THE DOCTRINE OF PRESERVATION 1. Deism.
This view represents the universe as a self-sustained mechanism from which God withdrew as soon as he had created it and which he left to a process of self-development. The English Herbert, Collins, Tindal and Bolingbroke held this view in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Lord Herbert of Cherbury was one of the first who formed deism into a system. His book De Veritate was published in 1624. He argues against the probability of God?s revealing his will to only a portion of the earth. This he calls ?particular religion.? Yet he sought and, according to his own account, he received, a revelation from heaven to encourage the publication of his work in disproof of revelation. He ?asked for a sign? and was answered by a ?loud, though gentle noise from the heavens.? He had the vanity to think his book, of such importance to the cause of truth as to extort a declaration of the divine will, when the interests of half of mankind could not secure any revelation at all. What God would not do for a nation, he would do for an individual. See Leslie and Leland, Method with the Deists. Deism is the exaggeration of the truth of God?s transcendence. See Christlieb, Modern Doubt and Christian Belief, 190209. Melanchthon illustrates by the shipbuilder: ?Ut faber discedit a navi exstructa et relinquit eam nautis.? God is the maker, not the keeper, of the watch. In Sartor Resartus, Carlyle makes Teufelsdrtockh speak of ?An absentee God, sitting idle ever since the first Sabbath at the outside of the universe, and seeing it go.? Blunt, Dictionary Doct. and Hist. Theology, art.: Deism.
?Deism emphasized the inviolability of natural law and held to a mechanical view of the world? (Ten Broeke). Its God is a sort of Hindu Brahma, ?as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean? ? mere being, without content or movement. Bruce, Apologetics, 115-131 ? ?God made the world so good at the first that the best he can do is to let it alone. Prayer is inadmissible. Deism implies a Pelagian view of human nature. Death redeems us by separating us from the body. There is natural immortality but no resurrection. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, the brother of the poet George Herbert of Bemerton, represents the rise of Deism and Lord Bolingbroke its decline. Mount assailed the divine Person of the founder of the faith, Collins its foundation in prophecy, Woolston its miraculous attestation and Toland its canonical literature. Tindal took more general ground and sought to show that a special revelation was
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