NEWTON, Isaac (1642-1727). Autograph manuscript, a draft for a theological tract on Christian doctrine focusing on the Book of Revelation, n.d. [1710s-1720s].
In English, one page, 160 x 187mm, 27 lines, autograph emendations and cancellations, the passage numbered '5'.
Provenance: Isaac Newton – Catherine Barton (1679–1739), his half-niece – her daughter, Catherine (b.1721), married John, 1st Viscount Lymington – Earls of Portsmouth, sold as part of the Portsmouth Papers (Sotheby's, 13/14 July 1936, lot 255) to Emmanuel Fabius, Parisian bookseller. The text of the present manuscript is near-identical to part of SL255.7 in the Portsmouth Papers, the archive of Newton's writings whose sale in 1936 finally revealed the depth of his interest in theology – as well as his own unorthodox beliefs – and alchemy. This section of Newton's tract on Christian doctrine immediately precedes that in lot 45.
Newton the theologian: an exploration of the Book of Revelation, the text opening after the Throne of God has appeared, with Newton's description of the worship offered to God Almighty, Jesus Christ, and 'God and the Lamb': 'The publick worship of Christians in their Churches is described in this prophesy by the worship of God & Christ in the Temple of heaven. The four Animals representing the people in the outward Court rest not morning & evening saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty w[hi]ch was & is to come. And when those Beasts Animals give glory & honour & thanks to him that sitteth upon the throne who liveth for ever & ever, the four & twenty elders fall down before him that sitteth on the throne & worship him that liveth for ever & ever & cast their crowns before the throne', which is the proper worship of God Almighty; then follows the proper worship of Jesus Christ; and then 'the joynt worship of God & the Lamb'
A number of the fragmentary religious tracts written by Newton that appeared in Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John – collected and published posthumously by his half-nephew, Benjamin Smith, in 1733 – dealt with the Book of Revelation: Biblical prophecy, and human capacity to understand it, was a subject to which Newton returned time and again.