Item of the Day: Barclay’s Apology for the True Christian Divinity (1765)

Full Title: An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers. Written in Latin and English by Robert Barclay, and since translated into the High Dutch, Low Dutch, French, and Spanish, for the Information of Strangers. The Eighth Edition in English. Birmingham: Printed by John Baskerville, and sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, MDCCLXV.

TO

CHARLES II.

KING

OF

GREAT BRITAIN,

and the Dominions therunto belonging:

ROBERT BARCLAY,

A Servant of JESUS CHRIST, called of GOD to the Dispensation of the Gospel now again revealed, and, after a long and dark Night of Apostasy, commanded to be preached to all NATIONS, wisheth Health and Salvation.

As the Condition of Kings and Princes puts Them in a Station more obvious to the View and Observation of the World than that of other Men, of whom, as Cicero observes, neither any Word or Action can be obscure; so are those Kings, during whose Appearance upon the Stage of this World it pleaseth the GREAT KING of Kings singularly to make known unto Men the wonderful Steps of His unsearchable Providence, more signally observed, and their Lives and Actions more diligently remarked, and enquired into by Posterity; especially if those Things be such as not only relate to the outward Transactions of this World, but also are signalized by the Manifestation or Revelation of the Knowledge of God in Matters spiritual and religious. These are the Things that rendred the Lives of Cyrus, Augustus Caesar, and Constantine the Great, in former Times, and Charles the Fifth, ans ome other modern Princes in these last Ages, so considerable.

But among all the Transactions which it hath pleased God to permit, for the Glory of His Power, and the Manifestation of His Wisdom and Providence, no Age furnisheth us with Things so strange and marvellous, whether with Respect to Matters civil or religious, as these that have fallen out within the Compass of Thy Time; who, though Thou be not yet arrived at the Fiftieth Year of thy Age, hast yet been a Witness of stranger Things than many Ages before produced. So that whether we respect those various Troubles wherein Thou foundest Thyself engaged while scarce got out of Thy Infancy; the many different Afflictions, whrewith Men of Thy Circumstances are often unacquainted; the strand and unparalleled Fortune that befel Thy Father; Thy own narrow Escape, and Banishment following thereupon, with the great Improbability of Thy ever returning, at least without very much Pains and tedious Combatings; or finally, the Incapacity Thou wert under to accomplish such a Design; considering the Strength of those that had possessed themselves of Thy Throne, and the Terror they had inflicted upon foreign States; and yet that, after all this, Thou shouldest be restored without Stroke of Sword, the Help or Assistance of foreign States, or the Contrivance and Work of human Policy; all these do sufficiently declare it is the Lord’s Doing, which, as it is marvellous in our Eyes, so it will justly be a Matter of Wonder and Astonishment to Generations to come; and may sufficiently serve, if rightly observed to confute and confound that Atheism wherewith this Age doth so much abound.

As the Vindication of the Liberty of Conscience (which Thy Father, by giving Way to the importunate Clamours of the Clergy, the Answering and Fulfilling of whose unrighteous Wills has often proved hurtful and pernicious to Princes, fought some Part to restrain) was a great Occasion of those Troubles and Revolutions; so the Pretence of Conscience was that which carried it on, and brought it to that Pitch it came to.  And though no Doubt some that were engaged in that Work designed good Things, at least in the Beginning, albeit always wrong in the Manner they took to accomplish it, viz. by carnal Weapons, yet so soon as they had tasted the Sweets of the Possessions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those Things themselves for which they had accused others. For their Hands were found full of Opression, and they hated the Reproof of Instruction, which is the Way of Life; and they evilly intreated the Messengers of the Lord, and caused his Prophets to be beaten and imprisoned, and persecuted his People, whom he had called and gathered out from among them, whom he had made to beat their Swords into Plow-shares, and their Sperars into Pruning-hooks, and not to learn carnal War any more: But he raised them up, and armed them with Spiritual Weapons, even with his own Spirit and Power, whereby they testified in the Streets and High-ways, and publick Markets and Synagogues, against the Pride, Vanity, Lust, and Hypocrisy of that Generation, who were righteous in their own Eyes; though often cruelly intreated therfore: And they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their Judgment and Downfal, which came upon them; as by several Warnings and Epistles, delivered to Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the Parliament, and other then Powers, yet upon Record, doth appear. . . .

GOD Almighty, who hath so signally hitherto visited Thee with His Love, so touch and reach Thy Heart, ere the Day of Thy Visitation by expired, that Thou mayest effectually Turn to Him, so as to improve Thy Place and Station for His Name. So wisheth, so prayeth,

Thy Faithful Friend and Subject,

ROBERT BARCLAY.

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Filed under 1760's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion

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