Deism In Early Colonial America

Jonathan Mayhew (October 8, 1720 – July 9, 1766)

In 1755, The Reverend Jonathan Mayhew was the first New England minister explicitly to reject the Trinity as well as to reject Calvinist determinism and pessimism. Mayhew’s rationalist philosophical outlook rested squarely on a belief in natural law and a natural-law morality.

“Truth and moral rectitude are things fixed, stable, and uniform, having their foundation in the nature of things. And it is rooted in the nature of man that each person is endowed with reason and free will—and that he is able to use free will to employ his reason in order to discover the natural law of what is good or bad for man’s happiness. Furthermore, he is then able to use that free will to choose the good. And since each individual’s choices rest on the convictions of his mind, each man has the right and duty of private judgment over his own life. Thus each individual is morally capable and therefore responsible for his own actions.”

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