Изображения страниц


they saw the foundation of the second laid; and perhaps some pious souls who have sat with great delight under the Author's ministerial shadow, and have found his fruit sweet to their taste, may secretly shed a tear, that, though they here meet with the same Divine truths, the same spiritual matter, yet they want the living voice, the grateful elocution, the natural eloquence, in which that heavenly matter dropped, or rather flowed, from his gracious lips; but let the same consideration which quieted the spirits of those Jews of old, satisfy theirs ; God can fill this house also with his glory. And, though the second edition of the temple fall short of the former in the beauty and symmetry of the structure, yet can the Spirit flow from the press, as well as the pulpit ; with this advantage, that they may here in safety read what with great danger they formerly heard.

I have admired, and must recommend to the observation of the reader, the fruitfulness of the Author's holy invention, accompanied with solid judgment; in that, whereas the coincidence of the matter in this Psalm might have superseded his labours in very many verses, yet, without force or offering violence to the sacred text, he has, either from the connexion of one verse with its predecessor or the harmony between the parts of the same verse, found out new matter to entertain his own meditation and his reader's expectation; nor do I observe more than twelve verses in this large Psalm wholly omitted, if at least they may be said to be omitted, whose subjectmatter is elsewhere copiously handled.

Had the Reverend Author designed these papers for public view, he could not have flattered himself in a cavilling age, that he should escape the severe lashes of envy and malice (those fiends that haunt all things and persons excellent); he must have expected a snarl from the wolf's black mouth, or a kick from the dull ass's hoof; yet on his behalf I demand this justice, that he be not condemned for the printers' crimes. Their venial errors will receive a pardon of course from the ingenuous reader; and, for their mortal transgressions, whereof they are sometimes guilty, either clouding, altering, or perverting the scope of the author, enjoin them (Gentle Reader !) a moderate penance, and then receive them to full absolution, who have voluntarily offered themselves to confession.

Thus much, Christian Reader, it was thy interest and mine to have spoken ; the rest must be to the God of all grace, that he would give thee and this book his blessing, which is the prayer of Thy affectionate Friend and faithful servant in our Lord Jesus,

VINCENT ALSOP. December 13th, 1680








Though the lives of great and excellent persons have been always reckoned a useful piece of history, and scarce any thing is read with greater entertainment, yet it has often happened that they have been undertaken with great disadvantage, and not till the best means of collecting proper materials, either by the neglect of their friends, or the distant publication of their works, have been in a great measure lost. So it was in the Life of the famous Mr. Richard Hooker, which was not undertaken by Mr. Walton till near seventy years after his death. By this means, there is reason to fear some memorable passages were past recovery, after all inquiry, in the lately-published account of that extraordinary person, Mr. John Howe, by Dr. Calamy. And thus it has proved in the present case.

One cannot but wonder that the life of a person of so great worth and general esteem, and who bore so great a part in the public affairs of his own time, was never attempted while his most intimate friends, and they who were best acquainted with the most remarkable passages concerning him, were yet alive. It has been thought, however, not improper, upon this occasion, to retrieve that error, as far as may be; and lay together, in one view, what can be now gathered from some of his relations yet living, from his own writings, and the memoirs of those who published his works, and were cotemporary with him. And it is to be hoped that this short and imperfect account, drawn up under disadvantage indeed, but with strict regard to truth, may do some justice to the memory of so excellent a person, and the interest he espoused, and give some entertainment and instruction to the world.

Dr. Thomas MANTON was born in the year 1620, at Lawrence-Lydiat, in the county of Somerset. His father, and both his grandfathers, were Ministers. He had his school learning at the free school of Tiverton, in Devonshire. He run through his grammatical studies, and was qualified to enter upon academical learning, at the age of fourteen, which was very unusual in those days, when the methods of school learning were more difficult and tedious, and youth designed for the University were commonly detained to eighteen or nineteen years of age. But his parents, either judging him too young, or loth to part with him so soon, kept him some time longer, before he was sent to Oxford. He was placed in Wadham College, in the year 1635; and after preparatory studies, he applied himself to divinity, which was the work his heart was chiefly set


upon, and which he designed to make the business of his life.* By a course of unwearied diligence, joined with great intellectual endowments, he was early qualified for the work of the ministry; and took orders much sooner than was usual, and than he himself approved, upon maturer thoughts, and after he had more experience. There is a remarkable passage to this purpose in his Exposition of James; in which he expresses the humblest acknowledgment of his fault, and which has proved monitory and affecting to others. He delivered it with tears in his eyes : it is on the 19th verse of the first chapter, “Be slow to speak.” “I remember," says he, “my faults this day: I cannot excuse myself from much of crime and sin in it. I have been in the ministry these ten years, and yet not fully completed the thirtieth year of my age: the Lord forgive my rash intrusion.” He was ordained by the excellent Joseph Hall, then Bishop of Exeter, afterwards removed to Norwich; who took particular notice of him upon that occasion, and expressed his apprehensions, " that he would prove an extraordinary person.t" The times when he first entered into the ministry were full of trouble; the King and Parliament being at open variance, and hostilities breaking out on both sides. He was confined to Exeter when it was besieged by the King's forces. After its surrender he went to Lime. He preached his first sermon at Sowton, near Exeter, on those words, "Judge not, that ye be not judged;" a copy of which is now in the hands of a relation. It was some time before he had any fixed place for the exercise of his ministry. He first began at Culliton, in Devonshire, where he preached a weekly lecture, and was much attended and respected. There he had an occasion of reforming the disorderly practice of those who, after the example of a leading gentleman, fell to their private devotion in the congregation, after the public worship was begun. At his coming to London, he was soon taken notice of as a young man of excellent parts, and growing hopes. Here he neither wanted work, nor will to perform it; for he was in the vigour of his youth, and applied himself to it with great diligence and pleasure, for which he was remarkable all his life. About this time he married Mrs. Morgan, who was a daughter of a genteel family of Manston, in Sidbury, Devon; and not Mr. Obadiah Sedgwick's daughter, whom he succeeded in Covent-Garden, as Mr. Wood mistakes it. She was a meek and pious woman, and though of a weak and tender constitution, outlived the Doctor twenty years, who was naturally hale and strong.

He had not been above three years in the ministry before he had his first settlement, which was at Stoke-Newington, in Middlesex, near London. He was presented to this living by the Honourable Colonel

• Anthony Wood (Athenæ Oxon., p. 600) says, he was accounted in his college a hot-headed person ; which is as remote from what was known to be the true character of Dr. Manton, as it is agreeable to his own. If he had not been a hot-headed writer, he would not every where appear so full of prejudice and spite, nor have thrown out so many rash and injudicious reflections upon the best men of the established church, who had any degree of temper and moderation, as well as upon the Nonconformists, and reserved his kindness and tenderness to the popishly-affected and nonjurors.

† Mr. Wood, ubi supra, says, he became a Preacher, though not in holy orders, at Culliton, in Devonshire; and afterwards, that he took orders at Westminster, from Thomas, Bishop of Galloway, in the beginning of 1660. He seems to suppose that he had preached without orders all that time; when he was certainly ordained by Bishop Hall before he was twenty. And though he was ordained only to Deacon's orders, he never would submit to any other ordination. His judgment was, that he was properly ordained to the ministerial office; and that no power on earth had any right to divide and parcel it out.


Pophan, in whom he had a most worthy and kind patron ;* and was highly honoured and esteemed by him and his religious lady. It was here he began and finished his excellent exposition of the Epistle of James, on his week-day lectures; which he carried on without an assistant, besides his constant preaching both parts of the Lord's day. This exposition has been thought, by good judges, to be one of the best models of expounding Scripture; and to have joined together, with the greatest judgment, the critical explication and practical observations upon the several parts. Some time after, he went through the Epistle of Jude. This, though excellent in its kind, is not so strictly expository, but more in a sermon way; which he says was more in compliance with the desires of others, than with his own judgment. This was almost finished while he continued at Newington, and was dedicated to the Lady Popham. It is worth observing with what respect and sense of obligation he treats the Colonel and his lady; and, so contrary to the modern modish way of address, with what faithfulness at the same time he warns them of their temptations and danger. I shall only give the reader a taste of his spirit and expression in his younger years. this inscription,” says he to the Colonel, " the book is become not only mine, but yours. You own the truths to which I have witnessed ; and it will be sad for our account in the day of the Lord, if, after such solemn professions, you and I should be found in a carnal and unregenerate state. Make it your work to honour Him who has advanced you. The differences of high and low, rich and poor, are only calculated for the present world, and cannot outlive time. The grave takes away the civil differences; skulls wear no wreaths, and marks of honour; the small and great are there; the servant is free from his master. So, at the day of judgment, I saw the dead, both great and small, stand before the Lord. None can be exempt from standing before the bar of Christ. When the civil difference ceases, the moral takes place: the distinction then is, good and bad, not great and small. Then you will see that there is no birth like that to be born again of the Spirit; no tenure, like an interest in the covenant; no estate, like the inheritance of the saints ; no magistracy, like that whereby we sit at Christ's right hand, judging angels and men. How will the faces of great men gather blackness, who now flourish in the pomp and splendour of an outward estate ; but then shall become the scorn of God, and of saints and angels; and these holy ones shall come forth, and say, 'Lo, this is the man who made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.' Wealth and power are of no use in that day, unless it be to aggravate and increase the judgment. Many who are now so despicable and obscure that they are lost in the tale and count of the world, shall then be taken into the arms of Christ; he will not be ashamed to confess them before men, and before his Father; • Father, this is one of mine.' So also in heaven, there are none poor ; all the vessels of glory are filled up: if there is any difference in degree, the foundation of it is laid in grace, not in greatness. Greatness hath nothing greater than a heart to be willing, and a power to be able, to do good; then it is a fair resemblance of that perfection which is in God, who differs from man in nothing so much as in the eternity of his being, the infiniteness of his power, and the unweariedness of his love and goodness. It is a fond ambition of men to sever these things ; we all affect to be great, but not good; and would be as gods, not

* See Dedication to the Epistle of James.

a 2

in holiness, but in power. Nothing has cost the creature dearer; it turned angels into devils ; and Adam out of paradise. You will bear with my plainness and freedom; other addresses would neither be comely in me, nor pleasing to you. Our work is not to flatter greatness, but, in the Scripture sense, not in the humour of the age, to level mountains."

In his epistle to Lady Popham, he tells her, “It is a lovely conjunction when goodness and greatness meet together. Persons of estate and respect have more temptations and hinderances than others, but greater obligations to own God. The great Landlord of the world expects rent from every cottage, but a larger revenue from great houses. Now, usually it falls out so, that they who hold the greatest farms pay the least rent. Never is God more neglected and dishonoured than in great men's houses, and in the very face of all his bounty. If religion chance to get in there, it is soon worn out again : though vice lives long in families, and runs in the blood from father to son, it is a rare case to see strictness of religion carried on for three or four descents. It was the honour of Abraham's house, that from father to son, for a long while, they were heirs of the same promise. But where is there such a succession in the families of our gentry?” The causes of which he reduces to "plenty ill governed," which disposes to vice, as a rank soil is apt to breed weeds; and to a certain "false bravery of spirit,” which thinks strictness inglorious, and the power of religion a mean thing; and to "the marriage of children into carnal families," wherein they consult rather with the greatness of their houses, than the continuance of Christ's interest in their line and posterity.

"How careful are they that they match in their own rank for blood and estate. Should they not be as careful for religion also ? All this is spoken, Madam, to quicken you to greater care in your relation, and that you may settle a standing interest for Christ, so hopefully already begun in your house and family. Though your course of life be more private and confined, yet you have your service. The Scripture speaks of women gaining upon their husbands, seasoning the children, encouraging servants in the

ways of godliness, especially of their own sex. It is said of Esther, (c. iv. 16,) 'I also and my maidens will fast likewise.' These maidens were either Jews, (and then it shows what servants should be taken into a nearer attendance, such as savour of religion,) or else, which probable, such as she had instructed in the true religion; for they were appointed her by the eunuch, and were before instructed in the court fashions. (C. ii. 9.) But that did not satisfy; she takes them to instruct them in the knowledge of the true God; and, it seems, in her apartments had opportunity of religious commerce with them in the worship of God."

He continued seven years at Newington, and possessed the general respect of his parishioners, though there were several persons of different sentiments from himself. Being generally esteemed an excellent preacher, he was often employed in that work in London on the week days; and other weighty affairs sometimes called for his attendance there. The custom of preaching to the sons of the clergy begun in his time. Dr. Hall (afterwards Bishop of Chester, and son of the famous Bishop Hall of Norwich) preached the first sermon to them, as Mr. Manton did the second. The sermon is printed at the end of the third volume, in folio, upon Psal. cii. 28. He was several times, though not so often as some others, called to preach before the Parlia


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »