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Rock of Ages

Charles Wesley wrote some of his hymns to promote his brother John’s doctrine of entire sanctification. The second verse of his “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” asks God to “take away our bent to sinning.” This was too much for Calvinist Augustus Toplady. In a magazine of which he was editor, Toplady wrote an article in refutation, detailing a picture of man’s potential for sinning. He arrived at the mathematical conclusion that a man of eighty is guilty of many millions of sins, a debt he can never hope to pay but for which he need not despair because of the sufficiency of Christ. He closed the article with an original poem. “A Living and Dying Prayer for the Holiest believer in the World.” This poem, now one of the most beloved hymns of all time, and know under the title, “Rock of Ages,” was born out of party spirit.

Frederick John Gilman, The Evolution of the English Hymn, Macmillan, 1927, pp. 223-225