“Principles for Churchmen” by J. C. Ryle
Internet Archive download: http://archive.org/details/principlesforchu00ryleuoft
One of the more useful secular resources that I have found in my perusal of the internet is the Internet Archive digital library. This website has millions of old books that are no longer under copyright restrictions and which they have now made available for free download in electronic format (pdf, e-reader, etc.). I have personally downloaded pdf versions of dozens of books, including Christian classics by the likes of Calvin, Luther, Hodge, and many, many others.
One book that I discovered, thanks to a reference in one of Tim Challies’ blog posts, is “Principles for Churchmen” by J. C. Ryle, a late 19th century Anglican bishop. And, even though this book was published in 1900, much of what Ryle wrote is still highly relevant to today’s Christians. In a few places the book gets bogged down in the politics and squabbles of the late 19th century Anglican church; but, that said, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I highly recommend this as a good read.
One of my favorite quotes (page 36): “A Church which is a mere boneless body, like a jelly-fish, a colourless, bloodless, creedless Pantheon, in which every one is right and nobody is wrong who is in earnest, and in which it does not matter a jot what is preached and taught, so long as the preachers are sincere,—such a Church is an unpractical absurdity, and the baseless fabric of a dream. The Church which abandons all “limits,” and will not proclaim to mankind what it believes, or would have its members believe, may do very well for Cloudland or Utopia; but it will never do for a world where there are tears and crosses, troubles and sorrows, sickness and death.”
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.