Barclay (1850) Apology – Philadelphia Quaker Scarce Edition


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Barclay, Robert. An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: Being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People Called Quakers. (Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1850)  – This edition not in Smith: A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends’ Books (1867) or in Sabin: Bibliotheca Americana

Octavo. viii, 9-548. Hardcover. Calf covered boards with spine strip divided into 5 blocks with four gilt horizontal single lines and identified by a black leather label stamped in gilt.

Condition: VG- with edgewear and bumping to covers. Hinges appear solid, though slightly starting at top and bottom. Spine strip has a crease from top to bottom.  Previous owners’ names in pencil on FFE and in ink on first blank page, Some marginalia in pencil in the first part of the book. Scattered foxing throughout. A dog ear or two.

Provenance: James Warner, Muncy Township and given to B. Warner.

Robert Barclay (23 December 1648 – 3 October 1690) was a Scottish Quaker, one of the most eminent writers belonging to the Religious Society of Friends and a member of the Clan Barclay. He was also governor of the East Jersey colony in North America through most of the 1680s, although he himself never resided in the colony.

“In 1667, he followed the example of his father, and joined the recently formed Religious Society of Friends after returning to Scotland. Soon afterwards he began to write in defence of the movement, by publishing in 1670 Truth cleared of Calumnies, and a Catechism and Confession of Faith (1673). In 1670 he had married another Quaker, Christian Mollison (c.1651–1722), daughter of Gilbert Mollison of Aberdeen. They had seven children: three sons (Robert, David and John) and four daughters (Patience, Catherine, Christian and Jean).

“The essential view which Barclay maintained was that all people can be illuminated by the Inward Light of Christ “which is the author of the Scriptures and will lead them into all truth”. His works have often been reprinted. He was an ardent theological student, a man of warm feelings and considerable mental powers, and he soon came prominently forward as the leading apologist of the new doctrine, winning his spurs in a controversy with one William Mitchell. The publication of fifteen Theses Theologiae (1676) led to a public discussion in Aberdeen, each side claiming a victory. The most prominent of the Theses was that bearing on immediate revelation, in which the superiority of the Inward Light of Christ to reason or scripture is sharply stated.  He was noted as a strong supporter of George Fox in the controversies that beset Quakers in the 1670s. His greatest work, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, was published in Latin at Amsterdam in 1676, and was an elaborate statement of the grounds for holding certain fundamental positions laid down in the Theses. It was translated by its author into English in 1678, and is claimed to be “one of the most impressive theological writings of the century”.

“The Apology, however, failed to arrest the persecution to which the Quakers were exposed, and Barclay himself, on returning from Europe, where he travelled extensively (once with William Penn and George Fox), and had several interviews with Elisabeth, Princess Palatine, was several times thrown into prison, but soon regained his liberty, and was in the enjoyment of Court favour.” – Wikipedia