«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 the Religious Society of Friends, he argues that, ‘My second argument shall be drawn from the nature of the new covenant; by which, and those that follow, I shall prove that we [Quakers] are led by the Spirit immediately and objectively’.88 His argument draws on the Biblical quotations of Jerimiah 31:33-34, as repeated in Hebrews 8:10-11:
… this shall be the covenant that I will make … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people...And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother... for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.
(Jerimiah 31: 33-34)
And they shall not teach [one another]… for they all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:10-11) 86 See McIntosh, Divine Teaching, (pp. 16-21) on the ‘constraints of human language’ in which the concepts are simply ‘too small’ (p. 18) and ‘tied up at the moorings’ (p. 19). Also, Section 4.2 on dualistic language.
87 Gwyn, D. The Covenant Crucified: Quakerism and the rise of Capitalism, (Wallingford: Pendle Hill Publications, 1995). See also Jer. 31:33 quoted above.
88 Barclay, Apology, p. 47.
140 In these quotations it is shown that a new relationship between God and people extends to all people: ‘…they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest’. This is a life of ‘renewal’, a life in Christ, in which God ‘would breathe not just on a few special servants, but on all his people’.89 ‘In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxes old is ready to vanish away’ (Hebrews 8.13). So, of importance, for the purpose of this thesis, is Barclay’s interpretation of the nature of the Covenantal assurances themselves, rather than the recipients of these assurances. Barclay’s understanding of what Inwardness means encompasses the fact that the law of God is written in all mankind; God’s script is in the heart for everyone to access.
Christianity shows that this inward knowledge is essential to a full comprehension of what is available to humanity. The entire edifice of the Christian way, its message, its practices and its modes of living, is understood as being through God’s direct instruction and guidance. This is a new dispensation in which the law of life is no longer externally written as transmitted from God by man, but internally i.e. within human kind, as written directly by God in human beings. The law of humanity is now transformed as the gospel law, and is in turn, transforming, from within, through its enactment. Barclay maintains that, ‘… all of us, at all times, have access to him as often as we draw near unto him with pure hearts. He reveals his will to us by his Spirit. Where the law of God is put into the mind, and written in the heart, there the object of faith and revelation of the knowledge of God is inward, immediate, and objective’.90 Barclay’s emphasis is not on the fact that the New Covenant extends assurances to those who were Gentiles. Rather, in the startling prophecy of change, he underlines the fact that the gospel law replaces the laws written in ‘tables of stone’.91 His explanation that ‘the Scriptures are not sufficient, neither were ever appointed to be the adequate and only rule’ is 89 Zeisler, J. Pauline Christianity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, revised edition from 1983), p. 10.
He speaks of this in terms of the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ to be reaped through the New Covenant (1 Cor. 12: 1-11). Furthermore, Barclay refers to the fact that there is promise of ‘yet many things...to come’ as described in the words of John 16: 12-13.94 This is Barclay’s Quaker exposition of Christian promise in and through the New Covenant. He argues that a re-visioned Spiritual truth is available to humankind. What is necessary is the inward ‘drawing near unto him’ i.e. the Holy Spirit, to enable the Spirit to reveal himself to the faithful.95 Thus, Barclay explains the fact that Quakers do not worship in the old ways but rather in a new mode of Inwardness and silence. Worship is the ‘...pure and spiritual worship which is acceptable to God and answerable to the testimony of Christ and his apostles’.96 Through this mode of worship it is possible for humankind to discern God’s will and purpose.
In the proposition, ‘Concerning Immediate Revelation’, Barclay makes it clear that the teaching of the first Quakers, about the need to ‘turn within’, is both experientially and theologically sound. He also justifies his explanation as guided by the principles of the broader church of Christianity. However, even given the use of biblical support for his position, Barclay’s emphasis is on the ‘immediate revelation’ of these principles in worship.
The next section, which concerns Barclay’s discussion of worship, argues that ‘inward drawing near’ is the mode by which God’s will is revealed and discerned.
Discussion of worship in Proposition 11 focuses on the time of spiritual emergence that is, for Barclay, characterised by the New Covenant. This provides a changed significance for what is necessary and what is unnecessary in terms of worship. Humankind’s approach to God is no longer to do with appeasement, sacrifice, supplication, or even celebration in the old forms. The Spirit is now accepted as ‘indwelling’ and awaiting the opportunity to guide and instruct all of humankind in spiritual experiencing and knowing. God is known not merely outwardly but essentially inwardly. 97 The fact of God’s ‘indwelling’ offers, for Barclay, a transitional learning opportunity.
‘[M]en find it easier to sacrifice in their own wills than obey God’s will …while they are both inwardly estranged and alienated from his holy and righteous life, and wholly strangers to the breathings of his Spirit’.98 All people will need to learn a new way of relating to Him.
This being so Barclay examines the need for all people to learn how to open themselves to the ‘more full dispensation of Light’ in the Spirit, and so to open the Spirit to themselves.99 This is, in a sense, an ‘unveiling’ as the means to revelation; indeed, it is revelation, and the unveiled, pure Spirit is the revealed God seen as though ‘face to face’.100 This understanding of ‘unveiling’ the Spirit can apply to individuals alone. However, Quaker worship, as with all Christian worship, places significance on the worshipping group.
Barclay writes that when the people of God meet together, ‘… the Spirit of God should be the immediate actor, mover, persuader, and influencer of man in the particular acts of worship …’101 Quaker worship, as corporate, requires worshippers to leave the way open for God’s action. This necessitates that Friends, in effect, ‘stand back’ and remove ‘the 97 Barclay, Apology, p. 300. Of his own experience Barclay wrote ‘... when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people I felt a secret power among them which touched my heart, and I gave way unto it, I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up, and so I became thus knit and united unto them...’ 98 Barclay, ibid, pp. 290-1.
143 limitations’ they impose. Barclay describes the process differently from Fox but the intention is the same.102 Barclay says ‘Our (Quaker) work then and worship is, when we meet together, for everyone to watch and wait upon God in themselves and & to be gathered from all visibles thereunto’.103 It is in Attentive Presence that Discernment occurs.
For Barclay, this distinct and new mode of worship supersedes previous forms where ritual and liturgy have been foremost, in their visible and audible forms. These latter forms he describes as being ‘performed by and from the human will’: whereas what is necessary is that worship is ‘spiritual’ i.e. ‘from the Spirit of God’.104 For Barclay, human beings simply need to place themselves in readiness and faithfulness, present and attentive in body, mind and heart, and wait. This waiting must not interfere with God’s guidance and instruction.
The means to non-interference requires that the Spirit be allowed ‘to breathe through them [worshippers] and in them’.105 This is about ‘returning out of their own thoughts and imaginations, but also to feel the Lord’s presence and know a “gathering into his Name”...’106 The parallel between the above words of Barclay and Fox’s injunction to ‘be still’ is notable.107 Both Fox and Barclay saw the need and felt the importance of revitalising an understanding of direct acquaintance with God. They were also aware of the implications,
for worship, of criteria resulting from the New Covenant:
106 Barclay, ibid, p. 296.
107 See chapter 2 on Fox, also QFP, 2.18. (Quoted from Quaker Faith and Practice as indication of its enduring relevance to 21st century Quakers). Also concerning ‘stand[ing] still’ (Epistle X) Fox, G. Works,. pp.
2) Individuals should recognise that they are entirely ‘subject to God’, i.e. the resultant flow or benefit of worship is from God to mankind.
This does not suggest that there should never be praying, ministry, scriptural readings, or singing of Psalms but that these are secondary; waiting and watching are considered primary.
Experience is of the essence.109 Barclay quotes a number of biblical passages to state his position in relation to the worship practice of his day.110 This concludes in the view that silence is and must necessarily be a special and principal part of God’s worship. 111 Also this silence has as its necessary counterpart stillness of mind and body that is vividly receptive to the Inwardness in which revelation from God is available to man.112 ‘In stillness there is fullness; in fullness there is nothingness; in nothingness there are all things.’113 Here is mystical recognition that divine stillness is as wholeness in which everything is connected within God, it is the source of all knowledge.114 Barclay maintains that worshippers are led to and embraced by ‘inward quietness, stillness, and humility of 108 Any ‘rewards’ of worship are given by grace, freely given by God to man. However, this does not imply that humankind need not make ready with heart and mind to receive such gifts i.e. in the processes of worshipful Inwardness individuals create the Conditions for meeting God.
109 Issues of passivity and questions of quietism arise here. See Robynne Rogers Healey, ‘Quietist Quakerism’ in Angell, S. and Dandelion, P (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) pp. 47-62. Also Friends Quarterly, 1 (2010) especially Dandelion, B.P. pp. 12-17 and Pryce, E. pp. 18-27.
110 Barclay, Apology, p. 304.
111 Barclay, ibid, p. 311. See also analytical chart at end of chapter.
112 For parallel discussion in the modern era, see Wallace, A. Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience converge. (Columbia U. P Columbia Series in Science and Religion, 2007), p. 52, concerning ‘stability and vividness’.
113 According to Dean Freiday’s biographical notes on Robert Barclay, Swinton, considered to be an early Quaker mystic, may have uttered these words, Barclay’s Apology in Modern English. p. xiv.
Freiday’s edition of the Apology is much criticised in that of Sippel, P (ed.). The criticisms are enumerated in a lengthy appendix. However, these criticisms refer to the ‘modern English version’ of the text rather than the biographical notes.
114 Barclay, Apology, p. 47 ‘Therefore the Spirit of God leadeth, instructeth and teacheth every true Christian whatsoever is needful for him to know’.
145 mind where the Lord appears, and his heavenly wisdom is revealed’.115 The dual requirements are that humanity: 1) accepts the need for human kind to become open to God’s fullness; 2) understands that God is and will always be the prime source of loving wisdom for and to humanity. Barclay indicates that the old ways of worship, were only accepted as a concession, ‘in condescension to them who were inclinable to idolatry’.116 They were, however, neither necessary nor adequate for ‘transmitting and entertaining a holy fellowship betwixt him [God] and his people’.117 For Barclay, this latter is attained by the dispensation of Grace.
Barclay sees the transmission of God’s Spirit to humankind as the means of the transformation that the New Covenant promises. In addition, he suggests that experience and practice of Inwardness is the sole means to know ‘immediately’ that we are ‘led by the Spirit … directly’.
Proposition 11 of Barclay’s Apology indicates that he has a clear understanding of:
1) The need for Inwardness as pure and spiritual,
2) The purpose of Inwardness as transforming i.e. to the pure life of righteousness. 118
117 Barclay, ibid, p. 292.
118 It is possible to encapsulate Barclay’s understanding in words derived directly from his work.