By Thomas Brooks, 1670
A serious discourse concerning "The Great Fire"
Use 2. LAMENTATION and MOURNING
"How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of the Daughter of Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor. In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it. Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of the Daughter of Zion. The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for the Daughter of Judah." Lamentations 2:1-5.
These two words, "mourning and lamentation," are joined together to note the great and eminent lamentation of the daughter of Judah upon the sight and sense of God's destroying, razing, and leveling to the ground, by the hand of the Chaldeans, etc., all the strongholds and fortresses that were built for the defense of the Israelites. Now shall the daughter of Judah greatly lament to see her strongholds laid desolate; and shall not we at all lament to see London, to see our strongholds, turned into a ruinous heap?
Is London laid in ashes? Then let us all lament and mourn that London is laid desolate. Shall Christ weep over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41-44, when it was standing in all its glory, knowing that it would not be long before it was laid even with the ground; and shall not we weep over London, whose glory is now laid in the dust? Who can look upon London as the ancient and noble metropolis of England, and not lament and mourn to see it laid in ashes? It might have been said not long since, "Walk about Zion," Psalm 48:12-13,—walk about London,—"count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation." Look upon her stately houses, halls, and hospitals, take notice of her shops, and fair warehouses, and Royal Exchange, etc., and lo, the glory of all these things is now buried in a common ruin! London, the crown of England, has lost its jewel of wealth and beauty! Oh the incredible change that a devouring fire has made in four days' time within your walls, O London so that now we may say lamentingly, Alas, poor London! "Is this the joyous city whose antiquity is of ancient days?" Isaiah 23:7-8. "Is this the crowning city, whose merchants were princes, and whose traders were the honorable of the earth? Who can but weep to see how the Lord "has made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin?" Isaiah 25:2. Who can look upon naked steeples, and useless chimneys, and pitiful fragments of ragged walls—who can behold stately structures, and noble halls, and fair houses, and see them all laid in ashes, or turned into a heap of rubbish—without paying some tears as due to the sadness of so dreadful a spectacle? Who can with dry eyes hear London thus speaking out of its ruins: "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, with which the Lord has afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger"? Lam. 1:12. Who can look upon the Lord as making London empty, as laying it waste, as turning it upside down, and as scattering abroad the inhabitants thereof, and not mourn? "See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants." Isaiah 24:1.
Beloved, under desolating judgments God does expect and desire that his people should lament and mourn: Jer. 4:7-8, "A lion has come out of his lair; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his place to lay waste your land. Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant. So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from us." Under wasting judgments, God expects not only inward—but also outward, expressions and demonstrations of sorrow and grief. Shall our enemies rejoice over the ruins of London, and shall not we mourn over the ruins of London? Shall those who are afar off lament over London's desolation; and shall not we lament over London's desolation, who are every day a-walking up and down in London's ruins and rubbish? O sirs! as ever you would see London's breaches repaired, her trading recovered, her beauty restored, her riches augmented, her glory advanced, and her inhabitants rejoiced—make conscience of mourning over London's ruins.
O sirs, what cause have we once a year, yes, often in a year, to bewail the desolation of London! The statue of Apollo is said to shed tears for the afflictions of the Grecians, though he could not help them. Though we could not prevent the burning of London—yet let us weep over the ruins of London. The leprosy of the citizens' sins had so fretted into London's walls, that there was no cleansing of them but by the furious flames of a consuming fire, Lev. 14:35-46. In the law you know that when the plague of leprosy was so got into the house, and spread in the walls, that no scraping within or without could cleanse it away—then the house was to be pulled down. This seems to be London's case. God by former judgments labored to scrape away the leprosy of sin out of London—but that deadly leprosy was so gotten into men's hearts and houses, that there was no getting of it out—but by pulling them down! This is, and this must be for a lamentation. Now the better to work you to lament and mourn over the ruins of London, consider with me these ten following particulars—
[1.] First, Who can look upon the burning of London, as ushered in by such sad and dreadful FORERUNNERS as it was—and not lament and mourn over its ruins?By what a bloody sword, and by what a dreadful plague—was this recent judgment of fire ushered in! First, God sends his red horse among us, Rev. 6:4, 8—namely, a cruel, bloody war; and then he sends his pale horse among us—namely, a noisome, sweeping pestilence. Oh the garments that were rolled in blood! Oh the scores of thousands that were by the hand of the destroying angel sent to their long homes, to their eternal homes! Now in the rear of these judgments follows such a devouring fire, as has not been known in any ages past! Certainly when a consuming fire shall be ushered in by other dreadful judgments and amazing forerunners, it highly concerns us to sit down and mourn. But,
[2.] Secondly, Who can look upon London as an ANCIENT city, as a city of great antiquity, and not mourn over the ruins of it?Isaiah 23:7; Jer. 5:15. Our chronologers affirm that the city has stood two thousand seven hundred and seventy odd years. It is recorded by some, that the foundation of London was laid in 2862 B.C. London by some antiquaries is called Troynovant, as having been first founded by the Trojans. London is thought by some to be more ancient than Rome. That London was a very ancient city, might several ways be proved; but should I spend time to prove that which everyone is ready to grant?
It was neither the antiquity, nor the riches, nor the fame, nor the greatness, nor the beauty, nor the glory, nor the religion which was there professed, that could prevent London's being turned into a chaos in four days' time. London, which had been climbing up to its meridian of worldly greatness and glory above two thousand years, how is she made desolate in a few days, and of a glorious city become a ruinous heap! Physicians make the sixty-third year of a man's life, a dangerous climacteric year to the body natural; and statisticians make the five hundredth year of a city or kingdom as dangerous to the body politic, "beyond which," say they, "cities and kingdoms cannot stand." But Jerusalem and London, and many other cities, have stood much longer, and yet in the end have been laid desolate! Now what true Englishman can look upon London's antiquity, and not mourn to see so ancient a city turned into a ruinous heap? But,
[3.] Thirdly, What true Englishman did ever look upon London, as an honorable city, as a RENOWNED city, as a glorious city, that will not now mourn to see London laid in ashes?London was one of the wonders of the world; London was the queen city, the crowning city of the land, a city as famous as most cities for worldly grandeur and glory, Isaiah 23:8. Yes, a city more famous and glorious than any city under heaven for gospel light, and for the power of religion and real holiness: [It is an Italian proverb, He who has not seen Venice will not believe, and he who has not lived some time there does not understand what a city is. I shall leave the application to the prudent reader.] Psalm 76:1-2, "In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion." In London was God known, his name was great in London; and in London also was his tabernacle and his dwelling-place. And as God was known in Judah, not only by his word—but also by his glorious works; so God was known in London, not only by his word—but also by his glorious works. And as God was known in Judah, first by the multitude of his mercies—but afterwards by the severity of his judgments; so God was known in London, first by the multitude of his mercies—but afterwards by the severity of his judgments: witness the sweeping pestilence and the devouring fire that he sent among us! And as God was known in Judah, first by lesser judgments and then by greater judgments—for he first lashed them with rods, and then with scourges, and at last with scorpions; so God was first known in London by lesser judgments: witness the violent agues, strange fevers, small-pox, and small fires which broke forth in several places of the city and suburbs; but these having no effectual operation upon us, God at last made himself known in the midst of us by such a pestilence, and by such a fire, that the like was never known in that city before!
We were once the objects of his noble favors—but we made ourselves at last the subjects of his fury. As the sweetest wines become the tartest vinegar; just so, God's heavenly favors and indulgences being long abused, they at last turned into storms of wrath and vengeance. What Englishman did look upon London as the city of the great God, as a holy city, as that city wherein God was as gloriously made known, and wherein Christ was as much exalted, and religion was as highly prized—as in any part of the world besides—and not mourn over it, now that it is laid desolate? [Psalm 101:8; Isaiah 60:14; Psalm 48:1, 8, etc.; Neh. 11:1; Isaiah 18:52; Dan. 1:9, 24.] It was long since said of Athens and Sparta, that they were the eyes of Greece. Was not London the eyes of England? [Look! what the face is to the body, that London was to England—the beauty and glory of it.] And who then can but weep to see those eyes put out? Great and populous cities are, as it were, the eyes of the earth; and when these eyes are lost, who can but sit down and sigh and mourn? London was the joyous city of Christian worship, it was the royal chamber of the King of kings, it was the mart of nations, it was the lofty city, it was the epitome of all our glory. Now, who can but shed tears to see this city laid even to the ground—to see this city sit like a desolate widow in the dust? Such a sight made Jeremiah to lament: Lam. 1:1, "How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave!"
Let profane, ignorant, superstitious, and popish defamers of London say what they please—yet doubtless God had more of his mourning ones, and of his marked ones in that city, than he had in a great part of the nation beside, Jer. 9:1-3; Ezek. 9:4, 6. There was a time when London was a faithful city, a city of righteousness, a city of renown, a city of praise, a city of joy; yes, the paradise of the world—in respect of the power and purity of gospel ordinances, and that glorious light shined in the midst of her. Who can remember those days of old, and not mourn to see such a city buried in its own ruins? Under the whole heavens there were not so many thousands to be found, who truly feared the Lord, in so narrow a compass of ground, as was to be found in London; and yet, lo, London is laid in the dust, and the nations round gaze and wonder at her desolation! Who can but hang down his head and weep in secret for these things? But,
[4.] Fourthly, Who did look upon London as the bulwark, as the stronghold of the nation—who cannot mourn to see their bulwark, their stronghold, turned into a ruinous heap?Psalm 48:12-13, "Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation." Zion had her bulwarks, her towers, her palaces; but at last the Chaldeans at one time, and the Romans at another, laid them all waste, Jer. 52:12-13; Luke 19:41, 45. Just so, London had her bulwarks, her towers, her palaces—but they are now laid desolate, and many fear, and others say, by malcontent villains and mischievous foreigners the Romish church. London was once terrible as an army with banners, Cant. 6:10. How terrible were the Israelites, encamped and bannered in the wilderness, unto the Moabites, Canaanites, etc. Exod. 15:14-16. Just so, was London more than once terrible to all those Moabites, Canaanites, which have had thoughts to swallow her up, and to divide the prey among themselves. London was once a battle-axe and battle-bow in the hand of the Almighty, which he has wielded against her proudest, strongest, and subtlest enemies, Jer. 51:20; Zech. 9:10, and 10:4; Ezek. 21:31.
Was not London the capital city, the royal chamber, the glory of England, the treasurey of trade and wealth, the city which had the strength and treasure of the nation in it? Were there not many thousands in London, who were men of fair estates, of exemplary piety, of tried valor, of great prudence, and of unspotted reputation? and therefore why should it seem impossible that the fire in London should be the effect of wicked designs and plots from abroad, seconded and encouraged by malcontents at home? London was the great bulwark of the Reformed religion, against all the batteries of popery, atheism, and profaneness; and therefore why should any Englishman wonder if these uncircumcised ones should have their heads and their hands and their hearts engaged in the burning of London?
Such whose very principles leads them by the hand to blow up kings, princes, parliaments, and reformed religion, to make way for their own religion, or for a traditional religion, as some are pleased to call it; such will never scruple to turn such cities, such bulwarks, into a ruinous heap, that either stands in their way, or that might probably hinder their advance, Dan. 11:24, 39. In all the ages of the world wicked men have designed the ruin and laying waste of Christians' bulwarks and strongholds, in order to the rooting out of the very name of Christians, as all know that have read anything of Scripture or history; and therefore why should any men think it strange, if that wicked spirit should still be at work? Was ever England in such imminent danger of being made a prey to foreign power, or of being rid by men of a foreign religion—whose principles in civil policy are very dangerous both to prince and people, as it has been since the firing of London, or since that bulwark has been turned into a ruinous heap?
Had not the great God, who laid a law of restraint upon churlish Laban, and upon bloody Esau and his four hundred bloody cut-throats, and upon proud, blasphemous Sennacherib, Gen. 31:24, 29, and 33:1, 4; 2 Kings 19:27, 28, 32, laid also a law of restraint upon wicked-minded men, what mischief might they not then have done, when many were amazed and astonished, and many hung down their heads, and folded their hands, crying, "Alas! alas! London is fallen!" and when many had sorrow in their hearts, paleness upon their cheeks, and trembling in all their joints! yes, when the flames of London were as dreadful to most as the hand writing upon the wall was to Belshazzar! Dan. 5:5-6.
How mightily the burning of London would have retarded the supplies of men, money, and necessaries which would have been needful to have made opposition against an invading enemy, had we been put to it, I shall not here stand to dispute. While London was standing, it could raise an army, and pay it when it had done. London was the sword and sinews of war; but when London was laid in ashes, the citizens were like Samson when his hair was cut off, Judges 16:18-20, and like the Shechemites when they were wounded, Gen. 34:25. Beloved, the people of God have formerly made the burning of their strongholds, a matter of bitter lamentation, as you may see in 2 Kings 8:11-12, "He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed. Then the man of God began to weep. "Why is my lord weeping?" asked Hazael. "Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites," he answered. "You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women!" Other kings of Syria had borne an immortal hatred against the children of Israel, and the prophet knew by revelation from heaven, that Hazael would be king over Syria, and that he had as cruel and as bloody a mind against God's Israel as any of the former kings of Syria had.
Now to evidence this, the prophet instances in those particular excessive acts of cruelty that he would practice upon the children of Israel—"You will set fire to their fortified places." Hazael would not think it enough to enter into their strong towns, and cities, and forts, and castles, and other strongholds, and spoil and plunder them of their treasure and goods—but he would burn all down to the ground, so that he might daunt them, and weaken them, and render them the more incapable of making any resistance against him.
But now mark what follows burning work—"You will kill their young men with the sword." Such as make no conscience of burning Israel's strongholds, such will never scruple the slaying of Israel's young men with the sword. When their fortified places were set on fire, Hazael would give them no quarter for their lives—such as had escaped the furious flames should be sure to fall by the bloody sword.
"And will dash their little children to the ground," —their poor, innocent, harmless children, who never thought amiss nor never spoke amiss of Hazael, these must have their brains dashed out against the stones, Psalm 137:9. Men who are set upon burning work are men of no compassion.
"And rip open their pregnant women." He would destroy the very infants in the womb, so that he might cause to cease the very name of Israel. Such Hazaels as are resolute by fire to lay our cities and strong bulwarks desolate, such will be ready enough to practice the most barbarous cruelties imaginable upon our persons and relations when a fit opportunity shall present. When Israel was weary, and faint, and feeble—then Amalek attacked them, Deut. 25:17-19. It was infinite mercy that the Amalekites of our day did not fall upon our bewildered and astonished citizens when they were feeble, and faint, and weary, and tired out with hard labor and lack of rest.
O sirs! shall the prophet Elisha weep, foreseeing that Hazael would set Israel's strongholds on fire; and shall not we weep to see London, our stronghold, our noblest bulwark, turned into a ruinous heap? But,
[5.] Fifthly, Who did ever look upon London as a fountain, as a sanctuary, and as a city of refuge to the poor, afflicted, distressed, and impoverished people of God—who cannot weep to see such a city laid in ashes?Who can number up the distressed strangers that have been there courteously entertained and civilly treated? Exod. 22:12; 2 Sam. 16:14. Who can number up the many thousand families that have been preserved, relieved, revived, and refreshed with the silver streams which has issued from that fountain London—and not mourn to see it laid desolate? Psalm 46:4, "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God;" Isaiah 8:6. It is an allusion to the river Siloah, which ran sweetly, softly, quietly, pleasantly, constantly, to the refreshing of all who were in need. London was a river, a fountain, whose silver streams ran sweetly, quietly, pleasantly, constantly, to the refreshing of many thousand needy ones in the land. Now who can but weep to see such a fountain, such a river, not only stopped—but dried up by a devouring fire? But,
[6.] Sixthly, Who did ever look upon London as a city advantageously situated for trade and commerce, yes, as the great mart town of the nation—who has not a heart to weep over it, now it lies in ashes?Isaiah 23:3; Ezek. 27:1; Rev. 8:11. London was the mart of the nation's trade, and the treasury of the nation's wealth. London was that great storehouse, in which was laid up very much of the riches and glory of the land. London was the very heart of England; it was as useful every way to England's security and felicity, as the heart is useful in the natural body: and therefore no wonder if such as envy at England's greatness, grandeur, and glory, have made London, England's mart-town, to bear the marks of their displeasure. Who is so great a stranger in our English Israel, as not to know how rarely well London was situated as to trade, and as not to know how London was surrounded with plentiful store of all creature-comforts? If London had not been so nobly situated and surrounded, its desolation would have not been so great a judgment; nor, it may be, the designs of men so deeply laid, as to its ruin. Those who did look upon England as rich, could not but look on London as England's treasury. But,
[7.] Seventhly, Who are those who have looked upon London as a city—which has for many hundred, yes, some thousands of years, been very strangely and wonderfully preserved by the admirable wisdom, constant care, and almighty power of God—notwithstanding all the wrath, rage, malice, plots, and designs of wicked men to lay it waste, and to turn it into a ruinous heap—and not have a heart to weep over its desolation? Isaiah 27:3-4; Psalm 121:4-5. The great preservations, the singular deliverances, which God has wrought for London, many hundred years together, renders the desolation of London the more dreadful. And accordingly it concerns all who are well affected, to weep over its ashes. But,
[8.] Eighthly, Who can look upon the ashes of London, as those ashes in which England's worst enemies, both abroad and at home—daily triumph and rejoice in, and not weep over London's desolation?Obad. 10-16. Shall the vilest of men glory that England's glory is laid in the dust; and shall not we lament, when our crown is fallen from our head? Lam. 5:16. The more wicked men rejoice in our misery—the greater obligation lies upon us to lie low and mourn at the foot of God. London, like Job, lies on its ash-heap, Job 2:8. London, like the Jews, lies in its ashes, Esther 4:3. And therefore it highly concerns all Londoners to put on sackcloth and ashes. But,
[9.] Ninthly, Surely such as have looked upon London as the city of their solemnities—such cannot but weep to see the city of their solemnities laid desolate.Isaiah 33:20, "Look upon Zion the city of our solemnities," or meetings. Zion is here called a city, because it stood in the midst of the city. The city of Jerusalem was very large, and Zion stood in the midst of it; and it is called a "city of solemnities," because the people flocked there to hear the law, to renew their covenant with God, to call upon his name, and to offer sacrifices. O sirs! was not London the city of our solemnities? the city where we solemnly met to wait upon the Lord, in the beauty of holiness? 1 Chron. 16:29; the city where we offered prayers and praises? the city where we worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth? Psalm 29:2; the city wherein God, and Christ, and the great things of eternity, were revealed to us? the city wherein many thousands were converted and edified; walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Spirit? Acts 9:31; the city where we had the clearest, the choicest, and the highest enjoyments of God that ever we had in all our days? the city wherein we have sat down under Christ's "shadow with great delight; his fruit has been sweet unto our taste"? the city in which Christ has "brought us to his banqueting-house, and his banner over us has been love"? the city in which Christ has "staid us with flagons, and comforted us with apples"? the city in which Christ's "left hand has been under our heads, and his right hand has embraced us"? Cant. 2:3-6; the city wherein the Lord Almighty has "made unto his people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined"? Isaiah 25:6. London, the city of our solemnities, is now laid desolate! And therefore for this—why should not we be disconsolate, and mourn in secret before the Lord?
This frame of spirit has been upon the people of God of old: Zeph. 3:18, "I will gather those who are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of you, to whom the reproach of it was a burden." By "solemn assemblies" are meant their several holy days, at those set times which God had appointed them, namely, on the weekly Sabbath, the new moons, the stated feasts and fasts, which they were bound to observe, Deut. 16. Now for the lack, the loss of those solemn assemblies, such as did truly fear the Lord were solemnly sorrowful. Of all losses, spiritual losses are most sadly resented by gracious souls. When they had lost their houses, their estates, their trades, their relations, their liberties, and were led captive to Babylon, which was an iron furnace, a second Egypt to them—then the loss of their solemn assemblies made deeper impressions upon their hearts than all their outward losses did. The Jews were famous artists. They stand upon record for their skill, especially in poetry, mathematics, and music: but when their city was burnt, and their land laid desolate, and their solemn assemblies broken in pieces, then they could sing none of the songs of Zion, Psalm 137:1-5; then they were more for mourning than for music, for sighing than for singing, for lamenting than for laughing. Nothing goes so near gracious hearts as the loss of their solemn assemblies, as the loss of holy ordinances. Health, and wealth, and friends, and trade, are but mere Ichabod, compared to the saints' solemn assemblies, and to pure ordinances.
When the ark was taken, Eli could live no longer: but whether his heart or his neck was first broken upon that sad tidings, is not easy to determine, 1 Sam. 4:17-18. When Nehemiah understood that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and that the gates thereof were burnt with fire, and that the whole city was laid desolate by Nebuzaradan and his Chaldean army—he sits down and weeps and mourns, and fasts and prays! 2 Kings 25:8-10. He did so lay the burning of the city of their solemnities to heart, that all the smiles of King Artaxerxes could not raise him nor rejoice him, Neh. 1:3-4, and chapter 2. It was on the tenth day of the fifth month that Jerusalem was burnt with fire; and upon that account the Jews fasted upon every tenth day of the fifth month, Jer. 52:12-14. Now shall the Jews solemnly fast and mourn on the tenth day of the fifth month during their captivity, Zech. 7:3, because their city and temple and solemn assemblies were on that day buried in ashes, and turned into a ruinous heap; and shall not we fast and mourn to see the city of our solemnities buried in its own ruins? But,
[10.] Tenthly and lastly, That incendiary, that mischievous villain Hubert, confessed the fact of starting the fire—though he would not confess who set him at work, and accordingly was executed at Tyburn for it. [There were some ministers, and several other sober prudent citizens, who did converse again and again with Hubert, and are ready to attest that he was far from being mad; and that he was not only very rational—but also very cunning and subtle, and so the fitter instrument for the conclave of Rome, or some wicked and subtle Jesuit, to make use of to bring about our common woe. It was never known that Rome or hell did ever make use of madmen or fools to bring about their devilish plots.] Now who can look upon the dreadful consequences, the burning of a renowned city, which followed upon starting on fire of the first house, and not mourn over London's desolations? Hubert confessed to several people of note and repute that he was a Catholic; and did further declare that he believed confession to a priest was necessary to his salvation. And being advised, by a chaplain to a person of honor, to call upon God, he repeated his Ave Maria, which he confessed was his usual prayer. Father Harvey confessed him, and instructed him, and we need not doubt but that he absolved him also, according to the custom of the Romish Church. Hubert died in the profession of the Romish faith, stoutly asserting that he was no Protestant.
I know that men of the Romish religion, and such who are one in spirit with them, would make the world believe that this Hubert, who, by order of law, was executed upon the account of his own public and private confessions, was mad, distracted, and what not. But what madmen do these make the judge and jury to be? for who but madmen would condemn to such a shameful death a madman, for confessing himself guilty of such a heinous and horrid fact, which he had never committed? Doubtless both judge and jury were men of more wisdom, justice, and conscience, than to hang a madman upon his own bare confession.
The German histories tell us what encouragement men of a Romish faith have had from Rome—to make way for their religion throughout Germany, by fire and sword; and when some of those incendiaries have been taken in setting houses on fire, they have confessed that there have been many more in combination with them, who, by all the ways they could, were to consume Silesia and other parts with firings. When the Spanish Armada came against this nation in 1588 with an invincible navy, as they counted it, they had two thousand, eight hundred and forty-three great warriors; twenty-eight thousand eight hundred and forty mariners, soldiers, and slaves, rowing in galleys, with innumerable fire-balls and granades, in order to the making of England desolate by fire and sword. Did not F. Parsons, Doleman, and Holt the Jesuit, draw other incendiaries into a concert effort to burn up the royal navy with wildfire in Queen Elizabeth's reign, for which they were stretched at Tyburn, A.D. 1595? On that very day when King James was crowned, when the generality of the people were intent upon that noble spectacle, five were suborned by the Jesuits to set London on fire in several places—but were frustrated, as is evident upon record.
Waddesworth openly stated in writing, "That the popish religion was not to be brought in here by disputing, or books of controversy—but with an army, and with fire and sword." Pope Martin the Fifth sent Cardinal Julian, who was namesake and near of kin to Julian the apostate, with an army of eighty thousand, to root out the Protestants in Bohemia, where they burnt up their towns; and at the same time Albertus, his assistant, burnt up five hundred of their villages. It was Philip the Second of Spain who said, "That he had rather lose all his provinces, than seem to grant or favor anything which might be harmful to the Catholic religion." It was the Spanish ministers of state who declared openly in 1586, "That the Protestants would be very well served, if they were stripped of all their goods, and forced to go seek new countries like Jews and Egyptians, who wander up and down like rogues and vagabonds." The Duke of Alba, a bloody papist, sitting at his table, said, "That he had taken diligent pains in rooting out the tares of heresies, having delivered eighteen thousand men in the space of only six years, to the hands of the hangman." From the beginning of the Jesuits to 1580, being the space of thirty years, there were almost nine hundred thousand Protestants put to death in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, and other parts of Christendom. Men of the Jesuit religion, who burnt the martyrs in Queen Mary's days, are men of such bloody, desperate principles, that they will stick at nothing that may be a means to advance the Romish religion.
Some men, besides the Romans, have practiced most wicked things, and all to raise themselves a name in the world. Servetus, at Geneva, gave all his goods to the poor, and his body to be burnt, and all for a name, for a little glory among men. The temple of the great goddess Diana, which was one of the world's wonders, was set on fire when Alexander was born, by Erostratus, a base fellow; and this he did, "that he might be talked of when he was dead." So Judas and Sadoc, with their seditious sect, burnt down the temple of Jerusalem, and all the beautiful buildings in the city.
One man who is of a cruel spirit, and of wicked principles—may do a world of mischief. Take that instance of Nero, who maliciously raised the first persecution against the Christians, pretending that they were incendiaries, and authors of the burning of Rome; whereas he himself had most wickedly done it. But this barbarous act of his was fathered upon the Christians; and accordingly they suffered severely for it. Another author says, Nero succeeded Caligula in the government, and in no less fierceness and cruelty, because he was a man in whom, if possible it might be, all the other cruelties were enclosed, and all else that could by men be imagined; for, without any regard of sanctified things, or people of noble quality—he caused the city of Rome to be set on fire, with express prohibition not to quench it. So the fire continued seven days and seven nights burning the city; and he being on a high tower some small distance off, clapped his hands, and joyed to behold this dismal spectacle, so far exceeding all humanity.
The wisest prince that ever swayed a scepter has told us, "That one sinner destroys much good," Eccles. 9:18. Who can sum up the mischief that a few wicked-minded men may do in a little time? The same devil, the same lusts, the same wrath, the same rage, the same revenge, the same ends, the same motives—which have put others upon burning work in former times, may probably have put some upon the same work in our time. Burning work is so odious and abominable, so destructive, hateful, and hurtful a thing. Was not London the glory of England? Was not London England's treasury, and the Protestants' sanctuary? Was not London as terrible to her enemies abroad, as she was joyous to her friends at home? Has not London been as dreadful to her foreign foes, as the handwriting upon the wall was to Belshazzar? Dan. 5:5-6. Was not London the great mountain that her enemies feared would be most harmful to their pernicious designs? Zech. 4:7. Was not London that great rock against which many have dashed themselves in pieces? [The French, the Dutch, the Dane, the Spaniard, etc., have at times experienced what London's treasure and force have been able to do, etc.] Was not London as briers and thorns, as goads and gulfs and two-edged swords—to all her enemies, more remote and nearer home? Had the French invaded us when London was in flames, as many feared they would, or had such risen up at that time, in the interior of the nation, whose very principles lead them by fire and sword to make way for their religion, what doleful days had we seen, and to what a low ebb might the Protestant interest have then been brought! What greater encouragement could be given to French, Dutch, Dane, and all of the Catholic religion—to make desperate attempts upon us, than the laying of the city desolate by fire? But it is the glory of divine power to daunt and overrule all hearts and counsels, and to turn that to his people's greatest good—which their enemies design to be their utter ruin, Psalm 76:5, 10; Gen. 31:24, 29, and 33:3-4.
We know papists do not change their principles; their cruel, bloody, fiery spirits and principles are still the same. [The woeful desolations that the popish party made by fire and sword among the Protestants in Ireland is written with the pen of a diamond.] Both king and parliament have taken notice how vigilant and active they have been of late, by what has been discovered, confessed, proved, printed, etc. Is it not more than probable that some influenced by the Romish church, have kindled and promoted that dreadful fire which has laid our city desolate? The statue of Apollo is said to shed tears for the afflictions of the Grecians, though he could not help them. Though none of us could prevent the desolation of London—yet let us all be so sincere as to weep over the ashes of London. Who can look upon London's glory, as now sacrificed to the flames, and made a burnt-offering to appease the wrath and fury, as many say—of a papist conclave—and not mourn?