Thomas Manton - Puritan clergyman
Born in Laurence Lydiard, Somerset, Manton was educated locally and then at Hart Hall, Oxford where he graduated BA in 1639. Joseph Hall, bishop of Norwich, ordained him deacon the following year. He never took priest’s orders, holding that he was properly ordained to the ministerial office. He was then appointed town lecturer of Collumpton in Devon. After a profitable few years, he was called to the parish of Stoke Newington in Middlesex in the winter of 1644-1645, and began to build a reputation as a forthright and popular defender of Reformed principles. This led to his participation in several key events, such as the Westminster Assembly and confession publication, and his being asked to preach before Parliament on several occasions.
After ten years in Middlesex, he was appointed to the living of St. Paul’s in Covent Garden. Again he became very popular and continued to exercise a wide influence on public affairs, calling for the restoration of Charles II in 1660. For his part in this he was offered the Deanery of Rochester by the new monarch, but he refused on conscience grounds. He had disapproved of the execution of Charles I. In 1658, he had assisted Richard Baxter to draw up the Fundamentals of Religion. He was one of Oliver Cromwell’s chaplains and a trier.
The Act of Uniformity 1662 saw Manton resign his living with many other Puritans in protest at this attack on their Reformed principles. Despite his lack of patronage, he continued to preach and write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate.
Although Manton is little known now, in his day he was held in as much esteem as men like John Owen. He was best known for his skilled expository preaching. His finest work is probably his Exposition of James.
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