«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
For Endy, Barclay ‘represents the tendency to focus on the noetic or epistemological function of the inner light and to use philosophical concepts to express spiritual-corporeal dualism present in Quakerism’.32 It is this dualistic reference that can lead to criticism of Barclay.
According to Ambler the earliest Quakers, including Barclay, understood that ‘the light was a supernatural power’ but understood little about ‘the operation of the light within the human mind’. However, Ambler33 maintains that ‘it is not strictly fair to Barclay, or to other early writers for that matter, to suggest that their 'new idea' was 'locked up... in [the] old system'’. His argument rests on two factors: one is the prevailing philosophy of Cartesian dualism, and the other is the fact that Barclay was writing an apologetic work. In so far as Barclay set out to write a defence of Quakerism against its philosophical critics, he used the
language of these critics to clarify and justify his defence. Ambler asserts:
His great book was an 'Apology' after all, that is, a formal defence of the faith against those who were attacking it. And like all good defences in argument it appealed to the common ground, the ideas and principles that could be shared by all.
Barclay’s concern was to demonstrate that Quaker faith and practice made sense even when framed in the language of the day. It was not however, says Ambler, ‘a capitulation to his opponents’ view’.34 Ambler, in agreement with Keiser35 indicates that Barclay’s manner of expression was academic when needed but experiential when preferable.
Ambler points out that chapter 11 of the Apology ‘stands out from the others as a genuinely Quaker way of articulating our (Quaker) truth, though, surprisingly, Barclay 32 Endy, William Penn, p. 151. Barclay and Penn both wrote of the relationship between the spiritual and the physical in their efforts to describe and explain Quakerism, Barclay in the Apology and Penn in his Collected Works, (2 vols. 1726).
33 Ambler, R. ‘The Light Within: Then and Now’, A talk to the Quaker Universalist conference at Woodbrooke 13th March, 2010; p. 8 -f/n 17.
34 Ambler, R. ibid; p. 8-f/n 17.
35 Keiser, M. ‘Touched and Knit in the Life: Barclay's relational theology and Cartesian dualism’, Quaker Studies, 5, issue 2, (2001), especially pp. 158-163.
128 himself does not seem to have recognized the incongruity, or the immense potential for a new way of thinking to accompany and articulate the new way of being’. Barclay’s apologetic work may have required, in his own view, the necessity of using the Cartesian language of his time, to facilitate and communicate meaningful apologetic analysis.36 However the incongruities of language have led to an ongoing problem for subsequent academic considerations of Barclay’s Quakerism. According to Ambler, Barclay’s attempt to defend Quaker faith and practice seemed to be ‘(generally) distorted by his strategy for defending it’. In this respect the key concern of Barclay to defend the experiential aspect of Quaker theology, including the significance of Inwardness in spiritual practice, was open to the criticism of his detractors.
The views of Keiser and Ambler, as expressed above, suggest the need for a degree of open mindedness in consideration of Barclay’s thinking as expressed in his Apology.
4.3 Barclay on Inwardness Quakerism was for Barclay, as it was for Fox, an experiential religion; a religion that was essentially spiritual [g]. Further it involved the ‘secret turning of the mind towards God’.37 The inwardness of ‘secret turning’, facilitating the ‘revelations of the Spirit’, was the guide of seventeenth century Quakers. 38 In order to ascertain what Barclay meant by experiential Inwardness it is necessary to consider some of the ways in which he used and explained relevant terms.
36 A distinction is to be made between the reality of existence described in terms of duality and explanations which speak of duality relating to a stage of experiential consciousness as there is movement from multiplicity, via duality to Unity (see Tables 6a-c). Efforts to explore this distinction can be misleading when not fully understood. Comparison from Eastern philosophy is found in the definition and explanation of maya.
The term literally means that which is not (ma-ya). ‘That which is not’, in the material world, is multiple reality.
Maya is ‘illusory’ but only in the sense that it is in fact Wholeness of Oneness. Paramhansa Yogananda refers to the ‘limitations and divisions which are apparently present in the Immeasurable and Inseparable.’ See Paramhansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles: Self Realization Fellowship, 2007) p. 49, and p. 46 in terms of ‘cosmic delusion’. Note also, Ward, K. Why There Almost Certainly Is a God, p. 14. Ward writes ‘Some physicists, such as John Gribbin and Paul Davies, in their book The Matter Myth, argue that matter is a sort of illusion or appearance produced by some mysterious and unknown substratum in interaction with the human mind.’
37 Barclay, Apology, p. 330. 38 Barclay, ibid, p. 307.
129 Only one of the Propositions discussed in his Apology actually refers to the Inward directly within its title. This is Proposition 2. In other Propositions references to the ‘inward’ are used liberally to qualify a range of expressions such as: ‘inward objective manifestations in the heart’ (Prop. 2); ‘inward illuminations’ (Prop. 2); ‘inward testimony of the Spirit’ (Prop. 3); ‘inward testimony or seed of God’ (Prop. 4); ‘inward grace’ (Prop. 9); ‘inward and unmediated moving and drawing of his own spirit’ (Prop. 11); ‘the inward man is nourished’ (Prop. 13); and, possibly most significantly, ‘the chief purpose of all religion is to redeem men from the spirit and vain pursuits of this world, and to lead them into inward communion with God’ (Prop. 15). These references to the ‘inward’ contrast with those that speak of the ‘outward’ e.g. ‘outward voices and appearances’ (Prop. 2); ‘outward testimony of the Scripture’ (Prop. 2); ‘outward preaching’ (Prop. 6); ‘outward knowledge’ (Prop. 6); and ‘sustenances for the outward man’ (Prop. 15).39 Of importance is whether there is precision and consistency of meaning in the use of these terms.
The fact that Proposition 1 is entitled ‘Concerning the true Foundations of Knowledge’ is significant to understanding what Barclay means when he uses the contrasting terms, ‘inward’ and ‘outward’, in subsequent Propositions. Furthermore, Proposition 1 quotes John 17:3.40 It includes the sentiment that ‘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’.41 ‘[R]ight understanding’ alone is not enough. It is unclear whether the implication is that ‘right understanding’ could seem unbelievable i.e. beyond normal comprehension, or whether this qualification suggests a particular kind of understanding, a quality of understanding in faithfulness or in the heart i.e. as ‘inward’.42 Whether or not this qualification of ‘belief’ carries significant weight, it warrants further consideration as it raises relevant issues. These are addressed later in relation to the difference between intellectual understanding and the understanding of the Spirit, or mystical understanding.
The emphasis on knowledge is unsurprising in view of the theology of the time and the propositional presentation of the work. Yet in the conclusion of the Apology, Barclay maintains that the need is to know ‘the Just One’. He does not speak here of knowledge about ‘the Just One’, as a matter of belief, in a propositional manner. He says ‘we tell them [all people], while they are talking and determining about the resurrection, that they have more need to know the Just One…’43 This is reference to knowledge by direct acquaintance,
of meeting and being with ‘the Just One’.44 Barclay elaborates saying:
…because we have desired people earnestly to feel after God near and in themselves … Because we tell them that it is not their talking or believing of Christ’s outward life they must know…
There is through this practice the possibility of ‘sanctification’, of living the holiness of life. Here then is a doctrine of perfection through knowledge. Knowledge, structured in consciousness that has been transformed and is open to further development, impels a reorientation of living that reflects a new state of being. The result of this new state, both of consciousness and of living, results in a totally transformed relationship to oneself, others and the world; it is the ‘foundation and ground of knowledge’, which must be ‘known and believed in the first place’.46 The new relationship to life, as Barclay outlines it, is in terms
44 See also Isaac Penington’s words: ‘... there is a great difference between truth held in the reasoning part, and truth held in its own principle’. Penington, Works, ii, p. 454.
There is a grasp of expanding possibilities in Barclay’s theology. Through Inwardness, understood as experiential and spiritual, knowledge is gained and transformation occurs ‘inwardly’; individual life is known to be in a new relationship with Life itself, what is for Christians ‘the Life’.48 This reference to ‘the Life’ implies a shift from the temporal to the eternal, further endorsing Barclay’s reference to John 17.3. In Proposition 15, Barclay reminds the reader that ‘true knowledge brings Life Eternal’. The connection is made, in the main, in Propositions 2 and 11, in his discussion of 1) ‘Inward and Immediate Revelation’ and 2) ‘Worship’: these entail an exposition of faith in (Prop. 2) and of practice of (Prop, 11) Inwardness. Propositions 2 and 11 are considered in sequence to provide insight into Barclay’s use of terms associated with Inwardness in a specifically Quaker Christian manner.49
4.3.1 Proposition 2 – Concerning immediate revelation
The emphasis of this Proposition concerns the difference between ‘the certain knowledge of God and the uncertain, betwixt the spiritual knowledge, and the literal; the saving heartknowledge, and the soaring, airy head-knowledge’.50 ‘[C]ertain knowledge’ is deemed to be of a particular quality and kind and it is, for Barclay, knowledge in which there is every
reason to have full belief. In stating his position Barclay draws on:
47 Barclay, The Apology, p. 25. Also The Practice of the Presence of God (Tr. Blaiklock, E. M. ) Brother Lawrence Fourth Conversation, performance for ‘the pure love of God’ (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1981), p. 29.
48 ‘Life’ refers here to the eternal Spirit of God in Christ; See Ashworth, T. Paul’s Necessary Sin (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006). Ashworth’s argument is interesting and relevant to this point. The ‘transformed life’ is a relationship ‘with the eternal Spirit of God’ and what becomes possible is ‘a new humanity’, pp. 223Spencer, C. D. Holiness: The Soul of Quakerism, pp. 200-204, for relevant discussion: and for an alternative view i.e. ‘inwardness’ as an open and contested theological principle, inferred in Williams, R Christian Theology, pp. 259-60.
50 Barclay, ibid, p. 23.
ii) Scripture, in detailing the ‘gifts’ of the ‘indwelling Christ’ iii) Law and the Gospel, in The New Covenant, ‘to show how the Spirit speaks to and through man’.51 These are considered in turn.
4.3.1i ‘[T]he most refined and famous of all sorts of professors of Christianity of all ages’ Barclay is concerned to demonstrate that true knowledge of the Father through the Son is found only as the Spirit shines in upon the heart and that ‘God is known by the Spirit alone’.52 Barclay aims to identify what is ‘absolutely necessary’ for knowing God. He says ‘…there is no other way but by the Son; so that whoso uses not that way, cannot know him, neither come to him’. This is ‘the saving, certain and necessary knowledge of God’. 53 Barclay built on Fox’s understanding and description of Inwardness as a process to be engaged in. Inwardness, for Fox, is something to do. This interpretation finds a parallel in Barclay who explains that this practice is facilitated by stillness and silence.54 Inwardness is attained by being in ‘the secret power’.55 Fox and Barclay indicate that patience is required.
Barclay suggests that attentiveness to ‘body, mind and heart’ serves to deepen experience, empowering ‘passive dependence’,56 in ‘silent waiting’, as the means to worship ‘in the
54 Barclay, ibid, Silence p. 297, ‘inward silence of the mind’, p. 304 and ‘... being silent, god may speak to him...’p. 307.