Augustus Toplady and Thomas Oliver

Marc posted this to our e-mail list recently:

In a letter “To the Rev. Mr. P.”, Augustus Toplady recounts his conversation with arch-Arminian Thomas Oliver. You can find it here: or if you have the one-volume Works, it’s on page 840 (Letter XX).


“Permit me, Mr. Oliver, to put the above question to you. I trust, you have experienced something of a work of God, upon your heart. What say you? Did you choose God, or did God choose you? Did he lay hold on you, or did you lay hold on him? … Then it is very clear that your conversion, at least, was not conditional…. I plainly perceive that you are not disposed to return a direct answer to my first question. But if you will not answer it to me, let me request you to take an early opportunity of answering it on your knees before God in prayer. Go to your closet, and pour out your heart in his presence, and beg him to shew you whether you were converted by free-will, or by free-grace alone.”

This seems to show that Toplady considered Oliver to be regenerate. Yet some other things he said would indicate the opposite. I wonder. I tend to think Toplady considered Oliver to be regenerate.

I agree with what you say there Marc. Toplady to Oliver:

” … but let it be our mutual prayer, that we may experience the efficacy of God’s word in our hearts, and evidence the power of it by the holiness of our lives.”

Once again lost relgionists focus on the the zeal and supposed holiness rather than the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (see Romans 10:1-4). Toplady comments here regarding Oliver:

“Poor dear man, if God has a set time for opening his eyes, the enmity of his free-will shall not be able to steel him against the gospel when the set time comes.”

So, what is this? Mutual prayers to God between Toplady and one whose enmity of free will has steeled him against the gospel. Toplady judges as a spiritual brother one who exhibits enmity towards the gospel! A bit more from Toplady:

“The Wednesday after this conversation, his curiosity led him to hear me preach at Blackfriars…A friend of mine, Mr. Flower, of Cannon-street, happened to sit in the same pew with him. When the sermon was ended, Oliver turned to Mr. Flower, and said, with much rancorous emotions, ‘Believe this, and be damned.’ Mr. Flower answered, ‘No sir, believe this, and be saved.’ Mr. Flower himself was the person from whom I afterwards learned this particular. He added that, during sermon-time, Oliver was in such uneasiness and agitation that he seemed hardly able to contain his rage” (italic emphasis mine-CD).

Romans 12:10:

” … in brotherly love to one another.”


“Then I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to walk worthily of the calling in which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, the One above all and through all and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Clearly, when Calvinists like Toplady and Arminians like Oliver go at it they are keeping the unity of their anti-christian spirit inasmuch as they consider one another spiritual brethren, but despite this unity there is no bond of peace when they are at each others’ throats. There is of course, a “bond of peace” in the sense that they are both speaking peace to one another apart from the only grounds of peace, which is the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. By speaking peace apart from the only grounds of peace, they show to those with eyes to see it, who their father is, who their “lord” is, what their common “one faith” is, and what kind of “spirit” is unifying them (Galatians 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1-5; 2 John 9-11).

Presumably, spiritual brothers in Satan say that to believe another spiritual brother’s sermon, is to be damned. This reminds me of God-hater Spurgeon’s comment that while John Wesley’s doctrines were abhorrent (not damning), yet he held Wesley’s person up with the apostles (something like that). How irrational is that? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. This kind of nonsense also reminds me of what Calvinist James White says about Arminian Ergun Caner being an habitual liar:

[my paraphrase here]: “You are an habitual and unrepentant lying… who needs to repent.”

Say, what? A brother? And people call us looney?