I’ve begun looking into deism. Right now I’m reading the book “Natural Religion and the Nature of Religion” for an overview, before delving into the writings of the deists themselves (if I can find them). The following passage struck me as something virtually every Christian universalist would affirm.
The righteous God of St Paul and Luther has thus become an agent of universal benevolence who is disinterested in being literally without any interests of his own. His justice has become a mode of his benevolence, and retribution has been taken from it. Since the divine law includes everything that tends to promote the happiness of mankind, we can say that, for Tindal, God’s retributive justice has been taken over completely by his distributive. In thinking of God as the source of justice we are no longer contemplating a being who is the scourge and punisher of sin, but rather one who ensures an equal and reasonable distribution of the sum of happiness. Tindal’s God will punish sin, but punishments will be strictly proportional to the nature of the offences God judges, and therefore not eternal. Moreover, the purpose of punishment, as of the laws which it is designed to enforce, is strictly to secure our own good. Punishment is meted out just so far is sufficient to preserve the beneficent ends of the system of God’s laws and to benefit the wrongdoer (Tindal 1730:41-2). This is why it may be said that Tindal’s God deals only in distributive rather than retributive justice. He cannot act out of a motive of retribution distinct from a desire to secure his creatures’ happiness. Blount has an exactly similar thought in relation to God and punishment (Blount 1695a:90).