Rock of Ages

1 Nov

Recently I took a moment to consider the words of one of my favourite hymns – Rock of Ages. 

Augustus Montague Toplady was someone who knew and loved the great truths of the Reformation: that we are saved by Christ alone, by grace alone and through faith alone.  He understood that we have nothing to offer God, but instead only deserve his condemnation and judgement.  Instead, our only hope is to come as repentant sinners trusting in Christ alone.  Look at how he conveys this wonderful truth in the third verse:

Nothing in my hand I bring,

simply to thy cross I cling;

naked, come to thee for dress;

helpless, look to thee for grace;

foul, I to the fountain fly;

wash me, Saviour, or I die.

Do you think of yourself that way – as naked, helpless and foul in God’s eyes?  That is what we are, stained by sin and with nothing to offer God.  Toplady knew this and he knew that our only hope was to be washed clean by Jesus.


In the final verse Toplady looks ahead to the future.  He reminds us that here in this life, when we die, and even as we come to the throne of God in the heavens our one and only hope is in the Rock of Ages – Jesus Christ.

While I draw this fleeting breath,

when my eyelids close in death,

when I soar through realms unknown,

see thee on thy judgement throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee.

What a prayer!  My hope is that everyone of us knows this wonderful truth as well as Augustus Toplady did back in the 18th century.

Phil Colgan



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