Ryland, John (1753-1825) (DNB00)

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RYLAND, JOHN (1753–1825), baptist minister, son of John Collett Ryland [q. v.], was born at Warwick on 29 Jan. 1753. He learnt Hebrew when only five years old, and Greek when under nine, and before he was fifteen began teaching in his father's school. On 13 Sept. 1767 he was baptised in the river Nen, near Northampton, and, after preaching at small gatherings of baptists from 1769, was formally admitted into the ministry on 10 March 1771. Until his twenty-fifth year he assisted his father in his school at Northampton, and in 1781 was associated with him in the charge of his church. On his father's retirement in 1786, he was entrusted with the sole charge of the congregation.

In December 1793 Ryland became minister of the Broadmead chapel at Bristol, combining with the post the presidency of the baptist college at Bristol. These positions he retained until his death. He joined, on 2 Oct. 1792, in founding the Baptist Missionary Society, and acted as its secretary from 1815 until his death at Bristol on 25 May 1825. On 2 June he was buried in the ground adjoining Broadmead chapel, and on 5 June Robert Hall, who succeeded him in his church, preached a memorial sermon (published separately in 1825, and included in Hall's ‘Works,’ i. 369–414). Portraits of Ryland, painted by J. Russell and J. Burgniss, were engraved respectively by R. Houston (1775) and J. Thornthwaite. There are other engravings by J. Goldar and Granger. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Brown University, Rhode Island, in 1792. Ryland married, on 12 Jan. 1780, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Tyler of Banbury, who died on 23 Jan. 1787, a few weeks after the birth of her only child. His second wife was Frances, eldest daughter of William Barrett of Northampton, whom he married on 18 June 1789. She survived him, with one son, Jonathan Edwards Ryland [q. v.], and three daughters.

Ryland's reading was ‘various and extensive;’ he was a profound oriental scholar, and he had a passion for natural history. Though not a great preacher, he possessed, through his learning and uprightness, a great influence among the baptists. His views were Calvinistic, but in middle life he grew to sympathise with the opinions of Jonathan Edwards, and was more tolerant towards those who differed from him. He is said to have preached no fewer than 8,691 sermons. A considerable number of manuscripts and sermons by him are at the College Street church, Northampton, and the baptist college, Bristol. Among his friends were William Carey, Dr. John Erskine, Andrew Fuller, Robert Hall, John Newton, Dr. John Rippon, and Thomas Scott.

Numerous sermons and charges were published by Ryland, and he drew up many recommendatory prefaces for religious works and for biographies of his friends. His chief works were: 1. ‘The Plagues of Egypt, by a School-boy thirteen years of Age,’ n. p. or d. [1766] (cf. Halkett and Laing, Dict. of Anonymous Lit. iii. 1918). 2. ‘Serious Essays on the Truths of the Gospel,’ 1771 (consisting of 121 pieces in verse); 2nd edit. corrected and enlarged, 1775; 3rd edit. revised by the Rev. J. A. Jones, 1829. 3. ‘The Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; a Poem,’ 1772. 4. ‘The Faithfulness of God in His Word evinced,’ 1773 (a poetic rendering of the first argument of Robert Fleming the elder in his work on ‘The Fulfilment of Scripture’). 5. ‘Compendious View of the Principal Truths of the Gospel,’ 1774. 6. ‘Salvation Finished: a Funeral Sermon on Robert Hall senior; with an Appendix on the Church at Arnsby,’ 1791; 2nd edit. revised by the Rev. J. A. Jones, 1850. 7. ‘Earnest Charge of an Affectionate Pastor,’ 1794. 8. ‘Christianæ Militiæ Viaticum; a brief Directory for Evangelical Ministers;’ 2nd edit. 1798; 6th edit. 1825. 9. ‘Candid Statement of the Reasons for the Baptists,’ 1814 and 1827. 10. ‘Memoir of the Rev. Andrew Fuller,’ 1816 and 1818. 11. ‘Serious Remarks on the different Representations of Evangelical Doctrine,’ pt. i. 1817, pt. ii. 1818. Two volumes of ‘Pastoral Memorials,’ consisting of abstracts of some of his sermons, twenty-five of his hymns, and a short memoir, by his son, were published after his death (vol. i. in 1826 and vol. ii. in 1828).

Ryland was a popular hymn-writer. His earliest hymns appeared in the ‘Serious Essays’ (1771). Others appeared in the religious magazines between 1770 and 1790, and twenty-five were included in the ‘Pastoral Memorials.’ Ninety-nine ‘Hymns and Verses on Sacred subjects’ (mainly from unpublished manuscripts), with a biographical sketch, came out in 1862. Ryland's hymns are simple in thought and language, and lack passion or poetry. Thirteen of them are in common use (Julian, Hymnology).

[Memoir added to Pastoral Memorials, vol. ii.; Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, pp. 623–625; Tyerman's Oxford Methodists; Life of Rowland Hill, 1834, p. 92; Life of Simeon, p. 48; Cox's Baptist Missionary Soc. i. 1–290; Swaine's Men at Bristol Baptist Coll. passim.]

W. P. C.