Few Young People Seem to Have Real Christian Faith

This is from J.C. Ryle’s Thoughts For Young Men, Chapter 1: Reasons for Exhorting Young Men: Having A Religion

For one thing, there is the painful fact that there are few young men anywhere who seem to have any religion. I speak without respect of persons; I say it of all. High or low, rich or poor, gentle or simple, learned or unlearned, in town or in country—it makes no matter. I tremble to observe how few young men are led by the Spirit, how few are in that narrow way which leads to life, how few are setting their affections upon things above, how few are taking up the cross and following Christ (Mat 7:14; Col 3:2; Mat 16:24). I say it with all sorrow, but I believe, as in God’s sight, I am saying nothing more than the truth.

Young men, you form a large and most important class in the population of this country; but where, and in what condition, are your immortal souls? Alas, whatever way we turn for an answer, the report will be one and the same!

Let us ask any faithful minister of the gospel and mark what he will tell us. How many unmarried young people can he reckon up who come to the Lord’s Supper? Who are the most backward about the means of grace [instruments that God is pleased to use in order to accomplish salvation and sanctification in the heart of men: the preaching of the Word, Bible reading and study, singing, prayer, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and godly fellowship with others.]; the most irregular about Sunday services, the most difficult to draw to weekly lectures and prayer meetings, the most inattentive under preaching at all times? Which part of his congregation fills him with most anxiety? Who are the Reubens (Gen 29:32) for whom he has the deepest “searchings of heart”? Who in his flock are the hardest to manage, who require the most frequent warnings and rebukes, who occasion him the greatest uneasiness and sorrow, who keep him most constantly in fear for their souls and seem most hopeless? Depend on it, his answer will always be, “The Young Men.”

Let us ask the parents in any parish throughout England and see what they will generally say. Who in their families give them most pain and trouble? Who need the most watchfulness, and most often vex and disappoint them? Who are the first to be led away from what is right, and the last to remember cautions and good advice? Who are the most difficult to keep in order and bounds? Who most frequently break out into open sin, disgrace the name they bear, make their friends unhappy, embitter the old age of their relations, and bring down grey hairs with sorrow to the grave? Depend on it, the answer will generally be, “The Young Men.”

Let us ask the magistrates and officers of justice, and mark what they will reply. Who go to taverns and beer-shops most? Who are the greatest Sabbath-breakers? Who make up riotous mobs and seditious meetings? Who are oftenest taken up for drunkenness, breaches of the peace, fighting, poaching, stealing, assaults, and the like? Who fill the goals, [local jail house] and penitentiaries, and convict-ships? Who are the class that requires the most incessant watching and looking after? Depend on it, they will at once point to the same quarter—they will say, “The Young Men.”

Let us turn to the upper classes and mark the report we shall get from them. In one family, the sons are always wasting time, health, and money in the selfish pursuit of pleasure. In another, the sons will follow no profession and fritter away the most precious years of their life in doing nothing. In another, they take up a profession as a mere form but pay no attention to its duties. In another, they are always forming wrong connections, gambling, getting into debt, associating with bad companions, keeping their friends in a constant fever of anxiety. Alas, rank, title, wealth, and education do not prevent these things! Anxious fathers, heart-broken mothers, and sorrowing sisters could tell sad tales about them, if the truth were known. Many a family, with everything this world can give, numbers among its connections some name that is never named, or only named with regret and shame—some son, brother, cousin, or nephew—who will have his own way and is a grief to all who know him.

There is seldom a rich family that has not got some thorn in its side, some blot in its page of happiness, some constant source of pain and anxiety. Often, far too often, is not this the true cause: “The Young Men”?

What shall we say to these things? These are facts: plain staring facts, facts that meet us on every side, facts that cannot be denied. How dreadful this is! How dreadful the thought that every time I meet a young man, I meet one who is in all probability an enemy of God, traveling in the broad way that leads to destruction (Mat 7:13), unfit for heaven! Surely, with such facts before me, you must allow there is a cause; you will not wonder that I exhort you!

Study Questions (from Chapel Libary) :

Very Important Note: We ask you to always get your answer from the text, but use your own words in your answer. Please do not merely quote the text for your answer. Rather, read what the text says, think about the meaning of what it says, and summarize the meaning of the text in your own words for your answer. In this way, you will learn much more than simply a “search/find/quote” method for answering the questions.

Read: First, please read the reading text. Please answer the questions below from the information in this chapter. 
Read the Scriptures: The author will refer to Bible verses, it is to your utmost benefit to read the verses.
Read Slowly: Please read slowly enough so you understand what you read. 
Read Prayerfully: Please also pray before each lesson asking the LORD for wisdom to apply what you learn to your life, and to enable you to love Him with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength, for this is the greatest commandment (Mar 12:30).

The author asks four different groups about their concerns for the condition of their
young men. What are the main concerns from each?

  • Ministers
  • Parents
  • Judges and police
  • Upper classes

Making It Personal: Which group’s concerns best describe you? In what way do their concerns describe you?

To God be the glory!

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

5 thoughts on “Few Young People Seem to Have Real Christian Faith

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