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UNPUBLISHED JUVENILE DIARY OF
ing," continues the narrative, “was
fixed upon his conscience in demonFor the Christian Observer. stration of the Spirit and of power;"
and, adds the narrative, “Let it not The writer of the following remarks rashly be deemed the enthusiasm of has in his hands an unpublished a visionist, or the ignis-fatuus of diary, kept by the Rev. Augustus religious distraction, when we assert Toplady when a boy at Westmin- that his faith did not stand in the ster school. As a relic of so re- wisdom of man, but in the power markable a man, it may be con- of God; for there was nothing pesidered a literary curiosity ; but it is culiar in the place or instrument to too juvenile to render it altogether work upon the fancy or passions : worth publication. Still it contains therefore, to attempt to explain the so many graphic traces of the early effect by any logical or metaphysical character of that pious and gifted, investigation would be ridiculous, though by no means faultless, di- while we have the Scriptures, in vine, and is written so much in the congeniality with facts, to inform striking style of shrewdness and us that it pleaseth God by the fool. talent which characterises his ma. ishness of preaching to save them ture compositions, that the tran- that believe." script of a few pages, as a specimen, In like manner, Mr. Toplady himmight not be unwelcome to the self was accustomed to refer to this reader.
era of his conversion to God with It is not, however, merely in this peculiar emphasis. Thus he says view that the following extracts are in his Dying Avowal, “I was printed; but chiefly from their in- awakened in the month of August cidental bearing upon an important 1755 :" and again, in one of his theological question. The example journals, “ Sept. 2, 1768 : Reof Mr. Toplady is often quoted as ceived this morning a letter from a remarkable instance, not only of a Gospel friend, informing me “ grace abounding to the chief of that Mr. Morris, of the county of sinners"-which, blessed be God! it Wexford, in Ireland, whose minisdoes—but of almost instantaneous try, a little turned of twelve years conversion, where there had been no ago, was blest to my conversion, is apparent incipient process, no long waxing cold in the work of the striving of the Holy Spirit, or gra. Lord; upon which I thought it a dual effusion of prevenient grace. debt due to friendship, and to the It is stated, in the memoir of Top- cause of God, to write him a letter." lady prefixed to his works, that Again, February 29, same year : “he received the first rudiments of " At night, after my return from his education at Westminster school, Exeter, my desires were strongly where he early evinced and increased drawn out, and drawn up to God. a peculiar genius.” It is immediately I could indeed say that I groaned added, that he left his studies at with the groans' of love, joy, and Westminster to proceed with his peace; but so it was; even with widowed mother to Ireland; where, comfortable groans that cannot be “ when he was about the age of uttered. That sweet text, Ephes. sixteen, it pleased God in his pro. ii. 13, Ye who were sometime afar vidence to direct his steps into a off are made nigh by the blood of barn, at a place called Codymain, Christ, was particularly delightful where a layman was preaching." and refreshing to my soul ; and the
more so as it reminded me of the Leaving, therefore, all investigadays and months that are past, even tions of this nature, and not advertthe day of my sensible espousals to the ing, either in praise or blame, to Bridegroom of the elect: for it was some peculiarities of theological opi. from that passage that Mr. Morris nion, which are mixed up with a porpreached on the memorable evening tion of the phraseology of the above of my effectual call, by the grace of passages, there is one point to which God, under the ministry of that dear it is intended to invite the attention messenger; and, under that sermon, of the reader in reference to these I was, I trust, brought nigh by the statements, as compared with the blood of Christ in August 1756*. tenor of Toplady's own unpublished Strange, that I, who had so long sat juvenile diary. These statements, under the means of grace in Eng. it will be observed, refer his land, should be brought nigh to “awakening,” his “effectual call," God in an obscure part of Ireland, his “conversion,” his “ sensible amidst a handful of God's people espousals," to certain dates, commet together in a barn, and under mencing when he was about sixteen the ministry of one who could hardly years of age, and had left Westminster spell bis name! Surely it was the school. Not a syllable is even hinted Lord's doing, and it is marvellous. that there had been any previous proThe excellency of such power must cess in his mind; that the Spirit of be of God, and cannot be of man. God had ever before striven with him; The regenerating Spirit breathes not that he was even acquainted with a only on whom, but likewise when, single doctrine of Christianity; or where, and as he listeth."
had ever for one moment thought It is not requisite to enter upon seriously; or uttered a prayer, howthe many topics which will suggest ever ignorantly; or felt the alarms themselves to a thoughtful Chris- of conscience; or evinced the least tian mind in perusing the above tenderness of spirit, much less an passages. The discussions respect- ingenuous wish to know and follow ing the Divine sovereignty, instan- the will of God. Now the sovetaneous conversion, and irresistible reignty of Jehovah, the freedom of grace, have been many and long; Divine grace, the sufficiency of the but, whatever may be the differ. Saviour's sacrifice, and the power ences of sentiment, or rather perhaps of his Spirit, are the same whether of statement, of true Christians, these facts be so or not; but a porupon these mapy-sided questions, tion of the practical moral will be the practical personal feeling will somewhat different according to the be much akin in all, and none per particular circumstances of a given haps will hesitate to subscribe to the case. The sacred, mysterious, nay, humble confession of Dr. Watts: “sovereign" influence of the Holy "'Twas the same love that spread the feast Ghost, whether termed irresistible That sweetly call'd me in;
or otherwise, was as much displayed Else I liad still refus'd to taste, in the instance of Cornelius as of And perish'd in my sin."
Mary Magdalene; and would have • There seems to be a discrepancy in
been as much displayed in the case these dates. It may perhaps be recon
recons of the young man whom our Lord ciled by a passage in the Dying Avowal: loved, and who was not very far « Though awakened in 1755, I was not from the kingdom of heaven, had led into a full and clear view of all the ho really entered it as in that of doctrines of grace till the year 1758; when, through the great goodness of God. the thief upon the cross, who did my Arminian prejudices received an enter it, and at the eleventh hour. effectual shock in reading Dr. Manton's These, then, are not points in ques. sermons on the xvji th of St. John. I shall
tion; but still there are differences remember the years 1755 and 1758 with gratitude and joy in the heaven of heas of administration, and it serves no vens to all eternity."
scriptural purpose to confound Christ, OBSERV. No. 345. 4 B
things that differ. The grace of prepared by the Holy Spirit for the God is not less magnified in the reception of that seed of Divine life instance of Samuel the Prophet, or which was sown, or began to spring John the Baptist, or Timothy, than up so as to be visible, at the parti. in that of John Bunyan; and if the cular periods he mentions? And following extracts from Mr. Top- if this were the case, ought the cir. lady's juvenile diary should prove cumstance to have been suppressed? that he more resembled the former On the contrary, instead of overthan the latter class of character, looking these merciful premonitions though the story may sound less and warnings and meltings of soul, “ marvellous” to undiscriminating ought they not to have been proears, the great fact is the same, and minently set forth, as testimonies to the glory is due alone in the same the love and patience of God and quarter. There is no more room the blessed influences of his Spirit, for boasting in the case of a pro- even while the subject of this merci. gressive than of an instantaneous ful dispensation was unconscious of “ awakening :" the forbearance and the path by which he was gradually long-suffering of God, and the neces. led, to prove him, to try him, and sity of the enlightening and convert to bring him peace at his latter ing influences of his Holy Spirit, end? His early Pharisaism and are the same whether young Top. vanity, if there were nothing else, lady was the most ignorant profii. would prove how much he needed gate boy in Westminster school, « awakening" and " conversion ," and was suddenly “ awakened” at and perhaps this youthful indication the age of sixteen without any of his natural character may assist previous process; or whether from in accounting for the contrary views his very infancy he was under the which he so strongly urged in after secret strivings of the Holy Spirit, life. Ministers generally shew their evinced by tenderness of conscience, own weakest points in the sins they a desire to know and follow the most preach against. truth, habits of prayer and reading These remarks, it is repeated, are the Scriptures, and many other of irrespective of any differences of the symptoms that doubtless cha- opinion that may exist respecting racterized the “ awakening" and the doctrinal creed, or the character “conversion" of the Evangelist Ti- or conduct, of Mr. Toplady, or the mothy. At ali events, truth is truth; controversies in which he was enand the printed memoir of Toplady gaged. They refer wholly to an does not convey the whole truth: it omission in the memoir of his Life speaks of his “ effectual calling," prefixed to his Works-namely, as bis « awakening," his conversion," to his character and feelings before and his “ sensible espousals," from the period of his going to Ireland; 1755 to 1758 ; but it gives no inti- -Which omission the following exmation of what had been his pre- tracts from his own juvenile diary will vious life, his training, bis early assist to supply. They are too boyish habits and feelings; or whether he to be read without a smile: so boyish, had not in fact been often in former indeed, that it was at first intended years the subject of “ awakenings," to extract only a few of the graver partial perhaps and intermitting, passages ; but this would not have but such as never permitted him to given a fair view of the character return wholly to his spiritual slum- of this remarkable child ;-remarkbers; but rather kept him in the able in his seriousness, his conscilistening attitude of young Samuel, entiousness, his shrewdness yet “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant simplicity, and in the very circumheareth.” Might not the fallow stance of his keeping a regular diary ground of his heart have been for of his thoughts and actions. His years gradually broken up, and filial affection and duty are delightful. Those who have read his life My aunt, in 1752, Feb. gave and writings will not be uninterested me a large black box to keep my in some even of the most trivial of writings in. I make vast progress the following childish notices, as in my book, and have vigorously displaying in an incipient state and industriously endeavoured to those characteristics which marked do my task well. I always pray to the future man. The true philo. my God as I go to my school.-My sopher knows how to read such aunt gave me a seal. My dear mental memoranda with profit as mamma gave me a pulpit-cloth of well as amusement; child's play white, all-a-piece, laced with a to him is wisdom : but for others, broad gold lace.--I always love even Miss Edgeworth's admirable God, and endeavour to cast away baby anecdotes, in her work on Edu. all impurity and all sin whatever. cation, are “ very silly." Let the When I was a very little boy, I reader take his choice. .
found a pocket-book with clasps, The secret workings of a child's pence, and hinges of solid silver. mind are not often unfolded to Before I went to Deptford, I had others as they appear in the follow- bought out of my own money a ing diary. Many a parent, and large strong book case, in 1751. aunt and uncle, and grandmother, March. I wrote a manual of and schoolmaster, may find some prayers. 24th and 25th, very ill: useful hints as to the effect of their my mamma provided me every conduct on the minds of children, thing needful, like a kind indulgent when they least suspect it. Oh,parent as she is. 26th also very ill : how does one wish that this pro. staid from school. March 19th I mising boy had in his early years went to Mr. Darby's; very civilly found a friend who had known how entertained. to shew him the way of God more April 7th. — Mamma told me perfectly! His mother appears to that I was as good to her as ten have been anxious and affectionate, children : see the tenderness of a and to have instructed him accord- kind, dear mother! 4th, I went to ing to her knowledge ; but she had Mr. Darby's; very genteelly enternot soared beyond the doctrinal tained. 5th, Went to my uncle errors and pharisaical notions of a Charles's; he gave me three-pence. religious formalist. The sermon in In the morning I found a halfpenny. the barn was, perhaps, whatever My aunt Betsey invented a terrible might be its faults, the first clear mistake of me. I have a little exposition of the scriptural method garden at Mr. Burting's; she said of salvation which he had ever she sowed some horse-radish in it; heard from the lips of a preacher, that I had pulled it up. Swore in a or in the conversation of a friend. solemn manner ! In a fortnight I
saw a great head (wbich I took DIARY, &c.
then to be flowers) of horse-radish. 1751.
I told her of the mistake, and of Oct. 20th I began to write a book the consequences which would atof duty, and ended in December. tend getting a bad character on me; · Nov. 27th began another, and on which she multiplied her number ended in February 25, 1752. from one piece of radish to two;
On Shrove-Tuesday I wrote a stands in it, and that I told a lie ; sermon: I have three more of my but, thanks be to God, I scorn one. own composition.
God forgive her ! for I do.- April 1752.
6th, dear mamma gave me several Feb. 28th.--My dear, dear, dear books. Very ill with the tooth-ache. mamma bought me a set of boxes, I shall add in my journal the all one in another, very beauteous prayers I say before I go to school, and useful.
going there, and coming back.
“ Blessed be thy Name, () most and despairing of God's lifting me righteous Lord, who hast given me up again; therefore I must keep a the advantage of learning. Grant I heart of thanksgiving and faith : may receive it readily, and put the thanksgiving, in praising him for benefits of it to good uses. Make sparing the life of mamma so long me not to err, as some other school. as to instruct me in the right paths; boys do. Suffer me not to be and faith, in reliance on bis good tempted by my own heart's lusts, providence that he will mercifully or by the dissuasions of bad com- assist me, and give me the comfort pany : arm me against their snares, of his upholding consolations. So and grant I may keep a watch over let her Christian graces and pious myself, never to perpetrate any example be an everlasting pattern crime. Grant I may never fall from for me to copy. She hath often thee; nor leave so kind, so boun- told me, that the best kindness to tiful, so beneficent, so faithful a her after her death was, not to Master as thou art ! Amen." Going deviate from God's laws. Her kind there :-“O Lord God, dear Re- and good instructions, I hope, will deemer, heavenly Father, dear be a memorial of that tender regard Protector, grant I may not have she had for me ; and her edifying any anger from Dr. Nicholls, Dr. discourses belasting monuments Lloyd, or any ofthe ushers, that may of her praise. She is affable and proceed from any one cause whatobliging, but her complaisance does ever, and in particular (here I name not exceed bounds of truth ; and my fears). Amen. Grant also I in private, pious and discreet. Then may not have any quarrels with my I will comfort myself by endeavourschool-fellows. Grant that peace ing to gain as high an esteem for may circulate in our hearts, as if we religion, and as great a detestation were brothers. Amen."-I always of vice, as she has: I must refrain join in the prayers which are said in myself from immoderate grief, and the school : and though I do not renew my faith and reliance on understand the prayers, yet I join God's mercy, and doubt not but in the Lord's Prayer, and say this she will be in a felicial state in the following : “ Receive my praise, O kingdom of Christ. Amen. Lord, for protecting me from all May 14th.Went to Deptford; anger. Grant that nothing may walked there and back. They decome to interrupt the unity which sired me to stay some few days; but ought to subsist between dear as mamma bid me go home the mamma and me. Grant that all same night, I rather chose to obey my power and strength and might her than to be in pleasure by disvigorously unite to promote thy obedience. glory. Amen." Coming back : 15th. I set down these rules : • Thanks be to Thee for my pro. First, I must beware of spiritual gress in my learning, and for all thy pride: secondly, of uncleanness : goodness, kindnesses, and comforts. thirdly, of lying : fourthly, of neg. Amen."
lecting that great precept of loving April 11th.– My dear mamma, God with all my heart, mind, and having heard my prayers, cried strength. The love of God consists in tears for joy, and said that she a thorough obedience to his mandates; hoped I should never leave the which gives such pleasing ideas, that right road ; and bid me beware the soul is transported in a manner cautiously of sin, that God's beyond itself. 'Tis that is company heavenly grace might be with me. when we are alone; and the only Having thought of some graces I thing that can charm or delight me, should practise should I survive her: when I think on the strange mysFirst, I must beware of impatience, teries of religion. With what astothat is, murmuring at her death, nishment do I meditate, when I