Tag Archives: God is good

“As an expositor of Scripture, I regard Manton with unmingled admiration” by J.C. Ryle

“As an expositor of Scripture, I regard Manton with unmingled admiration. Here, at any rate, he is ‘facile princeps’ (‘easily the first or best’) among the divines of the Puritan school.

The value of expository preaching is continually pressed on ministers in the present day, and not without reason.

The end of all preaching is to bring men under the influence of God’s Word; and nothing seems so likely to make men understand and value the Word as lectures in which the Word is explained.

It was so in Chrysostom’s days; it ought to be so again. The idea, no doubt, like every good theory, may be easily ridden to death; and I believe that with ignorant, semi-heathen congregations, a short pithy text often does more good than a long passage expounded.

But I have no doubt of the immense value of expository preaching, when people will bring their Bibles to the service, and accompany the preacher as he travels on, or go home to their Bibles after the service, and compare what they have heard with the written Word.

I hold it to be a prime excellence of Manton’s expository sermons that, while they are very full, they are never too long.

For my own part, I am painfully struck with the general neglect with which these expository works of Manton’s have been treated of late. Modern commentators who are very familiar with German commentaries seem hardly to know of the existence of Manton’s expositions.

Yet I venture boldly to say, that no student of the chapters I have named will ever fail to find new light thrown on their meaning by Manton. I rejoice to think that now at length these valuable works are about to become accessible to the general public.

They have been too long buried, and it is high time they should be brought to light. I value their author most highly as a man, a writer, and a theologian; but if I must speak out all I think, there is no part in which I value him more than as a homiletical expositor of Scripture.

It only remains for me to express my earnest hope that this new edition of Manton’s works may prove acceptable to the public, and meet with many purchasers and readers.

If any one wants to buy a good specimen of a Puritan divine, my advice unhesitatingly is, ‘Let him buy Manton.’

We have fallen upon evil days both for thinking and reading. Sermons which contain thought and matter are increasingly rare.

The inexpressible shallownesss, thinness, and superficiality of many popular sermons in this day is something lamentable and appalling.

Readers of real books appear to become fewer and fewer every year. Newspapers, and magazines, and periodicals seem to absorb the whole reading powers of the rising generation. What it will all end in God only knows.

The prospect before us is sorrowful and humiliating.

In days like these, I am thankful that the publishers of Manton’s Works have boldly come forward to offer some real literary gold to the reading public. I earnestly trust that they will meet with the success which they deserve.

If any recommendation of mine can help them in bringing out the writings of this admirable Puritan in a new form, I give it cheerfully and with all my heart.

J.C. RYLE,
Vicar of Stradbroke, Suffolk.
29th October 1870.”

–J.C. Ryle, “An Estimate of Thomas Manton,” in Thomas Manton, The Works of Thomas Manton, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1871/2020), 2: xvii–xix.

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“Our safety lieth in God’s immutability” by Thomas Manton

“The Lord is unchangeable in holiness and glory. He is a sun that shineth always with a like brightness.

God, and all that is in God, is unchangeable; for this is an attribute that, like a silken string through a chain of pearl, runneth through all the rest:

His mercy is unchangeable, ‘His mercy endureth forever,’ (Ps. 100:5).

So His strength, and therefore He is called ‘The Rock of ages,’ (Isa. 36:4).

So His counsel, Mutat sententiam, sed non decretum (as Bradwardine); He may change His sentence, the outward threatening or promise, but not His inward decree; He may will a change, but not change His will.

So His love is immutable; His heart is the same to us in the diversity of outward conditions: we are changed in estate and opinion, but God, He is not changed.

Well, then,—

1. The more mutable you are, the less you are like God. Oh! how should you loathe yourselves when you are so fickle in your purposes, so changeable in your resolutions!

God is immutably holy, but you have a heart that loveth to wander. He is always the same, but you are soon removed, (Gal. 1:6); ‘soon shaken in mind,’(2 Thess. 2:2); whirried with every blast, (Eph. 4:14), borne down with every new emergency and temptation.

The more you do ‘continue in the good that you have learned and been assured of,’ (2 Tim. 3:14), the more do you resemble the divine perfection.

2. Go to Him to establish and settle your spirits. God, that is unchangeable in Himself, can bring you into an immutable estate of grace, against which all the gates of hell cannot prevail; therefore be not quiet, till you have gotten such gifts from him as are without repentance, the fruits of eternal grace, and the pledges of eternal glory.

3. Carry yourselves to Him as unto an immutable good; in the greatest change of things see Him always the same: when there is little in the creature, there is as much in God as ever: (Ps. 102:26-27), ‘They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; they shall all wax old as a garment: Thou art the same for ever, and Thy years have no end.’

All creatures vanish, not only like a piece of cloth, but like a garment. Cloth would rot of itself, or be eaten out by moths; but a garment is worn and wasted every day.

But God doth not change; there is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity; the arm of mercy is not dried up, nor do His bowels of love waste and spend themselves.

And truly this is the church’s comfort in the saddest condition, that however the face of the creatures be changed to them, God will be still the same. It is said somewhere, that ‘the name of God is as an ointment poured out.’ (Song of Solomon 1:3)

Certainly this name of God’s immutability is as an ointment poured out, the best cordial to refresh a fainting soul. When the Israelites were in distress, all the letters of credence that God would give Moses were those, (Exod. 3:14), ‘I AM that I AM hath sent me unto you.’

That was comfort enough to the Israelites, that their God remained in the same tenor and glory of the divine essence; He could still say I AM. With God is no change, no past or present; He remaineth in the same indivisible point of eternity; and therefore saith, I AM.

So the prophet (Malachi 3:6), ἔγω κύριος, οὐκ ἠλλοίωμαι, ‘I am the Lord, that change not’ (or am not changed); ‘therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’

Our safety lieth in God’s immutability; we cannot perish utterly, because He cannot change.”

–Thomas Manton, “Commentary on the Epistle of James,” The Works of Thomas Manton, Vol. 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1871/2020), 4: 113-114. Manton is commenting on James 1:17.

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“God’s goodness is His glory” by Stephen Charnock

“The goodness of God is the most pleasant perfection of the Divine nature.

His creating power amazes us. His conducting wisdom astonisheth us. His goodness, as furnishing us with all conveniences, delights us and renders both His amazing power, and astonishing wisdom, delightful to us.

Just as the sun, by effecting things, is an emblem of God’s power, so also by discovering things to us, it is an emblem of His wisdom. But by refreshing and comforting us, the sun is an emblem of His goodness.

And without this refreshing virtue it communicates to us, we should take no pleasure in the creatures it produceth, nor in the beauties it discovers.

As God is great and powerful, He is the object of our understanding. But as good and bountiful, He is the object of our love and desire.

The goodness of God comprehends all His attributes. All the acts of God are nothing else but the streams of His goodness, distinguished by several names, according to the objects it is exercised about.

As the sea, though it be one mass of water, yet we distinguish it by several names, according to the shores it washeth, and beats upon. When Moses longed to see His glory, God tells him, He would give him a prospect of His goodness (Ex. 33:19): ‘I will make all My goodness to pass before thee.’

His goodness is His glory and Godhead, as much as is delightfully visible to His creatures, and whereby He doth benefit man: ‘I will cause My goodness,’ or ‘comeliness,’ as Calvin renders it, ‘to pass before thee.’

What is this, but the train of all His lovely perfections springing from His goodness? The whole catalogue of mercy, grace, long-suffering, abundance of truth, summed up in this one word (Ex. 34:6). All are streams from this fountain. He could be none of this, were He not first good.

When it confers happiness without merit, it is grace.

When it bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy.

When he bears with provoking rebels, it is long-suffering.

When he performs His promise, it is truth.

When it meets with a person to whom it is not obliged, it is grace.

When He meets with a person in the world, to which He hath obliged himself by promise, it is truth.

When it commiserates a distressed person, it is pity.

When it supplies an indigent person, it is bounty.

When it succors an innocent person, it is righteousness.

And when it pardons a penitent person, it is mercy. All summed up in this one name of goodness.

And the Psalmist expresseth the same sentiment in the same words (Psalm 145:7, 8): ‘They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over his works.’

He is first good, and then compasssionate. Righteousness is often in Scripture taken, not for justice, but charitableness. This attribute, saith one, is so full of God, that it doth deify all the rest, and verify the adorableness of Him.

His wisdom might contrive against us, His power bear too hard upon us. One might be too hard for an ignorant, and the other too mighty for an impotent creature.

His holiness would scare an impure and guilty creature, but His goodness conducts them all for us, and makes them all amiable to us.

Whatever comeliness they have in the eye of a creature, whatever comfort they afford to the heart of a creature, we are obliged for all to His goodness. This puts all the rest upon a delightful exercise.

This makes His wisdom design for us, and this makes His power to act for us. This veils His holiness from affrighting us, and this spirits His mercy to relieve us.

All His acts towards man, are but the workmanship of this. What moved Him at first to create the world out of nothing, and erect so noble a creature as man, endowed with such excellent gifts? Was it not His goodness?

What made Him separate His Son to be a sacrifice for us, after we had endeavored to erase the first marks of His favor? Was it not a strong bubbling of goodness?

What moves Him to reduce a fallen creature to the due sense of his duty, and at last bring him to an eternal felicity? Is it not, only His goodness?

This is the captain attribute that leads the rest to act. This attends them, and spirits them in all His ways of acting. This is the complement and perfection of all His works.

Had it not been for this, which set all the rest on work, nothing of His wonders would have been seen in creation, nothing of His compassions would have been seen in redemption.”

–Stephen Charnock, “Discourse XII: On the Goodness of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 219-220.

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“His everlasting arms can bear us up” by Thomas Manton

“God is a great God, who taketh the care and charge upon Him of the sustentation and government of all things to their proper ends and uses. How soon would the world fall into confusion and nothing without His power and care!

Now this should recommend Him to our esteem and love. Oh, what a blessed thing is it to have an interest in this powerful and almighty God! All His strength and power is engaged for the meanest and weakest of His children.

1 Peter 1:5, ‘We are kept by the power of God to salvation;’ and therefore we are bidden to be ‘strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ Surely they are blessed that have such a mighty God on their side, and engaged with them against their enemies.

1 John 4:4, ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ He can enable them to do their work, satisfy their desires, maintain them in the midst of opposition: John 10:29, ‘My father, which gave them Me, is greater than all.’

Such is the efficacy of His providence, that He can subject all things to Himself, make them servants, to do what He would have them. Oh, how safe is a Christian in the love and covenant and arms of an Almighty God, whom he hath made his refuge!

Our trials are many, and grace received is small in the best. But our God is great. He that made all things, and sustaineth all things, and governeth all things, and possesseth all things, is our God.

Surely ‘His grace is sufficient for us,’ 2 Cor. 12:9, and His everlasting arms can bear us up: Deut. 33:27, ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ He can recover us from our falls, and lift us over all our difficulties.

If we could but rest upon His word and lean upon His power, why should we be discouraged? Oh, let us rejoice, then, not only in the goodness but greatness of that God whom we have chosen for our portion!”

–Thomas Manton, “Sermon XCVI – Psalm 119:91” in The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 7 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1872), 418-419.

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