As Toplady himself defined it in a collection of ‘Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship’ (published in 1776), this particular hymn is intended to speak about ‘Assurance of Faith’.
A Debtor to Mercy Alone
by Augustus Montague Toplady (4th Nov 1740 – 11 Aug 1778)
A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s’ obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is yea and amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace;
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.
Augustus Toplady lived in a day when the truths expressed in the above hymn were more readily believed by many in the Church of England, and by Christians in general. May God be pleased to grant us such a day again. The doctrine contained in this hymn is pure gold, confirming the mercy of God in our salvation, and emphasising by the grace of God those who have been truly converted will endure to the end, and most certainly cannot be lost.