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The most eminent writer among the quakers, ' was born at Edinburgh in 1648. On account of the disturbed state of his country at that period, he was sent, while a youth, by his father, colonel Barclay, to Paris, where his brother, who was then principal of the Scots college, in that city, taking advantage of his tender age, allured him to the Romish faith. His father learning this, sent for him home, where he arrived in 1664, about the age of sixteen.
In the year 1666, his father became a convert to the tenets of quakerism, tenets wbich the son soon after embraced; though, as it is said, not from the example of his father, but from the conviction of his own mind. He . soon became distinguished as the principal
champion of the hew sect. In the course of his life, he travelled with the celebrated William Penn, through the greatest part of England, Holland, and Germany, and died in 1690, about the forty-second year of his age.
Barclay wrote various treatises in defence of his peculiar tenets, of which the principal is bis well-known “ Apology for the Quakers.” It was written and published in Latin; and afterwards translated by himself into English. It was dedicated to Charles II, and the dedication is remarkable and commendable for the manly, though respectful freedom, with which he undertakes to counsel his prince, and to exhort him, from his own experience of oppression, not to become the oppressor of his subjects. He addresses his majesty with the familiarity peculiar to his sect,
As it is inconsistent with the truth I bear, so it is far from me to use this epistle as an engine to Aatter thee, the usual design of such works: and therefore I can neither dedicate it to thee, nor crave thy patronage, as if thereby I might have more confidence to present it to the world, or be more hopeful of its success. To God alone I owe what I have, and that more immediately in matters spiritual, and therefore to him alone, and to the serviee of his truth,
I dedicate whatever work he brings forth in me, to whom only the praise and honour appertain, whose truth needs not the patronage of worldly princes, his arm and power being that alone, by which it is propagated, established, and confirmed.
There is no king in the world, who can so experimentally testify of God's providence and goodness; neither is there any, who rules so many free people, so many true christians; which thing renders thy government more hunourable, thyself more considerable, than the accession of many nations, filled with slavish and superstitious souls.
Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; thou knowest what it is to be banished thy native country, to be over-ruled, as well as to rule and sit upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful the oppressor is to both God and man: if after all these warnings and advertisements, thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart, but forget him, who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself to follow lust and vanity; surely great will be thy condemnation.
Against which snare, as well as the temptation of those that may or do feed thee, and prompt thee to evil; the most excellent and prevalent remedy will be, to apply thyself to that light of Christ, which shineth in thy conscience, which neither can, nor will fatter thee, nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sios; bat doth and will deal plainly and faithfully with thee, as those that are followers thereof have also done.
God Almighty, who hath so signally hitherto visited thee with his love, so touch and reach thy heart, ere the day of thy visitation be expired, that thou mayst effectually turn to him, so as to improve thy place and station for his name. So wisheth, so prayeta,
Thy faithful friend and subject,
This book, shortly after its publication, was translated into High and Low Dutch, French, and Spanish.
I shall decline giving an extract from the body of the “ Apology," as I have a very appropriate one from the last treatise written by Barclay, and which has been justly considered as the corner stone of his system of divinity. It was entitled “ The Possibility and Necessity of inward and immediate Revelation of the Spirit of God towards the Foundation and Ground of True Faith, proved in a Letter written in Latin to a Person of Quality in Holland, and now also put into English, by
R. B." This letter, originally dated 1676, is inserted at large in Sewell's History of the Quakers, with several other pieces on the same subject. In his preface to this piece, he states the question of the rule of faith as established by the Catholics on one hand, and the Protestants on the other:
It is, (says he) a question now frequently tossed, • What is the ground and foundation of faith?” And when the matter is sifted to the bottom, it resolves in tradition or revelation: for those who lay claim to the Scripture, and would not make it the foundation of their faith, do resolve it but in a tradition, when the motives of credibility are enquired into; since, the subjective revelation which they yield comes but in the last place, and is by themselves termed medium incognitum assentiendi; and such a revelation those of Rome will not refuse to influence them to assent to the determination of the church. So those protestants, who say the subjective operation of the spirit influences them, though they know not how, to believe the Scripture presented and conveyed to then by tradition, as the dictates of God's spirit, and so understand them as their preachers in terpret them, differ not much, or at least, have not reason to differ from the church of Rome, who say the spirit influences them to believe the Scriptures