« PreviousContinue »
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 fan ther, 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 which 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 new 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 his well-known “ Apology for the Quakers." It was written and publishod 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 fatter thee, the usual design of such works: and therefore I can weither dedicate it to thee, nor cravę 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 service 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 honourable, thyself more considera able, 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
and such a temptation, or offered violence to any of his exorbitant desires. This is a delight that grows and improves under thought and reflection ; and while it exercises, does also endear itself to the mind; at the same time employing and enflaming the meditations.
And tell me so of any outward enjoypent that mortality is capable of. We are generally at the mercy of men's rapine, avarice, and violence, whether we shall be happy or no: for if I build my felicity on my estate, I am happy as long as the tyrant, or the railer will give me leave to be so. * * But if I can make my duty my delight; if I can feast, and please, and caress my mind with the pleasures of worthy speculations or virtuous practices ; let greatness and malice vex and abridye me if they can. My pleasures are as free as my will; no more to be controuled than my choice, or the unlimited range of my thoughts and my desires.
This discourse is commended in the Tatler, No. 205, Vol. IV. in these terms : “ This ad. mirable discourse was preached at court, where the preacher was too wise a man not to believe the greatest argument in that place, against the pleasures then in vogue, must be, that they lost greater pleasures by prosecuting the courses
they were in. This charming discourse has in it whatsoever wit and wisdom can put together. This gentleman has a talent of making all his faculties bear to the great end of his hallowed profession. Happy genius! he is the better man for being a wit."
South distinguished himself likewise by his controversy with Sherlock, on the subject of the Triniiy. His tracts on this subject are, 1. Animadversions upon Dr. Sherlock's book, entitled Vinštication," &c. 2. Tritheism charged upon Dr Sherlock's new notion of the Trinity in the Godhead.
Sherlock had defined the Trinity to become Three eternal minds, of which two proceeded from the Father; and the three rendered one by a reciprocal consciousness. South treats this notion in the following ludicrous manner ;
The soul of Socrates, (says he) vitally joined with a female body, would certainly make a woman ; and yet according to this author's principle (affirming that it is the soul only which makes the person) Socrates with such a change of body, would continue the same person, and consequently be the same Socrates still. And in like manner for Xantippe, the conjunction of her soul with another sex, would certainly make the whole compound a man; and nevertheless Xantippe