More from Manton

It’s been a while since I posted from Thomas Manton – his writings contain an embarrassment of riches on the free offer.  He has a series of sermons on Is 53 in vol 3 of his works (which I’m sure would make an interesting comparative study relative to Durham’s sermons on the same chapter if I had the time) .  One particularly important sermon is on Is 53:6 and this sermon sheds light on Manton’s understanding of the universal passages of scripture, as related to the extent of the atonement.  As interesting as this would be to post on I want to focus on a short section right at the end of his sermon which begins:

Though the efficacy and benefits be certainly intended to believers, yet God’s offer of Christ, and the publication of the gospel is general: Isa. lv. 1, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters;’ Rev. xxii. 17, Whsoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’   Such commands being rather an intimation of what he would have us do than what he intendeth we shall do; of the creature’s duty rather than of God’s [decretive] will.  It is the will of God’s pleasure that they ought to seek after an interest in Christ.  So it is said, 1 Tim ii. 4, ‘God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth;’ voluntate praecepti, by the will of his command: and by virtue of this we are bidden to preach the gospel to every creature, Mark xvi. 16.  To the making it effectual, there is required not only God’s will, but God’s grace…
Thomas Manton, Works, 3:334

Now there is much here to comment on:

  1. Though the atonement is particular yet the offer of Christ is not limited but universal.
  2. We need to distinguish between the will of decree and the command.  Once we have done this we are perfectly at liberty to use the language of God’s willingness to save sinners.
  3. This willingness, in the sense of will of command, is for Manton the foundation of the gospel offer.
  4. Note Manton’s universal understanding of 1 Tim 2:4.  It is therefore inappropriate to speak of one “Calvinist” or “Augustinian” understanding of this verse, if by that is meant the text is limited by all “Calvinists” to the elect.

But we have a question here that we must address – given God’s universal sovereignty how can God be sincere in this offer?  Manton addresses this by arguing God is “serious,” “in earnest,” he “mocks no man.”  Manton offers three arguments to prove that “God is serious and in good earnest in these offers” (3:334):

  1. We know God is serious “by his entreaties.”  God “beseecheth you to take him.”  Texts such as Ezek 33:11, 2 Cor 5:20 are in scripture “to show that he is sincere and in earnest with all men.” (3:334).
  2. “Because it suiteth more with his delight that you should take hold of these offers and not refuse them.”  (3:334).  Again the text cited is Ezek 33:11.  Speaking of God’s “approbation or delight” he prefers that we accept than refuse the gospel offer.
  3. We know God is serious in offering Christ to us because he is angry when we refuse.  If God was not serious in his offers how could he be angry when we refuse?  Manton cites John 5:40 and Matt 23:37. (3:335).

Such is a Puritan defence of God’s sincerity of the gospel offer!

6 Responses to “More from Manton”

  1. Marty Foord Says:

    Dear Donald,

    Great stuff! I myself am currently reading Manton on the free offer and a few other bits ‘n pieces. He’s magnificent IMHO.

    BTW where are you situated? UK? Antarctica? US?



  2. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Marty

    Yes, Manton is very good at getting the balance right here – his exegesis of some key free offer texts reads much better than Owen’s to me (esp his DoD exegesis).

    I’m based in a small Yorkshire town at the moment Thirsk – probably 3hrs from Cambridge by train. I’ll be coming down to Cambridge for the John Owen Conference. Someone is speaking on John Owen’s view of the free offer – which I’m looking forward to 🙂 Hopefully we can catch up then.

    Every blessing

  3. Marty Foord Says:

    Hey Donald,

    Cool! I look forward to meeting you.

    God bless,


  4. Adam Richardson Says:

    Dear Donald – Love your blog. Great work on Durham! I just started a PhD on Manton. My supervisor is John Coffey out of Leicester. I am living in Cambridge and typing this from tyndale house. Would love to correspond more on Manton. I just spoke to Derek Cooper this morning. I hope we can meet sometime as well. All the best.

  5. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Adam

    Thanks, I’ll be in touch. Yes, would be great to have a coffee some time.

    Every blessing!

  6. Adam Richardson Says:

    Hi Donald – Looking forward to it. Call me sometime (07552 339599) or send me a note to Looking forward to meeting sometime.

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