Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of Robert Barclay > Catechism and Confession of Faith > Chapter 12


Concerning the Life of a Christian in general; what and how it ought to be in this World.

Question. What is the True RELIGION?

A. Pure Religion and Undefiled is this, To visit the Fatherless and the Widow in their Affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the World [Jas. 1:27].

Q. What is required of Man?

A. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? [Mic. 6:8]

But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite Spirit, and trembles at my Word [Isa. 66:2].

Q. Doth God then require People to be Quakers, to tremble at his Word? was there any such among the Saints of old?

A. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the Words of the God of Israel [Ezra 9:4].

Now therefore let us make a Covenant with our God, to put away all the Wives, and such as are born of them, according to the Counsel of my Lord; and of those that tremble at the Commandment of our God [Ezra 10:3].

Q. It seems Ezra loved well, and had a high Esteem of Quakers, since he would have their Counsel followed: Do any other of the Prophets point out Quakers or Tremblers, as God's People?

A. Hear the Word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his Word: Your Brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my Names sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to your Joy, and they shall be ashamed [Isa. 66:5].

And it shall be to me a Name of Joy, a Praise and an Honour before all the Nations of the Earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them, and they shall fear and tremble, for all the Goodness and for all the Prosperity that I procure unto it [Jer. 33:9].

Q. The Prophets promise good Things there to Quakers; what becometh of these that tremble not, and are not such?

A. Hear now this, O foolish people! and without Understanding, which have Eyes, and see not, which have Ears, and Hear not, fear ye not me? saith the Lord; will ye not tremble at my Presence, &c? [Jer. 5:21-22]

Q. Are then all God's Children Quakers? and are we commanded to quake or tremble, in order to our Salvation, both under the Law, and now under the Gospel?

A. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling [Psal. 2:11].

I make a Decree, that in every Dominion of my Kingdom, Men fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and steadfast for ever [Dan. 6:26].

Work out your own Salvation with Fear and Trembling [Phil. 2:12].

Q. What be the chief Commandments?

A. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind: This is the first and great Commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self: On these two Commandments hang all the Law and Prophets [Matt. 22:37-40].

Q. What ought a Christian to seek after in the first Place?

A. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these Things shall be added unto you [Matt. 6:33].

Q. How ought Christians to behave themselves in this World?

A. But this I say, Brethren, the Time is short: It remaineth, That both they that have Wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoyce, as though they rejoyced not; and they that buy, as though they Possessed not; and they that use this World, as not abusing it; for the Fashion of this World passeth away [1 Cor. 7:29-31].

Q. What saith the apostle Paul further, as that which is fit for Christian Men and Women to be found in?

A. I will therefore, that Men Pray every where, lifting up holy Hands without Wrath and Doubting: In like Manner also, that Women adorn themselves in modest Apparel, with shamefac'dness and Sobriety; not with broidered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or costly Array; but (which becometh Women professing Godliness) with good Works [1 Tim. 2:8-10].

Q. I observe, the Apostle is much against the Vanity and Superfluity of Cloathes among Christians; what saith Peter to this?

A. Whose Adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of Platting the Hair, of wearing of Gold, or of putting on of Apparel: But let it be the hidden Man of the Heart, in that which is not corruptible; even, the Ornament of a meek quiet Spirit, which is in the Sight of God of great Price [1 Pet. 3:3-4].

Q. The Apostle is very plain there; but what saith the Scripture, as to Respect of Persons among Christians?

A. My Brethren, have not the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with Respect of Persons: for if there come unto your Assembly a man with a Gold Ring in goodly Apparel; and there come in also a poor Man in vile Rayment; and ye have Respect to him that weareth the gay Cloathing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good Place, and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my Foot-stool: Are ye not then partial in your selves, and are become Judges of evil Thoughts? Hearken my beloved Brethren; hath not God chosen the poor of this World, rich in Faith, and Heirs of the Kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him; but ye have despised the Poor. Do not rich Men oppress you and draw you before the Judgment-Seat? Do they not blaspheme that worthy Name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal Law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self, ye do well; but if ye have Respect to Persons, ye commit Sin, and are convinced of the Law as Transgressors [Jas. 2:1-9].

Q. Though that be indeed sufficient to reprove the different Ranks among Christians upon the Account of Riches or Birth: yet is there not a relative Respect among Christians, as betwixt Master and Servant: what Admonitions gives the Apostle in this Case?

A. Servants, be Obedient to them that are your Masters, according to the Flesh, with Fear and Trembling, in Singleness of your Heart, as unto Christ, not with Eye-Service, as Men-Pleasers; but as the Servants of Christ, doing the Will of God from the Heart; with Good-will doing service; as to the Lord, and not to Men; knowing that whatsoever good Thing any Man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And ye Masters, do the same Things unto them, forbearing Threatning, knowing that your Master also is in Heaven; neither is there Respect of Persons with him [Eph. 6:5-9].

Servants, obey in all things your Masters according to the Flesh; not with Eye-Service, as Men-pleasers, but in Singleness of Heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing, that of the Lord ye shall receive the Reward of the Inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ: But he that doth Wrong shall receive for the Wrong which he hath done; and there is no Respect of Persons [Col. 3:22-25].

Masters, give unto your Servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven [Col. 4:1].

Let as many Servants as are under the Yoak count their own Masters worthy of all Honour, that the Name of God and his Doctrine be not blasphemed: And they that have believing Masters, let them not despise them, because they are Brethren; but rather do them Service, because they are faithful and beloved, Partakers of the Benefit; these things teach and exhort [1 Tim. 6:1-2].

Exhort Servants to be obedient unto their own Masters, and to please them well in all Things; not answering again, not purloining; but shewing all good Fidelity, that they may adorn the Doctrine of God in all Things [Tit. 2:9-10].

Servants, be subject to your Masters with all Fear, not only to the good and gentile, but also to the froward; for this is Thank-worthy, if a man for Conscience toward God endure Griefs, suffering wrongfully: For what Glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your Faults, ye shall take it patiently; but if when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God; for even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an Example, that ye should follow his Steps [1 Pet. 2:18-21].

Q. What good Admonitions gives the Scripture as to the Relation betwixt Parents and Children?

A. Children, obey your Parents in the Lord; for this is right: honour thy Father and thy Mother (which is the first Commandment with Promise) that it may be well with thee, and thou may'st live long on the Earth. And, ye Fathers, provoke not your Children to Wrath; but bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord [Eph. 6:1-4].

Children, obey your Parents in all Things; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord, Fathers provoke not your Children to Anger, lest they be discouraged [Col. 3:20-21].

Q. What between Husbands and Wives?

A. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own Husbands, as unto the Lord; for the Husband is the Head of the Wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church, and he is the Saviour of the Body: Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ; so let the Wives be to their own Husbands in every thing; Husbands, love your Wives, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it, so ought men to love their Wives as their own Bodies: he that loveth his Wife, loveth himself; for this Cause shall a Man leave his Father and Mother, and shall be joyned unto his Wife, and they two shall be one Flesh: Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his Wife even as himself; and the Wife see that she reverence her Husband [Eph. 5:22-25,28,31,33].

Husbands, love your Wives, and be not bitter against them [Col. 3:19].

Likewise, ye Wives, be subject to your own Husbands, that if any obey not the Word, they also may without the Word be won by the Conversation of the Wives, while they behold your Chaste Conversation coupled with Fear. Likewise ye Husbands, dwell with them according to Knowledge, giving Honour unto the Wife, as unto the weaker Vessel, and as being Heirs together of the Grace of Life, that your Prayers be not hindered [1 Pet. 3:1-2,7].

Q. What is the Armour of a true Christian? and wherewith ought he to wrestle?

A. Put on the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the Wiles of the Devil; for we wrestle not against Flesh and Blood, but against Principalities, against Powers, against the Rulers of the Darkness of this World, against spiritual Wickedness in high Places; wherefore take unto you the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil Day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your Loins girt about with Truth, and having on the Breast-plate of Righteousness, and your Feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, above all, taking the Shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery Darts of the Wicked One; and take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God [Eph. 6:11-17].

Q. What are Christians Weapons? and for what End?

A. For though we walk in the Flesh, we do not war after the Flesh; for the weapons of our Warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong Holds, casting down Imaginations and every high thing, that exalteth itself against the Knowledge of God; and bringing in to Captivity every Thought to the Obedience of Christ [2 Cor. 10:3-5].

Q. Ought Strife and Envy to be among Christians?

A. Who is a wise Man, and endued with Knowledge amongst you? Let him shew out of a good Conversation his Works with Meekness of Wisdom: But if ye have bitter Envying and strife in your Hearts, glory not, and lie not against the Truth: This Wisdom descendeth not from above; but is Earthly, Sensual, Devilish; for where Envying and Strife is, there is Confusion and every evil Work: But the Wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable and easie to be entreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality and without Hypocrisie: And the Fruit of Righteousness is sown in Peace of them that make Peace [Jas. 3:13-18].

Q. Ought Wars to be among Christians? from whence proceed they?

A. From whence come Wars and Fightings among you? Come they not hence, even from your Lusts, that war in your Members: Ye lust, and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not [Jas. 4:1-2].

Q. What saith Christ, even of defensive War?

A. But I say unto you, that ye resist not Evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right Cheek, turn to him the other also [Matt. 5:39].

But I say unto you which hear, Love your Enemies; do good to them which hate you; bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despightfully use you; and unto him that smiteth thee on the one Cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy Cloak, forbid not to take thy Coat also [Luke 6:27-29].

Q. What say the Apostles?

A. Recompence to no man Evil for Evil [Rom. 12:17].

Not rendring Evil for Evil, or Railing for Railing; but contrary-wise, Blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a Blessing [1 Pet. 3:9].

See that none render Evil for Evil unto any Man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all Men [1 Thess. 5:15].

Q. It was lawful of Old to Swear; and an Oath for Confirmation was to them an End of all Strife: Is it not Lawful for Christians also to Swear?

A. Again, ye have heard, that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thy self; but shalt perform unto the Lord thine Oaths. But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by Heaven, for it is Gods Throne: nor by the Earth, for it is his Foot-stool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the City of the great King; neither shalt thou swear by thy Head, because thou canst not make one Hair white or black; but let your Communication be Yea, Yea; Nay, Nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of Evil [Matt. 5:33-37].

But above all things my Brethren, Swear not, neither by Heaven, neither by the Earth, neither by any other Oath; but let your Yea be Yea, and your Nay, Nay, lest you fall into Condemnation [Jas. 5:12].

Q. Is it fit for Christians or Believers to receive Carnal and Worldly Honour one from another?

A. How can ye believe which receive Honour one of another, and seek not the Honour that cometh from God only [John 5:44].

Q. Doth God allow us to give flattering Titles to Men?

A. Let me not, I pray you, accept any Man's Person: neither let me give flattering Titles unto Man; for I know not to give flattering Titles, in so doing my Maker would soon take me away [Job 32:21-22].

Q. What should we say to such as quarrel us for speaking proper sound Words, as Thou to one, You to many; which is Christ's and the Saints Language in the Scripture?

A. If any Man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome Words, even the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Doctrine which is according to Godliness, he is proud; knowing nothing, but doting about Questions and Strifes of Words, whereof cometh Envy, Strife, Railings, Evil Surmisings [1 Tim. 6:3-4].

Hold fast the Form of sound Words, which thou hast heard of me in Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus [2 Tim. 1:13].

Q. What is the great Commandment given by Christ to his Disciples, as that which even declareth them to be such, and is also pressed by his Apostles?

A. A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another; by this shall all men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love to one another. This is my Commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you: These things I command you, that ye love one another [John 13:34-35; 15:12,17].

Be ye therefore Followers of God, as dear Children; and walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling Savour [Eph. 5:1-2].

If any Man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a Lyar; for he that loveth not his Brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this Commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, loveth his Brother also [1 John 4:20-21].

Q. Is Humility very needful to Christians? what like must we be ere we can enter the Kingdom?

A. And said, verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little Children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little Child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven [Matt. 18:3-4].

Q. Ought Christians to lord over one another? What Rule giveth Christ in this Case?

A. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the Princes of the Gentiles exercise Dominion over them; and they that are great, exercise Authority upon them: but It shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your Minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your Servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his Life a Ransom for many [Matt. 20:25-28].

Q. How then are Christians in this World?

A. Behold, I send you forth, as Sheep in the midst of Wolves, be ye therefore wise as Serpents, and harmless as Doves [Matt. 10:16].

Go your ways; behold, I send you forth as Lambs among Wolves [Luke 10:3].

Q. Are we then to expect Afflictions and Persecution here?

A. And ye shall be hated of all Men for my Names sake; but he that endureth to the End shall be saved [Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13].

And ye shall be hated of all Men for my Names sake [Luke 21:17].

If the World hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you: if ye were of the World, the World would love his own: but because ye are not of the World, but I have chosen you out of the World, therefore the World hateth you [John 15:18-19].

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have Peace; in the World ye shall have Tribulation; but be of good Cheer, I have overcome the World [John 16:33].

And all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer Persecution [2 Tim. 3:12].

Q. Ought we then to fear Persecution?

A. Fear not them which kill the Body, but are not able to kill the Soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both Soul and Body in Hell [Matt. 10:28].

And I say unto you, my Friends, be not afraid of them that kill the Body, and after that have no more that they can do: But I will fore-warn you, whom ye shall fear; fear him which after he hath killed, hath Power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him [Luke 12:4-5].

Q. What Advantage is it to them that suffer Persecution cheerfully, and Hazard to them that shun it?

A. Blessed are they which are persecuted for Righteousness sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven [Matt. 5:10].

But if ye suffer for Righteousness sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their Terror, neither be troubled [1 Pet. 3:14].

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before Men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven; but whosoever shall deny me before Men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven: He that loveth Father or Mother more then me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his Cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me: He that findeth his Life shall lose it; and he that loseth his Life for my sake shall find it [Matt 10:32-33, 37-39].

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the Angels of God; but he that denyeth me before Men, shall be denyed before the Angels of God [Luke 12:8-9].

Then said Jesus unto his Disciples, If any Man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me; for whosoever will save his Life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his Life for my sake shall find it [Matt. 16:24-25].

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us [2 Tim. 2:12].

If any come to me, and hate not his Father and Mother, and Wife, and Children, and Brethren, and Sisters: yea, and his own Life, he cannot be my Disciple [Luke 14:26].

And he said to them all, if any Man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross daily, and follow me; for whosoever will save his Life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his Life for my sake the same, shall save it [Luke 9:23-24].

And when he had called the People to him, with his Disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow me; for whosoever will save his Life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his Life for my sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it [Mark 8:34-35].

Q. There is nothing more certain, according to those Scriptures, than that Christians must suffer Persecution in this World, even in their Persons and Estates: But shall they not also suffer in their good Names, in being acounted Blasphemers, Hereticks and Deceivers?

A. The Disciple is not above his Master, nor the Servant above his Lord; it is enough for the Disciple that he be as his Master, and the Servants as his Lord: If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub; how much more shall they call them of his Houshould? [Matt. 10:24-25]

Blessed are ye when Men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of Evil against you falsly for my sake [Matt. 5:11].

Then they suborned Men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous Words against Moses, and against God: And they stirred up the People, and the Elders, and the Scribes; and came upon him and caught him, and brought him to the Council [Acts 6:11-12].

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain Brethren unto the Rulers of the City, crying, These that have turned the World upside down, are come hither also [Acts 17:6].

But this I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call Heresie, so worship I the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets [Acts 24:14].

Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the Filth of the World, and are the Off-scouring of all things unto this Day [1 Cor. 4:13].

By Honour and Dishonour, by Evil Report and Good Report, as Deceivers, and yet true [2 Cor. 6:8].

Q. It is easily apparent from what is mentioned, that Christians are to expect Persecution and Tribulation, and that they are always the Sheep, and never the Wolves; the Persecuted, and never the Persecutors; the Afflicted, and not the Afflictors: the Reproached, and not the Reproachers: Is it not fit then that Christians be so far from Persecuting others, that they ought to Pray for the Persecutors? Is this Christ's Command?

A. But I say unto you, Love your Enemies; Bless them that Curse you, do Good to them that hate you, and Pray for them which despightfully use you and Persecute you [Matt. 5:44].

Q. Was this Christ's own Practice?

A. Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do, &c. [Luke 23:34].

Q. Is Christ herein to be our Example?

A. For even hereunto were you called, Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an Example, that ye should follow his Steps, who did no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth; who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself unto him that judgeth righteously [1 Pet. 2:21-23].

Q. Is there an Instance of any Saints in Scripture, who followed his Example herein?

A. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this Sin to their Charge, &c. [Acts 7:60].

Q. It appears by all these Scriptures, that Christianity consisteth in the Exercise of Fear and Trembling, Humility, Patience, and Self-Denial; What ought we then to think of such who place much of their Religion in Abstaining from Marriage, and certain Meats; Worshipping of Angels, and other such Acts of voluntary Humility?

A. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils, speaking Lyes in Hypocrisie; having their Conscience seared as with a hot Iron, forbidding to Marry, and commanding to abstain from Meats, which God hath Created, to be received with Thanksgiving of them which believe and know the Truth [1 Tim. 4:1-3].

Let no Man beguile you of your Reward in a voluntary Humility, and Worshipping of Angels; intruding into these things which he hath not seen, vainly puft up by his Fleshly mind [Col. 2:18].

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