Published in 1822 by Walter Row, Toplady's friend and unofficial literary executor, the contents of this work is succinctly set out and explained in Row's preface to this work:
The pieces which compose this little Volume, were found among the Manu scripts of Mr. TOPLADY. They evince, as all his writings do, his fine intellectual powers, and glowing fervid imagination, attached to a polished compression, which make us lament, that sickness and death, made so premature an inroad on such talents, as to extinguish so bright a luminary, before he had arrived at half the age of man.
It has been justly remarked, that the subject here under consideration, namely, the Sufferings and Death of Christ, no human pen can properly describe. Milton, in his Paradise Regained, however much he delights by those fine sentiments of human life, which he addresses to the heart with so much truth, and so much force; yet in those parts where Jesus is named, the mighty genius of the poet failed, so as to sink under the weight of his theme.
In the Contemplations which follow, our admiration is excited, by the manner in which the Writer narrates those great transactions, in the beautiful and simple style of the Evangelists, and who appears to have caught, and to have been imbued with a portion of the same illumination, by which they were endowed. He centers his thoughts on the Finished Work of our adorable Redeemer, who came to procure forgiveness, and to suffer for the salvation of his people. For nothing but this could warrant the extreme depth of his humiliation, or comport with the essential dignity of His Person. He was the High-priest of our pro fession, who was to sanctify the people with his own blood, by the offering up of himself, once for all, and by ever living for to make intercession for them alone.
The subject treated of in the following pages, is of the greatest importance, so as to call forth the attention of the reader: for in a little time, death will draw the everlasting curtain between us and a perishable world, and we must stand before God in judgment; and it is only Him alone who can prepare us for the meeting. For "the preparation of the heart, and the answer of the tongue, is of the Lord ;" it is His gift, and cannot but be His work. The Holy Spirit must convince us of our lost condition, and grant to us faith and repentance, through the blood and righteousness of Him who died for sinful man. For were God to justify and save only those who are pure and upright, heaven would be empty 'of inhabitants. For salvation is of grace, and great as the blessing is, it is not too great for Christ to merit, nor for God to bestow, nor too great for sinners, like us, to receive.
Here is a foundation to stand upon— a foundation that cannot fail ; even Jesus the Mediator and Surety of the Cove nant, and the Rock of Ages. Who, when our sins lay like an insurmountable impediment, or stood like a vast partition wall, and blocked up the passage to eternal life. He took the sins of His people out of the way, nailing them to his cross. As He was delivered to death for our offences, so He was raised again for our justification. He died and was consigned to the tomb, as to a prison, to shew, that he was responsible for our guilt, and had taken our debt of sin upon himself: and His triumphant release from the grave, was a testimony that the debt was discharged, that the bond against us was canceled, and that the payment he made, by living and dying in our place, was accepted as valid, being adequate to the utmost demands of the law, and satisfactory to the infinite justice of God. Thus, giving by his Resurrection, a public and solemn ratification of our pardon and acquittance in full, under the hand and seal of God himself.
It was this glorious view of Christ's Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection, that set St. Paul as on the pinnacle of holy triumph, and made him give an universal challenge "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ? it is God that justifies : Who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ that died ; yea, rather that is risen again ; who also maketh intercession for us."—If so, " Let our songs abound—let our tears be dry." Let doubt ing and unbelief be dismissed from our hearts : and let us adopt the language of a sacred Poet
"Give Him, my soul, thy cause to plead, Nor doubt the Father's Grace."
A Believer in Christ should not be cast down: he may consider all that Christ did and suffered as done for him. He may likewise look upon the Scriptures as a treasury or store-house, filled with promises, all which belong to him: for there is not a single promise in the Bible, respecting Grace here, or Glory hereafter, but is made even to the feeblest follower of Christ, and to the meanest member of His mystic body. This is what is called the Communion of Saints ; namely, that all the saints of God, who are set apart for Himself, who are interested in the Saviour's Redemption, and purified by faith that is in Him ;—have a communion, or common fellowship with each other in the blessings promised by God, and purchased by Christ. In point of eternal things, all His family stand on an equal footing; they are all one in Christ; that is, they are objects of His favour alike, they jointly participate the riches of his grace, mutually enjoy the benefits of His atonement, and are co-heirs of the same glory; they are fellow-saints on earth, and shall be fellow-citizens in heaven.
Interested in those precious privileges, may we go on our way rejoicing, " Looking unto Jesus," and walking in His footsteps. When we come to die, angels will wait round our pillows, and bear us to the palace above, where we shall be ever with the Lord, and with each other.