Augustus Montague Toplady was an Anglican cleric, hymn writer, and Calvinist. He opposed John Wesley’s teaching of Arminianism. He is probably remembered most as the author of the hymn “Rock of Ages”. The substance of the following discourse from 1 Timothy was preached in the parish church of St. Ann, Blackfriars; on Sunday, April 29, 1770:
St. Paul, in the opening of his apostolic directions to Timothy, adopts the same simple, majestic, and evangelical exordium, with which the rest of his epistles usually begin. Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ; ordained and sent forth by the head of the Church, the supreme master of the spiritual vineyard: without whose internal, authoritative commission, none have a real right to minister in sacred things, nor to thrust the sickle into God’s harvest. For how can men preach to purpose, so as to be instruments of conviction, comfort and sanctification, except they be sent (Rom. x. 15.) of God, and owned of him? Whence the apostle adds, by the commandment of God our Savior, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope. … A sufficient degree of gospel light and knowledge; an ardent love of souls, and a disinterested concern for truth; a competent measure of ministerial gifts and abilities; and, above all, a portion of divine grace and experience; a saving change of heart, and a life devoted to the glory of God; are essential pre-requisites to an evangelical discharge of the sacred function.
The first verse may be read thus: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the express, or authoritative, designation of Jesus Christ our God, Savior, and Lord. So the passage may be rendered; and so perhaps it ought to he understood, in its natural and most obvious construction. Now, even supposing that the apostle had not the divinity of Christ immediately in view, at the time of his writing these words; yet, you must either give up his inspiration, or believe that Christ is, with the Father and the Spirit, God over all, blessed for ever: since on a subject of such unspeakable consequence, it would have argued a degree of negligence, little short of criminal, had the apostle expressed himself in terms palpably liable to misapprehension. I therefore conclude that both as a scholar and as a Christian; as Gamaliel’s pupil and as an inspired apostle; our sacred penman would have delivered himself in a far more guarded style, had not the Son of God been indeed God the Son. Either Jesus is the God, Savior and Lord of his people, or St. Paul was guilty of such inexcusable inaccuracy, as every writer of common sense and common honesty would be sure to avoid.
He goes on to style the blessed Jesus our hope. Ask almost any man, “Whether he hopes to he saved eternally?” He will answer in the affirmative. But inquire again, “On what foundation he rests his hope?” Here too many are sadly divided. The Pelagian hopes to get to heaven by a moral life and a good use of his natural powers; the Arminian by a jumble of grace and free-will, human works, and the merits of Christ; [and] the Deist by an interested observance of the social virtues. Thus merit-mongers, of every denomination, agree in making anything the basis of their hope, rather than that foundation which God’s own hand hath laid in Zion. But what saith Scripture? It avers, again and again, that Jesus alone is our hope: to the exclusion of all others and to the utter annihilation of human deserving. Beware, therefore, of resting your dependence partly on Christ, and partly on some other basis. As surely as you bottom your reliance partly on the rock, and partly on the sand; so certainly, unless God give you an immediate repentance to your acknowledgment of the truth, will your supposed house of defense fall and bury you in its ruins, no less than if you had raised it on the sand alone. Christ is the hope of glory. (Colossians i. 27) Faith in his righteousness received and embraced as our sole justifying obedience before God; and the love of Christ (an inseparable effect of that faith), operating on our hearts, and shining in our lives; are the most solid evidences we can have below of our acceptance with the Father, and of our being saved in Jesus with an everlasting salvation. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrine”)