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Review by James Jeffery
“What’s the best advice a young man can receive?”
It’s a question we not only ask today in the 21st century, but one which has been pondered for hundreds of years. Addresses to Young Men by John Angell James deals with this critical question in a variety of ways. It is a roadmap for young men that Angell James writes to equip and prepare young men to face the storms of life, anchored in Christ.
The prince of preachers — Charles Spurgeon — was able to say of John Angell James:
“There is no name I think just now that ought to be more venerated than his.”
Soli Deo Gloria Publications once again delivers another goldmine of Biblical truth in an accessible and digestible tome, and there are three key reasons you need to read Addresses to Young Men.
Angell James writes in a simple, easy-to-understand, and immensely practical way. Far from being an obscure academic textbook, Addresses to Young Men contains a collection of essays which tackle the vices and issues faced by all young men, regardless of socioeconomic status or worldly employment. Angell James walks readers through topics such as business, emigration, and managing one’s household from a Christian perspective.
On the topic of industriousness in work, he writes:
“Genuine religion, the parent of sound morality (and no religion is genuine that does not produce morality) is the surest guide to success in this world; other things being equal, he will be almost certain to be the most successful tradesman, who is the most consistent Christian.” (p. 19)
On the matter of temptation, he warns young men:
“There is no vice against which you have more need to be warned than sensuality. It is that which your age, your situation, and your temptations expose you… Three thousand years, with all their warnings and experience, have not banished the “strange woman” from society, nor driven the female tempter from our streets… Was not idleness the parent of this mischief?... He that would not fall into sin, must not go into the way of temptation” (pp. 209-210)
We often hear the idea that the responsibility of education lies in the hands of parents, schools, and institutions. While there is certainly truth in this, Angell James reminds us that education is primarily our responsibility as men of God:
“It is not in the power of man or woman, or of all men and women combined, to educate a young person, if he will not be educated, or if he does not determine to be well trained. The intellect is not a cup or a bottle into which knowledge can be poured, whether the mind will receive it or not” (p. 16)
Self-education and feeding, Angell James argues, is the lifelong developing and maturing of one’s soul with the resources God has provided. In an age of victimhood, this message is sorely needed.
Using the biography of Joseph in Scripture, Angell James shows that faith in God matures young boys into valiant warriors for Christ — men whose lives are marked by prayerfulness, integrity, and a godly strength.
"...first of all, let us look at Joseph in that situation where the germ of all his future excellences began to develop, his father’s tent. There, were laid, in his filial piety and his true religion, the foundations of that noble and lofty character which all nations and ages have delighted to contemplate” (p. 166)
If you are a young man, I believe this book is invaluable to read over and ponder, either by yourself, or with others in a small group. Though it was written close to 200 years ago, it contains timeless Biblical truths.
I would also recommend this book to fathers of teens, either to read yourself, or to use as a tool in discipling your son/s. In a world that lacks godly men, how great is the need for theologically rich and immensely practical resources like this.