Thomas Manton on the Ministry

One of the points I bring up in my thesis regards Durham’s view of the work of the ministry and how that relates to the free offer.  For Durham the great goal and aim of the ministry is as follows:

The great work of the ministers of the gospel is to invite unto, and to endeavour to bring this marriage between Christ and souls to a close.
The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, p55

Because of this understanding of the ministry the free offer is obviously of foundational importance for Durham.  Preaching on one of Durham’s favourite “free offer” texts (2 Cor 5:20) Thomas Manton says the following:

The great business of the ministers of the gospel is to persuade men to reconciliation with God.
Works, 13:295

Here Manton and Durham are in perfect alignment.  Manton expands on this later in his sermon, highlighting the solemn responsibility of ministers to discharge this great duty of theirs:

These messengers [preachers] are under a charge to manage God’s message with all wisdom and faithfulness, and diligence, Mark xvi. 15,16, to preach the gospel to every creature, to rich and poor, learned and unlearned.  And woe be to them if they be not diligent, warning every man, and teaching every man, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, Col i.28 … If we have respect to our Lord we must be diligent in offering peace to all that are willing to repent and believe … You know the temptations, prejudices, and hatred of those you have to do with; therefore pray them to be reconciled.
Manton, Works, 13:302

Those who win souls are wise (Prov 11:30), may the Lord raise up preachers whose great desire is to be used by the Lord to turn many to righteousness (Dan 12:3).

On a related note I’m beginning to settle on studying Manton in depth when I finish Durham.  I think exploring Manton’s theology relative to the orthodoxy of Owen and the views of the proponents of Rigide Calvinisme in a Softer Dresse (Baxter, Howe etc) would be a worthwhile piece of work.

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7 Responses to “Thomas Manton on the Ministry”

  1. Marty Foord Says:

    Dear Donald,

    Comparing Manton and Owen would be an excellent project. Let me encourage you to do it! BTW tell me more about the proponents of Calvinism in a softer dress? I haven’t read the book as yet. Is it worth looking into? What are they on about?

    Blessings,

    Marty.

  2. Steven Carr Says:

    You are just in time to start looking into Manton. His works are finally available. The cheapest I’ve seen them so far is at Reformation Heritage Books for $350. Manton is definitely worth studying. I look forward to your new blog “the Thomas Manton Thesis.”

  3. David Says:

    Hey Marty,

    The Fields book is worth reading. Rigide Calvinisme by fields is worth reading. The problem I had with the book was that the documentation for Howe’s “amyraldianism” is a little lite. Fields has one footnote with the citations, but from a hard-to-get edition.

    Marty, pick up a copy of the Fields book while you are in the UK.

    On another note, I found this interesting comment in this new book:
    “Howe encouraged Baxter to pursue his work on universal redemption since, though ‘Davenant and Amyraldus may have spoken many of your thoughts, their booked so not commonly fall into the hands of young scholars… as yours are like to do.” The Prose Works of Andrew Marvell, 2:390.

    On Manton, I still think he straddles a position between Howe/Baxter on the one hand, and Owen on the other. I never did come to terms on whether or not Manton merely spoke nominally of universal sin-bearing or not.

    David

  4. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Marty

    I’ve not read Field’s work in its entirety so I cant speak to it fully but what I’ve read was useful. His appendix on the extent of moderate presbyterianism made interesting reading. His definition of moderate presbyterianism included i) Amyraldianism ii) Neonomianism iii) Opposition to antinomianism iv) Liberal rationalism v) Reluctant dissent.

    Steve

    I doubt I’ll start the work on Manton until the beginning of the 09 academic year (September/October) so there is plenty James Durham thesis to go yet. I’ll also need to decide where to do the Manton study and find a willing supervisor!

    David

    FWIW Field states Manton “strongly asserted particular redemption over against an Amyraldian understanding of the atonement” (p169). Manton’s exegesis of certain verses is of course at variance with Owen in DoD.

    Every blessing
    Donald John

  5. Marty Foord Says:

    Donald and David:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve ordered a copy, and yes, it’s so much cheaper now I’m in the UK!

    Donald:

    Where are you doing your thesis at the moment? And what places are you thinking about for a doctorate?

    David:

    That is a fascinating quote you’ve dredged up. I’ve spent all day in Lombard and Aquinas just sorting out how they read Ezek. 33:11, Matt. 23:37, and 1 Tim. 2:4. Interesting indeed.

    Best wishes,

    Marty.

  6. David Says:

    Hey Marty and Donald,

    Marty, that should be interesting to compare your results. Vermigli was a close student of Aquinas’ works. A lot of Vermigi’s constructions echo Thomas’ even tho he will side more with Augustine at points. I will be interested in what you find in Thomas especially.

    Donald, sadly I returned my borrowed copy of Fields’ book. Amazon.com in the US still does not stock it.

    I am still perplexed by Manton tho. I want to hold judgement until I can get back into his works, or see something solid. I just know that as I was reading him, I kept thinking this guy must have been an amazing Nominalist in his use of terms if he sided on the high side of the house. 🙂

    As a little aside, its not just his exegesis that differs with DoD, but his view of the nature of the satisfaction, Donald. Manton is on the side that leans to the idea that Christ effected and equivalent satisfaction (which side we now simplistically mis-lump as Grotian).

    Thanks and take care,
    David

  7. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Marty

    I’m studying at Wales Evangelical School of Theology (www.west.org.uk) – their degrees come from the University of Wales (Lampeter). I’d ideally like to do my PhD at Cambridge but I’ve not approached anyone there yet. There are other options as well e.g. Durham or I could continue at WEST as I really like my supervisor here as he strikes a good balance between independent study and helpful direction. The first thing thought is to get my MPhil wrapped up this year to give me 9 months or so to devote to intensive Latin work!

    Every blessing
    Donald John

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