Sunday, October 3, 2010

Robert Barclay

Robert Barclay, the author of "An Apology for the True Christian Divinity", died on October 3, 1690.  Barclay is known for his view that all people can be illuminated by the inner light of Christ.  Like fellow Quaker George Fox, Barclay had an influence on Sir Walter Scott's ancestors.  From the 1843 edition of "Rob Roy" published by Robert Cadell:

'There is yet another link betwixt the author and the simple-minded and excellent Society of Friends, through a proselyte of much more importance than Walter Scott of Raeburn. The celebrated John Swinton, of Swinton, sixth baron in descent of that ancient and once powerful family, was, with Sir William Lockhart of Lee, the person whom Cromwell chiefly trusted in the management of the Scottish affairs during his usurpation. After the Restoration, Swinton was devoted as a victim to the new order of things, and was brought down in the same vessel which conveyed the Marquis of Argyle to Edinburgh, where that nobleman was tried and executed. Swinton was destined to the same fate. He had assumed the habit, and entered into the Society of the Quakers, and appeared as one of their number before the Parliament of Scotland. He renounced all legal defense, though several pleas were open to him, and answered, in conformity to the principles of his sect, that at the time these crimes were imputed to him, he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; but that God Almighty having since called him to the light, he saw and acknowledged these errors, and did not refuse to pay the forfeit of them, even though, in the judgment of the Parliament, it should extend to life itself.

Respect to fallen greatness, and to the patience and calm resignation with which a man once in high power expressed himself under such a change of fortune, found Swinton friends; family connexions, and some interested considerations of Middleton the Commissioner, joined to procure his safety, and he was dismissed, but after a long imprisonment, and much dilapidation of his estates. It is said, that Swinton's admonitions, while confined in the Castle of Edinburgh, had a considerable share in converting to the tenets of the Friends Colonel David Barclay, then lying there in the garrison. This was the father of Robert Barclay, author of the celebrated Apology for the Quakers. It may be observed among the inconsistencies of human nature, that Kirkton, Wodrow, and other Presbyterian authors, who have detailed the sufferings of their own sect for non-conformity with the established church, censure the government of the time for not exerting the civil power against the peaceful enthusiasts we have treated of, and some express particular chagrin at the escape of Swinton. Whatever might be his motives for assuming the tenets of the Friends, the old man retained them faithfully till the close of his life.

Jean Swinton, grand-daughter of Sir John Swinton, son of Judge Swinton, as the Quaker was usually termed, was mother of Anne Rutherford, the author's mother.'

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