1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.
Sir Isaac Newton (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) William Whiston (9 December 1667 – 22 August 1752)
Below are standard histories on the two men, Isaac Newton and William Whiston, both are classed as anti-Trinitarian and "unorthodox Christian".
Isaac Newton was born on 4 January 1643 [OS: 25 December 1642] at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. At the time of Newton's birth, England had not adopted the Gregorian calendar and therefore his date of birth was recorded as Christmas Day, 25 December 1642. Newton was born three months after the death of his father, a prosperous farmer also named Isaac Newton. Born prematurely, he was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug (1.1 litres). When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and held some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: "Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them." While Newton was once engaged in his late teens to a Miss Storey, he never married, being highly engrossed in his studies and work. He4 is best remebered as an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian.
His monograph Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, lays the foundations for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws, by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the Scientific Revolution. The Principia is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written.
Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours that form the visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound.
In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of differential and integral calculus. He also demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem, developed Newton's method for approximating the roots of a function, and contributed to the study of power series.
Newton was also highly religious. He was an unorthodox Christian, and wrote more on Biblical hermeneutics and occult studies than on science and mathematics, the subjects he is mainly associated with. Newton secretly rejected Trinitarianism, fearing to be accused of refusing holy orders.
Newton is considered by many scholars and members of the general public to be one of the most influential people in human history.
Present day Downing Place, Cambridge, location of the Hog Hill church of Christ which both Newton and Whiston would have been familiar with.
William Whiston was born to Josiah Whiston and Katherine Rosse at Norton-juxta-Twycross, in Leicestershire, of which village his father was rector. He was educated privately, partly on account of the delicacy of his health, and partly that he might act as amanuensis to his father, who had lost his sight. He studied at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Tamworth. After his father's death, he entered at Clare College, Cambridge as a sizar on June 30, 1686, where he applied himself to mathematical study, where he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (1690), and A.M. (1693), and was elected Fellow in 1691 and probationary senior Fellow in 1693. William Lloyd ordained Whiston at Lichfield in 1693. In 1694, claiming ill health, he resigned his tutorship at Clare to Richard Laughton, chaplain to John Moore (1646–1714), the bishop of Norwich, and swapped positions with him. He now divided his time between Norwich, Cambridge and London. In 1698 Bishop More awarded him the living of Lowestoft where he became Rector. In 1699 he resigned his Fellowship of Clare College and left in order to marry Ruth, daughter of George Antrobus, Whiston's headmaster at Tamworth school.
His A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of All Things (1696), an articulation of creationism and flood geology which held that the global flood of Noah had been caused by a comet, obtained the praise of both Newton and Locke, the latter of whom classed the author among those who, if not adding much to our knowledge, "At least bring some new things to our thoughts." He was an early advocate, along with Edmond Halley, of the periodicity of comets; he also held that comets were responsible for past catastrophes in earth's history. In 1701 he resigned his Rectorship to become Isaac Newton's substitute as Lucasian lecturer at Cambridge, whom he succeeded in 1702. Here he engaged in joint research with his junior colleague Roger Cotes, appointed with Whiston's patronage to the Plumian professorship in 1706.
In 1707 he was Boyle lecturer. For several years Whiston continued to write and preach both on mathematical and theological subjects with considerable success; but his study of the Apostolic Constitutions had convinced him that Arianism was the creed of the early church. For Whiston, to form an opinion and to publish it were things almost simultaneous. His heterodoxy soon became notorious, and in 1710 he was deprived of his professorship and expelled from the university after a well-publicized hearing. The rest of his life was spent in incessant controversy — theological, mathematical, chronological, and miscellaneous. Because of his Arianism, Whiston was never invited to be a member of the Royal Society, due probably to Newton's feelings about him after he published his unorthodox views. Whiston was permitted, however, to lecture to the Society frequently.
He vindicated his estimate of the Apostolical Constitutions and the Arian views he had derived from them in his Primitive Christianity Revived (5 vols., 1711–1712). In 1713 he produced a reformed liturgy, and soon afterwards founded a society for promoting primitive Christianity, lecturing in support of his theories in halls and coffee-houses at London, Bath, and Royal Tunbridge Wells. In 1714, Whiston was instrumental in the establishment of the Board of Longitude and for the next forty years made persevering efforts to solve the longitude problem. He gave courses of demonstration lectures on astronomical and physical phenomena and engaged in many religious controversies. Whiston produced one of the first isoclinic maps of southern England in 1719 and 1721. One of the most valuable of his books, the Life of Samuel Clarke, appeared in 1730.
While considered heretical on many points, he was a firm believer in supernatural Christianity, and frequently took the field in defense of prophecy and miracle, including anointing the sick and touching for the king's evil. His dislike of rationalism in religion also made him one of the numerous opponents of Benjamin Hoadly's Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament. He held that Song of Solomon was apocryphal and that the Book of Baruch was not. He was fervent in his views of ecclesiastical government and discipline, derived from the Apostolical Constitutions, on the ecclesiastical authorities. He challenged the teachings of Athanasius. He challenged Sir Isaac Newton's Biblical chronological system with success; but he himself lost not only time but money in an endeavour to solve the problem of longitude. In 1736 he caused widespread anxiety among London's citizens when he predicted the world would end on October 16 of that year because a comet would hit the earth; the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake, had to officially deny this prediction to ease the public.
Of all his singular opinions the best known is his advocacy of clerical monogamy, immortalized in The Vicar of Wakefield. Of all his labours the most useful is his translation of the works of Josephus (1737), with notes and dissertations, still often reprinted to the present day. His last "famous discovery, or rather revival of Dr Giles Fletcher, the Elder's," which he mentions in his autobiography with infinite complacency, was the identification of the Tatars with the lost tribes of Israel. In 1745 he published his Primitive New Testament (on the basis of Codex Bezae and Codex Claromontanus). About the same time (1747) he finally left the Anglican communion for the Baptist, leaving the church literally as well as figuratively by quitting it as the clergyman began to read the Athanasian Creed. He had a happy family life and died in Lyndon Hall, Rutland, at the home of his son-in-law, Samuel Barker, on 22 August 1752. He was survived by his children Sarah, William, George, and John. Whiston left a memoir (3 vols., 1749–1750) which deserves more attention than it has received, both for its characteristic individuality and as a storehouse of curious anecdotes and illustrations of the religious and moral tendencies of the age. It does not, however, contain any account of the proceedings taken against him at Cambridge for his antitrinitarianism, these having been published separately at the time.
What standard histories fail to mention -
Newton declared it was “his conviction that the Baptists were the only Christians who had not symbolized with Rome” (Memoirs of the Life and Writing of Mr. William Whiston, M.A., written by him, 201). William Whiston, who records this statement, was the successor of Newton in the Chair at Cambridge University, and lectured on Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. He himself became a member of the church of Christ and wrote against infant baptism. “Baptist” and “Anabaptist” at this time referred to those who practised believers’ baptism and was not used denominationally as it is today. Newton kept his religious beliefs secret, as they would certainly in that time risked prosecution and loss of his standing in society. Whether Newton was ever a member of the church of Christ, having retracted his anti-Trinitarian views I have at this time been unable to establish. In Cambridge in the 1700s a church of Christ met at Hog Hill, now Downing Street. Newton and Whiston fell out at Cambridge and it could have been over the anti-trinitarianism views of Whiston with Newton taking an orthodox approach.
Whiston was accused of Arianism (a denial of the deity of the eternity of Christ, or his deity). Whiston had a happy family life and died in Lyndon Hall, Rutland, at the home of his son-in-law, Samuel Barker on 22 August 1752. For his Arian belief, he was dismissed from his professorship at Cambridge University. In 1745, Whiston was a member of the church of Christ at Morcott in Rutlandshire, a congregation which held a thoroughly orthodox view of Christ and His deity. Presumably by then Whiston had given up his Arian views, if indeed he ever held to such.
Lyndon Hall, Rutland, Whiston's home in his remaining years. He enjoyed a happy family life and died at the hall in 1752, the home of his son-in-law, Samuel Barker.
Today Whiston is best remembered for his 1732 translation of Josephus. At an earlier time, he was a preacher in the Church of England, during which time he was asked, regarding children, “would it not be better if baptism were deferred until after instruction?” To which Whiston replied, “I honestly confess, that I myself should have thought so, but I am no legislator; and submit to what I take to be a law of Christ.” Afterwards he reflected on the matter, coming to the conclusion he was in the wrong church, and, in 1742, was baptised into the church of Christ, ten years before his death. Lyndon Hall, Rutland, Whiston's home, is a short distance from Morcott and could be travelled in that time by carriage, horse or walking. Rutlandshire had many churches of Christ within easy distance and were able to resist the efforts of the Baptists and Quakers for some time. In 1791 the brethren at Morcott obtained the baptistery from nearby Greetham. By 1851 the Morcott congregation was listed as General Baptist, still opposing Calvinism but wearing a denominational name. Today it is forgotten both men had deep religious convictions, and in the case of William Whiston, we can know for certain he was a member of the Lord's Church founded on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection.
The left-hand side of the graveyard in the village of Lyndon are the burials of the Barkers and Whistons, somewhere here is the interment of William Whiston.
The church dedicated to St. Martin at Lyndon, Whiston coming from such a wealthy family would have been allowed interment in the graveyard, but in this time period it was usual for non-conformists to be refused burial in Church of England burial grounds.
The chapel in the village of Morcott, first built in 1732, it was rebuilt in 1902 as the Goodlife Baptist Chapel, it is now the village hall.
Isaac Newton was born (according to the Julian calendar as used in England at the time) on Christmas Day, 25 December 1642, at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. A picture of the manor house where Newton spent his early years is above, the church of Christ could be found in several locations in the area.
Next page, the Tottlebank and Wall End (Kirkby-in-Furness) churches of Christ, established after 1662, the Wall End church of Christ is still meeting, click on logo below:
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