher, I found that it would require far more labour to condense, correct, paragraph, punctuate, and prepare the Sermon for the press, than to write it out roughly from my own notes and recollection. From want of time I had no alternative but to adopt this course, or to decline publication altogether. The result is that the reader has before him the matter, order, heads, arrangement, and principal thoughts and sentences of my Sermon, but not, I repeat, the precise words. With this I hope he will be content.
The postscript which follows the Sermon is a brief attempt to throw light on a subject which is troubling the minds of some Christians in the present day. That subject is "the future state," or "state after death." Of course in a little book like this the reader must not expect to find this deep subject handled exhaustively. But I venture to think I have supplied some plain reasons why the "old paths" about the future state ought not to be lightly forsaken. I have also given the names of books in which fuller information can be obtained.
Novelties in theology are always attractive. New views, such as those now-a-days propounded about the future state, are, at first sight, specious, plausible, and very taking. But with all respect for the advocates of newer, broader, and more liberal teachings (so-called), I see nothing in them which stands the test of calm investigation in the light of the Bible. "The old is better."
Table of Contents
Thoughts on Immortality
We Live in a World where all things are Temporal and Passing Away
We are all going towards a World where everything is eternal
Our State in the Unseen World of Eternity depends whereby on what we are in Time
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Great Friend to whom we must look for help, both for Time and Eternity