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Rock of Ages
by Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778
This fervent plea for Christ our eternal rock to grant salvation through His sacrifice and to be a place of refuge for the believer is one of the most popular hymns ever written.  With strong emotional impact, it proclaims Christ’s atonement on the cross to be the only means of salvation, making man’s tears and efforts to justify himself of no avail.  Also it urges us to find consolation and security in Christ our Rock – even at the time of death.
Augustus Toplady’s strong and passionate lines were actually written to refute some of the teachings of John and Charles Wesley (Methodists) during a bitter controversy with them concerning Arminianism (man can save himself).  In fact, Dr. Louis J. Benson, a noted hymnologist, if Studies of Familiar Hymns, calls attention to the fact that Toplady actually plagiarized the text from a hymn Charles Wesley had written thirty years earlier! 
“Rock of Ages” was the climax to an article that Toplady wrote in The Gospel Magazine in 1776.  He supported his position by arguing that just as England could never pay her national debt, so man through his own efforts could never satisfy the eternal justice of a holy God.  God preserved this hymn for 240 years.  And both Arminians and Calvinists alike have come to love it.
At the age of 16, as he sat in a barn while visiting in Ireland and listened to the preaching of an uneducated man, Toplady was dramatically converted.  Later, he became a powerful and respected preacher.  While he was the busy pastor of several churches in England, Augustus Toplady wrote many texts, but few have survived.  “Rock of Ages” is the one for which he is most known today.
Augustus Montague Toplady was frail and died at the age of 38 from overwork and tuberculosis.  One of his final recorded statements was, “My heart beats every day stronger and stronger for glory.  Sickness is no affliction, pain no cause, death itself no dissolution…My prayers are now all converted into praise.”