|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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Born in 1620 at Lawrence-Lydiat, Somerset and educated at Wadham College, Oxford. He was ordained to the ministry before his 20th year by the eminent Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter, and became minister at Stoke Newington, in Middlesex, near London. It was here that he delivered and wrote his exposition on the Epistles of James and Jude, which are still being printed today.
After seven years labour in Newington, Manton replaced the aged Obadiah Sedgewick at St. Paul's in Covent Garden, about 1650. When Christopher Love was executed in 1651 for conspiring to call Charles Stuart (later Charles II) to overthrow the Commonwealth, Manton boldly attended him on the scaffold. When it was announced that Manton was to preach Love's funeral, soldiers threatened to shoot him. Manton preached the funeral nevertheless, at Love's church, St. Lawrence Jury, London, (The sermon was printed, entitled "The Saint's Triumph over Death"). In spite of this, in 1653, when Cromwell became Protector of the Commonwealth, he sent for Manton to come and pray at the ceremony. Manton was also appointed a chaplain to the Protector, and was also one of the "Triers" who examined applicants to the ministry.
During this period, the circumstances may have been a bit overwhelming, as this anecdote from his life reveals. After preaching on a difficult subject (chosen to show his ability) before the Lord Mayor of London, a poor man followed him back to Covent Gardens. Tugging on Manton's gown, he said of the previous sermon: "Sir, I came with earnest desires after the Word of God, and hopes of getting some good to my soul, but I was greatly disappointed; for I could not understand a great deal of what you said; you were quite above me." This so affected Manton, that he tearfully replied: "Friend, if I did not give you a sermon, you have given me one; and by the grace of God, I will never again play the fool to preach before my Lord Mayor in such a manner again."
In 1660, Manton, like most other Presbyterians, worked hard to see the restoration of the monarchy. He was sent to Breda to attend to Prince Charles, and was made a king's chaplain, and later made Doctor of Divinity. He was also offered the deanery of Rochester, but declined this. The gratefulness of the mighty is apparent in that Manton was ejected from his church in 1662, along with most other Puritan ministers, and left without a living. He began to hold private meetings in his home, but in 1670 was imprisoned for this. He was soon found preaching to the prisoners and prison keepers, and was soon entrusted with the keys to the cells when the jailer was away. After his release, Manton again appeared before the king and pleaded the case of religious liberty. Manton set up a lecture at Pinner's Hall in 1672, and ministered there on occasion. He was seized by an illness, and this able Puritan preacher, died in his bed in London, aged 57. Manton was buried in the chancel of Stokes Newington, and the funeral sermon was delivered by Dr. William Bates. Manton's works are some of the best examples of Puritan piety and theology, and were printed in 22 volumes. (Gordon Crompton)
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