Thomas Manton writes:
“This is the first motive to draw our hearts to Him: 1 John iv. 19, ‘We loved Him, because He loved us first.’ The first motive of our affection is not His special electing love to us above others, for that we cannot know before we love Him; but His common love and mercy to sinners, and that was manifested in Christ’s being sent to be a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
It is true that the unregenerate elect cannot know that God “first loved them” (cf. 1 John 4:19) until He regenerates and causes them to believe the gospel of Christ (cf. John 3:16; Romans 1:16). But note how Manton twists 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:19 to his own destruction by violently wresting and eisegeting a “common love and mercy” out of them.
“This is that which is propounded to us to recover and reconcile our alienated and estranged affections to God: 2 Cor. v. 19, 20, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto him.’ This grace God offereth to us, as well as others; namely, that for Christ’s sake He will pardon our sins, if we will lay down our weapons and enter into His peace. None are bound to believe that God specially loveth them, but those that are specially beloved by Him, for none are bound to believe a falsehood, and a falsehood it is to us, till we have the saving effects and benefits. Therefore, it is not the special, but the general love which first draweth in our hearts to God; yea, the saints, after some testimonies received of God’s special love, still make this to be the great engaging motive: Gal. ii. 20, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ Well, then, this is most likely to be meant by the apostle” (Thomas Manton, Works, 3:147-148).
Manton reveals that his god is a god of self-righteousness. Like the passages seen above, he twists Galatians 2:20 into a “general love.” Manton states that this supposed “general love” of God precedes the “special love.” This is open blasphemy that asserts a perversion of God’s “love” that is expressed at the expense of His justice.
Other Manton writings demonstrate his belief that Christ did not actually bear the sins of the non-elect upon the cross. But we see Manton’s profanation of the precious blood of Christ by setting it forth as a common thing. What Manton enunciates above is an insidious affront to the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ made exclusively for the sins of His people.