Thomas Watson


Watson, Thomas

(d. ca. 1686)
Puritan minister and writer. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (called by C. H. Spurgeon “the nursing mother of gigantic evangelical divines”), he was known there as a most diligent student. In 1646 he became rector of St. Stephen’s, Walbrook, London, where he combined considerable learning with popular preaching. An Anglican bishop who heard him there once asked for a copy of a prayer Watson had offered, and was incredulous when told it was extempore. His incumbency of St. Stephen’s came to an end by ejection for nonconformity under the 1662 Act of Uniformity. It was an ironic development, for Watson had continued to be a Royalist under Cromwell and his son, was briefly imprisoned for this, and had been active in supporting the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
For several years he ministered secretly until the easing of repressive legislation permitted Nonconformists to conduct public worship in their own meeting places, in one of which Watson was for a time copastor with Stephen Charnock. Details of Watson’s life are generally sparse; it seems that he retired to Essex about 1680. A prolific writer, he is remembered chiefly for his Body of Practical Divinity, published posthumously in 1692. Comprising 176 sermons, this work was still highly regarded, especially among ordinary people, in the nineteenth century, probably because of its lucid and succinct presentation of material. Spurgeon, though taking issue with Watson on infant baptism, describes his work as “a happy union of sound doctrine, heart-searching experience and practical wisdom.”
J. D. Douglas

This Biographical Sketch comes from…

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
Author: Elwell, Walter A.
Publisher: Baker Book House | Publication Date: 1997, c1984.

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
– Walter A. Elwell, editor. The biographical articles from this classic
reference work are included in electronic form. They include
individuals from all eras of history and from many countries. Entries
are arranged alphabetically, from Peter Abelard to Ulrich Zwingli. Many
entries include bibliographical references and focus on the
individual’s theological dimension. More than two hundred contributors
represent a variety of diverse evangelical persuasions and national
backgrounds.
(ISBN 0-8010-0241-9)

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