By Thomas Manton (1620–1677)
He doth not say…
‘And thy kingdom come;’ they are propounded as distinct sentences: but, ‘Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,’ for three reasons:—
[1.] Without pardon all the good things of this life will do us no good. They are but as a full diet, or as a rich suit, to a condemned person; they will not comfort him and allay his present fears. Until we are pardoned, we are under a sentence, ready for execution and therefore we cannot have that comfort in outward things until we have some interest in God’s fatherly mercy. A man that is condemned hath the king’s allowance until execution. So it is the indulgence of God to a wicked man to give him many outward things, though he is condemned already. We should not satisfy ourselves with daily bread without a sense of some interest in pardoning mercy.
[2.] To show us our unworthiness. Our sins are so many and grievous that we are not worthy of one morsel of bread to put in our mouths. When we say, ‘ Give us this day,’ &c., we need presently to say, ‘ Forgive us our sins.’ There is a forfeiture even of these common blessings: Gen. xxxii. 10, ‘ I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant.’ All that we have we have from mercy, and it is mercy undeserved. As we are creatures, there can be no common right between God and us to engage him to give temporal blessings, for we owe ourselves wholly to him, as being created out of nothing. Children cannot oblige their parents. But much more, as we are guilty creatures, it is merely of the mercy of the Lord.
[3.] These are joined together because sin is the great obstacle and hindrance of all the blessings which we expect from God: Jer. v. 25, ‘ Your sins have withheld good things from you.’ When mercy comes to us, sin stands in the way and turns it back again, so that it cannot have so clear a passage to us. Therefore God must forgive before he can give, that is, bestow these outward things as a blessing on us.
Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was an English Puritan clergyman. Thomas Manton was invited to preach before Parliament on at least six occasions. The first occasion was on June 30, 1647, which was a fast day for Parliament. His sermon was based on Zechariah 14:9 and entitled, “Meat out of the Eater; or, Hopes of Unity in and by Divided and Distracted Times.”
Exactly one year later, on June 30, 1648, he preached another fast sermon on Revelation 3:20, “England’s Spiritual Languishing; with the Causes and the Cure.” He also participated in the Westminster Assembly as one of three clerks, was later appointed to write a preface to the second edition of the Westminster Confession in 1658, and served Oliver Cromwell as a chaplain and a trier (an overseeing body that examined men for the ministry).
In 1656 he moved to London as he was appointed as a lecturer at Westminster Abbey and most importantly as rector of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, succeeding Obadiah Sedgwick. During this time Cromwell died and England entered a period of great uncertainty. This led Presbyterians such as Manton to call for the restoration of Charles II in 1660, traveling along with others to Breda, The Netherlands, to negotiate his return. After Charles returned, Manton was part of the negotiations called the Savoy Conference, in which the scruples of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists concerning the Prayer Book were formally discussed. Yet since the Cavalier Parliament was filled with Laudians, 1662 saw the enactment of the Act of Uniformity 1662. All ministers were to be ordained or re-ordained by a bishop, they were to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant, promise loyalty to the Prayer Book, and subscribe the Thirty-Nine Articles. Since Manton was on favorable terms with Charles II he was offered the Deanery of Rochester, but he refused on conscience grounds.
Manton’s last years were tumultuous. The Act of Uniformity led to the “Great Ejection.” On August 17, 1662, Manton preached his last sermon at Covent Garden on Hebrews 12:1. He also continued to write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate for six months in 1670 in violation of the Conventicle Act. 1672 saw the Declaration of Indulgence, in which men like Manton were granted a license to preach at home. Manton then became a lecturer at Pinner’s Hall for the so-called “morning exercises.” Parliament, though, revoked this Indulgence the year after. Manton would later die on October 18, 1677, and was survived by his wife and three children.