Thomas Boston was born at Duns, Berwickshire on 17 March 1676. His father, John Boston, and his mother, Alison Trotter, were both Covenanters.  He was educated at the Grammar School of Duns and was later employed by Alexander Cockburn, a notary. Thomas graduated from Edinburg with an M.A. on 9 July 1694. He then became schoolmaster at Glencairn in 1695 and was licensed in 1697 by the presbytery of Chirnside. He then became minister of Simprin in Berwickshire, and Ettrick in Selkirkshire.

On 17 July 1700, Thomas married Katherine Brown of Barhill, Culross and they had ten children. In 1707 Thomas was translated to Ettrick, Scotland. He was the only member of the assembly who entered a protest against the lightness of the sentence passed on John Simson, Professor of Divinity at Glasgow, who was accused of heterodox teaching on the Incarnation.

Thomas and eleven others gave in a Representation and Petition to the General Assembly of 1721 against an Act passed in the previous year condemning The Marrow of Modern Divinity. The Assembly of 1722 directed that the ministers who had signed the Representation should be rebuked by the Moderator. That was done, and a protest prepared by Boston was not received but was subsequently printed by the protesters. Boston’s own writings, together with his devout life and exemplary pastoral labors, contributed greatly to the popularity of the doctrines contained in the Marrow. His communions were attended by crowds from all parts, and he was one of the most influential figures in the Church life of his time. His theology was essentially Calvinistic. A literalism dominated his interpretation of the Scriptures, and he regarded even the Hebrew accents as divinely inspired.

Noted as a Scottish Presbyterian church leader, theologian, and philosopher. His Works run to 12 volumes and contain some lengthy theological treatises. —In addition to his best-known work, The Fourfold State, one of the religious classics of Scotland, he wrote an original little book, The Crook in the Lot, and a learned treatise on the Hebrew points. He also took a leading part in the Courts of the Church in what was known as the “Marrow Controversy,” regarding the merits of an English work, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, which he defended against the attacks of the “Moderate” party in the Church. Thomas, if unduly introspective, was a man of singular piety and amiability. His autobiography is an interesting record of Scottish life, full of sincerity and tenderness, and not devoid of humorous touches, intentional or otherwise. Thomas Boston died on 20 May 1732.

References

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1521 – A cannonball strikes Spanish soldier Iñez “Ignatio” Loyola, breaking his right leg. While recovering, he reads the lives of saints and determines to imitate them. He wrote a famous guide to  Christian meditation, the Spiritual Exercises, and found the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

1527Michael Sattler one of the early leaders of the Anabaptist movement was cruelly tortured. Sattler was convicted. The sentence to execution read, “Michael Sattler shall be committed to the executioner. The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic.

1690John Eliot, missionary to the American Indians, died in the parsonage at Roxbury. He had translated the entire Bible into the Algonquin Indian language and published the first Bible printed in America.

1937 Jesse Overholtzer founded Child Evangelism Fellowship in Chicago.

1943 – Smith College awards Wu Yi-fang, first Chinese woman to head a Chinese college (Ginling Women’s College), an honorary Doctor of Law degree.

1945 – The Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship is officially born. Later it will change its name to Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF). Betty Greene, an American wartime pilot, had written an article in which she suggested using planes to help missionaries. Jim Truxton, a Navy pilot, saw it, contacted Betty and suggested organizing to implement her idea.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com 19 May 2022.

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