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James Nalton (1600-1662)

A passionate reformed and presbyterian preacher with great compassion.
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God takes precise and special notice of all the sins and abominations of a people that are in covenant with him.

Works of James Nalton:

Twenty Sermons, 1677

The Cross Crowned, 1661

God’s Great Care of His Good People in Bad Times, 1665

Delay of Reformation Provoking God’s Indignation, 1646


Biography of James Nalton (1600–1662):

James Nalton ‘known as the weeping prophet,’ born about 1600, son of a London minister, was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, whence he graduated B.A. in 1619, and M.A. in 1623. According to Baxter, he acted for a time as assistant to a certain Richard Conder, either in or near London, and in 1632 he obtained the living of Rugby, in Warwickshire. In 1642 he signed a petition addressed to Lord Dunsmore respecting the appointment of a master to the grammar school, which was not only rejected, but was apparently the cause of his leaving Rugby. He subsequently acted as chaplain to Colonel Grantham’s regiment; but about 1644 he was appointed incumbent of St. Leonard’s, Foster Lane, London, where he remained, with a short interval, until his death. On 29 April 1646 he preached before the House of Commons at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, on ‘The Delay of Reformation provoking God’s further Indignation’ (London, 1646, 8vo), his fellow preacher on this occasion being Dr. John Owen [q. v.] In 1651 Nalton was indirectly concerned in Love’s plot [see Love, Christopher], and had to take refuge in Holland, becoming for a short period one of the ministers of the English Church at Rotterdam; but he returned to England by permission at the end of six months, and resumed his work at St. Leonard’s until he was ejected in 1662. He died in December of that year, and was buried on 1 Jan. 1662–3. His funeral sermon, entitled ‘Rich Treasure in Earthen Vessels,’ was preached by Thomas Horton (d. 1673) [q. v.]

Nalton is described by Baxter as a good linguist, a man of primitive sincerity, and an excellent and zealous preacher. He was called the ‘weeping prophet’ because ‘his seriousness often expressed itself by tears.’ He seems also to have been subject to an acute form of melancholia. ‘Less than a year before he died,’ writes Baxter, ‘he fell into a grievous fit, in which he often cried out, “O not one spark of grace! not a good desire or thought! I can no more pray than a post” (though at that very time he did pray very well).’

He was the first signatory of the preface to Jeremiah Burroughes’s ‘Saint’s Treasury,’ 1654, and he himself published several separate sermons. Twenty of these, with a highly eulogistic preface and a portrait engraved by J. Chantrey, were issued by Matthew Poole [q. v.], London, 1677, 8vo. Another portrait of Nalton preaching is mentioned by Bromley.

[Calamy and Palmer’s Nonconformist’s Memorial, 1802, i. 142–4; Baxter’s Life and Times in Orme’s edition, i. 243–4; Colvile’s Warwickshire Worthies, p. 540; Inderwick’s Interregnum, pp. 286 sq.; Granger’s Biog. Hist. of England, 1779, iii. 47; Bloxam’s Register of the Vicars of Rugby, appended to Derwent Coleridge’s edition of Moultrie; m’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, vi. 835; Allibone’s Dict. of English Literature, 1397.]


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