12 p.l., 374,  pp., one leaf of errata. 4to, cont. English dark blue morocco (unimportant scuffing to extremities), covers panelled in gilt & blind, spine finely gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine, a.e.g. Amsterdam: J. Claus & others, 1676.
First edition, rare, and a splendid copy bound in contemporary English dark blue morocco, most probably for presentation, of the classic exposition of the Quaker philosophy. The Society of Friends, as Quakers are more formally known, has historically had an outsized influence through the mere force of passive resistance. Their form of Christianity is “widely divergent from the prevalent types, being a religious fellowship which has no formulated creed demanding definite subscription, and no liturgy, priesthood or outward sacrament, and which gives to women an equal place with men in church organization.”–Encyc. Brit. The Quakers were also instrumental in the colonization of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Following the foundation of the Society of Friends by George Fox in 1647, its adherents issued a large body of polemical pamphlets and tracts, most of negligible literary merit. The need to combat persecution caused Barclay (1648-90), a member of a notable Scottish family who had converted to Quakerism in 1666-67, to write a series of “books that became the definitive statement of the Quaker faith for upwards of two centuries.”–ODNB. In 1675 he published his Theses Theologiae, a series of 15 propositions spelling out Quaker beliefs. The Apologia, which Barclay had printed in Amsterdam during a period of travel or voluntary exile, is a full and reasoned defense of each of the 15 theses set forth in the earlier work. This work has been reprinted many times and in many languages. Leslie Stephen described it in D.N.B. as “impressive in style; grave, logical, and often marked by the eloquence of lofty moral convictions…One of the most impressive theological writings of the century…[Barclay’s] recognition of a divine light working in men of all creeds harmonises with the doctrine of toleration, which he advocates with great force and without the restrictions common in his time.”
This first edition was undoubtedly printed in a very small number. The present large, attractive copy appears to have been bound for presentation, and may have been one of the copies sent in February 1678 to each of the ambassadors at the peace congress of Nijmegen.
Fine and handsome copy, preserved in a box. With the Princes of Starhemberg stamp (sale Cologne, 16 September 1956, lot 941).
Item ID: 3723