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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2009

Roger D. Lund
Affiliation:
Le Moyne College, Syracuse
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Summary

In Tom Jones Henry Fielding treats his readers to a debate between Parson Thwackum, representative of “narrow and rigid” Anglican orthodoxy, and the philosopher, Square, deist and defender of the “unalterable Rule of Right and the eternal Fitness of Things.” They are wrangling over the nature of honor, whether it may be said to exist independent of religious belief. “If by Honour you mean the true natural Beauty of Virtue,” argues Square, “I will maintain it may exist independent of any Religion whatever. Nay (added he) you yourself will allow it may exist independent of all but one; so will a Mahometan, a Jew, and all the Maintainers of all the different Sects in the World.” Thwackum, for whom honor is a “Mode of divine Grace,” accuses Square of “arguing with the usual Malice of all the Enemies of the true Church.” He doubts not but that “all the Infidels and Hereticks in the World would, if they could, confine Honour to their own absurd Errors, and damnable Deceptions.” For honor, according to Thwackum, “is not therefore manifold, because there are many absurd Opinions about it; nor is Religion manifold, because there are various Sects and Heresies in the World.”

Here Fielding provides an epitome of the struggle between Anglican orthodoxy and the heterodox promulgators of “new modish systems” in religion and government: a representative deist attacks the hegemony of the established church, implying that Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism make equal (and equally dubious) claims to moral authority, while his Anglican counterpart responds with charges of heresy, infidelity, and malice aforethought.

Type
Chapter
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The Margins of Orthodoxy
Heterodox Writing and Cultural Response, 1660–1750
, pp. 1 - 30
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1995

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Roger D. Lund, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
  • Book: The Margins of Orthodoxy
  • Online publication: 09 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511553523.001
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Roger D. Lund, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
  • Book: The Margins of Orthodoxy
  • Online publication: 09 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511553523.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Roger D. Lund, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
  • Book: The Margins of Orthodoxy
  • Online publication: 09 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511553523.001
Available formats
×