Montreal Quaker Meeting top right bird logo
Montreal Quakers

Barclay in (very) brief

Condensed from Barclay in Brief, ed. by Eleanor Price Mather (Pendle Hill, 1942), which itself is a condensed version of An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, by Robert Barclay (Latin, 1676; English, 1678). Full online version (Quaker Heritage Press)

The author, Barclay, and work, An Apology, in context

A well-to-do Scottish aristocrat born in 1648, Robert Barclay grew up a Presbyterian and later received a Catholic education in Paris. Like other affluent Quakers such as William Penn and Isaac Pennington he embraced what was primarily a religion of the poor—a religion perceived by its adherents as a reaffirmation of primitive Christianity. By codifying Quaker beliefs he hoped to lay out a way of living whereby we may remain in the everyday world, yet maintain a life of the Spirit that is ordinarily possible only in the cloister.

Barclay is the Friends’ only theologian, and his An Apology is the sect’s supreme declaration of belief. It presupposes a primitive state of happiness and wishes to regain it. Barclay recognized that mankind (hereafter “man” and masculine references) is a complex animal with a sense that distinguishes between good and evil. Having tasted of the tree of knowledge, he is no longer innocent; to be free of spiritual torment, fear of death, and frustrated longings, man must “lose himself in the Spirit” — he must yield self-will to divine will. After “self” is buried, resurrection of the soul, which Barclay calls “Christ within,” will come. This is the path taken by the man who chooses to be good. Where Barclay uses the term “natural” man, he is referring to a man who, after his eyes are opened to the Seed of Light, is content to remain a mere rational animal indifferent to the light of the Spirit.

Barclay wrote in an age dominated by a theology that placed more emphasis on man’s falling than on Christ’s raising him up again. He believed that man is born with both a Seed of Sin and a Seed of Light. It was not imperative that man possess an outward knowledge of the Scriptures to be blessed. Where there is goodness, there is God, for good works are the inevitable outcome of a growing spirit. This Quaker faith in man’s potential goodness was heresy to the Puritan clergy of the 1600s. Barclay, in turn, felt that the Calvinistic (Puritan) belief in predestination was itself blasphemy against the mercy of God.

Barclay wished to persuade his non-Quaker readers that even though they dissented from Great Britain’s established church, they were a peaceful people who should not be persecuted for their beliefs. He prefaced An Apology with a letter to King Charles II, saying he wished to explain the Friends’ theological principles to the King and his people, so that they might find the Quakers to be both wise and learned, and to understand that they held “beliefs agreeable to Scripture, reason and true learning.”

An Apology, of course, did attract critics, even among Quakers. Notably, evangelicals in the nineteenth century felt that Barclay had underemphasized and disparaged the Bible. Criticism from the opposite wing was led by Rufus Jones in the early twentieth century, who believed that Barclay lacked value to the modern world because of inconsistency in his thought and use of outworn and discredited forms. Jones charged that Barclay had led the Society of Friends to Quietism, that he had spent too much effort in attacking doctrines such as predestination, which had become irrelevant, and, that he had de-emphasized the goodness of man. Nevertheless, all of Barclay’s major works were published within George Fox’s lifetime and were given hearty affirmations by him and other first-generation Quakers. Ultimately Barclay has come to be appreciated for the “balance which he maintains in distinguishing between the human and the divine,” and “herein lies his principal message for the present day.”

Final Note. An Apology takes the form of fifteen propositions, following the genefi_l pattern of the Westminster Catechism contemporary to Barclay’s time. (The purpose of the Catechism was to educate lay persons in matters of doctrine and belief.) His own unedited summation, outlining the fifteen propositions, follows as an appendix. Once again, the Quaker Heritage Press has made available the full version of An Apology online.

I. Belief:

Immediate Revelation

Quakers distinguish among the “certain knowledge” of God, the “spiritual knowledge” of God, the “saving heart-knowledge” of God, and the “soaring airy head-knowledge” of God. The first (certain knowledge) can be attained only by the shining in upon the heart, a light that enlightens and opens the heart to understanding. There is no true knowledge of God except that which is revealed inwardly by His own Spirit. [Look at it this way: a dog is incapable of comprehending the thoughts of a man; likewise, a man cannot comprehend the thoughts of God.] If you receive a flash of insight, it will be revealed through the Spirit in you. Ifa person says they have come to know Christ by any means outside of this type of revelation—that is, the revelation of his own Spirit in the heart—then that knowledge is no more than the prattling of a parrot that has been taught a few words.

From Adam to Moses, God actually conversed with man. God has afterwards communicated only by the Spirit. Christians today should be led by that same Spirit that guided the saints of old. Christ promised (John 14: 16-17) that the “Spirit of truth…dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” This Spirit is inward. Take away that Spirit and Christianity is nothing more than a dead carcass of a man; whatsoever is worthy in the Christian faith is ascribed to this Spirit. If any depart from this Spirit, yet pretend to be guided by it, then their true guidance will be uncertain. Mistakes are to be ascribed to the weaknesses of man and not to that Holy Spirit; divine inward revelation can never contradict the outward testimony of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures

The Scriptures are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself and should not be esteemed as the foundation of all truth and knowledge. But, because they give a faithful testimony of the first foundation, they should be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit. The Scriptures, in fact, declare the Spirit to be the first and principal leader. God chiefly leads us by his SPirit, yet sometimes he conveys his comfort through his children, whom he raises up to speak or write. In this way the saints are made instruments in the hands of God.

Universal and Saving Light Everyone who has ever lived according to the divine word in them (e.g., Socrates, Buddha, and Heraclitus) was Christian. Christ is not within man by way of habitation, but in the way of a seed. In this respect, then, he is within all men. Christ himself compares it to a mustard seed, the least of all seeds, but one that can bring forth a sizable plant.

Consider this… Two men have within themselves equal light and grace, one is saved by it, and the other is not. The will of man, then accounts for one’s salvation beyond the other. He that resists the light is the cause of his own condemnation; he that gives in to it invites his own salvation.


This light is of a different nature from the soul. Just as God gave two great lights—the sun and the moon – to rule the outward world, so he gave man the light of his Son to rule him in spiritual matters and the light of reason to guide him in worldly matters. As the moon borrows its light from the sun, so man ought to have “reason” enlightened by this divine light. Reason is a natural property of man. He may have a knowledge of God and spiritual things and even build up a religion around it; at the same time, because he neglects that principle seed of God in the heart, he can also be apart from God. Man himself is the temple of the Holy Ghost. When that rational principle sets itself above the seed of God, then religion is worthless.


Quakers distinguish the “light” from man’s conscience, for conscience arises from reason. If a man is taught that something is wrong, it troubles him to go against it. As a matter of conscience a Turk for example may refrain from drinking wine, yet think nothing of polygamy because that’s the way he was raised. Make no mistake – conscience is a tremendous virtue where it is rightly informed and enlightened. Know too that the “light” removes the blindness of judgment and opens understanding, thus rectifying judgment and conscience.

Justification by Faith and Good Works

In discussing this topic Barclay rejected the community accepted doctrine that man is “justified” by the sacrifice of Christ, regardless of whether he is actually righteous.

Good works followed as naturally from Jesus as heat from fire. There is a great difference, however, between the law and the gospel. People are compelled to conform to laws, to such belong ceremonies and religious traditions. The works of the Spirit – inspired by the power of Christ in us – bring about another kind of community. All faith without this inward and spiritual conformity is dead and useless. Bottom line – you must pay more than lip service to be a true Christian.


To those in whom this pure and holy birth is fully brought forth, sin comes to be removed and their hearts united to the truth so as not to obey the temptations of the evil one. This is “perfection.” But, Quakers understand this perfection to be only in proportion to man’s measure, whereby we are kept from transgressing the law of God to the degree that He requires of us. Look at it this way – the man in the parable who doubled the money that his master gave him was called a good faithful servant because that was as good as he could do. If he had been an investment counselor, the master might have expected a greater return. Those who attain perfection may even fall into iniquity from time to time if they do not diligently attend to God in their hearts. Many good and holy men had “slipped.” But, their shortcomings did not render them incapable of rising again. So then, if you desire perfection, turn your mind to the light of Christ in the heart. When you can say “it is no more I, but Christ in me” (Gal. 2: 20), then you will be a Christian indeed.

II. Worship

The Church

The Church, as used in the Holy Scripture, signifies an assembly of people—no more than a society that God has gathered to walk in His Light. There may be many outside the Christian faith—heathens, Turks, Jews, and others—who are truly member of this “catholick” church by virtue of the uprightness of their hearts before the Lord.

Quakers have certain times and places in which we meet together to wait upon God and worship Him. Visible worship is necessary because it is important to bear an outward testimony and to see the faces of one another and concur with our persons as well as our spirits. The inward love and unity of spirit that comes from the meeting is greatly encouraging and refreshing. Even though there might be not a word spoken, true spiritual worship is nevertheless performed because of the secret sense of God’s power.

When Barclay went into the silent meeting he felt a secret power among the QUakers which touched his heart, and as he “gave way unto it,” he found the evil weakening inside him and good rising up.

Quaker worship consists not of words, but in a holy dependence of the mind upon God. Silence necessarily follows from this type of worship; when words come up, they are brought forth from God’s spirit. During many meetings, God will raise up some minister to his brethren, yet still, Quakers feel that first there must be some time of silence from which that ministering may receive strength to bring forth what he has to say.

The great advantage of this type of worship is that it is simple; it is inward; it is between God and man. There is no room for the “slacker” to adorn the meeting with prepared sermons and worldly trappings that gratify his outward senses.


It is the Spirit — through divine influence — that sets a person apart for the ministry. This free gift of Light is received in the heart, not by training and education. Those who so freely receive it should give it freely without hire or bargaining. Those who are “fitted of the Lord” to be ministers are due a certain amount of respect and obedience. Within a congregation of worshipers might be some who are not moved to the testimony, yet nevertheless possess in their hearts the “blessed work of truth.” This spirit moves them to instruct the young and take care of widows, orphans, and the poor; they assure peace, love, and unity. Quakers call them “elders”; the Bible refers to them as deacons. A bottom line in Quaker belief: there should be no distinction between laity and clergy, “which in Scripture is not to be found.” God today raises up witnesses for Himself, just as the fishermen of old.


Religion, for many, is an outward experience; they pray when they please and have “set” prayers. Quakers affirm that prayer is very profitable and a necessary duty, but emphasize that without Christ and the assistance from His Spirit, we cannot pray. Prayer is two-fold, inward and outward. Inward prayer is that secret turning of the mind towards aGod and is touched by the Light of Christ. Outward prayer depends upon the inward and cannot be acceptably performed but as attended with a superadded influence and motion of the Spirit. The same goes for the singing of psalms. It must proceed from that which is pure in the heart. As for artificial music, there is no example for it in the New Testament.

Baptism and Communion

As there is one Lord, so there is one baptism – the answer of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being washed from our sins, we may walk in the newness of life. The baptism of John was symbolic and was not to continue forever; as to the baptism of infants, it is a mere human tradition, for which there is no precept in the Scriptures. Many are baptized with water that are not saved, for the outward washing with water does not make the heart clean. And just as that which goes into the mouth does not defile a man (because it goes to the dunghill), neither does anything which he eats purify him, Washing of one another’s feet and anointing the sick with oil commanded no less authority than the communion, yet seeing that they are but shadows of better things, they have ceased.

III. Testimonies

There are some traditional Christian practices that Quakers do not abide by, and this has evoked hatred and malice from other denominations. The nature of these things distinguishes Quakers, making it impossible to hide their faith without proving unfaithful to their beliefs.

All who profess to be Christians would be living lives more consistent with their beliefs if they would lay aside all superfluous titles of honor, and refrain from prodigality in meat, apparel, and amusements.


It is not lawful for Christians to give or to receive titles of honor, such as Your Holiness or Your Majesty. People in such positions of authority are due obedience. They are not, however, due such titles that neither add nor diminish from the subjugation we owe them. [It appears that Barclay was referring only to ecclesiastical and monarchal authorities.]

The apostles possessed the holiness, the excellency, and the grace; and, because they were holy, excellent, and gracious, they neither used nor admitted of such titles. Christians are to seek honor that comes from above, and honors such as titles come from below.

Hat and Knee

Kneeling, bowing, and taking off hats are outward signs of our adoration towards God, and therefore it is not lawful to exhibit this same deference to men.

All men in all nations, by inward instinct, have been led to prostrate themselves before God. Plainly, this bowing to men arose from a slavish fear that led them to set others up as gods; at the same time, proud and ambitious men have commanded others to bow to them, thus usurping the place of God.


Regarding apparel, we must consider two things: the socioeconomic condition of the person and the country he lives in. We shall not say that all persons are to be clothed alike. If a man be clothed soberly and without superfluity, he may dress finer than his servant. In fact, for a rich man to abstain from superfluous dress despite the customs of his social position and education may be a greater act of mortification than that of a servant abstaining from fine clothes who was never accustomed to them. As to the country, the inhabitants’ use of its products may present no vanity. So, where silk abounds, it may be worn as wool; where silver and gold are common as iron or brass, one might be used as well as the other.

The iniquity lies in lust of vanity. Men and women not content with what they can economically bear do stretch their budgets to acquire rare or pricey things, and in the process, they feed their lust for more.


There is no duty more frequently commanded, nor more incumbent on Christians than fear of the Lord, to stand in awe before Him. But those who gamble will forget this duty in pursuit of their gaming. If God secretly touches them, or in some way reminds them of their vanity, they strive to shut Him out.

On the other hand, man cannot bear a 24-hour-a-day concentration on serious and spiritual matters. Therefore, we do need some diversion and recreation. Thus refreshed, our minds are able with greater vigor to apply themselves to serious spiritual matters.

There are innocent diversions which many sufficiently serve for relaxing the mind: visiting friends, reading history, speaking soberly of present or past events, gardening and other things of this nature. In all things, however, we are not to forget God.


Do not blaspheme the Holy Name of God, nor take solemn oaths on command of others. In legal proceedings most Christians defend swearing before a magistrate they do so with such great zeal that they are ready to do it upon every occasion. They have also stirred the magistrate to prosecute those, who, out of obedience to Christ, judge it unlawful to swear. As is said: “Swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, your nay be nay, lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12).


Revenge and war are as contrary to the doctrine of Christ as light to darkness. It is strange that men made in the image of God should behave more like roaring lions and devouring wolves than like rational creatures endued with reason. It is with all the more wonder that such behavior should find a place among men who profess themselves to be disciples of the Prince of Peace, who expressly forbid his children all violence. More than this, he commanded them that — according to his example — they should follow patience, charity, forbearance, and other Christian virtues.

The words of Christ forbid things in regard to revenge that were lawful to the Jews (e.g.: “eye for an eye”). Christ demands of his disciples a more perfect and eminent charity as well as patience and suffering than that required by Moses.

James tells us that fighting with one another proceeds from lusts. It is fitter for a Christian to fight the inner battle against his own lusts than to destroy a fellow man.

When Christ told his disciples to sell their coats and buy a sword (Luke 12:36), he was speaking figuratively. Ambrose, for example, asked why Christ would command him to buy a sword, and then forbid him to use it. To those who say that defense is a natural right, Barclay says that to obey God is not to destroy nature, but to exalt and perfect it; to elevate it from the natural to the supernatural life by Christ within, that it may do all things, and be rendered more than conqueror.

Since nothing seems more contrary to man’s nature than self-defense, so it is the most perfect part of the Christian religion that we deny self and place entire confidence in God. Christ and his apostles left us a perfect example.

Regarding war: If a ruler is truly a Christian, then he ought to obey the command of Christ, who said “Love your enemies,” etc. If the ruler is not truly a Christian, then we ought to obey Christ ourselves and refrain from war. We shall not say that a just war is altogether unlawful to those who have not achieved the perfection of the Christian religion. Just as ceremonies for a season were permitted for the Jews, it is also lawful for the present confessors of the Christian name to defend themselves until they attain that perfection. For those whom Christ has brought to perfection, however, it is not lawful to defend themselves by arms, but they ought overall to trust in the Lord.

Bottom line: war and personal defense will show true and faithful a professed Christian he really is.

Liberty of Conscience

The conscience of man is the seat and throne of God within him; therefore, no man by virtue of governmental authority has the power to dictate how he will worship. Men of the same persuasion should be able to meet together and worship God in the way they find most acceptable to them. The liberty we lay claim to is that which the primitive church also sought: to be able to converse peacefully and exercise our consciences toward God without being molested by civil authorities. Only those who use the pretense of conscience to kill and destroy those who differ from them should be subject to civil authority.

We believe that if a Christian church finds any member to fall into error — after due admonitions — they may cut them off from fellowship by the sword of the Spirit and deprive them of privileges which they had as fellow members. But, the church cannot cut them off from the world by interfering with their everyday lives, or rob them of their common privileges as men.

A Christian should profess what he feels is right no matter how much he might suffer in worshiping in the way he sees most fit. He should not pay heed to the encouragement of others who want him to go farther than he wants; on the other hand, if he wants to take his cause farther, he should not fear the retribution of the law or the actions of men. This is a greatly abused tenet. In time of persecution many do not profess their hearts; on the other hand, when they find law and society on their side, they seek to limit the liberties of others’ consciences. If Quakers ever prove guilty of persecution, then let us be judged the greatest of hypocrites, and let not any spare to persecute us.

Amen, saith my soul.


If you practice this consistent and harmonious religion along with the Scriptures, you will find that the spiritual day of Christ is here, and that he again is revealing His paths of truth and righteousness. You will find that we worship Him not in the old letter of the law, but in the newness of the Spirit. Although we are few in number, weak in strength, and foolish in the eyes of the world, we nevertheless are prosperous in Spirit. Nothing shall be able to quench that spark within us; indeed it will grow and persist until it consumes whatsoever opposes it! He that keeps arising by the arm of this powerful Spirit shall eventually overcome all his enemies, until all the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of Christ Jesus.

Appendix—Theses Theologica

The First Proposition: Concerning the true Foundation of Knowledge

Seeing the height of all happiness is placed in the true knowledge of God (“This is life eternal, to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” [John 17:3]), the true and right understanding of this foundation and ground of knowledge is that which is most necessary to be known and believed in the first place.

The Second Proposition: Concerning Immediate Revelation

Seeing “no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him” (Matt. 11:27); and seeing the revelation of the Son is in and by the Spirit; therefore the testimony of the Spirit is that alone by which the true knowledge of God hath been, is, and can be only revealed; who, as by the moving of his own Spirit, he converted the chaos of this world into that wonderful order wherein it was Spirit he hath manifested himself all along unto the songs of men, both patriarchs, prochets, and apostles; which revelations of God, by the Spirit, whether by outward voices and appearances, dreams, or inward objective manifestations of the heart, were of old the formal object of their faith, and remain yet so to be; since the object of the saints’ faith is the same in all ages, though set forth under divers administrations. Moreover, these divine inward revelations, which we make absolutely necessary for the building up of true faith, neither do nor can ever contradict the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or right and sound reason. Yet from hence it will not follow, that these divine revelations are to be subjected to the examination, either of the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or of the natural reason of man, as to a more noble or certain rule or touchstone: for this divine revelation, and inward illumination, is that which is evident and clear of itself, forcing, by its own evidence and clearness, the well-disposed understanding to assent, irresistibly moving the same thereunto; even as the common principles of natural truths move and incline the mind to a natural assent: as, that the whole is greater than its part; that two contradictory sayings cannot be both true, or false: which is also manifest, according to our adversaries’ principle who (supposing the possibility of inward divine revelations) will nevertheless confess with us, that neither Scripture nor sound reason will contradict it: and yet it will not follow, according to them that the Scripture, or sound reason, should be subjected to the examination of the divine revelations in the heart.

The Third Proposition: Concerning the Scriptures

From these revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints, have proceeded to the Scriptures of Truth, which contain, 1. A faithful historical account of the actings of God’s people in divers ages, with many singular and remarkable providences attending them. 2. A prophetical account of several things, whereof some are already past, and some yet to come. 3. A full and ample account of all the chief principles of the doctrine of Christ, held forth in divers precious declarations, exhortations, and sentences, which, by the moving God’s spirit, were at several times, and upon sundry occasions, spoken and written unto some churches and their pastors; nevertheless, because they are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the “adequate primary rule of faith and manners.” Nevertheless, as that which giveth a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are and may be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty; for as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, that the Spirit is that guide by which the saints are led into all Truth (John 16:13, Rom. 8:14), therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader. And seeing we do therefore receive and believe the Scriptures, because they proceeded from the Spirit; therefore also the SPirit is more originally and principally the rule, according to that received maxim in the schools. Propter quad unumquadque est tale, illud ipsum est magis tale. Englished thus: “That for which a thing is such, that thing itself is more such.”

The Fourth Proposition: Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall

All Adam’s posterity (or mankind), both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam, or earthly man, is fallen (Rom. 5:12,15), degenerated, and dead, deprived of the sensation or feeling of this inward testimony or seed of God, and is subject unto the power, nature, and seed of the serpent, which he sows in men’s hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted state; from whence it comes, that not their words and deeds only, but all their imaginations, are evil perpetually in the sight of God, as proceeding from this depraved and wicked seed. Man, therefore, as he is in this state, can know nothing aright; yea, his thoughts and conceptions concerning God and things spiritual, until he be disjoined from this evil seed, and united to the divine Light, are unprofitable both to himself and others: hence are rejected the Socinian and Pelagian errors, in exalting a natural light; as also of the Papists, and most Protestants, who affirm, that man, without the true grace of God, may be a true minister of the Gospel. Nevertheless, this seed is not imputed to infants, until by transgression they actually join themselves therewith; for they are by nature the children of wrath who walk according to the power of the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2-3).

The Fifth and Sixth Propositions: Concerning the Universal Redemption by Christ, and also the Saving and Spiritual Light, wherewith every man is enlightened

The Fifth Proposition

God, out of his infinite love, who “delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but that all should live and be saved” (Ezek. 18:23), hath “so loved the world, that he hath given his only Son™ a Light (Isa. 49:6), that “whosoever believeth in him” should be saved (John 3:16); who “enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9; Tit. 2:11), and “maketh manifest all things that are reprovable” (Eph. 5:13), and teacheth all “temperance, righteousness, and godliness™: and this Light enlighteneth the hearts of all in a day, in order to salvation, and this is it, which reproves the sin of all individuals, and would work out the salvation of all, if not resisted: nor is it less universal than the seed of sin, being the purchase of his death, who “tasted death for every man” (Heb. 2:3); “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive™ {1 Cor. 15:22).

The Sixth Proposition

According to which principle (or hypothesis), all the objections against the universality of Christ’s death are easily solved; neither is it needful to recur to the ministry of angels, and those other miraculous means, which, they say, God makes use of, to manifest the doctrine and history of Christ’s passion unto such who (living in those places of the world where the outward preaching of the Gospel is unknown) have well improved the first and common grace; for hence it well follows, that as some of the old philosophers might have been saved, so also may now some — who by providence are cast into those remote parts of the world, where the knowledge of the history is wanting — be made partakers of the divine mystery, if they receive and resist not that grace, “a manifestation whereof is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor. 12:7). This certain doctrine then being received (to wit) that there is an evangelical and saving Light and Grace in all, the universality of the love and mercy of God towards mankind (both in the death of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the manifestation of the Light in the heart) is established and confirmed against all the objections of such as deny it. Therefore Christ hath tasted death for every man” (Heb. 2:9): not only for “all kinds of men,” as some vainly talk out for every one, of all kinds; the benefit of whose offering is not only extended to such, who have the distinct outward knowledge of his death and sufferings, as the same is declared in the Scriptures, but even unto those who are necessarily excluded from the benefit of this knowledge by some inevitable accident; which knowledge we willingly confess to be very profitable and comfortable, but not absolutely needful unto such, from whom God himself hath withheld it; yet they may be made partakers of the mystery of his death (though ignorant of history) if they suffer his Seed and Light (enlightening their hearts) to take place; in which Light, communion with the Father and Son is enjoyed, so as of wicked men to become holy, and lovers of that power, by whose inward and secret touches they feel themselves turned from the evil to the good, and learn to do to others as they would be done by; in which Christ himself affirms all to be included. As they then have falsely and erroneously taught, who have deniedChrist to have died for all men; so neither have they sufficiently taught the Truth, who, affirming him to have died for all, have added the absolute necessity of the outward knowledge thereof, in order to the obtaining its saving effect; among whom the Remonstrants of Holland have been chiefly wanting, and many other asserters of universal redemption, in that they have not placed the extent of this salvation in that divine and evangelical principle of Light and Life, wherewith Christ hath enlightened every man that comes into the world, which is excellently and evidently held forth in these scriptures: Gen. 6:3, Deut. 30:14, John 1:7-9, Rom. 10:8, Tit. 2:11.

The Seventh Proposition

Concerning Justification As many as resist not this Light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God; by which holy birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, so we are justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle’s words, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Therefore it is not by our works wrought in our will, nor yet by good works, considered as of themselves, but by Christ, who is both the gift and the giver, and the cause producing the effects in us; who, as he hath reconciled us while we were enemies, doth also in his wisdom save us, and justify us after this manner, as saith the same apostle elsewhere: “According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5).

The Eighth Proposition: Concerning Perfection

In whom this holy and pure birth is fully brought forth the body of death and sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected unto the Truth, so as not to obey any suggestion or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect (Rom. 6:14; 8:13; 6:2, 18; 1 John 3:6). Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth ever in some part a possibility of sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.

The Ninth Proposition: Concerning Perseverance, and the Possibility of Falling from Grace

Although this gift and inward grace of God be sufficient to work out salvation, yet in those in whom it is resisted, it both may and doth become their condemnation. Moreover, in whom it hath wrought in part, to purify and sanctify them, in order to their further perfection, by disobedience such may fall from it, and turn it to wantonness making shipwreck of faith; and “after having tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost again fall away” (Tim 1:6; Heb. 6.4-6). Yet such an increase and stability in the Truth may in this life be attained, from which there cannot be a total apostasy.

The Tenth Proposition: Concerning the Ministry

As by this gift or Light of God all true knowledge in things spiritual is received and revealed, so by the same, as it is manifested and received in the heart by the strength and power thereof, every true minister of the Gospel is ordained, prepared and supplied in the work of the ministry; and by the leading, moving, and drawing hereof ought every evangelist and Christian pastor to be led and ordered in his labour and work of the Gospel, both as to the place where, as to the persons to whom, and as to the times when he is to minister. Moreover, those who have this authority may and ought to preach the Gospel, though without human commission or literature; as on the other hand, those who want the authority of this divine gift, however learned or authorized by the commissions of men and churches, are to be esteemed but as deceivers and not true ministers of the Gospel. Also, who have received this holy and unspotted gift, “as they have freely received so are they freely to give” (Matt. 10), without hire or bargaining, far less to use it as a trade to get money by it: yet if God hath called any from their employments or trades by which they acquire their livelihood, it may be lawful for such (according to the liberty which they feel given them in the Lord) to receive such temporals — to wit, what may be needful to them for meat and clothing — as are freely given them by those to whom they have communicated spirituals.

The Eleventh Proposition: Concerning Worship

All true and acceptable worship to God is offered in the inward and immediate moving and drawing of his own Spirit, which is neither limited to places, times, or persons; for though we be to worship him always, in that we are to fear before him, yet as to the outward signification thereof in prayers, praises, or preachings, we ought not to do it where and when we will, but where and when we are moved thereunto by the secret inspirations of his Spirit in our hearts, which God heareth and accepteth of, and is never wanting to move us thereunto, when need is, of which he himself is the alone proper judge. All other worship then, both praises, prayers and preachings, which man sets about in his own will, and at his own appointment, which he can both begin and end at his pleasure, do or leave undone, as himself sees meet, whether they be a prescribed form, as a liturgy, or prayers conceived extemporarily, by the natural strength and faculty of the mind, they are all but superstitions, will-worship, and abominable idolatry in the sight of God; which are to be denied, rejected, and separated from, in this day of his spiritual arising: however it might have pleased him, who winked at the times of ignorance, with respect to the simplicity and integrity of some, and of his own innocent seed, which lay as it were buried in the hearts of men, under the mass of superstition, to blow upon the dead and dry bones, and to raise some breathings, and answer them, and that until the day should more clearly dawn and break forth (Ezek. 13; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 18:5; John 3:6, 4:21; Jude 19; Acts 17:23).

The Twelfth Proposition: Concerning Baptism

As there is “one Lord” and “one faith,” so there is “one baptism, which is not the putting away the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And this baptism is a pure and spiritual thing, to wit the baptism of the Spirit and fire, by which we are buried with him, that being washed and purged from our sins we may “walk in newness of life”; of which the baptism of John was a figure which was commanded for a time and not to continue forever. As to the baptism of infants, it is a mere human tradition for which neither precept nor practice is to be found in all the Scripture (Eph. 4:5; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; John 3:30; 1 Cor. 1:17).

The Thirteenth Proposition: Concerning the Communion, or Participation of the Body and Blood of Christ

The communion of the body and blood of Christ is inward and spiritual, which is the participation of his flesh and blood, by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells; of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which they even used in the church for a time, who had received the substance, for the cause of the weak (1 Cor. 10:16-17; John 6:32-33,55; 1 Cor. 5:8); even as “abstaining from things strangled, and from blood”; the washing one another’s feet, and the “anointing of the sick with oil”; all which are commanded with no less authority and solemnity than the former; yet seeing they are but the shadows of better things, they cease in such as have obtained the substance (Acts 15:20; John 13:14; James 5:14).

The Fourteenth Proposition: Concerning the power of the Civil Magistrate, in matters purely religious, and pertaining to the conscience

Since God hath assumed to himself the power and dominion of the conscience, who alone can rightly instruct and govern it, therefore it is not lawful for any whatsoever, by virtue of any authority or principality they bear in the government of this world, to force the consciences of others; and therefore all killing, banishing, fining, imprisoning, and other such things, which men are afflicted with, for the alone exercise of their conscience, or difference in worship or opinion, proceedeth from the spirit of Cain the murderer, and is contrary to the Truth; provided always, that no man, under the pretence of conscience, prejudice his neighbour in his life or estate; or do anything destructive to, or inconsistent with human society; in which case the law is for the transgressor, and justice to be administered upon all, without respect of persons (Luke 9:55-56; Matt. 7:12,29; Tit. 3:10).

The Fifteenth Proposition: Concerning Salutations and Recreations, &c.

Seeing the chief end of all religion is to redeem man from the spirit and vain conversation of this world and to lead into inward communion with God, before whom, if we fear always, we are accounted happy; therefore all the vain customs and habits thereof, both in word and deed, are to be rejected and forsaken by those who come to this fear; such as the taking off the hat to a man, the bowings and cringings of the body, and such other salutations of that kind, with all the foolish and superstitious formalities attending them; all which man has invented in his degenerate state to feed his pride in the vain pomp and glory of this world; as also the unprofitable plays, frivolous recreations, sportings and gamings, which are invented to pass away the precious time and divert the mind from the witness of God in the heart, and from the living sense of his fear, and from that evangelical Spirit wherewith Christians ought to be leavened and which leads into sobriety, gravity, and godly fear; in which, as we abide, the blessing of the Lord is felt to attend us in those actions in which we are necessarily engaged in order to the taking care for the sustenance of the outward man (Eph. 5:11; 1 Pet. 1:14; John 5:44; Jer. 10:3; Acts 10:26; Mait. 15:13; Col. 2:8).