His standpoint was that of the English deists, and he investigated, without hesitation, the evidence for the miracles recorded in the Bible.
Deists, though raising doubts regarding the historic narratives of the Christian faith, had never disputed the general fact that belief in one God was natural and primitive.
Later criticism, orthodox and heterodox, upon the English deists inclines to charge them with the conception of a divine absentee, who wound up the machine of nature and left it to run untended.
Not to dwell upon earlier continental " Deists " (mentioned by Viret as quoted first in Bayle's Dictionary and again in the introduction to Leland's View of the Deistical Writers), Lord Herbert of Cherbury (De Veritate, 1624; De Religione Gentilium,.
Deists and orthodox in those days agreed in recognizing not merely natural theology but natural religion - " essential religion," Butler more than once styles it; the expression shows how near he stood intellectually to those he criticized.