Manton, Thomas, Dd
Manton, Thomas, D.D.
one of the most eminent of the Puritan divines of the 17th century, was born in 1620 at Lawrence-Lydiard, Somerset, England. His father and both his grandfathers were ministers. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, and received orders from bishop Hall before he had attained the age of twenty, being regarded by the good prelate as an extraordinary young man. The greatness of his character displayed itself even at this early age. Believing that admission to deacon's orders constituted authority to preach, he steadfastly refused priest's orders after having received deacon's. After staying a short time at Colyton, in Devonshire, he removed to London, and was printed in 1643 with the living of Stoke-Newington, near London. Here he prepared and afterwards published his Expositions of James and Jude. (The former was published in 1651; edited by Sherman, 1840, royal 8vo; edited by M'Donough, 1842, 8vo: the latter was published in 1658, 4to; new ed. 1838, 8vo.) During the Revolution he was frequently called to preach before Parliament, where he had the courage to speak against the death of the king. though he gave great offense. In 1653 he was chosen preacher of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, where he had a numerous congregation of persons of great note and rank, and was eminently successful in his ministry. Joining in the Rebellion, he became one of the chaplains to the protector, and one of the committee for examining ministers under the commonwealth. He was forward, however, to promote the Restoration in 1660, was chosen one of the king's chaplains, and was also honored by Oxford at this time with the degree of D.D. by special request of king Charles II. In 1661 he was offered the deanery of Rochester, but this position he refused. Like Baxter, he clung to the last to the hope that a scheme of comprehension might be carried for the Presbyterians; and he had yielded so far as to receive episcopal institution from Sheldon to permit the reading of the Common Prayer in his church, but when he clearly saw that there was peace only within the Establishment, and by an utter abandonment of all Puritan principles, he let the deanery go, content to remain in the position he was then filling. The passing of the Act of Uniformity forced him into the ranks of the Nonconformists. Efforts were made by Calamy, Manton, and Bates, the leaders of those Presbyterians who still hoped for redress, to secure their rights from the king by personal interview, and they even received encouragement from Charles II of a favorable change, who "promised to restore them to their employments and places again, as pitying that such men should lie vacant" (Stoughton, 1:302). But the king proved false, and the Puritans lost their places. Among the Nonconformist ministers who would not quit the pulpit until forced was Thomas Manton. Deprived of a church, he opened his rooms in Covent Garden, and there gathered a congregation. Here the Oxford oath was tendered to him, and on refusal he was committed a prisoner to the Gate-house, and was kept confined for six months. He died Oct. 18, 1677. Perhaps few men of that age had more virtue and fewer failings; but his only trust was in the Lamb of God. As a preacher he was most highly esteemed by his contemporaries. Usher calls him "one of the best preachers in England." As a practical expositor of Scripture he was perhaps never surpassed. He left numerous writings, chiefly sermons and expositions. A collective edition of his works was published in 5 vols. 8vo, in 1681-84-89-93-1701, with Life by Dr. William Harris; but this collection is incomplete. A list of all his productions is given by Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. 1:1953-56. The publication of a complete collection of his works, prepared under the supervision of the Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D., and others, with full indexes and an original memoir by the Rev. J. C. Ryle, was begun in 1869, and is to be completed, in 20 vols. demy 8vo, in 1874. See the excellent article in Allibone's Dictionary of British and American Authors, vol. 2, s.v.; Hook, Ecclesiastical Biogr. vol. 7, s.v.; Middleton, Evangelical Biography, 3:429. (J. H. W.)