Friday, February 6, 2015

Augustus Toplady Responds to Walter Sellon

“I had before been delineated, by an Arminian helpmeet of Mr. Wesley’s, as ‘sitting in my easy chair, and enjoying all the comforts of life.’ One would think, that the see of Durham had been transferred to Broad-Hembury, and that the Devonshire Vicar was warmly enrobed in lawn and black satin. So much for my attitude and enjoyments; next for my titles; these Mr. Sellon enumerates. I am, it seems, (See the Gospel Magazine March, 1771) ‘A Flaming Calvinist;  A Dragon;  An Hooter; A Venomous Slanderer; A Persecutor, possessing the same butcherly spirit that was in bishop Gardiner; yea, ten times more; A Perfectionist; A malapert Boy, severely scratching and clawing with venomous nails; A Papist; A Socinian; A Mahometan; The greatest Bigot that ever existed, without one grain of candour, benevolence, forbearance, moderation, good-will, or charity; A wild Beast of impatience and lion-like fury; A Materialist’ - that is, an Atheist.

“A goodly string of appellations! And not a little extraordinary, that they should all centre in one and the same man! Being so uncommon a person myself, my writings too must be something singular. Take a description of them in the words of the said Sellon: ‘I find sophistry, fallacy, false insinuation, raillery, perversion of scripture and the church articles, self-contradiction, self-sufficiency, haughtiness, pride and vanity, glaring in almost every page.’

“Thus, enthroned in my easy chair, dignified with titles, and accurately developed as a writer, I only want a suitable address, to render my magnificence complete; and who so well qualified to prepare it, as the eloquent Mr. Sellon? Lo, he attends; and, respectfully advancing, pays me the following compliments: ‘Unhappily daring, and unpardonably bold, thy tongue imagineth wickedness, and with lies thou cuttest like a sharp razor. Thou hast loved unrighteousness more than goodness; and to talk of lies more than righteousness. Thou hast loved to speak all words that may do hurt, O thou false tongue.’ Such are the candour and politeness of these Methodists; and such are the arguments, by which they would persuade us, that Arminianism is the religion of the Church of England.

“These are the men that set up for ‘universal love;’ who call one another by the cant names of ‘precious believers,’ ‘most excellent souls,’ ‘charming children of God,’ ‘sweet Christians,’ and ‘the clean-hearted.’ If their hearts are no cleaner than their mouths, they have little reason to value themselves on their ‘sinless perfection.’ These are they who seek to bottom election on faith and goodness foreseen; of which foreseen goodness, humility and benevolence, meekness and forbearance, are, I suppose, some of the ingredients. Woe be to those ‘sweet Christians,’ if their election has no better foundation than their ‘sweet’ tempers, words, and works.

“And why all this torrent of abuse? The plain truth is this: I detected Mr. Wesley's forgeries, and chastised the forger. Hinc ille lacrymae. Hence the outcries of John himself, together with those of Thomas Olivers and Walter Sellon. The camp of the Philistines gave a scream, when they saw the levelled stone penetrate the brass of their Goliath's forehead: but of all the tribe, none screamed so loud as the frighted Walter; of whose talent at screaming, a specimen has been exhibited to the reader.”

Augustus Toplady, Introduction, Historic Proof Of The Doctrinal Calvinism Of The Church Of England, Works, Volume 1

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