From a Treatise on Revelation

By Sir Isaac Newton


Having searched and by the grace of God obtained, after knowledge in the Prophetic Scriptures, I have thought myself bound to communicate it for the benefit of others, remembering the judgment of him who hid his talent in a napkin. For, I am persuaded that this will prove of great benefit to those who think it not enough for a sincere Christian to sit down contented with the principles of the doctrine of Christ such as the Apostles accounts the doctrine of Baptisms and of laying on of hands and of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment, but leaving these and the like principles desire to go on unto perfection until they become of full age and by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb 5:15

Encouragement to Study

I would not have any discouraged by the difficulty and ill success that men have hitherto met with in these attempts. For it was revealed to Daniel that the prophecies concerning the last times should be closed up and sealed until the time of the end: but then, the wise should understand, and knowledge should be increased.

Dan 12:4,9,10

And therefore the longer they have continued in obscurity, the more hopes there is that the time is at hand in which they are to be made manifest. If they are never to be understood, to what end did God reveal them? Certainly he did it for the edification of the church; and if so, then it is certain that the church shall at length attain to the understanding thereof. I mean not all that call themselves Christians, but a remnant, a few scattered persons which God hath chosen, such as without being blinded, led by interest, education, or humane authorities, can set themselves sincerely and earnestly to search after truth. For as Daniel hath said that the wise shall understand, so hath he said also that none of the wicked shall understand.

Let me therefore beg of thee not to trust to the opinion of any man concerning these things, for so it is great odds but thou shalt be deceived. Much less oughtest thou to keep to rely upon the judgment of the multitude, for so thou shalt be deceived. But search the Scriptures thyself and that by frequent reading and constant meditation upon what thou readest, and prayer to God to enlighten thine understanding if thou desirest to find the truth. Which if thou shalt at length attain thou wilt value above all other treasures in the world by reason of the assurance and vigour it will add to thy faith, and steady satisfaction to thy mind which he can only know how to estimate who shall experience it.

That the benefit which may by understanding the sacred Prophecies and the danger by neglecting them is very great and the obligation to study them is as great may appear by considering the like case of the Jews at the coming of Christ. For the rules whereby they were to know the Messiah where the prophecies of the Old Testament. And these our Savior recommended to their consideration in the very beginning of His preaching and afterward commanded the study of them for that end saying Luke 4:21: "Search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me." And at another time severely reproached their ignorance herein, saying to them when they required a sign, "Ye Hypocrites can ye discern the face of the sky but can ye not discern the signs of the times." And after His resurrection, he reproved also this ignorance in His disciples, saying unto them, "O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Thus also the Apostles and those who in the first ages propagated the gospel urged chiefly these Prophesies and exhorted their hearers to search and see whether all things concerning our Savior ought not to have been as they fell out. And in a word it was the ignorance of the Jews in these Prophecies which caused them to reject the Messiah and by consequences to be not only captivates by the Romans, but to incur eternal damnation.Luke 19:42,44

Danger of Neglect

If then the prophecies which concerned the Apostolique age were given for the conversion of the men of that age to the truth and for the establishment of their faith, and if it was their duty to search diligently into those Prophecies: why should we not think the Prophecies which concern the latter times into which we are fallen were in like manner intended for our use in the midst of Apostasies we might be able to discern the truth and be established in the faith thereof, and consequently that it is also our duty to search with all diligence into these Prophecies. And if God was so angry with not searching so diligently into those Prophecies which he given them to know Christ by: why should we think he shall excuse us for not searching into the Prophecies concerning Antichrist by? For certainly it must be as dangerous and easy an error for Christians to adhere to Antichrist as it was for the Jews to reject Jesus Christ. And therefore it is as much our duty to endeavor to know him as be able to know him that we may avoid him, as it was theirs to know Christ that they might follow him.

Our Duty to Watch

Thou seest therefore that this is no idle speculation, no matter of indifference but a duty of the greatest moment. Wherefore it concerns thee to look about narrowly least thou shouldest in so degenerate an age be dangerously seduced and not know it. Antichrist was to seduce the whole Christian world and therefore he may easily seduce thee if thou beest not well prepared to discern him. But if he should not be yet come into the world yet amidst so many religions of which there can be but one true and perhaps none of those that thou art be acquainted with it is great odds but thou mayest be deceived and therefore it concerns thee to be very circumspect.

Points to Consider

  • Teaching in parables

  • Consider how our Savior taught the Jews in Parables that in hearing they might hear and not understand and in seeing they might see and not perceive. And as these Parables were spoken to try the Jews so the mystical scriptures were written to try us. Therefore beware that of these scriptures will as little excuse thee as the obscurity of our own Savior's Parables excused the Jews.

  • The fig tree

  • Consider also the instructions of our Savior concerning these latter times by the parable of the fig tree. Now learn a parable of the Fig tree, saith he: "When his branch is yet tender and putteh forth leaves, ye know summer is nigh. So likewise, when ye see these things know that it is near even at the doors. Watch therefore for ye know not hower your Lord doth come. Wherefore it is thy duty to learn the signs of the times that thou mayest know how to watch, and be able to discern what times are coming on the earth by the things that are already past. If thou doest watch thou mayest know when it is at the door as a man knows that by the leaves of a fig tree that Summer is near. But if through ignorance of the signs thou shall say in thine heart My Lord delayeth His coming; And shalt begin to smite thy fellow servants and eat and drink with the drunken: Thy Lord will come in a day when thou lookest not for him and in a hour that thou are not aware of, and cut thee asunder and appoint thy portion with the Hypocrites, and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt 24. If thou doest not watch, how canst thou escape more than other men? For as a snare shall it come up on all that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. Luke 21

  • The Second Advent

  • Consider that the same Prophets who foretold our Savior's first coming foretold also His second coming; and if it was the main and indispensable duty of the Church before the first coming of Christ to have searched into and understood those prophecies aforehand so far as they are yet to be fulfilled? Or how knowest thou that the Christian church if they continue to neglect, shall not be punished even in this world as severely as ever were the Jews? Yea, will not the Jews rise up in judgment against us? For they had some regard to these prophecies insomuch as to be in general expectation of our Savior about the time when He came, only they were not aware of the manner of his two comings; and were mistaken, they understood the description of his second coming, and were mistaken in applying that to his second coming. Consider therefore, if the description of his second coming was so much more plain and perspicuous then that of his first, that the Jews who could not so much as perceive any thing of the first could yet understand the second, how shall we escape who understand nothing of the second but have turned the whole description of it into Allegories. And if the Jews were so severely punished for not understanding the first more difficult Prophecy, what can we plead who know nothing of the more perspicuous; and yet have this advantage above them that the first is a key to the second and was hidden from them is made manifest to us, and that we have the second also much further explained in the New Testament.

  • Read and study

  • Again consider also the Blessing which is promised to them that read and study and keep the things which are written in this Prophecy. blessed is he that read and they that hear the words of this Prophecy and keep the things that which are written therein, for the time is at hand, Rev. 1:3. And again to reinforce the invitation to take these things into consideration, the same Blessing is repeated in Rev 22:7 And does God ever annex his blessings to trifles or things of indifferency? Wherefore be not overwise in thine own concept, but as thou desirest to inherit this blessing consider and search into these Scriptures which God hath given to be a guide in these latter times, and be not discouraged by the gainsaying which these things will meet in the world.

Contempt from the world

They will call thee it may be a hot headed fellow, a Bigot, a Fanatic, a Heretic etc: And tell thee of the uncertainty of these interpretations, and vanity of attending them: Not considering that prophecies concerning our Savior's first coming were of more difficult interpretation, yet God rejected the Jews for not attending better to them. And whither they will believe it or not, there are greater judgments hang over Christians for their remissness then ever the Jews ever felt. But the world loves to be deceived, they will not understand, they never consider equally, but are wholly led by prejudice, interest, the praise of men, and the authority of the Church they live in: as it is plain because all parties keep close to the Religion they have been brought up in, and yet in all parties there are wise and learned as well as fools and ignorant.

There are but a few that seek to understand therein, do it for worldly ends, or that they may defend it, then for worldly, to examine whither it be true with a resolution to choose and profess that which in their judgment appears to be the truest. And as is their faith, so is their practice. For where there are men that do never yield to anger nor seek revenge, nor disobey governors, nor censure or speak evil of them, nor cheat, nor lie, nor swear, nor use God's name idly in their common talk, nor are proud, nor ambitious, nor covet, nor unchaste, nor drink immoderately? Where are they that live like primitive Christians, that love God with all their hearts and with all their souls, and with all their might, and their neighbors as themselves; and in all that they do are well are not led by fashions and principles of Gentility then religion, and where those disagree do not account it rudeness to deport from the former? I fear there are but very few whose righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

This is the guise of the world, therefore trust it not, nor value their censures and contempt. But rather consider it that it is the wisdom of God that His Church should appear despicable to the world to try the faithful. For this end He made it a curse under the Law to hang upon a tree that the scandal of the Cross might be a trial to the Jews; and for a like Trial of the Christians he hath suffered the Apostasy of the latter times, as is declared in calling it the hour of temptation which should be upon the world to try them that dwell upon the earth Rev 3:10. Be not therefore scandalized at the reproaches of the world but rather look upon them as a mark of the true church.

Stand up for the Truth

And upon thou art contrived be not ashamed to profess the truth. For otherwise thou mayest become a stumbling block to others and inherit the lot of those Rulers of the Jews who believed in Christ but yet were afraid to confess him least they be put out of the Synagogue. Wherefore when thou art convinced be not ashamed of the truth but profess it openly and indeavour to convince thy Brother also that thou mayest inherit at the resurrection the promise made in Daniel 12:3 that they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. And rejoice if thou art counted worthy to suffer in thy reputation or any other way for the sake of the Gospel, for then great is thy reward.

Don't Rush to be a Teacher

But yet I would not have thee too forward in becoming a teacher, like those men who catch a few similitude's and scripture phrases, and fore want of further knowledge make use of them to censure and reproach superiors and rail at all things that displease them. Be not heady like them, but first be thoroughly instructed thy self and not only in the Prophetic Scripture but more especially in the plain doctrines and delivered therein so as to put them in practice and make them familiar and habitual to thy self. And when thou hast thus pulled out the beam from thine own eye then shalt clearly to pull the mote out of thy Brothers eye. Otherwise how wilt thou say to thy Brother, "Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye and behold a beam is in thine own eye".

To Understand it is God's Gift

Some I know will be offended that I propound these things so earnestly to all men as if they were fit only for the contemplation of the learned. But they should consider that God who best knows the capacity of men does hide his mysteries from the wise and prudent of this world and reveal them unto babes. They were not the Scribes and Pharisees but the inferior people that believed on Christ and apprehended the true meaning of his Parables and of the Prophecies in the Old Testament concerning him. The wise men of the world are often too much entangled in designs for this life. One has bought a piece of ground, another has bought five yolks of Oxen, a third has Married a wife, and therefore since they are for the most part otherwise ingaged it was fit that the halt and poor and maimed and the halt and the blind and those that are in the highways and hedges should also be invited. And God, who intended this Prophecy chiefly for their sake is able to fit their understanding to it. And it is the gift of God and not of human wisdom so to understand it as to believe it.

The Treatise is taken from following source:

The Religion of Sir Isaac Newton, Frank E. Manuel, Oxford University Press, London, 1974 Appendix A, pages 107 - 113.Fragments from a Treatise on Revelation "These fragments are a part of a 550-page manuscript described in the Sotheby Collection under lot 227. "

They are from the Newton papers in Jerusalem. from the preface on page v.

**Our comments** In this text taken Manuel's book we have corrected some of Newton's obvious mis-spellings and used modern English equivalents for Old English words to make the text easier for the layman to read. These changes had little or no effect on the translation of his work. We have also broken up the text and added headings to make it easier to read online.