Page images

and can spare very little for the purchase of books. It is put into circulation at one fourth of the original cost of the London edition. May the Divine Spirit make it extensively useful for convincing and reclaiming the erroneous, and for comforting and confirming all the true friends of the precious doctrines of grace, through the churches of Christ.








MR. TOPLADY* was second son to Richard Toplady, Esq. a major in the army. born at Farnham, in Surrey, on Tuesday, the 4th of November, 1740. The first rudiments of his education he received at Westminster School. He very early discovered an uncommon vigour of mind, and made proficiency in the languages much beyond most of his contemporaries. He used to employ his by-hours, while at the grammar-school, in writing exercises for such idle or dissipated young nobility as either could not, or would not write them themselves. By this means he sometimes gained three or four shillings a day. After his father's death, his mother (having some claims

He was

* The substance of this short account of Mr. Toplady's life is taken from the Christian's Magazine, for January, 1791, with some additions and alterations.

upon an Irish estate) took him with her into that kingdom ; and entered him a stu. dent in Trinity College, Dublin, where he soon took his degree of Bachelor of Arts. He was an indefatigable student in every branch of literature and science ; but, as he very early devoted himself to the service of Christ in the church, he chiefly cultivated those studies which were best calculated to make him (through the divine blessing) an able minister of the New Testament, He took much pains to render himself a proficient in the Hebrew and Greek languages, that he might be qualified to read and study the scriptures of truth in their sacred originals. His writings abundantly shew that he was, in a high degree, master of them both.

About the 15th year of his age, it pleased God to bring him under awakenings of conscience, on account of the guilt and misery of his natural state ; and to shew him his absolute need of Christ. He was a considerable time in great perplexity and doubt between the Arminian and Calvinistic schemes. He read with avidity many books on each side. At last a kind of Providence brought in his way Dr. Manton on the 17th of John : which was made the happy mean of giving his strong Arminian prejudices the first effectual blow. By the time he arrived at his 18th year, he had (through the Spirit's supernatural teaching) attained a clear and settled belief of the doctrines of grace; and continued to the day of his death a bold and determined enemy to the Arminian heresy. He used often to say among his intimates, “that he should, when in heaven, remember the year 1758, (the 18th of his age) with gratitude and joy.

He entered into orders on Trinity Sunday, the 6th of June, 1762. He was soon after inducted into the living of Blagdon, in Somersetshire, and afterwards into that of Broad-Hembury, in Devonshire. In both charges he shewed himself an able, faithful, and zealous servant of Christ; "a labourer that needeth not to be ashamed ; rightly dividing the word of truth.” It was during his residence at Broad-Hembury that he composed the greater part of those valuable works, which will perpetuate and endear his memory to all the friends of truth through succeeding ages. He occasionally visited London, and soon contracted an intimacy with an extensive circle of friends there. The lustre of his pulpit talents could not be hid. He was much followed, and much admired. Three years before his death his health began to be much impaired by close study and excessive application. He began to apprehend that the air of Devon was too moist for one of his delicate constitution. By the advice of friends he removed to London in the year 1775. But he had not well arrived, when he was earnestly solicited by his numerous friends, to engage to preach in the chapel belonging to the French Reformed, in Leicester Fields. Their pressing importunities, and an ardent desire of being useful

to immortal souls, prevailed over every other consideration. For a short time he statedly supplied that charge. But intense application to study, and late sitting, soon wasted his remaining strength, and accelerated the premature end of his ministry and labours. He fell into a consumption, and entered into his Master's joy on the 11th of August, 1778, the 38th year of his life, and the 16th of his ministry.

His bodily frame seems to have been rather tall and slender; and his natural temper extremely keen and boisterous. Impatient of contradiction, he was in the heat of disputation, apt to be hurried on by the mere impetuosity of his pase sions, to a degree of warmth bordering on dictatorial insolence.

His mind was endowed with vast powers of conception. His understanding was clear and capacious, his judgment solid and correct, his imagination lively, and his invention uncommonly prompt and fertile. His great natural powers were much improved by a liberal education and close study. His early acquaintance with the power of religion induced him to delight much in the study of the scriptures. He soon acquired, under divine influence, a very accurate and extensive knowledge of the word of God. In his public labours he eminently deserved the noble character of Apollos, “ A man mighty in the scriptures." His writings clearly show his intimate acquaintance with the ancient fathers and systematic writers. He seems to have inherited a

« PreviousContinue »