Ostensibly the book was an attack on the Roman Catholic Church, but the attack was so cleverly veiled that it included in its criticisms the Church of England also; and must take its place among the works of the deistical writers of the time who aimed at subverting the foundations of the relationships between the Church and the State. According to Dr.

But the Christian advocates fell into a sad mistake when they fought against them with their own weapons. Without attempting nicely to adjust the degree of blame attributable to either party in this unseemly dispute, we may easily see that this was one evil effect of the Deistical controversy, that it generated on both sides a spirit of rancour and scurrility.

Under the Church and Monarchy, a deistical or republican author might sometimes acquire proselytes, or become the favourite amusement of fashionable or literary people; but the circulation of such works could be only partial, and amongst a particular class of readers: whereas the treason of the day, which comprises whatever favours Kings or religion, is understood by the meanest individual, and the temptation to these prohibited enjoyments is assisted both by affection and prejudice.

He lived and was before the public during the whole course of the Deistical controversy, so far as it belongs to the eighteenth century; but he was known, not as a theologian, but first as a brilliant, fashionable man of pleasure, then as a politician. So far as he took any part in religious matters at all, it was as a violent partisan of the established faith and as a persecutor of Dissenters.

'He is a Freethinker; if not one of us, at all events he is closely allied with us. Yet, on the whole, his fame and influence probably gained by it. Many who were inclined to Deistical opinions were induced to read Tillotson, and to feel the force of his arguments, who would never have opened a page of such a writer as Leslie.

But in any case he was well armed against that numerous class of Deistical objections which rested upon an exclusively literal interpretation of Scripture. This is eminently observable in regard of theories of inspiration. To Quakers, as to mystical writers in general, biblical infallibility has never seemed to be a doctrine worth contending for.

And yet treated it must be; the most superficial sketch of English Church History during the eighteenth century would be almost imperfect if it did not give a prominent place to this topic, for it was the all-absorbing topic of a considerable portion of the period. The Deistical writers attracted attention out of all proportion to their literary merit.

Among those who defended revealed Christianity against the deistical attacks we may mention the names of Conybeare and Joseph Butler . The former argues from the imperfection and mutability of our reason to like characteristics in natural religion.

Those who dreaded and lamented its advances found it no difficult task to show that sometimes it was connected with Deistical or with Socinian or Arian views, sometimes with a visionary enthusiasm, sometimes with a weak and nerveless religion of sentiment.

Being ashamed of his own language, and preferring the French, he encouraged the current and popular French literature, which in his day, under the guidance of Voltaire, was materialistic and deistical.