Above: The Union Jack
AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY (NOVEMBER 4, 1740-NOVEMBER 11, 1778)
Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
Augustus Montague Toplady lost his father, a Major in the Royal Army, in 1741. Thus our saint grew up without his pious mother. He attended Westminster School then Trinity College, Dublin. At age sixteen, when Toplady was in Dublin, he had a conversion experience under the influence of a Wesleyan lay preacher. Toplady, back in England, became an Anglican priest in 1764. He served various congregations before becoming the Vicar of Broadhembury four years later. The Calvinistic Toplady wrote vigorous criticisms of Arminianism and carried on a controversy with John Wesley. Poor health forced Toplady to leave Broadhembury in 1775. He spent the last three years of his life preaching at a Huguenot chapel in London. The popular and powerful preacher died of tuberculosis when aged thirty-eight years.
Toplady wrote hymns, including the frequently sung “Rock of Ages” (1776). He composed the following text five years prior:
A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offering bring.
The terrors of low and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks or noble grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.
Some sources I consulted tried to explain the zest with which Toplady traded argument points with John Wesley. Toplady, one source said, was probably not at his best due to poor health. This might be true, but I do not care. Maybe our saint just thought that Wesley was wrong.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 24, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF IDA SCUDDER, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN INDIA
THE FEAST OF EDWARD KENNEDY “DUKE” ELLINGTON, COMPOSER
THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WISCONSIN
THE FEAST OF MOTHER EDITH, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME
Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Augustus Montague Toplady,
who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.
We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,
we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,
through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35
1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21
John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60