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An Account of the Growth of Deism in England   By:

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E text prepared by Chris Curnow, Joseph Cooper, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (


LONDON : Printed for the Author, MDCXCVI.



'Tis now three Years since you and I had a serious Discourse concerning the rise and progress of Deism : which is an Opinion of late Years crept into England , tho not so widely spread here as in other parts of Europe . I well remember we were both agreed, that there was no shadow of Reason why any one should suspect the Gospels of Forgery, since the matter contain'd in them hath not the least favour of any worldly Interest, or indirect Design, but all the Lines of them do only center in the highest Improvement Humane Nature is capable of. So that in conformity every Man may take great comfort in himself, and all Mankind live well with one another. Besides, the Preachers of this excellent Doctrine had at first all the Discouragements which an irreligious and idolatrous Age could give them, (as is confessed by their Enemies) insomuch that nothing but their own personal full Conviction of the Truths they professed could engage them to Preach 'em; and the intrinsick Goodness of the Law of Christ , was sufficient to gain mens hearts, after Miracles had born down their Prejudices, and gain'd their serious Attention. In fine, you and I could see no reason to doubt of the Truth of any matter of Fact contain'd in the Gospels , which relate the miraculous Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ ; but what would oblige us to deny the truth of all History whatsoever. And from these Considerations laid together, we concluded that the Doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ was undoubtedly sent to us by God.

This still made it appear more strange to us both, how DEISM (which is a denial of all reveal'd Religion) should creep in upon us where the Scriptures are made so publick, and where so many Learned Treaties are written, which so strongly assert their Authority to be Divine. I confess, I was as desirous to know upon what Grounds Men rejected the Gospel , as you your self were, and therefore I willingly undertook the Task you laid on me, viz. To collect and put together those Motives whereby some had been induced to lay aside all Revelation . For which Performance I was the fitter, because it doth not require any Learning and strength of Wit, but only Observation, and Inquiry, which I might easily make, because of the numerous Acquaintance I have contracted in Town, where (you know) I spend the Winter, and in the Country, where I bestow my Summer Visits. But all I shall do in this matter, is barely to give you a Relation of those Prejudices, and (as I think) false Reasonings, which have drawn some of my Acquaintance from Revelation to DEISM .

1. Now, first I have observed, that some who pretend themselves Deists , are Men of loose and sensual Lives; and I make no wonder that they dislike the Christian Doctrine of Self denial, and the severe threatnings against wilful Sinners. You may be sure they will not alledge this Reason: But having read Spinosa and Hobbes , and been taught to laugh at the story of Baalam 's Ass, and Sampson 's Locks; they proceed to ridicule the reality of all Miracle and Revelation . I have conversed with several of this Temper, but could never get any of 'em serious enough to debate the reality of Revelation : But a witty Jest and t'other Glass puts an end to all further Consideration. These are meer Sceptics , and practical Atheists , rather than real Deists .

2. But there are others, who, although they have not a due regard to Revelation , are Men of Sobriety and Probity, who with great freedom have let me into their Thoughts, whereby I can very clearly and fully (as I think at least) discern the rise and progress of this their Opinion, which is this;

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