In his own day, Manton was known as “the King of Preachers” [Ralph Thoresby] and his funeral was “attended with the vastest number of ministers of all persuasions, etc., that ever I saw together in my life” [Thoresby].  He was, in the words of Beeke and Pederson, “a model of consistent, rigorous Calvinism.”  He was a convinced but irenic Presbyterian, overseeing the reprinting of Smectymnuus in 1653.  J. C. Ryle stated that “if there was one name which, more than another, was incessantly before the public for several years about the period of the Restoration, that name was Manton’s.”  Additionally, Manton was chosen to write the preface to the documents of the Westminster Assembly, again emphasizing the respect in which he was widely held…

Some controversy has arisen over Manton’s theological stance because of his appreciation of Richard Baxter.  Manton stated that “he thought Mr. Baxter came the nearest the apostolical inspired writers of any man of the age” [Edmund Calamy] and that “he did not look upon himself as worthy to carry his Books after him” [William Harris].  Given Baxter’s deviation from the standard Reformed stances on the topics of justification and atonement and his position on the free offer of the gospel…did Manton’s respect for Baxter extend to an appropriation of his controversial theology?  David Field considers this question briefly and concludes that, while he “theologically…went half way to Baxter” and “may have stood theologically nearer Baxter…than he did to Owen,” nonetheless, his “treatment of justification is fully in line with the Westminster Confession…and he strongly asserts particular redemption over against an Amyraldian understanding of the atonement.”

From: James Durham (1622-1658) and the Gospel Offer in its Seventeenth-Century Context by Donald John MacLean; Reformed Historical Theology series, Volume 31 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), pp. 198-199.

Donald John MacLean is Research Supervisor at Wales Evangelical School of Theology and Visiting Lecturer at City University in London.

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