Augustus Montague Toplady (1740–1778) was born at Farnham in Surrey, England. His father, Richard, died in battle when Augustus was very young. He was first educated at Westminster-school from 1750 to 1755. His mother Catherine Bate, was a religious influence and had an estate in Ireland where they moved after Westminster. He became a Christian at sixteen listening to a lay preacher in a barn in Ireland. In this very ordinary circumstance, but by a powerful work of God, he was “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” He attended Trinity College, Dublin from 1755 to 1760. Between sixteen and eighteen he wrote poetic pieces “by way of relaxation from his studies.” He was ordained deacon in 1762, and ordained priest in 1764. In 1768, moved to be victor at Broad Hembury, Devonshire. During a leave of absence from this church he preached at a French Calvinist Reformed Church in Orange street, Leicester-fields his last two years.
Book-list of Augustus M. Toplady:
- Collection of Hymns for Public and Private Worship
- Contemplations on the Sufferings, etc. of Christ
- Devotional Retirement Recommended and Enforced
- Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Assorted (The)
- Dying Avowal
- Family Prayers
- Gospel Magazine (The)
- Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England
- Hymns and Sacred Poems
- Letter to Rev. John Wesley
- Life of Mr. James Hervey and Rev. A. M. Toplady
- More Work for Mr. John Wesley
- Prayers for Every Day in the Week
- Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity asserted, in opposition to Mr. John Wesley's Tract on that Subject (The)
- Sermons and Essays,
- Spirit of Adoption Hymns (The)
Extended Biography of Augustus Toplady
AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY, A.B. We cannot give a more explicit account of this eminent Divine, than what hath been already published under the title of a “Memoir of his Life and Death;” and therefore we shall freely transcribe as much of it as is consistent with the plan of our volumes.
The Memoirs of extraordinary men have always been acceptable to the world; and much instruction has been gathered from their example. The mind often feels a force from facts, when it cannot be reached by theories; and receives that kind of satisfaction from the proof or demonstration of a truth, which no mere principles, however just and correct, can possibly give it. To the Christian world, for the same reason, the examples of the heirs of salvation have been still more peculiarly valuable. They find doctrines of the highest and most lasting importance confirmed and substantiated by testimonies and evidences, which are not more serious and reviving than full and undeniable. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints; and precious likewise in the sight of all his people. They have ocular demonstration, that grace can and does rise superior to nature; that the weak and feeble in themselves are strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; and that they are not only promised to be, but are, Conquerors and more than Conquerors through Him that loved them. These facts, therefore, of God's presence with his people, in the most trying of all human circumstances, cannot but be estimable in the eyes of those persons who look beyond the grave for their portion, and whose hopes can only be filled with immortality. They are enabled to take courage from the Christian heroes gone before them, and, seeing the faithfulness of God to his promises in others, are emboldened for themselves to look forward with holy joy upon that period, when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and when their place upon earth shall know them no more. Consequently, they may triumph in the glorious evidence of a better inheritance, and long for that perfect consummation of bliss, which they are hereafter to share with the spirits of just men made perfect, and with the general assembly of the first born, which are written in heaven.
For this purpose of comfort and edification, the following account of the late Reverend Mr. Toplady is compiled. If the reader from hence receive any good hope through grace, to pass through the valley of the shadow of death and to fear no evil, as he passed, the end will be answered for which this memoir is penned, and for which alone it ought to be desired. The doctrines, preached by this able Divine, were brought into his own experience by the grace of his Redeemer, and were his joy and triumph in the article of death: And if the same effect is wrought upon the hearts and consciences of other Christians, through his example, it would be the highest accomplishment of his wishes, as it would be a present evidence to themselves of their hereafter rejoicing with him, where he is rejoicing, in the heaven of heavens, to all eternity. ‘Tis this demonstration of experience, or the proof of the Christian doctrine upon fact, that comforts and lifts up God's people in their last hours; for this (as a very gracious man observed) “goes much farther than the judgment, and passes the strength of mere natural understanding; and hence we feel, we taste, we enjoy; yea, the very voice of Christ is heard in the soul, by which we know that we are his, and that he is our’s.” ‘Tis the shield of faith alone which repels the terror of death, and quenches the fiery darts of the devil.
His father was Richard Toplady, Esq, a major in the array, and his mother Catharine Bate, sister to the late Reverend Julius Bate, and to the Reverend Mr. Bate, rector of St. Paul's, Deptford, by whom they were married, at the said church, on December 31st, 1737. They had issue first a son, Francis, who died in his infancy, and afterwards Augustus Montague Toplady, the subject of our memoir, who was born at Farnham, in Surry, on Tuesday, November the 4th, 1740, and there baptized. His godfathers were Augustus Middleton and Adolphus Montague, Esquires; in respect to whom, he bore the Christian name of the one, and the surname of the other. His father died at the siege of Carthagena, soon after his birth. He received the rudiments of his education at Westminster school; but, it becoming necessary for his mother to make a journey to Ireland to pursue some claims to an estate in that kingdom, he accompanied her thither, and was entered at Trinity College in Dublin, at which seminary he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts. Being awakened to the knowledge of God and of his own heart, he prosecuted his studies for the ministry of the gospel, with the most indefatigable ardor. He thought, and thought justly, that men in the most sacred and important of all professions should be qualified in every respect for their function: and that sciolists in the clerical office were, generally speaking, more inexcusable and more dangerous, than empirics and pretenders in the other businesses of life. As he abhorred the Popish tenet, that “ignorance is the mother of devotion;” so his wish, as well as his duty, was to be thoroughly furnished, and to avoid the presumption of teaching the ignorant and those that are out of the way, without having the knowledge, as well as the grace, indispensably requisite for that purpose.
He could not but believe, with some other great and good men, that a man must be very much unqualified to explain the Scriptures to others, without being acquainted himself with the languages in which they were written, and with those other invaluable books upon religious subjects, which have been handed down, in the learned tongues, through a long succession of ages. Of course, therefore, he was diligent in all human attainments: And the church will undoubtedly witness the advantages she has received, from this happy conjunction of spiritual and natural endowments. Thus prepared, by grace in his soul and knowledge in his understanding, which was naturally clear and strong, he received orders on Trinity Sunday, the 6th of June 1762; and, after some time, was inducted first into the living of Blagdon in Somersetshire, and afterwards into that of Broad Hembury in Devonshire. In both these retirements he pursued his labors with unremitting assiduity, and composed most of those writings which will render service to the church, and do honor to his memory, while truth and learning shall be esteemed valuable among men. He had for some years occasionally visited and spent some time in London; but, in the year 1775, finding his constitution much impaired by the moist atmosphere of Devonshire, with which it never agreed, he removed to London entirely, after some unsuccessful attempts to exchange his living for another, of equivalent value, in some of the middle counties. Here, by the solicitation of his numerous friends, and from a desire to be useful wherever the Divine Providence might lead him, he engaged the chapel belonging to the French Reformed, near Leicester Fields; where he preached twice in the week, while his Health permitted, and afterwards occasionally, as much as, or rather more than, he was well able to do. In this ministration, it pleased God to remove him, by a slow consumption, from the church militant on earth, to the church triumphant in heaven, on Tuesday the 11th of August 1778. His body was buried, agreeable to his own desire, communicated to some friends, in Tottenham-Court-Chapel on the Monday following; where, though his wishes, like those of the famous St. Basil, were against all parade and observation upon such an occasion, it was attended by a numerous concourse of people, many of whom seemed deeply sensible of the loss of so able a pillar in the church of God.
It would be unnecessary in this place to say any thing of his writings. They speak for themselves, and show the eminent abilities and learning, which through grace were given him. A catalogue of his publications is subjoined; and there are some other pieces, which, after the signing of his last will and testament, he gave leave to his executor to dispose of, as he might think proper, and which probably may hereafter appear. It is right, however, to inform the reader, that his intense application to study, which he frequently pursued through the night to three and four o'clock in the morning, seems to have been the means of inducing his disorder, and of accelerating his end. From this severe pursuit, so long as his body was able to bear it, he could not be dissuaded. He thought himself called upon to assert and maintain the truths of the Gospel; and he was resolved to relinquish this duty only with his breath. To a friend, who had expressed some concern for his health, upon account of his close applications, sometime before his disorder was confirmed, he wrote the following words: "God give us to sink deeper and deeper into his love, and to rise higher and higher into the image of his holiness! And thoroughly persuaded I am, that, the more we are enabled to love and resemble Him, the more active we shall tie to promote his glory, and to extend his cause, with our lips, our pens, our lives, our all. Be this our business, and our bliss, on earth. In heaven, we shall have nothing to do, but to see Him as He is, to participate his glory, and to sing his praise, in delightful, in never-ending concert with angels, with saints who are got home before us, and with those of the elect, whom we knew and loved below. I would not give sixpence for a friendship, which time and death are able to quench. Our friendship is not of that evanid species. I can, therefore, subscribe myself,
"Ever and for ever your’s in Christ."
Here we see the great spring and motive of his labors, and the object which directed his activity in his Master’s service. He had the desired satisfaction to see his public ministrations, both by word and writing, extensively blest: And there are many left behind him, who will doubtless be his joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. Like Luther, he was hostis acerrimus, a very cutting adversary to error; and his love to truth was as strong and ardent, as his abilities were quick and powerful to defend it, when attacked or opposed. Witness his own expressions in a letter to the friend above-mentioned, upon the defection of some persons from the cause of truth: "For my own part, (says he) I wish to live and die with the sword of the Spirit in my hand; and, as Young expresses it, ‘Never to put off my armor till I put on my shroud.’ As far as my situation will admit, I hope always to act up to this maxim." The character given by an ancient writer, of one of the fathers,[i] who combated the Arian heresy on its appearance, that he was one of the firmest and the first of the whole band who contended for the truth, might, without exaggeration, be applied to Mr. Toplady, in his opposition to the reigning heterodoxy of Arminius. Nor did he fail of his wish: He had (as it were) taken measure for his shroud before he laid down his pen. His style was nervous and masculine; his language easy and flowing, without being florid or diffuse; and his arguments close, clear, and pertinent. In a word, he was to the opposers of truth a Boanerges, but to its friends a Barnabas.
He had no preferment in the church besides the vicarage of Broad Hembury, which, as his mind could never brook the idea of living ill with his parish upon the account of tythes, did not amount, communibus annis, to eighty pounds a-year. For this living he exchanged the other above-mentioned, about eight or ten miles distant, that had been procured for him by his friends in a mode which (though usual enough) his conscience could not approve; and therefore, when he became acquainted with the manner of their diligence, which was not for some time afterwards, he could not rest satisfied till he had parted with it. He did not seek preferments, because he could not solicit them in the common way. His own account of his engaging in the pastoral office, in the introduction to that masterly work, entitled "Historic Proof of the doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England," is too remarkable to be omitted here: "I bless God (says he) for enabling me to esteem the reproach of Christ greater treasure than all the applause of men, and all the preferments of the church. When I received orders, I obtained mercy to be faithful; and, from that moment, gave up what is called the world, so far as I conceived it to interfere with faith and a good conscience. The opposition which I have met with in the course. Of my ten years' ministry, has been nothing, compared with what I expected would ensue on an open steady attachment to the truths of God.” He could say with Archbishop Warham, Satis viatici ad caelum: He had enough to carry him to heaven, and but very little more. How rarely, in these times, do we find either principle or con duct so truly exemplary!
But the view of this good man's last sickness and death is principally intended here. He met the King of Terrors, disarmed of his terrors through the grace of his Saviour, and found him an angel, a messenger of peace. He had long been visibly declining in his health; but could only be prevailed upon to restrain from preaching, for some time before his decease, by the express injunction of his physician, and the particular intreaties of his friends. Indeed, his feebleness of body, for some months before his end, was such, that, when he attempted to speak in public, he could scarce be heard for the few minutes he was able to stand, and seemed almost like a man lifted up to preach from the grave.
As his outward man wasted and decayed, his inward man was refreshed and renewed day by day. Towards the close of his mortal life, the consolations of God in him were neither small nor few. He looked, not only with composure, but delight, on the grave, and groaned 'earnestly for his heavenly habitation. He had constantly, to use Dr. Young's expression,
“One eye on death, and one full fix’d on Heaven.” In this respect, he most happily exemplified his own observation, communicated upon the death of a friend. " I have long observed, (says he) that such of God's people as are least on the mount while they travel to heaven, are highest on it, and replenished with the richest discoveries of divine love, in the closing scene of life. When they come in actual view of that river, which parts the church below from the church above, the celestial city rises full in sight; the sense of interest in the covenant of grace becomes clearer and brighter; the book of life is opened to the eye of assurance; the Holy Spirit more feelingly applies the blood of sprinkling, and warms the soul with that robe of righteousness which Jesus wrought. The once feeble believer is made to be as David. The once trembling hand is enabled to lay fast hold on the cross of Christ. The sun goes down without a cloud.—Weighty and beautiful are those lines of Dr. Watts:
"Just such is the Christian— His race he begins,
Like the sun in a mist, when he mourns for his sins,
And melts into tears. Then he breaks out, and shines,
And travels his heavenly way.
But, as he draws nearer to finish his race,
Like a fine setting sun, he looks richer in grace;
And gives a sure hope, at the end of his days,
Of rising in brighter array."
To several of his friends, who visited him in the last stage of his decline, he used many striking expressions of the comforts vouchsafed him, and of the sweet earnests of glory which he felt in his soul. Some of these friends committed to paper several of his most remarkable words, for their own memory and for the satisfaction of others. In conversation with a gentleman of the faculty, not long before his death, he frequently disclaimed with abhorrence the least dependence on his own righteousness, as any cause of his justification before God, and said, that he rejoiced only in the free, complete, and everlasting salvation of God's elect by Jesus Christ, through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We cannot satisfy the reader more than by giving this friend's own relation of his intercourse and conversation. “A remarkable jealousy was apparent in his whole conduct, for fear of receiving any part of that honor, which is due to Christ alone. He desired to be nothing, and that Jesus might be all, and in all.— His feelings were so very tender upon this subject, that I once very undesignedly put him almost in an agony, by remarking the great loss which the church of Christ would sustain by his death, at this particular juncture.—The utmost distress was immediately visible in his countenance, and he exclaimed to this purpose: “What! by my death? No! By my death? No. —Jesus Christ is able, and will, by proper instruments, to defend his own truths.—And with regard to what little I have been enabled to do in this way, not to me, not to me, but to his name, and to that only, be the glory.”
Conversing upon the subject of election, he said, "That God's everlasting love to his chosen people; his eternal, particular, most free, and immutable choice of them in Christ Jesus; was without the least respect to any work or works of righteousness wrought, or to be wrought, or that ever should be wrought, in them or by them: For God's election does not depend upon our sanctification, but our sanctification depends upon God's election and appointment of us to everlasting life.” At another time, he was so affected with a sense of. God's everlasting love to his soul, that he could not refrain from bursting into tears.
The more his bodily strength was impaired, the more vigorous, lively, and rejoicing his mind seemed to be. From the whole tenor of his conversation during our interviews, he appeared not merely placid and serene, but he evidently possessed the fullest assurance of the most triumphant faith. He repeatedly told me, that he had not had the shadow of a doubt respecting his eternal salvation, for Hear two years past. It is no wonder, therefore, that he so earnestly longed to be dissolved and to be with Christ. His soul seemed to be constantly panting heaven-ward; and his desires increased the nearer his dissolution approached.—A short time before his death, at his request, I felt his pulse; and he desired to know what I thought of it. I told him, that his heart and arteries evidently beat (almost every day) weaker and weaker. He replied immediately, with the sweetest smile upon his countenance, "Why, that's a good sign that my death is fast approaching; and blessed be God, I can add, that my heart beats every day stronger and stronger for glory.''
A few days preceding his dissolution, I found him sitting up in his arm-chair, and scarcely able to move or speak. I addressed him very softly, and asked if his consolations continued to abound, as they had hitherto done. He quickly replied, "O, my dear Sir, it is impossible to describe how good God is to me. Since I have been sitting in this chair this afternoon, (glory be to his name!) I have enjoyed such a season, such sweet communion with God, and such delightful manifestations of his presence with, and love to my soul, that it is impossible for words, or any language, to express them. I have had peace and joy unutterable: And I fear not, but that God's consolations and support will continue."—But he immediately recollected himself, and added, " What have I said? God may, to be sure, as a Sovereign, hide his face and his smiles from me; however, I believe he will not; and if he should, yet still will I trust in him: I know I am safe and secure, for his love and his covenant are everlasting."
To another friend, who, in a conversation with him upon the subject of his principles, had asked him whether any doubt remained upon his mind respecting the truth of them, he answered, "Doubt, Sir, doubt! Pray, use not that word when speaking of me. I cannot endure the term; at least, while God continues to shine upon my soul in the gracious manner he does how: Not (added he) but that I am sensible, that while in the body, if left of him, I am capable, through the power of temptation, of calling into question every truth of the gospel. But, that is so far from being the case, that the comforts and manifestations of his love are so abundant, as to render my state and condition the most desirable in the world. I would not exchange my condition with any one upon earth. And, with respect to my principles, those blessed truths, which I have been enabled in my poor measure to maintain, appear to me, more than ever, most gloriously indubitable. My own existence is not, to my apprehension, a greater certainty."
The same friend calling upon him a day or two before his death, he said, with hands clasped, and his eyes lifted up, and starting with tears of the most evident joy, "0 my dear Sir, I cannot tell you the comforts I feel in my soul: They are past expression. The consolations of God to such an unworthy wretch are so abundant, that he leaves me nothing to pray for but a continuance of them. I enjoy a heaven already in my soul. My prayers are all converted into praise. Nevertheless, I do not forget that I am still in the body, and liable to all those distressing fears which are incident to human nature when under temptation, and without any sensible divine support. But, so long as the presence of God continues with me in the degree I now enjoy it, I cannot but think that such a desponding frame is impossible." All this he spoke with an emphasis the most ardent that can be conceived.
Speaking to another particular friend upon the subject of his " Dying Avowal,” (a paper which he published a little before his death, respecting a report which was said to have been raised of his recanting his writings) he expressed himself thus: "My dear friend, those great and glorious truths which the Lord, in rich mercy, has given me to believe, and which He has enabled me (though very feebly) to stand forth in the defense of, are not (as those who believe not or oppose them, say) dry doctrines, or mere speculative points.—No. But, being brought into practical and heart-felt experience, they are the very joy and support of my soul; and the consolations flowing from them, carry me far above the things of time and of sense.'' Soon afterwards he added, "So far as I know my own heart, I have no desire but to be entirely passive; to live, to die, to be, to do, to suffer, whatever is God's blessed will concerning me; being perfectly satisfied, that as He ever has, so He ever will do that which is best concerning me; and that he deals out in number, weight, and measure, whatever will conduce most to his own glory^ and to the good of his people.''
Another of his friends, mentioning likewise the report that was spread abroad of his recanting his former principles, he said, with some vehemence and emotion, "I recant my former principles! God forbid that I should be so vile an apostate.'' To which he presently added, with great apparent humility, " And yet that apostate I should soon be, if I were left to myself.'' To the same friend, conversing upon the subject of his sickness, he said, "Sickness is no affliction; pain no curse; death itself no dissolution.''
Mr. Toplady had not learned the doctrines of grace in a human school; and it is no wonder, therefore, that the teacher from whom he obtained them neither suffered hint to forget nor forego them. Writing, some time since, to a friend he had long esteemed, he used these words respecting his own conversion: “I well remember, that when I first began to discern something of the absurdities and impieties of Arminianism, my mind was in a state of suspense for many succeeding months. Dr. Manton's sermons on the 17th of St. John, were the means through which my Arminian prejudices received their primary shock: A blessing, for which an eternity of praise will be a poor mite of acknowledgment to that God whose Spirit turned me from darkness to light. But I was a considerable time (and not till after much prayer, and much reading on each side of the argument) ere my judgment was absolutely fixed. I shall, when in heaven, remember the year 1758 with gratitude and joy: As I, doubtless, shall the year 1755, in which I was first awakened to feel my need of Christ.'' All his conversations, as he approached nearer and nearer to his decease, seemed more and more happy and heavenly. He frequently called himself the happiest man in the world. "O! (says he) how this soul of mine longs to be gone! Like a bird imprisoned in a cage, it longs to take its flight. O that I had wings like a dove, then would I flee away to the realms of bliss, and be at rest for ever! O that some guardian angel might be commissioned; for I long to be absent from this body, and to be with my Lord for ever." Being asked by a friend if he always enjoyed such manifestations, he answered, "I cannot say there are no intermissions; for, if there were not, my consolations would be more and greater than I could possibly bear; but, when they abate, they leave such an abiding sense of God's goodness, and of the certainty of my being fixed upon the eternal rock Christ Jesus, that my soul is still filled with peace and joy."
At another time, and indeed for many days together, he cried out, "O what a day of sunshine has this been to me! I have not words to express it. It is unutterable. O, my friends, how good is God! Almost without interruption, his presence has been with me.'" And then, repeating several passages of Scripture, he added, "What a great thing it is to rejoice in death!'' Speaking of Christ, he said, "His love is unutterable!" He was happy in declaring, that the 8th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, from the thirty-third to the end of the six following verses, were the joy and comfort of his soul. Upon that portion of Scripture he often descanted with great delight, and would be frequently ejaculating, "Lord Jesus! why tarriest thon so long?" He sometimes said, "I find as the bottles of heaven empty: they are filled again;" meaning, probably, the continual comforts of grace which he abundantly enjoyed. When he drew near his end, he said, waking from a slumber, "O what delights! Who can fathom the joys of the third heaven?" And, a little before his departure, he was blessing and praising God for continuing to him his understanding in clearness; "but (added he in a rapture) for what is most of all, his abiding presence, and the shining of his love upon my soul. The sky (says he) is clear; there is no cloud: Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" Within the hour of his death, he called his friends and his servant, and asked them, "If they could give him up?" Upon their answering in the affirmative, since it pleased the Lord to be so gracious to him, he replied, "O what a blessing it is you are made willing to give me up into the hands of my dear Redeemer, and to part with me: It will not be long before God takes me; for no mortal man can live, (bursting, while he said it, into tears of joy) after the glories which God has manifested to my soul." Soon after this he closed his eyes, and found (as Milton finely expresses it)
“——A death like sleep,
A gentle wafting to immortal life.''
Thus departed from this present evil world the Rev. Mr. Toplady, and, now delivered from sin and sorrow, is doubtless employed in thanksgiving, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.[ii] May those who read this account of him, be also prepared for the Lord's appearing, that they, together with him and myriads of blessed spirits gone before him may inherit the promises! As a controversial writer, he could not fail of making many enemies, whose errors he had freely attacked, and who may therefore be disposed to consider him not in the most candid view. But the time is at hand, when both they who revile, and they who are reviled, must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ: Let no man, therefore, judge before the time, until the Lord come, who will make manifest the counsels of the heart. Real Christians, respecting their spiritual life, have but one object to view, which is Jehovah their Redeemer; and but one rule to follow, which is his ever-blessed word. And with respect to each other, Luther's favorite saying may be received for a maxim, “That Charity beareth all things, and yieldeth all things; but Faith nothing.” In Heaven, all the faithful have but one heart and soul, whatever differences or denominations they may have borne below. In the mean time, happy are they, who can so bear and forbear, as not to give up the truth, which is to be sacrificed to no man; and yet can so assert it, when called upon by Divine Providence, as neither to court nor to fear the faces of any.
The following soliloquy, written some years ago by Mr. Toplady upon the death of a valued friend, has been thought so apposite to himself in his own dying hour, that it is presented without any farther apology. It will probably be perceived by most readers, that the Author had in view the memorable verses of the dying Emperor Adrian: But the dark desponding thought of the Heathen, and the illustrious hope of the Christian, afford a comparison most gloriously advantageous on the side of the gospel.[iii]
The DYING BELIEVER to his SOUL.
Deathless principle, arise:
Soar, thou native of the skies;
Pearl of price, by Jesus bought,
To his glorious likeness wrought,
Go, to shine before his throne;
Deck his mediatorial crown:
Go, his triumphs to adorn;
Made for God, to God return.
Lo, He beckons from on high!
Fearless to his presence fly:
Thine the merit of his blood;
Thine the righteousness of God.
Angels, joyful to attend,
Hov'ring, round thy pillow bend;
Wait to catch the signal giv'n,
And escort thee quick to Heav'n.
Is thy earthly house distrest?
Willing to retain her guest?
'Tis not thou, but she, must die?
Fly, celestial tenant, fly.
Burst thy shackles, drop thy elay,
Sweetly breathe thyself away:
Singing, to thy crown remove;
Swift of wing, and fir’d with love.
Shudder not to pass the stream:
Venture all thy care on him;
Him, whose dying love and pow’r
Still'd its tossing, hush'd its roar.
Safe is the expanded wave;
Gentle, as a summer's eve:
Not one object of his care
Ever suffer'd shipwreck there.
See the haven full in view!
Love divine shall bear thee through.
Trust to that propitious gale:
Weigh thy anchor, spread thy sail.
Saints, in glory perfect made,
Wait thy passage through the shade:
Ardent for thy coming o'er,
See, they throng the blissful shore.
Mount, their transports to improve:
Join the longing choir above:
Swiftly to their wish be giv'n:
Kindle higher joy in Heav'n.
Such the prospects that arise
To the dying Christian's eyes!
Such the glorious vista, faith
Opens through the shades of death!
His Works: I. The Church of England vindicated from the Charge of Arminianism; and the Case of Arminian Subscription particularly considered; in a Letter to the Reverend Dr. Nowell, 1769. II. The Doctrine of absolute Predestination stated and asserted; with a Preliminary Discourse on the Divine Attributes: Translated in great measure from the Latin of Jerom Zanchius; with some account of his life prefixed, 1769. III. A Letter to the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, relative to his pretended abridgment of Zanchius on Predestination, 1770. 2d edit. 1771. IV. A Caveat against unsound Doctrines: A Sermon preached at Blackfriars, April 29, 1770. V. Jesus seen of Angels; and God's Mindfulness of Man: Three Sermons, preached at Broad Hembury, Devon, Dec. 25, 1770. VI. Free Thoughts on the projected Application to Parliament for the Abolition of Ecclesiastical Subscriptions, 1771. VII. More Work for Mr. John Wesley: Or a Vindication of the Decrees and Providence of God from the Defamations of a late printed paper, entitled, “The Consequence proved,” 1772. VIII. Clerical Subscription no Grievance: A Sermon, preached at the annual Visitation of the Archdeaconry of Exeter, May 12, 1772. IX. Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England, in two vols. 8vo. 1774. X. Free-Will and Merit fairly examined; or Men not their own Saviours: A Sermon, preached at Blackfriars, May 25, 1774. XI. Good News from Heaven; or, the Gospel a joyful Sound: A Sermon, preached at the Lock-Chapel, June 19, 1774. XII. The Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity asserted, in answer to Mr. John Wesley's Tract on that subject, 1775. XIII. Joy in Heaven, and the Creed of Devils: Two Sermons, preached in London, 1775. XIV. Moral and Political Moderation recommended: A Sermon, preached on the General Fast, Dec. 13, 1776. XV. Collection of Hymns for Public and Private Worship, 1776. XVI. His Dying Avowal, dated Knightsbridge, July 22, 1778.
[i] Theodoret. de Jacob. Antioch. apud Cave in Hist. Lib.
[ii] It not improper to note here, that a very false and shocking report was circulated not Ionic after his death, chiefly in York-hire, that Mr. Toplady had departed, like the wretched Spira, despairing and blaspheming, and that this Memoir of his Life was a mere romance, fabricated by his friends. To detail and circulate lies upon matters of this kind would he dreadfully impious in Mr. Toplady's friends, and ought to have been fully proved by those who pretended to detect them. Upon this account, therefore, that truly pious and excellent Gentleman, Sir Richard Hill, Bart, addressed a letter, dated Hawkstone, Nor. 29, 1779, to Mr. John Weshey, who was said to be the author of this scandalous detraction, desiring him to exculpate himself, or his silence would he considered as a tacit acknowledgment of his guilt.—We are sorry to add,—no answer was given.
[iii] Adrian to his Soul on his Death-bed:
Animula vagula, blandula,
Hospes, comesque corporis,
Qua nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis jocos!
Mr. Pope has given this Translation:
Ah! fleeting spirit! wand'ring fire,
That long hast warm'd my tender breast.
Must thou no more this frame inspire?
No more a pleasing, cheerful guest?
Whither, ah! whither art thou flying?
To what dark, undiscover'd shore?
Thou seem'st all trembling, shiv'ring, dying;
And wit and humour are no more.
Source: Middleton, Erasmus. Evangelical Biography, or, an Historical Account of the Lives and Deaths of the Most Eminent and Evangelical Authors and Preachers, Vol. 4. London: W. Baynes, 1816.