He was summoned before the magistrates of Utrecht to defend himself against charges of irreligion and slander.
They use it with strong condemnation, from the standpoint of rigorous Christian orthodoxy; but it comes into England within very few years upon the Christian side - religion against irreligion - in Bishop John Wilkins's Principles and Duties of Natural Religion (1678).
The commissioners on criminal law (sixth report) remark that "although the law forbids all denial of the being and providence of God or the Christian religion, it is only when irreligion assumes the form of an insult to God and man that the interference of the criminal law has taken place."
Hence both science and religion must come to recognize as the" most certain of all facts that the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable."Thus to be buried side by side in the Unknowable constitutes their final reconciliation, as it is the refutation of irreligion which consists of" a lurking doubt whether the Incomprehensible is really incomprehensible."Such are the foundations of Spencer's metaphysic of the Unknowable, to which he resorts in all the fundamental difficulties which he subsequently encounters.
The bourgeoisie sought the support of the clergy, and irreligion became as unfashionable among them as it had been among the nobility after 1793.