Augustus Toplady (1)

The following was primarily a question regarding the heterodoxy of Augustus Toplady. But it also included things regarding John Wesley, Jerome Zanchius, and Lloyd-Jones. This e-mail question was sent my way back in late December of 2008 (my reply to this is slightly edited from the original):

What heterodox things did Toplady say? Also, what do you know about Jerome Zanchius?

I ask about Zanchius because I have a copy of a paperback book entitled Absolute Predestination by Jerome Zanchius that I purchased as a used book several years ago. (I had never heard of Zanchius at the time, but the title of the book caught my attention.) I suspect that this book is Toplady’s own translation (I assume from Latin) of Zanchius’ The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination, rather than the abridgement of Toplady’s translation that John Wesley sinfully published under Toplady’s initials (“A.T.”), but the book doesn’t actually mention any translator.

It seems to me that the fact that Wesley would go to the trouble to publish an abridged version of this work, and do it using Toplady’s initials to make it look like Toplady himself had published it, indicates that there was something about this work which John Wesley couldn’t refute and was greatly threatened by.

I’ve found some online versions of The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination by Zanchius, supposedly translated by Toplady, but it’s hard to know what is truly what. The best online version seems to be the one at, which includes a long introductory chapter (as does my book) entitled “Observations on the Divine Attributes, Necessary to be Premised, In Order to Our Better Understanding The Doctrine of Predestination” which some of the other online versions don’t include, but (like my book) this web site doesn’t actually mention Toplady as the translator. I just wish I could know for sure which versions, whether paper or online, are Toplady’s translation, which (if any) are Wesley’s abridged version of Toplady’s translation, and which (if any) are someone else’s abridgement or translation.

Interestingly, one of the online versions is located at on the web site of St. Louis University, which I think is a Roman Catholic school. But at the bottom of this web page is the statement, “Disclaimer: is a service of Saint Louis University, Saint Louis University does not control, monitor or guarantee the information contained in these sites. For more information »”, so I don’t know who put this article on the St. Louis University web site.


Hello, Carol-

I don’t have the book by Lloyd-Jones. I got the quote from Chris Adams when he posted it to our Outside the Camp list — I think it might have been some time in 2005. But I did find out what year (from two full chapters online) Lloyd-Jones said the first quoted paragraph: 1973. The second quote was in 1968. See the following links for an online source of those quotes:

A description of the Lloyd-Jones book:

==In these addresses given at the Puritan Studies and Westminster Conferences between 1959 and 1978, Dr. Lloyd-Jones ranges widely over the history of Reformed Christianity from the Reformation to the nineteenth century, drawing lessons from major figures like Calvin and Knox, Bunyan and Owen, Edwards and Whitefield, and from lesser-known men such as Henry Jacob, John Glas and Robert Sandeman.==

Here are some of the heterodox things spoken by Toplady:

==Mr. Whitefield cannot but stand highest on the modern list of Christian ministers. England has had the honor of producing the greatest men in almost every walk of useful knowledge. At the head of these are, 1. Archbishop Bradwardin, the prince of divines. 2. Milton, the prince of poets. 3. Sir Isaac Newton, the prince of philosophers. 4. Whitefield, the prince of preachers…Mr. Whitefield expresses himself, verbatim, thus, to Mr. John Wesley:

“As God was pleased to send me out first; and to enlighten me first; so I think he still continues to do it: my business seems to be chiefly in planting. If God send you to water, I praise his name.” (l)

On the whole, he was the least 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. But the pen of faithful history, and the suffrages of unprejudiced posterity, will do justice to the memory of a man, of whom the present generation was not worthy.

(l) See the collection of Mr. Whitefield’s Letters, in three volumes, octavo. Vol. i. Let. 214. p. 205.

(The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady, p. 494, Sprinkle Publications, 1987**)

** Printed verbatim from the first edition of his works, 1794.==

Toplady speaks very highly of Whitefield, even referencing Hebrews 11:38. Toplady says all of this, despite his knowledge of what Whitefield thought of the gospel of John Wesley and Wesley himself. Toplady counted Whitefield an eminent saint, though Whitefield spoke peace to an enemy of God, and thus Toplady showed himself to be an enemy of God (James 4:4 ; 2 John 9-11).

==”Arminians will ask, ‘Where’s the use of preaching the doctrines of grace, even supposing them to be true? Since we may go to heaven without a clear knowledge of them.’ And a man may go to heaven with broken bones; yet it is better to go thither in a whole skin. A man may get to his journey’s end, though it rain and thunder all the way; yet it is more comfortable to travel in fair weather. You or I might make a better shift to live upon a scanty allowance of bread and water; yet, surely, an easy fortune, and a decent table are, in themselves, abundantly preferable to poverty and short commons. Who would wish to go upon thorns when his way may be strewed with roses?

Where is the difference between Arminianism and Epicurism? To suppose a fortuitous concourse of incidents is no less Atheistical than to suppose a fortuitous concourse of atoms.

I can compare some ranting Arminian preachers, who represent salvation as a matter of chance, and press men to help forward their own conversion, upon pain of damnation, to none so well as to auctioneers; who, with the hammer in their hands, are always bawling out, ‘Now is your time; now is your time: a-going, a-going, a-going.’

Such a method is equally inconsistent with the analogy of faith, and subversive of the majesty of the gospel. Shall I order a dead soul to awake, and raise itself to life? Let me rather address the living God, and say, ‘Awake, and put on thy strength, O arm of the Lord! Breathe on these slain, that they may live!'” (Toplady, p. 541)==

Toplady demonstrates from this quote that those who preach and believe the false gospel (cf Galatians 1:8-9) of Arminianism are not anathema, but will make it to heaven — albeit with some “broken bones.”

And here is Toplady commenting on the death of an Arminian by the name of John Goodwin:

==”Whether John Goodwin went to heaven or not (which is a question too high for sublunary decision), certain it is as I have already observed, that not one inhabitant of the celestial city ever carried a single particle of Arminianism with him into the gates of that Jerusalem. Of every Arminian now living, whose name is in the book of life, it may be truly said, that if grace do not go so far as to make him a Calvinist on earth, glory [i.e. grace made perfect] will certainly stamp him a Calvinist, in the kingdom of God, at farthest” (Works of Toplady, page 361).

Toplady believes that those who believe a false gospel will come to believe the true gospel in heaven. Of course, I am not equating true Christianity with Calvinism like Toplady appears to be doing, for true and genuine Calvinism is a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, and many Calvinists like Augustus Toplady spoke spiritual peace to the haters of God when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11; 2 John 9-11).

The only thing that I knew about Zanchius was his work — or what I thought was his work — Absolute Predestination. Wikipedia says that in 1769 Toplady published his translation of Zanchius’ “Confession of the Christian Religion” (1562) and gave the translation the title of “The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted.”  But there are other sources that assert that Toplady’s translation was a translation of various works of Zanchius, from which Toplady took selective quotes:

==What should everyone know about Zanchi that they probably don’t know?

[O’Banion –CD] “This is an easy one. Zanchi is best know among English-speaking audiences for having written a treatise called Absolute Predestination. The problem is that he didn’t write it. It is, in fact, a translation and revised abridgment of one of Zanchi’s treatises (precisely which one is debated) that was made by Augustus Toplady in the 18th century and which spawned a heated debate with John Wesley. Absolute Predestination is, in my opinion, somewhat unbalanced. Toplady just took the bits about predestination in Zanchi and pulled them away from the warp and woof of his theology. Frankly, I think that sort of thing just helps foster the myth that Reformed theology is all about the doctrine of predestination.”(SOURCE)

Patrick O’Banion says that exactly which combination of Zanchi’s treatises is debated.  At his website O’Banion says:

== “It has been difficult to determine exactly how much of Absolute Predestination is a translation of Zanchi and how much was simply added by Toplady. Henry Atherton commented in the introduction to the 1930 edition published by Sovereign Grace Union, London, that ‘Toplady not only translated Zanchius’ great work, but added much excellent matter thereby giving us the best translation of Zanchius and the best of Toplady.’ For those interested in the thought of Zanchi alone, the effects of Toplady’s hybrid translation are problematic at best.” And: “Conflicting opinions exist about the precise source from which Toplady produced Absolute Predestination.” ==

I was right about what I thought Zanchius said in Absolute Predestination:

“As God doth not will that each individual of mankind should be saved, so neither did he will that Christ should properly and immediately die for each individual of mankind; whence it follows that, though the blood of Christ, from its own intrinsic dignity, was sufficient for the redemption of all men; yet, in consequence of his Father’s appointment, he shed it intentionally, and, therefore, effectually and immediately, for the elect only” (p. 678 in Toplady’s works and Position 9 under the heading, The Will of God in Absolute Predestination).

I thought the words “properly” and “immediately” could be Zanchius asserting that Christ died in some sense for the reprobate (which is the genuine Calvinist position). But one person told me a while back that Toplady wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with that quote since he could interpret it as a similar hypothetical sufficiency to that of John Owen who did not believe that Christ died for the reprobate in any “improper” sense. Here is a site which has some Primary and Secondary source information and quotations regarding the theology of Zanchius:

Regarding the Twisse citation from the above link, one scholar said that Twisse demonstrates that Thomas and others were accurate in their citations and interpretations of Zanchius.

I have no idea where this Wesley “abridgement” is, or if it even still exists, but it would not be hard to spot, for Toplady says that in it Wesley falsely quotes in the concluding paragraph:

“Witness my hand, A—–T—-” (Toplady Works, p. 721).

Here is Toplady’s comment rebuking Wesley for his mangling “abridgement” of Zanchius’s work:

“How miserably have you pillaged even my publication? Books, when sent into the world, are no doubt in some sense public property. Zanchius, if you chose to buy him, was yours to read; and, if you thought yourself equal to the undertaking, was yours to answer: but he was not yours to mangle. Remember how narrowly you escaped a prosecution some years ago, for pirating the Poems of Dr. Young” (Toplady, p. 723, Sprinkle Publications).

I hope this information is somewhat helpful.