A Brief historical account
Of several of the most remarkable Years of
War, Drought, Famine, andPestilence
And the time when they happened.
Together, with an Additional discourse of God's Judgments, and the procuring cause of them. As also of the Prediction of the late excellent Mathematician and modest Astrologer Mr. Vincent Wing, as to this present Year 1699.
By a Gent.
[...]ute justitiam moniti non temnere Dives.
Virg. Aen. 6.
—ubi non est pudor,
[...]cura juris, Sanctitas, Pietas, Fides
[...]bile Regnum est—
It is to many men much dearer than their Faith and Majesty, Clemens Alexandrinus.
[...]long shall the Land mourn, and the herbs of every [...]er, for the iniquity of them that dwell therein? [...]are consumed, &c. Jer. 12.4.
[...]Printed for John Wells in London- [...]yard, near St. Pauls, 1699.
PUBLISHED FOR John Wells
EXcellent is that Discourse of Monsieur Charron in his Tract of Wisdom. That the greatest part of Mankind hath always been led to serve God by fear of Vengeance which he Inflicts on the Contemners of his Majesty, his Justice strikes Men with dread, when they survey the Strokes and Examples of it on Mankind, as by Pestilence, War, Famine, Tempests, and Inundations, by Lightnings discharged from Heaven and other like demonstrations of his Vengeance. It is (saith he) a terrible Thing to fall into the hands of God, who though he is very merciful, yet is terrible in Execution of his Vengeance upon those who Contemn him: And he further tells us, that all the World would be extinguished and would perish and be lost, if it were not changed and renewed by those great accidents before mentioned, which season perfect and purify it, giving Liberty and ease to the whole.
And accordingly it is the Judgment and Opinion of that learned and judicious French Protestant Divine Amiraldus, in his Treatise of Religions, who saith, that when Men are grown to a great height of Wickedness and will not be reformed, God then strikes Men with dread, that when they survey the Strokes and Example of his displeasure upon Mankind by Pestilences, Wars, Famines, Tempests, and Inundations and by Lightnings discharged from Heaven and [Page 3] other demonstrations of his Vengeance: From that (saith he) the greatest part of Mankind hath always been led to serve God, even by fear of his Vengeance which he inflicts on the Contemners of his Majesty.
With which also agrees the Judgment and Opinion of that eminent Divine Dr. Will. Sherlock, Dean of St. Paul's and Master of the Temple, in a printed Sermon of his, who therein tells us, that when Mankind is grown incurably and universally Wicked, it doth not become God to permit and suffer the Earth to be an eternal nursery of Atheists and Rebels against the Majesty of Heaven.
Now as all Sins provoke God to send down his Judgments upon a Nation and People, but especially Pride, fulness of Bread, (i. e.) Luxury, and Idleness, the Sins of Sodom; as also Dr. Tillotson when Dean of Canterbury hath informed us, that great Sin next to Idolatry, viz. Perjury, is one of the greatest affronts that can be to the Divine Majesty, for this is one of the Sins that cry aloud to Heaven, and quicken the pace of Gods Judgments. This Sin by the secret Judgment of God undermines Estates, and Families, to the utter Ruin of them: And among the Heathens it was always reck'ned one of the greatest Crimes, and which they did believe God did not only punish upon the guilty Person himself, but upon the Family and Posterity, and many times upon whole Nations, (as the Prophet speaks, Jer. 23.10. for because of swearing the Land mourns. It is (saith he further) [Page 4] certainly a Sin of the highest Nature, deliberate Perjury, being directly against a Mans knowledge, so that no Man can commit it, without staring his Conscience in the Face, which is one of the greatest aggravations of a Crime, and it is a Sin equally against both Tables, and being the highest affront to God, and of most injurious consequence to Men, a wrong not only to this or that Man particularly that suffers by it, but also is Treason against humane Society, subverting at once the foundation of publick Peace and Justice, and the private security of every Mans Life and Fortune. So when ever Religion fails and Oaths are nothing set by, human Society must disband, and all things run into disorder, which (saith he) made David cry out Ps. 12. Help Lord, for the godly Man ceaseth, &c. Intimating, that when faith, that is fidelity, fails from among Men, nothing then but an immediate Interposition of Heaven can preserve the World from falling into confusion and ruine.
This state of things, when Faith and Truth shall hardly be found among Men (as is mentioned, Luke 18.8. When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find Faith, that is, Fidelity on the Earth,) doth loudly call for Christ's coming to destroy the World, which is even ready to dissolve and fall in pieces of it self, when these bands and Pillars of Human Society do break and fail. And surely (saith he) never in any Age was this sign of the coming of the Son of Man more glaring and terrible, than in this degenerate Age wherein we live, when almost all [Page 5] sorts of Men seem to have broke loose from all litigations to Faith and Truth.
And further to evince the truth of our Guilt and of this crying Sin; let us see what was that the genious, free, and open acknowledgment in Print of our London Divines, in their publick Declaration Anno 1660. wherein they complain of the odious scandal of those that then professed themselves the People of God, particularly their self seeking under the pretence of publick good, and their unparalell'd breach of all civil and sacred Oaths and Covenants both to God of Man.
As also our Guilt herein appears, by what that Divine Dr. Richard Sherlock of Lancaster, incerts in his excellent Tract, called the Practical Christian, Printed Anno 1677. Wherein he thought fit to give us in this Nation his pious and devout Confession of Sin, viz. I have seen the Reverend Name and Oath of and imposed on the Consciences of Men out of Tyranny and Covert of Oppression and Injustice, and I also partly for fear, and partly for [...]ur and affection to unjust Designs, have [...]edly taken the same Oaths and Engagements; and though because of such Oaths the [...]sadly mourns, yet have I not been humbled for the Sins and Perjuries of this sinful Nature Besides also, that Reverend Divine Dr. Pa [...] (when Dean of Peterborough) in his pious and excellent Tract of Repentance and Fasting, induced Anno 1686. there exhorts us in this Nature to beseech God to deliver us from all blindness [Page 6] of heart— so most especially, from all Sedition and privy Conspiracy and Rebellion, from all false Doctrine, Heresie, and Schism, from hardness of heart and contempt of God's Word and Commandments; which (saith he) was never more necessary than in these days. And he there further saith, that it is a sad melancholy sight to behold the Spirit of Blindness and Giddiness, of Faction and Rebellion, that hath seized on a great part of the Nation; our sensless Contentions and Oppositions, the wide Breaches and Divisions, for which we can see no healing. And (saith he) it may justly challenge (if there were nothing else to trouble us) great thoughts and searchings of heart, more especially if we consider, not only how insensible most People are of all such matters (which in bodily Distempers is accounted the worst symptom in the whole World?) For how few have been amended by the publick Judgments, which have either threatned us, or fallen upon us, (for which stubborn Impiety and impudent Wickedness (which every where hath too much abounded among us) every good Man ought to be very much afflicted, and not only content himself with this, that he doth not follow them in their ungodly Practices; but to bewail also as many as have sinned, and have not repented (as the Apostle speaks, 2 Cor. 12. last) of the uncleanness and other abominable Sins which they have committed.
For this is really (saith he) the saddest spectacle of all others; to behold such numbers a have not been at all touched with any remorse [Page 7] for their own Sins, nor any grief for publick Calamities, nor any fear of future danger, but have encouraged one another to think only, of eating and drinking, and rising up to play, which all sober Men cannot but look upon, to be as unseemly a sight, as if Men should go dance about their Parents or nearest Relations, when they saw them a dying; and here by the by, may not omit to inform you, what a monstrous piece of Hypocrisie I once saw, viz. (a Gent. in a Scarlet Cloak, as I esteem'd him to be) set in the Stocks in the Old Jury, London, for some immorality, by order of Sir Pennington then L. Mayor (as I remember) who before had headed the Rabble, and presented a Petition to the Parliament against Bishops, and afterwards was one of the High Court of Justice for the Tryal of King Charles I.
Now, besides our former Guilt in our Hypocrisie, Rebellion, and abominable Sacrilege, when we not only overturned the Government of the Church , and alienated and sold the Church Lands, altering the fundamental Constitution of the Civil Government, and selling all the Crown lands, and after turning our selves into a Commonwealth, Dethroning and Murthering our lawful Prince (and he one of the best Princes in the World, in his time) &c. How vastly have we improved in our horrid guilt of Perjury, is so evident to be denyed? Also may we not have thought to be fallen into the Times that the Prophet Jer. complains of? Chap. 9. ver. 4. 5. Take ye heed every one of his Neighbour, and trust ye not in any Brother, for every had Brother utterly supplant, &c.And they will every one deceive his Neighbour, and will not speak the truth, vers. 8.9.Their Tongue is as an Arrow shot out, it [Page 8] speaketh deceit, one speaketh peaceably to his Neighbour with his Mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait. All which being seriously considered; may it not be truly said? was ever this Nation, or any other Nation in the World, so horridly Wicked before? so that we may justly expect that God should expostulate with us and say, (as once he did to the People of Israel, Jerm. 5.9.) before mentioned, shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord? and shall not my Soul be avenged on such a Nation as this. And what was this for? even because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased, v. 6.
And may we not expect that dismal Doom, pronounced by God, by his Prophet Isaiah. Chap. 18.104.22.168.12. And he said, Go tell this People, hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see indeed, but perceive not, make the Heart of this People Fat, and make their Ears heavy, and shut their Eyes; lest they see with their Eyes, and hear with their Ears, and understand with their Hearts, and convert and be healed. Then said I, Lord how long? and he answered, until the Citys be wasted without inhabitants, and the Houses without Man, and the Land be utterly desolate, &c.
For we should wisely consider, that there are in this World, certain Periods of Gods Patience, and Forbearance of Nations, and Kingdoms, in their Wickedness: As the Scriptures inform us, when God Visits their Iniquities and pours down Vengeance upon them, as upon the old World, Gen. 6.5. And God saw that the Wickedness of Man was great in the Earth, and that [Page 9] every Imagination of the thought of his heart was Evil continually, —v. 7. I will destroy Man whom I have created, from the face of the Earth, whereupon God brought upon them that great desolation of the universal Deluge.
And again Gen. 18.20. The Lord said because the Cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great; and because their Sin is very grievous. Therefore the Lord hought speedily upon them desolation and destruction, and by fire from Heaven totally destroyed them.
Further as to the Rebellion of Korah, and his Companions Gen. 16.32. And whereupon God brought that amazing Desolation, and Ruin upon them (the Earth opening her Mouth and swallowing them up, and all that belonged to them) they went down alive into the Pit, and the Earth closed upon them and they perished from among the Congregation.
Afterward great was the divine Vengeance poured down upon the Rebellion of the ten Tribes, and their defection from their lawful Prince Rehoboam, and the House of David, God severely plagued them by degrees. First by their loss of the true Religion and Worship of God, again by their wicked Kings and Governours, having not one good King ever after) and after Gods long Patience during (it is said of bout 250 Years) they were at last carried away Captive, and were wholy extirpated from the face of the Earth, none knowing to this day what became of them, so that they paid dear for the long forbearance of the Divine Vengeance, in the Conclusion.
And how transcendently great and terrible, was the Divine Vengeance upon Jerusalem, (greater than the World ever saw before,) within about 40 Years after our blessed Saviour had given them warning, saying Luke 17.26. And as it was written in the Days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the son of Man, v. 27. they did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entred into the Ark: And the flood came and destroyed them all: v. 28. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded, ver. 19. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all ver. 30. even thus shall it be in the day when the son of Man is revealed, Luke 21.22.for these be the days of vengeance. ver. 23.24. for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people, and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles. &c.
And now may I present to our view, and serious consideration, some few of the many, most Dreadful and Remarkable strokes of the Divine Vengeance, which have in several Ages fallen upon our own Nation of England.
To begin with that Relation I meet with in an Author called Britanniae speculum printed 1683 who telleth us, that about Anno 438. In the 8th Year of the Reign of King Vortigern, King of the Brittains after the horrible devastation, [Page 11] made among them by the Picts breaking in upon them, and of Famine, yet after their pinching hunger was past, and their Enemies were retreated from them, being partly repelled by force. That yet their Piety vanished, and Luxury succeeded, accompanied with all sorts of vice which infected not only the Layety, but the Clergy also, and that altho God sent to reclaim them by his Scourge the Pestilence, that raged so horribly among them, that the living were scarce able to bury their dead, yet with this severity they were nothing at all amended, Gods Patience being spent towards a People that grew worse by Prosperity and Adversity, God so infatuated them that they called in a forreign Nation worse and more cruel than the Picts, to their own Confusion and Ruin, in Conclusion.
Also in the Reign of King Edward the II. King of England: Anno. 1307. In the beginning of his Reign, who having a vast Army of 100000 Men and incountring Robert Bruce the King of Scots, his army was totally overthrown at Bannocksburrow, by a small contemptible Army of Scots, by stratagem, the consequent thereof was, the English-men became so faint hearted and so contemptible, that three Scots durst venture upon a 100 English-men, when 100 English-men durst scarce encounter with three Scots, (a grievous and sore Calamity indeed) and that the Scots possessed all the north Part of the Kingdom as far as York.
And in the 18th of the said King Edward the I. King of England 7 years after the Battel of [Page 12] Bannocksburrow Anno 1314. there was so great a Famine, that Horses and Dogs were eaten, & Thieves in Prison plucked in pieces, those which were newly brought in among them, and eat them half alive, which Famine continuing three Years, brought in the end such a Pestilence, that the living scarce sufficed to bury the dead.
And in the Reign of King Richard the I. King of England, who began his Reign Anno 1189. There was such a drought for three or four Years together, which caused so great a scarcity, upon which followed so great a Mortality, that scarcely the living sufficed to bury the dead.
And in the reign of King Henry the 3d King of England Anno 1232, there appearing three Suns at once, there presently followed so great a Famine that people were constrained to eat horses Flesh, and the bark of Trees, and that then there died twenty thousand people in London starved for want of food.
In the 22 Year of King Edward the third Anno 1348. A contagious Pestilence there was in the East and South parts of the World, and spread it self over all Christendom, and at last coming into England, continuing many Years, it so wasted the People, that scarce the tenth person of all sorts was left alive.
In the third Year of King Richard the second King of England Anno 1379. There was so great a Mortality which afflicted the north Parts of England that the Country became almost desolate.
In the sevententh Year of the Reign of King Edward IV. King of England 1476. so great a Pestilence Reigned in England that it swept away more People in four Months time, than the Wars had done in fifteen Years then past. And two Years after the same Anno 1478. In his 19 Year there was another Pestilence, which beginning at the latter end of Sept. continued to the beginning of November come twelve Month after, in which Time innumerable People died.
In the 19th Year of King Henry the 8 King of England Anno 1527. by Reason of Extremity of Rain in seed Time there followed a great famine, Dearth, and Scarcity of Corn, which would have caused a great Calamity, but it was prevented by the Merchants of the stillyard bringing it out of Germany, and a thousand Quarters being issued out of the Kings own Provision. And in his three and thirtieth Year Anno 1541. there was so great a Mortality by Reason of hot Agues, and Fluxes, and withall so great a Drought, that small Rivers were Clean dryed up, and much Cattle dyed for lack of Water.
And in the fifth Year of the Reign of Queen Mary, Queen of England Anno 1559. In harvest Time, there was so great a Mortality, especially of Priests, so as many Churches were unserved, and much Corn was lost for want of Workmen to get it in, whereupon ensued a great Famine. And in the thirty fifth Year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth Queen of England Anno 1592. There was so great a Drought, that not only [Page 14] the Fields, but the springs themselves were dry ed up, and many Cattle every where dyed for want of Water, so that the River Thames did so fail, that a Horseman might ride over the faid River at London-Bridge. And the Year following Anno 1593. There followed a great Plague in London, so as there dyed that Year in London and the Suburbs, seventeen thousand Eight hundred and ninety, besides the Lord Mayor and three Aldermen.
To draw towards a Conclusion, Capt. John Graunt, in his Natural, and Political, observations made upon the bills of Mortality. Printed 1676. Informs us, that there hath been within our Age, four Times of great Mortality, viz. 1592. 1593. 1603. 1625. unto which may now be added that of 1669. & that the plague of 1636 lasted 12 Years, in 8 whereof there dyed 20000. per An. one with another, and never under 300.
Now from the serious Consideration of the premisses, may we not rationally conclude what Calamities from the strokes of divine Vengeance we in this Nation are lyable to, when ever Gods Patience, and Forbearance, is tyred and worn out, and come to an end, by means of our provoking Sins, and Iniquitys, and that it is highly rational not to be secure or put far from us the evilday, but seriously consider that great Guilt, which it's much to be feared, lies upon this Nation at this Day, for if it shall be found that although we have enjoyed the best reformed Christianity in the World, yet at last that it should appear we have been the worst of Christians, what can we expect?
Doth not the innocent Blood of our Martyred Soveraign King Charles the First. of blessed Memory now cry afresh to Heaven against us, when there are so many among us, who now again Murther him in his Reputation, and Honour, (now as one saith, Innocence is the nearest resemblance of God, therefore to injure Innocence is to in jure God himself, and this doubtless if it be in the Person of a Prince whether Old or Young is a provoking Sin) and here to give you a short historical account of things, in our times of Rebellion.
Did not we in this Nation after a cruel civil War and Rebellion, against our Lawful Soveraign at last trying and condemning him and murthering him at his own pallace Gate, and after our seeming Repentance (which lyes upon Record against us) have we not returned greedily with the Dog to his Vomit again, &c. yea justifying and applauding those cursed Doctrins and Principles, that were made use of by Bradshaw and the rest of the Regicides to cut off the Head of that Pious Prince. And certainly till we can find out such an other piece of horrid Villany to match it in all the most barbarous Nations of the World at this Day. It will be a difficult business to wipe of the Imputation that we are the worst Christians that ever were produced in the World before. And then what a Terrible amazing Judgment may we not justly expect ere it belong which the longer it is a coming is like to fall the heavier upon us, even such as will Startle and Amaze the bold and confident Atheists and Deists of our Times. The [Page 16] Sinners in Zion then will be afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the Hypocrites as the Prophet Isaiah speaketh Chap. 33.14. who among us shall dwell with the devouring Fire & who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting Burnings? and considering (as our Divines inform us) that Kingdoms and Nations as such are not capable of being punished in the other World, therefore must be punished in this; as also what a late eminent Mathematician and modest Astrologer Mr. Vincent Wing in his Almanack for the Year 1669 had told us, viz. that about the Year 1692 or a little before 1700 many expect great Alterations and Changes in this World, if not the dissolution of this earthly Fabrick. The Lord fit us to embrace his Mercy and patiently to wait for his second coming Amen. And the same Mr. Wing predicted the Restauration of King Charles the ll. (as I have been credibly informed being his Neighbour in the Country of Rutland, after the Restauration.) And also in his Almanack for the Year 1672 he thus far predicted the Rise of the King of France to his grandeur, in these Words, viz. if there be any Verity in Astrology some great Person will very shortly appear upon the publick Stage with more then ordinary luster, and further intimates that Paris and Fr. to be concerned herein I need not tell you what followed thereupon. But altho God hath his Councel in Heaven by himself yet he is pleased sometimes to give intimation of approaching Judgments upon Nations and Kingdoms; but had we no other intimations of Judgments but those of our Sin and Guilt before mentioned, and more especially if we take in that wife saying of that heathen Philosopher Antisthenes, that common wealths were then destroyed when they have lost once their distinction betwixt Good and Evil; it is much to be feared that the wanting the Honesty of Heathens will be the ruine of us Christians, altho we are in Profession the best sort of Christians at this day in the World. I humbly conceive we should not therefore be too presumptious and to put the evil Day far from us; but to think of timely preventive Repentance with Nineveh, that so our Iniquities may not be our ruin. I shall conclude with Psal. 76.7. Thou even thou art to be feared, and who may stand in thy Sight when once thou art angry. From all thy Wrath and from all our Sins.