King's Business - 1928-04

T h e K i n g ’ s B u s i n e s s


April 1928

o f Ages” as it appears today near Blagdon, England, Toplady’s first parish. Toplady was a man o f devout piety, although some­ what narrow in his views, and a very rigid, if not rabid, Calvinist. He was contemporary with the Wesleys and disagreed with them most heartily. In fact, the dis­ agreement went to the extent of bitterness, and there was apparently a misunderstanding on the part of both Top- lady and John Wesley. It is said that the prime object of the writing of the hymn was to offset the influence of John Wesley’s teaching o f perfection as Toplady understood it, or misunderstood it. Toplady called Wesley, “ Pope John” and accused him of writing a “ known, wilful, palpable lie to the people.” Wesley wrote to a friend: “ Mr. Augustus Toplady. I know well; but I do not fight with chimney sweepers; he is too dirty a writer for me to meddle with; I should only foul my fingers.” He also referred to him as “ a lively coxcomb,” and used other epithets more force­ ful than polite. It should be said in justice to these great men that neither was guilty of the charges each brought against the other. It is a strange and beautiful anomaly that these words, written in a bitter controversial spirit, have been turned to a higher use than that for which they were intended, and have become a medium of praise and worship for those representing both schools of theological thought. “ Rock of Ages” is found in every Methodist hymnal and Charles Wesley’s “ Jesus, Lover of my Soul,” is included in every Presbyterian compilation o f hymns. In some books a three-stanza edition will be found, which is a case of hymn “ tinkering.” This was made by Thomas Cotterell o f England, in 1815. Some favor this as being shorter and “ less rugged in its theology.” How­ ever, the four-stanza edition is the only authoritative one. Augustus Montague Toplady, English preacher and hymn writer, was born in Farnham, Surrey, in 1840, son o f a Major in the British Army, who was killed in action at the siege o f Cathagena, South America, about the time his little son was born. His mother was a woman o f cul­ ture and ability and gave her son the best of educational advantages. He attended the famous Westminster School in London and later took, his degree at Trinity College, Dublin. As a minister of. the English church the principal part o f his short life was spent as Vicar o f the parish o f Broad Hembury, Devonshire. He was frail in health and, being of vigorous mind and nervous temperament, he exhausted his vitality and contracted consumption at the age of thirty-five, dying in his thirty-eighth year. Toplady is an illustration of the futility o f controversy. His works, largely polemics, are published in six volumes that lie un­ touched and dust-covered on library shelves, while his deathless fame and his great usefulness to the church and to mankind rest only upon his hymns— especially upon the one outstanding classic, dear to the heart o f every Chris­ tian—





Abide With Me NE of our most precious hymns, the outgrowth of physical suffering, is that o f Henry F. Lyte, “ Abide With Me.” The author was a Scotch­ man, a minister of very frail physique. It is said that he was a man o f very gentle spirit and had a face o f almost feminine beauty. It was the last Sunday evening of his preaching, we are told, when, after conducting the communion service, and f eeling greatly exhausted, he handed to a member of his family the manuscript of this hymn: “ Abide with me, fast falls the eventide, The darkness deepens— Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help o f the helpless, Oh, abide with m e ! “ Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in dll around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me.” His prayer concerning his music, he expressed in the following lines: “ O Thou whose touch can lend Life to the dead, Thy quickening grace supply, And grant me, swanlike, my last breath to spend In song that may not die.” God answered his prayer by raising up William H. Monk to write the tune which hastened “ Abide With Me” on its useful career. The music written by Lyte himself, the work o f a dying man, and full of pathos, did not prove popular. Who has not felt the immortal value of the.mes­ sage o f this beautiful hymn? “ I need thy presence every passing hour, What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power ? Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be ? Through cloud and sunshine, Oh, abide with me.” And how many, in their last hours, may have asked to hear the last verse ?

“ Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be o f sin the double cure— Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”

“ Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies; Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee! In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” ”



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