Account of Newton
- Additional Information
- Notes on the Electronic Edition
- You are currently reading the normalized version of this text. Normalized transcriptions provide a tidied-up view of the original text. Editorial interventions are applied to expand abbreviations and correct textual mistakes. Additions are silently included within the body text and deleted text is not displayed. Switching to the diplomatic view of this text will , and not apply 2 editorial regularizations.
- Revision History
- 1 January 2001
- Catalogue information compiled by Rob Iliffe, Peter Spargo & John Young
- 1 January 2005
- Transcribed by Michael Hawkins
- 1 February 2005
- Checked by Rob Iliffe
- 19 April 2005
- XML encoding by John Young
- 28 November 2005
- Second check by John Young
- 1 December 2008
- Code audited and updated to Newton v2.0 DTD by Michael Hawkins
- 26 January 2009
- Metadata upgraded by John Young
- 20 April 2009
- Updated to Newton V3.0 (TEI P5 Schema) by Michael Hawkins
- 29 September 2011
- Catalogue exported to teiHeader by Michael Hawkins
- 1 January 2001
- Download OTHE00037.xml and schema (advanced users only)
- Notes on the Electronic Edition
As for Sir I.N.'s Description of Solomon's Temple; [I think he should call it Ezekiel's Temple; for he takes it principally from Ezekiel, who describes neither Solomon's, nor Zorebabels, nor Herod's, but the Jews future Temple] I reserve its examination till I publish my own Plan of all those Temples.
And as for the excellent Conclusion of Sir I.N.'s first Chapter, concerning the Laws handed down from Noah to Abraham, Melchizedek, Job, and their Contemporaries, or the Precepts of the Sons of Noah; the Substance of the Religion of Moses and the Prophets, which was the Love of God and our Neighbours; and was the Primitive Religion of both Jews and Christians; with those additional Precepts for Mercy, even to bruit Beasts; and for not eating of Blood, and Things strangled: and for not trusting in Riches; and as for that just Consequence He draws from the oldest Histories of the World, that Mankind could not be much older than is represented in Scripture; I cannot but wish it thoroughly considered by all Men, and particularly by Sir I.N.'s greatest Admirers; to whose serious Consideration I heartily recommend it.
And now the Reader must give me leave to add somewhat concerning Sir I.N. himself, and certain other Works of his, either already published by him, or left to the discretion of his Executors. I had first the Honour of Sir I.N.'s acquaintance and favour about 33 Years ago. Iwas by him, at the Recommendation of the very Learned Dr. Bentley, made his Deputy in the Mathematick Professorship at Cambridge, just before the very beginning of this Century; as my Astronomical Lectures read at that Time do shew; during which interval He was pleased generously to give me the intire Salary of his Professorship. I was by Him, upon His Resignation of that Professorship, Recommended to the Heads of Colleges in Cambridge for his Successor: Into which Place I was thereupon unanimously Chosen, without a Competitor. And accordingly I continued in his Favour and Friendship for 20 Years. What cautious Temper and Conduct on his, or what openness of Temper and Conduct on my Side, or what other Accidents occasion'd any Interruptions in that Favour and Friendship, 'tis not perhaps proper for me to say. Only it will not be unfit, with regard to myself, nor unuseful, with regard to the Publick, to mention some of the most valuable Intimations I formerly had from him, during our Acquaintance, relating to certain sacred Matters of the greatest Consequence: which tho' I have hinted at already sometimes; yet did not I think fit publickly to name Sir I.N. before now.
 Thus what Respect is here pay'd to Sir I.N. to Apocryphal Books, as they are by us called, such as Baruch, Judith, Tobit and 1 Esdras, puts me naturally in mind of the first or principal Occasion of my looking upon such Parts of our Bible with more respect than my Protestant Education had otherwise disposed me to; I mean the regard I long ago perceived two such great Men as the Lord Chancellor King and Sir Isaac Newton paid to them. And what the result of that freedom of Mind which such a regard gave methroughly to Examine such Books has been, the Reader, who has perused the foregoing Papers cannot be unacquainted. Thus what is here suggested of his Opinion concerning the lascivious Nature of the Book of Canticles, I had from Him many Years ago in Conversation. I had also from him that excellent Observation, set down in my Supplement to the Literal Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies, p. 4. 5. and that as intimated to me when I was young, by a very great Man, who had very exactly studied the sacred Writings; against the Allegorical or double Interpretation of the Prophecies of the Old Testament: As also another of great Consequence, concerning the different Degrees of Divine Assistance in the different Parts of the sacred Writings, 'and that the Historical Parts required no other Degree than that of the Purification of the Writers mind from all those evil Affections and Passions that might byass them from the exactest Regard to truth.' That other excellent Observation also set down in my Essay on Revelation of Saint. John, pag. 258, which is there proposed as belonging to a very great Man, and one not a little conversant in Prophetick Studies, concerning the Geographical as well as Chronological Distinction of the four Monarchies in the Language of Scripture, were all owing to Sir I.N.
It will not be unfit also, with regard to myself, nor unuseful with regard to the Publick, if I take notice here, that during the time of my Acquaintance with Him, He did always own the impossibility of solving Gravity mechanically, because it was ever proportional to the Solidity of Bodies, and equally effectual in the very middle of solid Bodies, as on their superficial Parts:whereas all mechanical Powers act only on their Surfaces: and he seemed to me always firmly persuaded, that this Gravity was deriv'd from the immaterial Presence and Power of the Deity, as it pervaded all the solid Parts of Body, and operated on them all. While yet, for some Years, we have by him been puzzled and perplexed with an unintelligible Hypothesis, that looks like an Attempt for the mechanical Solution of Gravity, in the later Editions of his Opticks: I mean by the Supposal, that it is caused by somewhat that is infinitely Rare, and infinitely Elastical at the same time: which yet he dares not call subtile Matter, for that indeed he had all along justly discarded; nor dares he assert it to be what he knew, or could vouch for: Nor indeed has He been ever able to clear it any farther. This indeed has always seemed to me a Groundless, and indeed an Impossible Solution; as well as intirely contrary to Sir I.N.'s own setled Determination, while I had the Favour of his Conversation.
I well remember also, that when I early asked him, Why he did not at first draw such Consequences from his Principles, as Dr. Bentley soon did in his excellent Sermons at Mr. Boyle's Lectures; and as I soon did in my New Theory; and more largely afterward in my Astronomical Principles of Religion; and as that Great Mathematician Mr. Cotes did in his excellent Preface to the later Editions of Sir I.N.'s Principia: I mean for the advantage of Natural Religion, and the Interposition of the Divine Power and Providence in the Constitution of the World; His answer was, that 'He saw those Consequences; but thought it better to let his Readers draw them first of themselves:' Which Consequences however, He did in great measure draw himself long afterwards in the later Editions of his Principia, in that admirable General Scholium at its conclusion; and elsewhere, in his Opticks. And that those Consequences may appear to have been the unshaken Sense of his Mind still, even after his Proposal of that before mention'd Hypothesis; we ought to Observe, That this Scholium is repeated and considerably enlarg'd in his last Edition of that wonderful Book, his Principia, not very long before his death. Nor can I dispence with myself to omit the Declaration of his Opinion to me, Of the wicked Behaviour of most modern Courtiers, and the cause of it, which he took to be their having laughed themselves out of Religion; or, to use my own usual Phrase to express both our Notions, because they have not the fear of God before their Eyes. Which Characters being, I doubt, full as applicable to our present Courtiers, as they were to those to whom he apply'd them long ago, is a cause of great Lamentation to the very few good Men, and ought to be an occasion of Repentance and Amendment to the very many bad Men in those Places: Places indeed of such danger generally to Sincerity and Christianity, in my Observation, that those who, to appearance, have been before both honest Men and good Christians, and have ventured into Courts, I hardly ever find them to amend those Courts, but to be almost always greatly and fatally corrupted by them. –– Vestigia pauca retrorsum.
It will be proper also to take notice here of the Result of Sir I.N.'s Enquiries touching the Baptism of [uncatechiz'd] Infants, which I happened to know upon this occasion. When I had newly discovered that those called Little Children or Infants by the Ancients, whom they admitted to Baptism and Confirmation, [and to the Communionalso,] were not such as we now stile, and admit to Baptism; (tho' not to Confirmation, or the Communion,) but had always been first catechiz'd, and prepared before they were admitted to any of them; and when I had accordingly, as usual, presented one of my small Pamphlets, intituled Primitive Infant Baptism reviv'd, printed A.D. 1712, to Sir I.N. and was asking an intimate Friend of his what Sir I.N.'s Opinion was of my Paper, He immediately let me know , that 'Both himself and Sir I.N. had discovered the same thing of themselves before.' Nay whether Sir I.N. had not such an Opinion of the Baptists themselves, that he thought they were with those called Arians, the two Witnesses in the Revelation of St. John, which God raised up and encouraged to testify all along against the Errors of Antichrist, those that have perused his Papers concerning the Apocalyptical Prophecies, or to whom he of late communicated his Thoughts upon such Particulars, can better tell than I. Only such intimation I have had, that I believe this was his real Notion concerning them: tho' I own myself very far from any such Opinion.
Nor can I well avoid on this occasion to add a few Words upon a Discourse which Dr. Clarke and I had with Sir I.N. many Years ago, about the ancient Manner of Election and Ordination of Christian Bishops, viz. That 'they were first Chosen by the People: and that neither the Choice of the People could make a Bishop, without the Ordination of the other Bishops: Nor could the Bishops Ordain any one to that Office, till they were Chosen by the People.' Which is the undoubted Appointment of theApostles in their Constitutions, and was the undoubted Practice of the Church till the Days of Constantine. Then indeed Political Maxims in the State began by Degrees to overbear Apostolical Injunctions to the Church; and Political Churchmen began, by degrees, to acquiesce in such Political Maxims, in order to obtain the favour of the State for their Advancement; contrary to the known and express Laws of Christianity. And, if I may be allow'd to speak a very sad truth upon a very sad occasion, since I have observ'd the management of our Courts and of the ambitious Clergy about them, Political Opinions have been not seldom very much more regarded in the Recommendation to even the highest sacred Offices, than Christian Qualifications: and He who can Preach on the Lord's Day as if He were in earnest in Christianity; and act all the Week as if he were more in earnest in his political Compliances, will commonly stand fairest for Preferment, in the Opinion of those who bestow it.
I heartily Wish His present most Excellent Majesty King George II with our most Gracious Queen Caroline, and their Ministers may afford no longer such Temptations to the Clergy about them; and that the Clergy about them may afford the World no longer such Suspicions; that they are much more in earnest for Preferment, than for Christianity. But to Return.
Sir I.N. was one who early and throughly had examined the System and Records of Christianity, abating perhaps the Apostolical Constitutions, and Ignatius's larger Epistles, which seem to have been little looked into by him: as, till I published those Constitutions, and vindicated those larger Epistles, they were no more lookedinto by the present Lord Chancellor in his early and accurate Enquiries into Primitive Christianity. In particular, Sir I.N. was one who had throughly examined the State of the Church in its most critical Juncture, the fourth Century. He had early and throughly discovered that the Old Christian Faith, concerning the Trinity in particular, was then changed; that what has been long called Arianism is no other than Old uncorrupt Christianity; and that Athanasius was the grand and the very wicked Instrument of that Change. This was occasionally known to those few who were intimate with him all along; from whom, notwithstanding his prodigiously fearful, cautious, and suspicious Temper, he could not always conceal so important a Discovery. Nor need I now crave the Readers Belief of my Testimony in this Case. Sir I.N. has left not a few undeniable Testimonials of it behind him, Witness his MSS. Dissertations upon two of the famous New Testament Texts concern'd in that Controversy. 1 Tim. iii. 15, and 1 John v. 7. both whose present Readings he took to be Athanasian Interpolations. Mr. Le Clerke mentions these Dissertations in his Epistle before Dr. Kuster's Edition of Dr. Mill's Greek Testament, without seeming to know their Author. He having received Copies of them from the famous Mr. Lock; and, I suppose, without any intimation that they were Sir I.N.'s. However, the Reader need not go so far as Holland for Satisfaction here, since these Dissertations were both put into Latin by a common Friend of Sir I.N.'s and mine, many Years ago, at Sir I.N.'s own desire; and, I suppose, with a design to have them then printed: tho' upon what occasion I can only guess, they were not printed at that time, and are now in the Hands of Sir I.N.'s Executors. Whether the other Dissertations upon two other Texts which Sir I.N. believed the Athanasians had Attempted to corrupt, but were not able to carry their Point, (which were intended to have been translated, and, I suppose, published with the other two, but having lain long by, were so corroded or defac'd, that they could not well be translated or published till himself had transcribed and corrected them anew;) whether I say they have been accordingly by him transcrib'd anew, and preserv'd, I do not know: nor have I been inform'd which those two Texts were.
There was indeed about the same time a small Pamphlet printed, by the stile of The History of the Great Athanasius; so very like Sir I.N.'s Notions of that famous Heretick, that it has been sometimes suspected Sir I.N. was the Author. But there being one more ludicrous Paragraph than Sir I.N. could well write, He being ever grave and serious, and never dealing in ludicrous Matters at all; and there appearing no positive Evidence that he did write it, I cannot directly ascribe it to him: tho' I am well satisfied it was written by some Masterly Hand, and one very well vers'd in the History of the fourth Century: which Characters do not meet more naturally in any one at that time than in Sir I.N. However, I hear, there are two other MSS. Tracts, the one Of the Rule of Faith, the other Of the Dominion of the Clergy; I suppose, that during the Anti-Christian Ages of the Church, under which Church Dominion or Persecution, Tyranny, and Priestcraft are well known to have overborn all. He has also left, I suppose, more Papers concerning the fourth Century, and that fatal Change that was then made in the Church by Athanasius andhis Followers: of which Period he has long appeared to me to have been one of the greatest Masters that ever was. As I am never desirous of so much as the Suppression of any real or original Evidence in any case, especially not in that relating to Revealed Religion: so should I, and all impartial and inquisitive Men, be very well pleased to see Sir Isaac Newton's intire Thoughts and Discoveries relating to it, and to all the Parts of it openly published to the World. And indeed, to speak my mind farther, I am fully of opinion, that the only honest and the most effectual way of supporting the sacred Writings against our present Unbelievers, is not to attempt the suppression of any real Arguments they pretend to have against Revelation; but to invite them, even by publick Authority, and without any danger from the Laws now in being, to produce all the real or original Evidence they think they have discovered against any Parts of the Bible, against any Parts of the Jewish or Christian Religions; and that in order to their being fully weighed and considered by all Learned Men: provided at the same time that the whole be done gravely and seriously, without all levity, banter, or ridicule, which in ordinary Affairs is commonly very foolish: but in the most important Matters of Religion is plainly profane, impious, and intolerable. As the Clergy, whose Office requires them to support the Christian Religion, so far as Truth and Evidence can support it: (nor can that Office ever oblige them to support in opposition to Truth and Evidence) ought never to be guilty of any prevarication about, or concealment of real Evidence against it; so neither ought any Free-Thinkers among the Laity, who believe that Religion to be false, to endeavour to support such their Infidelity by any thing else than real Truth and Evidence: nor ought either Priestcraft or Lay-craft, or any Craft whatsoever to be used in such cases, which are for certain the most important concerns of Mankind.
As to those Surmises or Reports which have been sometimes spread abroad, as if such impartial Examiners as Mr. Lock and Sir Isaac Newton had sometimes been, or that they died Infidels, their own, and their last Writings, even just before their Deaths do so throughly confute them, that they need not be taken any farther notice of here. Both of whom I do verily believe; and the latter I did for 20 Years very well know were among the most firm Believers of the Old and New Testament, and of the Christian Religion in the World.
I now beg leave, before I conclude, to Address myself to the Remainder of those Heads of Colleges, and of those Members both of Convocation, and of the late Court of Delegates, who banished and Persecuted me for pretended Heresy, the pretended Arian Heresy: and to put them in mind, that they Banished, they Persecuted me for the very same Christian Doctrines which the great Sir I.N. had discovered and embraced many Years before me; and for which Christian Doctrines, had He ventured as plainly and openly to publish them to the World as I thought myself oblig'd to do my own Discoveries, they must 30 or 40 Years ago have Expell'd and Persecuted the Great Sir Isaac Newton, also. And tho', as to myself, I am very little concerned at the Loss of the Enjoyment of my University Preferment, which others in my case might probably have entertain'd; having longlearned in some measure with St. Paul, in even a low Condition to be content; nay learn'd to bless the Good Providence of God, that He called me to no greater Trials on account of my Christianity; yet am I not equally unconcern'd that some of my Children have hitherto suffered, and are likely still to suffer on account of mine and their Integrity and Sincerity in such Matters. Two of them have obtained all the good Learning they could have under that excellent Tutor, and my most intimate Friend, Dr. Richard Laughton of Clare-Hall, without signing such Articles as I am sure I did not, and I suppose neither did they believe to be true. And had they signed them, as others do at a venture every day, they had both been, very probably, Fellows of the same College at this time, and had not wanted Support from me in my elder Age, when I may be least able to afford it. They have also both, in some measure, lately learned the Old Armenian Tongue, and that without the Help of a Master, or of any proper Dictionary of that Language; and by their Means it is in good part, that I have been enabled to produce the Accounts of Monobazus, or Abgar, of Izates, or Nerseh abovementioned, with the Intimation of 24 Generations between Achilles and the Father of Mother of Alexander the Great from the famous Armenian Historian Moses Chorensis. And by their means it is intirely, that I shall be able presently to produce some more inestimable Records, prserv'd at Edessa, and extant in the Armenian Tongue, in the same Moses Chorenensis; such indeed as at this time are the most seasonable, and the most important Attestations to Christianity, that perhaps are any where known among Mankind. However, I intrust them and my whole Family to the Divine Providence; and still earnestly desire that they may ever resolve, as I have endeavour'd to do, maugre all Difficulties and Temptations, To keep Innocency, and to take Heed to the thing that is right; because that only will bring them Peace at the last. Amen.
 p. 332. 346.
 p. 186. 190.
 p. 282, 284, 286,-291, 302, 369, 370.
 See pag. 484,-487, supra.
 Philip. iv. 11.
 Ps. xxxvii. 38