In 1768 six students were expelled from Oxford University for holding Calvinistic views, supporters of the expulsion (Dr Nowell) claimed that the Church of England was Arminian in origin and should not tolerate Calvinists, Toplady's first major work sought to disprove this assertion, an area that he would address again in five years with his great work "Historical Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England". This two volume work runs to 787 pages.
This work closes with the following statement, the closing paragraph of this quote shows how measured and reasonable Toplady actually was in his theological analysis, a quality his opponents often lacked:
Is not Popery gaining ground upon us every day ? And no wonder. Aminianism is the basis of it. Figuratively speaking, the Arminian points are five of the seven hills, on which the mystic Babylon is built. It gives a true Papist less pain to hear of Pope Joan, than of Predestination. That I do not affirm things at random, in calling Arminianism the very essence of Popery, will appear from the following short antithesis, wherein the doctrines of our own church, and those of Rome, respecting some of the articles under debate, are contrasted together, in the very words of each church.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- The godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons. ART. XVII.
I CHURCH OF ROME
- No man, so long as he liveth in this mortal life, ought so far to presume concerning the hidden mystery of divine predestination, as positively to conclude that he is actually in the number of the predestinate. Concil.Trid.Sess. 6. cap. xii,
II CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- The condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. ART. X
II CHURCH OF ROME
- If any person shall say, that, since the fall of Adam, man's free-will is lost and extinct - &c. Let him be accursed. ibid. Sess. 6. can. v.
III CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and NOT for our own works, or deservings. ART. XI.
III CHURCH OF ROME
- If any person shall say, that men are justified, either by the alone righteousness of Christ, or by a bare forgiveness of sins,—Let him be accursed. Ibid. can. xi.
IV CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- That we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort. ART. XI.
IV CHURCH OF ROME
- If any one shall say; that the ungodly is justified by faith only, so as to mean that nothing else is required, &c. Let him be accursed. Ibid. can. ix.
V CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- ART. XIII. Of works done before justification. Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his spirit, are not pleasant to God: —yea,— we doubt not, but they have the nature of sin.
V CHURCH OF ROME
- If any one shall say, that all the works, done before justification, in what way soever they are done, are actually sins, and deserving of God's displeasure, &c. Let him be accursed. Ibid. can. vii.
VI CHURCH OF ENGLAND
- Good works, which are the FRUITS of faith, and FOLLOW AFTER justification. ART. XII
VI CHURCH OF ROME
- If any man shall say that justification received is not preserved, and even increased before God, by good works ; but that those good works themselves are no more than the FRUITS and EVIDENCES of justification already obtained, &c. Let him be accursed.
Even from this slight survey, must not a man be blind, not to discern that Calvinism is the religion of England, and that Arminianism is the heresy of Rome yet, far be it from me to think, that all, among us, who espouse the Arminian tenets, are intentional Papists, or have any affection for Popery, as such. But this I cannot help believing, that Arminianism is the forerunner which prepares the way for Romanism, and, if not discarded in time, will, one day, open the door to it.