« Barclay, Alexander Barclay, John Barclay, Joseph »

Barclay, John

BARCLAY, JOHN: Minister of the Church of Scotland and founder of the Barclayites or Berœans; b. at Muthill (35 m. n.w. of Edinburgh), Perthshire, 1734; d. at Edinburgh July 29, 1798. He was graduated M.A. at St. Andrews; was assistant minister at Errol, Perthshire, 1759-63, being dismissed in the latter year for teaching obnoxious doctrine; assistant at Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, 1763-72, where he was popular and admired, but continued to promulgate views inacceptable to the ministers. In 1773 the General Assembly sustained his presbytery (Fordoun), which had inhibited him from preaching. His followers then formed independent congregations at Edinburgh and Fettercairn, and Barclay became minister of the former. He also preached and founded a society in London. His adherents took the name Berœans (from Acts xvii, 11), professing to build their system of faith and practise upon the Scriptures alone, without regard to any human authority whatever. They denied natural religion, maintaining that knowledge of God is from revelation alone; considered faith in Christ and assurance of salvation as inseparable and the same; held that the sin against the Holy Ghost is unbelief; and interpreted a great part of the Old Testament prophecies and the whole of the Psalms as typical of Christ and not applicable to the experiences of private Christians. In other respects their views were those of ordinary Calvinism. They originally had several churches in Scotland and a few in America. Eadie (Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia, London, 1862) characterizes them as “a small and diminishing party of religionists.”

Bibliography: A collected edition of Barclay’s Works, with brief memoir and statement of the views of his followers, was published in Glasgow, 1852; cf. DNB, iii, 164-166, and literature mentioned there.

« Barclay, Alexander Barclay, John Barclay, Joseph »
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