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Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 239

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a g r e e m e n t a m o n g the e d u c a t e d as to w h i c h v e r s i o n of e i t h e r w o u l d
best serve w a s d i f f i c u l t , i f n o t i m p o s s i b l e , to achieve. T h i s f a i l u r e to
agree c o n v i n c e d s o m e t h i n k e r s t h a t science a n d n a t u r e , p r o p e r l y

Christianity and the u n d e r s t o o d , were sufficient principles by w h i c h h u m a n beings m i g l i t


o r d e r r e a l i t y . T h e r e s u l t i n g " d e i s m , " o r e v e n " a t h e i s m , " became a

Newtonian Worldview v i t a l p a r t of a n i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n f o u n d t h r o u g h o u t w e s t e r n
E u r o p e i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , c o m m o n l y described b y h i s t o r i a n s
as the " E n l i g h t e n m e n t . " A l m o s t u n w i t t i n g l y , i n the early decades of
Margaret C . Jacob the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , science h e l p e d to foster the first g e n e r a t i o n
o f i n t e l l e c t u a l s a m o n g w h o m c o u l d be f o u n d a s i g n i f i c a n t n u m b e r of
q u i t e a r t i c u l a t e o p p o n e n t s of all f o r m s of t r a d i t i o n a l C h r i s t i a n i t y .
A l l his [Christ's] laws are in themselves, abstracted from
any consideration of recompense, conducing to the tem-
poral interest of them that observe them. THE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY BACKGROUND
—Richard Bentley, 1692

T h e P r o t e s t a n t C h r i s t i a n i t y e m b r a c e d b y Isaac N e w t o n (1642-1727)
Thus the wise Governour of the W o r l d , hath taken Care for
a n d h i s N e w t o n i a n f o l l o w e r s h a d been m o l d e d b y a n e w social a n d
the Dispatch of Business. But then as too long Engagement
about w o d d l y Matters w o u l d take off Mens M i n d s from economic order that emerged i n seventeenth-century E n g l a n d . A
God and Divine Matters, so by this Reservation of every p o w e r f u l m a r k e t society o p e r a t i n g a c c o r d i n g to the necessities of s u p -
Seventh Day, that great Inconvenience is prevented also. p l y a n d d e m a n d existed i n s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y L o n d o n a n d t l i e
— W i l l i a m Derham, 1714 s o u t h e r n m a r k e t t o w n s , a n d a n y c l e r g y m a n w o r t h y of a p u l p i t t l i e r e
h a d to a d d r e s s t h a t f u n d a m e n t a l social a n d m o r a l r e a l i t y . O f c o u r s e ,
t h i s c o m m e r c i a l society, w h i c h g r e w i n c r e a s i n g l y m o r e c o n s p i c u o u s
b y t h e late s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y , h a d e m e r g e d w i t h i n the c o n t e x t of
p o l i t i c a l r e v o l u t i o n . T h e E n g l i s h R e v o l u t i o n , u n d e r s t o o d as a m a t r i x
T h e i n t e r p l a y b e t w e e n science a n d r e l i g i o n i n s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y of social a n d p o l i t i c a l u p h e a v a l t h a t b e g a n i n the 1640s a n d t h a t c u l -
E n g l a n d s e r v e d to t r a n s f o r m b o t h . Far f r o m b e i n g i n c o n f l i c t , as h i s - m i n a t e d i n t h e R e v o l u t i o n of 1688-89, gave increased p o l i t i c a l p o w e r
t o r i a n s u s e d to s u p p o s e , science a n d r e l i g i o n (as s y s t e m s of ideas) to t h e l a n d e d a n d c o m m e r c i a l classes. By t h e late 1690s t h e great
m o d i f i e d each o t h e r i n t h e course of the c e n t u r y . M a i n s t r e a m E n g l i s h L o n d o n f i n a n c i e r s h a d t h e i r Bank, w h i l e the l a n d e d g e n t r y , w i t h t h e i r
P r o t e s t a n t s g r a d u a l l y e m b r a c e d a v e r s i o n of t h e n e w science t h a t side interests i n c o m m e r c e a n d t r a d e , r u l e d o v e r t h e i r p a r l i a m e n t a i y
s u p p o r t e d t r a d i t i o n a l C h r i s t i a n m e t a p h y s i c s , w h i l e scientists re- seats w i t h l i t t l e i n t e r f e r e n c e f r o m t h e c r o w n . ' I n L o n d o n a n d the
s p o n d e d to the necessity of p r o t e c t i n g a n e s t a b l i s h e d c h u r c h a n d m a r k e t t o w n s m e n of " b u s i n e s s a n d d i s p a t c h , " as one c l e r g y m a n m
r e l i g i o s i t y b y s i g n i f i c a n t l y m o d i f y i n g the m e c h a n i c a l p h i l o s o p h y o f t h e 1660s d e s c r i b e d t h e m , r e p r e s e n t e d a n e w class a n d a n e w p o l i t i c a l
n a t u r e a n d p u r g i n g i t o f its m a t e r i a l i s t i c t e n d e n c i e s . B u t t h i s process, force f o r w h o m b o t h l e a r n i n g a n d d i v i n i t y h a d to be practical a n d
t h i s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of ideas, d i d n o t o c c u r i n m i n d s d i v o r c e d f r o m a p p l i c a b l e i f t h e y w e r e to be m e a n i n g f u l .
e v e r y d a y r e a l i t y . I n t e l l e c t u a l c h a n g e does n o t g e n e r a l l y occur i n t h a t T h e C h r i s t i a n i t y t h a t s p o k e m o s t d i r e c t l y to t h i s p o s t r e v o l u t i o n a i y
w a y . Scientists a n d c h u r c h m e n alike w e r e c o m i n g to t e r m s w i t h eco- elite w a s n o t t h e r i g o r o u s C a l v i n i s m o f t h e 1630s a n d 1640s, w h i c h
n o m i c a n d p o l i t i c a l forces t h a t w e r e n e w a n d p r o f o u n d l y u n s e t t l i n g . h a d i n s p i r e d a g e n e r a t i o n of r e v o l u t i o n a r y saints. R a t h e r i t w a s a
T o d a y w e use w o r d s l i k e capitalism a n d revolution to describe these l i b e r a l (at t h e t i m e o n e said " l a t i t u d i n a r i a n " ) A n g l i c a n i s m t h a t re-
forces; i n t h e s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y m e n ( a n d s o m e w o m e n ) s p o k e o f p u d i a t e d p r e d e s t i n a t i o n , y e t c o n t i n u e d to d e f i n e r e l i g i o n as a n i n -
n a t u r e a n d G o d , of l a w s s p i r i t u a l a n d n a t u r a l , o f self-interest o r g r e e d , d i v i d u a l m a t t e r w h e r e i n t h e conscience of the l a i t y m u s t be r e s p e c t e d ,
o f b u s i n e s s , a n d of t h e necessity f o r o r d e r a n d h a r m o n y . B o t h science a n d t h a t f i r m l y s u b o r d i n a t e d c h u r c h to state, i n s i s t i n g t h a t bishi.<ps
a n d r e l i g i o n w e r e seen as b e i n g capable o f i m p o s i n g t h a t o r d e r , b u t serve, n o t m a n i p u l a t e , t h e p o l i t i c a l s y s t e m . I f t h a t l i b e r a l C h r i s t i a n i t y
240 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 241

h a d a b i r t h p l a c e a n d t h e o l o g i c a l center, i t w a s C a m b r i d g e . T h e r e as v a r i e t y o f sources a n d f o u n d a m o n g v e r y d i s p a r a t e social g r t ) u p s , was


early as the 1650s the C a m b r i d g e Platonists, H e n r y M o r e (1614-1687) u n i f o r m l y c o n d e m n e d b y C h r i s t i a n apologists as " a t h e i s m " a n d as
a n d R a l p h C u d w o r t h (1617-1688), r e p u d i a t e d the d o c t r i n e of p r e d e s - d i s r u p t i v e o f t h e v e r y fabric of social o b l i g a t i o n . T h e y c o n d e m n e d it
t i n a t i o n , w h i l e the y o u n g m a t h e m a t i c i a n a n d c l e r g y m a n Isaac B a r r o w f o r e n d o r s i n g t h e w o r s t aspects o f m a r k e t c o m p e t i t i o n a n d w o r l d l y
(1630-1677), a n associate of N e w t o n , r e c o r d e d p r i v a t e l y h i s belief t h a t self-interest, o r t h e y associated it w i t h the r e l i g i o u s heresies p r o
r e l i g i o n m u s t a d d r e s s itself n o t to "cloisters ( w h e n c e m u c h of i t c a m e ) " m u l g a t e d b y lower-class social r e f o r m e r s i n t e n t u p o n t i n d e r m i n i n g
b u t to " c o n g r e g a t i o n s of t r a d e s m e n a n d m e r c h a n t s . " ^ I n t h e select t h e c h u r c h ' s p r i v i l e g e s , w h o w e r e o f t e n t i m e s d r a w n f r o m the ranks
circle of l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n s t h a t N e w t o n f r e q u e n t e d , C a m b r i d g e w a s o f t h e p e o p l e v i c t i m i z e d b y the n e w w a g e m a r k e t .
i n t e l l e c t u a l l y a l i v e a n d n o t the a r i d w a s t e l a n d c h r o n i c l e d b y Because there w e r e so m a n y varieties of m a t e r i a l i s m i n m i d
c o m m e n t a t o r s ^ w h o w a n t t o d o w n p l a y the s t i m u l a t i o n p r o v i d e d N e w - seventeenth-century E n g l a n d , n o one d e f i n i t i o n i d e n t i f i e s all its
t o n b y M o r e a n d C u d w o r t h o r the i m p o r t a n c e o f Isaac B a r r o w a n d p r o p o n e n t s a n d t h e i r v a r i o u s social beliefs a n d interests. A l l d i d ,
t h e C a m b r i d g e d i v i n e s i n s h a p i n g the i r e n i c a l , a n t i - C a l v i n i s t , m i l l e - h o w e v e r , share one c o m m o n p h i l o s o p h i c a l a s s u m p t i o n ; w h i l e t r a d i
narian, a n d v i o l e n t l y antimaterialistic C h r i s t i a n i t y that became central t i o n a l C h r i s t i a n m e t a p h y s i c s a r g u e d for a separate s p i r i t u a l r e a l m ,
to N e w t o n ' s o w n r e l i g i o s i t y . d i s t i n c t f r o m m a t t e r a n d b o d y — i n effect the w o r l d o f G o d , angels,
N o t o n l y w a s t h i s l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m basic t o N e w t o n ; it w a s also a n d souls—materialists obliterated that d i s t i n c t i o n . They m i g h t argue
embraced by a n e w generation of Cambridge-trained clergymen w h o t h a t souls are i n b o d i e s i n s u c h a w a y as to be i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e one
u s e d b o t h p u l p i t a n d press to a r t i c u l a t e f o r t h e e d u c a t e d elite w h a t f r o m t h e o t h e r , o r t h e y m i g h t s i m p l y assert t h a t there is o n l y m a t t e r
w a s n o t h i n g less t h a n a n e w v e r s i o n of the C h r i s t i a n message. T h e y i n the u n i v e r s e . T h e sources of s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y m a t e r i a l i s m w e r e
a d d r e s s e d t h e m s e l v e s to the c o m p e t i t i v e a n d s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d w o r l d of n u m e r o u s : a n c i e n t p h i l o s o p h e r s l i k e A r i s t o t l e o r E p i c u r u s , n e w sci-
t h e m a r k e t a n d f o u n d its ethics, w h e n r e s t r a i n e d b y C h r i s t i a n v i r t u e , entists l i k e H o b b e s , or p o p u l a r heresies a n d beliefs t h a t saw n a t u r e
compatible w i t h salvation. A n d for our purposes even more i m p o r - as a l i v e a n d f e r t i l e w i t h o u t t h e n e e d o f d i v i n e i n t e r v e n t i o n . S u c h
t a n t , t h e y u s e d t h e n e w science o f t h e s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y as a f o u n - p h i l o s o p h i c a l heresies w e r e p a r t i c u l a r l y r i f e d u r i n g the E n g l i s h Rev-
d a t i o n u p o n w h i c h t h i s l i b e r a l C h r i s t i a n i t y m i g h t rest its case f o r G o d ' s o l u t i o n . I n the reaction that f o l l o w e d that R e v o l u t i o n , s y m b o l i z e d by
b e n e v o l e n t o v e r s e e i n g o f society a n d c o m m e r c e . C h a n c e a n d d i s o r d e r t h e R e s t o r a t i o n o f C h a r l e s I I i n 1660, p r o g r e s s i v e c h u r c h m e n s o u g h t
are o n l y a p p a r e n t , n o t r e a l , t h e y a r g u e d , a n d G o d i n s t i l l s o r d e r i n a to a d v a n c e t h e cause o f science u n d e r r o y a l p a t r o n a g e a n d still to
w o r l d made complex by competition, market fluctuations, and (not p u r g e i t o f a n y m a t e r i a l i s t i c t e n d e n c i e s . A t stake i n t h e i r e n t e r p r i s e ,
least) p o l i t i c a l u p h e a v a l . Science, l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n s a r g u e d , p r o v e s t h e as t h e y p e r c e i v e d i t , w a s n o t s i m p l y the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of science a n d
r e a l i t y of t h a t i n h e r e n t , p r o v i d e n t i a l l y d i r e c t e d , n a t u r a l h a r m o n y . B y r e l i g i o n . H e r e s i e s t h a t e l i m i n a t e d t h e s p i r i t u a l r e a l m , a n d hence its
t h e late s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y the n e w science a n d the n e w A n g l i c a n - p r i e s t l y overseers, t h r e a t e n e d t h e v e r y o r d e r of s o c i e t y — c h u r c h , ar-
i s m r e i n f o r c e d one a n o t h e r . W e s h o u l d h a r d l y be s u r p r i s e d to f i n d istocracy, p r o p e r t y , a n d p r i v i l e g e .
t h e y o u n g Isaac N e w t o n i n c o r p o r a h n g i n t o his n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h y ,
I n t h e 1640s a n d 1650s L e v e l l e r s , Q u a k e r s , D i g g e r s , a n d M u g g l e -
a n d h e n c e i n t o h i s science, d e f i n i t i o n s o f m a t t e r , space, a n d t i m e t h a t
t o n i a n s — t o n a m e the b e t t e r k n o w n sectaries o f the p e r i o d — a r g u e d
w e r e d e e p l y i n d e b t e d to t h e l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m of R e s t o r a t i o n C a m -
t h a t i f G o d d w e l t i n N a t u r e ( s o m e w e n t so far as to say t h a t G o d is
b r i d g e . T h e N e w t o n i a n s y n t h e s i s e n t e r e d the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y as
N a t u r e ) , t h e n a l l h u m a n b e i n g s p a r t a k e o f t h e d i v i n e i n t h i s w o r l d as
a n i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n s t r u c t i o n b o r n i n r e s p o n s e to t h e E n g l i s h R e v o l u -
w e l l as i n t h e n e x t . A n d f r o m t h a t m e t a p h y s i c the radicals d r e w c e r t a i n
t i o n . M o r e t h a n a n y o t h e r p h i l o s o p h y o f the e a r l y m o d e r n p e r i o d ,
social c o n c l u s i o n s . S h o u l d n o t a l l p e o p l e share i n t h e riches of the
N e w t o n i a n i s m i n t u r n s h a p e d t h e beliefs a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l a s p i r a t i o n s
earth? I f G o d d w e l l s i n us a l l , w h a t n e e d h a v e w e of c l e r g y m e n a n d
o f a n age w e h a v e c o m e t o describe as e n l i g h t e n e d .
c h u r c h e s , a n d are t h e r e s u c h t h i n g s as s i n a n d hell?"* T h a t sort of
B u t i f l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m w a s s y m p a t h e h c to m e n of b u s i n e s s , to p a n t h e i s t i c m a t e r i a l i s m c o u l d j u s t i f y social l e v e l i n g , a n d the C a m -
t h e necessities a n d ethics of the m a r k e t p l a c e , to w h a t m o s t p e o p l e b r i d g e Platonists w a g e d a v i o l e n t c a m p a i g n i n p u l p i t a n d press against
t o d a y w o u l d call m a t e r i a l i n t e r e s t s , h o w c o u l d i t also h a v e b e e n so t h a t h e r e t i c a l a n d d a n g e r o u s r e s p o n s e to social a n d e c o n o m i c i n -
v i o l e n t l y o p p o s e d to m a t e r i a l i s m i n p h i l o s o p h y ? I n s e v e n t e e n t h - e q u a l i t y . I n t h e 1660s N e w t o n w r o t e a m a n u s c r i p t treatise w h e r e i n
century England philosophical materialism, although derived f r o m a he t o o c o n d e m n e d the m a t e r i a l i s m o f t h e " a t h e i s t s , " " t h e v u l g a r , "
242 Christianity and the Nezotonian Worldvieio Christianity and the Newtonian Worldvieio 243

w h o o n t h i s occasion w e r e p r o b a b l y f o l l o w e r s o f a v e r y p a g a n i z e d a d d r e s s e d to t h e m o r a l r e a l i t y o f a m a r k e t society, the first of its k i m l


v e r s i o n o f A r i s t o t l e ' s p h i l o s o p h y of n a t u r e . ' W h a t e v e r its source, m a - ( o u t s i d e o f the N e t h e r l a n d s ) to exist i n o n e o f the h i g h l y c e n t r a l i z e d
terialism represented the gravest intellectual heresy c o n f r o n t e d b y the n a t i o n - s t a t e s o f the early m o d e r n p e r i o d . Science a n d n a t u r a l p h i K u
English church. o p h y , as i n t e r p r e t e d b y N e w t o n a n d h i s f o l l o w e r s , o f f e r e d a m o d e l
T h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l heresies associated w i t h lower-class r a d i c a l i s m of the stable, o r d e r e d , p r o v i d e n t i a l l y g u i d e d u n i v e r s e w i t h i n w h i c h
h a d t h e i r a n a l o g u e i n a n o t h e r species of m a t e r i a l i s m b e l i e v e d to be c o u l d o c c u r t h a t c o m p e t i t i o n so basic to the o p e r a t i o n s of the re
p r e v a l e n t a m o n g t h e e d u c a t e d classes t h e m s e l v e s . T h e m a j o r p o l i t i c a l s t r a i n e d , y e t r e l a t i v e l y free, m a r k e t society.
p h i l o s o p h e r o f the E n g l i s h R e v o l u t i o n , T h o m a s H o b b e s (1588-1679),
h a d u s e d the n e w science a n d m e c h a n i c a l p h i l o s o p h y t o a r g u e t h a t
o n l y matter a n d m o t i o n g o v e r n the operations of nature, a n d i n that T H E BOYLE LECTURES
f o r m u l a t i o n c h u r c h m e n s a w a p r o f o u n d t h r e a t to social h a r m o n y as
w e l l as to C h r i s t i a n i t y itself. A c c o r d i n g to H o b b e s , desire a n d p a s s i o n T h r o u g h t h e e f f o r t s of t h e first g e n e r a t i o n of N e w t o n i a n s — R i c h a r d
r u l e i n t h e h e a r t — w e are n o t h i n g b u t m a t t e r i m p e l l e d b y f o r c e — a n d Bentley, S a m u e l C l a r k e , W i l l i a m D e r h a m , a n d W i l l i a m W h i s t o n -
as a r e s u l t , c h u r c h m e n a r g u e d , H o b b e s ' s m a t e r i a l i s m , w h i c h s a w t h e N e w t o n ' s n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h y w a s p r e a c h e d f r o m the 1690s o n w a r d
a c t i o n s o f m a t t e r as g o v e r n e d o n l y b y l a w s i n h e r e n t to i t , s a n c t i o n e d at the p o d i u m p r o v i d e d b y a p r e s t i g i o u s L o n d o n l e c t u r e s h i p . It was
t h e u n r e s t r a i n e d use of passion i n p u r s u i t of s e l f - i n t e r e s t — t o para- p r e s e n t e d as t h e c o r n e r s t o n e o f a l i b e r a l , t o l e r a n t , a n d h i g h l y p h i l o -
p h r a s e H o b b e s , t h e m a r k e t p l a c e o f the a l l against t h e all.*^ s o p h i c a l v e r s i o n o f C h r i s t i a n i t y , a n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n based u p o n reason
W h i l e c h u r c h m e n read H o b b e s as a b l a t a n t m a t e r i a l i s t a n d atheist, a n d science t h a t came d a n g e r o u s l y close to d e i s m b u t t h a t m a n a g e d ,
t h e y w e r e also s u s p i c i o u s f o r d i f f e r e n t reasons o f h i s F r e n c h c o n t e m - i n N e w t o n ' s o w n l i f e t i m e , n e v e r to s l i p o v e r t h a t p a r t i c u l a r l e d g e
p o r a r y , Rene Descartes (1596-1650). A l t h o u g h Descartes w a s a c o m - Perhaps t h e m a j o r r e a s o n w h y the early N e w t o n i a n s r e m a i n e d ag-
m i t t e d t h e i s t , h i s n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h y rested o n a r a d i c a l s e p a r a t i o n g r e s s i v e l y C h r i s t i a n , o r m o r e precisely A n g l i c a n , d e r i v e d f r o m the
o f m a t t e r a n d s p i r i t . T h i s w a s a s e p a r a t i o n so r a d i c a l t h a t t h e C a m - active r o l e t h a t N e w t o n t o o k i n the p r o m u l g a t i o n o f his n a t u r a l p h i -
b r i d g e Platonists, a m o n g o t h e r s , c a m e t o fear t h a t Descartes h a d f r e e d l o s o p h y . W h e n the great n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h e r a n d s u p p o r t e r of the
m a t t e r to o p e r a t e o n its o w n , w i t h o u t the assistance of s p i r i t u a l a g e n - c h u r c h , R o b e r t B o y l e , w a s i n his last illness a n d the t e r m s of his w i l l
cies. I n effect, Descartes d e f i n e d m a t t e r i n s u c h a w a y t h a t i t c o u l d e s t a b l i s h i n g w h a t became h i s f a m o u s l e c t u r e s h i p became k n o w n to
be seen as p a r t o f H o b b e s ' s s e l f - c o n t a i n e d m a t e r i a l o r d e r . N e w t o n his i n t i m a t e s , a close f r i e n d of N e w t o n , the Scottish m a t h e m a t i c i a n
h i m s e l f c a l l e d Descartes a m a t e r i a l i s t a n d a r g u e d t h a t h i s science D a v i d G r e g o r y , r e c o r d e d i n a m e m o r a n d u m d a t e d 28 D e c e m b e r Ifayi
w o u l d u n d e r m i n e all r e l i g i o u s belief. A t a l m o s t precisely the same a r e v e a l i n g g l i m p s e o f N e w t o n ' s sense o f w h a t h i s p h i l o s o p h y m i g h t
t i m e the vice-chancellor of C a m b r i d g e U n i v e r s i t y , E d m u n d Boldero a c h i e v e . F r o m t h e date a n d c o n t e n t s o f G r e g o r y ' s m e m o r a n d t t m it
o f j e s u s C o l l e g e , o r d e r e d t h a t Descartes's w o r k n o t be read.^ B o t h a p p e a r s l i k e l y t h a t N e w t o n w a s r e f e r r i n g to the p r o j e c t e d Boyle lec
H o b b e s a n d Descartes a d d r e s s e d t h e h i g h l y e d u c a t e d , a n d w h a t later t u r e s . H i s d e s c r i p t i o n of the " p u b l i c s p e e c h " a n d the c o n t e n t s of "ane
seventeenth-century Anglican Christians, i n c l u d i n g N e w t o n , w a n t e d A c t , " t h a t is, a college speech, thesis, o r d i s p u t a t i o n , closely resembles
was an equally sophisticated natural a n d religious p h i l o s o p h y that the c o n t e n t s of lectures f i r s t g i v e n i n 1692 by Bentley. N e w t o n , i n
w o u l d effectively counter materialism of whatever origin w h i l e m a i n - effect, s u g g e s t e d t h a t h i s discoveries i n celestial p h y s i c s w o u l d s h o w
t a i n g a l i b e r a l stance i n m a t t e r s o f d o c t r i n e . C h u r c h m e n w a n t e d social the c o s m i c q u a l i t i e s i n t h e l a w s of n a t u r e a n d hence w o u l d serve the
h a r m o n y w i t h o u t the threat of social d i s o r d e r c o m i n g f r o m b e l o w , a r g u m e n t f r o m p r o v i d e n t i a l d e s i g n better t h a n the reliance o n the
b u t also w i t h o u t t h e r a p a c i o u s self-interest ( w h i c h u l t i m a t e l y f e d t h e " g e n e r a l c o n t r i v a n c e " i n a n i m a l s a n d p l a n t s u s e d b y J o h n Ray i n
f l a m e s o f lower-class r a d i c a l i s m ) so characteristic o f the " c r a f t y i l l - his The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691).
p r i n c i p l e d m e n , " as J o h n E v e l y n , o n e o f t h e f o u n d e r s o f t h e R o y a l G r e g o r y ' s m e m o r a n d u m reads:
Society, called t h e u n g o d l y a n d p r o s p e r o u s .

U n d e r t h e l i n k a g e f o r g e d b y t h e C a m b r i d g e Platonists, B a r r o w , In M r Newton's o p i n i o n a good design of a publick speech (and w h i c h


N e w t o n , a n d the N e w t o n i a n s d u r i n g the late s e v e n t e e n t h a n d early may serve well as ane Act) may be to shew that the most simple laws of
e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r i e s , C h r i s t i a n i t y a n d science e n t e r e d i n t o a n alliance nature are observed in the structure of a great part of the Universe, thai
244 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 245

the philosophy ought ther to begin; and that Cosmical Qualities are as e r n m e n t , centralized a n d coordinated by court, placeinen, a n d bish-
much easier as they are more Universal! than particular ones, and the o p s , w o u l d m a k e t h e p u r s u i t of e c o n o m i c interests possible. T h e
general contrivance simpler than that of Animals Plants etc." c o s m i c o r d e r a n d d e s i g n e x p l i c a t e d i n t h e Principia became, i n the
h a n d s o f N e w t o n ' s e a r l y f o l l o w e r s , a n a t u r a l m o d e l for a C h r i s t i a n
I n J a n u a r y 1692 N e w t o n m a y also h a v e s u g g e s t e d R i c h a r d B e n t l e y society, p r o v i d e n t i a l l y s a n c t i o n e d a n d r e a s o n a b l y t o l e r a n t o f d i v e r s e
as t h e f i r s t Boyle lecturer, a n d earlier, i n July 1691, Bentley h a d a l r e a d y r e l i g i o u s beliefs, p r o v i d e d t h e y d i d n o t t h r e a t e n the s t a b i l i t y of the
received instructions t h r o u g h another liberal c h u r c h m a n , W i l l i a m p o l i t y ( h e n c e t h e e x c l u s i o n o f C a t h o l i c s a n d a n t i - T r i n i t a r i a n heretics
W o t t o n , o n h o w to u n d e r s t a n d the Principia. W o t t o n took a keen w i t h t h e i r p r o p e n s i t y , or so i t w a s i m a g i n e d , f o r p u r e l y r a t i o n a l i s t
i n t e r e s t i n t h e Boyle lectures, as d i d his p a t r o n a n d leader of t h e e x p l a n a t i o n s of s u p e r n a t u r a l p h e n o m e n a ) . Yet t h e N e w t o n i a n s ar-
c h u r c h p a r t y , H e n e a g e F i n c h . I n t h e a u t u m n o f 1692 B e n t l e y d e v e l - g u e d , a g a i n s t t h e d e m a n d s m a d e b y c o n t e m p o r a r y r e f o r m e r s , that
o p e d h i s v e r s i o n o f N e w t o n ' s p h i l o s o p h y a n d u s e d i t as the u n d e r - n o f u r t h e r p o l i t i c a l r e f o r m w a s necessary b e y o n d t h a t e m b o d i e d i n
p i n n i n g f o r his social v i s i o n . Before p u b l i s h i n g those s e r m o n s B e n t l e y the so-called R e v o l u t i o n s e t t l e m e n t o f 1689.
c o n s u l t e d w i t h N e w t o n , a n d the f i r s t o f N e w t o n ' s f o u r r e p l i e s b e g a n I n p o l e m i c a l r e s p o n s e to t h e m a t e r i a l i s m o f H o b b e s a n d the p a n t h e -
w i t h t h e n o w f a m o u s w o r d s : " W h e n I w r o t e m y treatise u p o n o u r i s m o f t h e p o l i t i c a l r a d i c a l s , N e w t o n ' s closest f r i e n d s , Bentley, C l a r k e ,
S y s t e m e I h a d a n eye u p o n s u c h P r i n c i p l e s as m i g h t w o r k w i t h c o n - a n d W h i s t o n , t o o k to t h e i r p u l p i t s a n d i n t h e i r lectures a n d w r i t i n g s
s i d e r i n g m e n f o r t h e beliefe o f a D e i t y a n d n o t h i n g can rejoyce m e p r e a c h e d p r i m a r i l y t o a L o n d o n - b a s e d a n d p r o s p e r o u s — o f t t n rner
m o r e t h a n to f i n d i t u s e f u l l for t h a t p u r p o s e . " ' By w a y o f assistance c a n t i l e — a u d i e n c e . T h e y e x t o l l e d the v i r t u e s o f self-restraint a n d
to B e n t l e y , N e w t o n m a y h a v e w r i t t e n a n a c c o u n t of h i s s y s t e m of t h e p u b l i c - m i n d e d n e s s , w h i l e at t h e same t i m e a s s u r i n g t h e i r c o n g r e g a
w o r l d ; a m a n u s c r i p t version of that draft survives arpong N e w t o n ' s Hons t h a t p r o s p e r i t y c a m e to t h e v i r t u o u s a n d t h a t d i v i n e p r o v i d e n c e
unpublished papers.'" p e r m i t t e d , e v e n f o s t e r e d , m a t e r i a l r e w a r d s . T h e same p r o v i d e n c e tliat
I n t h e e a r l y e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y the n u m e r o u s e d i t i o n s a n d t r a n s - generates the m e c h a n i c a l l a w s at w o r k i n t h e u n i v e r s e oversees the
l a t i o n s of t h e B o y l e lectures b e c a m e t h e m a j o r v e h i c l e for d i s s e m i - w o r k i n g s o f society a n d g o v e r n m e n t , a n d m e n m u s t see to i t t h a t
n a t i n g N e w t o n i a n n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h y to the e d u c a t e d l a i t y b o t h i n t h e i r p o l i t i c a l a n d e c o n o m i c actions c o n f o r m to the s t a b i l i t y a n d har-
E n g l a n d a n d o n t h e C o n t i n e n t . O n the basis at N e w t o n ' s b e h i n d - t h e - m o n y decreed by supernatural authority. W h i l e tolerating doctrinal
scenes i n t e r e s t i n t h o s e lectures, h i s c o n s i s t e n t a n t i m a t e r i a l i s m , a n d d i f f e r e n c e s a m o n g C h r i s h a n s t h e m s e l v e s , reasonable p e o p l e m u s t
his d e v o u t , b u t h i g h l y l i b e r a l a n d i r e n i c a l , C h r i s t i a n i t y , t h i s f o r e m o s t a c k n o w l e d g e a vast c o s m i c o r d e r , i m p o s e d b y G o d , a n d a t t e m p t to
E n g l i s h scientist s h o u l d also be d e s c r i b e d as a N e w t o n i a n i n t h e social i m i t a t e i t i n society a n d g o v e r n m e n t . I n Boyle lectures t h a t w e r e read
a n d i d e o l o g i c a l sense. H e c o n d o n e d the Boyle lectures t h a t a r t i c u l a t e d a n d a d m i r e d b y e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y t h i n k e r s as d i v e r s e as S a m u e l
t h e social v i s i o n o f B e n t l e y , C l a r k e , D e r h a m , a n d t h e o t h e r l i b e r a l J o h n s o n a n d Jean-Jacques Rosseau, S a m u e l C l a r k e a r g u e d that r e l i -
d i v i n e s ; a n d h e l e n t t h e p r e s t i g e o f his a c h i e v e m e n t to w h a t b e c a m e g i o n r e i n f o r c e d b y science s h o u l d p l a y a v i t a l role i n state p o l i c y . "
i n their hands an enlightened p h i l o s o p h y that s u p p o r t e d the p u r s u i t L i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m preaches social o r d e r a n d p o l i t i c a l s t a b i l i t y - i n
of sober self-interest, t h a t e n d o r s e d h u m a n d o m i n a t i o n o v e r n a t u r e , o t h e r w o r d s , t h a t m e n s h o u l d n o t be " e x t r e m e l y a n d u n r e a s o n a b l y
a n d t h a t e n c o u r a g e d the a p p l i c a t i o n o f scientific l e a r n i n g to the p r o b - s o l i c i t o u s " t o c h a n g e t h e i r s t a t i o n s i n life a n d t h a t t h e y s h o u l d n o t
lems posed by navigation, agriculture, a n d i n d u s t r y . I n short, N e w - b e c o m e , i n t h e w o r d s of B e n t l e y , " m e n o f a m b i t i o u s a n d t u r b u l e n t
t o n i a n i s m became an ideology that justified commercial capitalism, s p i r i t s , t h a t [are] d i s s a t i s f i e d . . . w i t h p r i v a c y a n d r e t i r e m e n t . " ' " T h e
e m p i r e , scientific p r o g r e s s , a n d a n e w r e l i g i o s i t y geared m o r e to t h e n a t u r a l r u l e r s s h o u l d be a l l o w e d t h e i r p o s i t i o n s a n d stations; t h e y , o f
v i c i s s i t u d e s o f t h i s w o r l d t h a n t h e r e w a r d s o f t h e n e x t . T h i s is n o t t o course, m u s t practice a m o r a l v i r t u e t h a t is c o n d u c i v e to h a r m o n y
say t h a t social factors a n d p o l i t i c a l interest can a c c o u n t f o r N e w t o n ' s because G o d ' s p r o v i d e n c e sees t o i t t h a t i t is. T h e r e can be n o d o u b t i n g
scientific a c h i e v e m e n t s , his m a t h e m a t i c a l g e n i u s , o r his p h i l o s o p h i c a l the a b s o l u t e necessity f o r social s t a b i l i t y a n d n o d o u b t i n g t h a t the
i n s i g h t s i n t o t h e s t r u c t u r e o f p h y s i c a l r e a l i t y . B u t i t is to say t h a t , w i t h m o r a l l a w s o r d a i n e d b y G o d f o r its a t t a i n m e n t are u n i v e r s a l a n d
h i s c o n s e n t , h i s science s e r v e d a precise i d e o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n i n t h e guaranteed to w o r k . The physical order explicated by N e w t o n pro-
e a r l y decades of t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y . A f t e r 1688-1689 i t w a s u s e d claims order a n d stability, b u t this order comes not f r o m matter or
to s h o r e u p t h e n e w l y r e c o n s t i t u t e d m o n a r c h y a n d e s t a b l i s h e d c h u r c h n a t u r e b u t d i r e c t l y f r o m G o d , w h o s e w i l l operates i n t h e u n i v e r s e
as t h e b u l w a r k s o f o r d e r , s t a b i l i t y , a n d p r o s p e r i t y ; o n l y s t r o n g g o v - e i t h e r d i r e c t l y o r t h r o u g h active p r i n c i p l e s . T h e " w o r l d n a t u r a l "
246 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview
Christianity and the Newtonian Worldvieiv 247

s t a n d s as a m o d e l f o r t h e " w o r l d p o l i t i c k , " a n d N e w t o n ' s e x p l a n a t i o n


g o a w a y . T h e c h a r g e bears r e l e v a n c e n o t to t h e r e l i g i o s i t y of the first
of the first provides a f o u n d a t i o n u p o n w h i c h the g o v e r n m e n t of the
g e n e r a t i o n o f N e w t o n i a n s — n o t e v e n to S a m u e l C l a r k e , w h o s e a n t i -
s e c o n d s h o u l d rest. W i t h o u t t h a t m o d e l , w h a t r e f u t a t i o n c o u l d w o r k T r i n i t a r i a n i s m w a s d r a w n f r o m his r e a d i n g of N e w t o n ' s science'" b u t
a g a i n s t t h e radicals o r t h e H o b b i s t s , w h o s e p r e s c r i p t i o n s rested u p o n d i d n o t , i n m y r e a d i n g o f h i s w r i t i n g s , lessen his c o m m i t m e n t to a
o b s e r v e d b e h a v i o r a n d u p o n t h e e x p e r i e n c e of p o l i t i c a l r e v o l u t i o n ? l i b e r a l C h r i s t i a n i t y as he u n d e r s t o o d i t — b u t r a t h e r to t h e s e c o n d
I n t h e m o s t i n f l u e n t i a l a n d c o n s i s t e n t l y r e p u b l i s h e d lectures e v e r g e n e r a t i o n o f N e w t o n i a n s . T h e s e w e r e scientists a n d i d e o l o g u e s w l u )
delivered d u r i n g the eighteenth century, the N e w t o n i a n s soothed a n d c a m e i n t o t h e i r o w n i n the 1720s, i n t h a t c o m p l a c e n t w o r l d of W h i g
assured their congregations, b u t t h e y also s i m u l t a n e o u s l y exhorted o l i g a r c h s t h a t so i m p r e s s e d f o r e i g n v i s i t o r s l i k e V o l t a i r e . I n t h e i r h a n d s
t h e m . W e a l t h , leisure, a n d p o w e r i n the h a n d s of the n a t u r a l r u l e r s N e w t o n i a n science f o s t e r e d a v a r i e t y o f c u l t u r a l i n s t i t u t i o n s a n d p l i i l o -
of society f u l f i l l e d the p r o v i d e n t i a l d e s i g n , yet all h a d to be u s e d w i t h s o p h i c a l s y s t e m s t h a t seem to bear l i t t l e r e s e m b l a n c e to the C h r i s -
m o d e r a t i o n a n d i n t h e service o f a l i b e r a l a n d t o l e r a n t C h r i s t i a n i t y . t i a n i t y i n w h i c h N e w t o n , o r W h i s t o n a n d C l a r k e f o r t h a t matter,
Social h a r m o n y a n d p o l i t i c a l s t a b i l i t y c o m p l e m e n t a n o r d e r e d uni- personally believed.
verse e x p l i c a t e d b y N e w t o n , w h e r e m a t t e r is d e a d o r lifeless, i t s m o - Not least o f these n e w i n s t i t u t i o n s w a s F r e e m a s o n r y , t h a t secret
t i o n c o n t r o l l e d b y t h e w i l l o f G o d ; i n s h o r t , as C l a r k e e x p l a i n e d , " t h e r e male fraternity officially established i n 1717 i n L o n d o n . It g r e w o u t
is n o s u c h t h i n g as w h a t m e n c o m m o n l y call t h e c o u r s e o f n a t u r e , o r of the o l d a r t i s a n g u i l d s b u t b e c a m e , u n d e r t h e l e a d e r s h i p o f W h i g s
the p o w e r o f n a t u r e . [ItJ is n o t h i n g else b u t t h e w i l l of G o d p r o d u c i n g a n d N e w t o n i a n s , a t o t a l l y " s p e c u l a t i v e " (to use the M a s o n i c term)
c e r t a i n effects i n a c o n t i n u e d , r e g u l a r , c o n s t a n t , a n d u n i f o r m m a n - b r o t h e r h o o d of bourgeois gentlemen a n d aristocrats dedicated, as
ner."'^ T h e N e w t o n i a n s s u c c e e d e d , as h a d t h e C a m b r i d g e Platonists t h e i r o f f i c i a l Constitutions p r o c l a i m , to r e l i g i o u s t o l e r a t i o n , Baconian
before t h e m , i n p r o c l a i m i n g the p r o v i d e n t i a l a n d interventionist G o d experimentalism, and court-centered government. The leading spirit
w h o a l l o w e d the o r d e r e d u n i v e r s e to o p e r a t e a c c o r d i n g to d i s c e r n i b l e in British Freemasonry was the A n g l i c a n clergyman jean Theophile
l a w s of n a t u r e . D e s a g u l i e r s (1683-1744), t h e o f f i c i a l e x p e r i m e n t e r o f the U o y a l Society,
who h a d k n o w n N e w t o n w e l l ; i n d e e d , N e w t o n s t o o d as a g o d p a r e n t
to o n e o f D e s a g u l i e r s ' s c h i l d r e n . " D e s a g u l i e r s c o m b i n e d a clerical
N E W T O N I A N I S M A N D DEISM
career, w h i c h he r a t h e r n e g l e c t e d , w i t h a n a v i d d e d i c a t i o n to N e w -
t o n i a n science a n d F r e e m a s o n r y . H e l e c t u r e d w i d e l y i n E n g l a n d a n d
T h e c h a r g e m o s t c o m m o n l y l e v e l e d against t h i s N e w t o n i a n C h r i s -
the N e t h e r l a n d s o n the practical a p p l i c a t i o n of N e w t o n i a n m e c h a n i c s
t i a n i t y o f the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y w a s , a n d is, t h a t i t q u i c k l y d e g e n -
to i n d u s t r y a n d a g r i c u l t u r e . H e also encoviraged the formati(.)n of
e r a t e d i n t o d e i s m . Yet all the e v i d e n c e w e possess a b o u t N e w t o n ' s
M a s o n i c l o d g e s i n t h e p r o v i n c e s a n d a b r o a d , w h i l e his o w n L o n d o n
o w n religiosity c o n f i r m s his theistic a n d p r o v i d e n t i a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g
l o d g e at the H o r n T a v e r n w a s a m o n g the m o s t p r e s t i g i o u s i n the
o f G o d a n d his b i b l i c a l sense of h i s t o r y . I n his m i l l e n n i a l p a r a d i s e ,
c o u n t r y a n d t h e o n e to w h i c h t h e F r e n c h p h i l o s o p h e r , C h a r l e s L o u i s
" t h e n e w Jerusalem that [mystical] spiritual b u i l d i n g i n Sion w h e r e
de Secondat M o n t e s q u i e u , p r o u d l y belonged.
o f t h e C h i e f c o r n e r s t o n e is [ C h r i s t ) , " t h e r e t u r n e d S a v i o r w i l l " r u l e
I n t h e h a n d s of D e s a g u l i e r s a n d his N e w t o n i a n associates i n the
w i t h a r o d o f i r o n . " " I n d e e d , N e w t o n d i s c u s s e d e v e n t s i n his o w n
n e w f r a t e r n i t y , i n p a r t i c u l a r B r o o k T a y l o r (1685-1731) a n d M a r t i n
t i m e — f o r e x a m p l e , t h e w a r a g a i n s t France d u r i n g t h e r e i g n o f A n n e —
Folkes (1690-1754), t h e L o n d o n M a s o n i c l o d g e s became places w h e r e
as p o s s i b l e signs l e a d i n g to t h e i n s t i t u t i o n of t h a t e x p e c t e d g o d l y
literate a n d c o s m o p o l i t a n m e n c o u l d seek a g r o u n d i n g i n the new
p a r a d i s e . T h e r e was n o t h i n g remote about N e w t o n ' s G o d , a n d
science a n d m a t h e m a t i c s m a d e s i m p l e a n d p a r t i c i p a t e v i c a r i o u s l y i n
s u r e l y if t h e t e r m deism h a d a n y m e a n i n g i n the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y ,
t h e " R o y a l A r t " o f a r c h i t e c t u r e , w i t h its s u p p o s e d l y ancient w i s d o m
it lay i n a d e f i n i t i o n of G o d t h a t a l l o w e d H i m to exist b u t n o t t o
still i n t a c t , w h i l e w o r s h i p i n g the n e w s c i e n c e - i n s p i r e d G o d , the
p a r t i c i p a t e , a n d t h a t r e l e g a t e d C h r i s t i a n i t y to a series o f e t h i c a l m a x -
" G r a n d A r c h i t e c t , " as he w a s c a l l e d . T h e o f f i c i a l M a s o n i c Constitutions
i m s t a k e n less, r a t h e r t h a n m o r e , s e r i o u s l y .
o f 1723 p r e s c r i b e d t h a t " i n a n c i e n t T i m e s M a s o n s w e r e c h a r g ' d i n
Yet after w e h a v e p o i n t e d to N e w t o n ' s i n t e n s e l y C h r i s t i a n t e m p e r
e v e r y C o u n t r y to be o f the R e l i g i o n o f t h a t C o u n t r y o r N a t i o n , w h a t -
o r t o t h e v a g a r i e s i n d e f i n i n g d e i s m d u r i n g the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y ,
ever i t w a s , yet ' t i s n o w t h o u g h t m o r e e x p e d i e n t o n l y to t)blige' t h e m
the c h a r g e t h a t s o m e t h i n g less t h a n C h r i s t i a n e m e r g e d i n c h u r c h -
to t h a t R e l i g i o n i n w h i c h a l l m e n agree, l e a v i n g t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r o p i n
sponsored, science-based E n g l i s h P r o t e s t a n t i s m still w i l l not
i o n s to t h e m s e l v e s . " " * I n t o t h a t f r a t e r n a l a n d secretive r e l i u i o s i t v a
Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 249
248 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview

p o l e m i c s , i t is a g a i n s t the m a t e r i a l i s t s : those w h o assert t h a t g r a v i t y


v a r i e t y o f creeds c o u l d c o m f o r t a b l y f i t ; i n d e e d , e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y
is essential to m a t t e r ; t h o s e w h o w o u l d assert the e t e r n i t y of the w o r l d ;
F r e e m a s o n r y , i n b o t h E n g l a n d a n d the C o n t i n e n t , h o u s e d N e w t o -
those w h o d e n y the s u p r e m a c y o f G o d i n e v e r y aspect of creation.^'
n i a n s , p a n t h e i s t s , m a t e r i a l i s t s , a n d deists, w i t h t h e specific i d e n t i t y
I n the second quarter of the eighteenth century, d u r i n g Walpole's
o f t h e object o f w o r s h i p r e v e r e d at l o d g e m e e h n g s u n d e r the n a m e
era, a f a s h i o n a b l e N e w t o n i a n a n d p r o v i d e n t i a l i s t " d e i s m " can be
of " G r a n d A r c h i t e c t " k n o w n o n l y to the i n d i v i d u a l w o r s h i p e r . I n
f o u n d a m o n g t h e e d u c a t e d elite, w h o g r e w less i n t e r e s t e d i n the
effect, t h e e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y F r e e m a s o n c o u l d w o r s h i p N e w t o n ' s
doctrinal r i g i d i t y of the early N e w t o n i a n s . Their natural religion was
G o d o r N a t u r e , a n d the d i f f e r e n c e d e p e n d e d n o t u p o n c o m m u n a l
t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o a n e t h i c a l s y s t e m ( s e l d o m d w e l t u p o n at a n y l e n g t h )
e x p e r i e n c e , w h i c h c o n s i s t e d l a r g e l y o f b a n q u e t s a n d processions, n o r
b u t t r e s s e d b y N e w t o n i a n e x p l a n a t i o n s o f the u n i v e r s e . A n d m o s t
u p o n r i t u a l s a n d c e r e m o n i e s , w h i c h w e r e l a r g e l y secular i n o r i g i n ,
i m p o r t a n t , t h e r e is n o e v i d e n c e to i n d i c a t e t h a t Bentley, C l a r k e , or i n
n o r u p o n d o c t r i n e , b u t solely u p o n the p r i v a t e m e a n i n g a t t a c h e d to
t h e 1720s N e w t o n h i m s e l f d i s a p p r o v e d o f t h i s f a s h i o n a b l e e x t r a p o
language.
l a t i o n . N o r s h o u l d t h e y h a v e . T h i s n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n , so b r o a d as to
As a cultural i n s t i t u t i o n Freemasonry betrays the linkage b e t w e e n
a c c o m m o d a t e Protestants a n d e v e n " d e i s t s " o f w h a t e v e r d o c t r i n a l
N e w t o n i a n i s m , w h e n embraced by the educated laity, a n d deism. But
p e r s u a s i o n , at e v e r y t u r n asserted G o d ' s b e n e v o l e n t , i f s o m e w h a t
t h e r e w e r e also p u r e l y i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s o f N e w t o n ' s s y s t e m
i m p e r s o n a l , r e l a t i o n s h i p to h i s c r e a t i o n . I t w a s a tested b u l w a r k
m a d e b y t h a t s e c o n d g e n e r a t i o n o f N e w t o n i a n scientists w h i c h f u r t h e r
against m a t e r i a l i s m i n p h i l o s o p h y as w e l l as against the p o l i t i c a l r a d -
s u g g e s t t h a t c o n n e c t i o n . I n p a r t i c u l a r , the w r i t i n g s of H e n r y P e m -
i c a l i s m associated w i t h t h e E n g l i s h R e v o l u t i o n . By 1730 m o s t observ-
b e r t o n (1694-1771) are r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f t h i s " d e - C h r i s t i a n i z e d " N e w -
ers d e c l a r e d t h a t c h u r c h a n d m o n a r c h y rested m o r e securely t h a n
t o n i a n i s m . P e m b e r t o n w a s e d u c a t e d i n L e i d e n u n d e r the great
t h e y h a d i n p r e v i o u s decades a n d t h a t t h e seeds o f d e s t r u c t i o n lay
p h y s i c i a n a n d c h e m i s t L l e r m a n Boerhaave, f r o m w h o m he p r o b a b l y
i n i n t e r n a l c o r r u p t i o n r a t h e r t h a n i n t h e schemes o f the radicals.
l e a r n e d h i s N e w t o n i a n i s m . P e m b e r t o n ' s w i l l i n g n e s s to d e f e n d t h a t
s y s t e m against t h e C o n t i n e n t a l f o l l o w e r s o f L e i b n i z b r o u g h t h i m to G i v e n the i n c r e a s i n g l y o b v i o u s d e e m p h a s i z i n g of r e l i g i o u s doc-
N e w t o n ' s a t t e n t i o n , a n d b y 1725 he w a s s u p e r v i s i n g the p r o d u c t i o n t r i n e s i n f a v o r o f a science-based n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n c h a m p i o n e d b y t h e
o f t h e t h i r d e d i t i o n of t h e Principia (1726). A l t h o u g h v a r i o u s L o n d o n N e w t o n i a n s , i t is u n d e r s t a n d a b l e t h a t E u r o p e a n i n t e l l e c t u a l s h o s t i l e
F r e e m a s o n s w h o w e r e p u b l i s h e r s a n d p r i n t e r s w e r e i n v o l v e d i n its to o r g a n i z e d r e l i g i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y as f o u n d i n C a t h o l i c c o u n t r i e s ,
a c t u a l p r o d u c t i o n , a n d i n d e e d i n t h e g e n e r a l d i s s e m i n a t i o n of N e w - r u s h e d to e m b r a c e t h e N e w t o n i a n s y n t h e s i s . T h a t w a s precisely the
t o n i a n science, P e m b e r t o n , u n l i k e D e s a g u l i e r s , Folkes, a n d T a y l o r , r e s p o n s e o f the y o u n g V o l t a i r e , w h o after a r r i v i n g i n E n g l a n d i n 1726
d o e s n o t a p p e a r to h a v e b e e n a M a s o n . " became a n a r d e n t N e w t o n i a n . I n d e e d , he k n e w Clarke's Boyle lec-
t u r e s i n t i m a t e l y , a n d w i t h h i s N e w t o n i a n f a i t h i n place V o l t a i r e
T h e w r i t i n g s o f P e m b e r t o n a n d h i s N e w t o n i a n colleagues r e p e a t e d
l a u n c h e d v i o l e n t p o l e m i c s against clerics, r e l i g i o u s p e r s e c u t i o n , a n d
t h e m e s m a d e f a m o u s b y t h e great Boyle l e c t u r e r s . Yet t h i s n e x t g e n -
m o s t f o r m s o f o r g a n i z e d w o r s h i p . H i s c o n t e m p o r a r y a n d the l e a d i n g
e r a t i o n o f N e w t o n i a n s t o n e d d o w n the p o l e m i c s a i m e d at f r e e t h i n k e r s
D u t c h N e w t o n i a n o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , W i l l e m Jacob s'Graves-
a n d m a t e r i a l i s t s , w h i c h h a d b e e n so characteristic of the earlier p e r i o d .
a n d e , t a u g h t N e w t o n i a n p h y s i c s at L e i d e n f o r decades, b e l i e v e d
T h e a c c o m p l i s h m e n t of the H a n o v e r i a n Succession i n 1714 h a d e n -
d e e p l y i n d i v i n e p r o v i d e n c e , a n d seems to h a v e h a d n o scruples a b o u t
g e n d e r e d a m o d i c u m of p o l i t i c a l c o m p l a c e n c y . D e d i c a t i n g his e x p o -
associating w i t h p a n t h e i s t s , m a t e r i a l i s t s , a n d F r e e m a s o n s — p e r h a p s
s i t i o n of N e w t o n ' s p h i l o s o p h y t o R o b e r t W a l p o l e , t h e f i r s t p r i m e
e v e n j o i n i n g the l a s t - n a m e d o r g a n i z a t i o n . T h e a s s i m i l a t i o n of N e w -
m i n i s t e r , w h o s e g o v e r n m e n t e m b o d i e d reason as i t d i d his " m a s c u l i n e
t o n i a n science i n t o W e s t e r n t h o u g h t p r o d u c e d the first g e n e r a t i o n o f
p e r s p i c u i t y a n d s t r e n g t h of a r g u m e n t , " P e m b e r t o n c l a i m e d t h a t N e w -
E u r o p e a n t h i n k e r s f o r w h o m f a i t h i n the o r d e r o f the u n i v e r s e p r o v e d
t o n h a d r e a d a n d a p p r o v e d t h e greater- p a r t of t h i s treatise.^"
m o r e s a t i s f y i n g t h a n f a i t h i n d o c t r i n e s , creeds, a n d clerical a u t h o r i t y .
P e m b e r t o n ' s A View of Sir Isaac Neioton's Philosophy (1728) is a m u c h
m o r e s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d a n d succinct a c c o u n t of N e w t o n ' s p h i l o s o p h y
o f n a t u r e , h i s d e f i n i t i o n s o f m a t t e r , space, t i m e , t h e v a c u u m , a n d the
CHRISTIAN OPPOSITION TO N E W T O N I A N I S MIN E N G L A N D
l a w o f u n i v e r s a l g r a v i t a t i o n , t h a n t h a t f o u n d i n the Boyle lectures.
C h r i s t i a n a p o l o g e t i c s has b e e n d e e m p h a s i z e d i n f a v o r of a g e n e r a l ,
b u t c o n s t a n t , e m p h a s i s o n the p o w e r o f the d e i t y , o n a s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d By the m i d d l e o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y m a n y E n g l i s h Protestants
h a d b e c o m e c o n v i n c e d t h a t the g r o w t h of d e i s m a n d m a t e r i a l i s m , the
e x p l a n a t i o n o f N e w t o n i a n p h y s i c s . W h e n e v e r P e m b e r t o n enters i n t o
250 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 251

degeneration of public a n d private morality, a n d political c o r r u p t i o n G e o r g e C h e y n e (1671-1743), o n e such critic a n d one of the finest
s h o u l d be l a i d at t h e d o o r of l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m a n d its science- d o c t o r s of h i s age, became a n early c o n v e r t to the N e w t o n i a n n a t u r a l
s u p p o r t e d n a t u r a l t h e o l o g y . I n t h i s age o f W h i g a s c e n d a n c y t h e o p - p h i l o s o p h y a n d w r o t e a l o n g treatise (The Philosophical Principles of
p o n e n t s o f N e w t o n i a n C h r i s t i a n i t y p r e d i c t a b l y c a m e f r o m the p o l i t i c a l Religion, 1705, 1715) i n s u p p o r t o f n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n based u p o n N e w -
o p p o s i t i o n , the T o r y o r " c o u n t r y " w i n g o f the A n g l i c a n c h u r c h . By t o n i a n p r i n c i p l e s . I n d e e d , C h e y n e w a s so c o n v i n c e d of the a r g u m e n t
the 1740s t h i s T o r y d i s a f f e c t i o n l e d to t h e q u e s t i o n i n g o f t h e m o s t f r o m d e s i g n t h a t he b e l i e v e d d i v i n e p r o v i d e n c e to have d e s i g n e d the
basic tenets o f l i b e r a l A n g l i c a n i s m . T o r y t h i n k e r s became i n c r e a s i n g l y w a t e r s at Bath as the m e a n s b y w h i c h the E n g l i s h m i g h t cope w i t h
convinced that the N e w t o n i a n s , possibly even N e w t o n h i m s e l f — a l - t h e i r w e a t h e r a n d diet.^'' A p p a r e n t l y C h e y n e k n e w w h e r e o f he s p o k e ;
t h o u g h f e w , if a n y , o f h i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s o u t s i d e his circle k n e w w h a t he h a d b e e n a " F r e e - l i v e r " a n d s u f f e r e d f r o m e x t r e m e obesity for m a n y
w e n o w k n o w about his ideological involvements a n d his religious years. H e t h e n b e c a m e a p i o n e e r f o r clean l i v i n g a n d careful d i e t a n d
b e l i e f s — h a d , b y t h e i r a v o w a l of t h e n e w m e c h a n i c a l p h i l o s o p h y as an e x p e r t o n g o u t .
t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n , e f f e c t i v e l y u n d e r m i n e d all r e l i g i o n .
By t h e 1730s C h e y n e h a d b e c o m e c o n v i n c e d t h a t the b o d y p o l i t i c
I r o n i c a l l y , i n t h e l i g h t of w h a t w e k n o w a b o u t the i d e o l o g i c a l uses o f
w a s s e v e r e l y a i l i n g , a n d he traced its disease to " s p u r i o u s F r e e t h i n k -
s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y science, t h e y b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e N e w t o n i a n s h a d
ers, active L a t i t u d i n a r i a n s , a n d A p o s t o l i c I n f i d e l s . " " A s C h e y n e g r e w
o p e n e d the d o o r to t h e radicals, t o the atheists, deists, a n d S p i n o z i s t s .
i n c r e a s i n g l y disaffected f r o m t h e r u l i n g W h i g o l i g a r c h y , he s p o k e
This a n t i - N e w t o n i a n thrust w i t h i n Tory A n g l i c a n t h o u g h t received
m o r e a n d m o r e bitterly about liberal divines a n d freethinkers and
its m o s t e l a b o r a t e e x p l i c a t i o n i n the v o l u m i n o u s w r i t i n g s of J o h n
t u r n e d t o w a r d M e t h o d i s m . ^ * ' A t precisely the p e r i o d of his p o l i t i c a l
H u t c h i n s o n (1674-1737) a n d his m a n y f o l l o w e r s . " A l t h o u g h p r i m a r i l y
d i s a f f e c t i o n C h e y n e also g r e w s k e p t i c a l o f the n e w science w i t h its
g i v e n to n a t u r a l - p h i l o s o p h i c a l e x p l a n a t i o n s o f the u n i v e r s e , t h i s a n t i -
e m p h a s i s u p o n i n d u c t i o n a n d c a l c u l a t i o n . I n his search f o r p h y s i c a l
N e w t o n i a n m o v e m e n t also d i s p l a y e d s t r o n g l y m y s t i c a l a n d s p i r i -
well-being i n m a n a n d g o v e r n m e n t , Cheyne abandoned the N e w -
t u a l i z i n g t e n d e n c i e s . It s o u g h t to k e e p aspects of N e w t o n i a n science,
tonian synthesis a n d opted for an increasingly spiritualized under
w h i l e f i n d i n g i n n a t u r e p r o o f f o r d o c t r i n e s as d i v e r s e as the Fall of
standing of nature and for a contemplative, almost mystical and
M a n a n d the T r i n i t y .
m i l l e n a r i a n , v e r s i o n of C h r i s t i a n i t y . " I n t h e face o f the c o r r u p t i o n he
T h r o u g h o u t the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y the a n t i - N e w t o n i a n i s m o f t h e u n i v e r s a l l y p e r c e i v e d , C h e y n e , the y o u n g N e w t o n i a n , became the
d e v o u t m a y h a v e b e e n m u c h m o r e w i d e s p r e a d t h a n has as y e t b e e n d i s a f f e c t e d a n d a n t i e s t a b l i s h m e n t M e t h o d i s t . For t h e first t i m e i n Prot-
i m a g i n e d . M e t h o d i s t p r e a c h e r s c o u l d be f o u n d w h o " b i t t e r l y i n - estant E u r o p e the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y w i t n e s s e d a w i d e s p r e a d d i s -
v e i g h e d against N e w t o n as a n i g n o r a n t p r e t e n d e r w h o h a d p r e s u m e d a f f e c t i o n f r o m t h e n e w science, characterized b y a g r o w i n g sense that
to set u p h i s o w n ridiculous c h i m e r a s i n o p p o s i t i o n to the sacred science h a d b e t r a y e d the v e r y r e l i g i o u s s e n s i b i l i t y t h a t h a d d o n e so
p h i l o s o p h y of the Pentateuch."^^ If a n y t h r e a d u n i t e d s u c h d i s p a r a t e m u c h d u r i n g t h e p r e v i o u s c e n t u r y to foster i t .
r e l i g i o u s p o s i t i o n s as t h o s e o f t h e H u t c h i n s o n i a n s a n d t h e " e n t h u -
T h e r u l e o f t h e l i b e r a l d i v i n e s i n the g o v e r n m e n t of t h e c h u r c l i
siastic" M e t h o d i s t s , it w a s i n fact t h e i r o p p o s i t i o n to e s t a b l i s h m e n t
f u r t h e r i n f l a m e d t h e clerical (as w e l l as l a y ) o p p o s i t i o n to W h i g he-
c u l t u r e a n d its l i b e r a l a n d N e w t o n i a n s p o k e s m e n . T o r y o r " c o u n t r y "
g e m o n y i n c h u r c h a n d state a n d l o w - c h u r c h A n g l i c a n i s m . G i v e n the
o p p o s i t i o n , i n p a r t i c u l a r its C h r i s t i a n a n d G o d - f e a r i n g e l e m e n t of
p o w e r o f t h e l a t i t u d i n a r i a n s , f e w i f a n y of t h e o p p o s i t i o n clergy ever
w h a t e v e r sectarian p e r s u a s i o n , saw the m a t e r i a l i s t s as t h e q u i n t e s -
e m e r g e d o u t o f t h e p o l i t i c a l a n d ecclesiastical w i l d e r n e s s to b e c o m e
sential s y m b o l o f a c o r r u p t age a n d as the w a y w a r d , b u t i n e v i t a b l e ,
effective s p o k e s m e n a g a i n s t t h e p r e v a i l i n g o r d e r . By the 1720s a n d
o f f s p r i n g o f t h e i r science-deceived elders. E v e n w i t h i n C a m b r i d g e
1730s W a l p o l e w a s said to h a v e f o u n d his p o p e i n the W h i g g i s h
itself a r e a c t i o n set i n against t h e alliance o f science a n d r e l i g i o n , a n d
E d m u n d G i b s o n , b i s h o p o f L o n d o n , w h i l e the l i b e r a l N e w t o n i a n Ben-
t h r o u g h o u t the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y the college c o m m o n r o o m s a n d
j a m i n H o a d l y , w h o h a d l e a r n e d h i s science f r o m S a m u e l C l a r k e , i n
lecture halls w i t n e s s e d i s o l a t e d attacks o n a f o r m of r e l i g i o n n o w
cited t h e T o r y o p p o s i t i o n b y a r g u i n g f o r the s u b o r d i n a t i o n of c h u r c l i
t o t a l l y d e p e n d e n t u p o n p r i n c i p l e s of a t t r a c t i o n a n d i n e r t i a a n d d e f i -
to state. H o a d l y w a s r e w a r d e d w i t h a b i s h o p r i c for his e f f o r t s i n
n i t i o n s of m a t t e r a n d m o t i o n .
s u p p o r t of t h e W h i g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of ecclesiastical g o v e r n m e n t . I n
A f e w e x a m p l e s s h o u l d suffice to i l l u s t r a t e t h e r e l i g i o u s sensibilities contrast, a l i e n a t e d T o r y a n d a n t i - N e w t o n i a n c h u r c h m e n , such as the
o f these a n t i - N e w t o n i a n critics a n d the d e p t h of t h e i r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n . H u t c h i n s o n i a n G e o r g e H o m e (1730-1792), g e n e r a l l y k e p t then- o p m -
252 Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview 253

i o n s t o t h e m s e l v e s . O n l y i n 1790 d i d H o m e f i n a l l y o b t a i n h i g h eccle- c o r r u p t a n d godless society m e r e l y c o n f i r m e d o p p o s i t i o n attempts to


siastical office as b i s h o p o f N o r w i c h ; i n t h e i n t e r i m he c o n f i n e d h i s f i n d a l t e r n a t i v e f o r m s o f science a n d C h r i s t i a n w o r s h i p .
o p i n i o n s o n c u r r e n t e v e n t s a n d t h e state o f t h e c h u r c h t o h i s p r i v a t e G e n e r a l l y these a t t e m p t s to f i n d a n a l t e r n a t i v e to N e w t o n i a n sci-
diary. ence a n d n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n l e d to t h e exercises i n b a r o q u e m e t a p h y s i c s
H o m e ' s d i a r y is t h e r e f o r e a v a l u a b l e g u i d e to the T o r y a n d a n t i - t h a t w e associate w i t h H u t c h i n s o n a n d his w r i t i n g s o n science a n d
N e w t o n i a n c o n s c i e n c e , a n d i t reveals t h a t he b e l i e v e d t h a t " A r i a n i s m the T r i n i t y , o r to the p h i l o s o p h i c a l i d e a l i s m o f B i s h o p Berkeley, w h i c l i
a n d D e i s m . . . h a v e d a r k e n e d t h e s u n . " I n a m o m e n t of s e l f - p i t y he w a s to p l a y a n i m p o r t a n t r o l e i n t h e G e r m a n E n l i g h t e n m e n t . These
b i t t e r l y r e c o r d e d : " T h e s e [are] p o o r g e n t l e m e n t h e H u t c h i n s o n i a n s critics n e v e r s u c c e e d e d , h o w e v e r , i n b r e a k i n g t h e l i n k a g e b e t w e e n
because t h e y ' l l n e v e r get a n y p r e f e r m e n t . T h e b i s h o p s . . . all e n t e r e d N e w t o n i a n science a n d the l i b e r a l C h r i s t i a n i t y o f the c h u r c h ' s lead
i n t o a l e a g u e n e v e r to p r o m o t e t h e m . . . [ y e t ] w e are n o t o f t h e e r s h i p . A s a r e s u l t , late i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y W i l l i a m Blake, w h o
n u m b e r s o f t h e m w h o p r e a c h C h r i s t i a n i t y f o r g a i n o r take o r d e r s w a s s e n s i t i v e to t h a t l i n k a g e , came t o see N e w t o n as a s y m b o l of
because w e are l i k e l y to get m o r e b y t h a t t h a n b y a n y t h i n g else."^* o p p r e s s i o n , as a p a r t y to c o m m e r c i a l a n d i n d u s t r i a l society a n d to the
H o m e was convinced that the W h i g s a n d liberal c h u r c h m e n had e n d o r s e m e n t o f e c o n o m i c e x p l o i t a t i o n i n h e r e n t i n t h e social i d e o l o g y
i n v e n t e d pernicious political a n d religious p r i n c i p l e s — " r e l i g i o n of of liberal Anglicanism.^^
n a t u r e [is| a c h i m e r a " — w h i l e W h i g p r i n c i p l e s a l m o s t m v a r i a b l y lead O n l y i n t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y d i d D a r w i n i a n i s m d e l i v e r a severe
to republicanism.^' H o m e was convinced that mathematics could b l o w , n o t t o C h r i s t i a n i t y as s u c h , b u t to s c i e n c e - s u p p o r t e d a n d l i b e r a l
never p r o v i d e ultimate certainty about the nature of r e a l i t y — " n o t h i n g A n g l i c a n i s m . N o t o n l y d i d D a r w i n e x p o s e t h e scientific f a i l i n g s i n t h e
b u t r e v e l a t i o n can e v e r set us r i g h t , o r g i v e us c e r t a i n t y . " A n d t o m a k e a r g u m e n t f r o m d e s i g n ; s o m e of h i s i m p o r t a n t f o l l o w e r s also called i n
the d a n g e r to r e l i g i o n e v e n m o r e e x t r e m e . H o m e b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e q u e s t i o n t h a t m o d e l o f social o r d e r a n d b e n i g n h a r m o n y , b o r n i n
radicals w e r e e v e r y w h e r e ; he o b s e r v e d "a p r e s b y t e r i a n w h o said t h a t r e a c t i o n to r e v o l u t i o n , w h i c h h a d for so l o n g d e n i e d the realities of
m a n w a s n o t b o r n f o r s e r v i n g k i n g s — s o c h o p p i n g his n e c k w i t h h i s c o m m e r c i a l society. Yet f o r n e a r l y a c e n t u r y , b e g i n n i n g i n the 1690s,
hands."^^ H o m e k n e w " r a n t e r s " i n h i s o w n t i m e (a r a d i c a l sect of t h e N e w t o n ' s science h a d p r o v i d e d the i n t e l l e c t u a l f o u n d a t i o n for a
1650s) w h o , t r u e t o t h e i r n a t u r a l i s t i c d o c t r i n e s , m a k e e v e r y t h i n g g o d , u n i q u e v e r s i o n o f E u r o p e a n P r o t e s t a n t i s m , o n e p a r t i c u l a r l y s u i t e d to
w h i c h " i s the d r e g s o f the o l d c o r r u p t h e a t h e n p h i l o s o p h y . " " " If the m a i n t e n a n c e o f p o l i t i c a l s t a b i l i t y a n d a n u n p r e c e d e n t e d d e g r e e
H o m e ' s o b s e r v a t i o n s w e r e t r u e to a larger r e a l i t y , p e r h a p s w e can of r e l i g i o u s t o l e r a t i o n , all w i t h i n the context of a r a p i d l y e x p a n d i n g
b e t t e r u n d e r s t a n d w h y the g u a r d i a n s o f the W h i g c o n s t i t u t i o n e n - c o m m e r c i a l society.
f o r c e d s o m e of the m o s t r e p r e s s i v e l e g i s l a t i o n against d i s r u p t i v e ele-
m e n t s e v e r t o be d e v i s e d i n t h e h i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h c r i m i n a l l a w .
D e s p i t e t h i s c a t a l o g u e of w o e s i n d u c e d b y t h e specter o f p o p u l a r NOTES
r a d i c a l i s m a n d i r r e l i g i o n . H o m e reserved e n o u g h a n i m o s i t y to list
tersely t h e m a n y f a i l i n g s o f J o h n T i l l o t s o n , a r c h b i s h o p o f C a n t e r b u r y 1. For a discussion of this political process see J. H . Plumb, Thd Origins
(1691-1695) after the R e v o l u t i o n , w h o m o r e t h a n a n y o t h e r a r c h b i s h o p of Political Stability, England, 1675-1725 (Boston; Houghton M i f f l i n , 1967),
in his century had shifted the church's t h i n k i n g t o w a r d religious tol- pp. 159-189.
e r a t i o n , c o n s t i t u t i o n a l m o n a r c h y , a n d the n e w science. W e l l after 1750 2. Margaret C. Jacob, The Neivtonians and the English Revolution lo89-17Hi
H o m e c o n d e m n s T i l l o t s o n as if he w e r e a l i v e a n d w e l l a n d charges (Ithaca, N.Y.; Cornell Univ. Press, 1976), p. 45. For preachings against pre-
t h a t he " d e n i e s the d i v i n i t y of C h r i s t . . . d e n i e s the e t e r n i t y of h e l l destination i n Cambridge d u r i n g the 1650s see Trinity College, Cambridge,
t o r m e n t s . . . speaks o f the O l d T e s t a m e n t as n o t g o o d n o r r e l a t i n g MS R. 10.29, notes made by Isaac Barrow on sermons by Benjamin VVhichcote,
t o C h r i s t . . . m a k e s C h r i s t i a n i t y g o o d f o r n o t h i n g b u t to k e e p societies Ralph C u d w o r t h , John A r r o w s m i t h , and others.
i n o r d e r t h e better t h a t there s h o u l d be n o C h r i s t t h a n t h a t it s h o u l d 3. Richard S. Westfall, "Isaac N e w t o n in Cambridge; The Restoration Uni-
versity and Scientific Creativity," in Culture and Politics: From Puritanism to the
d i s t u r b societies. "^^ H o m e h a d d i s c e r n e d , as h a d m a n y o f h i s a l i e n a t e d
Enlightenment, ed. Perez Zagorin (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London; Univ. of
l a y a n d clerical c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , the social ( b u t n o t necessarily t h e
California Press, 1980), p p . 135-164. For a different perspective see James
s p i r i t u a l ) message that lay at t h e heart of N e w t o n i a n n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n .
Jacob and Margaret Jacob, "The Anglican Origins of Modern Science; The
T h a t its s p o k e s m e n w e r e p e r c e i v e d as p u t t i n g t h e i r b l e s s i n g s o n a Metaphysical Foundations of the W h i g Constitution," Isis 71 (1980); 251-267.
254 Christianity and the Neiotonian Worldview
Christianity and the Newtonian Worldvieiu
255
4. Christopher H i l l , The World Turned Upside Down (New York: V i k i n g Press,
1972), p p . 112, 114, 176, 318-319. 21. I b i d . , p p . 22, 180-181, 406-407.
5. Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Nezvton, ed. A . Rupert Hall and Marie 22. A. J. K u h n , "Hutchinson vs. N e w t o n , " Journal of the Histon/ of Ideas 22
Boas Hail (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1962), p p . 141-142, (1961): 303-322.
6. Jacob, Newtonians, p p . 169-171. 23. Barnard Semmel, The Methodist Revolution (New York: Basic Bi)L.ks,
1973), p. 20.
7. John Craig to John Conduitt; 7 Apr. 1727, Cambridge University Library,
MS A d d . 4007, f o l . 686. Cf. John Gascoigne, " T h e H o l y Alliance': The Rise 24. See George Cheyne, An Essay on the Gout, with an Account ol the t'latuic
and Diffusion of Newtonian Natural Philosophy and Latitudinarian Theology and Qualities of the Bath Waters (London, 1720).
w i t h i n Cambridge from the Restoration to the Accession of George I I " 25. George Cheyne, Dr. Chcyne's Account of Himself and His Writings: Faith
(D. Phil, diss.. University of Cambridge, 1981), p . 115 (citing Bodleian Library, fully Extracted from His Various Works (London, 1743), p . 21.
MS Rawlinson C.146, f o l . 37). This is a very useful thesis, w h i c h documents 26. An Essay on Regimen . . . Serving to Illustrate the Principles and Theory oj
Newton's relations w i t h other fellows i n his university and modifies the Philosophical Medicin, and Point Out Some of Its Moral Consetpiencet, (London
account found in Richard S. Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton 1740), p p . x i v - x v ; The Letters of Dr. George Cheyne to the Countess of Huntingdon,
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980), chap. 3. ed. Charles F. Mullett (San Marino, Calif.: H u n t i n g t o n Library, 1940), passim
8. The Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton, ed. H . W. Turnbull, 7 vols. (Cam- 27. Essay on Regimen, p p . viii, 206-208, 227-236.
bridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959-1977), 3:191. Cf. James E. Force, William 28. "Commonplace Book I of George H o m e , Bishop of N o r w i c h . " O w n e d
Whiston: Honest Newtonian (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985). by Sir Robert Arundel, but n o w i n the possessiim of the University I ibrary,
9. Jacob, Newtonians, p. 156. Cambridge, MS A d d . 8134/B/l, f o l . 2 (made available by the kindness ot
10. 1. B. Cohen, "Isaac Newton's Principia, the Scriptures and Divine Prov- Christopher Wilde). Probably written i n the 1760s. For further evidence ot
idence," in Philosophy, Science and Method: Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel, ed. tension between Hutchinsonians and Newtonians see Walter Wilson, Histon/
S. Morgenbesser, P. Suppes, and M . White ( N e w York: St. Martin's Press, and Antitjuities of Dissenting Churches and Meeting Houses in London . . . ,2 vols.
1969), p p . 523-548. (London, 1808), 2:90. Cf. C. Wilde, "1 lutchinsonianism, Natural Philosophy
11. A Discourse Concermng the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Reli- and Religious Controversy i n Eighteenth Century Britain," History of Scieiur
18 (1980): 1-24.
gions and the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Religion (London, 1706),
pp. 152-153. 29. "Commonplace Book," fols. 29, 42-43.
12. The Works of Richard Bentley, ed. A . Dyce, 3 vols. (London, 1838), 3:24. 30. I b i d . , f o l . 70.
For Whiston see Force, William Whiston. 31. I b i d . , fol. 100.
13. A Discourse . . . , in A Collection of Theological Tracts, ed. Richard Watson, 32. I b i d . , f o l . 111.
4 vols. (London, 1785), 4:246; a more accessible edition. 33. David V. Erdman, Blake: Prophet against Empire (New York: Doubloday,
14. Frank E. Manuel, The Religion of Isaac Newton: The Fremantle Lectures, 1969), p p . 224, 367, 484.
1973 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), p p . 132-133. Appendix taken from
Newton's manuscripts.
15. Margaret Jacob, " N e w t o n and the French Prophets: N e w Evidence,"
History of Science 16 (1978): 134-142.
16. Larry Stewart, "Samuel Clarke, Newtonianism, and the Factions of
Post-Revolutionary England," journal of the History of Ideas 42 (1980): 53-72.
17. For Desaguliers and Freemasonry i n general see Margaret Jacob, The
Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans (London and Bos-
ton: George Allen & U n w i n , 1981), p p . 122-126.
18. Ibid., p. 280, i n appendix; a reprinting of a portion of the 1723 edition
of James Anderson, The Constitutions of the Freemasons (London).
19. J. R. Clarke, "The Royal Society and Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry,"
Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 80 (1967): 110-119. Of the t w o hundred k n o w n Ma-
sons based in London i n the 1720s, one out of four was a Fellow of the Royal
Society.
20. Henry Pemberton, A Vieu> of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy (London,
1728), dedication. The subscription list is heavily Whiggish.