Written by J. C. Ryle
Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to ministers of religion because of their office.
Ordination and office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses introduced into the church by ordained men. Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers ought not to be lightly refused. But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch.
We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes to make us crucify Christ again.
We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion–but it matters greatly what is being said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. “To the law and to the testimony–if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836. The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.
Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.