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Rock of Ages: A Defense of True Religion

Augustus Toplady is best known for writing the hymn Rock of Ages, first published in 1776. About eight years after its publication, the now popular story of the occasion of its writing was first promulgated. The Vicar of Blagdon, Toplady's former parish, related the following tale:

As young Augustus Toplady, curate of Blagdon in Somerset, England, strode about the rocky countryside one Sunday afternoon in 1776, he saw dark storm clouds gathering. As the sky became increasingly threatening and thunder rolled over the rocky promentaries of Burrington Combe, the anxious pastor searched for a place of safety from the coming storm. Spying a small ledge between towering boulders, Toplady crept under the sheltering rocks and crouched in their mighty shadows while the storm raged. While the wind roared and the thunder crashed, the words of the beloved hymn came unbidden to his mind, and taking a scrap of paper from his pocket, he hastily scrawled the inspired verses.

Visitors to Burrington Combe today are told this story even today. However, the true story of Rock of Ages lies instead in a great theological debate between Augustus Toplady and the Wesley brothers.