I recently culled from another site 15 summarized points from J.C. Ryle’s “Warnings To The Churches.” Here is point one:
1. BEWARE OF TRUSTING TEACHERS OF RELIGION
“Beware of supposing that a teacher of religion is to be trusted, because although he holds some unsound views, he yet ‘teaches a great deal of truth.’ Such a teacher is precisely the man to do you harm: poison is always most dangerous when it is given in small doses and mixed with wholesome food. Beware of being taken in by the apparent earnestness of many of the teachers and upholders of false doctrine.
Remember that zeal and sincerity and fervor are no proof whatever that a man is working for Christ, and ought to believed. Peter no doubt was in earnest when he bade our Lord spare Himself, and not go to the cross; yet our Lord said to him, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan.’ Saul no doubt was in earnest when he went to and fro persecuting Christians; yet he did it ignorantly, and his zeal was not according to knowledge.
The founders of the Spanish Inquisition no doubt were in earnest, and in burning God’s saints alive thought they were doing God service; yet they were actually persecuting Christ’s members and walking in the steps of Cain. – It is an awful fact that, ‘Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.’ (2 Corinthians 11:14) Of all the delusions prevalent in these latter days, there is none greater than the common notion that ‘if a man is in earnest about his religion he must be a good man!’ Beware of being carried away by this delusion; beware of being led astray by ‘earnest minded men!’ Earnestness is in itself an excellent thing; but it must be earnestness in behalf of Christ and His whole truth, or else it is worth nothing at all.”
Of course Ryle would not dream of discrediting himself in the “responsible Reformed world” by applying this “warning” to John Wesley. Ryle doesn’t have a clue.
The following is quoted from a Patheos blog article entitled “Calvinists who love Wesley”:
Bishop J.C. Ryle, in his book on Evangelical leaders of the eighteenth century, gets the warnings out of the way right up front:
‘He [Wesley–CD] was an Arminian in doctrine. I fully admit the seriousness of the objection. I do not pretend either to explain the charge away, or to defend his objectionable opinions.’
But he goes on to his main point, saying,
‘we must beware that we do not condemn men too strongly for not seeing all things in our point of view, or excommunicate and anathematize them because they do not pronounce our shibboleth.’
What is to be found in Wesley, according to Ryle? For all Wesley’s deviations from the Calvinist line, Ryle says
‘But if the same man strongly and boldly exposes and denounces sin, clearly and fully lifts up Christ, distinctly and openly invites men to believe and repent, shall we dare to say that the man does not preach the gospel at all? Shall we dare to say that he will do no good? I, for one, cannot say so, at any rate. If I am asked whether I prefer Whitefield’s gospel or Wesley’s, I answer at once that I prefer Whitefield’s: I am a Calvinist, and not an Arminian. That Wesley would have done better if he could have thrown off his Arminianism, I have not the least doubt; but that he preached the gospel, honored Christ, and did extensive good, I no more doubt than I doubt my own existence.’
And like so many other Calvinistic Wesley-fans, Ryle goes on to caution against bigotry:
‘Finally, has any one been accustomed to regard Wesley with dislike on account of his Arminian opinions? Is any one in the habit of turning away from his name with prejudice, and refusing to believe that such an imperfect preacher of the gospel could do any good? I ask such a one to remould his opinion, to take a more kindly view of the old soldier of the cross, and to give him the honour he deserves. …Whether we like it or not, John Wesley was a mighty instrument in God’s hand for good; and, next to George Whitefield, was the first and foremost evangelist of England a hundred years ago.'”
The fact that Ryle defends a fellow brother in Satan is not surprising. That’s what Calvinists are SUPPOSED to do. But it’s NOT what Christians do.
“And My hand shall be against the prophets who see vanity, and who divine a lie. They shall not be in the assembly of My people, and they shall not be written in the writing of the house of Israel, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah. Because, even because they made My people go astray, saying, Peace! and there was no peace. And he builds a wall, and, behold, others daubed it with lime. Say to those daubing with lime, Yea, it will fall. There will be a flooding rain; and you, O hailstones, shall fall, and a tempestuous wind shall break. And, behold, when the wall has fallen, it shall not be said to you, Where is the daubing with which you have daubed? So the Lord Jehovah says this: I will even break in My fury with a tempestuous wind. And there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and hailstones in fury, to consume it. And I will break down the wall that you have daubed with lime and bring it down to the ground; yea, I will bare its base. And it shall fall, and you will be consumed in its midst. And you shall know that I am Jehovah. And I will complete My wrath in the wall, and in those who daubed it with lime. And I will say to you, The wall is not; and, Those who daubed are not. The prophets of Israel who are prophesying concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her, even there is no peace, declares the Lord Jehovah” (Ezekiel 13:9-16).
The Wesleyan Wall is not; and the Ryleian Dauber is not.