Thomas Scott (1747–1821AD)
Evangelical Minister of the Church of England
THOMAS SCOTT, the well-known Bible commentator, was born at Braytoft near Spilsby, Lincolnshire, 16th February, 1747. After some education at the endowed school of Scorton, he was apprenticed to a surgeon, and soon dismissed, returning home to labour for nine years on his father’s farm. But Thomas’s passion was to read and study and in his spare hours he mastered Latin and Greek. Then he had the idea to enter the Church of England and his proficiency in those languages opened the door for him. He declared in his The Force of Truth, that he entered the church as a hypocrite. He did not believe in the 39 Articles of Faith of that Church although he had to subscribe to them to become a curate. He was ordained on 20th September, 1772. In that autobiographical book, he gave a remarkable account of his rationalist views,—first he was a Socinian, then a Pelagian, and then an Arminian.—He was more motivated by what he was opposed to,—especially those Methodist and Calvinist “fanatics” as he called them—than what he then believed in.
Providentially his near neighbour was the celebrated Rev. John Newton, of Olney. In 1775 Scott wrote to him, with the intention to refute his Calvinist views, and throughout that year Newton replied by 8 letters. The graciousness of Newton's replies and the evangelical truths they contained caused Scott to cease the correspondence. But the Lord used those letters to awaken him to search ever more deeply into the Bible to see, like the Bereans, whether those letters could possibly be true. Before long, by the Holy Spirit, he was made to see the evangelical truth he had so long denied. His eyes were opened and he was “born again.” His excellent discourse on “Repentance” reflects this profound change in attitude in a truly evangelical way.
In 1781 he succeeded his friend John Newton as curate of Olney. In 1785 he became chaplain of the Lock hospital, and in 1801 rector of Aston-Sandford, where he laboured till his death, on the 16th of April, 1821.
His spiritual journey as described in The Force of Truth was first published in 1779. His most important work, and that for which he is rightly famous, is A Family Bible with Notes, 1788-92, 5 vols., which was repeatedly re-issued and reprinted. This Commentary was as popular over the next century as Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Rev. John Eadie wrote of it (19th cent.): Scott’s “Commentary . . . is always sensible and judicious in substance, and plain and clear in style. The meaning is given with unaffected and honest care, without parade, and always in a spiritual frame of mind; gravity and warmth characterize the work, the end of which is God’s glory in the exposition of His truth. The pious and venerable author spared no pains or labour, having carefully and unweariedly superintended five editions.”
Scott also published some of his sermons as well as treatises and essays. The following works are taken from “The Theological Works of Rev. Thomas Scott” as published in 1831AD.
The Force of Truth. pdf book (954k)
Discourse upon Repentance. pdf book (466k)