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pearance of the common practice, in such cases, of over-rating their loss, have, in the opinion of numbers of competent and able judges, set it very much below the truth, at forty thousand pounds. The devastation has been measured, and, for more than half a mile, on one side the street, not a single house is standing, nor scarce a bit of timber to be seen, and but a very small spot is left on the other. Those, who have seen the late like desolation at Tiverton and Blandford, think this to be in compass equal to them both. A greater extent of ruins no fire, perhaps, since that of London, hath ever left behind it. Above two thou. sand of the poorer sort, who were before subsisted comfortably on their labour, are now thrown at once upon the compassions of the public, without which, many of them must quickly and inevitably perish for want.
A neighbouring city (Exeter) ever generous to the distressed, notwithstanding its great expence in building and supporting an hospital for the sick, exerted itself with a surprising and most seasonable vigour on this deplorable occasion, collecting in a few days, more than five hundred pounds for the sufferers relief. Their case is now İying before London and Bristol, and will speedily be communicated to other principal towns, and their charity be intreated by recommendatory letters, not in the common method of briefs. With great thankfulness we acknowledge the spirit of uncommon compassion and liberality, which has already appeared in many places around us, as well as some noble benefactions sent by persons of high rank.
It is hoped, so uncommon à distress will move bowels of pity, and draw charitable supplies from distant parts of the land. And may God, in mercy, keep all other towns from the like calamitous stroke.
As it hath pleased Almighty God, the wise, the
just, the good, to visit this town with a calamitous stroke, by laying its principal part in ashes, let us attend to the counsel we find,
ECCLESIASTES vii. 14.
In the day of adversity consider.
Every thing, it has been observed, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven. There is a time to rejoice, and a time to mourn. To the latter of those we are now, by Divine Providence, very awfully called. We have heard of God's judgments abroad in the earth; of countries laid waste; and cities destroyed, by wars, by famine, and a direful plague. But now we have also seen, we have felt the Divine rod falling heavily upon ourselves. We have seen a flourishing town sunk in a few hours into a ruinous heap: we have seen one of the mighty elements sent forth with a Divine commission to overthrow our habitations, to destroy our substance, and to give us a lively token, how fearful a thing it is to fall under its avenging rod : We have seen numerous families, rising in the morning in plenteous and easy circumstances, reduced before night to extreme want and misery; having no lodging but the fields, no canopy but the heavens, leaving their possessions a prey to the devouring element, glad to escape from its violence with their lives : yea, which is more tragical yet, we save seen inany of our neighbours perishing in the spreading deluge, unawares hemmed in with flaines raging all around them, smothered, sinking down, and miserably burnt.---This Providence has a loud voice. May God, who speaks by it, be pleased to open our ears, and prepare our hearts to receive the instruction it is intended to convey: that, in this day of our adversity, we may seriously consider.
I shall endeavour to point out some of the chief things which, in this time of our affliction, it behoves us to consider; and thereby to assist in making that good use of it, for which it was intended, and which the rightous Sovereign, who sent it, justly expects at all our hands. And,
I. We ought to consider this calamitous event as not coming on us by casualty or chance, but as being the determinate counsel and operation of God; and to resolve it into his will, who supremely presides over all human affairs.
The belief of an Almighty Sovereign, who reigns uncontrouled in the heavens and in the earth, and who, with perfect and unerring wisdom, limits and directs every event; as it is the first principle of all religion, so it is the noblest foundation for comfort and support to a considering mind. The first thing we are to do, then, in such a time of distress, is to lift up our eye beyond all instruments and second causes to the Almighty hand of God, and to bow down and adore i:; like the illustrious sufferer of old, and not to let loose our resentments at the immediate occasions of our troubles, not to curse the Chaldeans, nor revile the Sabeans, but with bumble reverence to say--It is the LORD who has done it-The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; ; and blessed be the name of the LORD.
If, as our Saviour hath taught us, not a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father; much less without him could a flourishing town be turned in a few hours into desolation and ruins, and thousands of inhabitants sunk into the extremity of indigence and distress.
There is an apiness in the minds of men to overlook the hand of heaven, in the things which befal them; to impute the great events of life, both the prosperous and the adverse, to any thing rather than to the allwise Almighty Providence, which governs the world; and to disregard the work of the LORD, and the operation of his hand. To guard, therefore, against this impiety of conduct, the scriptures every where inculcate God's absolute dominion with peculiar evidence and force; and teach us to consider every creature of the universe, every action, and every thing as subject to his minute inspection and controul. All the elements are represented as his angels and ministers, standing around his throne, hearkening to his word, and fulfilling his comnand. Fire, hail, and vapour, and stormy wind, all are his servants; they go where he sends them, and exe: cute his purpose, either of judgment or of mercy, ainongst the inhabitants of the earth. What in cominon account passes for perfect accident or chance, the scripture resolves into the agency and will of God; as when, of two persons felling wood, the one is slain by the axe of the other flying from its helve, God is said, to have delivered him into his hand.
We observe with what solemnity the Almighty challenges to himself this Sovereignty of the world, and considers it as a branch of his prerogative, which he requires us most religiously to acknowledge and maintain. See now that I, even I, am He; and there is no GOD with me : I kill, and I make alice; I round, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. Again, Is there evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? No, but it is the LORD who maketh rich, and who maketh poor ; who bringeth low, and lifteth up : He sitteth as King for ever; and doth what pleaseth him, in the Heavens, and in the earth, in the seas, and in all deep places.
As we are now tossed upon troubled waves, and the billows of affliction are suffered to go over us, let a strong faith in this dominion and Providence of God be as an anchor to our minds, to keep them steadfast and firm.
Let us fix it deep in our breasts, that it was no undirected accident or chance, which brought this stroke upon us, but the will of the allwise and omnipotent God: That, had it not been to answer some good purpose of his government, as he could with infinite ease have prevented this calamity, so he would, without all peradventure, have done it: that he could instantly have stopped the spreading and destructive tlames, and have said to these, as he does to the winds and the waves, Hitherto -and no farther.-That he could immediately have hushed the air into a silent and dead calm; or have commanded the heavens to pour down heavy rains, to check the fiery torrent.
But the counsels of his Providence had otherwise determined. His wisdom saw fit, that this affliction should fall upon us; and, therefore, the winds, the preceding drought, and other circumstances must concur, to bring upon us this awful stroke. Let us, therefore, meekly bow down, and say, It is the Lord; and religiously observe and acknowledge his hand.
This necessary foundation being first duly laid : 11. The next step we are to take in this day of our adversity, is, seriously to consider What