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Robert Barclay (23 December 1648 – 3 October 1690) was a Scottish Quaker of the Clan Barclay who was governor of the East Jersey colony in North America through most of the 1680s, although he himself never resided in the colony.
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A Catechism and Confession of Faith (1673)
- A Catechism and Confession of Faith, Approved of and Agreed unto by the General Assembly of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, CHRIST himself chief Speaker In and Among them, Which containeth a true and faithful Account of the Principles and Doctrines, which are most surely believed by the Churches of Christ in Great Brittain and Ireland, who are reproachfully called by the Name of Quakers (1673)
- Since first that great Apostacy took place in the Hearts and Heads of those who began even in the Apostles days, to depart from the simplicity and purity of the Gospel, as it was then delivered in its primitive Splendor and Integrity, innumerable have been the manifold Inventions and Traditions, the different and various Notions and Opinions, wherewith Man (by giving way to the vain and airy Imaginations of his own unstable mind) hath burdened the Christian Faith: so that indeed, first by adding these things, and afterwards by equalling them, if not exalting them above the Truth, they have at last come to be substitute in the stead of it; so that in process of time, Truth came to be shut out of doors, and another thing placed in the room thereof, having a shew and a Name, but wanting the substance and thing itself: Nevertheless it pleased God to raise up Witnesses for himself almost in every Age and Generation, who, according to the Discoveries they received, bore some Testimony, less or more, against the Superstition and Apostacy of the time; and in special manner through the appearing of that Light which first broke forth in Germany about One hundred and fifty years ago, and afterwards reached divers other Nations; the Beast received a deadly Wound: and a very great Number did at one time Protest against, and Rescind from the Church of Rome in divers of their most gross and sensual Doctrines and superstitious Traditions: But alas! it is for matter of lamentation, that the Successors of these Protestants are Establishing and Building up in themselves that which their Fathers were pulling down, instead of prosecuting and going on with so Good and Honourable a Work; which will easily appear.
An Apology for the True Christian Divinity (1678)
- An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: Being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers (1678), a translation by Barclay of his own Theologiæ Vere Christianæ Apologia (1676); Full title: An Apology for the true Christian Divinity, as the same is held forth and preached by the people called, in scorn, Quakers; being a full Explanation and Vindication of their Principles and Doctrines, by many Arguments deduced from Scripture and right reason, and the testimonies of famous Authors, both ancient and modern, with a full Answer to the strongest Objections usually made against them; presented to the King; written and published, in Latin, for the information of Strangers, by Robert Barclay; and now put into our own Language, for the benefit of his Countrymen. · Full text online
- 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 honorable, 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 overruled as well as to rule and sit upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful the oppressor is both to 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 flatter thee nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sins, but 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 mayest effectually turn to him so as to improve thy place and station for his name.
- Letter to Charles II of England (25 November 1675)
Quotes about Barclay
- The Quakers suffered several persecutions under Charles II; not upon a religious account, but for refusing to pay the tithes, for "theeing" and "thouing" the magistrates, and for refusing to take the oaths enacted by the laws.
At length Robert Barclay, a native of Scotland, presented to the king, in 1675, his "Apology for the Quakers"; a work as well drawn up as the subject could possibly admit. The dedication to Charles II., instead of being filled with mean, flattering encomiums, abounds with bold truths and the wisest counsels. "Thou hast tasted," says he to the king, at the close of his "Epistle Dedicatory," "of prosperity and adversity: thou hast been driven out of the country over which thou now reignest, and from the throne on which thou sittest: thou hast groaned beneath the yoke of oppression; therefore hast thou reason to know how hateful the oppressor is both to 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 thyself up to follow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy guilt, and bitter thy condemnation. Instead of listening to the flatterers about thee, hearken only to the voice that is within thee, which never flatters. I am thy faithful friend and servant, Robert Barclay."
The most surprising circumstance is that this letter, though written by an obscure person, was so happy in its effect as to put a stop to the persecution.
- Voltaire, in "The History of the Quakers" in The Works of Voltaire (1762), Vol 13, as translated by Tobias George Smollett, Thomas Francklin, et al., later published as "The Religion of the Quakers", in The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version with Notes (1901), Vol. 33, as modernized by William F. Fleming