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Bentley, Newton, and Providence: The Boyle Lectures Once More Author(s): Henry Guerlac and M. C.

Jacob Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1969), pp. 307-318 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2708559 . Accessed: 20/01/2013 11:14
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BENTLEY, NEWTON, AND PROVIDENCE


(THE BOYLE LECTURES ONCE MORE) BY HENRY GUERLAC AND M. C. JACOB

Richard Bentley, as readers of this Journal will remember, was the eminent English classicist (and later, the controversial Master of Trinity College, Cambridge) who, for some obscure reason, emerged in his youth as the first expositor of the religious significance of Newton's natural philosophy. Indeed in his Boyle Lectures of 1692, Bentley may be said to have invented the "Newtonian Philosophy," a litany of theological affirmations and metaphysical musing that Newton, for the most part, seems to have approved, and which people now read when they ought to read Newton. Perry Miller described Bentley's sermons as "the first popular attempt to lay open the 'sublime discoveries' of Newton,"' but this is only a half-truth. The sermons-like those of some of Bentley's successors in the lectureship-were both less than and more than that. To popularize Newton's scientific accomplishments Bentley was surely ill-equipped; he was no Voltaire, still less a Pemberton or a Desaguliers, and he did not attempt what they later undertook to do. What Bentley perceived was that, skillfully interpreted and elaborated, those central ideas of Newton's physical thought he was able to grasp could contribute admirably to justifying certain widely held, and politically significant, doctrines of the Low Church spokesmen of Williamite England. The moderate or Low Church faction of the Church of England, to which Bentley, as we shall see, was closely linked, rose to ecclesiastical dominance in the years after the Revolution of 1688.2 With the accession of William, the Church of England fell into disarray, its authority markedly diminished and imperilled. There was a clear danger -or so it seemed to John Evelyn-that England was to be ruled by "crafty ill-principled men,"3 for William appeared at first to favor the extreme Whigs in politics and in religion the dissenters. Alienated, of course, from the new monarch were the fervent Jacobites, but also the non-juring clergy who, rigidly adhering to the divine right of kings, remained faithful to their oath to James. Into this crisis moved Daniel Finch, second Earl of Nottingham,
'Perry Miller, "Bentley and Newton," Isaac Newton's Papers & Letters on Natural Philosophy, ed. I. BernardCohen (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), 273. 2G. V. Bennett, "King William and the Episcopate," Essays in Modern English Church History, ed. G. V. Bennett & J. D. Walsh (New York, 1966), 104-31. 3The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. De Beer (6 vols., Oxford, 1955), IV, 635. 307

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who in March 1689 was appointed Secretary of State by William. A dutiful but moderate Anglican, Nottingham had close relations with the liberal London divines, the chief of whom-John Tillotson, Edward Stillingfleet, Simon Patrick, and Thomas Tenison-owed their livings to the patronage of Daniel's father, the first Earl. To be sure, none of these men-unlike Gilbert Burnet, who shared their latitudinarian views-had actively promoted the cause of the Prince of Orange; indeed Stillingfleet, like William Lloyd, Bishop of St. Asaph, had at first counselled Nottingham to observe passive obedience to James II. Yet all these men came around to William, took the oath of loyalty, and were suitably rewarded. Burnet, who had been William's chaplain, was made Bishop of Salisbury. Tillotson was appointed William's Clerk of the Closet, and with Nottingham became the King's chief advisor on ecclesiastical matters.4 Their influence was soon felt: Stillingfleet was made Bishop of Worcester, Patrick was chosen for Chichester, and Tillotson himself became Dean of St. Paul's. Not long after, in 1691, the dominance of the moderates was assured when Tillotson was elevated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. To justify the Revolution and allegiance to a new King, to buttress the Church of England and assure once again the role of religion as the "Cement of Society,"5 the moderate clergy appealed in sermon after sermon to the mysterious workings of God's Providence.6 This, to be sure, was no innovation in political casuistry: churchmen had invoked it to explain the Armada's defeat, the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot, and the miracle of the Restoration. They could now point to the miraculous east wind that blew the Dutch fleet to England, while pinning the British navy in its harbors. But, as Gerald Straka has argued, "the Revolution raised the prestige of the idea far above anything it had enjoyed before."7 Providence was, of course, the great law of human affairs, of human history, as men as different as Bishop Bossuet and the first historians of New England were asserting. But to the moderate Anglicans it was also the great law of nature, the "preserving Providence" that established and conserved the laws of nature; behind the second causes operating in the physical world were the hand and will of God, guiding nature as well as the world of human affairs. Here was an answer to those "mechanical philosophers"-like Hobbes and the Neo-Epicureans-who would have the laws of nature result from the
4Bennett,loc. cit., 105. 5Sermons Preached at Boyle's Lecture by Richard Bentley, D. D. (London, 1838), 22. 6Gerald M. Straka, Anglican Reaction to the Revolution of 1688 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1962), 66. Straka's chapter "The Divine Right of Providence" was par7Ibid. ticularly useful in the preparation of this paper.

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chance concatenation of moving particles of matter.8 Nor was this answer novel, for it had been an important doctrine in the natural philosophy of the Cambridge Platonists, like Henry More and Ralph Cudworth.9 Besides the intensity of the appeal to Providence, there was also an insistence upon its related operation in both the world natural and the world political. Therefore to preserve and reform society, to make the religious motive once again central to all human endeavor, a new philosophy of providentialism was required, one that drew lessons not only from human history but also from the latest scientific discoveries. To articulate and expound this doctrine was to be, for many years, a familiar theme of the lectureship endowed by the Honorable Robert Boyle and launched in 1692, under the aegis of Newton, by young Richard Bentley.10 Robert Boyle, a man of consummate and active piety, had ranked for nearly a generation as by all odds the most admired scientific virtuoso of England. His last will and testament was drawn up in the summer of 1691 when his health was markedly failing. The main portion of the will was registered on 25 July 1691; and the first of several codicils-the one that instituted the Boyle Lectures-was registered three days later.11 In this codicil Boyle bequeathed the sum of ?50 per annum "for ever, or at least for a considerable number of years" as the salary of some London divine whose chief duty would be to preach eight sermons each year in various London churches "for proving the Christian Religion, against notorious Infidels, viz. Atheists, Theists, Pagans, Jews, and Mahometans, not descending lower to any Controversies, that are among Christians themselves."12 Except for
8Worth citing in this connection is an undated note of Newton on miracles; now in the Library of Lehigh University: "For Miracles are so called not because they are the works of God but because they happen seldom & for that reason create wonder. If they should happen constantly according to certaine laws imprest upon the nature of things, they would be no longer wonders or miracles, but might be considered in Philosophy as a part of the Phenomena of Nature notwithstanding that the cause of their causes might be unknown to us." We wish to thank Mr. James D. Mack, Librarian of Lehigh University, for making available to us a xerographic copy of this note. 9More was convinced that "the phenomena of the world cannot be solved merely mechanically" (Boyle Works, ed. Birch, V, 552), an argument he had elaborated in his Antidote to Atheism. For the similar views of Cudworth, and their influence on Newton, see Henry Guerlac, Newton et Epicure (Conference au Palais de la Decouverte, Paris, 1963). '0One of us, Mrs. Jacob, has developed this subject at length in her Cornell doctoral dissertation. "The will was first published in Eustace Budgell: Memoirs of the Lives and Characters of the Illustrious Family of the Boyles (London, 1737). It was reprinted in Thomas Birch, Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle (5 vols., London, 1744), I, 100-108. Birch's biography, where this appears, was separately printed in the same "'Birch,Life of Boyle, 353-54. year. Here the will appears on 335-63.

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this warning against sectarian controversy among Christians-and this, by the way, precluded the common sport of baiting the Roman Church13-Boyle gave no indication of what the specific character of these sermons should be; obviously this was to be left to the lecturers appointed by the trustees. Nor, at first glance, would the trustees he named for this aspect of his bequest seem likely to have urged a scientific flavor as appropriate for these sermons. All old and valued friends of Boyle, they were John Evelyn, whose major claims to scientific distinction were his Sylva and his contributions to the garden literature of England; Thomas Tenison, Archdeacon of London, soon Bishop of Lincoln, and then Archbishop of Canterbury; Sir John Rotherham, a lawyer best known for his role in the trial of Algernon Sidney for treason; and finally Sir Henry Ashurst, a friend of Richard Baxter and the Presbyterians, with whom Boyle had long been associated through a common interest in the Corporation for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England. Of these men perhaps only Evelyn, a Fellow of the Royal Society, could begin to grasp the intricacies of Boyle's scientific accomplishments, although all were aware of his deep religious commitment to the study of nature and his interest in promoting the Christian faith throughout the world. There is good reason to doubt that any of these trustees was responsible for the Newtonian theme that was to characterize the Boyle lectures. Boyle died on 30 December 1691. His funeral, a notable London event, was held at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields on January 7; at this occasion Dr. Gilbert Burnet, the Bishop of Salisbury, preached on 2 Eccles. v. 26: "For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge and joy."14 On 13 February 1691/2 the Boyle trustees met, as Evelyn records in his diary, to settle that Clausein Mr. Boyleswill, whichhe had left for CharitableUses, and Especialyfor the Appointingand Electinga Ministerto preach one sermon the first Sonday in every moneth . . . expressly against Atheists, Deists,

Libertins, Jewes &c. without descendingto any other Controversywhatever.... 15

At this meeting, Evelyn continues succinctly, "we made choice of one Mr. Bently, a Chaplain to the Bishop of Worcester."
'3This did not dissuade the Boyle lecturers from introducing anti-Catholic innuendos into their sermons. '4Birch, Life of Boyle, 285-86. See Gilbert Burnet, A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of the Honourable Robert Boyle; at St. Martins in the Fields, 7 January 1691-2 (London, 1692). Evelyn, who summarized the sermon in his Diary, dates the funeral incorrectly as 6 January. See The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. De Beer, V, 81-83. of John Evelyn, ed. De Beer, V, 88. 15Diary

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Young Mr. Bentley's first sermon, delivered at St. Martin's on 7 March 1691/2 (and entitled "The Folly of Atheism"), dealt with the role of religion in society. His second, at St. Mary-le-Bow, was an attack on materialism, and was called "Matter and Motion cannot Think; or a Confutation of Atheism from the Faculties of the Soul." Sermons three through five he devoted to arguments from design drawn from the structure of the human body. Those that concern us here-in which the argument from divine contrivance was raised to the cosmic levelwere the last three, given on 3 October, 7 November and 5 December, 1692. All three bore the collective title: "A Confutation of Atheism from the Origin and Frame of the World."16 The last two were exclusively devoted to the ideas of Newton, or at least to ideas inferred from his discoveries, and are the sermons most often cited. Sometime in mid-December Bentley wrote to Newton asking for clarification on a number of points before publishing these last sermons; Newton replied on 10 December with the first of his four letters to Bentley. It begins with the famous words: When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work wth considering men for the beliefe of a Deity & nothing can rejoyce me more than to find it usefull for that purpose.7 This has been taken to be the earliest statement of Newton's physicotheological leanings, or more specifically of his belief that his discoveries in celestial mechanics had profound religious significance.'s But whether we should take Newton's words literally is doubtful, for the
16All but the last two sermons were published separately in 1692, appearing in two editions in that year. The last two (the "Newtonian sermons") were published in 1693, and all eight were published together in that year. See A. T. Bartholemew and J. W. Clark, Richard Bentley, D. D., A Bibliography (Cambridge, 1908). '7Correspondence of Isaac Newton, ed. H. W. Turnbull, Vol. III (Cambridge, 1961), 233. Turnbull printed this and Newton's three other letters to Bentley from the original manuscripts in the Trinity College Library, Cambridge. They were first published by Richard Cumberland, Bentley's grandson, in Four Letters from Sir Isaac Newton to Doctor Bentley (London, 1756). Here the last two letters are printed in the wrong order, and as such were reproduced in facsimile in Isaac Newton's Papers and Letters, 280-312. Only Bentley's last letter to Newton about the sermons (18 February 1692/3) has survived. It appeared first in David Brewster's Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton, II, 463-70. The original, now in the Trinity College Library, was used by Turnbullin Correspondenceof Isaac Newton, III, 246-52. '8An early concern with physico-theology is, however, displayed in the letters exchanged earlier between Thomas Burnet and Newton in 1680/81 (The Correspondence of Isaac Newton, II, 319-34). A special aspect of Newton's later physico-theology, the problem of the eternity of the world, is treated by David Kubrin, "Newton and the Cyclical Cosmos: Providence and the Mechanical Philosophy," Journal of the History of Ideas, 23 (1967), 325-46. This "particular challenge," Kubrin shows in passing, confronted the providentialistdoctrines of Stillingfleet, Bentley, and Tillotson.

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Principia-that is, the first edition of 1687; the second of 1713 is another matter-gives scarcely any hint of such underlying presuppositions; it is a matter-of-fact, technical work. Moreover the well-known events by which Newton was pressed by his scientific friends into writing the book scarcely support the idea that he composed it to justify "a beliefe of a Deity," though this is not precisely what his sentence says. But as we shall see later on, Newton had indeed expressed, nearly a year before this first letter to Bentley, the notion that his System of the World might serve precisely this purpose. The Trustees most influential in the selection of Bentley (and indeed, with two exceptions, with the choice of his successors, at least down to 1700) seem to have been John Evelyn and Thomas Tenison. The correspondence of these men in the 1690's-like Evelyn's Diary for these years-discloses how seriously they took their responsibilities. It is clear, too, that the Earl of Nottingham and William Wotton, Nottingham's chaplain, were keenly interested in the substance and the success of the Boyle lectures.19 If we remember Nottingham's role as the powerful lay supporter of the Low Church movement after 1688, and recall that Bentley was the young chaplain of another liberal churchman, Edward Stillingfleet, who had close ties to Evelyn and Tenison, it is not hard to credit the statement of an anonymous early biographer of Bentley that Stillingfleet urged upon the trustees the choice of either Bentley or William Lloyd as the first Boyle lecturer.20 Yet it is worth recalling that Evelyn, despite the offhand way in which he referred in his Diary to Bentley's appointment, had known of the young classicist for some time, for there is some evidence of a learned correspondence between them as far back as 1686.21 At all events, it is clear that the Boyle Lectures were promoted-at their inception and long after-by influential members of the Low Church hierarchy, risen in power and authority after the Revolution of 1688, and by their partisans among the laity. Let us look more closely at the Richard Bentley of these early years.22 Born in the West Riding of Yorkshire, educated in a day school, and later a grammar school, near his birthplace, Richard
'9BritishMuseum, MSS. Add. 28104, f. 19. 20Anon., The Life of Dr. Richard Bentley, 1662-1742, n.d. A copy of this work, one of an edition of twenty-five copies, is in the British Museum. 2"ChristChurch, Evelyn MSS 2, V. I, f. 155. We are indebted to the Trustees of the Will of J. H. C. Evelyn for permission to consult and cite this document. 22The chief source for information about Bentley is still James Henry Monk's Life of Richard Bentley (second edition, revised and corrected, 2 vols., London, 1833), described by G. M. Trevelyan as "one of the best biographies in the language." (Trinity College, An Historical Sketch, [Cambridge, 1946], 53.) Monk, as Trevelyan points out, was Professor of Greek at Cambridge and a Tutor of Trinity; he made use of college records and the voluminous papers of Bentley.

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Bentley entered Cambridge as a subsizar of St. John's College in 1676. About his Cambridge studies, even the industrious Dr. Monk could discover little, and was reduced to suggesting that, of course, Bentley must have laid the foundation of his superb classical training, perhaps received some exposure to mathematics (though clearly very little) and may have attended the lectures of the young Lucasian Professor, Isaac Newton. This last we may fairly doubt; for Newton's lectures, when he gave them at all, dealt largely, at this period, with mathematics and optics; the matters that were later to interest Bentley had not been worked out in Newton's mind, and his remarkable pioneer excursion of 1665/6 into celestial mechanics had long since ceased to preoccupy him. Not until after Bentley's departure from Cambridge did Newton, while the Principia was being conceived, lecture on his dynamical discoveries. Of more significance for Bentley's later career was his acquaintance at Cambridge with that remarkable prodigy in languages and scholarship, William Wotton, with whom he continued to correspond after leaving the University.23 Bentley received his bachelor's degree on 23 January 1679/80, but apparently remained at Cambridge for a year or two more, leaving to take a modest post as a country schoolmaster. In 1682/3 he became tutor to the son of Edward Stillingfleet, the Dean of St. Paul's, and moved to London. Later he accompanied his charge to Oxford (Wadham College) to be young Stillingfleet's private tutor. While still at Oxford, Bentley was ordained deacon and appointed chaplain to the father, now raised to the bishopric of Worcester. The early summer of 1691 found Bentley in Worcester attempting, not too enthusiastically it would seem, but in line with his new duties, to combine theological studies with his beloved classics.24 Until this year we find no trace of any interest on Bentley's part in matters relating to natural philosophy. In the late spring or early summer of 1691-for reasons that have remained obscure, and about which we can only conjecture-Bentley wrote to his friend William Wotton apparently asking (Bentley's letter has not survived) what he should read in order to understand Newton's great Principia of 1687. Wotton passed on the query to his friend John Craig (or Craige), a Scottish mathematician who was one of the earliest Newtonian disciples. Craig replied by a letter (24 June 1691) warning that "You may tell your Friend that nothing less than a thorough knowledge of all that is yet known in the curious part of mathematics can make him capable to read Mr. Newton's book with that advantage which I believe he proposes to himself." Craig meant
23Monk, Bentley, I, 9. For the long letter of Wotton to Bentley ("St. John's College, May 14, 1689") on matters of classical scholarship see Correspondence of Richard Bentley (2 vols., London, 1842), I, 1-5. 24Monk,Bentley, I, 34.

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his warning seriously, for succeeding pages contain a formidable reading list; and he concludes: "Here, you see, is a vast deal to be done, enough to discourage a man whose inclinations have not a great bias in this way."25 Wotton, this suggests, had made Bentley's mathematical innocence quite clear to Craig. For Bentley, such technical obstacles must indeed have seemed discouraging, but he was not a man to be put off. After receiving Craig's letter from Wotton, he appealed to Isaac Newton, whether directly or through an intermediary we do not know, though perhaps the latter. At all events Bentley received from Cambridge what has been called Newton's "Paper of Directions," not a letter, such as he might have received in reply to one of his own, but a memorandum containing more encompassable suggestions than Craig's for preparatory reading, as well as instructions for navigating through the Principia. The date of July 1691, first assigned to this document by Edleston, has generally been accepted.26 What led Bentley to intrude himself into these matters so remote from his own early interests and special competence? Perhaps he already had some inkling of the possible uses the new physics could be put to; perhaps this was an aspect of his effort to turn his attention to theology, it having occurred to him to examine Newton's book for its religious, especially its providentialist, implications. But there is another and more likely explanation. It was just at this time that Bentley was undertaking one of those works of classical criticism for which he was destined to become so famous-his edition of the Astronomicon of the Roman poet, Marcus Manilius.27 Completed long after its inception, it has received the praise of classical scholars, even of such a dour and vituperative commentator as A. E. Housman. What more natural than that Bentley, confronted with an ancient astronomical and astrological test, should have sought to bone up on astronomy and bring himself abreast of recent developments, of which Newton's book was the outstanding exhibit? There is, moreover, important evidence as to what might have suggested to Bentley the idea
25Craig's letter appeared first in the Bentley Correspondence (II, 736-40) from which it was reprinted by Brewster (Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton, I, 465-69). Extracts from the original in the Trinity Library are given by Turnbull (Correspondence of Isaac Newton, III, 150-54). 26Edleston, the earliest to print Newton's "Paper of Directions" (Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes [London, 1850], 273-75), adopts this date, without comment, in his "Synoptical View of Newton's Life," op. cit., xxxii. Turnbullaccepts this dating. 27Monk, Bentley, I, 34. An early trace of Bentley's interest in Manilius is to be found in letters to Dr. Edward Bernard, 26 January and 11 February, 1691/2. (Correspondence of Richard Bentley, I, 35-38.)

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of consulting modern scientists, and especially Newton, in connection with his work on Manilius.28 Sixteen years earlier the cavalier poet, Sir Edward Sherburne (1618-1702), had published his Sphere of Manilius, a translation into English heroic verse of the first book of the Astronomicon, accompanied by copious notes and a remarkable astronomical appendix that, in fact, makes up the greater part of this handsome folio.29 The most remarkable feature of this appendix is a long "Catalogue of Astronomers Ancient and Modern," actually a history of astronomy-perhaps the first in the English language-in the form of a set of short sketches of famous astronomers and their achievements. And what is most significant is that the recital ends with short accounts of contemporaries, including such English worthies as Isaac Barrow, John Collins, and Isaac Newton. Sherburne's paragraph on Newton is worth giving in full, for it may well be the earliest printed mention of him in a work intended for the general reader:
1673. Mr. ISAAC NEWTON Lucasian Professor of Mathematicks in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Trinity Colledge, hath lately published his reflecting Telescope; New Theories of Light and Colours; hath already for the Press a Treatise of Dioptricks, and divers Astronomical Exercises, which are to be subjoyned to Mr. Nicholas Mercator's Epitome of

Astronomy,and to be Printedat Cambridge.From him besides is to be expected a New General Analytical Method by infinite Series for the Quadrature of Curvilinear Figures, the finding of their Centers of Gravity, their Round Solids, and the Surfaces thereof, the straitning of curved Lines; so that giving an Ordinate in any Figure as well such as Des Cartes calls Geometrical, as others, to find, the Length of the Arch Line, and the Converse; Such an Invention, to wit, but in one particular Figure the Circle, the Learned Snellius thinks transcendent to any thing yet published; and how much conducing to the Benefit of Astronomy, and the Mathematical Sciences in General, such an Universal Method is, I leave others, together with my self to admire, and earnestly expect.30
28In his edition of Manilius, Bentley refers to Newton in discussing the permanent nature of comets: "Opinio Chaldaeorum, Senecae, et aliorum aliquot: quam verissimam esse hoc demum saeculo est demonstratum a maximo viro Isaaco Newtono: de quo quasi vaticinatus est Seneca Nat. Quaest. VII, 26." M. Manilii Astronomicon ex recensione et cum notis Richardi Bentleii (London, 1739), 64. 29A. E. Housman (M. Manili Astronomicon Liber Primus [London, 1903], p. xv) speaks of Sherburne's "ample notes displaying a wide reading but no great acuteness or alertness of mind." H. W. Garrod is more favorable, writing that it is "the notes to this translation which chiefly deserve praise" (Manili Astronomicon Liber II [Oxford, 1911], p. lxxxv). 30The Sphere of Marcus Manilius made an English poem: with Annotations and an Astronomical appendix. By Edward Sherburne, esquire (London, 1675), 116 (of the separately paginated appendix of 220 pp.) Turnbull suggested that the information about Newton was supplied by John Collins (Correspondence of Isaac Newton, III, 156, note 7). This is surely suggested by the succinct account of Newton's work on the

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Bentley knew Sherburne's book and later accorded it high praise; indeed he could scarcely have begun to work seriously on his project without reading it closely. We learn, moreover, that Sherburnewho had himself thought of preparing a critical edition of Maniliusgave Bentley valuable assistance at the start of his work.31 It is surely not too much to imagine that Bentley was only following Sherburne's example in seeking out information to help him view his astronomical problems from a modern perspective. Newton-as Bentley saw-more than any other man had changed the face of astronomy and the System of the World. To wrestle with Newton's great book was clearly in order. At the very least, Bentley's inquiries concerning the Principia-even if conducted through an intermediary, and not, as generally supposed, by writing directly-must have brought Bentley to the notice of Isaac Newton. But if there was further contact between the two men in the remaining months of 1691, which is at least possible, no evidence to this effect has survived. Newton and the Boyle Lectures In light of the later and better known contact between Bentley and Newton, the letters exchanged after Bentley had delivered the last of the sermons, it is hard to avoid the suspicion that Newton may have played some sort of role in influencing the selection of the first Boyle lecturer or at least in determining the Newtonian character, the major theme, that is, of Bentley's last sermons. There is evidence that, before these sermons were delivered, indeed a year or more before his first letter to Bentley, Newton harbored the notion that his new System of the World, properly explicated, could be used to refute the materialists -Hobbists and Epicureans alike-and, now that Locke had made untenable the notion that the innate idea of God could be used as a proof of His existence, might supply a new and broader kind of argument from design in support of belief in a Providential Deity, and in His wisdom and goodness. The evidence has recently appeared in the third volume of the Newton Correspondence (1961) which includes a memorandum of David Gregory, like Craig a pioneer Scottish Newtonian, recording the substance of conversations he held with Newton in December 1691. At one point Gregory wrote:
calculus, and by Sherburne's long and flattering account of Collins that follows immediately. 31Monk writes (I, 35): "Sir Edward Sherburn [sic], an old cavalier, who had formerly translated the first book of Manilius, and written a commentary upon it, lent him some scarce editions, as well as a box containing collections relative to this poet, formerly belonging to Gaspar Gevartius, which he had some time before purchased at Antwerp." See also Correspondenceof Richard Bentley, I, 35-38.

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In Mr Newtons opiniona good designof a publickspeech (andwhichmay serve well at ane Act) may be to shew that the most simple laws of natureare observedin the structureof a great part of the Universe,that the philosophy ought ther to begin, and that CosmicalQualitiesare as much easier as they are more Universallthan particular ones, and the generalcontrivance simpler thanthat of Animalsplantsetc.32 Newton was obviously suggesting that his discoveries in celestial physics would serve the argument from design better than that reliance upon the "contrivances" in animals and plants which John Ray had recently catalogued in his Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of Creation, published earlier that same year.33 Gregory's memorandum is dated 28 December 1691, i.e., shortly before Boyle's death. Could Newton have had knowledge of Boyle's last will and testament, and been thinking not only of an "Act" (i.e., a college lecture or disputation) but of such "publick" speeches as were envisaged for the Boyle lectures? Bentley's last sermons, of course, more than coincidentally fit Newton's description. Newton must have been aware of Boyle's failing health, for Boyle was the outstanding scientific figure of the older generation and his writings had exerted a profound effect upon Newton's early independent work in science. And he could well have known, if only in a general way, of the significant provisions of Boyle's will; for as early as the late summer of 1691 the codicil dealing with the proposed lectureship was known to the four trustees and even to churchmen outside the immediate circle of Boyle's friends.34 But this is not all. It has not been widely noted that Newton left Cambridge on the last day of December returning before the end of January; and nobody, accordingly, has asked what was the purpose of his trip.35 The answer is simple: he went to London; and he went, of course, to attend Boyle's funeral, as-knowing his admiration for Boyle and his debt to him-we would expect him to do. There is confirmation for this in a letter of Samuel Pepys to John Evelyn, dated 9 January, 1691/2: Sir,-I would have come at you the other night at St. Martin'son that grievous occasion, but could not. Nor would I have failed in attendingyou before, to have condoled the losse of that great man, had I for some time
32Correspondence of Isaac Newton, III, 191. 33For the circumstances of the publication of the Wisdom of God, see Charles E. Raven, John Ray (2nd ed., Cambridge, 19502),ch. XVII. 34"Journal" of White Kennett, British Museum, Lansdowne 1024, f. 77. 35Newton left Cambridge on 31 December (the day after Boyle's death) and returned on 21 January. "Newton's exits and redits," Edleston, op. cit., lxxxv

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HENRY GUERLAC AND M. C. JACOB

beene in a condition of going abroad. Pray lett Dr. Gale, Mr. Newton and my selfe have the favour of your company to day, forasmuch as (Mr. Boyle being gone) wee shall want your helpe in thinking of a man in England fitt to bee sett up after him for our Peireskius, besides Mr. Evelin.36

This establishes beyond serious doubt Newton's presence in London and his attendance at the funeral of Boyle. If Newton accepted Pepys' invitation (and Pepys implied that he had already done so) and did meet with Pepys, Dr. Thomas Gale, and John Evelyn-all Fellows of the Royal Society-surely the subject of Boyle and his bequest must have come up. All were doubtless familiar with the provisions of the will, or at least of the important codicil, as Evelyn, one of the more influential trustees of the bequest, certainly was. If Bentley's name had not come up earlier, it could well have been mentioned on this occasion, and possibly by Newton, who may also have pointed out that Bentley-of all available clergymen-was best prepared to level an attack on atheists and materialists along the lines that Newton had indicated to Gregory. Of Newton's compliant interest in the early Boyle Lectures there has never been any doubt. But if, as seems likely, he played a part behind the scene in the selection of Richard Bentley as the first lecturer, and encouraged-if he did not suggest-the theme of Bentley's last sermons, his share in the philosophical re-orientation of Anglican thought in the Age of William was more direct than has been suspected. The Boyle Lectures became a notable vehicle for expressing the providentialist faith of the Low Churchmen. Encouraged and supported by such men as Evelyn, Tenison, Wotton, Nottingham, and Newton himself, the Boyle lecturers-among whom are the first expositors of the Newtonian Philosophy-became, in the late seventeenth century and the early years of the eighteenth, the intellectual spokesmen of the moderate faction of the English Church and the men who developed and expounded its characteristic doctrine. Cornell University (Henry Guerlac) University of South Florida (M. C. Jacob)
36J. R. Tanner, ed., Private Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Samuel Pepys (2 vols., London, 1926), I, 51-52. On the evidence of this letter Edleston noted that Newton was in London in January 1691/2, but he did not discern the purpose of Newton's trip.

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