The following is taken from the preface to Ryle’s Coming Events and Present Duties, most recently republished by Christian Focus as Are You Ready for the End of Time?
One thing only I wish to premise, before making my statement. The reader must distinctly understand that I do not put forth my prophetical views as articles of faith — but only as my private opinions. I do not say that nobody can be saved, who does not agree with me about prophecy. I am not infallible. I am very sensible that holier and better men than myself, do not see these subjects with my eyes, and think me utterly mistaken. I condemn nobody. I judge nobody. I only ask liberty to hold and state distinctly my own views. The day will decide who is right. It is the new heart, and faith in Christ’s blood — which are absolutely necessary to salvation. The man who knows these two things experimentally, may be wrong about prophecy — but he will not miss Heaven.
The following, then, are the chief articles of my prophetic creed:
1. I believe that the world will never be completely converted to Christianity by any existing agency, before the end comes. In spite of all that can be done by ministers, churches, schools, and missions — the wheat and the tares will grow together until the harvest; and when the end comes, it will find the earth in much the same state that it was when the flood came in the days of Noah. (Matthew 13:24-30; 24:37-39.)
2. I believe that the wide-spread unbelief, indifference, formalism, and wickedness, which are to be seen throughout Christendom — are only what we are taught to expect in God’s Word. Troublous times, departures from the faith, evil men waxing worse and worse, love waxing cold — are things distinctly predicted. So far from making me doubt the truth of Christianity, they help to confirm my faith. Melancholy and sorrowful as the sight is, if I did not see it — I would think the Bible was not true. (Matthew 24:12; 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1, 4, 13.)
3. I believe that the grand purpose of the present dispensation is to gather out of the world an elect people — and not to convert all mankind. It does not surprise me at all to hear that the heathen are not all converted when missionaries preach, and that believers are but a little flock in any congregation in my own land. It is precisely the state of things which I expect to find. The Gospel is to be preached “as a witness,” and then shall the end come. This is the dispensation of election, and not of universal conversion. (Acts 15:14; Matthew 24. 14.)
4. I believe that the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the great event which will wind up the present dispensation, and for which we ought daily to long and pray. “May Your kingdom come!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” should be our daily prayer. We look backward, if we have faith, to Christ dying on the cross; and we ought to look forward no less, if we have hope, to Christ coming again. (John 14:3; 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:12.)
5. I believe that the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be a real, literal, personal, bodily coming; and that as He went away in the clouds of Heaven with His body, before the eyes of men — so in like manner He will return. (Acts 1:11.)
6. I believe that after our Lord Jesus Christ comes again, the earth shall be renewed, and the curse removed; the devil shall be bound, the godly shall be rewarded, the wicked shall be punished; and that before He comes, there shall be neither resurrection, judgment, nor millennium, and that not until after He comes, shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Revelation 20:1, etc.)
7. I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ, after going through great tribulation. (Jeremiah 30:10, 11; 31:10; Romans 11:25, 26; Daniel 12:1; Zech. 13. 8, 9.)
8. I believe that the literal sense of Old Testament prophecies has been far too much neglected by the Churches, and is far too much neglected at the present day, and that under the mistaken system of spiritualizing and accommodating Bible language, Christians have too often completely missed its meaning. (Luke 24:25, 26.)
9. I do not believe that the preterist scheme of interpreting the Apocalypse, which regards the book as almost entirely fulfilled; or the futurist scheme, which regards it as almost entirely unfulfilled — are either of them to be implicitly followed. The truth, I expect, will be found to lie between the two.
10. I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the great predicted apostasy from the faith, and is Babylon and Antichrist; although I think it highly probable that a more complete development of Antichrist will yet be exhibited to the world. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-11; 1 Timothy4:1-3.)
11. Finally, I believe that it is for the safety, happiness, and comfort of all true Christians, to expect as little as possible from Churches or Governments under the present dispensation — to hold themselves ready for tremendous convulsions and changes of all things established — and to expect their good things only from Christ’s second advent.