Friday, August 06, 2021

Toplady the Revivalist


We live in a day when the people around us are  indifferent to the Gospel. I thought it might be an encouragement to some to have an account Of the experience of revival in England and Wales, and coupled with  a testimony from Augustus Toplady, a decidedly Calvinistic writer and preacher. These are taken from his Works.

He wrote:

On the Anniversary Day in Wales, the congregation was so large that the chapel would not have contained a fourth part of the people, who were supposed to three thousand . No fewer than one thousand three hundred horses were turned into the large fold adjoining the College, besides what were  stationed in the neighboring villages.   The carriages also, were unusually numerous. A scaffold was erected at one end of the College – court, on which a bookstand was placed, by way of pulpit; and them six or seven of us preached, successively,  to one of the most attentive and most lively congregations I ever beheld. When it came to my turn to preach. ``I attend to the front, ; and had not gone more than half through my prayer before sermon when the was done. scaffold suddenly fell in  fell in.  As I stood very near the highermost step  (and the steps  did not fall with the rest), Providence enabled me to keep on my feet, through the assistance of Mr Winkworth, who laid fast on my ar,  About forty ministers were on the scaffold and and the steps when the former broke down. Dear Mr Shirley fell undermost of all, but received no other hurt than a very slight bruise on one of his thighs. A good woman, who, for the conveniency of hearing , had placed herself under the scaffold, received a slight contusion to her  face. No other mischief was done. The congregation, though greatly alarmed, had the prudence not to throw themselves into outward disorder: which, I believe  was chiefly owing to he powerful sense of God’s presence, which was eminently felt by most of the assembly.

 Such was the wonderful goodness of the Lord to me, that I was not in the least disconcerted on this dangerous occasion: which I mention to the praise of that grace and providence, without which a much smaller incident would inevitably  have shocked  every nerve I  have. About half  a minute after the interruption had commenced, I had the satisfaction to inform the people that no damage had ensued; and removing for security to a lower step, I thanked the Lord, with the rejoicing multitude, for having so undeniably  given his angels charge concerning us. Prayer ended,  I was enabled to preach .and great grace seemed to be upon us all.


Part of a letter of A.M. Toplady to friends, Sept. 9, 1775, The Works of the Rev Augustus Toplady, 875-6

He has this extract of an account of the character of George Whitefield, after his death in Newburyport, Mass., in 1770. Perhaps it was an article in the newly-published Evangelical Magazine.


I deem myself happy in having an opportunity of thus  publicly avowing the inexpressible esteem in which I held this  wonderful man; and the affectionate veneration  which I must ever refrain, for the memory of one  whose acquaintance and ministry were attended with the most important spiritual benefit to me, and of tens of thousands beside.

It will not be saying too much, if I term him The apostle of the English empire; in point of zeal for God, a long course of  indefatigable and incessant labours, unparalleled disinterestedness, and astonishingly extensive usefulness.

 He was a true and faithful son of the Church of England, and invincibly asserted her doctrines to the last; and that in a merely doctrinal way. though he was a most systematic divine, but with an unction of power from God, unequalled in the present day.

 He would never have quitted even the walls of the Church, had not either the ignorance, or the malevolence, of some who ought who known better, compelled him in the present day.

 If the most absolute command over the passions of immense auditories be the mark of a consummate orator, he was the greatest of the age. If the strongest good sense, the most generous expansions of heart, the most artless but captivating affability, the brightest cheerfulness , the  most liberal exemption from bigotry, and the purest and most purest cheerfulness, and the promptest wit, enter into the composition of social excellence, he was one of the best companions in the world. 

If to be stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the works of the Lord; if an union of the most brilliant with the most solid ministerial gifts, ballasted by a deep and humbling, experience of grace, and crowned with the most  extended success  in the conversion of sinners and the edification  of saints, be signatures of a special commission from heaven;  Mr. Whitefield cannot but  stand highest on the modern list of Christian ministers.

On the whole, he was the most imperfect character I ever knew; and yet, no person was ever more shockingly traduced and vilified, by those  who either were unacquainted with him, or who hated him for his virtues, and for his attachment to the gospel of Christ…..

 The Works of the Rev Augustus Toplady, p.494

People think of Toplady as a hyper-Calvinist,  because of his admiration of John Gill I suppose. But these extracts are those of a regular revivalist. He was the author of great hymns. Here is one centred in Christ:

Object of my first desire,
Jesus, crucified for me;
All to happiness aspire,
Only to be found in Thee.

Thee to praise, and Thee to know,
Constitute my bliss below;
Thee to see, and Thee to love,
Constitute my bliss above.

Lord, it is not life to live,
If Thy presence Thou deny:
Lord, if Thou Thy presence give,
‘Tis no longer death to die.

Source and giver of repose,
Only from Thy smile it flows,
Peace and happiness are Thine;
Mine they are, if Thou art mine.

Let me but Thyself possess—
Total sum of happiness—
Real bliss I then shall prove,
heaven below and heaven above.