Baptists We Should Know: John Ryland (1753–1825)

Dr. Mark Rasmussen

In a day when more and more people feel that young people are exempted from a life of service, one could be challenged by the life of John Ryland. John Ryland was born at Warwick, England, on January 29, 1753. He was the son of a pastor, John Collett Ryland. His father was a passionate scholar of Hebrew, and this interest passed on to his son, who by the age of five was able to read and translate Psalm 23 in Hebrew.

At age fourteen John Ryland accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour and was baptized by his father in September of 1767. At age eighteen, he began to preach at a church in Northampton. He also helped to teach in a private school with his father. While in his twenties, he was called by his father’s home church to become co-pastor with his father. In 1786, he became the senior pastor of the church. By 1792, he moved his ministry to the city of Bristol, England, where he began to pastor a church and became president of a college. For over thirty years he served with sterling character and testimony. He ministered not only in his home church in Bristol, but reached out to many churches throughout England.

Ryland had a heart for missions and helped to form a large missionary society. Ryland also encouraged Americans to support missions as well. One biographer, John Foster, said that Ryland as a preacher “excelled in a variety of topics and ideas. To the end of his life he was a great reader.”
Ryland died in May of 1825, at age seventy-three with his hands still cleaving to the Sword. He was faithful until the Lord called him home.