29th September 1679 - birth of Thomas Chubb, the Sage of Salisbury

Thomas Gainsborough   Portrait of Thomas Chubb   Google Art Project

The Sage of Salisbury, ‘deist’ theologian Thomas Chubb, was born in East Harnham on the 29th September 1679[1].

His father was a maltster, but he died when Chubb was 9 or 10, leaving the family in humble circumstances. Chubb was apprenticed as a glover to a Mr Thomas Rawlings in Salisbury in 1694, but he was unsuited to the job because he had poor eyesight. Consequently, he took a job as an assistant to a Salisbury tallow-chandler called John Lawrence.

Despite a modest education, Chubb became interested in theology. He formed a small discussion group in Salisbury, and the group encouraged him to publish his thoughts. His first publication, ‘The Supremacy of the Father Asserted, came out in 1715.[2]

Chubb is seen as a ‘deist’. As I understand it, deists believe that there is a God, but that he or she is largely non-interventionist and cannot be entirely understood. Man had a duty to worship God, and to behave in a moral fashion, but should be guided by reason and an appreciation of innate ‘natural law’[3].

Chubb acquired at least two benefactors - Sir Joseph Jekyll[4]and a surgeon called Mr Cheseldon.[5]. He earned a living through their patronage and by continuing to work both as a glover and at the tallow chandlery.

He published further works:

Thomas Chubb died suddenly on 8 February 1747, and was buried in St. Edmund’s churchyard

Footnotes and references

[1] ‘Chubb, Thomas’, by Leslie Stephen, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 10 URL: Chubb, Thomas (DNB00) - Wikisource, the free online library

[2] A General Biographical Dictionary, Volume 1 By John Gorton https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=NzxjAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PP495&ots=vtpizzGSga&dq=thomas%20chubb%20gay%20pope&pg=PP495#v=onepage&q=thomas%20chubb%20gay%20pope&f=false

[3] The Jewish Encyclopaedia defines Deism as:

A system of belief which posits God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits His perfection, but rejects Divine revelation and government, proclaiming the all-sufficiency of natural laws[2]

and goes on to say:

Lord Herbert, the "father of deism" in England, assumes certain "innate ideas," which establish five religious truths:

(1) that God is;

(2) that it is man's duty to worship Him;

(3) that worship consists in virtue and piety;

(4) that man must repent of sin and abandon his evil ways;

(5) that divine retribution either in this or in the next life is certain.

He holds that all positive religions are either allegorical and poetic interpretations of nature or deliberately organized impositions of priests.

[From ‘DEISM’ By: Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch in The Jewish Encyclopedia Link: DEISM - JewishEncyclopedia.com]

According to the Dictionary of National Biography, Chubb’s views were that:

  • reason is, or should be, a sufficient guide in matters of Religion

  • the resurrection of Christ was not a proof of his divine mission

  • Religion is founded on Nature

  • morality alone can make men acceptable to God, that repentance for sin will secure God's mercy, and that there will be a future retribution

  • miracles are at most a 'probable proof' of divine revelation
[From 'Chubb, Thomas', Dictionaru of National Biography,. In Wikisource . Retrieved 18:00, January 19, 2018, from Chubb, Thomas (DNB00) - Wikisource, the free online library

[4] ‘William Whiston: Honest Newtonian’ By James E. Force URL: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dc6Zk-HvIwwC&lpg=PA27&ots=fJgwyNyENG&dq=thomas%20chubb%20gay%20pope&pg=PA28#v=onepage&q=thomas%20chubb%20gay%20pope&f=false

[5] The County Magazine, Volume 1 URL: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2rURAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA138&ots=OIKGZumYrG&dq=cheseldon%20chubb%20benefactor&pg=PA138#v=onepage&q=cheseldon%20chubb%20benefactor&f=false


By Thomas Gainsborough - uwEbsbAvolPkGQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Link