Benjamin Wills Newton, 1807-1899

[Mentioned in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 13]

Benjamin Wills Newton is known for his writings and for his connection with the Plymouth Brethren. The first half of the nineteenth century in Great Britain saw the founding of a movement known as Brethrenism. Its principal tenet was that believers "should come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or ministry, but trusting the Lord will edify us together by ministering to us, as He sees good, from among ourselves."

On a visit to Oxford, one of the founders of Brethrenism met Newton, a fellow at Exeter College, where he had also been educated. Newton had views of his own. He did not believe in the constitutional monarchy but in the divine right of kings. He contradicted a prevalent belief in the imminence of the Lord's coming. Moreover, for him the Bible was the supreme rule of life; anything that conflicted with it, in his opinion, must yield. The new movement appealed to him. He joined it and helped to form a group in Plymouth and remained as their elder. He also contributed to the sect's magazine The Christian Witness.

The services of the Brethren consisted of the singing of a number of hymns, without instrumental accompaniment, and the reading of Scripture. There was no pulpit or reading desk, but anyone could give a sort of sermonette and lead in prayer. The Lord's Supper was celebrated weekly.

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Signs of the Times
December 26, 1959

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