BY ROBERT BARCLAY,
A Lover and Travailer for the Peace of Christendom.
Which was delivered to them in Latin on the 23d and 24th days of the
Month called February, 1677-8, and now published in English for the satisfaction
of such, as understand not the language.
Psal. 2:10. Be wise therefore ye Kings, be instructed ye Judges of the Earth; serve the Lord with fear,and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, least he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are they that put their trust in him.
[edited by Peter Sippel]
By Way of a Short Preface originally produced
in Word Perfect 5.1 for DOS and converted to HTML; further formatting done
in Netscape Composer 4.08 for Windows 3.1.
Let it not seem strange unto you, who are men chosen and authorized by the great Monarchs and States of Europe to find out a speedy remedy for the present great trouble (under which many of her inhabitants do groan) as such, whose wisdom and prudence, and abilities have so recommended them to the world, as to be judged fit for so great and difficult a work, to be addressed unto by one, who by the world may be esteemed weak and foolish; whose advice is not ushered unto you by the commission of any of the Princes of this World, nor seconded by the recommendation of any Earthly State: for since your work is that, which concerns all Christians; why may not every Christian, who feels himself stirred up of the Lord thereunto, contribute therein? And if they have place to be heard in this affair, who come in the name of Kings and Princes; let it not seem heavy unto you to hear him, that comes in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who in the truest sense is the Head and Governor, and Chief Bishop of the Church, the most truly Christian and Catholic King: many of whose subjects are concerned in this matter, and the blood of many in hazard, for whom he hath shed his precious Blood. And yet who shall not seek to obtrude upon you the belief of the Truth or Certainty of his commission because of his own testimony; but leave it, as well as the things he therein delivereth, to the holy and pure witness of God in all your consciences, to be received or rejected by you, as it shall there be approved, or not approved.
Know then, my friends, that many and often times my soul has been deeply bowed under the weighty sense of the present state of Christendom; and in secret before the Lord I have mourned, and bitterly lamented because thereof. And as I was crossing the sea, and being the last summer in Holland, and some parts of Germany, the burthen thereof fell often upon me, and it several times came before me to write unto you, what I then saw and felt from God of these things, while I was in those parts. But I waited, and was not willing to be hasty; and now being returned to my own Country, and at my own home, I cheerfully accept the fit season, which the Lord has put in my hand, and called me to therein, to signify unto you those things, which in his Name and Authority I am commanded to do.
And for this end the Lord has shown me, what the causes are of all this mischief and confusion, and desolation; which are necessary to be made known unto you, and deeply and seriously to be considered by you; else ye can never be able to apply the right remedies. I speak of the Primary and Original Cause, as it proceeds from him, and is hatched by him, who is the Author of all mischief, and the great Enemy to as well as envyer of the true peace and prosperity of all good Christians; and who sows in men's hearts that evil seed, and formenteth that bad ground, from which all evil riseth. For unless this be seen, discovered and removed in the ground, although the secondary and more immediate causes be seen, (to wit) the projects, designs, and councils of men, and in part be answered and removed by giving way to some, and taking from others, according as they are more or less formidable and considerable, measuring these things by the rules of human wisdom, and carnal prudence and policy; yet that is not sufficient: that may allay the heat for a time, but will not remove the evil; and you in so doing, will prove but like those physicians, that do mitigate the pain and violence of a disease for a time, but do not take away the ground and cause of it: so that it shortly again returns, and in the end destroys him that is afflicted with it.
The chief ground, cause and root then of all this misery among all those called Christians, is, because they are only such in name, and not in nature, having only a form and profession of Christianity in show and words, but are still strangers, yea, and enemies to the Life and Virtue of it; owning God and Christ in words, but denying them in works; and therefore the Lord Jesus Christ will not own them as his Children, nor Disciples. For while they say, they are his followers; while they preach and exalt his precepts; while they extol his life, patience and meekness, his self-denying, perfect resignation and obedience to the will of his Father; yet themselves are out of it: and so bring shame and reproach to that honourable Name, which they assume to themselves in the face of the Nations, and give an occasion for Infidels (Turks, Jews and Atheists) to profane and blaspheme the Holy Name of Jesus. Is it not so? While so much ambition, pride, vanity, wantonness and malice, murder, cruelty and oppression, yea, and all manner of abominations abounds and is openly practised; yea, while those, that should be patterns and examples of justice, virtue and sobriety to others, do for the most part exceed most in those things. So that the Courts of Christian Princes (who while in words seem more to glory in being professors and protectors of Christianity, than in their outward crowns) which should be colleges of virtue and piety, are mostly scenes of greatest wickedness, and nests and receptacles of all the buffoons, stage-players, and other vilest vermin not fit to be mentioned. I say, is it not so? While upon every slender pretext, such as their own small discontents, or that they judge, the present Peace they have with their neighbour, cannot suit with their grandeur and worldly glory, they sheath their swords in one another's bowels; ruin, waste and destroy whole Countries; expose to the greatest misery many thousand families; make thousands of widows, and ten thousands of orphans; cause the banks to overflow with the blood of those, for whom the Lord Jesus Christ shed his precious Blood; and spend and destroy many of the good creatures of God. And all this while they pretend to be followers of the Lamb like Jesus; who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them; the song of whose appearance to the world was; "Glory to God in the highest, and good will and peace to all men:" (Luke 2:4) not to kill, murder and destroy men; not to hire and force poor men to run upon and murder one another, merely to satisfy the lust and ambition of great men; they being oftentimes ignorant of the ground of the quarrel, and not having the least occasion of evil will or prejudice against those their fellow Christians, whom they thus kill; amongst whom not one of a thousand perhaps ever saw one another before. Yea, is it not so, that there is only a Name, and nothing of the true nature of Christians especially manifest in the Clergy, who pretend not only to be professors, but preachers, promoters and exhorters of others to Christianity, who for the most part are the greatest promoters and advancers of those wars; and by whom upon all such occasions the Name of God and Jesus Christ is most horribly abused, profaned and blasphemed, while they dare pray to God, and thank him for the destruction of their brethren Christians, and that for and against, according to the changeable wills of their several Princes: yea so, that some will join in their prayers with and for the prosperity of such, as their Profession obliges them to believe to be heretical and antichristian; and for the destruction of those, whom the same profession acknowledges to be good and orthodox Christians. Thus the French, both Papists and Protestants join in their prayers, and rejoice for the destruction of the Spanish Papists and Dutch Protestants: the like may be said of the Danish, Swedish and German Protestants, as respectively concerned in this matter. Yea, which is yet more strange, if either constraint or interest do engage any Prince or State to change his party, while the same war and cause remains; then will the Clergy presently accommodate their prayers to the case, in praying for prosperity to those, to whom they instantly before wished ruin; and so on the contrary: as in this present war, in the case of the Bishop of Munster is manifest. Was there ever, or can there be any more horrible profanations of the Holy and Pure Name of God, especially to be done by those, who pretend to be be worshippers of the true God, and Disciples of Jesus Christ? This not only equals, but far exceeds the wickedness of the Heathens: for they only prayed such gods to their assistance, as they fancied allow their ambition, and accounted their warring a virtue; whom they judged changeable like themselves, and subject to such quarrels among themselves, as they that are their worshippers: but for those to be found in these things, who believe, there is but one only God, and have, or at least profess to have such notions of his justice, equity and mercy, and of the certainty of his punishing the transgressors of his Law, is so horrible and abominable, as cannot sufficiently be neither said, nor written.
The ground then of all this is the want of true Christianity, because the nature of it is not begotten, nor brought forth in those called Christians; and therefore they bear not the image, nor bring not forth the fruits of it. For albeit they have the Name; yet the nature they they are strangers to: the Lamb's nature is not in them, but the doggish nature, the wolfish nature, that will still be quarrelling and destroying; the cunning, serpentine, subtle nature, and the proud, ambitious, Luciferian nature, that sets Princes and States a work to contrive and forment wars, and engages people to fight together, some for ambition and vain glory; and some for covetousness and hope of gain: and the same cause doth move the Clergy to concur with their share in making their prayers turn and twine; and so all are here out from the state of true Christianity. And as they keep the Name of being Christians; so also upon the same pretext each will pretend to be for peace, while their fruits manifestly declare the contrary. And how hath and doth experience daily discover this deceit! For how is peace brought about? Is it not, when the weaker is forced to give way to the stronger, without respect to the equity of the cause? Is it not just so, as among the wild and devouring beasts? who when they fight together, the weaker is forced to give way to the stronger, and so desist, until another occasion offer? So who are found weakest, who are least capable to hold out, they must bear the inconviency; and he gets the most advantage, however frivolous, yea, unjust his pretence be, who is most able to vindicate his claim, and preserve it not by equity, but force of arms: so that the peace-contrivers' rule is not the equity of the cause, but the power of the parties. Is not this known and manifest in many, if not most of the pacifications, that have been made in Christendom?
It is therefore in my heart, in the Name and behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, to warn you to consider of those things: and therefore be not unwilling to hear one, that appears among you for the interest of Christ his King and Master. Not as if thereby he denied the just authority of Sovereign Princes; or refused to acknowledge the subjection himself owes to his lawful Prince and Superior; or were any ways inclined to favour the dreams of such, as under the pretence of crying up King Jesus, and the Kingdom of Christ, either deny, or seek to overturn all Civil Government; nay, not at all: but I am one, who do reverence and honour Magistracy, and acknowledge subjection due unto them by their respective people in all things just and lawful; knowing, "that Magistracy is an ordinance of God, and the Magistrates are his minsters, who bear not the sword in vain." (Rom. 13:1-4) Yet nevertheless I judge it no prejudice to the Magistracy, nor injury to any, for one that is called of the Lord Jesus, to appear for him in this affair; for he is not a little concerned, as by all their confession, so by right are his subjects (unless they willfully render themselves to another, even to the Adversary) for he is heir of all, and therefore it is fit, that they, who speak in his Name, be heard; for his Honour and Glory is concerned; his Authority has been condemned; his Laws broken; his Life oppressed; his Standard of Peace pulled down and rent; his Government incroached upon: what shall I say! his precious Blood shed, and himself afresh crucified, and put to open shame by the murders and cruelties, that have attended those wars. If then ye come not under a deep and weighty sense of those things, so as to apply yourselves to seek after some effectual way to remedy these evils; however you may seek to please Princes and States by patching up a reconciliation, and troubling yourselves to satisfy their covetous and ambitious wills, who make such a noise and stir in the world about their glory, and do not mind the Glory and Honour of the Lord Jesus Christ, so as to give him the right, that is due unto him in the first place (not in a bare sound of words; he will not accept of such a compliment, while the evil works remain;) I testify in his Name, and Power and Authority, your work be be imperfect, and not prosperous.
For although those Kings and Princes, that are now at variance, may be by your means brought to lay down arms, and appear to be good friends, and dear allies; yet unless the Lord Jesus Christ can be restored to his Kingdom in their hearts, and that evil ground of ambition, of pride, and lust, and vain glory be removed, that so they may rule in the Wisdom and Power of God, and not according to their lusts; that evil ground and devouring nature being still alive and predominant in them, will quickly stir some of them up again, so soon as opportunity offers fit for their advantage: they will kindle the flame again, and all your Articles will not bind them; but they will break them like straws: and their counsellors, who flatter them, and seek to please them, will quickly find out a pretext for a breach, such as have taught them these hellish maxims, Qui nescit dissiimulare, nescit regnare, i.e, that such, as make conscience to lie (or serve the Devil) but to obey Christ, are not fit to rule; and that Kings must not be slaves to their words. And perhaps, if they find it difficult to hit upon any probable ground or pretence; if they judge themselves strong enough, they will neither trouble themselves, nor the world to give a reason, but tell, that to be at Peace, is no longer consistent with their glory: and when they have brought about, what they have determined; they will let the world know the reason of it. Hath not manifold experience proved those things to be true? And seeing it is so, there is, nor can no settled, firm, established Peace be brought to Christendom, until the Devil's Kingdom be rooted out of men's hearts, from which wars come, as the Apostle James testifies; (James 4.1-7) and the Kingdom of Jesus come to be established in the hearts of Kings, and Princes, and People, whose Kingdom is a Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit: until he come to rule in and among them, and his enemies, viz. every evil lust be thrown out from him, so that his Heavenly Wisdom may take place, "which is pure, and peaceable, and easy to be entreated." (James 3:17) And therefore to bring this about, is the one and great thing needful to be minded and considered of, and effectually to be pressed after, as that, by the accomplishing whereof the present evils can alone be cured and removed.
Therefore be not mistaken, neither deceive yourselves to think, ye can accomplish this work by your worldly and human wisdom; the wisdom of the flesh will not do it, neither that of the first birth, which must die and be crucified, e'er the Heavenly Wisdom, the beginning whereof is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7) be revealed, by which alone this work can both be truly begun and finished. For the worldly and carnal wisdom is the cause of the war: it is by it, that men have been, and are stirred up to it, even the wisdom of the first fleshly birth, which leads men not to be content with their own, but to covet their neighbour's, and to quarrel and fight in the hopes of advantage: therefore that wisdom, which is the cause of the mischief, will, nor can never cure it. Try and examine yourselves therefore seriously in the sight of God, whether you be led, acted and influenced in your present negotiation by the wisdom of this world, the wisdom of the first birth, which is sensual, devilish and from below; or by the Heavenly and Pure Wisdom of God, which is from above, and is the fruit of the second birth, (James 3:17) the new birth by Christ Jesus formed and brought forth in the soul, and the Light of Jesus Christ in you, which shows you all your thoughts, and has reproved every one of you for your unrighteousness, even from your childhood up: that will manifest unto you (if you mind it, and heed it) which wisdom you are acted by; and discover to you, whether it be your thoughts and purposes to glorify God over all, and to remove, so far as in you lies, what is contrary to his Holy and Pure Will; and whether you be more concerned for the particular interest and interests of your several Princes, to satisfy or obviate their designs, or to bring about that, by which God's holy witness in every conscience may be answered, and the pure life of Jesus: that by these doings the oppressed may be eased, and suffered to arise. For if this be little in your minds, as a thing not much regarded, but neglected by you, I must intimate to you in the Name of the Lord, that your work will not be blessed by him; neither will it prosper: for although you may make peace for a time; yet (as I have aforesaid) it will not be firm, nor of any long continuance; but the old root still remaining, will send forth its evil fruit again, and all your labour will quickly be undone.
Let me exhort you then seriously to examine yourselves by the Light of Jesus Christ in you, that can alone discover unto you your own hearts, and will not flatter you (as men may) whether you be fit for this work you are set about? Which you cannot be, until you have seriously applied yourselves to the killing and crucifying of that nature in yourselves, from which all this evil flows: if the warring part be removed out of you, and the corrupted wisdom done away, and the peaceable wisdom brought up, then are you fit to consult, and bring about the peace of Christendom. But this cannot be accomplished in you, until you have first believed in the Light of Jesus Christ, wherewithal you, as well as all men are enlightened; and which is given you as a sufficient Guide and Leader, to lead out of darkness, to lead out of strife, to lead out of the lusts, from which wars come, (Jam. 4:1) unto the ways of righteousness and peace; which leads not to destroy, but to love, and forgive enemies: it is the minding of this, and being led and guided by it, that only can fit you for so great and good a work; for this is the Fruit of the Father's love to mankind, and the gift of God, even Christ Jesus, who was given for a Light to enlighten the Gentiles, and for his salvation unto the ends of the earth (Isa. 49:6, Luke 2:32.) So it is by turning to this, and following it, and obeying it (in which is sufficiency, and which gives power to the receivers of it to become the sons of God) that the true nature of Christianity can be brought forth and restored; and by which Kings and Princes, Rulers and People may be brought out of lust, envy, warring and strife, to true peace with God, and one with another.
And therefore the cause of all the mischief, that is in Christendom, is, because this Light has not been minded, nor regarded in the heart; but has been hated and overlooked, as a low and insufficient thing: and therefore the Seed of the Kingdom, this gift of the Father's love, this little Leaven, this Pearl of great Price, and this Talent being hid in the ground, condemned and despised, and the world and worldly mind being set over it, notwithstanding all the preaching and praying, and professing of Christ in words (that has been only one outward show and appearance, by which men might the more easily be deceived, and live more securely in their wickedness) the innocent life of Christ hath not been known, and all Christendom has brought forth bitter and sour grapes under all their talk and form of worship; and not the sweet and peaceable Fruits of Righteousness: which can never be brought, until all come to him, to the Light of Christ in their consciences, to follow and obey it, and acknowledge it, as that which is given them of God, and sufficient to lead them to Life and Salvation. For as this is thus received and entertained, the true nature of Christ will be begotten and brought forth in people; and then the contrary nature, in which the enmity and strife is, will die and pass away: and so Truth and Peace will come and be settled and firmly established. And for this end the Lord God Almighty is arisen, and arising in his own Power and glory, who out of his infinite compassion, having regard to the present distracted and desolate condition of Christendom (as seeing them strangers to his Life and Power, and led and guided at will to the utter ruin and destruction both of body and soul by the Adversary of mankind's true happiness) that he might reveal the Light of his Truth even of true Christianity to those, who have the Name only, hath turned many, who are strangers and enemies thereunto in their minds by wicked works, to this precious Light, by which Judgment has been laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet in them, (Isa. 28:7, Matt. 12:20) and the evil works and nature in them have been judged and condemned; and they have willingly abode under it, until it hath been brought forth to victory in them. And many of them, who have been wise according to the wisdom of the world, have learned to lay it down at the feet of Jesus, that they might receive from him of his Pure and Heavenly Wisdom; being contented in the enjoyment of that by the world to be accounted fools: and also many of them, who were fighters, and even renowned for their skill and valour in warring, have come by the influence of this Pure Light to "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks and not learn carnal war any more," (Isa. 2:4) being redeemed from the lusts, from which fighting comes. And there are thousands, whom God hath brought here already; who see to the end of all contention and strife, and that for which the world contends: and albeit the Devil be angry at them, and rage against them in the mere nominal and literal Christians, because he knows, they strike at the very root and foundation of his Kingdom in men's hearts; and therefore he prevails in his followers, to wit, in these literal, nominal Christians, to persecute, kill, beat, banish and imprison, and many ways vex them: yet because the Lord has chosen them to be a First Fruit of that Glorious Work, which he is is bringing about in the Nations; therefore they hitherto have, notwithstanding of all that opposition, and yet shall prosper: by a patient enduring in the Spirit of Jesus, they do and shall OVERCOME.
And therefore there is nothing can so much tend to the good and universal peace of Christendom, than for all and every one to mind this gift of God in themselves; and not only to suffer, but to rejoice at the preaching and promulgating of the universality of this glorious Light, whereunto God is now calling many: for as the resisting and slaying of this in themselves, as well as in those, who come in the Name of God to declare it, is the cause of all the mischief, that Christendom labours under; so also its being received and taking place, would remove and do it away.
Be not therefore easily engaged by the enemy to slight and reject those things, as foolish and weak, and too low for you to consider, or give place unto; for thereby the Enemy always laboured to veil and darken the counsel of God, and hindered it from being received by men. Thus the King of Israel despised the counsel of Micah at the instigation of his mocking prophets, (1 Kings 22:8) but remember, that you profess to be followers of Jesus, who was loaden with many reproaches, accounted a disturber, and to whom Barrabas a murderer was preferred by the counsel and advice of the wise Rabbis and great professors among the Jews (Luke 23:18, Matt. 27:20, John 18:40;) and remember, that you profess yourselves to be owners of that Gospel, whose first and chief ministers and preachers were accounted foolish and illiterate men, movers of sedition, idle babblers, and turners of the world upside down (Acts 2:7; 4:13, 17, 18, 19, 20; 21:28; 24:5-6; 25:7): and therefore be not easily frighted by these and such like reports and reproaches from hearing those, whom God hath called and chosen, that in and amongst them he may he glorified, and by them may restore that in reality in the (so called) Christian world, which for several generations they have only had the shadow of, but have not enjoyed in the substance.
And because many are the calumnies, that such are reproached withal,
as holding forth strange and pernicious doctrines; therefore I have herewith
sent you a large Apology for the True Christian Divinity, held forth
and preached by them; that therein you may see, how the truly Christian
principles, which have been lost in the Apostacy, while the life of Christianity
was not to be found, is restored by their testimony: desiring you seriously
to read and consider the same, as well as transmit it to the several Princes
you are employed by; that both you and they may see that the Day of the
Lord is dawned; and may learn to walk in the Light of it; which would bring
peace and quietness, and felicity to all, both outward and inward: and
thereby all may be stirred up to receive with gladness such, as the Lord
will move to preach and declare this day, as it is dawned and made manifest
in them; following the Apostle's rules "In receiving strangers willingly;
for that some in so doing have entertained Angels unawares." (Heb. 13.2)
And that none of you may be like the Pharisees, who cried, "crucify him;"
nor like those, who intreated him to "depart out of their coasts;" and
like those who would have none of him to rule over them; lest with them
ye receive the like condemnation. However, I shall be clear of all your
blood, in so far as I have faithfully answered, what God required of me
towards you, and discharged my conscience in love to your immortal souls;
as well as to the common peace and good of Christendom. Whereof, and of
all those, that profess the name of Christ, I am,
A true friend, and hearty well-wisher,
Copies of the foresaid Epistle in Latin, were upon the 23d and 24th
Days of the Month called February 1678, delivered at Nimeguen to the Ambassadors
of the Emperor, of the Kings of Great Britain, Spain and France, Sweden
and Denmark, of the Prince Elector Palatine; as also of the States General,
and of the Duke of Lorain, Holstein, Lunenburg, Osnabrug, Hanover, and
the Pope's Nuncio, to wit, one of each Ambassador, and one to each of their
Principles: together with so many copies of the book, whereof the author
makes mention in the letter, the title whereof is,
Roberti Barclaii Theologiae verae Christinae Apologia, Carola secundo, Magnae Brianniae, &c. Regi oblata.
Typis excusa, 1676, pro Jacob Clause, Bibliopola habitante
Robert Barclay his Apology for the true Christian Divinity, offered to Charles the Second, King of Great Britain.
Printed 1676 for Jacob Claus, Bookseller at Amsterdam.