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An Account of the Growth of Deism in England   By:

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In "An Account of the Growth of Deism in England" by William Stephens, readers are offered a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of the rise and development of Deism within the English society. Stephens adeptly combines historical analysis, theological insights, and a keen understanding of intellectual currents to paint a vivid picture of a socio-religious phenomenon that played a significant role in shaping English thought during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The book begins by providing a detailed introduction to Deism, effectively setting the stage for readers unfamiliar with this particular religious movement. Stephens goes on to meticulously chart the historical trajectory of Deism, highlighting key events, influential figures, and the intellectual atmosphere in which the movement thrived. By grounding his analysis in historical context, the author successfully demonstrates the impact of societal changes, political upheavals, and shifts in intellectual thought on the growth of Deism.

One of the strongest aspects of Stephens' work lies in his ability to seamlessly integrate primary sources into the narrative. He expertly draws upon letters, diaries, pamphlets, and other contemporary writings to illuminate the mindset and motivations of Deists. This approach not only lends credibility to the author's arguments but also enables readers to engage more deeply with this historical subject matter.

Furthermore, Stephens delves into the philosophical underpinnings of Deism, exploring its central tenets and core beliefs. Through a careful examination of Deist writings, he skillfully captures the essence of this religious movement – its emphasis on reason, rejection of revealed religion, and the belief in a distant, non-interventionist God. Moreover, the author critically examines the theological debates and controversies that surrounded Deism, presenting contrasting viewpoints and effectively illustrating the complex nature of the movement.

While the book is thorough in its research and analysis, it occasionally suffers from a dense and scholarly style. Some readers may find certain sections overly academic and difficult to digest. Additionally, the persistent focus on theological intricacies might alienate those seeking a broader socio-cultural analysis of Deism's impact within English society.

Overall, "An Account of the Growth of Deism in England" is an engrossing and meticulously researched work that sheds light on a fascinating period in English intellectual history. Stephens skillfully navigates the complexities of theological discourse, bringing to life a movement that challenged established religious norms and paved the way for a more rational and skeptical society. This book serves as an invaluable resource not only for scholars and students of religious studies but also for anyone interested in understanding the intellectual and cultural landscapes of the past.

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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... Continue reading book >>

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