Is there a God in the world of Clarissa? Despite Richardson's insistence in a letter of 29 October 1746 to Aaron Hill that his novel is religious at its core—he "had not indeed, sat down to scribble on this Subject" except for his desire to "inculcate in this Piece" the Christian doctrine of heavenly reward for present suffering— answering this simple "yes/no" question has proved remarkably difficult and not simply because of our ever-increasing distance from the religiously oriented century in which Richardson wrote and was read. 1 Indeed, the novel itself, for all its author's interest in this question seems, at times, remarkably ambiguous in its answer. A representative sampling of this ambiguity can be found in Clarissa's pathetic response to Lovelace's invocation of divinity in his "sincere" post-rape offer of marriage. Lovelace promises. "If you can forgive a repentant villain ... I vow by all that's sacred and just (and may a thunderbolt strike me dead at your feet, if I am not sincere!), that I will by marriage, before tomorrow noon... do you all the justice I now can do you." Clarissa despondently replies, "Oh thou guileful betrayer! There is a just God, whom thou invokest: yet the thunderbolt descends not; and thou livest to imprecate and deceive" (902). There is a God, Clarissa seems to be saying, even if He does not do those things we might expect (or hope) of an omnipotent, omnipresent, and just Deity. But where, exactly, is God outside of these defining, empirically verifiable, characteristics?