Title : The Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity asserted, in answer to Mr. John Wesley's tract on that subject  
Author : Augustus Montague Toplady  

The first portion of this work seeks to rebut a work by John Wesley entitled "Thoughts upon Necessity" where the interrelation between the role of motive and volitions is considered, centering on the debate of "free will". Wesley's work commenced with the paragraph:

Is man a free agent, or is he not? Are his actions free or necessary? Is he self-determined in acting; or is he determined by some other being? Is the principle which determines him to act, in himself or in another? This is the question which I want to consider. And is it not an important one? Surely there is not one of greater importance in the whole nature of things. For what is there that more nearly concerns all that are born of women? What can be conceived which more deeply affects, not some only, but every child of man?

Toplady felt that Wesley's assertion that Calvinism was just a rebirth of Stoicism with a gospel akin to the Koran (Calvinists being no better than turks) had to be answered. In particular Toplady was keen to stress that although God is sovereign, man is still responsible for his actions.

The second portion rather bizarrely consists of "A Dissertation Concerning the Sensible Qualities of Matter", in particular a refutation of Wesley's view that colours "do as really exist without us, as trees, or corn, or heaven, or earth". Toplady seems to make good scientific points (and Wesley always was slightly unhinged when it came to science) but this whole section seems to prove Toplady's obsession with taking issue with Wesley over every possible issue for no particular purpose.

In Toplady's defence on hearing false reports of Wesley's death subseqently to writing this work he requested that publication be stopped as:

"I do not wish to prosecute my war with that gentleman, if he be really summoned to the tribunal of God, and unable on earth to answer for himself. In that case let my remembrance of his misdemeanors die and be buried with him."

The report proved to be false and the pamphlet was published. t is a shame that Wesley did not share Toplady's admirable scruples.

The preface (which is reproduced below) to "The Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity Asserted" exhibits Toplady's rather aggressive and sarcastic humour:






Aded stat et permanet invicta sententia, omnnia necessitate fieri. Nec est hic ulla obscuritas, aut ambiguitas. In Esaia dicit [Deus] consilium meum stabit, et voluntas mea Set. Quis enim puer non intelligit quid velint haec vocabula, consilium, voluntas, fiet, stabit ?" Luther, de servo Arbitrio, sect. 19.

" Qua nobis videtur contingentia, secretum Dei impulsumfuissea gnoscet fides." Calvin, Institut.1 19. " Quid igitur, inquies, nullane est in rebus, ut istorum vocabuloutar, contingentia ? Nihil casus ? Nihil for- tuna ?-Omnia necessario evenire Scripturae docent." Melancthon, Loc. Coon. P. 10. Edit. Argentor. 1523. " There is not a fly hut has had infinite wisdom concerned, not only in its structure, bat in its destination."

Dr. Young's Cent. not fab. Letter II.


YESTERDAY'S post brought me a packet from London, including, among other papers, a small tract, recently published by Mr. John Wesley, entitled, " Thoughts upon Necessity." I had no sooner perused those " Thoughts," than I resolved to bring them to the test : and am now setting about it.

During some years past, I have, for the most part, stood patiently on the defensive against this gentleman. It is high time that I take my turn to invade and carry the arms of truth into the enemy's own territory.

Mr. Wesley's tract above mentioned was sent to me by a well-known, and very de­ serving, London clergyman ; so much of whose letter as relates to the said tract shall, for the amusement of my readers, be submitted to their view.

" I went last night to the Foundery(a) , ex­ pecting to hear Pope John ; but was dis­ appointed. After hearing. a Welshman for an hour and twenty minutes, on Psalm lxxxiv. 11, preach up all the heresies of the place, a man who sat in the pulpit told him to give over ;' for he seemed to bid fair for another half hour, at least. But he came to a conclusion as desired. Then this man, who seemed a local preacher, stood up, with a pamphlet in his hand, and addressed the auditory in the following manner :

"I am desired to publish a pamphlet upon Necessity and Free-will ; the best extant that I know of, in the English tongue(b) ; by Mr. John Wesley, price three pence. I had purposed to have said a good deal upon it, but the time is elapsed. But in this three-penny pamphlet, you have all the dis­ putes that have been bandied about so lately. And you will get your minds more establish­ ed by this three-penny pamphlet, than by reading all the books that have been written for and against. It is to be had at both doors as you go out.

" I beg leave" (adds my reverend friend) " to transmit you this here said three-penny wonder."

Upon the whole, this must have been a droll sort of mountebank scene. Attended, however, with one most melancholy and de­plorable circumstance, arising from the unreasonable and unseasonable prolixity of the long-winded holderforth ; which cruelly, in­judiciously, and despitefully, prevented poor Zany from puffing off, with the amplitude he fully intended, the multiplex virtues of the doctor's three-penny free-will powder.

Never do that by delegation, says an old proverb , which you can as well do in propria persond. Had Dr. John himself got upon the stage, and sung,

“ Come, buy my fine powders, come buy dem of me, Hare be de best powders dat ever you see ;"

Who knows but the three-penny doses might have gone off, " at both doors," as rapidly as peas from a pop-gun ?

My business for a few spare hours shall be to amuse myself by analizing this redoubtable powder. The chemical resolution of so inestimable a specific into its compo nent parts (a specific,

"The like whereto was never seen,

Nor will again, while grass is green,")

may, moreover, be of very great and signal use. It were pity that the materia medica of which it is made up, should remain a secret, especially as the good doctor de signed it for general benefit. To make which benefit as universal as I can, I do hereby give notice unto all philosophers, divines, and others, who have poisoned their entrails by unwarily taking too deep a draught of Necessity : that they may at any time, by help of the following decomposi­ tion, have it in their power to mix up, for their own immediate recovery, a competent quantum of the famous Moorfields powder : whose chief ingredients are,

An equal portion of gross Heathenism, Pelagianism, Mahometism, Popery, Manicnaeism, Ranterism, and Antinomianism ; culled, dried, and pulverized, secundem artem : and, above all, mingled with as much palpable Atheism as you can possibly scrape together from every quarter.

Hae tibi erunt artes. Follow the above prescription to your life's end, and you will find it a most pleasant, speedy, and infalli­ ble antidote against every species and effect of the baneful necessitarian night-shade. It is the felix malum,

_____ Quo non presentius ullum

(Pocula si quando saevae infecere novercae, Miscueruntque herbas, et non innoxia verbs) Auxilium venet, ac membris agit atra Venena(c).

But though Mr. John Wesley is the ven­ der and the ostensible proprietor of this effi­cacious three-penny medicine ; the original discovery of the nostrum is by no means his own. He appears to have pilfered the sub­ stance, both of his arcana medendi, and of his cavils against the true philosophy of colours, from the refuted lucubrations with which a certain North-British professor hath edified and enriched the literary public. Let the simple, however, be on their guard lest Mr. Wesley's spiritual medicines have as pernicious influence on their minds as the quack remedy which he(d) recommends for the gout, had on the life of Dr. T----d, the late worthy dean of N—ch.

By way of direct introduction to the fol­ lowing sheets, allow me to premise an ex­ tract from the commentary of a very great man, on those celebrated lines of Juvenal :

"Nullum numen babes si sit pudentia; sed to nos facimus, fortuna, deam, coeloque locamus.

" Dicit autem hoc poets, ob fortunam : quae non solum nullum numen est, sed nus­ quam et nihil est. Nam cum sciamus omnia in mundo, maxima et minima, providentia, Dei gubernari ; quid restat de fortuna, nisi vanum et inane nomen?—Unde recie dici ur tolle ignorantiatn e personis, fortunam de rebus sustuleris. Quia enim homines serum omnium causas non perspicimus, ut est morta lium caecitas ; fortunam nescio quam va­ gam, irritam, instabilem, nobis fingimus. Quod si causas rerun latentes et abditas no­ bis inspicere daretur ; non modo nullam esse talem fortunam videremus, verum etiam on­ nium minima, singulari Dei providentia, regi. Et sic fortuna nihil aliud est, quam Dei providentia, sed nobis non per­specta. Et recte divines ille Seneca : fortuna, fatum natura, omnia ejusdem Dei nomi na, varie sua potestate utentis."(e) i.e. " The pet, in this place, levels his ar­ rows at fortune or chance : which is not only no goodness, but a mere nothing, and has no existence any where. For since it is certain that all things in the world, both little and great, are conducted by the pro­ vidence of God; what is chance, but an empty and unmeaning name ? Hence it has been rightly observed, Take away man's ignorance, and chance vanishes in a moment. The true reason why any of us are for set ting up chance and fortune is our not be­ ing always able to discern and to trace the genuine causes of events : in consequence of which we blindly and absurdly feign to ourselves a supposed random, unreal, un­steady cause, called luck or contingency, whereas, were we endued with sufficient penetration to look into the hidden sources of things, we should not only see that there is no such power as contingency of fortune, but so far from it, that even the smallest and most trivial incidents are guided and governed by God's own express and spe­ cial providence. If, therefore, the word chance have any determinate signification at all, it can mean neither more nor less than the unseen management of God. In which sense, the admirable Seneca makes use of the term : Fortune (says that philoso­ pher), and Fate, and Nature, are but so many different names of the one true God, considered as exerting his power in various ways and manners." But, with Seneca's good leave, as the words fortune, chance, contingency, &c., have gradually opened a door to the grossest Atheism ; and as they require much subtilty and prolixity of expla­ nation, in order to their being understood in any other than an atheistical sense, it is more than expedient that the words them­ selves should be totally and finally cashiered and thrown aside.

I have only to add that if, in the suc­ ceeding Essay, any reader should imagine I express my meaning with too much plain­ ness, it may suffice to observe, that there is no end to the capricious refinements of af­ fected and excessive delicacy.

Quod verum, atque decens, curo, et Togo, et omnis in hoc sum.

Language, like animal bodies, may he physicked until it has no strength left. We may whet its edge, as the fool sharpened his knife, and as some are now for reform­ing the Church, until we have whetted the whole blade away.


Broad Hembury, Jan. 22, 1775.


(a) Mr. Wesley's principal meeting-house in London.

(b) Query. Does the said lay preacher, whoever he may be, know aught of any other tongue?

(c) Georgic 1. 2. 127.

(d) In Mr. Wesley's book of Receipts, entitled " Primitive Physic." he advises persons who have the gout in their feet or hands to apply raw lean beef steaks to the part affected, fresh and fresh every twelve hours. Somebody recommended this dan­gerous repellant to Dr. T. in the year 1164, or early in 1765. He tried the experiment. The gout was in consequence driven up to his stomach and head, and he died, a few days after, at Bath ; where I happened to spend a considerable part of those years ; and where, at the very time of the Dean's death. I became acquainted with the particulars of that catastrophe.

I am far from meaning to insinuate, because I do not know that the person who persuaded Dr. 'I'. to this fatal resource, derived the recipe immediately from Mr. Wesley's medical compilation. All I aver is, that the recipe itself is to be found there. Which demon­strates the unskilful temerity wherewith the compiler sets himself up as a physician of the body. Should hisquack pamphlet come to another edition, it is to be hoped that the beef steak remedy will, after so authentic and so melancholy a probatum est, be expunged from the list of specifics for the gout It is, l acknowledge, an effectual cure. Cut off a man' head, and he will no more he annoyed by the tooh ache. Alas, for the ingenium velox, and for the audacia perdita, with which a rash empiric, like Juvenal's Graeculus esuriens, lays claim to univer­sal science !

Grammaticus, Rhetor, Geometres, Pictor, Aleptes, Augur, Schaenobates, Medicus, Magus! Urania novitI

(e) Lubini Comment. in Juvenal, Sat U p 454. Edit. , Hanoviae 1619.








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