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Deism in Enlightenment EnglandTheology, Politics, and Newtonian Public Science$
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Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078729

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078729.001.0001

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The age of Walpole: politics and theology, 1720–41

The age of Walpole: politics and theology, 1720–41

(p.167) Chapter 6 The age of Walpole: politics and theology, 1720–41
Deism in Enlightenment England

Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth

Manchester University Press

This chapter outlines the theological and political writings of the deists, conceived during a period described as political stability. While England dealt with yet another European war, deism as a perceived threat to political and theological stability faded from the collective mindset of the nation. Though deism continued to find advocates after Morgan died in 1743, the new followers failed to inflame passions as their predecessors had. One religious threat replaced another and theological concerns and sensibilities continued to play a role in the intellectual scene of the day. Some overall conclusions are apparent regarding the deists' conception of God and politics. The deists clearly believed in a God who created the universe and enacted certain relationships between himself and humanity. These consistencies existed in both the natural philosophical and political realms. The deists argued for an accountable government; as God must always act in accordance with the laws of nature, the monarch must rule within the boundaries of national law. They also argued that God, who acted only for the benefit of humanity, provided the correct model of government, which must place the well being of citizens before its own designs on maintaining power.

Keywords:   God, deism, political stability, European war, deists, natural philosophy

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