by Augustus Toplady Introduction
by Shaun Willcock
Arminianism is the dominant theology of our age. It has completely infected the majority of churches and denominations. There was a time when this was not so; but then something happened. Although the Roman Catholic institution did not invent this false doctrine (for it is the doctrine of the natural man in all ages), yet in the sixteenth century its diabolical Jesuits injected this poisonous drug into Protestantism in order to water it down, to weaken it, and thus prepare it for eventual destruction by absorption into Romanism, which is thoroughly Arminian itself. Here is solid evidence of this, from Augustus Toplady, a great opponent of Popery and Arminianism and a true Christian. Here we see yet further evidence of the work of the sinister Jesuits, those secret agents of the Papacy, “false brethren” who were “unawares brought in” (Gal.2:4), “ungodly men” who “crept in unawares” (Jude v.4), disguised as Protestants, even as ministers, and who undermined sound doctrine.
It should also be pointed out that the author refers to “Anabaptists” very generally. It was a name which was applied to a very wide spectrum of people, and many have mistakenly been under the impression that they were all, or almost all, heretics. This is not the case at all. Many, in fact, whom their enemies called by this name, were true Christians, although without doubt there were others who certainly were not; just as many are called “Christians” who most certainly are not. Toplady was rightly against the Arminianism of many who bore this name, and it appears that this was what he was referring to in his statement about them below.
The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey to Rome (though Monsieur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If, however, any are disposed to believe, that Arminius imbibed his doctrines from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference: he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola.
Certain it is, that Arminius himself was sensible, how greatly the doctrine of predestination widens the distance between Protestantism and Popery. “There is no point of doctrines (says he) which the Papists, the Anabaptists, and the (new) Lutherans more fiercely oppose, nor by means of which they heap more discredit on the reformed Churches, and bring the reformed system itself into more odium; for they (i.e. the Papists, etc.) assert, that no fouler blasphemy against God can be thought or expressed, than is contained in the doctrine of predestination.” (Arminius, in Oper. p. 115, Ludg. 1629). For which reason, he advises the reformed world to discard predestination from their creed, in order that they may live on more brotherly terms with the Papists, the Anabaptists, and such like.
The Arminian writers make no scruple to seize and retail each other’s arguments, as common property. Hence, Samuel Hoord copies from Van Harmin the self-same observation which I have now cited. “Predestination (says Samuel) is an opinion odious to the Papists, opening their foul mouths, against our Church and religion:” (Hoord, in Bishop Davenant’s Animadversions, Camb. 1641) consequently, our adopting the opposite doctrines of universal grace and free-will, would, by bringing us so many degrees nearer to the Papists, conduce to shut their mouths, and make them regard us, so far at least, as their own orthodox and dearly beloved brethren: whence it follows, that, as Arminianism came from Rome, so “it leads thither again.”
If the joint verdict of Arminius himself, and of his English proselyte Hoord, will not turn the scale, let us add the testimony of a professed Jesuit, by way of making up full weight. When archbishop Laud’s papers were examined, a letter was found among them, thus endorsed with that prelate’s own hand: “March, 1628. A Jesuit’s Letter, sent to the Rector at Bruxels, about the ensuing Parliament.” The design of this letter was to give the Superior of the Jesuits, then resident at Brussels, an account of the posture of civil and ecclesiastical affairs in England; an extract from it I shall hear subjoin: “Father Rector, let not the damp of astonishment seize upon your ardent and zealous soul, in apprehending the sodaine and unexpected calling of a Parliament. We have now many strings to our bow. We have planted that soveraigne drugge Arminianisme, which we hope will purge the Protestants from their heresie; and it flourisheth and bears fruit in due season. For the better prevention of the Puritanes, the Arminians have already locked up the Duke’s (of Buckingham) eares; and we have those of our owne religion, which stand continually at the Duke's chamber, to see who goes in and out: we cannot be too circumspect and carefull in this regard. I am, at this time, transported with joy, to see how happily all instruments and means, as well great as lesser, co-operate unto our purposes. But, to return unto the maine fabricke: – Our foundation is Arminianisme. The Arminians and projectors, as it appeares in the premises, affect mutation. This we second and enforce by probable arguments.” (Hidden works of darkness, p.89,90. Edit. 1645).
The “sovereign drug, Arminianism,” which, said the Jesuit, “we (i.e. we Papists) have planted” in England, did indeed bid fair “to purge” our Protestant Church effectually. How merrily Popery and Arminianism, at that time, danced hand in hand, may be learned from Tindal: “The churches were adorned with paintings, images, altar-pieces, etc., and, instead of communion tables, altars were set up, and bowings to them and the sacramental elements enjoined. The predestinarian doctrines were forbid, not only to be preached, but to be printed; and the Arminian sense of the Articles was encouraged and propagated.” (Tindal’s Contin. of Rapin, vol.3, octavo, 1758). The Jesuit, therefore, did not exult without cause. The “sovereign drug,” so lately “planted,” did indeed take deep root downward, and bring forth fruit upward, under the cherishing auspices of Charles and Laud.
Heylyn, too, acknowledges, that the state of things was truly described by another Jesuit of that age, who wrote thus: “Protestantism waxeth weary of itself. The doctrine (by the Arminians, who then sat at the helm) is altered in many things, for which their progenitors forsook the Church of Rome: as limbus patrum; prayer for the dead, and possibility of keeping God’s commandments; and the accounting of Calvinism to be heresy at least, if not treason.” (Life of Laud, p.238).
The maintaining of these positions, by the Court divines, was an “alteration” indeed; which the abandoned Heylyn ascribes to “the ingenuity and moderation found in some professors of our religion.” If we sum up the evidence that has been given, we shall find its amount to be, that Arminianism came from the Church of Rome, and leads back again to the pit whence it was digged.
Augustus Toplady (1740-78) was a Christian minister and the author of perhaps the most well-known hymn in the English language, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me.” This article was taken from The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady, pp.54,55., published by Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA, 1987.
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