Walking with Thomas Manton

This week, I caught the omnibus to Broughton Hall. I had arranged to inspect the medieval church between Broughton and Elslack, the church warden kindly agreeing to admit me at midday. It was a bitterly cold, freezing day, but the sun was shining brightly and the sky a pleasant blue, so I resolved to return home on Shanks’ Pony. I set off at one hour after noon and crossed my threshold by the third. Two hours of pleasant walking, yet I thought it good to keep godly company as I strolled. On my Walkman was a sermon by Thomas Manton: The Preference of Duties: Morals Before Rituals. Although read by some North American, Manton was an Englishman and chaplain to Oliver Cromwell while also minister at Covent Garden. He suffered imprisonment and persecution upon the monarchy’s return; truly, his faith was tried by fire. He made many fine observations, but his main thrust was that some sins were worse than others; they who perform ritual beautifully but live immorally are condemned; they who sacrifice generously but refuse obedience do not honour God. He suggested that stealing was a worse sin than not giving.

This latter claim set me thinking. Stealing surely is indeed worse, as it is specifically named in the decalogue, yet not giving is surely another from of theft. We are told that the Lord loves a generous giver, not that He loves a meek preserver and respecter of others’ goods. They who decline to steal are innocent of theft and not deserving of wrath; they who give generously warrant His love and affection, and warrant commendation. Do not just avoid sin, but do good! Don't just decline evil, but actively engage righteousness. You are no thief? Well done! Now go and give. 

Doctrine is only the drawing of the bow; application is hitting the mark. - Manton

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

Top image: Gustavus Ellinthorpe Sintzenich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons