And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Though he is known today as the author of one of the most beloved hymns of all times (Rock of Ages), Augustus Montague Toplady was despised by most of his contemporaries… even members of his own family! He was known as “sick and neurotic” by his friends, and as “impulsive, rash-spoken, reckless in misjudgment” by early biographers. When he publicly attacked John Wesley (calling him “the most rancorous hater of the gospel-system that ever appeared on this island,” among other choice insults), Wesley responded dismissively, saying, “I do not fight with chimney sweeps!”
Yet God can use even the most caustic individuals for His glory. While he composed a number of poems and hymns, almost none remain today. 19th-century literary critic A.B. Grosart described Toplady’s ability this way:
He is no poet or inspired singer. He climbs no heights. He sounds no depths. He has mere vanishing gleams of imaginative light. His greatness is the greatness of goodness.
Thankfully, one of those “mere vanishing gleams of imaginative light” was his hymn Immovable Our Hope Remains. Though it did not achieve much popularity during his life, the lyrics are beautiful. When Brittany Kauflin stumbled across the original lyrics (which you can read here), she rearranged and rephrased some of the words, condensing the hymn from ten to four verses. Her father composed a new melody for the lyrics, giving new life to an old text. Here is the song as it appears on the Sovereign Grace Music album From Age to Age:
Immovable our hope remains
Though shifting sands before us lie
The One who washed away our stains
Shall bear us safely to the skies
The floods may rise, the winds may beat
Torrential rains descend
Yet God His own will not forget
He’ll love and keep us till the end
You’ll love and keep us till the end
This is eternal life: to know
The living God and Christ, the Son
The Savior will not let us go
Until His saving work is done
Our debt was great, as was our need
But now the price is paid
Who can behold Immanuel bleed
And doubt His willingness to save?
We trust Your willingness to save
The Lord acquits, who can condemn?
Though Satan’s accusations fly
His pow’r can never reach our names
To blot them from the Book of Life
The Son has surely made us free
His Word forever stands
And all our joy is knowing we
Are graven on His wounded hands
We’re graven on Your wounded hands
Built into Christ, secure we stand
For with His Spirit we’ve been sealed
By grace we’ll see the promised land
Where every sorrow shall be healed
To God who gave His only Son
To Jesus Christ, our Lord
To God the Spirit, Three-in-one
Be songs of praise forevermore
We’ll sing Your praise forevermore
For a guy who was never known for grace shown to others, Toplady was certainly enamored with the grace of God. It was that grace which fueled his passion. And while his passion was often misdirected, his zeal to make much of Christ and little of himself is admirable.
As in Rock of Ages, the grace and power of God shines through brilliantly in Immovable Our Hope Remains. Whereas the former hymn speaks of Christ as our only hope of salvation, the latter focuses on Christ as our eternal hope. It is the blood which flowed from Jesus’ side which saves us from wrath and makes us pure. It is also the blood of Christ which assures us that “the Savior will not let us go.”
When we are anxious or grieved by the trials we face in the present, Scripture tells us to look to the past and the future for encouragement.
When “Satan’s accusations fly,” reminding us of our sinful past, Christ reminds us that we have been washed, sanctified, and justified in His name (1 Corinthians 6:11). Though our accuser is relentless in his attacks, “his power can never reach our names to blot them from the Book of Life.” He has been defeated by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:10)! Because of Christ’s sacrifice, God does not deal with us according to our sins, but removes them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:10-12); He will never blot our names from the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5)!
When floods rise and the winds and rain are beating against us, we find rest in the knowledge that “the One who washed away our stains shall bear us safely to the skies” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Christ will return for us (Revelation 22:20). He has given us the Holy Spirit, sealing His promise that “God his own will not forget” (2 Corinthians 1:21). When by grace we arrive at the promised land, “every sorrow shall be healed” (Revelation 21:4).
Because Jesus Christ was faithful to die on the Cross for our sins, we can trust that He will be faithful to keep all of these precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:4). For “who can behold Immanuel bleed and doubt His willingness to save?”